Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 30 September, 2021

 

It is no great surprise that we have the highest number of Covid cases and deaths in the world, because we’re one of the largest countries in the world.  But, after adjusting for population size, and looking at numbers per head of population, we’re still one of the very worst in the world, and in recent months, the gap between us and other countries has widened rather than narrowed.  This article about our shameful dysfunction from The Economist doesn’t pull its punches.

Their headline grabbing statement – “[the US] daily toll of excess deaths is greater than in all other high-income countries combined”.

Why is it we send people to prison for accidental murder of a single person, but not for gross incompetence and betrayal of public trust leading to the unnecessary death of hundreds of thousands of Americans?

How have we allowed this to happen?  Let’s look at examples that partially consider the problem.  The first reminds me of something I sometimes do – I’m so stressed out by a horrendous task and deadline that I create a “displacement activity” to avoid attacking the main highest priority task.  I’ll suddenly decide I need to vacuum the carpets, or clean up my email inbox, rather than do whatever must urgently be done.  In the case of the country, which of the many displacement activities do you think stick out the greatest?  There are so many hotly argued unimportant issues surrounding us at present, aren’t there.

A related type of displacement activity is often found in corporate decision-making.  The classic example taught in business schools is the (mythical?) board meeting that spent 5 minutes approving the company’s billion dollar budget for the next year, while spending an hour debating a remodel for the executive bathroom.  In the case of the virus, we’ll argue to death (almost literally) some of the peripheral issues, such as what ages can be vaccinated, and who should get a third vaccine shot and when, while avoiding the key issue – are the vaccines actually worth the risk for most people under middle age at all?

Look at this Statistica.com chart.  Why are we vaccinating children under 17, when only 478 people in that age group have died of Covid since the start of the outbreak?  There are about 80 million children in this age group.  That is a rate of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 children.  Compare that to this table, with child death rates from unintentional injuries of 6 – 30 times higher (in a full two year period), four times higher for cancer, and up to 12 times higher for murder.

Compare that also to the 6.65 million people over 85, of whom 191,362 have died – a death rate of 2878 per 100,000.  People over 85 are 5,000 times more at risk than people under 17.

That is of course looking at the two far ends of the age scale.  But what about simply splitting it more or less in the middle.  As you can see, the difference in mortality between people under and over 50 is astonishing.  Why are we arguing over a “one size fits all” approach when clearly it doesn’t?

And. back to my original point, while the benefit of the vaccine is clearly shown by the elevated risk of Covid death applying to older people, what about for younger people?  On the one hand, Covid poses no measurable threat.  On the other hand, they have decades to potentially suffer any consequences of these new style “vaccines”.  It is a matter of conjecture how many people have died from the vaccines so far, but some people credibly suggest more than 20,000.  Does that mean, for the under 17 year olds, the vaccine is more deadly than the virus?  Possibly, yes.

An example of focusing on the really easy thing but ignoring the huge big hard thing might be our approach to our border with Canada.  Canadians still can’t drive across it, even though there is much less Covid prevalence in Canada than the US, and even though we’re about to allow people from almost every other country in the world fly into the US.  Why are we focused on controlling entry to the US across “the world’s longest undefended border” but allowing people from everywhere else in the world to visit?  Why restrict Canadians, who are more than three times less likely to be infected than we are, but not restrict ourselves?  This article asks that question.

And now, saving the best for last, here’s an unbelievable – but almost certainly true (taken from this article) story of how doctors are responding to patient requests for ivermectin.

 

I’ve had doctors actually say to my client “You should consider removing life support”, and the client said, “No, I want to try ivermectin,” and the response was: “I don’t know, that could have negative effects.”

 

Current Numbers

Georgia rose up one place in the minor country list, and might continue up the list in the next week.

The UK rose one place in the major country list, and is within reach of passing Argentina in the next week.  Belgium and Spain swapped places.

There were no rank changes in the death list, but the US might climb a place in the next week.

The usual strong swings occurred in the Covid activity last week table, with the US, enjoying great drops in new case numbers at present, falling off the bottom of the list (with a rate of 2,298 new cases per million in the last seven days), a 14% drop.  Canada had a milder 4% drop to almost one-third the case rate of the US (761) and Mexico rose 5%, up to 446 cases/million.

In Europe, Romania suffered a 60% rise in cases, with Latvia seeing a 55% rise, Poland up 26% and the Czech Republic lifting 15%.  Switzerland enjoyed a 22% drop in cases, that being perhaps the only thing it has in common in the last week with Albania, while Sweden and Montenegro had a 20% drop.  France and Italy both enjoyed 17% drops, and Germany hovered uncertainly with a 0.7% drop.  Europe as a whole had a 7% rise, but the entire world dropped 9%.

Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Seychelles (214,513) Seychelles (215,396)
2 Montenegro (204,369) Montenegro (209,338)
3 Andorra Andorra
4 Gibraltar (163,217) Gibraltar (164,766)
5 San Marino San Marino
6 St Barth St Barth
7 Bahrain Bahrain
8 Maldives Georgia (154,038)
9 Georgia (151,282) Maldives
10 Aruba (143,037) Aruba (144,413)

 

Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (157,264) Czech Republic (157,586)
2 USA (130,578) USA (132,908)
3 Netherlands Netherlands
4 Argentina Argentina (115,000)
5 Sweden (112,872) UK (114,254)
6 UK (110,736) Sweden (113,275)
7 France France
8 Spain Belgium
9 Belgium Spain
10 Portugal Portugal
11 Brazil Brazil
12 Colombia (95,965) Colombia (96,149)

 

Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Peru  (5,937) Peru  (5,944)
2 Czech Rep  (2,837) Czech Rep  (2,838)
3 Brazil (2,766) Brazil (2,783)
4 Argentina Argentina
5 Colombia Colombia
6 Belgium Belgium
7 Italy Italy (2,169)
8 USA (2,109) USA (2,150)
9 Mexico (2,099) Mexico (2,125)
10 Tunisia (2,061) Tunisia (2,079)

 

Top Rates in New Cases Reported in the Last Week (new cases per million) for Countries over one million population

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Mongolia  6,173 Serbia  5,633
2 Serbia  5,395 Mongolia  5,014
3 Cuba Cuba
4 Israel  4,927 Lithuania
5 UK  3,335 UK  3,548
6 Lithuania Estonia
7 Malaysia Romania
8 Slovenia Latvia
9 Costa Rica Slovenia
10 Georgia Israel
11 USA  2,638 Georgia
12 Estonia  2,629 Malaysia  2,707

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

YouTube’s CEO boasted that free speech is a core value.  Striking a slightly discordant note was the simultaneous revelation that YouTube is removing videos by the recently poisoned and now cured Russian dissident and critic of Mr Putin, the lawyer and politician, Alexey Navalny.   The CEO said there were “multiple considerations” to take into account when dealing with a country like Russia.  Could it be that profit is a more-core-value than free speech?

Are there also multiple considerations to take into account when considering commentary on Covid vaccines?  YouTube has announced a blanket ban on all anti-vaccine content.

Now I’ll be the first in line to poke fun of some of the nonsensical claims about the vaccines having magnetic particles in them, and so on.  But I’m not going to close my eyes and ignore the reality of scientific analysis and counts of vaccine side effects such as this.  The CDC and FDA have shown they can not be trusted to do the right thing, repeatedly, during the Covid crisis, and our case and death counts are the silent rebuke at their incompetence.  We desperately need people to challenge these complacent institutions that have grown too comfortable in a role as unaccountable oracles.

Nonsense claims wither and die under the light of public exposure (and ridicule).  But banning such nonsense gives substance to their claims – “here’s the truth that the officials are trying to ban you from hearing” type validation.  People who are susceptible to nonsense will now find such spurious claims in dark corners of the internet, without rebuttals alongside.  Censoring content gives added life and validity to it, rather than rebutting it.

I’ve no idea what “restless anal syndrome” is, but it sure doesn’t sound nice!  It is another possible outcome of a Covid infection.

Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine

The cost/benefit balance of ivermectin is very simple and easy to understand.  If it doesn’t work, you’ve wasted a few dollars, and you’re no worse off than if you hadn’t taken it.  If it does work (and whether or not it be as a placebo effect or a real response doesn’t really matter, cured is cured, isn’t it!) then you’ve potentially saved yourself tens of thousands of dollars in hospitalization, extended debilitating illness via “longhaul Covid” after being “cured”, and possibly death.

So you’d think insurance companies would be eager to see doctors prescribing ivermectin most liberally.  Apparently not always so.  This “private sector/quasi-monopoly” intervention against ivermectin eerily reminds me of similar interventions against other legal lawful things, for example, related to firearms and accessories.

Vaccine News

The US is having to decide, as part of its new “foreigners can visit if they have been vaccinated” policy, which vaccines will be officially recognized as acceptably effective when visitors arrive, and which are not suitable.  Strangely, the two Chinese vaccines, criticized around the world, are on the accepted list, while the Russian vaccine is not.

There’s not a lot of data validating the Russian vaccines, other than from Russian sources, but what’s the bet this was purely a political decision made without any review of the science supporting either the Chinese or Russian vaccines?

Talking about “not a lot of data”, here’s an alarming and unlikely (one hopes!) claim by a senior Army flight surgeon warning that vaccinated pilots might die in mid-flight from vaccine side effects.

YouTube of course will rush to censor that claim now.  And while I’m the first to agree that simply being “a senior Army flight surgeon” in no way guarantees the accuracy of a person’s claim, it should not be automatically censored.  It should at least cause the “experts” to acknowledge the claim, investigate it, and respond with either agreement or reasoned disagreement.

Two things surprised me about the booster shots.  The first thing is they are the exact same dose as the first two doses.  What are the odds that even the first two doses are exactly optimized?  The dosage trials did not look at finely tuned intervals of dosages and outcomes, they just rushed through to confirm people weren’t dying from varying dosage levels and some level of antibody response was being generated.  And what are the odds that the same dose is again exactly right as a booster shot?

One of the things that I can’t forget is the series of blunders that characterized the AstraZeneca trials included the accidental discovery that a half strength initial dose, followed by a full strength second dose, actually worked better than two equal strength doses.  As far as I’m aware, that discovery was then ignored when developing the official doses for the AZ vaccine, and has not been considered for the other vaccines at all.

The second thing that surprised me is why are we being given booster shots of the exact same vaccine – the one that was developed 18+ months ago, before the new variants evolved and developed resistance to it?  Shouldn’t we be doing the same thing we do with ‘flu vaccines – have a new shot for this year, to reflect the most active virus variants out there at present?  Or something, anything, to acknowledge the old vaccines are only weakly effective against the current Delta and possibly newer variants?

This article shares my opinion.

Timings And Numbers

I mentioned in the preceding section about how the booster vaccines have not been adjusted for the new mix of virus variants we are confronting.  Just about every country that is measuring and reporting on this is showing 100% Delta variant infections, and yet our vaccines are known to be not as effective against the Delta variation, and new anticipated variations building on the Delta changes look to be even less impacted by the vaccines.

This is at the heart of why our vaccination rates are insufficient to stem the continuing new Covid cases each day.  If the vaccines were indeed 90% effective, numbers would be dropping much more quickly.  And, of course, let’s not also forget the vaccines, while reducing the risk of serious illness and death, apparently don’t do much to stop us getting a weak infection and passing it on to others.  These vaccines are not what we hoped for or were promised, a year ago, and it is time we stop pretending they are.

It is truly unfortunate we are fighting “the last battle” while the enemy is engaging us for the next battle.  We deserve better than this from the drug companies making billions of dollars selling vaccines, and the regulators blithely waving them on.

Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again on Sunday.

 

 

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