Salvador Dali City of drawers – The Anthropomorphic Cabinet 1936
The minus number is a nice detail.
Following last week’s ‘fact check‘ from Full Fatuous – ostensibly of my piece but with some words of admonition for PHE as well, particularly over the accuracy of the population data – a new note appeared in the report: “Interpretation of the case rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated population is particularly susceptible to changes in denominators and should be interpreted with extra caution.” So there you go. All estimates in this post are based on the data PHE uses and are valid insofar as that data is accurate. As before, the data is just for a four-week period, which, given that the early part of the Delta surge was dominated by the unvaccinated and the latter part has seen infections rise in the vaccinated, seems to me a mistake. A fairer view would cover the whole Delta surge (as with the estimates I make from the data in the Technical Briefings), but in any case the report gives a snapshot of current relative infection rates.
As Full Fatuous pointed out, PHE don’t recommend using this data to estimate vaccine effectiveness, saying it’s “not the most appropriate method” because it’s unadjusted for risk factors (and, inevitably, they don’t provide the data you’d need to adjust it). However, even if not recommended by PHE, it is certainly a valid method of calculating vaccine effectiveness, which is just a figure which states the relative risk reduction in the vaccinated group, as long as you bear in mind its limitations. All vaccine effectiveness estimates have limitations, and while adjusting for confounding factors is in principle important, it is helpful only if done well, and many studies do not do it well. Unadjusted estimates from raw data are a necessary starting point.
Perhaps the key confounder for the estimates of vaccine effectiveness against infection given here is whether people have been previously infected, with a common assumption being that a higher proportion of the unvaccinated will be previously infected, due to it being a potential factor in people’s decision not to be vaccinated. This may well artificially lower the vaccine effectiveness estimates, but since no one has yet produced data showing how antibodies-from-infection split between vaccinated and unvaccinated it is hard to know how far this is the case. Unvaccinated here means actually unvaccinated, not partially vaccinated or post-jab. Hospitalisation means “cases presenting to emergency care (within 28 days of a positive specimen) resulting in an overnight inpatient admission”.
As England’s drawn-out Delta outbreak drags on, the infection rates in the vaccinated continue to outpace those in the unvaccinated, reducing (unadjusted) vaccine effectiveness further. For the 60s age group, infection rates are 63% higher in the vaccinated than in the unvaccinated, up from 53% last week, giving an (unadjusted) vaccine effectiveness of minus-63%. But that has been topped this week by the 40s age group, the vaccinated among whom now have an infection rate no less than 66% higher than the unvaccinated, up from 46% in last week’s report and 27% in the report for the month ending September 5th. Vaccine effectiveness has been heading downward in the 30s age group as well, now just 8%, though interestingly it has actually been increasing in the under 18s.
“..Iceland and Portugal. Both countries have over 75% of their population fully vaccinated and have more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than countries such as Vietnam and South Africa that have around 10% of their population fully vaccinated.”
But still you say they are unrelated?
At the country-level, there appears to be no discernable relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days. In fact, the trend line suggests a marginally positive association such that countries with higher percentage of population fully vaccinated have higher COVID-19 cases per 1 million people. Notably, Israel with over 60% of their population fully vaccinated had the highest COVID-19 cases per 1 million people in the last 7 days. The lack of a meaningful association between percentage population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases is further exemplified, for instance, by comparison of Iceland and Portugal. Both countries have over 75% of their population fully vaccinated and have more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than countries such as Vietnam and South Africa that have around 10% of their population fully vaccinated.
Across the US counties too, the median new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days is largely similar across the categories of percent population fully vaccinated (Fig. 2). Notably there is also substantial county variation in new COVID-19 cases within categories of percentage population fully vaccinated. There also appears to be no significant signaling of COVID-19 cases decreasing with higher percentages of population fully vaccinated. Of the top 5 counties that have the highest percentage of population fully vaccinated (99.9–84.3%), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies 4 of them as “High” Transmission counties. Chattahoochee (Georgia), McKinley (New Mexico), and Arecibo (Puerto Rico) counties have above 90% of their population fully vaccinated with all three being classified as “High” transmission.
Conversely, of the 57 counties that have been classified as “low” transmission counties by the CDC, 26.3% (15) have percentage of population fully vaccinated below 20%. Since full immunity from the vaccine is believed to take about 2 weeks after the second dose, we conducted sensitivity analyses by using a 1-month lag on the percentage population fully vaccinated for countries and US counties. The above findings of no discernable association between COVID-19 cases and levels of fully vaccinated was also observed when we considered a 1-month lag on the levels of fully vaccinated. We should note that the COVID-19 case data is of confirmed cases, which is a function of both supply (e.g., variation in testing capacities or reporting practices) and demand-side (e.g., variation in people’s decision on when to get tested) factors.
“The problem with developing drugs like this is that if they get into other cells, not virally-infected ones, they can also cause those errors in the DNA replication and thus terminate the cell’s propagation and cellular line.”
This drug is an analog (in other words, “looks the same to a living cell”) of cytosine. That’s one of four chemical “bases” that make up DNA. What Merck has done is “damage” it in a way that a cell still thinks its cytosine. Thus when it gets taken up in the synthesis of RNA it produces an error; the replication process doesn’t know how to deal with that and, after a few of those accumulate the process fails and thus the virus (in this case Covid-19) cannot reproduce in the cell. That’s how it works, basically. I was incorrect, by the way, in calling this a potential protease inhibitor, much like those used for HIV. Pfizer has one of those in test for Covid-19 as well. This is not — it is a nucleoside (the four primary chemical bases that make up DNA) analog that has been deliberately damaged so as to screw up the replication machinery.
There are a few of these used today in humans, with most targeting HIV in “combination therapy.” Covid-19 in most people produces transient, self-limiting illness. In some people it causes dysregulation of the immune system, organizing viral pneumonia and if not stopped there can kill you either through direct spread into other organs or the dysfunction that comes from the body’s response to that. We greatly increase the risk of that happening by telling you to go home and eat chicken soup until you’re choking; by the time you are choking anything you could have done, including using drugs that might partially block replication or suppress excess inflammatory response (e.g. antihistamines, drugs such as HCQ or Ivermectin, etc.) or put a stop to the organizing pneumonia (e.g. inhaled steroids such as budesonide) may not work at all or have greatly-reduced effectiveness.
That’s stupid but its what damn near every so-called “medical professional” has told you to do for the last 18 months. That advice may be valid for a cold virus but it definitely is not when the virus in question can and sometimes does result in wildly-inappropriate systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation. HIV, on the other hand, progressively destroys your immune system and then a whole bunch of things that usually don’t kill people at all (like PCP) get going in your body and finish you off. In other words HIV is akin to cancer, which if not stopped will kill you with near 100% certainty by screwing things up to the point that your body cannot fix it anymore, whereas Covid-19, in most people, is a self-limiting respiratory infection.
The problem with developing drugs like this is that if they get into other cells, not virally-infected ones, they can also cause those errors in the DNA replication and thus terminate the cell’s propagation and cellular line. Depending on how quickly those cells replicate in the human body that might be a small and self-limiting problem (e.g. they replicate fast and only a few of them get “polluted”) or it might be a ticking time bomb that ultimately screws you in hard-to-predict and impossible to treat ways (e.g. slowly-replicating types of cells where a lot of them get polluted.) It’s even worse if you’re a person of reproductive age as cellular replication happens very rapidly in a developing fetus and thus any such impact has a high probability of over-expressing in that circumstance. This is exactly how thalidomide babies happened and its not necessarily limited to women either since half the genetic material comes from the man and unlike women who start with all of the eggs they will ever have men are continually producing new sperm cells which conceivably could carry that damage into the zygote.
VanDen Bossche warned us.
Associations between vaccine breakthrough cases and infection by SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants have remained largely unexplored. Here we analyzed SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome sequences and viral loads from 1,373 persons with COVID-19 from the San Francisco Bay Area from February 1 to June 30, 2021, of which 125 (9.1%) were vaccine breakthrough infections. Fully vaccinated were more likely than unvaccinated persons to be infected by variants carrying mutations associated with decreased antibody neutralization (L452R, L452Q, E484K, and/or F490S) (78% versus 48%, p = 1.96e-08), but not by those associated with increased infectivity (L452R and/or N501Y) (85% versus 77%, p = 0.092). Differences in viral loads were non-significant between unvaccinated and fully vaccinated persons overall (p = 0.99) and according to lineage (p = 0.09 – 0.78).
Viral loads were significantly higher in symptomatic as compared to asymptomatic vaccine breakthrough cases (p < 0.0001), and symptomatic vaccine breakthrough infections had similar viral loads to unvaccinated infections (p = 0.64). In 5 cases with available longitudinal samples for serologic analyses, vaccine breakthrough infections were found to be associated with low or undetectable neutralizing antibody levels attributable to immunocompromised state or infection by an antibody-resistant lineage. These findings suggest that vaccine breakthrough cases are preferentially caused by circulating antibody-resistant SARS-CoV-2 variants, and that symptomatic breakthrough infections may potentially transmit COVID-19 as efficiently as unvaccinated infections, regardless of the infecting lineage.
“No hospital admissions, deaths, nor adverse drug effects were reported in our patient population.”
Between March and April 2020, 84 elderly patients with suspected COVID-19 living in two nursing homes of Yepes, Toledo (Spain) were treated early with antihistamines (dexchlorpheniramine, cetirizine or loratadine), adding azithromycin in the 25 symptomatic cases. The outcomes are retrospectively reported. The primary endpoint is the fatality rate of COVID-19. The secondary endpoints are the hospital and ICU admission rates. Endpoints were compared with the official Spanish rates for the elderly. The mean age of our population was 85 and 48% were over 80 years old.
No hospital admissions, deaths, nor adverse drug effects were reported in our patient population. By the end of June, 100% of the residents had positive serology for COVID-19. Although clinical trials are needed to determine the efficacy of both drugs in the treatment of COVID-19, this analysis suggests that primary care diagnosis and treatment with antihistamines, plus azithromycin in selected cases, may treat COVID-19 and prevent progression to severe disease in elderly patients.
Also an expert on immigration.
White House health adviser Anthony Fauci has insisted that Covid-19 is not being spread by untested immigrants. He also claims the virus remains such a threat that traditional Christmas celebrations might need to be canceled. During a Sunday interview on CNN, Fauci was asked about a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll that found 55% of Republicans partially blame the spread of Covid-19 on immigrants and tourism. The survey follows scrutiny of the Biden administration over tactics at the US-Mexico border, where White House officials have admitted many migrants are not required to be tested for coronavirus and are subsequently released into the US with a notice to attend court at a later date.
Fauci said he did not see any connection between the spread of the virus and immigration. “This is not driven by immigrants. This is a problem within our country, the same way it’s a problem within other countries throughout the world,” the infectious-diseases expert said. “They are not the driving force of this,” he added. “Let’s face reality here.” Fauci was also asked about Title 42 – a Trump-era policy that permits the expulsion of migrants caught illegally crossing the border during the coronavirus pandemic. In response, the doctor said that “expelling” immigrants was “not the solution to an outbreak.” Fauci’s comments were met with plenty of criticism on social media, though many others agreed and echoed his view that there was scant connection between untested migrants and Covid-19 cases.
We have an idea what the problem is with endless booster shots.
Israel restricted its COVID Green Pass on Sunday to allow only those who have received a vaccine booster dose or recently recuperated from coronavirus to enter indoor venues. The new criteria mean that nearly 2 million people will lose their vaccination passport in the coming days. Israel is the first country to make a booster shot a requirement for its digital vaccination passport. The move is widely seen as a step to encourage booster vaccination among those who have yet to receive a third dose. Under the new guidelines, people must have received a booster shot to be eligible for a green pass. Those who have received two vaccine doses, and those who have recovered from coronavirus, will be issued passes valid for six months after the date of their vaccination or recovery.
The government’s advisory cabinet on coronavirus was set to convene Sunday to discuss existing restrictions and guidelines. Technical problems hamstrung the Health Ministry’s rollout of the updated green pass as millions of Israelis tried to reissue digital documentation that would allow entry to shops, restaurants, cultural events, gyms and other indoor venues. Scores of Israelis staged demonstrations around the country in protest of the green pass system, with convoys of cars clogging morning commutes as many Israelis returned to work Sunday after September’s Jewish High Holidays. Opponents of the system said it is a form of forced vaccination. “We are totally against any forced vaccinations, or any forced medications, and we are totally against doing anything to our children and grandchildren that we don’t agree with,” said Sarah Felt, who protested along the main highway connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The Testimonies Project.
When you see real people, faces, voices, against the ordinary backdrops of their homes, and you see the sorrow in their eyes, it becomes impossible to keep wild sorrow at bay any longer. Words become displaced by tears. Even rage, you realize, is a waiting room, a stalling place where you numb the sorrow, where you keep it slightly away from your heart. And the outpost thought, looping constantly, the train’s last station: “This can’t be happening.”
The pandemic events of 2020-2021 outline a potential pathway for a future democratically elected President of the United States to systematically end democracy. The course of events leading to this outcome need not be a repeat of the direct assault on the Capitol, but a distortion of risk of illness as a justification for military force and suspension of democratic norms. Sometime over the next quarter century, it is inevitable that America, and all nations, will experience a cold and flu season above average. In a typical season approximately 40,000 Americans may die, but it is possible an above average season may see 80,000 or more deaths.
Inevitably some location(s) in the country will experience a surge in cases. Television news will show overworked hospital workers, and report that Intensive Care Unit beds have nearly run out– of course, ICU’s often operate near capacity, so this finding alone may not be that noteworthy, but in our attention economy, it may be sensationalized. Some afflicted individuals will be young children– typical for the flu, and these anecdotes will surely be emotionally salient. A video of a young boy or girl on life support machines may be used to show how dire things are. These events will then serve as an opportunity for a strong federal response.
A future US president may declare that the crisis in the region from influenza is unprecedented. Too many children are dying, and hospitals are near capacity. Citing the lessons of COVID19—that if anything we acted too late—the President may call upon the governor to issue a shelter in place warning. A week later, citing a continued rise in case, and “non-compliance” of the local people, the President could order the national guard or army troops in to secure the region. Notably, military force was applied in Australia during COVID19.
During the COVID19 pandemic, some of the most ardent calls for strong restrictions came from members of the political left. If a future president is on the political right; this would serve as a natural opportunity to remind the public that strong tactics were precisely what the other side demanded more of during COVID19. Life and safety, particularly that of children, is of paramount importance, and strong lockdowns must ensue. In many regions across the world, one political party preferred stronger countermeasures to COVID19, in all those nations, the opposing party that has the advantage for misusing force in the future.
Eventually, inevitably, disagreements with the policies will arise. Social media may see small explosions of dialog critical of prolonged lockdown or skeptical of hospital volumes. A future leader can seize this opportunity for a forced takeover of media or social media companies. Misinformation that compromises a national attempt at safety must be shut down. The future leader can remind the public that during COVID19 many were critical that we did not do enough to ban dangerous and misleading speech, and now we are doing just that.
Staff shortages are rippling out from the haulage, farming and hospitality sectors to almost all parts of the economy, putting “severe pressure” on medium-sized business across the UK, a new survey has warned. More than a quarter of the 500 firms polled said the lack of staff was putting pressure on their ability to operate at normal levels, with reduced stock – due to the resulting supply chain disruption – hurting their business. While some firms had considered cutting production, others were planning to raise prices, leading to concerns over rising inflation as the Christmas trading period approaches. Nearly a fifth said they were increasing wages to attract new staff, while others were introducing extra perks to lure workers.
But the report, released by accountancy and advisory firm BDO, said the knock-on effects for consumers could be “significant”, with nearly one-third of businesses saying the prices would need to rise in the next three to six months to make up for the disruption. More than one-third of firms in the survey said they had also cut down on the kinds of products and services on offer, with a further third planned to do the same over the coming month unless the situation radically improves. A similar proportion expect stock ranges to be affected long-term.
Businesses blamed the pandemic and Brexit for the shortage of overseas workers, with 38% saying a lack of regional talent was hurting their ability to recruit much-needed staff. “Brexit, global supply chain issues and the long tail of Covid-19 has created a perfect storm for UK businesses,” BDO partner Ed Dwan said. “After navigating the challenges of the pandemic and hoping for some respite, businesses have found themselves facing more major disruption, with those across almost all sectors reporting staff shortages.
She wants more censorship.
A former Facebook data scientist, responsible for censoring “dangerous” and “misleading” information during the 2020 US election, has all but accused the social media giant of facilitating the January 6 “insurrection.” In the ‘60 Minutes’ interview with CBS on Sunday, Frances Haugen, 37, came forward as the whistleblower behind a recent WSJ investigation and a Senate hearing. But while her Tuesday subcommittee appearance, titled ‘Protecting Kids Online’, will be focused on Instagram’s effect on the mental health of teens, in her interview Haugen touched upon another aspect of why she believes unregulated Facebook poses a danger to “democracy.” Haugen was recruited into Facebook’s Civic Integrity unit back in 2019, and gladly joined because she personally “lost a friend to online conspiracy theories.”
She had helped battle misinformation during the US presidential elections, but the moment Facebook rolled back its safeguards became a turning point when she told herself: “I don’t trust that they’re willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous.” “As soon as the election was over, they turned them back off or they changed the settings back to what they were before, to prioritize growth over safety. And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me.” Hagen said there was a constant conflict of interests “between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” accusing the company of always prioritizing profits.
“Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money,” she said. “Like, they basically said, ‘Oh good, we made it through the election. There wasn’t riots. We can get rid of Civic Integrity now.’ Fast forward a couple months, we got the insurrection.”
France capped the rise at 12.6%, and said no more hikes until March/April. But Bulgarian prices rose 36% last week. Be careful out there.
Household electricity bills will rise by 29.8% for the typical family and gas bills will go up by 14.4%, Italy’s energy regulatory authority Arera confirmed in a press release last week. The new national tariffs came into effect on Friday, the start of the fourth quarter of 2021. The increase comes amid surging energy costs across Europe, and beyond. The price rise passed on to Italian consumers could’ve reached 45 percent, Arera said, if the government had not stepped in to cap the new rise in rates. The Italian government last week announced measures costing three billion euros aimed at limiting a steeper rise in energy prices for consumers.
As well as keeping the cost to most families below 30 percent and 15 percent, the government measures will keep additional costs at zero for those least well-off, including households with an income under 8,265 euros, families with at least 4 dependent children with an income of less than 20,000 euros, those who receive a state pension or unemployment benefit, and people who are seriously ill, Sky TG24 reports. The measures also cut the ‘general charge’ from gas bills for all throughout the last quarter of 2021, and on electricity for families and some small businesses. Last quarter, the retail cost of electricity rose by 9.9% and gas by 15.3% from July 1st. The government also stepped in that time to cap costs, with 1.2 billion euros in state aid.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said last week that many of the reasons for the energy price increases were temporary but called for long-term action, including at a European level, to address the problem, including through diversifying supplies. Italy is highly dependent on imports and consumes a large amount of gas. Some 40% of its primary energy consumption is gas, compared with about 15 percent in France, according to official statistics for both countries.
When I saw Luke Harding listed as the main author for the Guardian, I stopped reading. That was before I saw there are no American names mentioned. What a bunch of BS.
Leaked papers appear to show how some of the world’s elites accumulate property empires while avoiding millions in taxes, with reports focusing on European, Middle Eastern and South American leaders, and world-famous celebrities. Obtained from 14 offshore banking institutions and analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the ‘Pandora Papers’ reveal the financial chicanery of more than 100 billionaires, 35 current and former world leaders, and 300 public officials. The first round of information, handed to a select list of international outlets and studied by “600 journalists,” was published on Sunday.
According to the ICIJ, King Abdullah II of Jordan is a prolific user of shell corporations to manage his global property empire. The monarch reportedly used 36 of these companies from 1995 to 2017 to purchase 14 luxury properties in the US and UK worth more than $106 million. The king’s lawyers say he used these stand-in companies to maintain his privacy rather than to dodge any taxes. Azerbaijan’s ruling Aliyev family has traded almost $500 million worth of British property in recent years, according to the leaks. One of these properties was sold by an Aliyev-owned front company to the Queen’s crown estate for a sizable $90 million.
[..] Despite featuring an image of Vladimir Putin front and center on their introductory piece, and mentioning Putin nearly 50 times in a spin-off article about the “hidden riches of Putin’s inner circle,” The Guardian had to admit in its reporting that the Russian president “does not appear in the files by name.” Instead, the paper focused on Putin’s “friends,” including billionaire businessman Gennady Timchenko, and Putin’s rumored past “girlfriend.”
— McLuhan (@Kukicat7) October 3, 2021
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