This document is part of an archive of postings on Dissecting Leftism, a blog hosted by Blogspot who are in turn owned by Google. The index to the archive is available here or here. Indexes to my other blogs can be located here or here. Archives do accompany my original postings but, given the animus towards conservative writing on Google and other internet institutions, their permanence is uncertain. These alternative archives help ensure a more permanent record of what I have written.

This is a backup copy of the original blog

31 August, 2021

What’s the Value of Natural COVID Immunity?</b>

A huge new study offers hope that previous infection is better than vaccination.

A large study in Israel gives some information that most American “experts” and media parrots have been ignoring: The 39 million Americans with recorded cases of COVID (and who knows what the actual number of COVID cases has been) are likely better immunized than the nearly 170 million Americans who are fully vaccinated. Some number of people have had both COVID and the vaccine, and they have greater immunity still.

(It’s important to note that the statistics here don’t disprove the anecdotes we all know. Your mom or your uncle had the shot and still got COVID, or your cousin had COVID twice. Yes, those cases still happen, but the data is what it is.)

“The natural immune protection that develops after a SARS-CoV-2 infection offers considerably more of a shield against the Delta variant of the pandemic coronavirus than two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,” reports Science magazine. “The newly released data show people who once had a SARS-CoV-2 infection were much less likely than never-infected, vaccinated people to get Delta, develop symptoms from it, or become hospitalized with serious COVID-19.”

Immunologist Michel Nussenzweig expressed the reason that no doubt motivates much of the suppression of this type of information: “What we don’t want people to say is: ‘All right, I should go out and get infected, I should have an infection party.’” Fair enough. It’s not far-fetched to imagine that such a thing is exactly what some folks might do, and COVID does, in fact, still kill people.

A huge caveat is that the Israeli study is observational and not a randomized controlled trial, which would provide a more accurate picture by better isolating variables. The same bias toward observational studies is what has millions of Americans re-saddled with mask mandates, despite the fact that over a dozen randomized control studies show masking is ineffective and possibly counterproductive.

As researcher Jeffrey Anderson explains, “Observational studies are not only of lower quality than RCTs but also are more likely to be politicized, as they can inject the researcher’s judgment more prominently into the inquiry and lend themselves, far more than RCTs, to finding what one wants to find.”

If that’s the case, does the Israeli study matter? Yes, for many reasons. It involved 700,000 people, so it’s statistically significant. It backs up results from 14 other studies, and it comports with what is known about COVID and other viruses in other studies. “For many infectious diseases,” Science magazine says, “naturally acquired immunity is known to be more powerful than vaccine-induced immunity and it often lasts a lifetime.” Ask the CDC if you should receive the chicken pox vaccine if you’ve already had chicken pox. Go ahead — ask.

The Israeli study is also important because so many mandates completely disregard all variables. If you’re human, you must mask up, socially distance, test for COVID, etc. Many companies are requiring vaccines regardless of prior infection. The Pentagon has done likewise, and many schools may be next.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says, “Mandating vaccines for children to appear in school is a good idea.” If the science above is correct, Fauci at least needs to admit the nuance and caveats. He doesn’t, and we suspect it’s because Joe Biden’s dictum is vaccinating every American. Fauci may be a bureaucrat, but he’s also a political animal. That’s why he shrewdly blames criticism of him on the “politicization of what should be a purely public health issue.” Who politicized it, again? Vaccines aren’t the problem; mandates are.

The bottom line is that our COVID policies have generally been a mess. We’ve not done enough to protect the most vulnerable, while at the same time masking and quarantining the most healthy, which has delayed the process of reaching herd immunity. The result is prolonging misery during a never-ending pandemic


The political extremism of the left: a religion

The fact that the left can go too far has become taboo. It is not right-wingers or conservatives that fall afoul of this standard — they are “deplorables” after all. No, it is people in the centre-left who find themselves cancelled for not agreeing with the extremes on their side of the aisle. This is something that even Waleed Ali has noticed.

Winston Marshall — for those not following the story — was the banjo player in the hugely successful band Mumford & Sons who quit the band after receiving backlash from a Tweet endorsing a book.

The book that got him cancelled was Andy Ngo’s investigation into extreme left violence perpetrated by the group ANTIFA. Winston Marshall, in an interview for Unherd, expressed that he had no idea that saying that the journalist was brave — which considering the physical danger he put himself in to document ANTIFA is a well-warranted description — would be so controversial. 

He was shocked to find out that acknowledging that the left can go too far is a cancelable offence. 

The film Better Left Unsaid directed by and starring Curt Jaimungal and produced by Desh Amila explores political extremism and how the cocktail of ideas held by the modern radical left could go badly wrong. 

The Sydney based producer, Desh, is no stranger to controversy. His previous film, Islam and the Future of Tolerance, explores religious extremism. As far as hot button topics go one would think – particularly in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo, Islam would be it. However, in an interview with Megyn Kelly, Desh reveals that the distribution company that worked with him on his previous film didn’t want to take on this one.

In that interview, they also describe all manner of difficulty getting through the Big Tech gatekeepers that control movie streaming platforms such as Apple TV and YouTube — and is why everyone should view the film directly on the website:

However, unlike Winston, Desh and Curt walked into this knowing their film on political extremism would be controversial.

A taboo often shows more about a society than the people that transverse it — and what an illuminating taboo this is. 

Theocratic societies have blasphemy laws to protect the state mythology. Liberal democratic societies historically use social coercion to protect it’s mythology (think historically how acts like burning the flag or defacing monuments would be viewed – compare that to today). 

Evolutionary psychologist Gad Saad refers to the set of principles that undergird the modern left as the DIE — diversity, inclusion and equity — religion. One could even go so far as to call it a state religion considering how many government departments in many different countries subject their employees to diversity training or put these up as the organisational values which everyone who works there must hold. 

One possible explanation to why pointing out the problems of the extreme left has become taboo is that it shows that taking any one of these DIE values and making it an absolute, the results are not more prosperity and freedom but oppression and want.  

The most obvious example of the above is the pursuit of equality at the expense of any other value. That is not to say that equality is not a virtue, but they can never be the only value pursued and definitely not absolute equality. That is exactly what fanaticism looks like. The 1900s is full of examples from Russia to China to Cambodia to Cuba (and many many more) of the pain and suffering that pursuit of radical equity above all else causes. 

To point out that the cardinal values that are so foundational to government departments and big corporations are not absolute and can even produce suffering when taken to their logical (though extreme) conclusion is akin to telling a theocratic ruler that their god doesn’t exist – it threatens the entire mythology of institutions. 

Those that point out where these values can go too far — particularly those that identify with the left side of politics – are the heretics of our time.

Winston Marshall, Andy Ngo, the Better Left Unsaid crew, and everyone that dares to transgress this new taboo is truly counter-cultural. They are the new punk!




30 August, 2021

Israel’s grand vaccine experiment as the world and UK watches on

The only person who kept calm in the packed health clinic in northern Jerusalem on Monday morning was a 19-year-old military medic. As dozens jostled in the narrow corridor leading to the vaccination booths, arguing over whose turn it was next, he surveyed the scene wryly before sitting back in his booth and preparing a syringe with 0.3 millilitres of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which he then plunged into my shoulder. 

“This is actually a lull,” he said. “You should have been here an hour ago when the real chaos began.” Perhaps for the soldier — seconded the previous week from his combat engineering battalion on desert manoeuvres — sitting all day in an air-conditioned clinic was an improvement. But no one else there shared his equanimity. 

Israel is the first country to embark on a second nationwide vaccination campaign for Covid-19. This time, the jabbing takes place on two fronts. For those over 30, who received their first two jabs at least five months ago, there’s a third “booster” dose. There’s also a push to vaccinate as many secondary pupils (over-12s) as possible before the new school year begins next Wednesday. 

But although more than a million and a half Israelis have already had a third jab, the atmosphere is very different from the first roll-out, when huge vaccination centres were opened in sports stadiums and city squares, and many people, overjoyed at the prospect of lockdown lifting, broke into song and started dancing. Now, Covid cases are spiralling again — with the daily rate more than doubling in the past two weeks. Hospitalisations are also rising. “I believe we are at war,” coronavirus commissioner Professor Salman Zarka told a parliamentary committee this month. Israel is pinning its hopes on the booster programme. 

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Back in March, Israel’s vaccination programme was the envy of the world. And vaccines, which proved effective against a third wave of Covid-19 fuelled mainly by the Kent variant, allowed the country to reopen. Joyous Israelis, with the “green pass” vaccine passport on their smartphones, packed out restaurants and bars, and vaccination centres were dismantled. In March, face mask requirements were removed. Then came the Delta variant. Now, Israel finds itself serving as a test case for the longer-term efficacy of a vaccine programme. 

Public health experts are not surprised. They had warned that it was impossible to predict whether the new vaccine would give adequate protection against new variants — that the protection would wane over time, perhaps in a matter of months. And that while it would probably continue to give significant protection against serious illness from Covid-19, that didn’t mean those vaccinated couldn’t still become infected and pass the virus on to others.

And that’s exactly what happened in the spring. The first Israelis to get vaccinated in December (unlike in Britain, Israel worked according to the Pfizer protocol, delivering the two doses three weeks apart) were relatively mobile and well-to-do citizens over the age of 60. As the country emerged from lockdown, many flew abroad for holidays. With the vaccine beginning to weaken, some came home infected with the Delta variant. Next, they infected their children and grandchildren, and the highly contagious strain swept through schools in the weeks before the summer holiday. 

It didn’t help that around that time, the government changed and ministers took their eyes off the ball. In the spring, then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was basking in the success of the first roll-out, which he ascribed to his decision-making and influence with big pharma, claiming this enabled him to secure early shipments of the vaccine. Then, in May, he was distracted by the war in Gaza. Three weeks later he was out, replaced by Naftali Bennett, who sees himself as an expert on coronavirus — he ran for office partly on the basis of his manifesto, “How to Beat a Pandemic”. Bennett blithely predicted that “we can beat Covid-19 in five weeks”. That was over two months ago and Israel now has the second-highest level of new cases per capita in the world and the coronavirus wards that were closed in April have all reopened.

It isn’t all bad news, though. For a start, the vaccines are still working. After six months they are only 42 per cent effective against infection, but against serious illness they are still 80 per cent effective. Death rates are only half as high as they were in the previous waves and while less than 20 per cent of all Israeli adults have not been vaccinated, they account for half the cases in hospital. And now that the government has made the third dose available, it is already having an effect in boosting the resistance to infection of recipients. 

The government decided on the boosters despite the World Health Organisation’s recommendation to wait until countries that have barely begun giving out first doses can get their vaccination campaigns under way. Israeli public health officials argue that since theirs is a small country, the booster doses do not impact on global supply, and that they are serving as a test-case for countries such as Britain which will give boosters in coming months. As the first country to administer booster jabs nationwide, Israel is embarking on a grand experiment. Bennett is adamant that the country will not enter a fourth lockdown, despite the rise in infections. 

Vaccinations are so far keeping hospitals from being overwhelmed and experts are cautiously optimistic that the high uptake of third vaccines will keep it that way. For now, the school year is on track to begin next week. Face-masks are now mandatory again in all closed spaces and the target is for all secondary schools to be at least 70 per cent vaccinated before pupils return. The rest will be vaccinated at school within days of the start of term.

In primary schools, where under-12s cannot yet be vaccinated, there will be weekly testing. It’s a gamble, reopening schools while Israel is still at peak infection — experts calculate that one in every 100 Israelis is infected. And Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a time of large family gatherings and communal prayers, begins on September 7. 

However, Professor Doron Gazit, head of the Hebrew University’s Covid monitoring team, says: “We may actually have overestimated the danger of infection over the High Holidays. The chances of infection at family gatherings is counteracted by the reduced mobility as people travel less to work.”  

Ultimately, the success of “containing” the Delta variant with booster jabs, face-masks and increased testing, while avoiding lockdown, could influence other governments’ policies on reopening schools and celebrating Christmas. It’s all eyes on Israel.


Johnson & Johnson booster shot increases antibodies to coronavirus nine-fold, company says

A booster dose of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine prompted a big spike in antibodies among clinical trial participants, when taken six to eight months after the first dose, the company announced on Wednesday (Aug.25).

Health officials have recommended that people vaccinated with the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines receive a booster dose about eight months after their second dose, due to waning immunity, Live Science previously reported. But they have not yet recommended a booster for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing the lack of data.

"We also anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine," the U.S. Department of Health and Human services said in a statement on Aug.18. They added that they expect more data on the Johnson & Johnson booster shots in the next few weeks, and that they will "keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots as well."

More than 14 million people in the U.S. received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Today's data, taken from clinical trial participants, suggests that a booster may be beneficial.

A booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine generated a nine-fold increase in antibodies compared to the level seen 28 days after the initial dose, the company reported in a statement. The data is based on two small clinical trials conducted in the U.S. and in Europe, and the company submitted the results, which haven't yet been peer-reviewed, to the preprint database medRxiv. 

"We have established that a single shot of our COVID-19 vaccine generates strong and robust immune responses that are durable and persistent through eight months," Dr. Mathai Mammen, the Global Head of Janssen Research & Development at Johnson & Johnson, said in the statement. "With these new data, we also see that a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine further increases antibody responses among study participants who had previously received our vaccine."

Mammen added that they will discuss potential strategies for booster doses with public health officials.

But the study looked at antibody levels and not at real-world efficacy, so it's not clear if people who get the booster shot will be less likely to be infected or to develop severe disease than those who don't, according to CNN. Still, experts are reaching a consensus that antibody levels may be indicative of the amount of immune protection, according to CNN.

Experts told NPR that while the studies were small, and didn't look at real-world protection, the findings would likely support the idea of giving booster shots to those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. "It is pointing toward the utility of a second dose. I think that's reasonable," Saad Omer, a vaccine researcher at Yale told NPR.



Tone-deaf House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweets about Women’s Equality Day after Americans killed in Kabul (PJ Media)

In hopeless speech, President Biden refuses liability for Afghanistan crisis he created (The Federalist) 

 Biden admits to being instructed which reporters to call on (Daily Wire)

Dumb… CENTCOM commander says U.S. sharing intel with Taliban (Fox Business)

“This is insanity”: Baffled reporters torch Biden for sharing list of U.S. citizens and allies with Taliban (Fox News)

Tropical Storm Ida is strengthening and forecast to hit the Gulf Coast as a major hurricane (TWC)

Portland explodes again in violent battles between antifa and Proud Boys (The Hill)

Feds to close troubled NYC jail where Jeffrey Epstein killed himself/didn’t kill himself (AP)

Democrat Terry McAuliffe, candidate for Virginia governor, forgot to sign form making him a valid candidate, complaint says (Daily Wire)

Getting it right on the second try: Supreme Court strikes down eviction moratorium (National Review) 

 Nearly 90% of rental assistance funds not yet distributed (Fox Business)

Delta Air Lines will impose $200 surcharge on unvaccinated employees (Fox Business)

Policy: How might China exploit the Afghanistan debacle? (Daily Signal)

Policy: How to regulate Critical Race Theory in schools (Manhattan Institute)




29 August, 2021

AstraZeneca vaccine is the best at keeping people out of hospital with just 1.52 per cent admitted and 1 in 3,000 dying compared to 1.99 per cent for the Pfizer jab

<i>Since I have just had an A-Z shot, I rather like this news</i>

AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine is best at keeping people out of hospital and preventing deaths from the virus, a study has found.

Just 1.52 per cent of people who got two doses of the Oxford-made vaccine were admitted to wards after they caught the virus, researchers said. And only 0.03 per cent, or one in 3,000, died from the disease.

But among those who got the Pfizer vaccine 1.99 per cent were hospitalised and 0.15 per cent died after they were infected with the virus. 

The AstraZeneca vaccine has formed the backbone of Britain's vaccine roll out, with 25million people having already received the jab. But it was recommended that under-40s should receive an alternative jab in May amid concern over vanishingly rare blood clots. 

It comes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid ordered the NHS to prepare to vaccinate 12 to 15-year-olds yesterday, in the clearest sign yet that jabs could be offered to the age group. 

The JCVI — which directs Britain's vaccine roll out — is yet to say whether the age group should get the vaccine, but a SAGE adviser said today that inoculating teenagers could slash their risk of getting long Covid.

There is mounting concern that the return of schools next week will spark a fresh wave of Covid infections, after Scotland saw its cases spiral to record highs when schools reopened last Monday.

Britain is currently recording more than 30,000 cases a day on average, compared to almost 2,000 a day at the end of August last year. Scotland yesterday registered almost 7,000 infections, the highest number since the pandemic began.

A separate study from Public Health England and Cambridge University has today suggested people infected with the Indian 'Delta' variant are twice as likely to be hospitalised as those who catch the Kent 'Alpha' variant.

Researchers in Bahrain and at the New York-based Columbia University carried out the study between December and July, which was published as a pre-print. 

They monitored hospitalisations and deaths among people who caught the virus in Bahrain, an island nation in the Middle East, and divided them by vaccine type or those who did not get their jabs.

Scientists have always been honest and said that vaccines do not prevent every infection, but they drastically slash the risk of hospitalisation and death from the virus. 

The study also included the Chinese Sinopharm and Russian Sputnik jabs, which were both worse at preventing hospitalisations than their European and American counterparts.

It was already known that the Covid strain first identified in India is up to 50 per cent more transmissible than the previous dominant Alpha variant, which emerged in Kent.

But the largest study to date comparing the two now shows those infected with the Delta strain are 2.26 times more likely to be admitted to hospital.

Delta is also 1.45 times more likely to see people entering A&E needing emergency treatment.

Scientists claimed this is more proof that the same traits which make the variant spread faster also increase levels of the virus in those it infects, which results in them becoming more severely ill.

The authors of the study, led by Public Health England and Cambridge University, said their results should be used by hospitals to plan – especially in areas where the Delta variant is on the rise.

Dr Anne Presanis, a senior statistician at the university, said: ‘Our analysis highlights that in the absence of vaccination, any Delta outbreaks will impose a greater burden on healthcare than an Alpha epidemic.

‘Getting fully vaccinated is crucial for reducing an individual’s risk of symptomatic infection with Delta in the first place and, importantly, of reducing a Delta patient’s risk of severe illness and hospital admission.’

For those who got the Sinopharm vaccine 6.94 per cent were hospitalised, and 0.46 per cent died — which was the worst performance out of the four vaccines.

Among Sputnik recipients 2.24 per cent were hospitalised, but only 0.09 per cent died from the virus.

The results showed those who did not get the vaccine were most likely to be hospitalised or die if they caught the virus. 

Among the un-vaccinated, 13.22 per cent who caught the virus were hospitalised and 1.32 per cent died. 

The Bahraini researchers said in their study: 'All four vaccines decreased the risk of coronavirus infections, hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths when compared to unvaccinated individuals.'

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at Reading University, told The Sun: 'This study shows people in the UK can be confident they’re getting the best vaccines available.

'AstraZeneca and Pfizer provide good protection.'

The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has been the main jab used in Bahrain, which is home to almost 1.5million people.

More than 569,000 people have been inoculated with the jab.

For comparison, 245,000 residents got the Pfizer jab, 169,000 got AstraZeneca's vaccine and 73,000 received Sputnik.

Clinical trial results suggested the Pfizer vaccine was the most effective at preventing hospitalisations and deaths from Covid.

But experts have warned these figures may not be comparable when jabs are dished out in the real world, when other factors can influence their impact. 

Out of 3,000 AstraZeneca recipients included in the study who caught Covid, only 45 were hospitalised (1.52 per cent) and just one died from the virus (0.03 per cent).

Out of 2,000 Pfizer recipients who caught the virus, 40 were hospitalised (1.99 per cent) and three died from the virus (0.15 per cent).

Out of 3,000 Sputnik recipients who caught the virus, 77 were hospitalised (2.24 per cent) and three died (0.09 per cent).

For the Sinopharm vaccine there were 24,000 cases, of whom 1,683 were hospitalised (6.94 per cent) and 112 died (0.46 per cent).

And among the un-vaccinated almost 65,000 caught the virus, of whom almost 9,000 were hospitalised (13.22 per cent) and 857 died (1.32 per cent). 

More than 1.5million people have got the US-made Moderna vaccine in Britain, but this was not included in the study.


Key Inflation Gauge Posts Fastest Annual Price Gain in 30 Years

<i>This must happen with runaway government spending</i>

The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, the so-called core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, vaulted in the 12 months through July to levels not seen in 30 years.

The Commerce Department said in a release Friday that core PCE rose 3.6 percent over the year in July, matching last month’s level, which was an increase from 3.5 percent in May and 3.1 percent in April.

The last time the core PCE inflation gauge saw a similar year-over-year vault was in July 1991, while the highest level the measure has hit is 10.2 percent in February 1975, when the economy was gripped in a troubling upwards wage-price spiral fueled by rising inflation expectations on the part of consumers.

The Fed looks to core PCE as a key inflation measure that informs its monetary policy, which has an inflation target of a longer-run average of 2 percent.

On a monthly basis, the core PCE gauge rose 0.3 percent between June and July, after rising 0.5 percent the prior month, suggesting inflationary pressures may have peaked.

It comes as Fed officials are meeting virtually for an annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday, with investors watching closely for signs of when and how the central bank may begin to roll back its extraordinary support measures for the economy. In response to the pandemic hit to the economy, the Fed last year dropped interest rates to near zero and set out on a massive asset purchasing program, buying around $80 billion in Treasury securities and $40 billion in mortgage securities per month.

In a speech Friday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell addressed inflationary pressures, acknowledging a “sharp run-up in inflation” driven by the rapid reopening of the economy while reiterating his oft-repeated view that price pressures would moderate once supply-side shortages and bottlenecks further abate.

Powell acknowledged the relatively high level of Friday’s core PCE print, noting it’s “well above our 2 percent longer-run objective” and that both businesses and consumers “widely report upward pressure on prices and wages.”

“Inflation at these levels is, of course, a cause for concern. But that concern is tempered by a number of factors that suggest that these elevated readings are likely to prove temporary,” he said, arguing that the current spike in inflation is largely driven by a relatively narrow group of goods and services that have been directly impacted by the pandemic and the reopening of the economy.

“We are also directly monitoring the prices of particular goods and services most affected by the pandemic and the reopening, and are beginning to see a moderation in some cases as shortages ease. Used car prices, for example, appear to have stabilized; indeed, some price indicators are beginning to fall,” Powell said.

Powell added that officials have not, so far, noted broad-based inflationary pressures but acknowledged that evidence of such pressures spreading more broadly through the economy would be concerning and would prompt a swift policy response.

The Fed chief also addressed wage pressures. In the 1970s, upward pressure on wages combined with growing consumer expectations of further price increases to push prices higher, prompting the Fed to raise interest rates. Powell said there is little evidence of this phenomenon today.

“If wage increases were to move materially and persistently above the levels of productivity gains and inflation, businesses would likely pass those increases on to customers, a process that could become the sort of ‘wage-price spiral’ seen at times in the past,” Powell said.

“Today we see little evidence of wage increases that might threaten excessive inflation. Broad-based measures of wages that adjust for compositional changes in the labor force, such as the employment cost index and the Atlanta Wage Growth Tracker, show wages moving up at a pace that appears consistent with our longer-term inflation objective,” he said.

Powell also noted disinflationary forces like technology and globalization, arguing that there is little evidence these have suddenly reversed or abated, arguing that “it seems more likely that they will continue to weigh on inflation as the pandemic passes into history.”

He said the baseline economic outlook is for the economy to continue progressing towards maximum employment, with inflation returning closer to the Fed’s goal of averaging 2 percent over time.




28 August, 2021

Could a Long-Used Cholesterol Drug Fight Severe COVID-19?

A drug that lowers cholesterol might help save hospitalized patients with COVID-19, a new, small Israeli study suggests.

Researchers at Hebrew University of Jerusalem noted that COVID causes a big buildup of cholesterol, which results in inflammation in cells.

In lab experiments, they found that the cholesterol-lowering drug fenofibrate (TriCor) effectively reduced damage to lung cells and stopped the SARS-CoV-2 virus from replicating. A study in 15 patients confirmed the lab results.

"They've shown that fenofibrate can potentially reduce the chance of a patient becoming hospitalized, it can decrease the amount of time they spend in hospital, decrease their need for oxygen, and it might even decrease the risk of dying, so I'm cautiously optimistic, but these are very small numbers of patients, so I am cautious," said Alan Richardson, a reader in pharmacology at Keele University in Staffordshire, U.K., who reviewed the findings.

He said the drug appears to work by affecting the metabolic changes that happen when the SARS-CoV-2 virus invades cells.

In his own research, Richardson found that TriCor could potentially stop the virus from getting inside the cells in the first place.

But he strongly emphasized that people should not take TriCor in hopes of preventing COVID-19 infection.

"I'd strongly advise people not to do it on their own without talking to a doctor," he said.

In this new trial, researchers gave TriCor to 15 patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19. All had pneumonia and required oxygen. They were given TriCor for 10 days.

Study leader Dr. Yaakov Nahmias said the results were "astounding."

"Progressive inflammation markers, [which] are the hallmark of deteriorative COVID-19, dropped within 48 hours of treatment," Nahmias said in a news release. "Moreover, 14 of the 15 severe patients didn't require oxygen support within a week of treatment, while historical records show that the vast majority [of] severe patients treated with the standard of care require lengthy respiratory support."

A biomedical engineer at Hebrew University, Nahmias is also a faculty member at Harvard University's Center for Engineering in Medicine in Boston.

"There are no silver bullets, but fenofibrate is far safer than other drugs proposed to date," he said, adding that the way it works makes it less likely to be effective only with specific coronavirus variants.

All 15 patients left the hospital in less than a week and had no side effects from the drug, according to the study. Few reported COVID side effects during four weeks of follow-up.

Although the results were promising, researchers said only larger trials can prove the drug's effectiveness as a COVID treatment.

Two phase 3 trials are underway in South America and the United States, according to the researchers.

Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, reacted with caution to the findings.

"This is just an observational study with 15 people, so it's way too early to be saying that this medicine should be used," he said, adding that he's not sure that in the long run TriCor will be the medication of choice for COVID patients.

"We've gotten magic bullets in the works in the lab," Siegel said. "We're going to have an antiviral for COVID-19, but I don't think it's going to be this."

He said further study is warranted, however.

"Maybe TriCor will have some impact, but we're getting much closer to true antiviral treatments that may be game-changers," he said.

Siegel emphasized that TriCor doesn't take the place of COVID-19 vaccines in fighting the virus.

"Nothing takes the place of a vaccine, nothing," he stressed.

The study was published online Aug. 23 on the preprint server Research Square, but the findings have not yet been peer-reviewed


Finally, the age of lockdowns is over

<i>Delta has changed everything.  Comment from Australia</i>

The age of the lockdown is over. The only catch is we can’t quite celebrate yet because half the nation is in lockdown.

And there is perhaps no more fitting final act of the coronavirus saga than this tragi-comic theatre of the absurd.

After more than a year and a half of Orwellian doublespeak and Machiavellian powerplays, Australia has finally come to its senses. Unfortunately it has only done so in theory, not practice.

From the very beginning of the pandemic there were those of us who could clearly see that mass lockdowns were never going to be a long-term solution, let alone a humane one.

We pleaded the vital importance of children going to school and adults going to work and thus were naturally condemned as granny-killing capo-fascists.

It would be unbecoming to crow now that we were right but, well, we were right.

Victoria subjected its citizens to four months of lockdown across the bitter winter of 2020 in an effort to beat the bug. But the bug came back and the state went into lockdown again.

And again. And again.

Meanwhile NSW showed that with a well-managed and well-resourced contact tracing system you could beat Covid-19 without city or statewide lockdowns.

The Casula outbreak, the Northern Beaches outbreak, the Croydon outbreak, the Berala outbreak and countless other leaks from hotel quarantine were all contained and crushed.

This all changed with the Delta variant.

NSW officials clearly thought they could beat it as they had the others, first with just contact tracing, then with local lockdowns, then with a citywide “lockdown lite” and lastly with some of the harshest measures ever seen.

None of it has worked. As every health expert and Blind Freddy himself now knows, we will not be getting back to zero ever again.

The predictable Pavlovian response from the hardliners was that this was because we didn’t lock down fast or hard enough.

And sure enough when Delta went down south Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews locked down hard and fast. After a couple of weeks he announced they had reached zero overnight cases.

That very same day Melbourne went into lockdown again. For the sixth time.

On Wednesday it looked like Victoria might have again started to bend the curve, posting just 45 overnight cases. The next day that number almost doubled.

An exasperated Andrews finally admitted there were “not many more levers we can pull”.

In short, he has gone as hard and fast as possible and still the virus is circulating and still Melburnians are living under the yoke.

Maybe it was just bad luck but if so there’s an awful lot of that going around.

In Fortress New Zealand, the global poster girl for ultra-hard lockdowns, they shut down the country at one single case. On Thursday there were more than 60 new cases.

Sure, Delta might possibly be held at bay for a while in some sparser scenarios but unless these jurisdictions are planning on becoming hermit states it is difficult to see what their long-term strategy is.

It is also true that both the Victorian and New Zealand outbreaks were caused by people from NSW — sorry about that! — but NSW could equally argue that its outbreak came from somewhere else too.

Or indeed that Sydney’s big second wave scare came from Victoria. The problem with the finger of blame is that it always ends up pointing in a circular direction.

The important thing is that even the most reluctant and recalcitrant are now finally seeing the light: Hard and fast or soft and slow, lockdowns now belong in the same historical dustbin as eugenics and ether theory.

They were never truly necessary in Australia, as its most populous state proved time and again, and when it comes to the current outbreak they clearly don’t work.

The NZ and Victorian governments are now subtly suggesting what NSW has been shouting from the rooftops — that it is not possible to beat the Delta variant with such medieval measures.

It is also worth noting that as of Thursday NSW and Victoria had reached almost the exact same number of Covid cases – around 21,500.

In Victoria 820 people died, in NSW just 133.

That is the difference vaccination makes and that is why even with record high case numbers NSW is now lifting restrictions instead of tightening them.

Indeed, new Doherty Institute modelling confirms this will not increase the death toll but anyone who can count could see that with their own eyes.

Even one of the Andrews government’s key lockdown advisers, epidemiologist and former staunch eliminationist Tony Blakely, is now advocating a softening of the current lockdown.

Likewise federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has now endorsed the national pathway out of lockdowns. And NSW Labor’s Chris Minns has delivered from opposition what some of his counterparts have failed to deliver in government: Leadership.

With Labor MPs representing virtually all the Sydney Covid hotspots, Minns last week instructed every local member to ensure their communities were getting vaccinated.

And this week he threw his weight behind a strategy to get kids back to school next term, for which opposition support will be critical.

This is Labor at its best, putting people ahead of pointscoring.

Meanwhile the isolationist premiers of Queensland and WA are looking increasingly like the apocryphal last Japanese soldier on the island, fighting a solitary long lost war.

The final irony in all of this is that those who are locked down now will perhaps be the longest free, as vaccination rates surge in NSW and Victoria and stagnate in the separatist states.

Soon we will be reunited with the world while the wallflowers chew their nails in the corner.



About 1,500 American citizens still in Afghanistan, secretary of state claims (NBC News)  

White House cuts off audio of Joe Biden’s appalling response to question about Americans stranded in Afghanistan (Twitchy)

Two congressmen, a Democrat and a Republican, went to Kabul because they don’t trust Biden’s Afghanistan spin (PJ Media) |

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has ludicrously commended the president’s Saigon 2.0 malfeasance, slams the “freelance” trip (Fox News)

Pentagon orders COVID vaccinations for military personnel (Washington Times)

New York governor adds 12,000 deaths to publicized COVID tally (AP)

CDC: Schools with mask mandates didn’t see statistically significant different rates of COVID transmission from schools with optional policies (FEE)

YouTube oligarchs yank over one million COVID videos it deems “dangerous” (Daily Caller)

Man gets six years in prison for Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping role (Detroit News)

Former California Democrat majority leader endorses Larry Elder (Power Line)

Osama bin Laden warned in 2010 letter that Biden would “lead US into crisis” (NY Post)

Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt to speak out in interview (Daily Wire)

Apple promotes hookup apps to children (Free Beacon)

New Mexico governor’s car gets 13 MPG as she demands state average of 52 MPG (The Federalist)

A Washington state jail is offering free Ramen noodles to inmates who get the vaccine (Not the Bee)

Policy: The roads not taken in Afghanistan (Foreign Affairs)

Policy: The results of the labor-market experiment are in: Reducing unemployment benefits reduced unemployment (City Journal)




27 August, 2021

Lockdowns don’t just save lives, they cost lives too

Robert Bezimienny writes from Australia

As a practising doctor, it has become clear to me over the past 18 months that lockdowns not only inflict a financial cost – they also cost lives. The decision to impose a lockdown is not as simple as society making sacrifices to save lives. The decision is between losing lives to COVID-19 and losing lives to lockdowns.

The lives lost to COVID-19 are highly visible. In contrast, the lives lost to lockdowns have been and remain largely invisible.

Every life has equal moral value and our aim should be to reduce as many unnecessary deaths as possible, not just reduce deaths attributed to COVID-19.When I see a patient presenting with a disease that could have been diagnosed months, or even a year, earlier, I feel sad, angry and frustrated. The patient is not going to do as well. The difference can be as stark as that between a cure and the prospect of death.

During lockdown last year, patients avoided seeing GPs and specialists. Lockdowns made them fear stepping outside. They missed screening tests for breast cancer, for bowel cancer, for heart disease. Consequently, there will be an increased number of deaths from these conditions in the years to come.

While this avoidance will cost thousands of Australian lives, that toll feels less immediate than an unwell patient today. But lockdowns and the fear they provoke have done more than cost lives in future years – they are costing lives right now.

In the first lockdown, a patient with a lump was too scared to come in and see us at our practice. He will not do as well. The constant news stories had already made him fearful, but the lockdown had made him absolutely terrified. Once lockdown eased, he presented for a consultation, was examined and diagnosed with cancer – but the delay has affected his prognosis.

Another patient was referred to a specialist but deferred his appointment as he did not want to approach a hospital during lockdown. Once lockdown ended, he continued to defer his appointment as he waited for the world to return to normal. By the time he saw a specialist, a rare cancer had spread. This year he underwent palliative treatment. Sadly, he is now dead.

During lockdowns, patients have used the telephone and internet for consultations. This is much better than no consultation but it is not as good as seeing a patient in person. When a very old woman with multiple health problems called our practice with a cough, she was convinced that it was her bronchitis and she received two courses of antibiotics over the telephone. The cough persisted and despite great resistance she was persuaded to come in and allow a doctor to examine her. She did not have bronchitis, she had a much more serious condition: multiple blood clots throughout her lung – pulmonary emboli. She was hospitalised and pulled through.

A friend of mine is an emergency department specialist. During lockdowns he has seen people die from late presentations. He has seen more people die than he has ever seen before. Patients think it is dangerous to leave their own house, so those with chest pain stay at home and when they finally call an ambulance, a treatable heart attack has become fatal. Patients with strokes are too scared to go hospital and miss out on acute treatment that would have limited the damage to their brain. Patients with bacterial infections that would be simple to treat with prompt intravenous antibiotics wait at home and become septic and die.

The incidence of anxiety and depression has not just increased during lockdowns – it has exploded. In Australia, it has more than doubled. Depression can lead to suicide and every year 3000 Australians take their own lives. Many of them are young and their deaths are not visible.

If lockdowns are justified on the basis of potential lives saved, the actual lives lost to lockdowns must also be acknowledged.


Johns Hopkins Doctor Easily Shreds the Narratives Behind Forcing Kids to Mask Up for COVID

Kids generally don't get Covid or spread it, despite the panic porn you see on CNN. And even with this Delta wave and the school year upon us, has the media noted why other nations have not mandated kids to wear masks in class? It does more harm than good. What's the science behind masking kids? There's virtually none. Yes, the "I am science" crowd led by Fauci the Clown has next to nothing devoted to this question. 

Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins has been at the forefront of trying to get science-based advice to the public. He's one of the few medical guests that talks about naturally acquired immunity, noting that over 100 million Americans probably already had and recovered from the infection, which bodes well for herd immunity given the vaccination rates. Yet, on this question, he takes the forced mask-wearing for kids narrative to the woodshed by citing…the science (via WSJ): 

Do masks reduce Covid transmission in children? Believe it or not, we could find only a single retrospective study on the question, and its results were inconclusive. Yet two weeks ago the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sternly decreed that 56 million U.S. children and adolescents, vaccinated or not, should cover their faces regardless of the prevalence of infection in their community. Authorities in many places took the cue to impose mandates in schools and elsewhere, on the theory that masks can’t do any harm.

That isn’t true. Some children are fine wearing a mask, but others struggle. Those who have myopia can have difficulty seeing because the mask fogs their glasses. (This has long been a problem for medical students in the operating room.) Masks can cause severe acne and other skin problems. The discomfort of a mask distracts some children from learning. By increasing airway resistance during exhalation, masks can lead to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. And masks can be vectors for pathogens if they become moist or are used for too long.

In March, Ireland’s Department of Health announced that it won’t require masks in schools because they “may exacerbate anxiety or breathing difficulties for some students.” Some children compensate for such difficulties by breathing through their mouths. Chronic and prolonged mouth breathing can alter facial development. It is well-documented that children who mouth-breathe because adenoids block their nasal airways can develop a mouth deformity and elongated face.


What about the risk of Covid, which mask mandates are intended to ameliorate? The CDC reports that for the week of July 31 the rate of hospitalization with Covid for children 5 to 17 was 0.5 per 100,000, which would amount to roughly 250 patients. The CDC acknowledges that not all of these children were in the hospital for Covid: Viral testing at admission is routine, even for patients who have no Covid symptoms. Children who do develop Covid symptoms are at minimal risk of “long Covid,” according to a Lancet study published Aug. 3: “Almost all children had symptom resolution by 8 weeks, providing reassurance about long-term outcomes.”


We have been encouraging Americans to wear masks since the beginning of the pandemic. But special attention should be paid to the many children who struggle with masks. Public-health officials claim to base their decisions and guidance on science, but there’s no science behind mask mandates for children. A new research study by one of us (Dr. Makary) and his Johns Hopkins colleagues found that of the $42 billion the National Institutes of Health spent on research last year, less than 2% went to Covid clinical research and not a single grant was dedicated to studying masks in children.

In the absence of data, mask mandates have ignited a culture war.

Well, who saw that coming, the cultural war aspects to all of this? Fauci and the CDC peddled nonsense on child masking for months. Then, when the CDC was caught colluding with teachers' unions to keep schools closed, the political element was further intensified. What's more, is that a lot of the doomsday scenarios in the spring never came true. Then, troves of Fauci's emails were revealed, with one noting that store-bought masks are ineffective at curbing the spread of COVID. Fauci also said at the outset that we shouldn't wear masks. Now, it's just cover your face. It doesn't matter what kind of mask; it could be a cloth. 

So, what's the science behind that, chief? There is none. It's all about control. And now these medical fascist pigs are coming after the kids. We talk about endless wars. Fauci and bureaucrats want an endless pandemic. 

"Any child who wants to wear a mask should be free to do so. But forcing them to make personal, health and developmental sacrifices for the sake of adults who refuse to get immunized is abusive," wrote Makary. "Before we order the masking of 56 million Americans who are too young to vote and don't have a lobby, let's see data showing the benefits and weigh them against the long-term harm." 

That's pretty reasonable.




26 August, 2021

Vaccine Inventor Questions Mandatory Shot Push, Biden’s Covid-19 Strategy


The Biden administration’s strategy to universally vaccinate in the middle of the pandemic is bad science and badly needs a reboot.

This strategy will likely prolong the most dangerous phase of the worst pandemic since 1918 and almost assuredly cause more harm than good—even as it undermines faith in the entire public health system.

Four flawed assumptions drive the Biden strategy. The first is that universal vaccination can eradicate the virus and secure economic recovery by achieving herd immunity throughout the country (and the world). However, the virus is now so deeply embedded in the world population that, unlike polio and smallpox, eradication is unachievable. SARS-CoV-2 and its myriad mutations will likely continually circulate, much like the common cold and influenza.

The second assumption is that the vaccines are (near) perfectly effective. However, our currently available vaccines are quite “leaky.” While good at preventing severe disease and death, they only reduce, not eliminate, the risk of infection, replication, and transmission. As a slide deck from the Centers for Disease Control has revealed, even 100% acceptance of the current leaky vaccines combined with strict mask compliance will not stop the highly contagious Delta variant from spreading.

The third assumption is that the vaccines are safe. Yet scientists, physicians, and public health officials now recognize risks that are rare but by no means trivial. Known side effects include serious cardiac and thrombotic conditions, menstrual cycle disruptions, Bell’s Palsy, Guillain Barre syndrome, and anaphylaxis.

Unknown side effects which virologists fear may emerge include existential reproductive risks, additional autoimmune conditions, and various forms of disease enhancement, i.e., the vaccines can make people more vulnerable to reinfection by SARS-CoV-2 or reactivation of latent viral infections and associated diseases such as shingles. With good reason, the FDA has yet to approve the vaccines now administered under Emergency Use Authorization.

The failure of the fourth “durability” assumption is the most alarming and perplexing. It now appears our current vaccines are likely to offer a mere 180-day window of protection—a decided lack of durability underscored by scientific evidence from Israel and confirmed by Pfizer, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other countries.

Here, we are already being warned of the need for universal “booster” shots at six-month intervals for the foreseeable future. The obvious broader point that militates for individual vaccine choice is that repeated vaccinations, each with a small risk, can add up to a big risk.

It’s an arms race with the virus.

The most important reason why a universal vaccination strategy is imprudent tracks to the collective risk associated with how the virus responds when replicating in vaccinated individuals. Here, basic virology and evolutionary genetics tell us the goal of any virus is to infect and replicate in as many people as possible. A virus can’t efficiently spread if, like with Ebola, it quickly kills its hosts.

The clear historical tendency for viruses crossing over from one species to another is to evolve in a way that makes them both more infectious and less pathogenic over time. However, a universal vaccination policy deployed in the middle of a pandemic can turn this normal Darwinian taming process into a dangerous vaccine arms race.

The essence of this arms race is this: The more people you vaccinate, the greater the number of vaccine-resistant mutations you are likely to get, the less durable the vaccines will become, ever more powerful vaccines will have to be developed, and individuals will be exposed to more and more risk.

Science tells us here that today’s vaccines, which use novel gene therapy technologies, generate powerful antigens that direct the immune system to attack specific components of the virus. Thus, when the virus infects a person with a “leaky” vaccination, the viral progeny will be selected to escape or resist the effects of the vaccine.

If the entire population has been trained via a universal vaccination strategy to have the same basic immune response, then once a viral escape mutant is selected, it will rapidly spread through the entire population—whether vaccinated or not.

A far more optimal strategy is to vaccinate only the most vulnerable. This will limit the amount of vaccine-resistant mutations and thereby slow, if not halt, the current vaccine arms race.

Fortunately, those most vulnerable represent a relatively small number; and these cohorts have already achieved high levels of vaccine acceptance. They include senior citizens, for whom the risk of serious disease or death increases exponentially with age, and those with significant comorbidities such as obesity, lung, and heart disease.

For much of the rest of the population, there’s nothing to fear but fear of the virus itself. This is particularly true if we have lawful outpatient access to a growing arsenal of scientifically proven prophylactics and therapeutics.

For example, there has been much controversy over ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Yet, with the emergence of a growing body of scientific evidence, we can be assured these two medicines are safe and effective in prophylaxis and early treatment when administered under a physician’s supervision. Numerous other useful treatments range from famotidine/celecoxib, fluvoxamine, and apixaban to various anti-inflammatory steroids, Vitamin D, and zinc.

The broader goal when administering these agents is to moderate symptoms and take death off the table, particularly for the unvaccinated. Unlike vaccines, these agents are generally not dependent on specific viral properties or mutations but instead mitigate or treat the inflammatory symptoms of the disease itself. (Pfizer is now actively marketing its own antiviral therapeutic—tacit admission Pfizer’s own vaccine is incapable of eradicating the virus.)

We are not “anti-vax.” One of us (Dr. Malone) invented the core mRNA technology being used by Pfizer and Moderna to produce their vaccines and has spent his entire professional career developing and advancing novel vaccine technologies, vaccines, and other medical countermeasures. The other (Dr. Navarro) played a key role at the Trump White House in jumpstarting Operation Warp Speed and ensuring timely delivery of the vaccines.

We are simply saying that just because you have a big vaccine hammer, it is not necessarily wise to use it for every nail. The American people deserve better than a universal vaccination strategy under the flag of bad science and enforced through authoritarian measures.


New Zealand is back in a lockdown time warp

by Jeff Jacoby

WHEN FORTUNE magazine recently published its annual ranking of the world's 50 greatest leaders, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern topped the list. The editors lavished praise on Ardern's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, hailing the way she "targeted not just suppression of the virus, but its complete elimination." Fortune deemed her strategy a success: Only 26 people had died of the disease in New Zealand, which imposed the first of several aggressive nationwide lockdowns 17 months ago and closed off the country's borders to all non-citizens and non-residents.

Ardern's leadership is no longer looking quite so brilliant. On Aug. 17, after a single COVID infection was reported in New Zealand, the prime minister again ordered the entire country to close. Under the so-called Level 4 restrictions, all Kiwis must stay at home except for food or medication, or to exercise alone. Bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, swimming pools, museums, libraries, and playgrounds are all shuttered. So are schools and daycare facilities. Weddings and funerals are banned.

"Do not congregate. Don't talk to your neighbors. Please keep to your bubbles," Ardern told the nation. "The delta variant ... can be spread by people simply walking past one another, so keep those movements outside to a bare minimum." The latest lockdown is to remain in force at least through midnight Friday, but may be extended on the prime minister's say-so. Meanwhile, as of Monday, nearly 150 infections had been reported since the appearance of that single case last week.

"Here we are back in the world's strictest lockdown," journalist Andrea Vance wrote in Stuff, a top New Zealand news site. "The rest of the world is embracing its post-pandemic future while New Zealand enters a March 2020 time warp."

It turns out that a strategy to achieve "complete elimination" of the coronavirus is a strategy for failure. During last year's heated debates in the West over the wisdom of trying to control the pandemic by bringing economic life to a near-halt, lockdown supporters praised Ardern fulsomely for having so forcefully "squashed" the virus. New Zealand's ultra-low rate of infection and death was seen as proof that strict lockdowns were indeed the best way to defeat the disease.

But they weren't. Dozens of academic studies have concluded that lockdown decrees were largely futile in preventing the virus from spreading, and accomplished little that could not have been achieved through less restrictive means. The trajectory of the pandemic since early 2020 has made it clear that, as the New York Times put it in a recent headline, "Covid Isn't Going Away." So across the United States, even as the highly contagious Delta variant causes hospitalizations to surge, governors and mayors have not reverted to last year's approach of pulling the plug on the economy.

"Most of the country remains fully open," reported the Times, "and ... most officials have so far steered away from restricting or shuttering businesses." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that Americans with compromised immune systems, those who remain unvaccinated, and some others continue to wear masks, but has not called for shutting down businesses.

The key difference this time around, of course, is that most Americans, like residents of most advanced democracies, are vaccinated. Nearly 61 percent of the US population has been given at least one dose, and 51.5 percent has been fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg's Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker. Across the European Union, the fully-vaccinated level is nearly 57 percent. In Israel, it's 60 percent. In Britain, 63 percent. In Canada, 65 percent.

The fulsome praise lavished on Prime Minister Ardern turned out to be premature.

But in New Zealand, barely 19 percent of the population — less than 1 in 5 — has been fully vaccinated. Just one-third of New Zealanders have gotten even a single dose. In no developed nation have vaccinations lagged so badly.

New Zealand is back in a "March 2020 time warp" because its focus for the past year and a half was not on getting the virus under control but on the chimera of eliminating it entirely. Bamboozled, perhaps, by all the flattery she was getting, Ardern persisted in what she called a "Stamp it Out" approach. More than once she declared that New Zealand had defeated COVID.

Only now, at long last, is the government making it a priority to get the vaccine into as many people as possible. Only now has it sunk in that the virus can't be wiped out for good — not even an island nation like New Zealand can wall itself off from the pandemic. The way out of the COVID nightmare is through vaccinations, not through nationwide closures and sealed borders. Americans and Europeans have put 2020 lockdowns behind them. It's time New Zealand followed suit.




25 August, 2021

Rehab progress

My rehab after my recent health problems is going well.  I now have more energy to blog.  In the last few days I have been putting something up on most of my blogs most days.  I have also revived my selective blog  


Rising number of breakthrough Delta infections among fully vaccinated

Chicago: A quarter of Los Angeles residents who caught COVID from May to July this year as the Delta variant surged were fully vaccinated.

The data, published in the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report on death and disease, shows an increase in “breakthrough” infections among those who had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

The centre is relying on data from cohorts, such as the Los Angeles County study, to determine whether Americans need a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines to increase protection. Government scientists last week laid out a strategy for booster doses beginning on September 20, pending reviews from the US Food and Drug Administration and the CDC.

While a quarter of the COVID infections in the Los Angeles study were in the fully vaccinated, fewer than one in 20 was hospitalised. 
While a quarter of the COVID infections in the Los Angeles study were in the fully vaccinated, fewer than one in 20 was hospitalised. CREDIT:AP

The new data released on Tuesday involved more than 43,000 reported infections among Los Angeles County residents aged 16 and older. Of them, 10,895, or 25.3 per cent occurred in fully vaccinated persons, and 1431, or 3.3 per cent, were in partially vaccinated persons. The majority of infections, however, were among the unvaccinated: 30,801 cases, or 71.4 per cent of the cohort.

The vaccines did, however, protect individuals from more severe symptoms. According to the study, only 3.2 percent of fully vaccinated individuals who tested positive for coronavirus were hospitalised, just 0.05 per cent were admitted to an intensive care unit and 0.25 per cent were placed on a ventilator.

Among the unvaccinated who caught COVID, 7.5 per cent were hospitalised, 1.5 per cent were admitted to an intensive care unit and 0.5 per cent required breathing support with a mechanical ventilator.

In addition to the LA County data, the CDC on Tuesday released an update on a study of healthcare workers that showed a significant drop in vaccine effectiveness among vaccinated frontline workers in eight states who became infected with the coronavirus.

The effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines among healthcare workers declined to 66 per cent after the Delta variant became dominant, compared with 91 per cent before it arose, according to the report.

The vaccines are still protective, the centre said, and the finding must be interpreted with caution, as vaccine effectiveness might wane over time and the estimates of efficacy were imprecise.

“Although these interim findings suggest a moderate reduction in the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines in preventing infection, the sustained two-thirds reduction in infection risk underscores the continued importance and benefits of Covid-19 vaccination,” researchers wrote in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The findings echo earlier evidence from Israel and the UK suggesting COVID-19 vaccines lost some potency in preventing infections over time as the Delta variant spread.

The observational study tracked more than 4,000 health-care workers, first responders, and other front-line personnel in eight locations across six states from December 2020 to August 2021. They were tested weekly for COVID-19 infection, and about 83 per cent were vaccinated.

About two-thirds of those vaccinated had received the Pfizer shot, 2 per cent received Johnson & Johnson’s, and the rest received the Moderna vaccine.


Q & A on Delta

The rise of Delta, which is far more easily transmitted from person to person than previous strains of the virus, has made going out in public riskier. That’s one reason why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently changed its masking recommendations—it now advises vaccinated people in areas with high levels of virus to wear a mask indoors. Figuring out when to take risks and when not to is largely a matter of individual circumstance and preference. For instance, people with weakened immune systems should be more cautious than those with robust immune systems. Here are answers to some other common questions:

Q: How great is the risk of getting sick if you’ve gotten the vaccine?

It depends on the vaccine. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July showed that the twoshot Pfizer mRNA vaccine was 88 percent effective in preventing illness due to the Delta variant, down from 93.7 percent for the Alpha variant. The Moderna mRNA shot is thought to offer similar protection. The study found that the Astra-Zeneca vaccine was 67 percent effective against Delta, as opposed to 74.5 for Alpha.

Q: If vaccinated people can still be infected, should they worry about being able to transmit the virus to others?

Yes, but not as much as unvaccinated people should. According to internal CDC documents recently obtained by The Washington Post, vaccinated people who have been infected with the Delta variant may spread the virus as efficiently as unvaccinated people who are infected. Delta tends to concentrate in the nose and throat, which is why the C.D.C. wants everyone to mask up. However, because vaccinated people tend to have stronger immune responses to the virus, they are probably contagious for only a short time—though this scenario has not been studied rigorously.

Q: Can vaccinated people who show symptoms develop long-haul COVID-19?

Little is known about longhaul COVID. In a recent study of health care workers, 19 percent of vaccinated people who got sick still had symptoms after six weeks. Keep in mind that this is only one study with relatively few participants, so firm conclusions will have to wait for more data.

Q: When will children under the age of 12 be eligible for a shot?

Current estimates range from as little as a month or two to well into 2022. On the far side of the range: FDA officials say they expect children under 12 to be eligible for vaccination by midwinter, after another four to six months of clinical trials. Pfizer, though, is more optimistic. In June, it began a study of 4,500 kids aged 5-to-11 in the U.S., Poland, Finland and Spain and hopes to have enough data collected by September to ask officials for an emergency use authorization.

Q: How do doctors determine which variant you have?

COVID-19 tests don’t identify variants. To find out how prevalent a variant is, the CDC takes samples, identifies them by sequencing their genetic material and then estimates what proportion of infections a given variant accounts for.

Q: Are the symptoms different between the variants?

Symptoms from many variants are similar to those of the original virus—fever, dry cough, shortness of breath. However, Delta can also manifest more like a bad cold, with a runny nose, sore throat and headache. Recently, reports of loss of smell and taste have become less common, according to the Zoe Covid Symptom study.

Q: When does the immunity from the vaccine start to wane? Is it the same for mRNA vaccines and others?

Pfizer recently said that the effectiveness of its mRNA vaccine declines to 84 percent about four to six months after the second shot, based on an internal study that has not yet been peer reviewed. A study in the journal Nature suggested that the mRNA vaccines have potentially long-lasting immunity.

Q: Will everyone eventually need booster shots? Or only those who are elderly and/or immunocompromised?

It depends in part on what kind of variants arise in the future. For now, experts do not foresee a need for most healthy vaccinated people to get booster shots, but that could change. Public health officials have suggested that those with weakened immune systems may need to get boosters this winter.

Q: Is it safe to go back into an office to work?

Safe is a relative term. It depends on an individual’s health, circumstances and tolerance for risk. In an office where everybody is vaccinated and virus levels in the community are low, the risk is small. In an office where many people are unvaccinated and virus levels are high, the risk can be many times higher. The risk for an unvaccinated person is always higher than for a vaccinated person. Vaccinated people who are immunocompromised or are caring for someone who is vulnerable at home may want to keep their potential exposure to the virus as low as possible—which means avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated rooms and wearing masks when indoors with others who may not be vaccinated. Because the Delta variant is so highly transmissible, the CDC now recommends mask wearing for everyone in indoor settings in regions where virus levels are high.

Q: In light of the Delta variant, should we be rethinking resuming regular activities like going to restaurants, sporting events, concerts, flying on planes, etc.?

Most vaccines still offer excellent protection. However, the risk goes up with exposure to the virus—and the Delta variant, with its high transmissibility, has ratcheted up the risk for all activities. Risk tolerance varies from one person to the next, but in general it’s a good idea to be aware of situations that are likely to bring you into contact with high levels of virus. Crowded, stuffy bars are riskier than spacious, well ventilated restaurants. Airplanes usually have good ventilation, but you have to worry about that unmasked, unvaccinated person sitting next to you. If in doubt, wear a mask.

Q: If you’ve already had COVID-19 with mild symptoms, what are the benefits of getting the vaccine?

One big benefit of vaccination is that it reduces the overall level of virus in a population, which makes everyone safer. Some studies also suggest that vaccines provide better protection for longer than natural infection. For instance, a study in China, recently published in The Lancet, showed that only 40 percent of people who had gotten COVID-19 carried antibodies to the coronavirus months later.

Q: If you’ve already had COVID-19 and are getting the vaccine, do you need to get both shots?

Yes. A recent study in the U.K., published in Nature, found that a single shot of the Pfizer vaccine reduced illness from the Delta variant by 33 percent. Two weeks after the second shot, that protection rose to 88 percent.



Biden rejected U.S. intel predictions of rapid Afghan collapse (American Military News)

China sends bombers into Taiwan air defense zone (Washington Times)

Judge blocks Biden’s attempt to limit deportations (Washington Times)

15M votes in 2020 election unaccounted for (Daily Signal)

TX Dems return, quorum established for election integrity bill (Fox News)

FBI knew Ilhan Omar married her brother (Post Millennial)

CDC redefines “fully vaccinated” (Post Millennial)

GOP governors, school districts battle over mask mandates (Associated Press)

GA governor blocks COVID mandate on businesses (Just the News)

Home construction slumps on supply constraints (Epoch Times)

Firearms sales set new record (1945)

FTC refiles Facebook anti-trust lawsuit (CNBC)




24 August, 2021 

Those Anti-Covid Plastic Barriers Probably Don’t Help and May Make Things Worse

Covid precautions have turned many parts of our world into a giant salad bar, with plastic barriers separating sales clerks from shoppers, dividing customers at nail salons and shielding students from their classmates.

Intuition tells us a plastic shield would be protective against germs. But scientists who study aerosols, air flow and ventilation say that much of the time, the barriers don’t help and probably give people a false sense of security. And sometimes the barriers can make things worse.

Research suggests that in some instances, a barrier protecting a clerk behind a checkout counter may redirect the germs to another worker or customer. Rows of clear plastic shields, like those you might find in a nail salon or classroom, can also impede normal air flow and ventilation.

Under normal conditions in stores, classrooms and offices, exhaled breath particles disperse, carried by air currents and, depending on the ventilation system, are replaced by fresh air roughly every 15 to 30 minutes. But erecting plastic barriers can change air flow in a room, disrupt normal ventilation and create “dead zones,” where viral aerosol particles can build up and become highly concentrated.

“If you have a forest of barriers in a classroom, it’s going to interfere with proper ventilation of that room,” said Linsey Marr, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and one of the world’s leading experts on viral transmission. “Everybody’s aerosols are going to be trapped and stuck there and building up, and they will end up spreading beyond your own desk.”

There are some situations in which the clear shields might be protective, but it depends on a number of variables. The barriers can stop big droplets ejected during coughs and sneezes from splattering on others, which is why buffets and salad bars often are equipped with transparent sneeze guards above the food.

But Covid-19 spreads largely through unseen aerosol particles. While there isn’t much real-world research on the impact of transparent barriers and the risk of disease, scientists in the United States and Britain have begun to study the issue, and the findings are not reassuring.

A study published in June and led by researchers from Johns Hopkins, for example, showed that desk screens in classrooms were associated with an increased risk of coronavirus infection. In a Massachusetts school district, researchers found that plexiglass dividers with side walls in the main office were impeding air flow. A study looking at schools in Georgia found that desk barriers had little effect on the spread of the coronavirus compared with ventilation improvements and masking.

Before the pandemic, a study published in 2014 found that office cubicle dividers were among the factors that may have contributed to disease transmission during a tuberculosis outbreak in Australia.

British researchers have conducted modeling studies simulating what happens when a person on one side of a barrier — like a customer in a store — exhales particles while speaking or coughing under various ventilation conditions. The screen is more effective when the person coughs, because the larger particles have greater momentum and hit the barrier. But when a person speaks, the screen doesn’t trap the exhaled particles — which just float around it. While the store clerk may avoid an immediate and direct hit, the particles are still in the room, posing a risk to the clerk and others who may inhale the contaminated air.

“We have shown this effect of blocking larger particles, but also that the smaller aerosols travel over the screen and become mixed in the room air within about five minutes,” said Catherine Noakes, professor of environmental engineering for buildings at the University of Leeds in England. “This means if people are interacting for more than a few minutes, they would likely be exposed to the virus regardless of the screen.”

Dr. Noakes said erecting barriers may seem like a good idea but can have unintended consequences. She conducted a study published in 2013 that looked at the effect of partitions between beds in hospitals. The study showed that while some people were protected from germs, the partitions funneled the air in the room toward others.

So while a worker behind a transparent barrier might be spared some of the customer’s germs, a worker nearby or customers in line could still be exposed. Dr. Noakes said most screens she has seen are “poorly positioned and are unlikely to be of much benefit.”

“I think this may be a particular problem in places like classrooms where people are present for longer periods of time,” Dr. Noakes said. “Large numbers of individual screens impede the airflow and create pockets of higher and lower risk that are hard to identify.”

To understand why screens often have little effect on protecting people from aerosol particles, it helps to think about exhaled breath like a plume of cigarette smoke, Dr. Marr said.

“One way to think about plastic barriers is that they are good for blocking things like spitballs but ineffective for things like cigarette smoke,” Dr. Marr said. “The smoke simply drifts around them, so they will give the person on the other side a little more time before being exposed to the smoke. Meanwhile, people on the same side with the smoker will be exposed to more smoke, since the barriers trap it on that side until it has a chance to mix throughout the space.”

Most researchers say the screens most likely help in very specific situations. A bus driver, for instance, shielded from the public by a floor-to-ceiling barrier is probably protected from inhaling much of what passengers are exhaling. A bank cashier behind a wall of glass or a clerk checking in patients in a doctor’s office may be at least partly protected by a barrier.

A study by researchers with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati tested different sized transparent barriers in an isolation room using a cough simulator. The study, which hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed, found that under the right conditions, taller shields, above “cough height,” stopped about 70 percent of the particles from reaching the particle counter on the other side, which is where the store or salon worker would be sitting or standing.

But the study’s authors noted the limitations of the research, particularly that the experiment was conducted under highly controlled conditions. The experiment took place in an isolation room with consistent ventilation rates that didn’t “accurately reflect all real-world situations,” the report said.

The study didn’t consider that workers and customers move around, that other people could be in the room breathing the redirected particles and that many stores and classrooms have several stations with acrylic barriers, not just one, that impede normal air flow.

While further research is needed to determine the effect of adding transparent shields around school or office desks, all the aerosol experts interviewed agreed that desk shields were unlikely to help and were likely to interfere with the normal ventilation of the room. Depending on the conditions, the plastic shields could cause viral particles to accumulate in the room.

“If there are aerosol particles in the classroom air, those shields around students won’t protect them,” said Richard Corsi, the incoming dean of engineering at the University of California, Davis. “Depending on the air flow conditions in the room, you can get a downdraft into those little spaces that you’re now confined in and cause particles to concentrate in your space.”

Aerosol scientists say schools and workplaces should focus on encouraging workers and eligible students to be vaccinated, improving ventilation, adding HEPA air filtering machines when needed and imposing mask requirements — all of which are proven ways to reduce virus transmission.

The problem, experts say, is that most people in charge of erecting barriers in offices, restaurants, nail salons and schools are not doing so with the assistance of engineering experts who can evaluate air flow and ventilation for each room.

People shouldn’t panic when they see transparent barriers, but they shouldn’t view them as fully protective, either. Workers and students who have transparent shields around them should continue to wear a mask to lower risk, Dr. Corsi said.

“Air flow in rooms is pretty complicated,” Dr. Corsi said. “Every room is different in terms of the arrangement of the furniture, the height of the walls and ceilings, the vents, where the book shelves are. All of these things have a huge impact on the actual flow and air distribution in a room because every classroom or office space is different.”


Covid antibody treatment lowered risk of symptomatic disease by 77% in trial

A new coronavirus antibody treatment developed by drugs giant AstraZeneca and aimed at people who cannot be vaccinated reduced the risk of developing symptomatic disease by 77%, the company said.

The results of the Provent phase III pre-exposure prophylaxis trial showed there were no cases of severe Covid or Covid-related deaths in those treated with the “antibody cocktail” AZD7442, AstraZeneca said on Friday.

The study of more than 5,000 adults found AZD7442, a combination of two long-acting antibodies, also reduced the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 by 77% compared to a placebo.

In the placebo group there were three cases of severe coronavirus which included two deaths, the company added.

The drugs company said the antibody combination, which is delivered through an injection to the muscle, could give people up to 12 months of protection from Covid-19.

It is the first non-vaccine antibody combination modified to provide potentially long-lasting protection that has demonstrated prevention of Covid-19 in a clinical trial, AstraZeneca added.

Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice-president of biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, said: “We need additional approaches for individuals who are not adequately protected by Covid-19 vaccines.

“We are very encouraged by these efficacy and safety data in high-risk people, showing our long-acting antibody combination has the potential to protect from symptomatic and severe disease, alongside vaccines.

“We look forward to sharing further data from the AZD7442 phase III clinical trial programme later this year.”

More than 75% of participants in the trial had co-morbidities and other characteristics that are associated with an increased risk of severe Covid-19 or cause a reduced immune response to vaccination, AstraZeneca said.

These include those with immunosuppressive disease or taking immunosuppressive medications, diabetes, severe obesity or cardiac disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney and chronic liver disease.

The long-acting antibodies were well tolerated and preliminary analyses showed adverse events were balanced between the placebo and AZD7442 groups, AstraZeneca added.

AZD7442 could be an important tool in our arsenal to help people who may need more than a vaccine to return to their normal lives

Myron J Levin, principal investigator on the trial

The participants will continue to be monitored for 15 months, the company said.

AstraZeneca also said that preliminary “in vitro” findings from investigators at Oxford University and Columbia University show AZD7442 neutralises recent emergent Covid strains, including the Delta variant.

Myron J Levin, professor of paediatrics and medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and principal investigator on the trial, said: “The Provent data show that one dose of AZD7442, delivered in a convenient intramuscular form, can quickly and effectively prevent symptomatic Covid-19.

“With these exciting results, AZD7442 could be an important tool in our arsenal to help people who may need more than a vaccine to return to their normal lives.”

AstraZeneca said it will prepare regulatory submissions of the data for health authorities for potential emergency use authorisation or conditional approval of AZD7442.

Professor Penny Ward, visiting professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London, said the new treatment could be a very important option for patients at high risk from Covid who have responded poorly to vaccination or who must take immune-suppressing treatment for other diseases.

It could potentially be game changing for these individuals, who are currently being advised to continue to shield despite being fully vaccinated

Professor Penny Ward, King’s College London

She added: “Indeed it could potentially be game changing for these individuals, who are currently being advised to continue to shield despite being fully vaccinated.

“Despite the success of vaccination some individuals do not respond as well and remain at higher risk of disease, hospitalisation and death. Prophylaxis with passive antibody therapy can help these folks further and reduce morbidity and mortality in this important population subset.

“They can be used to protect people while they undergo cancer treatment, for example.”

But Prof Ward said while the initial data was “encouraging” full publication of the results was need to understand the merits of the product and how to use it “most effectively” in practice.

Helen Rowntree, director for research, services and engagement for Blood Cancer UK, said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) needed to urgently assess the drug for approval for use in the UK.

If approved, the Government needs to draw up plans for giving it to people with blood cancer as quickly as possible, she added.

Ms Rowntree said: “This is great news for people with blood cancer because while their weakened immune systems mean they are less likely to respond to vaccines, this treatment does not rely on the immune system to produce antibodies to fight off the virus.

“This means that this may even be the game changer that potentially gives people with blood cancer the same kind of protection from Covid as the vaccines are already giving people who don’t have blood cancer.”




23 August, 2021 

‘Centrist Chad’ Explains Vaccine Hesitancy in the Most Epic Thread You’ll Read All Year

You’re struggling to understand why some people are vaccine hesitant. The “let me help you” megathread: Imagine you’re a normal person. The year is 2016. Rightly or wrongly, you believe most of what you see in the media.

You believe polls are broadly reflective of public opinion. You believe doctors and scientists are trustworthy and independent. You’re a decent, reasonable person who follows the rules and trusts authority.

Imagine your shock then, when Brexit, which you were assured won’t happen because it’s a fringe movement led by racists for racists, happens. The polls, which widely predicted it wouldn’t happen were completely wrong.

The experts and media pundits who told you it wouldn’t happen day after day are also wrong. “Oh well” you say, “these things happen”. Imagine that soon after Donald Trump is running for President. You are told by your favourite media publications that he is going to lose.

Some experts say his opponent has a 99% chance of winning.

Survey finds Hillary Clinton has ‘more than 99% chance’ of winning election over Donald Trump
Imagine waking up on the morning after the election to discover that pollsters, media experts and politicians you still trusted were wrong again.

And now, the racist monster they told you would never get near the White House is the leader of the free world. “How did this happen?” you ask yourself? How could all the people in charge of informing me be so wrong? “It was the Russians,” they tell you.

“The Russians did Brexit and they got Trump elected too”. Imagine that for the next 3.5 years you watch as the media and the political class run with the Russia collusion narrative. They tell you the how, when and where.

The dossiers, the whistle-blowers, the peeing prostitutes. Imagine your desperation for things to make sense again. The Mueller Report is coming and it will set your world straight.

Evidence of foreign meddling in the 2016 election and Brexit is coming to save your unsettled mind. Imagine your shock then, when you discover that Brexit and Trump had little to do with foreign meddling. The screaming about Russians and Brexit dies down as well.

Imagine that bit by bit, you discover that events which the media and political class told you would not and could not happen not only happened, but happened without some sort of evil interference. Instead, millions of your fellow citizens voted for them.

Again, you ask “How could this happen?” and again the media has the answer: racism. “Your country is racist”, they tell you. If you’re white, this seems strange to you. Other than a handful of idiots, you’ve never met a racist.

If you’re an ethnic minority immigrant like me, this seems even stranger. Why would people in one of the most welcoming, tolerant countries in the world want to convince themselves their country is racist when it’s so obviously not?

But the evidence is right there on your TV screen. Imagine your horror as a gay black actor is assaulted by MAGA hat-wearing thugs who racially abuse him and put a noose around his neck. He cries while talking about it:

Imagine your outrage as you see news reports of a bunch of MAGA hat-wearing kids from a religious school contemptuously confront a native America elder. Reza Aslan tells you the kid has a “punchable face” and while you abhor violence, it’s hard to disagree.

Imagine that for days you watch coverage of these events, with expert after expert, pundit after pundit, sharing and fueling your outrage about them. With every word, your belief that you are a good person and that your country is a good country wavers.

Imagine that soon after, however, the Jussie Smollett story turns out to be an attention-seeking hoax. Imagine that you quickly discover that the native American elder was the one who confronted the kids and not the other way around.

“If this is such a racist country,” you ask yourself… “why would they need to make up stories of racism?” As you ponder this, you remember that for years now, you’ve been expected to go along with other make-believe.

You’re expected to believe that whether you’re male or female is not as simple as you once thought. Whatever you learned about biology at school is wrong. You no longer know how many genders there are and it seems dangerous to try to find out.

Imagine reading that the experts at the American Psychological Association say that traditional masculinity is “pathological and harmful”.

Psychology Has a New Approach to Building Healthier Men
Imagine that you still want to believe the media and their experts, but now that requires you to think your country is racist, men are bad and gender is a social construct, whatever that means. It is at this point that a pandemic emerges on the other side of the world.

You are initially unconcerned, but as scenes emerge from Italy and other countries, it is clear that something big is happening. You watch nervously as politicians give press conference after press conference, flanked by experts, to explain the situation.

The racist Donald Trump shuts down travel from China. In response, the mayor of Florence advises citizens to fight racism by “hugging a Chinese person”.

Shortly after, Nancy Pelosi, a respected Democrat visits Chinatown in San Francisco to explain “there’s no reason tourists or locals should be staying away from the area because of coronavirus concerns.”

“Thank God there are some sensible non-racist people who aren’t overreacting,” you say to yourself.

Imagine watching as Trump doubles down on his racism by claiming the virus may have come from a lab in Wuhan.

“Nonsense,” you think to yourself as you wonder how best to protect yourself and your family from this deadly disease. You consider getting masks – you’ve seen visitors from Asian countries wear them.

But the UK’s Chief Medical Officer tells you not to wear a mask and wash your hands instead.

As lockdowns are introduced around the world, you diligently follow all the rules. You stay at home, only go out once and live off savings or government grants.

You are proud to be doing your part. Thanks to you and millions of your fellow citizens the first wave of the pandemic does not overwhelm the healthcare system. While thousands sadly die, you’ve helped to protect the NHS.

Imagine your confusion as the same people who have spent 3 months telling you masks don’t work and you shouldn’t wear them introduce mask mandates. We’re “following the science” they tell you. This makes little sense but a pandemic is no time for questions.

As you cautiously go to the supermarket, you notice that masks have made people far less likely to socially distance.

You remember reading somewhere that bicycle helmets work similarly: they give the wearer more confidence and the result is more accidents and injuries, not fewer. “Silly people,” you say to yourself. “If only they would follow government advice”.

You turn on your TV to learn that shoppers at your local supermarket aren’t the only ones who have been ignoring the rules.

Neil Ferguson, the man whose projections were used as the basis for lockdowns, appears to have broken his own rules to get some action with his married lover.

Boris Johnson’s chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, drove half way across the country to ensure he had a better place to isolate. The journalists who berate him for this are later found to have attended a birthday party in breach of the rules.

The lockdown continues. However, a man is killed in Minneapolis while being arrested for a petty crime. The man is black. The officer is white. The arrest is captured on video and quickly goes viral around the world.

Imagine your horror as you watch an officer of the law kneel on another man’s neck until he passes out and later dies. “This is disgusting,” you say to yourself. “I hope they throw the book at him”. Overnight, a huge campaign for racial justice springs up around the world.

No one explains what racism had to do with the incident but they don’t need to. As you know by now, the West is racist and therefore any time a white person does anything bad to a black person, there can only be one explanation.

The fact that an identical incident happened to a white man called Tony Timpa is never mentioned for context. While the lockdown rules remain in place, the protests against injustice spill out onto the streets. Tens of thousands of people crowd into major cities.

Few wear masks and social distancing is non-existent. Clashes with police ensue, and in America protestors loot stores, attack residents and start fires. A retired black police officer called David Dorn is among dozens of people who are murdered in the chaos.

The media describe these events as “mostly peaceful protests” as their reporters stand in front of burning buildings. After months of harsh restrictions, the media and political class offer no criticism of protests which violate every element of lockdown.

After months of telling you to stay at home to avoid spreading COVID, doctors explain that rather than being a mass COVID spreading event, “protest is a profound public health intervention”

Big Tech companies go into overdrive to stop the spread of disinformation. All discussions of alternative points of view regarding the efficacy of masks and lockdowns, as well as the origins of the virus are censored.

Attempts to discuss the negative impact of lockdown on health and mental well-being are suppressed. As the year runs on, with a pivotal American election looming, President Trump promises a huge push to develop a vaccine.

Kamala Harris, who is later elected Vice President, says that she would not take the vaccine if Trump told her to:

On the eve of the election, a publication in America releases a damaging report about Hunter Biden, son of presidential candidate Joe Biden. The story alleges corruption which may involve his father, as well as drug taking, use of prostitutes and more.

Twitter and other social media companies prevent the story from being shared. The media lines up commentators to claim the story was “Russian disinformation”.

Once his father wins the election, it becomes clear that several key elements of the story are likely accurate and the laptop from which the information was recovered is in fact Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Meanwhile, the numbers of COVID patients and deaths turn out to have been wrong. For some time, anyone who died at any point after a positive COVID test was counted as dying of COVID, even if they were killed by a drunk driver.

This figure is later revised again. The number of people who are in hospital because of COVID also turns out to be incorrect.

Now that racist Donald Trump is no longer President, closing borders is no longer considered xenophobic and is widely advocated for in the media.

The racist conspiracy theory that the virus came from a lab is now also allowed to be discussed and appears likely to be the most credible explanation of the origins of the virus.

Imagine your horror as you learn that the reason thousands of people died in the first wave of the pandemic was that elderly patients with COVID were allowed to be released back into care homes.

This is especially true in the UK and in New York, run by Governor Andrew Cuomo, brother of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. Governor Cuomo’s publisher suspends promotion of his book about leadership during the pandemic amid the enquiry into nursing home deaths.

Meanwhile, Texas and Florida which remained open continue to thrive.

The man making the rules for you does not follow them. It is at this point that the vaccine, which you were initially told would need to be given to the vulnerable before restrictions are lifted, becomes the main drive of Government policy and media commentary.

The same people who told you Brexit would never happen, Trump would never win, that when he did win it was because of Russian collusion, then because of racism, that you must follow lockdowns while they don’t, that masks don’t work and then that they do work, that protests…

…during lockdowns are a “health intervention”, that ransacking black communities in the name of fighting racism are “mostly peaceful”, that Jussie Smollett was a victim of a hate crime, that men are toxic, that there is an infinite number of genders, that COVID didn’t come…

…from a lab and then that it probably did, that closing borders is racist and then that it’s the most important thing to do, that the Hunter Biden story is Russian disinformation and then that it’s not, that they would not take Trump’s vaccine and then that you must take the…

…vaccine, that Governor Cuomo is a great COVID leader and then that he is a granny killer, that the number of COVID deaths is one thing and then another, that hospitals are filled with COVID patients and then that many of them caught COVID in hospital…

These same people are now telling you the vaccine is safe, you must take it and if you don’t you will be a second class citizen. Understand vaccine hesitancy now?




22 August, 2021 

Ruled by lies

The level of untruth proliferated by the government, mainstream media, central bankers, military leaders, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Corp., and billionaire oligarchs has reached prolific heights. We are lost in a whirlwind of lies, destined to grow into a tornado of tragedy and ultimately result in a cascade of consequences.

Since the installation of the illegitimate dementia patient as president of this dying empire of debt by the Deep State (billionaire oligarchs, surveillance state agencies, military industrial complex, Silicon Valley censorship tyrants, corrupt bought off state politicians, Soros installed bureaucrats, and their propaganda arm – fake news media outlets), the country has further fractured into warring factions.

It has been driven by political party, moral vs. immoral, black vs. white, criminals vs. police, normal vs. abnormal, capitalists vs. communists, Federal Reserve vs. the people, vaxxer sheep vs. natural immunity realists, authoritarians vs. freedom fighters, critical thinkers vs. non-thinking believers, privileged elite vs. common men and women, citizens vs. traitors, powerful vs. powerless, and evil versus good.

As Zappa realized, people believe the narrative they have been conditioned to believe, and no quantity of facts, data or rational arguments will change their minds. Arguing on twitter or facebook is not going to change the mind of those you are arguing against. Our public education indoctrination centers have taught multiple generations to feel rather than think, believe rather than question, obey rather than challenge, and allow their minds to be molded by elitists to follow orders and do as they are told, no questions asked.

This organized effort by men constituting a true invisible government has been a conscious, decades long, manipulation of the minds of the masses, through media propaganda, government cultural indoctrination, and most recently through internet social media platforms.

Those in control have achieved astounding success in exploiting the psychological weaknesses of millions of Americans by inducing them to believe absurd falsities, consume on command, become dependent on government handouts, go into debt, work soul crushing jobs, become addicted to the very technology used to manipulate them and surveil them, and believe anything authority figures tell them to believe. The past seventeen months have proven this to be true.

They convinced an enormous portion of the world’s population a non-lethal virus, for anyone under 80 years old in decent health, was such a threat they agreed to be locked down and masked for a year, destroying the global economy, putting tens of millions out of work, bankrupting hundreds of thousands of small businesses, and benefiting authoritarian government tyrants, mega-corporations, and criminal cabal who stole the presidential election for a senile hair sniffing angry gaffe machine functioning as a Trojan donkey (ass) to implement the Build Back Better, new world order WEF plan.

The Davos elite and their henchmen have accomplished more than they probably thought possible, achieving almost universal compliance and obedience to rules and dictates which have proven to be pointless in controlling Covid, but remarkable in controlling the masses. The throngs have demonstrated their willful ignorance and sheeplike qualities by unquestioningly trusting anything their superiors told them and obeying orders like submissive slaves. Those controlling the narrative took the teachings of Edward Bernays to heart and realized repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.

The number of provable untruths conveyed by those running this global psy-op have reached colossal heights of deceit. When trusted medical “experts”, politicians, Hollywood stars, sports heroes, government health apparatchiks, and corporate media all relentlessly repeat the same lies, it is difficult for a dumbed down populace to not believe the official narrative. Anyone who presented factual data to counter the untruths has been immediately censored and disappeared by the Silicon Valley social media tyrants Zuckerberg and Dorsey.

When doctors and journalists, with opinions and views contrary to Saint Fauci and his fawning media minions, are banned from Facebook and Twitter, while a media conspiracy to cover up Hunter Biden’s laptop and documented voting fraud in multiple states is beyond doubt, and an unarmed selfie taking joke of an insurrection where a bunch of boobs were ushered into the Capital by the police has been portrayed as the worse attack than Pearl Harbor or 9/11, you realize your government is controlled by men who are actively working against your best interests. They are acting to make sure you remain enslaved in debt, beholden to token government handouts of money they have already taken from you, and locked down physically, mentally, and socially.

The blatant disregard for truth displayed by our overlords during the last two years is either a sign of utter disdain for the intelligence of the common man or an act of desperation as this global Ponzi scheme of debt, deception and delusion is teetering on the brink of collapse. I do know the Big Lie strategy has been utilized at a level of zeal monumental in scope and shameful in application against the citizens of this nation and the world.

I will try to document some of the more egregious falsehoods being perpetuated by those attempting to control the narrative and accomplish their goal of world domination, complete control over our lives, and accumulation of massive wealth, while we will own nothing and be happy. The execution of their plan has been virtually flawless until now.

I’ll address the numerous lies related to the plandemic, where the weaponization of relatively non-lethal flu to anyone under 80 years old not tipping the scales at 275 pounds has been used to steal a presidential election; destroy hundreds of thousands of small businesses while shifting the profits to mega-corps like Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target; created division and suspicion among the population making them easier to manipulate and control; effectively implemented authoritarian measures and mandates, putting a final nail in the coffin of our Constitutional rights; unleashed the power of a corporate fascist social media censorship regime designed to silence the truth and punish those who do not comply with the approved narrative; and creating perpetual unfounded fear among the masses in order to make them obey all orders from their oligarch controllers.

One of the biggest lies from the outset has been about masks. All guidance from renowned health organizations prior to 2020, and backed up with scientific studies, unequivocally stated masks DO NOT protect you from viruses. Fauci, the Surgeon General and head of the CDC were not lying in March 2020 when they told the American public masks do not stop the spread of the virus. They have been lying ever since. The manufacturers of the masks even put a warning on the box that they do not work in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

The two charts below prove the point, and I could present fifty more charts from around the world showing the same results. Japan, the most masked country on earth, even when there isn’t a pandemic, was widely lauded early in the pandemic for stopping the spread with masks. Somehow, with 96% mask compliance, they experienced a massive surge in cases in January, another surge in May/June, and now a new surge, just like everywhere. Masks prevented nothing. They are useless against all viruses.

That brings us to the left-wing media whipping boy – Sweden. As the only developed country on earth to not lockdown, close schools, or require masks, they are truly the control group. The NYT, Washington Post and every other left wing fake news outlet wrote numerous fear mongering articles about the disaster in Sweden. They experienced the same exact pattern of cases as every other country in the world, with a surge in April/May 2020 and January 2021.

Their death rate per million people is the 21st highest in the world, with the UK, U.S., Spain, France, and Mexico recording far worse rates despite lockdowns and mask mandates. What becomes self-evident from the graph is they are not experiencing a surge from the Delta variant. Their vaccination rate is in the mid 30% range and virtually no one wears a mask. They have had ZERO deaths “with” covid in the last week. Previously infected people are not catching the Delta variant, while vaccinated people are. It sure looks like Sweden has achieved herd immunity with no lockdowns, masks, or mass vaccinations. But don’t expect the left wing media or Fauci to applaud their undeniable success.

The powers that be are now invoking mask mandates once again. Data and facts are meaningless to these totalitarian tyrants. The masks have never been about safety or stopping the spread. We’ve never been in this together. The point of the masks has been control. They wanted to sow distrust among the masses as nothing but disease spreading parasites. They want to dehumanize us.

They don’t want like-minded people getting together and realizing they are being screwed by their leaders. They want you holed up in your basement, frightened of a flu with a 99.7% survival rate. Smiles don’t exist when you are masked. Giving miserable lonely cat lady Karens a purpose in life is designed to sow discontent, anger, and division. We all become faceless sheep being corralled, shorn, and ultimately sacrificed at the altar of the Build Back Better New World Order.

Again, I could use fifty other charts proving lockdowns did not and do not work, but this chart of the permanently locked down continent of Australia will suffice. The dictatorial lockdowns across Australia didn’t work last July and August, as cases soared, and they have been entirely unnecessary since. A country with 26 million people has recorded less than 5 deaths with Covid since last October. Because the 7- day average of cases (not sick people) in Sydney has “skyrocketed” to 100 (with 1 death of an 80-year-old), the entire city has been locked down.

The propaganda media supports this ridiculous overreach with hyperbolic headlines about super spreader events. At least a portion of their population is fed up and their protests have begun to get violent, clashing with police thugs ordered to silence the discontent. Lockdowns are not for the purpose of keeping you safe. Their purpose is to keep the authoritarian politicians safe, while enriching their corporate and banking benefactors. These politicians and bureaucrats are being bought off to do the bidding of the true masters of the universe – the billionaire class.

More <a href="">HERE</a>  




21 August, 2021 

Pfizer effectiveness declines faster than AZ, new study suggests

The effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 declines faster than that of the AstraZeneca jab, according to a new study published on Thursday.

“Two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech have greater initial effectiveness against new Covid-19 infections, but this declines faster compared with two doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca,” researchers at Oxford University said.

The study, which has not been peer reviewed, is based on the results of a survey by Britain’s Office for National Statistics that carried out PCR tests from December last year to this month on randomly selected households.

It found that “the dynamics of immunity following second doses differed significantly” between Pfizer and AstraZeneca, according to the university’s Nuffield Department of Medicine.

Pfizer had “greater initial effectiveness” but saw “faster declines in protection against high viral burden and symptomatic infection”, when looking at a period of several months after full vaccination, although rates remained low for both jabs.

“Results suggest that after four to five months effectiveness of these two vaccines would be similar,” the scientists added, while stressing that long-term effects need to be studied.

The study’s findings come as Israel is administering booster shots, after giving 58 per cent of the population two shots of the Pfizer jab.

The United States is also set to offer booster vaccines to boost antibody levels following concerns over declining effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The Oxford research also found that protection was higher among those who had already been infected with the virus.

The study examined two groups of more than 300,000 people over 18, first during the period dominated by the Alpha variant, which emerged in Kent, southeast England, and secondly from May 2021 onwards, when the Delta variant has been dominant.

It confirmed that vaccines are less effective against Delta, which was first seen in India.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is the most widely offered in the UK, while those under 40 are offered Pfizer or Moderna due to blood clotting concerns.


Evidence mounts that people with breakthrough infections can spread Delta easily

A preliminary study has shown that in the case of a breakthrough infection, the Delta variant is able to grow in the noses of vaccinated people to the same degree as if they were not vaccinated at all. The virus that grows is just as infectious as that in unvaccinated people, meaning vaccinated people can transmit the virus and infect others.

Previous studies in hospitals in India; Provincetown, Massachusetts; and Finland have also shown that after vaccine breakthrough infections with Delta, there can be high levels of virus in people’s nose whether they are vaccinated or not. The next logical step was to determine whether vaccinated people could shed infectious virus. Many experts suspected they did, but until this study it hadn’t been proven in the lab.

“We're the first to demonstrate, as far as I'm aware, that infectious virus can be cultured from the fully vaccinated infections,” says Kasen Riemersma, a virologist at University of Wisconsin who is one of the authors of the study.

“Delta is breaking through more preferentially after vaccines as compared to the non-Delta variants” because it’s extremely infectious and evades the immune response, says Ravindra Gupta, a microbiologist at University of Cambridge. Gupta’s lab was one of the first to document that fully vaccinated healthcare workers could get infected with Delta and had high levels of virus in their noses.

If the Wisconsin study finding holds up, then people with breakthrough infections—many of whom do not develop COVID symptoms—can unknowingly spread the virus. “It [is] an alarming finding,” explains Katarina Grande, a public health supervisor and the COVID-19 Data Team Lead of Madison & Dane County, who led the study.

What concerns Eric Topol, the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, is that fully vaccinated individuals who are infected with the Delta variant can transmit the virus and this can happen at a higher rate than previous strains in the days before symptoms, or in the absence of symptoms. “Which is why masks and mitigation measures are important, even for people [who are] vaccinated,” he says.

Studies like these highlight that transmission of the Delta variant can be much higher that currently estimated, according to Ethan Berke, chief public health officer of the UnitedHealth Group. Berke’s research has shown that frequent testing with rapid results, even if preliminary, can be very effective in curtailing the COVID-19 pandemic. Berke was not involved in the Wisconsin study.

“Even though the study was based on one region, it offers important insight into how people can spread the virus to others whether they’re fully vaccinated or not. This sort of insight, especially as it’s tested and refined, is incredibly helpful as organizations develop policies around testing, social distancing, and vaccinations,” Berke says.

How do we know the virus in the sample is infectious?
To test for SARS-CoV-2, the scientists employed a measurement called threshold cycle (Ct) that uses glowing dyes to reveal the quantity of viral RNA in the nose.

“SARS-CoV-2 virus infects nose and upper airway. It is very difficult to get a very high level of antibodies for long periods of time in that area. The immune system is not really designed to put high levels of antibodies at those sites,” Gupta says.

Ct values correlate with the viral load, which is the number of viral particles present in the body. When the quantity of virus passes a certain threshold, researchers expect an infected person to shed SARS-CoV-2 and potentially infect others. The Wisconsin study analyzed the nasal swabs from 719 cases of unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people who had all tested positive and found that 68 percent of the studied breakthrough patients had very high viral loads. High viral load is a sign that the virus is replicating, Gupta says.

To discover whether the nasal swabs had infectious virus, the Wisconsin researchers grew virus from 55 patient samples (from both vaccinated and unvaccinated people who tested positive) in special cells prone to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Grande’s team detected infectious virus in nearly everyone: from 88 percent of unvaccinated individuals and 95 percent of vaccinated people.

“We put the samples onto cells, and the cells died when they got infected. And so that clearly demonstrates that there is virus there, and that it's infectious,” Riemersma explains.

If vaccinated people can still produce a lot of infectious viruses, it means they can spread the virus as easily as those who are not vaccinated.


July inflation report is bad news for consumers — again

<i>And it's even worse for savers.  Inflation can reduce your savings to worthlessness.  And the main cause is excessive government spending</i>

Since President Joe Biden entered the Oval Office, inflation in America has become a persistent problem.  In fact, inflation has steadily risen from 1.7% in January to 5.4% in both June and July.

Sadly, this is bad news for consumers, who are more than aware that their money isn’t going as far as it did just a few months ago.

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics , “The all items index rose 5.4 percent for the 12 months ending July, the same increase as the period ending June. The index for all items less food and energy rose 4.3 percent over the last 12 months, while the energy index rose 23.8 percent. The food index increased 3.4 percent for the 12 months ending July, compared to a 2.4-percent rise for the period ending June.”

Yet, most significantly, “The energy index increased 1.6 percent in July after rising 1.5 percent in June. All the major energy component indexes increased over the month. … The energy index rose 23.8 percent over the past 12 months. The gasoline index rose 41.8 percent since July 2020. The index for natural gas rose 19.0 percent over the last 12 months, while the index for electricity increased 4.0 percent.”

Those are some startling statistics, especially if you are on a fixed income (like most seniors) or a family in the working class just trying to make ends meet.

As the data show, the cost of almost everything is increasing rapidly. Yet, wages remain basically stagnant. In June , hourly wages increased by a microscopic 0.3%.

Inflation, by and large, is much more of a problem for those in the working class because a high proportion of their income is spent on the basics, such as gasoline, food, and home energy costs.

When the prices of these staple items increase substantially (as they have over the past seven months) and wages remain relatively stagnant (as they have for many months), those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder pay the highest price — no pun intended.

Yet, this seems lost on the Biden administration, which seems oblivious to the fact that its reckless spending bills (and COVID-19 policies) are the primary reasons for the spike in inflation.

Since Biden took office, his administration has passed the American Rescue Plan ($1.9 trillion), has supported the bipartisan “infrastructure” plan ($1.2 trillion and pending in the House), and is on the brink of passing a behemoth budget reconciliation package that would cost a whopping $3.5 trillion.

This amount of reckless spending over such a short period is absolutely unprecedented in U.S. history. And lest we forget, this comes on top of the $2.6 trillion the government allocated in COVID-19 relief funds.

As any economist, or anyone with common sense, knows, when the government showers the economy with trillions of dollars over a short window of time, the value of the dollar declines.

And when this colossal spending comes after an 18-month economic shutdown, in which the production of goods and availability of services declined due to government decree, you now have more dollars chasing fewer goods and services.

No wonder inflation is out of control.

Over the past few months, the Biden administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress (with the help of some Republicans) have embraced modern monetary theory, which basically says that debt and deficits don’t matter. According to MMT, the government can spend and print as much money as it deems necessary, without any repercussions.

However, we are witnessing the abject failure of MMT in real-time. Hopefully, some semblance of fiscal sanity will prevail sooner rather than later.




20 August, 2021 

Leftists motivated by 'malicious envy'

Chien-An Lin, Timothy Bates

While theory predicts fairness motivates support for redistribution, tests have yielded near-zero effects. Here we propose the relevant evolved fairness motive operates within the community sharing relation, experienced as a unity motive to treat “all as one and none as more than one”. Study 1 (N = 403) supported this model, with a moderate (?? = .15 CI[.06, .23]) significant effect of a communal fairness measure on support for redistribution, incremental to effects of compassion, envy, and self-interest. Study 2 (N=402) replicated with larger effect (?? = .25 CI[.17, .33]). As distribution involves means as well as ends, we tested support for redistribution by coercive means. In both study 1 and 2, support for coercion was predicted by “ends justify the means” intuitions (instrumental harm: ?? = .21 CI[.12, .31)] and .16 CI[.08, .25]). Communal fairness also predicted willingness to coerce (?? = .15 CI[.05 .24] and .32 CI[.23 .41]). These five psychological motives accounted for 45% of support for redistribution, suggesting considerable value for political, economic, evolutionary, and ethical theory.


19 August, 2021 

What Biden threw away

"The events we're seeing now," President Biden said Monday afternoon, amid what he called the "gut-wrenching" horror of Kabul's fall, "are, sadly, proof that no amount of military force would ever deliver a stable, united, secure Afghanistan."

Five weeks ago, he said the opposite.

In July, Biden described the Afghan military as "better trained, better equipped, and more competent in terms of conducting war." He scorned the idea that the Taliban could seize the country, and denied that his military and intelligence advisers were warning that a precipitous US withdrawal would be disastrous. "The likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely."

Not for the first time, Joe Biden was wrong on a key foreign policy and national security issue.

Yet despite abruptly reversing his message on the threat posed by the Taliban, he was as inflexible as ever on getting US troops out of Afghanistan. "We will end America's longest war after 20 long years of bloodshed," Biden repeated, as he had ever since launching his presidential bid two years ago. That had been Donald Trump's position, too; at one point, Trump even signed an order ordering US forces out by Jan. 15, 2021. Until it was removed a few days ago, a page on the Republican National Committee website was still praising Trump for cutting a deal with the Taliban "to end America's longest war."

It is strange, this talking point about Afghanistan being the "longest war" or a "forever war." Yes, the United States has been involved in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, but the last time American forces suffered any combat casualties was Feb. 8, 2020, when Sgt. Javier Gutierrez and Sgt. Antonio Rodriguez were ambushed and killed. Their sacrifice was heroic and selfless. But it makes little sense to speak of a "forever war" in which there are no fatalities for a year and a half.

Nor does it make sense to apply that label to a mission involving just 2,500 troops, which was the tiny size to which the US footprint in Afghanistan had shrunk by the time Biden took office. There are more American military personnel than that assigned to the East African nation of Djibouti (3,000), to the Rota Naval Station in Spain (3,000), to the Persian Gulf monarchy of Bahrain (5,000), and to Kuwait (13,000).

In terms of battlefield risk to Americans, Afghanistan has not been a hot war zone for years. Compared to the peak US presence a decade ago, when 110,000 troops were deployed, 98 percent of America's personnel in Afghanistan have long since come home. "An endless American presence in the middle of another country's civil conflict was not acceptable," Biden insisted, but the US military presence in Afghanistan was nowhere near as "endless" as some other deployments. American soldiers entered Germany in 1944 and 35,000 American soldiers are there today. In April, just before the White House confirmed Biden's plan to remove all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the huge US military presence in Germany would be expanding by another 500. Should we call that a forever war, too?

What about Korea? More than 70 years after the United States arrived in Korea to defend the South, nearly 30,000 US troops remain there on high alert, a military tripwire in one of the world's most dangerous environments. But not even Biden would walk away from the defense of South Korea's people. Why does he care so much less about Afghanistan's people?

The United States currently deploys nearly 30,000 active-duty military personnel in Korea, a military tripwire in one of the world's most dangerous environments. US forces have been in Korea since 1950 — half a century longer than they have been in Afghanistan.

Hoover Institution scholar Timothy Kane, an economist and former Air Force intelligence officer, decries the "lazy assumption that Afghanistan is eternally undeveloped" and that US boots on the ground have not accomplished great good. "Unlike most conquering armies," he said in an interview, "American troops provide security and investment in the local populace."

Literacy among Afghans has doubled since the Americans arrived in 2001. Infant mortality rates fell by half. Access to electricity, once denied to more than 3 in 4 Afghans, is now nearly universal. When US forces entered Afghanistan, there were just 900,000 children attending school, and all of them were boys. Earlier this year, that number had reached more than 9.5 million, and 39 percent of them were girls.

All this was being sustained in recent years, and the Taliban was being held at bay, with just a relative handful of US troops to provide intelligence, logistics, and air support. "Once American credibility had been established," observed Kane, "the marginal cost of staying the course was minimal." The cost of throwing it away will be far, far higher.


The New Normal in the Permanent Emergency

Just when the authorities allow us to take off our masks, they demand that we put them back on. Americans might reasonably wonder if there will ever be a return to “normal.” But obey we must, lest we be in gross violation of the mandates created for us by our betters, who know, better than we do, what’s best for us.

From the onset of the lockdowns, one of their loudest critics has been Fox News host Laura Ingraham. Miss Laura has repeatedly expressed her disdain for the term "the new normal.” Even so, the regular old “old normal” had its problems, one of which was how we handled “congregant settings.” We weren’t very prudent about how we mingled, massed, rubbed shoulders, and got together, i.e. congregated.

Efforts to practice “social distancing” in packed congregant settings are sorely tested in many of the activities that we Americans take for granted, such as attending sports events, movies, concerts, bars, restaurants, demonstrations, insurrections, riots, and so on. People like to cram themselves into arenas and work themselves up into an ecstatic quasi-religious frenzy when their tribe’s team carries a ball across a goal line. And all the while they’re breathing on each other and spraying spittle. Young people, especially, have a need to be with each other, and in cramped quarters, as when they queue up to get into exclusive nightclubs, like Studio 54 back in the old days. How many cases of the coronavirus have been passed to the immuno-compromised by young people who’ve attended all-night raves or today’s equivalent of Studio 54?

One of the features of the old normal that we need to leave behind is how we dealt with congregant settings. This kid thinks that attending certain gatherings, like rock concerts, is a version of Hell. But there’s one type of congregant setting that I do go in for, but it involves a more sophisticated group of congregants than rock fans, and that’s opera.

During a 1975 performance of Tristan und Isolde in Dallas, several audience members were having major coughing fits. Finally, in Act 3, their Tristan, the late great Canadian tenor Jon Vickers, had had enough, and from the stage yelled this at the audience: “Shut up with your damned coughing!

Compared to the devastating virus dreamt up for 12 Monkeys, the Wuhan virus is more like the coronavirus that causes the common cold, it’s even rather benign compared to the Spanish flu of a century ago. Despite that, the Democrats are using the pandemic for their own ends. The mandates and lockdowns are the means by which the Dems hope to lock in their political power permanently.

The lockdowns only make sense when protecting the immuno-compromised and the elderly; in other words, those who should already have been locked down, sheltering in place. Rather than a quarantine of just those folks, the authorities quarantined everybody, and in doing so killed off countless small businesses and livelihoods.

If the vulnerable had isolated and hunkered down to wait for a cure, the rest of America could have stayed open for business with just a few safety measures, which was exactly what essential workers did. The lockdowns are one of the more unnecessary and harmful things government has ever inflicted upon the People.

The Democrats have made COVID-19 into “the worst thing ever” to justify their shotgun approach to lockdown. Paradoxically, the more arbitrary and unreasonable the strictures of their lockdowns, the more they seem to lock in their authority.

The Democrats’ New Normal is an authoritarianism that they want to last forever. And the Dems don’t seem to worry about resistance from the People. After all, you aren’t gonna violate the “Permanent Emergency Code,” are you, Mr. Cole?


Tennessee Governor Bill Lee Makes Masks Optional in Schools

On Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed an executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of any Wuhan coronavirus mask mandates imposed by school districts in the state.

“No one cares more about the health and well-being of a child than a parent,” Lee wrote in his Twitter announcement of the order. “I am signing an EO today that allows parents to opt their children out of a school mask mandate if either a school board or health board enacts one over a district.”

Lee’s order states that parents of K-12 students in any Tennessee public school have the right, via a written notice, to exempt their child from wearing a mask at school, on a school bus, or at any school-related functions.

With the beginning of the school year looming, Tennessee Republicans had encouraged Lee to call a special session of the state legislature to settle the mask issue. House Speaker Cameron Sexton praised Lee’s order in a series of tweets on Monday evening.

“Gov. Lee’s executive order issued today is good news in affirming a parent’s right to make healthcare decisions for their children,” Sexton wrote. "I feel confident the immediate need for a special session has been averted in the interim by using executive orders. However, the House still stands ready to act if the call comes.”

Unlike the executive orders signed by other GOP governors, such as Texas’ Greg Abbott and Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Lee’s order does not explicitly prohibit school districts from enacting mask mandates. In fact, two of Tennessee’s largest school districts, Shelby County Schools and Metro Nashville Public Schools, have left their mask mandates in place.

Lee’s order comes as the mask debate is heating up at school board meetings in Williamson County, Tenn. Last week, a group of parents attending the Williamson County Schools meeting confronted pro-mask mandate board members and doctors as they tried to leave. And on Tuesday evening, a pro-mandate father invoked the Bible as he railed against “careless” anti-maskers in a now-viral speech.




19 August, 2021 
Does the explosion of the delta variant mean we need a new COVID-19 vaccine?

The rapid spread of the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has put more patients in hospital beds and led to reinstatements of mask mandates in some cities and states. The variant, which is more transmissible than previous variants, also seems more able to cause breakthrough infections in vaccinated people.

Fortunately, vaccines are forming a bulwark against severe disease, hospitalization and death. But with the specter of delta and the potential for new variants to emerge, is it time for booster shots — or even a new COVID vaccine?

For now, public health experts say the far bigger emergency is getting first and second doses into people who haven't had a single shot. Most people don't need boosters to prevent severe illness, and it's not clear when or if they will. But companies are already looking into updating their vaccines for coronavirus mutations, and there is a good chance that third shots are coming soon for some people. Already, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have greenlighted booster shots for immunocompromised individuals. 

"I think we're looking at an inevitable move toward boosters, at least in higher-risk people like those of advanced age and obviously the immunocompromised," said Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at The Scripps Research Institute in California.

Vaccine developers are working on the question of whether future COVID-19 shots will need to be tweaked for the delta variant, or other new variants. For now though, initial evidence hints that boosters of the original vaccine should add protection against delta. 

While all the COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. are doing a fabulous job of preventing severe disease and death, it's clear that breakthrough infections are more common with this variant. Data on efficacy is still emerging, and efficacy is a moving target depending on a lot of factors. It's hard to make apples-to-apples comparisons between countries or hospital systems, said Jordi Ochando, an immunologist and cancer biologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Different countries have different levels of vaccination, have used different vaccine mixes with different dose scheduling, and have different populations with different age stratification, comorbidities and levels of previous infection. 

Still, synthesizing data from different countries suggests the mRNA vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are probably up to 60% or as low as 50% protective against infection with delta, Topol wrote on Twitter. That's right on the border of efficacy at which the Food and Drug Administration would approve a new COVID-19 vaccine. The J&J vaccine is probably less protective against symptomatic illness than a two-dose mRNA vaccine, based on studies finding that it elicits lower levels of neutralizing antibodies (which block the virus from entering cells).

Data is now emerging that the J&J vaccine likely prevents severe disease from delta as well. Though people with symptomatic breakthrough infections can spread the delta variant, the vaccines do still seem to reduce the likelihood of transmission by making any infection that does occur shorter. A study conducted in Singapore found that viral load started at similar levels in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who were infected with delta, but it dropped much faster in vaccinated individuals, beginning a steeper decline around day 5 or 6 of illness. This could mean that vaccination shortens the infectious period. However, more confirmation is necessary to show whether the Singapore results will hold up. The discovery that vaccinated people can have viable virus in their noses if infected is what made the CDC reverse its recommendation that vaccinated people did not need to wear masks.

It's not clear exactly why delta can break through vaccine-induced protection more frequently, but there may be multiple factors at play. One is that the antibodies that the vaccine elicits may not bind to the virus variant as well. Delta appears to have spike mutation proteins that make original coronavirus antibodies a worse fit, according to research published in Nature in July. This means that previously infected and vaccinated people have antibodies that aren't quite as protective against delta as they were against the original or alpha variants, said Yiska Weisblum, a postdoctoral researcher in retrovirology at The Rockefeller University in New York. 

Another possible reason for waning efficacy is that the immune system starts letting down its guard over time. This happens with the pertussis vaccine, which is why expectant parents and other adults who are going to be around unvaccinated newborns should get booster shots.

"Right now, the U.S. is the driver of the world delta wave, and we are the leading force of nurturing new variants, because it's out of control here."

Whether waning immunity is likely to be a problem for COVID-19 vaccines is currently a hot topic among researchers. Israeli health authorities say they've seen an increase in breakthrough infections in people immunized in January versus March and are concerned about an uptick in more severe breakthrough cases in those 60 and older, according to Haaretz.

Data from an Israeli HMO published on the preprint server medRxiv before peer review found that 2% of people who requested a PCR test for any reason post-vaccination received a positive result. People vaccinated more than 146 days before being tested were twice as likely to experience a breakthrough infection. The vast majority of the cases in the study were delta. It's difficult to track waning immunity because you need to revisit the same group of people over time, tracking their infection status, Scripps' Topol told Live Science. That kind of data hasn't really emerged yet. But Topol said he's transitioned from skepticism over waning immunity to belief that it is occurring.

"It does look like there is a substantial interaction with delta finding people who are several months out from when they got fully vaccinated," Topol said. "It's a double hit. If you were six months out, and there is no delta, you're probably fine. The problem is this interaction."


COVID: 90% of patients treated with new Israeli drug discharged in 5 days

Some 93% of 90 coronavirus serious patients treated in several Greek hospitals with a new drug developed by a team at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center as part of the Phase II trial of the treatment were discharged in five days or fewer.

The Phase II trial confirmed the results of Phase I, which was conducted in Israel last winter and saw 29 out of 30 patients in moderate to serious condition recover within days.

“The main goal of this study was to verify that the drug is safe,” Prof. Nadir Arber said. “To this day we have not registered any significant side effect in any patient from both groups.”

The trial was conducted in Athens because Israel did not have enough relevant patients. The principal investigator was Greece’s coronavirus commissioner, Prof. Sotiris Tsiodras.

Arber and his team, including Dr. Shiran Shapira, developed the drug based on a molecule that the professor has been studying for 25 years called CD24, which is naturally present in the body.
“It is important to remember that 19 out of 20 COVID-19 patients do not need any therapy,” Arber said. “After a window of five to 
12 days, some 5% of the patients start to deteriorate.”

The main cause of the clinical deterioration is an over activation of the immune system, also known as a cytokine storm. In case of COVID-19 patients, the system starts attacking healthy cells in the lungs.

“This is exactly the problem that our drug targets,” he said.
CD24 is a small protein that is anchored to the membrane of the cells and it serves many functions including regulating the mechanism responsible for the cytokine storm.

Arber stressed that their treatment, EXO-CD24, does not affect the immune system as a whole, but only targets this specific mechanism, helping find again its correct balance.

“This is precision medicine,” he said. “We are very happy that we have found a tool to tackle the physiology of the disease.”
“Steroids for example shut down the entire immune system,” he further explained. “We are balancing the part responsible for the cytokine storms using the endogenous mechanism of the body, meaning tools offered by the body itself.”

Arber noted that another breakthrough element of this treatment is its delivery. “We are employing exosomes, very small vesicles derived from the membrane of the cells which are responsible for the exchange of information between them,” he said. “By managing to deliver them exactly where they are needed, we avoid many side effects,” he added.

The team is now ready to launch the last phase of the study.
“As promising as the findings of the first phases of a treatment can be, no one can be sure of anything until results are compared to the ones of patients who receive a placebo,” he said.

Some 155 coronavirus patients will take part in the study. Two-thirds of them will be administered the drug, and one-third a placebo.

The study will be conducted in Israel and it might be also carried out in other places if the number of patients in the country will not suffice.

“We hope to complete it by the end of the year,” Arber said.
If the results are confirmed, he vowed that the treatment can be made available relatively quickly and at a low cost.

“In addition, a success could pave the wave to treat many other diseases,” he concluded.




17 August, 2021 

About COVID-19 breakthrough infections

The COVID-19 vaccines that are used in the U.S. are highly effective. But sometimes, the coronavirus can still infect people who are vaccinated, causing so-called breakthrough infections. So what are breakthrough infections, what are the symptoms and how common are they?

If a person tests positive for COVID-19 at least two weeks after receiving all recommended doses of vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers them to have a breakthrough infection. 

That means that anyone who tests positive at least two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or the Moderna vaccine or two weeks after receiving a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is considered a breakthrough infection case. Vaccine breakthrough cases "are expected," because no vaccine is 100% effective, according to the CDC.


Fact-Checking 4 Claims About COVID-19 in Florida

Last year, the press fixated on the state’s rising case and hospitalization rates, blaming them on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decisions to eschew government mask mandates and allow businesses to reopen, children to attend school, and residents to recreate without excessive restraints.

DeSantis was often unfavorably compared with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose iron-fisted restrictions were considered the epitome of enlightened governance.

Enthusiasm for Cuomo has waned, but heaping scorn on DeSantis is still in vogue. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson has dubbed DeSantis “public enemy number one,” first in line among “cynical and irresponsible Republican politicians [who] have created an environment that is killing Americans.”

So what’s really going on in Florida? Is DeSantis a cynical and irresponsible killer? Here are the facts.

1. Florida Is Experiencing a Spike in Cases: True.

Florida is experiencing a surge in new confirmed cases. The seven-day rolling average of new infections topped 18,000 on Aug. 5, more than the state logged in January.

Florida accounts for roughly 6% of the U.S. population but 18% of the seven-day moving average of daily new cases nationwide.

Those are concerning figures, but they should be understood in context. Most states are experiencing increases in cases, although Florida is unique in exceeding previous highs. 

Florida’s increase resembles the U.K.’s, which only recently has begun to subside. The country’s mask mandates and other restrictions didn’t prevent a spike in cases, any more than such restrictions prevented recent or ongoing surges in Spain, Israel, France, Ireland, and the Netherlands

Florida’s spike in cases is consistent with a broader global pattern and isn’t easily attributable to the state’s refusal to implement mask mandates or adopt vaccine passports. Nor does a spike in cases necessarily produce a surge of severe illness or death, but more on that below.

2. Florida’s Increase in New Cases Is Due to Low Vaccination Rates: False.

“Seven states with the lowest vaccination rates represent just about 8.5% of the U.S. population, but account for more than 17% of cases,” Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said earlier this week. “And 1 in 3 cases nationwide occurred in Florida and Texas.”

Florida is not one of the seven states with the lowest vaccination rates. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data available on Aug. 5, 49.8% of Americans were fully vaccinated. That compares with 49.2% of Floridians. The vaccination rates among the elderly also are comparable—80.3% of Floridians over age 65 are fully vaccinated, compared with 80.2% of all Americans in that age group.

And while Florida’s vaccination rates vary by county, those rates don’t correlate with newly confirmed cases per 100,000 residents.

The data come from the most recent weekly report prepared by the Florida Department of Health. They show that even counties with high vaccination rates reported high new case rates for the week ending July 29.

Nearly 80% of the residents over the age of 12 living in Dade County (home to Miami), the state’s most populous, were fully vaccinated. But the county reported 532 new cases per 100,000 residents, exceeding the state’s elevated average of 503 new cases per 100,000.

Ten of the 17 counties that reported vaccination rates of 40% or less had lower rates of new infections than did Dade County. A similar pattern held in other populous counties with high vaccination rates, including St. Johns County (Jacksonville/St. Augustine) and Orange County (Orlando).

It is, of course, possible that most or all these new cases are occurring among the unvaccinated, but there may be a significant number of breakthrough cases. Unfortunately, neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the Florida Department of Health provides that information.

3. Florida Hospitals Are Overwhelmed: Mostly False.

President Joe Biden’s chief spokesperson, Jen Psaki, recently tweeted: “23% of new COVID hospitalizations in the U.S are in Florida, and their hospitals are being overwhelmed again.”

Let’s start with the word “again.” Among the media’s favorite stories to report last summer was that a run-up in COVID-19 cases had pushed Florida hospitals beyond their limits. As I’ve written (here, here, here, and here), that was not the case then.

And it isn’t the case now. It is true that Florida hospitals are treating a more significant share of COVID-19 patients than most other states and that hospitals are facing staffing challenges. Here is the breakdown, updated Aug. 6, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Those figures are at once disturbing and reassuring—disturbing because nearly 13,000 Floridians are hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, but reassuring because the state’s hospital systems still have plenty of unused capacity (roughly 9,400 empty beds). More than 11% of the state’s adult ICU beds are vacant.

Psaki’s allegation that Florida hospitals are “overwhelmed” is thus false, although the situation certainly bears watching.

More encouraging is that deaths associated with COVID-19 remain far below levels reached last summer and during January. The seven-day moving average of COVID-19-related deaths stood at 72 on Aug. 5, compared with 184 on Aug. 5, 2020, and 185 in late January.

While not conclusive—deaths generally lag new cases by a few weeks, and reporting is sometimes delayed—this resembles the pattern in the U.K., where a spike in infections did not result in a comparable rise in deaths.

4. Florida’s Spike in Cases Is DeSantis’ Fault: False.

Critics of DeSantis hold him responsible for the state’s spike in cases. Biden, for example, called on DeSantis to “get out of the way,” arguing that rising case counts were the direct result of the Florida governor’s policies.

A recent news analysis piece in The Hill is among the many publications touting this theme. “Conservative Republicans—notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott—have adopted a permissive approach,” the article asserted. “The result of their purported dedication to ‘freedom’ has been an explosion of coronavirus cases in their states.”

The article goes on to quote Georgetown law professor Lawrence Gostin as saying, “If you are against masks and vaccines, you might have a short-term win with people who don’t want to mask and vaccinate, but overall the population in your state doesn’t have the freedom to safely and securely go to do the things they love.”

The argument that Florida’s case rate has risen because its governor embraces freedom and opposes masks and vaccines doesn’t hold up.

First, DeSantis isn’t “against masks and vaccines.” Although he has shunned mask mandates, his state’s health department promotes mask-wearing and social distancing. His administration lets individuals and businesses respond to this advice instead of subjecting them to government mandates.

Similarly, although opposed to vaccine passports and mandates, the DeSantis administration promotes immunizations. Florida’s immunization rate is quite close to the national average. Its rise in cases is not due to low vaccination rates.

Second, despite the current uptick in cases, Florida has done an exceptional job preserving freedom and advancing public health throughout the pandemic. Florida’s COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 population remain below the national average.

That is more remarkable considering that more than 1 in 5 residents is over age 65, the nation’s second-highest proportion of elderly. That demographic accounts for nearly 80% of COVID-related mortality nationally. Yet, Florida has outperformed numerous states with smaller proportions of elderly people that have adopted less “permissive” policies, including New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and Delaware.

Florida’s increase in COVID-19 cases is troubling and not easily explained. Its vaccination rate is nearly identical to the national rate, and counties with very high vaccination rates are among those reporting big increases in cases. Allegations that the state’s hospitals are overwhelmed are exaggerated, although future capacity strains can’t yet be ruled out. That’s also true of COVID-19-related deaths, which have so far remained far below previous highs.

The president and his allies can’t resist politicizing the Florida case increases. Demonizing a governor of a rival party deflects from the national surge in cases, the administration’s frustration with lagging demand for vaccines (particularly among young adults and racial minorities), and the CDC’s confusing and conflicting advice on whether vaccinated people should wear masks.  

The administration should undertake a serious effort to learn what’s behind Florida’s surge and prepare for the potential of similar spikes elsewhere in the country.




16 August, 2021 

Health Update:</i>

Thanks to immunotherapy, my cancer is in complete remission. There is now no trace of it in me.

It has however knocked me around a lot -- in part because I spent about 4 months largely bedbound.  So my big problem is a lack of energy and vigor generally

So for the immediate future I will be postingto two blogs on each day -- two from a selection of four.  See list below. So if you click all four of my sites, you will will find new content from me each day


Dr. Nicole Saphier Blasts 'Myopic' CDC For Ignoring Natural Immunity: 'Not Following The Science'

Dr. Nicole Saphier, an author and radiologist who frequently provides analysis on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on Fox News and Fox Business, blasted the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for being "myopic" on the topic of natural immunity from the virus.

Saphier's analysis, provided on Wednesday night's edition of Fox News' "Hannity," came after host Sean Hannity brought up a Cleveland Clinic study suggesting that individuals who have already had COVID-19 would not additionally benefit from obtaining a vaccine.

"Sean, it’s not even just the Cleveland clinic at this point," she said. "We have ample data showing that natural immunity provides effectiveness against severe disease from SARS-CoV-2. In fact, Israel showed that reinfection following prior infection is about seven times less likely than if you are fully vaccinated. So I find it to be very myopic that the CDC continues to discount the protection of natural immunity. They only do it for SARS-CoV-2. They acknowledge natural immunity for measles, chickenpox, and many other viruses, but they are so myopic right now in trying to encourage vaccination that they are truly actually not following the science."

Saphier was referring to a recent Israeli study suggesting that those with natural immunity were less likely to contract the virus' latest wave than those who were fully vaccinated (via Israel National News).

Health Ministry data on the wave of COVID outbreaks which began this May show that Israelis with immunity from natural infection were far less likely to become infected again in comparison to Israelis who only had immunity via vaccination.

More than 7,700 new cases of the virus have been detected during the most recent wave starting in May, but just 72 of the confirmed cases were reported in people who were known to have been infected previously – that is, less than 1% of the new cases.

Roughly 40% of new cases – or more than 3,000 patients – involved people who had been infected despite being vaccinated.

The Fox News contributor went on to argue that, given the rare but known side effects of vaccines, the decision to vaccinate should be "between that person and their physician," not "because a restaurant or a business or somewhere told them they have to get the vaccine to be employed there or go there."

This is a medical decision. Again, if someone has antibodies, protective natural immunity, to say that they need a vaccine to protect themselves and to others around them is not following the science and, unfortunately, I blame the CDC for being so narrow-minded right now and not actually seeing and acknowledging what many other countries are doing. That if you have proof of natural immunity, that is probably as good if not better than the vaccines.


We Have Yet Another Data Point That Eviscerates Liberal Media's Narrative on the Unvaccinated

At the start of the Delta variant, the media, the Democrats, and snobby liberal America knew who to blame. It was the unvaccinated. Yes, they make up virtually all the recent hospitalizations and new deaths. The goal should have been to convince these people to get the shot, not denigrate them, and certainly not mock their deaths. Liberal America took the latter route. The moral superiority complex kicked in and now those who were on the fence are firmly entrenched in their position to not get vaccinated. 

To make matters worse, the experts and the Biden White House continue to fail at messaging. The cherry on top of this government fail sundae is that they think bribing people $100 will boost vaccination rates. Some people are skeptical of government, some have questions about long-term risks, and others simply don’t want it. It’s their choice. It should always be a choice. Only a liberal would view the unvaccinated as a sub-human species. Yet, more and more stories have shredded this narrative. 

For starters, they’re not all Trump lovers or Republicans. It’s not religion either. By May 11, Data Progress noted that 60+ percent of Jews, Catholics, and other non-denominational Christians have had at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Now, are a good chunk of COVID vaccine hesitators GOP supporters, sure—but some 40 percent of New York City’s workers remain unvaccinated. One-quarter of health care workers are unvaccinated. In fact, the most hesitant group have higher education degrees, doctorates to be exact. I doubt these folks are hard-core MAGA or readers of conservative media. 

It’s a very complicated and very nuanced debate, one that has been raging for years. And now, The New York Times has a story about how young black New Yorkers are simply saying “no” to the COVID vaccine (via NYT):

"A construction site safety manager in Queens said that as a Black man, he was more worried about the prospect of being stopped by the police than he was about getting Covid-19.

A graduate student in the Bronx who had not gotten vaccinated said her worst fears seemed confirmed when a vaccine that the government was directing to Black and poorer neighborhoods was briefly suspended over a small number of dangerous blood clots.

And a civil rights activist in the Bronx said he grew suspicious when he heard last year that politicians were prioritizing minority neighborhoods for coronavirus vaccinations.


All three situations reflect a trend that has become a major concern to public health experts: Young Black New Yorkers are especially reluctant to get vaccinated, even as the Delta variant is rapidly spreading among their ranks. City data shows that only 28 percent of Black New Yorkers ages 18 to 44 years are fully vaccinated, compared with 48 percent of Latino residents and 52 percent of white residents in that age group."

This vaccination gap is emerging as the latest stark racial disparity in an epidemic full of them. Epidemiologists say they expect this third wave will hit Black New Yorkers especially hard.

“This is a major public health failure,” said Dr. Dustin Duncan, an epidemiologist and Columbia University professor.

Yeah, well maybe you experts should have thought about the consequences of going on television and telling people that the vaccine doesn’t work. 

‘Get the shot but keep wearing a mask.’ You all heard it for weeks from these clowns. Why? People will question whether the vaccine works. 

That’s what comes from these sentiments. They didn’t care and now tens of millions are simply refusing to get vaccinated. You can’t blame Trump. You can’t blame Ron DeSantis. 

Young black NYC residents don’t trust the government, but it’s not just them. After this fiasco, EVERYONE should be skeptical of the medical experts, and many have tuned out these clowns who say one thing only to say something else that contradicts what was taken as gospel hours later. And now, with cities and localities passing soft vaccine passport mandates, it looks like young blacks will be barred from certain public settings. But I thought the country bumpkins were the reason why vaccination levels stagnated, right? It’s a mess that only liberal America could make.




14 August, 2021 

Making children wear masks in the classroom is 'child abuse'

Making children wear masks in the classroom can stunt language skills and exacerbate anxiety, a health report commissioned by the Irish government has found. 

The Health Information and Quality Authority's report published in March informed Dublin's decision not to mandate masks for children in elementary schools.

The HIQA paper noted that transmission of Covid was low in schools and that young children found it difficult to wear face coverings properly.

The scientists also gave evidence that masks had adverse psychological impacts, including causing anxiety and inhibiting the development of communication skills.

Tucker Carlson last night drew attention to the report on his Fox News show, describing it as 'child abuse' to force young children to 'wear moist paper burkas.'  

'The question is, what's the benefit of doing it?' he asked. 'The Irish government looked into it and decided there is no benefit. Kids in Ireland are not getting sick from COVID. They are not transmitting COVID either,' Carlson said.   

'So in the end, based on the scientific research using the disappearing art of rational decision making, the Irish government refused to implement mask mandates in school.' 

The report found that since the pandemic started 'the extent of transmission between children or onwards to households by children, has been low.'

It said that while masks for adults were associated with lower transmission of Covid-19, the data showed a reduction in mask efficacy among children 'which may, in part, be due to reduced ability to comply with face mask wearing.'

Furthermore, the paper went on to add that 'there is concern regarding the potential harms associated with face mask use, for example, anxiety or negative impacts on the development of communication and language skills, particularly for younger children.'    

In Britain, school children under the age of 12 have never been required to wear masks during the pandemic, neither at school nor anywhere else.

Public Health England's medical adviser Dr Susan Hopkins said in March: 'The consensus view is to not advise schoolchildren at primary school age [12 and under] to wear face coverings.

'This is for two reasons: firstly they can have difficulty wearing them and keeping them on all day, and the second part of that is that it's really important that they can see facial expressions in order to develop their communications and language skills.' 

The mask mandate for British secondary schools was dropped at the end of May.

Carlson last night said that the US had proceeded with its guidelines on masks for children without 'any data to justify it.'

'As of today, there has not been a single comprehensive study in the United States showing that children should wear masks in school or that masks would help them or anyone else in any way,' he said.  

The host cited one study by researchers at Duke University which was published in The New York Times on Tuesday, with the headline: 'We studied one million students, universal masking works.'

According to Carlson, a fatal flaw with the study was that all of the kids in the study were at schools with mask mandates. 'In other words, there is no control group,' the Fox host said. 'Therefore, by definition, there was no way for the researchers to determine whether or not mass mandates work.'


The CDC Just Proved Milton Friedman Right (Again!)

I hate to say “I told you so.” Well, actually, I really enjoy saying “I told you so.” And, when it comes to the Centers for Disease Control and its pandemic power grabs, I did indeed tell you so.

In September 2020, I wrote for FEE that, “From draconian lockdown powers to taking over the rental housing market, it’s extremely unlikely our elected officials will cede all the authority they’ve seized during the pandemic.” We’re now witnessing my prediction play out in real-time.

Under the Biden administration’s purview, the CDC just unilaterally renewed its so-called “eviction moratorium.” It did so after the nationwide near-ban on eviction of non-paying tenants expired Saturday and in spite of Congress not passing legislation to renew it.

The new CDC order is somewhat more limited than the original one, claiming to only apply to areas with “substantial and high levels of [COVID-19] community transmission.” But this reportedly applies to roughly 90 percent of the US under the CDC’s definition. The two-month extension will now run until October 3. (When, presumably, there will again be a push for its extension).

“The emergence of the delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said. “This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads.”

The CDC is renewing this policy, yet again, even though the Supreme Court only narrowly upheld its last iteration. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh specifically wrote that “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31.”

Short version: The CDC doesn’t have the authority to do this.

And guess who agrees? The Biden administration. White House officials have repeatedly acknowledged that the federal government lacks constitutional authority to renew the order without Congress.

But this renewal is more than just an example of flagrant lawlessness and unconstitutional government overreach. It’s yet more illustration of the principle described by Milton Friedman when he said “nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”

The Nobel-Prize-winning economist argued that we should be wary of “temporary” expansions of government power, because more often than not they become permanent, or at least part of the expansion remains. Why? Well, as Friedman explained, “temporary” programs “establish an interested constituency that… lobbie[s] for their continuation.”

Essentially, the public will acquiesce to more than it otherwise would under the promise that the infringement is temporary. But, then, the intervention will benefit some key parties so much that they will fight to keep it in place permanently after public scrutiny fades.

This is exactly what has played out with the CDC’s eviction moratorium dysfunction.

Even setting aside the fact that the first order was flagrantly unconstitutional from the get-go, it never made any sense. Ordering a halt to evictions without compensating landlords is like passing a law saying anyone may go into a grocery store, load up their carts with food, and walk out without paying. Applying this broken logic to rentals (predictably) bankrupted many middle-and-working class landlords and led to many rental properties being taken off the market altogether.

The moratorium has also created a $21 billion backlog in unpaid rent and millions of evictions that will occur when it is allowed to expire—costs that grow even bigger with every day it is left in place.

This has, as Friedman predicted, created a strong constituency demanding its extension time and time again, prompting the CDC’s latest move. But even setting aside the Constitutional questions, we can’t feasibly continue the policy forever any more than we could force grocery stores to hand out food for free into perpetuity. The shelves would run bare, and so, too, rental units will continue to evaporate from the market—ultimately leaving even renters themselves worse off.

The CDC order is essentially a ticking time bomb, bound to explode and hurt people whenever it ultimately lapses. But the government has every incentive to delay this damage as long as possible, even though it only grows more harmful with each delay. The result will likely be permanent and long-term dysfunction, all thanks to a “temporary” government measure that has proven to be anything but.

The CDC has created an absolute debacle, but there may be one small upside. Perhaps now more Americans will understand why Milton Friedman so famously warned the public to be skeptical of “temporary” government programs.




13 August, 2021 

Delta makes herd immunity impossible

London: The Delta variant of COVID-19 has wrecked any chance of herd immunity, according to the Oxford scientist who led the AstraZeneca vaccine team, as he called for an end to mass testing so Britain could start to live with the virus.

Scientists who addressed Britain’s all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus said it was time to accept that there is no way of stopping the virus spreading through the entire population, and monitoring people with mild symptoms was no longer helpful.

Professor Andrew Pollard, who led the Oxford vaccine team, said it was clear that the Delta variant can still infect people who have been vaccinated, which made herd immunity impossible to reach, even with Britain’s high uptake.

The Department of Health confirmed on Tuesday that more than three quarters of adults in Britain have received both jabs and calculated that 60,000 deaths and 66,900 hospitalisations have been prevented by the vaccines.

Speaking to the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus, Sir Andrew said: “Anyone who is still unvaccinated will, at some point, meet the virus.

“We don’t have anything that will stop transmission, so I think we are in a situation where herd immunity is not a possibility, and I suspect the virus will throw up a new variant that is even better at infecting vaccinated individuals.”

Analysis by Public Health England has shown that when vaccinated people catch the virus, they have a similar viral load to unvaccinated individuals, and may be as infectious.

Paul Hunter, a professor at the University of East Anglia and an expert in infectious diseases, told the committee: “The concept of herd immunity is unachievable because we know the infection will spread in unvaccinated populations and the latest data is suggesting that two doses is probably only 50 per cent protective against infection.

“We need to move away from reporting infections to actually reporting the number of people who are ill. Otherwise we are going to be frightening ourselves with very high numbers that don’t translate into disease burden.”

On Tuesday, Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, confirmed that third dose booster shots would be given from next month. However, Pollard argued that Britain could be continually vaccinating the population for no real health benefit if mass testing continued.

“I think as we look at the adult population going forward, if we continue to chase community testing and are worried about those results, we’re going to end up in a situation where we’re constantly boosting to try and deal with something which is not manageable,” he said.

“It needs to be moving to clinically driven testing in which people are willing to get tested and treated and managed, rather than lots of community testing. If someone is unwell, they should be tested, but for their contacts, if they’re not unwell, then it makes sense for them to be in school and being educated.”

Dr Ruchi Sinha, consultant paediatrician at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, told MPs and peers that choosing not to vaccinate children would be unlikely to cause problems in the health service.

“What matters is the burden of patient hospitalisation and critical care and actually there hasn’t been as much with this Delta variant,” she said. “They tend to be the children who have got their comorbidities, obesity, or severe neurological problems and those children are already considered for vaccination. COVID-19 on its own in paediatrics is not the problem.”


Liberalism Drops Its Mask

<i>The past year’s devastation reveals elite special interest groups as liberalism’s master</i>

Since the turn of the 20th century, progressivism and liberalism have been pushed for an increasingly massive state and burdensome government restrictions on personal conduct (outside the bedroom, at least) on a simple premise: It’s for the good of the people. Listening to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) today, one hears the same claims, with the socialist Left arguing that government should run health care to serve those who cannot afford it, or that the Postal Service should provide banking to serve those whom commercial banks do not.

But the COVID-19 pandemic reveals the truth behind this mask: modern liberalism, progressivism, democratic socialism, whatever else one wishes to call it, does not serve the people. Instead, It serves a set of defined special interest groups that often bear little resemblance to “the people” Sen. Sanders, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, and their allies invoke. 

Since March 2020, Americans have seen liberals shutter schools and run the ones they allow to open as prison camps to placate teachers’ unions; they’ve seen their right to travel held hostage to the comfortable idleness of federal civil servants; they’ve seen well-heeled champagne socialists push the election of prosecutors who explicitly fail to do their jobs, unleashing a crime wave unseen since the 1990s.

The level of suffering government school systems have inflicted on children since March 2020 was unwarranted by the danger. Across most of the northeast and Pacific coast, teachers’ union industrial action (or the threat of it) led to school closures that lasted for most of the 2020-2021 period as “Apple ballot”-endorsed school board members did the bidding of the teachers’ unions who funded their campaigns and let “educators” pretend to work from home. The consequences to students were devastating; the year of “remote learning” put students at a massive disadvantage to those whose schools were open.

As the political winds shifted, even Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, conceded that perhaps schools needed to reopen. But the teachers’ unions’ ideal of “open” is not the liberal ideal of a school operated at public expense to teach classrooms of students in reading, writing, and arithmetic that many parents remember from their youths. Instead, classrooms have three-foot isolation, drinks of water taken facing a wall in the schoolroom corner, mandatory muzzles, and “critical race theory” indoctrination. Meanwhile, in the largely conservative states that have resisted teachers’ unions’ demands, schoolrooms have been open five days a week since fall.

Unionized teachers aren’t the only “public servants” denying rights to citizens by their pandemic-excused idleness. Applying for or renewing a U.S. passport has become a Kafkaesque nightmare because passport agencies and processing centers have not reopened at full capacity despite employees being prioritized for vaccination. Citibank, the contractor that operates document lockboxes that prepare applications for processing, is also operating below capacity, ostensibly due to COVID reasons. 

Does “for the people” liberalism care that its inability to operate a bureaucracy denies Americans’ right to travel? Nah, not really. A Biden administration State Department official told the press: “U.S. citizens who wish to travel overseas this summer and do not currently have a passport may need to make alternate travel plans.” The liberal State Department, like the liberalism in school systems, operates not for the benefit of the people, but for its own elite class.

But at least the passport fiasco is one of mere idleness, not deliberate intention. In big-city prosecutors’ offices from San Francisco to Philadelphia, abdicating the responsibilities of government is not idleness, but a party platform. A class of “progressive prosecutors” were backed for election by the scions of Big Philanthropy, including George Soros and his family, Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskowitz, and Cari Tuna. Their platforms? Don’t prosecute and don’t jail. 

The results are entirely predictable. In San Francisco, progressive prosecutor Chesa Boudin presides over a surge in violent crimes against Asian Americans and shoplifters stealing with impunity. Philadelphia’s progressive prosecutor Larry Krasner presides over a 33 percent year-on-year surge in homicide that drew attention from the city’s liberal mayor. Other cities have similar Big Philanthropy-chosen prosecutors and similar spikes in crime.

The path of decadent-phase Great Society liberalism is clear. Unless “the people” have a checkbook or thousands of votes to give to the left-wing political leadership, the people don’t matter. The mask has fallen.


With Handouts Running Out, People Suddenly Find Jobs

Democrat giveaways are still exacerbating unemployment, but the tide is finally turning.

The U.S. economy created a robust 943,000 jobs in July, the best total since last August. In completely unrelated news, enhanced unemployment benefits ended in many states and will for all states in September, and until the last minute most tenants were operating under the presumption that they’d actually have to start paying rent or face eviction. We kid about this being unrelated, of course. These are the reasons people are finally going back to work. They have to.

President Joe Biden was happy to claim credit for the jobs report. “More than 4 million jobs created since we took office,” he posted on social media. “It’s historic — and proof our economic plan is working.”

What’s Biden’s plan? To spend the nation into oblivion, exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to enact much of the radical Left’s agenda items.

Want a $15 an hour minimum wage but can’t get Congress to pass it? “Enhance” unemployment benefits to equal or exceed $15 an hour, and then extend those benefits for months after lockdowns were lifted. People won’t go back to work for a long time, and when they finally do they won’t accept less than $15 an hour. Boom. Policy achieved.

Just don’t mind the rampant inflation caused by supply chain issues resulting from a lack of workers, followed by the higher costs businesses face (and pass on to customers) just to employ the workers they can actually find. (There are a record 10.1 million job openings.) Oh, and that inflation is chewing up real wage gains.

Want to create a new entitlement? Illegally extend an eviction moratorium and pay people to not pay their rent. It’s equivalent to expanding public housing.

Want to create universal basic income by default? Send “emergency” Biden bucks to most Americans nearly a year after the emergency. And then send parents with dependents default monthly checks that advance the child tax credit (which will reduce refunds or result in tax bills come filing time, but don’t mind that just yet). For those who don’t want this money now, opting out is a huge pain. And the Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill makes this “temporary” program permanent.

Want to forgive student loans? Soften the beaches by extending forbearance through January. Congress did this in March 2020 to alleviate the burden for borrowers losing jobs to government-imposed lockdowns. Is this still justifiable? Not according to the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which notes, “The unemployment rate among bachelor’s degree recipients was 3.1% in July.”

Never mind that. Biden just made it so that forbearance will drag on for nearly two years. Next up: Total loan forgiveness, just as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wanted. Who won the Democrat presidential primary again?

We’ll close with another important point. President Donald Trump’s policies resulted in soaring jobs numbers for minorities, especially blacks. Under Joe “You Ain’t Black” Biden? Not so much. Among all demographic groups, blacks were the only ones who saw a decline in labor force participation in July. Is this the “equity” he keeps talking about? Or is this what “systemic racism” looks like?




12 August, 2021 

Using lockdowns to control spread of Covid in future won’t be justified and efforts should focus on protecting the most vulnerable

<i>This is what I have said from the beginning</i>

Blanket lockdowns can no longer be justified as a way to control Covid as Britain moves towards living with the virus, one of the Government's top scientific advisers said today.

Professor Andrew Hayward, a University College London epidemiologist and SAGE member, said future restrictions to control outbreaks should 'target the most vulnerable', rather than involving disruptive restrictions imposed on everyone.

Covid restrictions came to an end in England last month and were eased in Scotland and Wales in the last few days, bringing an end social distancing laws and other rules.

Since Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared last month that it was time to learn to live with Covid, experts have hinted at what that may look like.

Yesterday, one of the country's top coronavirus experts Sir Andrew Pollard said Brits who do not have symptoms should no longer take routine tests.

Sir Andrew, chairman of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told MPs swabs should only be offered if people are unwell to reduce the enormous disruption to daily life from mass testing, tracing and isolation.

And today, Professor Hayward said resorting to population-wide measures to control outbreaks will no longer be acceptable. 

Population immunity against the coronavirus cannot be achieved due to the 'nature of the virus', a SAGE expert said.

But Professor Andrew Hayward said if scientists came up with a vaccine more effective and stopping the spread of the virus, it could be eradicated.   

It comes after Sir Andrew Pollard, a top coronavirus expert, said achieving herd immunity is 'not a possibility' because it still infects vaccinated people.

Herd immunity is when enough of the population is immune to a virus that stops it spreading to others.

Asked about these comments, Professor Hayward said immunity could not be achieved due to the 'nature of the virus'.

He said: 'The herd immunity threshold is a very changeable thing. 

'It changes according to if you've got more social mixing - the herd immunity threshold will be higher.

'For more infectious variants, such as the Delta variant, the herd immunity threshold will be higher. 

'But also of course the completeness of our immunity is important to consider here. 

'Whilst the vaccines are absolutely excellent at preventing severe disease and hospitalisation - probably like 95 per cent effective - they are only around maybe 60 per cent effective at preventing infection.

'And for some of the other variants, maybe less than that. 

'And so we think a herd immunity threshold to stop transmission of Covid would be somewhere in the high 80s, maybe even 90 per cent.

'And if you've got a vaccine that only prevents infection in about say 60 per cent, even if you've got everybody vaccinated, it's not feasible to reach that herd immunity threshold whereby the disease would be eradicated.'

He added: 'If someone could come up with a vaccine that was not only 95 per cent protective against severe disease, but 95 per cent protective against infection, then yes we would stand a chance of eradicating it. 

'Viruses change over time and so the vaccines would have to change over time. So I think it's a pretty distant prospect. 

'And we need to get used to the concept that this will become what we call an endemic disease, rather than pandemic disease. 

'So it's a disease that is with us all the time, probably transmits seasonally, a bit like influenza where we see winter epidemics.'

Asked about whether the UK could follow Germany's move to abolish free tests for asymptomatic people, Professor Hayward told BBC Radio 4's Today: 'I think as we generally move into an endemic rather than pandemic situation the potential harm that a virus can cause at a population level is much less.

'So you can't really justify such broad population-wide control measures and we tend to target the control measures more to those who are most vulnerable. 

'And so I think, not only in testing but in all sorts of forms of control, as we move into a situation where we're coming to live with this virus forever, then we target the measures to the most vulnerable rather than having the more disruptive measures.'

It comes as Covid infections begin to rise across Britain once again, after cases fell for more than a fortnight. 

Yesterday the UK's daily case load was 8.4 per cent up on the previous week, with 23,510 people testing positive. 

But deaths and hospitalisations are still a fraction of the numbers seen in previous waves because of the success of the vaccines. 

Professor Hayward's comments chime with a petition signed by more than 12,000 scientists and 115,000 members of the public in October, which called for an end to blanket lockdown restrictions.

The Great Barrington Declaration said young people should be allowed to return to life as normal while the elderly and most vulnerable are given 'focused protection'. 

The declaration was written by Dr Martin Kulldorff from Harvard University, Dr Sunetra Gupta at Oxford University and Dr Jay Bhattacharya at Stanford University.  

But No10 resisted the calls at the time, which came before life-savings jabs were available.

Ministers said they could not rely on the assumption that the virus would only 'rip' through younger age groups without putting more vulnerable people at risk.

Meanwhile, Sir Andrew, who helped develop the AstraZeneca jab, yesterday told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus there should be a change to the testing regime.

He insisted herd immunity is 'not a possibility' because fully vaccinated people can still get infected and instead Britain must establish a strategy for 'living with Covid'. 

Sir Andrew said: 'Over time we need to be moving to clinically-driven testing... where it’s people who are unwell who get tested and treated and managed, rather than lots of community testing in people who have very mild disease.'

'I think this next six months is a really important consolidation phase and in that shift from the epidemic to the endemic, which is the "living with Covid".' 

He added: 'What does that mean in terms of the surveillance that we're doing, the testing that we're doing, and also how we should manage patients in hospital or even before hospital in their treatment to try and stop them getting into hospital?

'I think this next six months is a really important consolidation phase and in that shift from the epidemic to the endemic, which is the 'living with Covid'.

'That doesn't mean that we live with it and put up with it, we still have to manage those cases of patients who become unwell with it.' 

One of No10's top scientific advisers today claimed top-ups may only be needed for anyone with a weak immune system, such as cancer patients, the elderly and transplant recipients. 

Professor Adam Finn, who sits on the JCVI, said the evidence on whether all over-50s need them remains unclear.

Pfizer has insisted a third dose is necessary and BioNTech — the German firm which produces the vaccine — has said double-jabbed people need a top-up for a 'robust neutralization response'. 

It comes after a study claimed Moderna's vaccine is better than Pfizer's at stopping people getting infected with the Delta variant. 

One expert behind the research, by the US-based Mayo Clinic, argued Moderna's jab would be better for top-ups.



Free community college, preschool, and amnesty for millions: Senate unveils $3.5 trillion budget plan (Washington Examiner)

Mitch McConnell says GOP won’t help Dems finance “socialist shopping list” in debt-ceiling standoff (National Review)

Defense secretary to mandate non-FDA-approved COVID vaccine for U.S. military by September 15 (Fox News)

Double standards: Rashida Tlaib seen dancing at indoor wedding without mask after slamming Rand Paul for “throwing a tantrum as his state is being swallowed whole by this virus” (NY Post)

Chicago cops turn their backs to Mayor Lightfoot after two officers shot, one fatally (Fox News)

“There’s no compromise”: Governor Andrew Cuomo making futile attempt to avoid impeachment (NY Post) | Here are the charges Cuomo could face (Fox News)

How scared is Gavin Newsom of Larry Elder? The governor is cleaning trash off streets for photo ops ahead of narrowing recall election (Washington Examiner)

What could possibly go wrong? Oregon governor signs bill suspending math and reading proficiency requirements for high school graduates (Fox News)

Florida school officials could lose salaries over mask mandates (Washington Examiner)

Identity politics didn’t go over well in the Census: “Experts” puzzled by high rate of unanswered questions (AP)

Job openings jump to record high 10.1 million (Breitbart)

Eight things children are more likely to die from than COVID-19 (FEE)

Tokyo Olympics ratings spiral by 42%, spelling trouble for traditional TV (Axios)

Policy: The Democrats’ radical $3.5 trillion agenda (National Review)

Policy: The case against the Senate infrastructure agreement (National Review)




11 August, 2021 

NBC: England Dropped COVID Restrictions. Delta Cases Surged, Then Plunged

We've been examining and referencing the UK's COVID trajectory over the last few weeks because it may offer a preview of where we're headed with our own Delta variant surge. The British government faced searing criticism for lifting COVID restrictions as Delta infections were soaring, with detractors warning that cases, hospitalizations and deaths would explode into a catastrophic emergency. But that hasn't happened. The UK is several weeks "ahead" of the US in its Delta curve, which could be a useful frame of reference, considering that they were battling the exact same COVID variant.

Beyond that, the UK has administered 129 vaccine doses per 100 people, compared to 105 doses per 100 people here at home. Nearly three-quarters of British adults are fully vaccinated, while more than 70 percent of US adults have gotten at least one shot. In other words, their vaccine uptake is stronger than ours – but our populations are at least roughly comparable. The Delta spike in the UK shot up dramatically, then hit a wall and declined precipitously:

NBC News looked carefully at the Brits' experience with Delta and found some hopeful signs: 

It looked like a rolling disaster: England lifting almost all coronavirus restrictions just as the highly transmissible delta variant was sending infection rates skyrocketing. But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's gamble could well pay off, at least in the short term, providing a lesson to other countries desperate for any light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. "I think the U.K. is in a very favorable position, a better position than it's ever been during the pandemic," said Francois Balloux, a professor of biosciences at University College London. "I would say the near future, and perhaps even the long-term future, looks better than it ever has before." Crucial to Britain's apparent success are vaccines...Experts were aghast when last month Johnson pressed ahead with "Freedom Day" — so named by the tabloid press — despite the United Kingdom suffering the world's highest daily infection rate at the time. English restaurants were allowed to open at full capacity, bass once again shook nightclub dance floors, and social gatherings weren't limited in size...

Even though the government's "wall of immunity" kept most vaccinated people out of hospitals and morgues, many critics worried that allowing cases to hit 200,000 a day (as one former top government scientific adviser predicted) could breed new variants and leave hundreds of thousands of people with long-Covid. Some accused Johnson's Conservative Party of paying more attention to their libertarian beliefs than science. But the government held firm. And in mid-July, just as daily cases hit 60,000, they began to decline. More encouraging was data from Scotland, where infections not only began to fall a few weeks before England's, but were followed by a decline in hospitalizations, too. This third wave for the U.K. has been nothing like its first two, which caused nearly 130,000 deaths and briefly the world's highest daily deaths per capita. Whereas January's peak saw 80,000 daily cases and 1,300 daily deaths, July's peak of 60,000 daily cases brought no more than 78 deaths in one day. Experts say this is incontrovertible proof of the vaccines' power.

It's premature to declare victory or claim that highly-vaccinated countries are fully out of the woods, but the "experts" and "critics" were proven wrong about Boris Johnson's "freedom day" reopening plan. Vaccines and natural immunity were a massive game-changer, as new infections peaked then fell – without the horrible accompanying deaths of previous waves. Perhaps those who were "aghast" by loosened restrictions and jettisoned mandates should have placed more faith in the power of immunity. Their sky-falling predictions were not vindicated by events; they were, in fact, exposed by events. The United States is lagging behind the UK's Delta experience by several weeks, and there have been some indications that things are starting to improve here, even as communities with low vaccination rates are suffering. I think these statements are more or less incontrovertible at this point:

World-leading countries on vaccines are indeed experiencing Delta case surges. But hospitalizations and deaths are way, way down in those places, with the terrible exceptions almost exclusively afflicting unvaccinated people. Convincing unvaccinated people to get their free, effective shots will obviously take more than the same people making the same arguments. We know that cases spreading like wildfire among unvaccinated communities, with resulting pain, has been one powerful motivator. Mike Rowe has taken a different and nuanced approach to discussing the vaccines with his fans, and has taken heat for doing so (he's fought back thoughtfully and thoroughly). Finally, as I mentioned yesterday – and to Rowe's major point about open and simple data – it would also be helpful if the government were more transparent about how its decree-guiding benchmarks were determined. This sort of apparent disconnect is fueling skepticism and confusion:

I'll leave you with this item, which speaks to one element of vaccination hesitancy that is under-discussed in the media because it doesn't lend itself to easy, sneering attacks against conservatives:

Should the deaths highlighted in that piece also be pinned on the "DeSantis variant," partisan hacks? I'll remind you that Florida's vaccination rate is the best among red states, but the name-calling and broadsides are about elections, not public health.


Fmr. CDC Dir. Robert Redfield Acknowledges Lack Of Data Behind CDC School Masking Recommendation: 'It's A Fair Criticism'

Former Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield responded to pushback from Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum about the lack of solid data behind the agency's push to require masks in schools by calling it "fair criticism."

The Monday afternoon "The Story" segment saw MacCallum kick off the topic with a clip of Johns Hopkins surgeon Dr. Marty Makary - who, as Townhall's Katie Pavlich reported, co-wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed arguing that the science behind masking children is inconclusive - criticizing the guideline as "pretty stern and with zero data."

"There’s only one inconclusive study out there on masks and kids and no study funded by the NIH's $42 billion a year budget," Makary said in the clip. "Yet we had a very vigorous recommendation that all kids k-12 should be wearing a mask regardless of their vaccination status."

Asked why his former agency hasn't "spent the money on that study," Redfield called the question "really important."

"These policies should be grounded in data as opposed to opinion," Redfield told MacCallum. "I think [Makary] raises a very important part. There’s been very few studies that really are compelling in that setting of the classroom. We did a number of studies when I was there just in fixed settings and recognized that if you aerosolized virus through a mask, and then the recipient had a mask - and these were all dummies - in rooms that were ventilated to different degrees, you could have an impact on the amount of virus that went from one room to another. But that's not to say in a real-life scenario that that's efficacious in the classroom."

"When you look at what the CDC has recommended now, they are basically saying everybody should be masked, right?" MacCallum asked. "We talk about the fact that there has been no study that would back that up. And so the question is, you did some studies then but you did them with dummies - where have they been ever since then? What has been going on the past nine, ten months? Why don't we have data rather than as you say just opinion that's leading this push with our schools?"

"I think it’s a fair criticism, a fair criticism," Redfield responded. "You heard that I think in the Wall Street Journal they talked about $42 billion of NIH funding and less than 2% was on Covid. These are critical questions. Is routine screening twice a week in a school, is that the real way to limit intraschool transmission? Is it wearing masks or not wearing masks? I’m of the point of view this has to be locally decided as opposed to a general mandate. Particularly in the absence of data."

Citing a "paucity of data," Redfield recommended other methods of curbing virus spread in the classroom, such as frequent testing, improved ventilation, and parents not sending children with symptoms to school.

"So do you think the current CDC rule, that all kids should wear masks, you're saying that the current CDC is wrong on this issue?" MacCallum asked.

"I’m saying that I haven’t been able to review data that supports that recommendation," said Redfield, who suggested last year that face masks could be more protective than a potential vaccine.




3 August, 2021 

Disease Expert Tells CNN: Most Masks Don't Really Work Against  Coronavirus

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new Wuhan coronavirus guidance urging Americans to wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status. 

"To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission," the CDC released on their website Tuesday. "Wearing a mask is most important if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated. If this applies to you or your household, you might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in your area."

The guidance was a reversal from May when the CDC said vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear a mask. 

During a segment on CNN Monday afternoon, University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy Director Michael Osterholm said cloth or paper masks don't work to stop the spread of the disease. 

This, of course, has been well known for over a year. Dr. Anthony Fauci told former Obama Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell that store-purchased masks do little to stop the spread of the disease.

"The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you. I do not recommend you wear a mask," Fauci wrote in an email on February 5, 2020.


Vaccine Mandates Are ‘What a Tyranny Would Do,’ Arizona Lawmaker Says

When it was announced that Laurel Hubbard, a male athlete who identifies as female, was selected to represent New Zealand on the women’s weightlifting team in the  Olympic Games in Tokyo, it was considered by some to be a victory for the transgender movement and “the power of inclusion.” Others consider it unfair to both the sport and the athletes.

Anna Vanbellinghen, a female weightlifter from Belgium who hoped to qualify in the same event as Hubbard, made it clear that she “fully supports the transgender community.” However, she correctly pointed out that steroids—which give athletes unfair advantages—can have retained benefits even years after their use.

“So why is it still a question whether two decades, from puberty to the age of 35, with the hormonal system of a man also would give an advantage [in competing against women]?” she asked in a recent interview.

The International Olympic Committee ruled in 2015 that transgender athletes “who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category” so long as their testosterone level has been below a certain threshold for at least 12 months.

At least two recent peer-reviewed studies challenge this rule. One published in the journal Sports Medicine found “the muscular advantage enjoyed by transgender women [men on estrogen] is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed” for 12 months. A second review article found the male strength advantage to remain even after three years of testosterone suppression.

Even if the strength advantage could be eliminated, however, to reduce the definition of female human being to having a certain level of testosterone in your body for a certain amount of time completely ignores the scientific reality that genetics—not testosterone—is at the root of all that makes the two sexes different.

When males are allowed to compete in athletic leagues designed for females, they deprive female athletes of the opportunity to safe and fair participation in sports. As Vanbellinghen said, “Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes—medals and Olympic qualifications—and we are powerless.”

She is not alone. Female sports at all levels have been infiltrated by the transgender ideology. Here are just a few examples of how females have been harmed when forced to compete against males:

In track and field, male high school runner CeCe Telfer won three titles in the Northeast-10 Championships for women’s track, and received the “most outstanding track athlete” award.
In softball, male player Pat (Patrick) Cordova-Goff took one of 15 spots on his California high school women’s varsity softball team.

In basketball, a 50-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch, 230-pound man, Gabrielle (Robert) Ludwig, led the Mission College women’s basketball team to a national championship with the most rebounds.

In mixed martial arts, male fighter Fallon Fox shattered female fighter Tamikka Brents’ eye socket and gave her a concussion. Brents said she “never felt so overpowered in her life.”

In Connecticut’s state track and field championships, two male high school runners, Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, took first and second place in multiple events, beating out top high school girls from across the state. Yearwood was named Connecticut’s “athlete of the year.”

The simple truth is that males outperform females in regard to speed and strength due to inborn genetics and sex hormones. This has consistently been proven by long-term research on elite athletes when matched for training.

The sex hormone testosterone plays an important role in regulating bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass, strength, and the production of red blood cells leading to higher circulating hemoglobin. This is particularly true during puberty.

After puberty, male circulating testosterone concentrations are 15 times greater than those of females at any age. The result is a clear male advantage in regard to muscle mass, strength and circulating hemoglobin levels even after adjusting for sex differences in height and weight.

Athletic differences are also due to genetics. Studies have identified more than 3,000 genes that are differentially expressed in male and female skeletal muscle. Obvious bone differences due to a combination of genetics and hormones even exist at birth; the average male is heavier and taller than the average female and this advantage continues, when controlled for stage of puberty, throughout life.

Genetics is why a male who self-identifies as female remains male, and giving estrogen to a male does not transform him into a female.

While it is true that a male using estrogen will lose muscle strength and impair other aspects of his physiology, he does not alter his genetics; he remains male at the cellular level in all body systems.

Similarly, a female who self-identifies as male remains female, and giving her testosterone does not transform her into a male. In terms of genetics, she remains female at the cellular level. 

These inherent sex-based differences also mean that females are at higher risk of athletic injuries. For instance, stress fractures involving the long bones of the legs in runners are more frequent in females. Male athletes are far less susceptible due to their larger and denser bones.

Taken together, these discrepancies render females, on average, unable to compete effectively against males in power-based or endurance-based sports.

Science and common sense agree. When males are allowed to compete in athletic leagues designed for females, they deprive girls and women of the opportunity to safe and fair participation in sports.




2 August, 2021

Most recovered COVID-19 patients mount broad, durable immunity after coronavirus infection

Ending the COVID-19 pandemic will require long-lived immunity to SARS-CoV-2, wrote researchers who published a new study in the journal Cell on July 14, 2021.

‘To end the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to know how long immunity against SARS-CoV-2 will persist after infection and whether it will be sufficient to prevent new infections and severe disease in years to come, continued this study,’ which is excerpted below.

‘Identifying, in-depth, the adaptive immune components leading to recovery and modeling the trends of each response was enabled by the longitudinal sampling of a large number of COVID-19 patients.'

This new study shows that most convalescent COVID-19 patients mount durable antibodies, B cells, and T cells specific for SARS-CoV-2 up to 250 days. The kinetics of these responses provide an early indication for a favorable course ahead to achieve long-lived immunity. 

Because the cohort will be followed for 2–3 more years, they can build on these results to define the progression to long-lived immunity against this novel human coronavirus, which can guide rational responses when future virus outbreaks occur.

The hallmark of the initial immune defense against SARS-CoV-2 is the emergence of antibodies recognizing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, including the RBD and NTD components of the S1 subunit, during the early phase of viral replication. 

These antibodies are likely secreted from plasmablasts rapidly generated from B cells activated upon their first encounter with the pathogen spike antigen. 

The swift rise over the first month of infection, followed by a fast decline of the circulating spike IgG and IgA antibodies, is a consistent finding and likely explained by the disappearance of the short-lived plasmablasts. 

These events occur even sooner for the spike IgM and nucleocapsid antibodies.

Some antibodies that bind to specific epitopes on the spike RBD and NTD can block SARS-CoV-2 infection of respiratory epithelial cells by inhibiting the interactions of the viral spike with the ACE2 receptor.

Thus, as expected, the early rise and decline of antibodies neutralizing live SARS-CoV-2 were similar to the kinetics of antibodies binding the spike and RBD protein. 

The striking finding is the bi-phasic curve of the spike-specific binding and neutralizing antibody responses when analyzed with the power-law model, which provides a better fit for the antibody kinetics after the peak response.

This bi-phasic decline accords with other recently published observations on SARS-CoV-2 serological kinetics. 

With sampling data extended to 250 days, these researchers detected a slowing of the decay of these functional antibodies toward a plateau level, suggestive of the generation of longer-lived plasma cells and durable antibody responses. 

The importance of these observations is that following recovery, neutralizing antibodies may persist, albeit at low levels, and may act as the first line of defense against future encounters of SARS-CoV-2 and possibly related human coronaviruses.

Another interesting finding of this investigation is the remarkably stable antibody responses among the pre-pandemic and COVID-19 patients to the common human coronaviruses acquired in children and adults. 

These data are most consistent with the generation of long-lived plasma cells and refute the current notion that these antibody responses to human coronaviruses are short-lived. 

Moreover, the COVID-19 patients mounted increased IgG antibody responses to SARS-CoV-1, a related pathogen that none likely had experienced previous exposure to. 

This finding is consistent with the booster response of SARS-CoV-1 neutralizing antibodies that we recently observed following SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination.

Taken together, these results may have implications for a broader strategy for vaccines targeting multiple beta coronaviruses.  

The durable antibody responses in the COVID-19 recovery period are further substantiated by the ongoing rise in both the spike and RBD memory B cell responses after over 3–5 months before entering a plateau phase over 6–8 months. 

The persistence of RBD memory B cells has been noted.

These researchers presume this may be explained by sustained production of memory B cells in germinal centers of lymph nodes draining the respiratory tract in the early months, followed by the memory B cell redistribution into the circulation as the germinal centers begin to recede. 

Thus, the induction and maintenance of memory B cells and, over time, long-lived plasma cells will continue to furnish higher affinity antibodies if re-exposures occur.

In contrast to spike memory B cell kinetics, SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+, and CD8+ memory T cells each peak early, within the first month, but then slowly decline over the next 6–7 months. 

Central memory Th1-type CD4+ T cells dominate throughout the early infection and recovery period. 

However, the CD8+ T cells exhibit a predominant effector memory phenotype early that transitions to those effector memory cells re-expressing CD45RA, maintaining expression of antiviral cytokines and effector functions that have been shown to provide protective immunity against other viral pathogens. 

These researchers also provide clear evidence that the CD4+ T cells mount a broader antigen-specific response across the structural and accessory gene products. In contrast, the CD8+ T cells are predominantly nucleocapsid-specific, and spike-specific responses are substantially lower in frequency.

In summary, they wrote ‘Our study demonstrates the considerable immune heterogeneity in the generation of a potentially protective response against SARS-CoV-2, and by focusing on the dynamics and maintenance of B and T cell memory responses, we were able to identify features of these early cellular responses that can forecast the durability of a potentially effective antibody response.’

‘The ability to mount higher frequencies of RBD-specific memory IgG+ B cells early in infection was the best indicator for a durable RBD-specific IgG antibody and neutralizing antibody response.’

‘In addition, higher frequency CD4+ T cells were associated with stronger spike IgG and neutralizing antibody responses.’

‘However, the induction and peak response of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ T cells occurs independently to these antibody responses.’

‘Interestingly, while it has been widely reported that age correlates with COVID-19 disease severity, we found that age and disease severity were independent co-variates associated with the magnitude of both SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ T cell and humoral SARS-CoV-2 immunity, but not with the magnitude of CD8+ T cell responses.’ 

‘In the case of T cells, whether the T cell differences are related to the frequencies or specificities of pre-existing coronavirus CD4+ and CD8+ T cell immunity will require additional future analysis.’

‘Overcoming the challenges to end the pandemic is accentuated by the recognition that SARS-CoV-2 can undergo rapid antigenic variation that may lower vaccine effectiveness in preventing new cases and progression to severe disease.’

‘Our findings show that most COVID-19 patients induce a wide-ranging immune defense against SARS-CoV-2 infection, encompassing antibodies and memory B cells recognizing both the RBD and other regions of the spike, broadly-specific and polyfunctional CD4+ T cells, and polyfunctional CD8+ T cells.’

‘The immune response to natural infection is likely to provide some degree of protective immunity even against SARS-CoV-2 variants because the CD4+ and CD8+ T cell epitopes will likely be conserved.’

‘Thus, vaccine induction of CD8+ T cells to more conserved antigens such as the nucleocapsid, rather than just to SARS-CoV-2 spike antigens, may add benefit to more rapid containment of infection as SARS-CoV-2 variants overtake the prevailing strains.’

Limitations of this study: This study evaluates COVID-19 patients only up to 8 months and requires models to estimate immune response half-lives after that. However, because this longitudinal study will extend beyond two years, these researchers can corroborate models with subsequent experimental data on the persistence of immune memory.

1 August, 2021

A dose of COVID reality: Only 6,587 out of 164M fully-vaxxed Americans are hospitalized or die from 'breakthrough' cases

Only a tiny percentage of fully vaccinated Americans have contracted COVID-19, according to new data released on Friday - leading to accusations that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scaremongering by issuing dire warnings about the Delta variant.

The Delta variant is sweeping the United States and causing a significant surge in cases. Mask mandates have been reintroduced in areas such as Los Angeles County, and the CDC on Tuesday recommended that all people resume wear masks indoors.

Yet on Friday it emerged that the risk for fully vaccinated people was incredibly small - leading a former White House coronavirus advisor to label the CDC's communication strategy a 'disaster.'

Only 6,587 - or 0.004 per cent - of the 163 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 had suffered serious 'breakthrough' infections as of Monday.

Of that total, 6,239 people were hospitalized and 1,263 died, according to the data.

Those numbers amount to 0.0038 percent and less than 0.0008 percent, respectively. 

Admiral Brett Giroir, who served on Donald Trump's COVID taskforce, told Fox News on Friday that CDC Director Rochelle Walensky made a mistake in failing to disclose the full data until Friday.

'One thing that I think was a disaster is to come out with recommendations when you had the data but didn't disclose the data,' he said. 

The CDC was criticized this week by politicians and scientists alike for updating the mask guidance without detailing the science behind it.  

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Washington Post that the move violated scientific norms.

'You don't, when you're a public health official, want to be saying, 'Trust us, we know, we can't tell you how,' Jamieson said. 

'The scientific norm suggests that when you make a statement based on science, you show the science.

'And the second mistake is they do not appear to be candid about the extent to which breakthroughs are yielding hospitalizations.' 

Kevin McCarthy, the most senior Republican in the House, was vocal in his condemnation of the CDC and the Biden administration, pouring scorn over their research and describing the mask u-turn as 'total hypocrisy'.

The CDC itself, in an internal document obtained by The Washington Post, admitted that there were 'communication challenges' fueled by cases in vaccinated people, including concerns from local health departments about whether coronavirus vaccines remain effective and a 'public convinced vaccines no longer work/booster doses needed.'

Giroir reiterated that the Delta variant will mainly affect unvaccinated Americans.

'Vaccinations are highly effective against death and hospitalizations. It's less effective about preventing infections - it doesn't create a force field around you. 

'That's why you need to get the vaccine,' he said.

??'Their messaging needs a lot of help. That's why I want to help transmit that message.'

On Thursday, Giroir warned Fox News viewers that if they were not vaccinated, they were very likely to get COVID because the Delta variant was so contagious.

He reminded viewers that it was as infectious as chickenpox and Ebola. 

On Friday, he said: 'If vaccines stay where they are right now, from a public-health standpoint masking indoors is gonna have to be added to control this.

?'?And if people don't mask and they don't get vaccinated, then, unfortunately, governments are going to be put into the situation of considering lockdowns, which I think would be a disaster?.?

'Until everybody can get vaccinated, if you're in a high-risk circumstance, like being in an indoor party, it's a good idea to wear a mask. 

'It will protect you and it will protect others from being infected by you.'


The vindication of AstraZeneca: A vaccine trashed by Macron, politicised by Europe but quietly saving lives across the world

Last week research scotched claims the Oxford vaccine posed a blood clot risk. But the mixed messaging has caused lasting distrust

A new study of more than one million Covid-19 vaccine recipients has concluded a rare blood clotting side effect is as likely to occur from a Pfizer jab as the much-maligned AstraZeneca vaccine.

In a paper pre-released in The Lancet, researchers from the UK, Spain and the Netherlands said both jabs have a "similar" incident rate of thrombosis. 

"In this study we have found the safety profiles of ChAdOx1 (AstraZeneca) and BNT162b2 (Pfizer), an mRNA-based vaccine, to be broadly similar," the paper explained.

The study of Spanish patients also found blood clots are more common in people who test positive for Covid-19 than those who have received either jab. 

While the paper is not yet peer reviewed, it is an alarming development that will put into question the narrative around the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia, where confidence in the jab plummeted earlier in the year following the reporting of fatal cases of blood clotting. 

While Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has repeatedly stressed the benefits of the AstraZeneca jab outweigh the risks, there has been conflicting advice from other health authorities, notably Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young.

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged under 40s to seek advice on the AstraZeneca jab last month, Dr Young said she "genuinely did not understand" why Mr Morrison would make such an announcement.

"I do not want under-40s to get AstraZeneca," she stressed, saying there was minimal death in young Australians from Covid.

As cases of blood clotting arose earlier in the year, believed to be thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advised against under 60s receiving the AstraZeneca jab.

Weighing up the heightened risk with Delta outbreaks, ATAGI has since changed its advice, telling over 18s they can seek GP advice on the AstraZeneca.

Dame Sarah Gilbert, the vaccinologist who co-developed the AstraZeneca jab, told the publication she feared people are "too worried" after receiving mixed messages.

"I think the problem is the messaging around the vaccination, because if you’re telling people at some stage, ‘oh you shouldn’t have this vaccine, it’s probably not the best thing for you’ and then you want to change that message and say ‘oh, no we’ve changed our mind, it is good’, I think that makes it difficult for people who are considering whether to get vaccinated and when to get vaccinated," she said.




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