This document is part of an archive of postings by John Ray 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

July 31, 2022

Federal Judge Blocks COVID Vaccine Mandate for Air Force, Air National Guard

A federal judge in Ohio on Wednesday blocked the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate nationwide for Air Force, Space Force and Air National Guard service members who requested religious exemptions.

In his 4-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Matthew McFarland said the government failed to “raise any persuasive arguments for why the Court should not extend the Preliminary Injunction issued on March 31, 2022, to cover the Class Members.”

Wednesday’s ruling replaces McFarland’s 14-day temporary restraining order, issued July 14. The temporary order was issued to allow the military time to make its case for why the preliminary injunction shouldn’t last longer and be expanded to apply to 10,000 or more service members seeking an exemption.

Earlier this month, government lawyers argued that preventing the military from punishing unvaccinated members “would interfere with ongoing legal proceedings and would otherwise be improper, particularly in light of significant new developments.”

Defendants pointed to the recent Emergency Use Authorization of Novavax — which is not yet fully licensed — and claimed unlike the other three shots available in the U.S., Novavax does not use fetal cells in its development, manufacturing or production.

“Those class members whose religious objections were based on mRNA technology or the use of fetal-derived cell lines are no longer substantially burdened by the COVID-19 vaccine requirement because this option is now available,” lawyers said.

“Moreover, religious beliefs of service members who object to vaccination based on mRNA technology are not substantially burdened by Novavax or the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which do not use mRNA technology.”

Included in the government’s filing as an exhibit was a declaration from Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, director of staff for the Air Force headquarters.

Schneider claimed unvaccinated members “are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and substantially more likely to develop severe symptoms resulting in hospitalization or death” and that exempting a large number of airmen “would pose a significant and unprecedented risk to military readiness and our ability to defend the nation.”

“As of March 14, 2022, a total of 91,984 Department of the Air Force Service members had contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic, resulting in 229 hospitalizations, of which 14 died,” Schneider said. “Of those who died, 12 (86%) were completely unvaccinated.”

Schneider did not provide the number of servicemen injured or hospitalized as a result of having to receive a COVID-19 vaccine under the military’s vaccine mandate.

McFarland wasn’t convinced. He instead modified the class to include all active-duty, active reserve, reserve, national guard, inductees and appointees of the U.S. Air Force and Space Force, including but not limited to Air Force Academy Cadets, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadets, members of the Air Force Reserve Command and any airman who has sworn or affirmed the U.S. Uniformed Services Oath of Office or Enlistment and is currently under command and could be deployed.

Under the new order, the Air Force can’t take disciplinary action against, or attempt to kick out members who requested a religious exemption on or after Sept. 1, 2021, those confirmed as having a sincerely held religious belief by chaplains and those who either had their request denied or whose request has not yet been acted on.

“Obviously, we are thrilled for our clients who we were facing career-ending consequences for the exercise of their sincerely held beliefs,” Chris Wiest, an attorney for plaintiffs, said Wednesday.

“This case will now proceed into the discovery phase in which we look forward to placing government decision-makers under oath and questioning them about their discriminatory decision-making.”

Of the Air Force’s 497,000 members, 97% have received a primary COVID-19 vaccination series.

Of the 1,400 exemptions granted, only 104 are religious exemptions — and those were granted only to service members at the end of their term of service.

Currently, 2,847 requests are pending and 6,803 were rejected.

The small number of religious accommodations granted is “farcical,” McFarland said earlier this year. The Air Force “‘has effectively stacked the deck’ against service members seeking religious exemptions.”

The U.S. Secretary of Defense on Aug. 24, 2021, directed military branch secretaries to immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the armed forces, service members on active duty and those in the reserves, and National Guard, unless exempted.

The Secretary of Defense claimed that “to defend the nation, we need a healthy and ready force” and “after careful consultation with medical experts and military leadership, and with the support of the President … vaccination against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is necessary to protect the Force and defend the American people.”

Military’s Recruiting Crisis Deepens Under Vaccine Mandate
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are putting pressure on the Pentagon to fix the military’s recruitment crisis in what has been deemed the worst recruiting environment since the end of the Vietnam War, Politico reported this week.

Recent briefing slides obtained by Politico show senior Pentagon leaders are alarmed by poor enlistment numbers and the military “currently faces the most challenging recruiting market since the advent of the All-Volunteer Force, with multiple Services and Components at risk for missing mission in FY 2022.”

“Arduous market conditions are expected to persist into the future as the market is not likely to self-correct,” according to the slides.

While the military said it acknowledges the problem, the desire of young Americans to join the military has “fallen off the statistical cliff,” according to Politico.

The Army only reached 66% of its goal for the fiscal year ending in September, while the Navy is at 89%, according to data compiled from October 2021 to May 2022.

Although the rates for the Marine Corps, Air Force and Space Force are at 100%, that leaves the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) with a total rate of just 85%.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who chairs the Military Personnel Subcommittee, wants to hold a joint hearing with her panel and the Readiness Subcommittee on recruiting issues.

“I would say we have to do a deep dive into why the numbers are shrinking,” Speier told Politico. “I think we have to have a hearing to kind of explore that.”

The DOD says the drop in entry-level troops can be traced to concerns about the physical and psychological risks of service and other career interests, the possibility of interference with a college education, dislike of the military lifestyle and the military’s high standard for recruits.

The Army last week announced it is launching multiple initiatives to address the problem including providing $35,000 bonuses for new recruits ready to ship out to basic training within 45 days and lowering the service’s physical and academic standards.

Some DOD Officials and Experts Blame COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
Former and current DOD officials and experts criticized the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate as a contributing factor — and claimed the “department leadership knows it.”

According to Military News, the Army recently cut more than 60,000 National Guard and Reserve soldiers who refused to be vaccinated from military pay and benefits and is preventing them from participating in military duties.

Mackenzie Eaglen, an expert with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, argued the military’s vaccine mandate has “indisputably negative” impacts on recruiting.

“The math and logic simply doesn’t add up to let troops go involuntarily over the vaccine while announcing at the same time historically high bonuses for new recruits (which the U.S. Army did this winter),” Eaglen said.

“It is far more time-consuming and expensive to fire those with experience versus bringing in new, untrained personnel.”

“If you are sitting in the state of Georgia or Texas and you see they are putting 40,000 members out, you are going to scratch your head a bit and say, ‘why would I join up?’” a former senior DOD official told Politico. “And if you don’t want to get vaccinated, you are certainly not going to join.”

Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.), the top Republican on the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee, former Green Beret and current member of the National Guard, joined with 49 other republican lawmakers on Tuesday to send a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requesting the Pentagon reconsider its COVID-19 vaccine mandate in response to the recruiting crisis.

“At a time when the department is struggling to recruit qualified young men and women fit for duty to fill the ranks, and while China is embarking on a massive military buildup which threatens American interests around the world, we should not be hindering our own readiness and capabilities by punishing and forcing out experienced and dedicated Guardsmen and Reservists,” the letter stated.


Inflation: Erdogan is a new Canute

While much of the world anxiously waits to see if central banks will keep raising interest rates to combat a post-pandemic surge in inflation, Turkey is bucking the global trend.

The nation's central bank has left rates unchanged at 14 per cent for a seventh month in a row as part of an unorthodox experiment.

Most economists around the world believe that the best way to bring inflation under control is to raise interest rates.

By making the cost of borrowing money higher, central banks are trying to force you to buy less.

While this can trigger slower economic growth and higher unemployment, it can also drive down the costs of goods and services because there's simply less demand to buy them.

But Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes this is a myth.

He has fired three central bank governors in four years for attempting to raise interest rates, and described anyone who draws a link between rates and inflation as "illiterates and traitors".

"Don't pay attention to the ramblings of those whose only quality is in viewing the world from London or New York," he said in May.

But as the world grapples with inflation driven by Russia's war in Ukraine and rising energy costs, Turkey has suffered worse than most.

Officially its inflation rate reached nearly 80 per cent in June, its highest in 24 years.

But independent research by the country's ENAG group of economists found prices had jumped 175 per cent in June compared with the year before.

"The inflation rate in Turkey is anyone's guess at the moment," Turkish economist Ozan ?akar said.




Friday, July 29, 2022

How the CDC Coordinated With Big Tech To Censor Americans

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coordinated with social media companies and Google to censor users who expressed skepticism or criticism of COVID-19 vaccines, according to a trove of internal communications obtained by America First Legal and shared exclusively with the Washington Free Beacon.

Over the course of at least six months, starting in December 2020, CDC officials regularly communicated with personnel at Twitter, Facebook, and Google over "vaccine misinformation." At various times, CDC officials would flag specific posts by users on social media platforms such as Twitter as "example posts."

In one email to a CDC staffer, a Twitter employee said he is "looking forward to setting up regular chats" with the agency. Other emails show the scheduling of meetings with the CDC over how to best police alleged misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

Although many of the posts flagged by the CDC contained false information about the COVID-19 vaccines, the efforts to police misinformation also resulted in mistaken acts of censorship. An April 2021 email from a CDC staffer to Facebook states that the "algorithms that Facebook and other social media networks are apparently using to screen out posting by sources of vaccine misinformation are also apparently screening out valid public health messaging, including [Wyoming] Health communications."

The communications reveal a high level of coordination between the government and tech industry during the pandemic and raise questions about the extent to which other private companies are working with the federal government to censor the public. The Biden administration has faced criticism for engaging in what some have called "Orwellian" practices, such as the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security Disinformation Governance Board. The Free Beacon reported that the now-shuttered disinformation board arranged a meeting with a Twitter executive who blocked users from sharing stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

The CDC’s effort to police alleged disinformation expanded to other federal agencies as well. An internal March 2021 email from a senior CDC staffer states "we are working on [sic] project with Census to leverage their infrastructure to identify and monitor social media for vaccine misinformation."

One email shows a senior CDC official appeared at Google's 2020 "Trusted Media Summit." The conference, according to its website, was "for journalists, fact-checkers, educators, researchers and others who work in the area of fact-checking, verification, media literacy, and otherwise fighting misinformation."

One of the organizers of the conference asked the senior CDC official for permission to post her remarks on YouTube. That official declined, saying she was not authorized to speak publicly.

In the same email chain with a senior CDC official, a Google staffer offers to promote an initiative from the World Health Organization about "addressing the COVID-19 infodemic and strengthen community resilience against misinformation." That same Google staffer offers to introduce the CDC official to a Google colleague who is "working on programs to counter immunization misinfo."

Facebook also awarded the CDC with $15 million in ad credits for the company’s platforms in April 2021, according to several emails.

"This gift will be used by CDC's COVID-19 response to support the agency's messages on Facebook, and extend the reach of COVID-19-related Facebook content, including messages on vaccines, social distancing, travel, and other priority communication messages," an internal CDC memo reads.

A Facebook official says the platform has been transparent about its work with public health organizations "to address health misinformation." The platform also says it has asked its internal oversight board to assess whether its "current COVID-19 misinformation policy is still appropriate now that the pandemic has evolved."

Tensions between the CDC’s powers and protecting the public’s civil liberties have arisen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci called a judge overruling the CDC’s mask mandate "disturbing."

Concerns about the CDC’s judgment has also led the Democratic-controlled cities of New York and San Francisco to ignore the agency’s guidance on monkeypox vaccinations.


Smoking Linked to ‘Severe’ COVID-19 Complications

Individuals who reported smoking or vaping tobacco prior to COVID-19 hospitalization had a far likely higher chance of suffering severe complications as compared with nonsmokers, a recent study has found.

Researchers, who published their peer-reviewed findings in PLOS One, said they examined data on adults aged 18 and older who were hospitalized with COVID-19 in 107 hospitals across the United States from January 2020 to March 2021. Those who were identified as smokers reported their status to the hospital, and people were categorized as smokers if they smoked cigarettes or vaped with e-cigarettes.

Records were found for 4,086 people who smoked and for 1,362 people who didn’t smoke, researchers said. They noted that there was no information about the duration of smoking or former smoking status.

“The study findings indicate smoking or vaping are associated with more severe COVID-19 independent of age, sex, race or medical history,” said a news release on a study published on Tuesday.

Smokers were 45 percent more likely to die of COVID-19 and 39 percent more likely to be placed on a mechanical ventilator than those who didn’t smoke, according to the study.

“Although the excessive risk due to smoking was independent of medical history and medication use,” the news release said, “smoking was a stronger risk factor for death in people between 18-59 years of age and those who were white or had obesity.”

Furthermore, smoking was associated with a greater risk factor for death in individuals aged 18 to 59 and among those who were white or obese, the study found.

“In general, people who smoke or vape tend to have a higher prevalence of other health conditions and risk factors that could play a role in how they are impacted by COVID-19,” said the study’s senior author, Aruni Bhatnagar with the University of Louisville.


Democrats Want You To Suffer

Our friends at CNS News have another must-read article on a recent House hearing featuring the insufferable Pete Buttigieg, Biden's Secretary of Transportation.

As Craig Bannister reported, Buttigieg testified that one of the "benefits" of high gas prices was to drive Americans to buy electric cars, “The more pain we are all experiencing from the high price of gas, the more benefit there is for those who can access electric vehicles,” Transportation Secretary testified at a House hearing on Tuesday.

As MRCTV notes, indifference to the hardship that higher prices inflict on average Americans is nothing new to Biden’s administration:

“Pete Buttigieg, the brilliant mastermind who brought us the gas tax and the notion that everyone who can’t afford gas should just buy a $60,000 electric car, is the latest in the Biden administration to brush off the crippling prices Americans are paying at the pump, saying that the more pain we all feel while fueling up our cars, the more ‘benefit’ all those Prius owners will have.

“When he isn’t taking months off to recover from his surrogate baby-mama's childbirth, Buttigieg is offering up nuggets of wisdom like this one, blurted Tuesday during a congressional hearing on high gas prices.”

Senator Ted Cruz was quick to tweet a response, saying "The cruelty is the point."

Jesse Kelly, host of the Jesse Kelly Show put it this way in a tweet from his must-follow Twitter feed:

They’re not going to solve the problems because in their minds, they aren’t problems. To them, the only problem is you. Your love of freedom. Your car. Your food. Your different political beliefs.

All our leaders think the problem is YOU.

However, the Democrats’ glee in the suffering of non-Tesla driving Americans is about to come back to bite them on Election Day.

NBC News reports, from moms in Pennsylvania to Black voters in Georgia, key groups of voters crucial to Democratic victories in 2020 are getting hit the hardest by record levels of inflation.

Inflation has been cited as a top concern by voters across the board, but economists and pollsters say it isn’t affecting all Americans in the same way. Those with lower incomes, Blacks and Hispanics, and those under 40, are being hit particularly hard given they tend to spend a greater share of their income on food, fuel and housing — areas that have seen some of the biggest price increases over the past year, surveys and polls show.

For Democrats, those demographic groups are the ones they need the most to turn out in November to hang on to power in Washington, or if nothing else, stem their losses. In 2020, it was Black voters in areas like Atlanta, white working class voters in Pennsylvania and young voters in college towns in Michigan and Wisconsin that helped tip crucial swing states in President Joe Biden’s favor.

Yet much of that coalition falls into the categories economists and pollsters say are getting hit the hardest.

In an NBC News poll in May, 79% of people who described themselves as poor or working class said they were falling behind financially, while 60% of those who described themselves as middle class and 46% of higher income earners said they were struggling to keep up financially.

Another group especially concerned with inflation were voters with children and those younger than 50. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, 49% listed cost of living as a top concern compared with 21% of seniors.

“What’s been the through-line is economic concerns, and the Democrats have tried to address these concerns, but what voters are saying is that so far it isn’t good enough,” said Jeff Horwitt, a Democratic pollster with Hart Research who worked on the NBC poll. “Particularly for voters that are critical to Democrats doing well in November — younger voters, African Americans, Hispanics — these are voters who are feeling more pain than other voters, and they’re looking for real solutions.”

Horwitt said that in one recent survey of union members, 20% said they drive more than 100 miles roundtrip to work, making them especially susceptible to the impact of high gas prices… and we might add, unlikely to buy a Tesla or other electric vehicle with a limited range and problematic refueling requirements.

We think Ted Cruz had it right when he tweeted "The cruelty is the point," because cruelty has always been the first choice of totalitarians when they are faced with a people management problem. Stalin chose to starve the Kulaks in Ukraine and Mao chose to starve millions during the Great Leap Forward, rather than admit they were wrong. From the same perspective, even if it is their blue collar supporters who are getting hit the hardest, it is much better for Biden and Buttigieg to bankrupt America’s working families than to admit they are wrong and get American energy flowing, American agricultural products to market and inflation under control.




Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Covid Virus Keeps Evolving. Why Haven't Vaccines?

ON MARCH 16, 2020, the first volunteer received a shot of Moderna’s then-experimental Covid-19 vaccine, just 63 days after the company had generated a genetic blueprint of the new virus. But Moderna’s rival beat it to the marketplace:

Pfizer’s Covid vaccine would be authorized for use in the United States less than a year later, a record-breaking achievement. Previously, the fastest a vaccine had ever been developed was for mumps—which took about four years.

The speed at which both companies were able to deliver their vaccines can be credited to mRNA technology. Instead of using the virus itself to spur an immune response, as older vaccines do, scientists instead spur it using a programmable piece of genetic code called mRNA. The mRNA tells the body to make a version of the coronavirus’s distinct spike protein, so it can make antibodies to neutralize that spike. The mRNA is quickly broken down, but the memory of the spike protein lingers in the immune system, so it’s ready to launch an attack if it encounters it again.

The promise of mRNA technology was its adaptability. Vaccine makers touted its plug-and-play nature. If the virus mutated to evade current vaccines, scientists could simply swap in a new piece of mRNA to match the new version of the virus. But today, despite waves of variants including Delta, Omicron, and the latest threats—Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5—the Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots still target the original virus that was identified in late 2019. Why haven’t variant-specific boosters arrived sooner?

“You’re working with a virus that is rapidly mutating. Each of these variants is around for a few months and then is replaced by a new variant,” says infectious disease specialist Archana Chatterjee, dean of the Chicago Medical School. “This is a race that we are continually behind on.”

And BA.4 and BA.5 are the fastest movers yet. “This virus has, over the period of these two years, become more and more contagious,” continues Chatterjee, who is also a member of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), an independent panel of experts that advises the US Food and Drug Administration.

While the currently available vaccines have greatly reduced death and hospitalization due to Covid-19, “their effectiveness does appear to wane with time,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, during a June 28 VRBPAC meeting. Initial booster shots helped restore some protection against severe disease, but their effectiveness also seems to fade.

In June, all of these factors led VRBPAC to recommend that vaccine manufacturers update Covid booster shots for fall and winter 2022, tailoring them to the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

Chatterjee says the committee made the recommendation based on evidence that these subvariants seem to be driving a new wave of hospitalizations across the US and the UK. The US government intends to buy millions of variant-specific doses for a fall booster campaign.

Jacqueline Miller, senior vice president of infectious diseases at Moderna, says the company recognized early on that they’d have to race to catch up with the virus. The first variants of concern—Alpha and Beta—were identified in late 2020, just as the vaccines were being rolled out. While the original vaccines held up against the Alpha variant, they were slightly less effective against Beta. “That was really what prompted us to go down this road of investigating variant vaccines,” she says.

Miller says it takes Moderna about four to six weeks from the time of generating a new variant’s genome sequence to producing enough vaccine doses to begin human testing. Pfizer’s process is similarly fast.

“The design time to the actual production of the vaccine is still remarkably faster than other vaccines that we're talking about,” says Michael Diamond, a viral immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis who has studied mRNA vaccines. “The variants are just coming faster than we anticipated.”

The late-2020 Beta variant was quickly supplanted by Delta, which took hold in summer 2021 and caused another surge of infections around the world. Both Moderna and Pfizer rushed to test updated shots aimed at the Delta variant. But the companies' original vaccine formulas proved effective against Delta because its spike protein wasn’t all that different from the ancestral version of the virus.

When Omicron emerged in November, it had dozens of mutations in its spike protein that allowed it to more easily escape the vaccine. It caused an explosion in Covid cases over the following months.

While the process of updating an mRNA booster goes rather quickly, testing and manufacturing it at scale takes longer. Variant-specific vaccines still need to go through animal and human testing to make sure they’re safe and generate an immune response. The FDA has said that vaccine makers can bypass large trials for updated Covid vaccines and instead test them in smaller groups of volunteers, similar to what’s done for the annual flu vaccine.

Then, companies need to study volunteers’ blood to compare the immune response generated by the modified booster to the one generated by the original vaccine. The whole process from start to finish takes Moderna about six months, says Miller.

And that’s not counting the time it takes for FDA authorization, to make the new formula, or to get it to pharmacies and doctor's offices. Miller says she hopes the timeline will get shorter once the first variant-specific booster is out of the gate.


Pair of new studies point to natural Covid-19 origin

An animal market in China’s Wuhan really was the epicentre of the Covid pandemic, according to a pair of new studies in the journal Science published overnight Tuesday that claimed to have tipped the balance in the debate about the virus’ origins.

Answering the question of whether the disease spilled over naturally from animals to humans, or was the result of a lab accident, is viewed as vital to averting the next pandemic and saving millions of lives.

The first paper analysed the geographic pattern of Covid cases in the outbreak’s first month, December 2019, showing the first cases were tightly clustered around the Huanan Market. The second examined genomic data from the earliest cases to study the virus’ early evolution, concluding it was unlikely the coronavirus circulated widely in humans prior to November 2019. Both were previously posted as “preprints” but have now been vetted by scientific peer review and appear in a journal.

Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona, who co-authored both papers, had previously called on the scientific community in a letter to be more open to the idea that the virus was the result of a lab leak. But the findings moved him “to the point where now I also think it’s just not plausible that this virus was introduced any other way than through the wildlife trade at the Wuhan market,” he said on a call about the findings.

Though past investigation had centred on the live animal market, researchers wanted more evidence to determine it was really the progenitor of the outbreak, as opposed to an amplifier. This required neighbourhood-level study within Wuhan to be more certain the virus was “zoonotic” – that it jumped from animals to people.

The first study’s team used mapping tools to determine the location of most of the first 174 cases identified by the World Health Organisation, finding 155 of them were in Wuhan.

Further, these cases clustered tightly around the market – and some early patients with no recent history of visiting the market lived very close to it. Mammals now known to be infectable with the virus – including red foxes, hog badgers and raccoon dogs, were all sold live in the market, the team showed. The study authors also tied positive samples from patients in early 2020 to the western portion of the market, which sold live or freshly butchered animals in late 2019.

The tightly confined early cases contrasted with how it radiated throughout the rest of the city by January and February, which the researchers confirmed by drilling into social media check-in data from the Weibo app. “This tells us the virus was not circulating cryptically,” Professor Worobey said. “It really originated at that market and spread out from there.”

The second study focused on resolving an apparent discrepancy in the virus’ early evolution. Two lineages, A and B, marked the early pandemic. But while A was closer to the virus found in bats, suggesting the coronavirus in humans came from this source and that A gave rise to B, it was B that was found to be far more present around the market.

The researchers used a technique called “molecular clock analysis,” which relies on the rate at which genetic mutations occur over time to reconstruct a timeline of evolution – and found it unlikely that A gave rise to B. “Otherwise, lineage A would have had to have been evolving in slow motion compared to the lineage B virus, which just doesn’t make biological sense,” Professor Worobey said.

Instead, the probable scenario was that both jumped from animals at the market to humans on separate occasions, in November and December 2019. The researchers concluded it was unlikely that there was human circulation prior to November 2019. Under this scenario, there were probably other animal-to-human transmissions at the market that failed to manifest as Covid cases.

“Have we disproven the lab leak theory? No, we have not. Will we ever be able to know? No,” said co-author Kristian Anderson of The Scripps Research Institute. “But I think what’s really important here is that there are possible scenarios and they’re plausible scenarios and it’s really important to understand that possible does not mean equally likely.”




Wednesday, July 27, 2022

COVID authoritarianism

In New Zealand it is writ large -- but other jurisdictions come close

‘Unless you hear it from us, it is not the truth,’ declared New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in a chilling speech related to Covid health advice.

The 2020 clip was dug up by The Daily Wire yesterday, reminding the world what the crucible of government overreach looked like from the sober reality of 2022.

And it is not a pretty sight.

The hubris, delusional self-importance, and elevation of government to a position of ‘absolute unquestioned truth’ is a sign that New Zealand’s leadership has gone beyond its charter and waded into a China-style system of absolutism.

They were not alone in this behaviour.

There is no clearer indication of an authoritarian sickness taking hold than comments like this from the Prime Minister.

‘You can trust us as a source of that information. You can also trust the Director General of Health and the Ministry of Health. For that information, do feel free to visit – at any time – to clarify any rumour you may hear.

‘Otherwise, dismiss anything else. We will continue to be your single source of truth.

‘We will provide information frequently. We will share everything we can. Everything else you see – a grain of salt. And so I really ask people to focus.’

We will continue to be your single source of truth? At no point, for any reason, should a government in a civilised nation declare itself the final word on ‘truth’. It is why the video clip of Ardern grinning her way through this fit of egotism has gone viral.

Government is a service. An administrator. A protector (but not a parent). And a law-maker – although it spends far too much time doing this.

Since the pandemic, ministers have grown to crave the spotlight while the bureaucratic underbelly has found a power-niche latched to the public interest by fear. It is not a good combination.

It is easy enough to point out the obvious flaw in Ardern’s reasoning. Health advice coming out of governments around the world – including New Zealand – has been wrong. Repeatedly. And it is never corrected or the state-issued fines returned with an apology.

That is without considering the undemocratic nastiness that the government’s position led to where epidemiologists were quoted as saying horrific things like ‘with no jab, no job, no fun’ or inaccurate alarmist predictions like ‘if 95 per cent of the population is vaccinated, there will be death, disease, and hospitalisations for the last five per cent’. This is not being reflected in figures.

The last two years have revealed the weakness, not strength, of centralised expert opinion.

Those nations that chose to diverge from World Health Organisation advice provide us with a rare insight into better options, such as Sweden who respected the individual sovereignty of its citizens. Without disobedient nations, we would never know that this approach worked.

For the majority of nations, the population has been treated to the silencing of dissenting medical voices, threats to de-register practitioners who did not believe it was in the best interests of their patients to expose them to unnecessary risk, and the sacking of thousands of health workers – all of whom with more knowledge in the industry than Prime Ministers or Presidents – that did not agree with the government decree.

Ardern’s statement in particular undermines the founding principle of science – which is that science is an evolving system of knowledge whose expansion and advancement relies on diversity of thought, competing ideas, fresh data, and open challenges.

The suggestion that a government has some sort of special ordained knowledge on the subject, as though the Moses of Wuhan dragged a few plastic tablets down and laid out the divine law to Ardern’s advisers, is a nonsense.

Is mask-wearing a good idea? We don’t know. The government insists that it is essential to safeguarding the population but wide studies on the topic have repeatedly failed to produce the physical evidence necessary to justify mandates while incidental evidence pouring in from mask-wearing nations shows no clear indication it has any impact at all.

Were lockdowns the right approach? They were ordered by the government, and yet there is an increasingly opinion that they did more harm than good and should never be attempted again.

What about the Ardern pursuit of a Covid Zero New Zealand? How many press conferences were given insisting that New Zealand had conquered the virus and that government measures would protect New Zealand forever? These policies are now being labelled as ‘absurd’ and ‘damaging’. Most disagreed with the government advice at the time and warned that they were living in a fantasy bubble, prolonging and even worsening an inevitable outbreak – which is exactly what New Zealand is experiencing now with one of the fastest growing outbreaks in the world.

And as for vaccines – that house of cards is crumbling, globally, where adverse reactions and the deaths of young, healthy people pile up around leaders who mandated compliance against every social norm.

You could say that these were mistakes, but a government with absolute truth does not make mistakes. The presence of these grave errors prove exactly why the earlier statements should not be made.

There’s a reason governments are desperate to become the central source of information and truth – fending off opposing thought requires evidence and robust debate. Ministers do not want health policy challenged on merit because it would lose. It signals political weakness.

Hopefully, more of these clips will resurface so that those who promoted vile segregation, outrageous infringements on civil liberty, and general cruelty toward their fellow human beings can be remembered. Revisiting what happened in 2020 is the only way to stop it happening in the next pandemic.

Hearing the near deification of government should send a warning signal to every citizen that their democracy is heading in the direction of authoritarianism under the guise of ‘safety’ and public health.

The government can declare itself the source of all truth, but that does not make it true.



COVID Jabs Impact Both Male and Female Fertility

Expert warns that there is credible evidence that the COVID shots may cross-react with syncytin and reproductive genes in sperm, ova and placenta in ways that might impair reproductive outcomes. ‘We could potentially be sterilizing an entire generation.’


* The first COVID shots rolled out in December 2020, and it didn’t take long before doctors and scientists started warning of possible reproductive effects, as the jab may cross-react with syncytin and reproductive genes in sperm, ova and placenta in ways that might impair reproduction

* According to one recent investigation, 42% of women with regular menstrual cycles said they bled more heavily than usual after vaccination; 39% of those on gender-affirming hormone treatments reported breakthrough bleeding, as did 71% of women on long-acting contraceptives and 66% of postmenopausal women

* Other recent research has found the Pfizer COVID jab impairs semen concentration and motile count in men for about three months

* Miscarriages, fetal deaths and stillbirths have also risen after the rollout of the COVID shots. In November 2021, Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), delivered 13 stillborn babies in a 24-hour period, and all of the mothers had received the COVID jab

* Many countries are now reporting sudden declines in live birth rates, including Germany, the U.K., Taiwan, Hungary and Sweden. In the five countries with the highest COVID jab uptake, fertility has dropped by an average of 15.2%, whereas the five countries with the lowest COVID jab uptake have seen an average decline of just 4.66%

The first COVID shots rolled out in December 2020, and it didn’t take long before doctors and scientists started warning of possible reproductive effects.

Among them were Janci Chunn Lindsay, Ph.D., director of toxicology and molecular biology for Toxicology Support Services LLC, who in April 2021 submitted a public comment1 to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), highlighting the high potential for adverse effects on fertility.

I previously interviewed Lindsay in 2021. That article is not updated with the new information, but the interview (above) is a good primer for the information she shares below. In many ways, she predicted what we are now observing.

She stressed there’s credible evidence that the COVID shots may cross-react with syncytin and reproductive genes in sperm, ova and placenta in ways that might impair reproductive outcomes. “We could potentially be sterilizing an entire generation,” she warned.

Lindsay also pointed out that reports of significant menstrual irregularities and vaginal hemorrhaging in women who received the injections by then already numbered in the thousands, and that this too was a safety signal that should not be ignored.

More here:




Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Could Genetics Be the Key to Never Getting the Coronavirus?

I may be talking too soon but I have a hunch that I might be one of those who do not catch Covid. I have had no version of it so far and I do have an unusually good immune system. With a bit of help it even defeated a bout of stomach cancer

Last Christmas, as the Omicron variant was ricocheting around the United States, Mary Carrington unknowingly found herself at a superspreader event—an indoor party, packed with more than 20 people, at least one of whom ended up transmitting the virus to most of the gathering’s guests.

After two years of avoiding the coronavirus, Carrington felt sure that her time had come: She’d been holding her great-niece, who tested positive soon after, “and she was giving me kisses,” Carrington told me. But she never caught the bug. “And I just thought, Wow, I might really be resistant here.” She wasn’t thinking about immunity, which she had thanks to multiple doses of a COVID vaccine. Rather, perhaps via some inborn genetic quirk, her cells had found a way to naturally repel the pathogen’s assaults instead.

Carrington, of all people, understood what that would mean. An expert in immunogenetics at the National Cancer Institute, she was one of several scientists who, beginning in the 1990s, helped uncover a mutation that makes it impossible for most strains of HIV to enter human cells, rendering certain people essentially impervious to the pathogen’s effects. Maybe something analogous could be safeguarding some rare individuals from SARS-CoV-2 as well.

The idea of coronaviral resistance is beguiling enough that scientists around the world are now scouring people’s genomes for any hint that it exists. If it does, they could use that knowledge to understand whom the virus most affects, or leverage it to develop better COVID-taming drugs. For individuals who have yet to catch the contagion—a fast-dwindling proportion of the population—resistance dangles “like a superpower” that people can’t help but think they must have, says Paula Cannon, a geneticist and virologist at the University of Southern California.

Like any superpower, though, bona fide resistance to SARS-CoV-2 infection would likely “be very rare,” says Helen Su, an immunologist at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Carrington’s original hunch, for one, eventually proved wrong: She recently returned from a trip to Switzerland and found herself entwined with the virus at last. Like most people who remained unscathed until recently, Carrington had done so for two and a half years through a probable combination of vaccination, cautious behavior, socioeconomic privilege, and luck. It’s entirely possible that inborn coronavirus resistance may not even exist—or that it may come with such enormous costs that it’s not worth the protection it theoretically affords.

Of the 1,400 or so viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi known to cause disease in humans, Jean-Laurent Casanova, a geneticist and an immunologist at Rockefeller University, is certain of only three that can be shut out by bodies with one-off genetic tweaks: HIV, norovirus, and a malaria parasite.

The HIV-blocking mutation is maybe the most famous. About three decades ago, researchers, Carrington among them, began looking into a small number of people who “we felt almost certainly had been exposed to the virus multiple times, and almost certainly should have been infected,” and yet had not, she told me. Their superpower was simple: They lacked functional copies of a gene called CCR5, which builds a cell-surface protein that HIV needs in order to hack its way into T cells, the virus’s preferred human prey. Just 1 percent of people of European descent harbor this mutation, called CCR5-?32, in two copies; in other populations, the trait is rarer still. Even so, researchers have leveraged its discovery to cook up a powerful class of antiretroviral drugs, and purged the virus from two people with the help of ?32-based bone-marrow transplants—the closest that medicine has come to developing a functional HIV cure.

The stories with those two other pathogens are similar. Genetic errors in a gene called FUT2, which pastes sugars onto the outsides of gut cells, can render people resistant to norovirus; a genomic tweak erases a protein called Duffy from the walls of red blood cells, stopping Plasmodium vivax, one of several parasites that causes malaria, from wresting its way inside. The Duffy mutation, which affects a gene called DARC/ACKR1, is so common in parts of sub-Saharan Africa that those regions have driven rates of P. vivax infection way down.

In recent years, as genetic technologies have advanced, researchers have begun to investigate a handful of other infection-resistance mutations against other pathogens, among them hepatitis B virus and rotavirus. But the links are tough to definitively nail down, thanks to the number of people these sorts of studies must enroll, and to the thorniness of defining and detecting infection at all; the case with SARS-CoV-2 will likely be the same. For months, Casanova and a global team of collaborators have been in contact with thousands of people from around the world who believe they harbor resistance to the coronavirus in their genes. The best candidates have had intense exposures to the virus—say, via a symptomatic person in their home—and continuously tested negative for both the pathogen and immune responses to it. But respiratory transmission is often muddied by pure chance; the coronavirus can infiltrate people silently, and doesn’t always leave antibodies behind. (The team will be testing for less fickle T-cell responses as well.) People without clear-cut symptoms may not test at all, or may not test properly. And all on its own, the immune system can guard people against infection, especially in the period shortly after vaccination or illness. With HIV, a virus that causes chronic infections, lacks a vaccine, and spreads through clear-cut routes in concentrated social networks, “it was easier to identify those individuals” whom the virus had visited but not put down permanent roots within, says Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge. SARS-CoV-2 won’t afford science the same ease of study.

A full analogue to the HIV, malaria, and norovirus stories may not be possible. Genuine resistance can manifest in only so many ways, and tends to be born out of mutations that block a pathogen’s ability to force its way inside a cell, or xerox itself once it’s inside. CCR5, Duffy, and the sugars dropped by FUT2, for instance, all act as microbial landing pads; mutations rob the bugs of those perches. If an equivalent mutation exists to counteract SARS-CoV-2, it might logically be found in, say, ACE2, the receptor that the coronavirus needs in order to break into cells, or TMPRSS2, a scissors-like protein that, for at least some variants, speeds the invasive process along. Already, researchers have found that certain genetic variations can dial down ACE2’s presence on cells, or pump out junkier versions of TMPRSS2—hints that there could be tweaks that further strip away the molecules. But “ACE2 is very important” to blood-pressure regulation and the maintenance of lung-tissue health, said Su, of NIAID, who’s one of many scientists collaborating with Casanova to find SARS-CoV-2 resistance genes. A mutation that keeps the coronavirus out might very well “muck around with other aspects of a person’s physiology.” That could make the genetic tweak vanishingly rare, debilitating, or even, as Gupta put it, “not compatible with life.” People with the CCR5-?32 mutation, which halts HIV, “are basically completely normal,” Cannon told me, which means “HIV kind of messed up in ‘choosing’ CCR5.” The coronavirus, by contrast, has figured out how to exploit something vital to its host—an ingenious invasive move.

The superpowers of genetic resistance can have other forms of kryptonite. A few strains of HIV have figured out a way to skirt around CCR5, and glom on to another molecule, called CXCR4; against this version of the virus, even people with the ?32 mutation are not safe. A similar situation has arisen with Plasmodium vivax, which “we do see in some Duffy-negative individuals,” suggesting that the parasite has found a back door, says Dyann Wirth, a malaria researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health. Evolution is a powerful strategy—and with SARS-CoV-2 spewing out variants at such a blistering clip, “I wouldn’t necessarily expect resistance to be a checkmate move,” Cannon told me. BA.1, for instance, conjured mutations that made it less dependent on TMPRSS2 than Delta was.


Time to question Australia's pandemic response

Tell me how this ends? This question was posed in 2003 by General David Petraeus during America’s invasion of Iraq, and it cut to the dead heart of that catastrophic campaign.

It’s a handy mental tool for probing almost any public policy so let’s apply it to the latest spike in cases of COVID-19.

Unsurprisingly, it has prompted another epidemic of “expert” demands for yet more overweening government intervention in the lives of the vast majority who have nothing to fear from this disease. And, given the mob has now worked that out, the only argument for mask mandates is to protect the hospital system.

Cast your mind back to 2020 when the first lockdowns were imposed, expressly for the purpose of preparing the hospital system for the pressure that was bound to come. Then, we were assured, intensive care capacity would be buttressed, so it could be surged to more than 7000 beds.

And yet, 18 months into the pandemic, it emerged that hospitals in states such as Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia could not cope with even routine demand. Maybe that’s because the number of acute care beds in Australia has more than halved in the last 28 years.

That is a reason to change negligent governments, not licence for politicians and health bureaucrats to impose restrictions on populations to mask their breathtaking decades-long incompetence.

Exactly a year ago, this column said that, soon enough, the great lie at the heart of Australia’s COVID-19 elimination strategy would be revealed because “the disease can’t be eliminated”. It was the only rational conclusion and yet, at the time, a parade of luminaries were still clinging to the intellectual corpse of COVID-zero and those arguing against it were vilified.

In August 2021, the best minds in New Zealand’s health system decided the COVID elimination strategy could be continued indefinitely and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared it “a careful approach that says, there won’t be zero cases, but when there is one in the community, we crush it”.

Pause for a moment and consider the staggering stupidity of that statement in hindsight. But the point here is, the “expert” advice was self-evidently ridiculous at the time. Just three months later, after Ardern crushed her people and not the disease in a seven-week lockdown, she accepted the bleeding obvious: that not even a plucky island nation at the end of the world could live in isolation forever.

The Chinese Communist Party has soldiered on with COVID-zero and the despotic lockdown regime it exported along with the disease. Predictably, China’s economy has tanked and the misery the party has inflicted on its people is beyond measure. Perhaps the best result of that is it has prompted even the CCP cheer squad at the World Health Organisation to question its wisdom.

In May, Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies director, made the startling observation that the effect of a “zero COVID” policy on human rights needed to be taken into consideration alongside its economic effect.

Parts of the city went into lockdown from March 28 before city-wide restrictions were indefinitely extended on April 5 in response to the number of COVID cases.

“We need to balance the control measures against the impact on society, the impact they have on the economy, and that’s not always an easy calibration,” he said.

Some have argued that those considerations had to be at the heart of the response from the outset and that the cure imposed risked doing more damage than the disease. Too often the Australian solution punished the many for the few. It preferred the very old over the young, reversing the risk equation most societies wager is the best way to protect their future.

So, the answer to the Petraeus question on coronavirus is clear and has been for more than a year. This only ends with Australian governments lifting all restrictions and actually learning to live with COVID-19 as just one more risk in a dangerous world. It is a decision other nations, such as Sweden and Norway, have already taken.

This is not, as eejits [idiots] would have it, “letting the virus rip”. To claim that is to wilfully ignore that we have endured more than two years of their miserable prescriptions racking up a taxpayer-funded bill probably somewhere north of $500 billion to keep the economy on life support and hit a vaccination rate of more than 95 per cent, precisely to prevent the virus from ripping through the community.

So now it is past time to ask another question: Where is the royal commission into the pandemic? This was a once-in-a-century moment that left no one unaffected, so there is no argument against holding the most rigorous test of how this nation fared.

It demands a panel of the best minds we can assemble to look dispassionately at what happened, how we responded, how we succeeded and where we failed. All Australian governments should participate and offer every assistance.

They have nothing to fear but the truth.




Monday, July 25, 2022

Republican Party Attracting More Diverse Candidates Than Ever

While the GOP has often been labeled by opponents as a fraternity of “old white men,” a new cohort of minorities, first-generation immigrants, and moms are bringing a fresh wave of diversity, youth, and a whole new perspective to the Republican Party.

A recent report (pdf) by the Congressional Research Service showed that as of June 22, the average age of U.S. House members was 58.4 years. The average age for U.S. Senators was 64.3 years. The average age of Congressional Democrats was slightly higher than that of Republicans at 60 over 58, respectively.

But that landscape is shifting as young, tech-savvy people who gained success outside of the political arena prepare to bring a new perspective to Washington.

Another study (pdf) of the 2020 election cycle shows that while white men make up about 30 percent of the nation’s population, they make up 62 percent of America’s political officeholders, dominating both chambers of Congress and 42 state legislatures, as well as controlling a multitude of other statewide positions like governor, mayor, sheriff, and school superintendent.

By contrast, while women and minorities constitute 51 percent and 40 percent of the American population respectively, only 31 percent of women and 13 percent of minorities hold elected offices, and incumbents usually win their primary elections.

Among the 2020 Republican primary candidates, 72.3 percent were white men and 20.2 percent were white women. Only five percent were minority men and even fewer, 2.6 percent, were minority women. By comparison, 38.4 percent of the Democrat 2020 primary candidates were white men and 30.1 percent were white women.

The Democrat Party had more candidates who were minority men and minority women, 17.6 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

All of that is beginning to change.

According to Axios, a record number of Republican Hispanics, 18 in all, are running for state House seats in New Mexico. In Texas, Hispanic women are set to dominate the Republican ballot.

The National Republican Congressional Committee reported that 81 black Republican candidates are running in 72 congressional districts in 2022. That’s more than double the number of black Republican candidates who ran for office during the 2020 election cycle.

The New York State Republican Party has a diverse lineup of young, political newcomers running for state offices as well as the U.S. Senate.

In an article for Newsweek, Jeff Charles—host of “A Fresh Perspective” podcast, co-host of the “Red + Black Show,” and contributor to Red State and Liberty Nation—wrote that “in the post-Trump era, it appears the GOP is beginning to embrace a new strategy, one that includes supporting minority and female candidates to appeal to a broader swath of voters.”

Charles told The Epoch Times that, considering the history of the Republican Party, he was a little skeptical when he first noticed the GOP’s campaign to reach out to black voters, citing how the effort has been “a little abysmal since the 60s.”

“But what we’re seeing now is more of a fresh and concerted effort to reach out to black voters and Latino voters as well,” he said. “The fact that we have a record number of black candidates running shows that the party just might be moving in the right direction. So I am cautiously optimistic about what we’re seeing. My only concern is that this might not be an ongoing concerted effort. One thing I always say when it comes to reaching black voters is, ‘It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.’ But if the Republican Party realizes that, they are going to see more gains over time.”

Charles also noted the record number of Hispanic Republican candidates, particularly in Texas where the population is predominantly Hispanic, saying “the way they are getting the votes is a sea change.”

“In this era, I think the Republican Party does seem serious about reaching out to minority voters, which is very encouraging,” Charles said, adding that adjusting to demographic change is necessary in order for the GOP to “stay relevant.”

According to Charles, now is the perfect opportunity for Republicans to take advantage of the current mood among black and Hispanic voters.

Recent reports show that, because of the extreme shift toward a communist and socialist-style of governance, Democrats are rapidly losing support among Hispanic and black voters.

“Hispanics and blacks are becoming disappointed and disillusioned with the Democrat Party,” Charles noted. “The Democrats have had their votes for decades and have done little to affect meaningful change. So I think this is also prompting a lot of what we’re seeing here.”

With the GOP poised to retake the House and possibly the Senate, Charles believes there will be a lot more black and Hispanic Republican lawmakers, at least within the House. This, he said, will begin to alter the very makeup of Congress, which has mostly seen Democrats with the larger number of minority members.

“If things go the way it seems like they’re going,” Charles predicted, “we’re going to see even more change over the next decade.”

The New Era of Republican Candidates

Daniel Foganholi is a first-generation American. His parents immigrated to America from Brazil with a dream of making a better life for their children. Foganholi is running for a seat as a city commissioner in Coral Springs, Florida, where he lives with his wife and 3-year-old son. They are expecting a daughter in October.

On April 29, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Foganholi to the Broward County school board to fill a seat vacated by state Sen. Rosalind Osgood, who left the board after being elected on March 8, 2022. His appointment to the Broward County school board not only made Foganholi the only male on the board, but also the only known Republican.

In a June 14 special election, Republican Mayra Flores flipped the majority-Hispanic 34th Congressional District in a historically blue region of South Texas by defeating leading Democrat candidate Dan Sanchez. Flores, who pulled 51 percent of the vote compared to Sanchez’s 43 percent, will be the first Mexican-born congresswoman and the first Republican to represent the district since 1870.

Willie Montague, an entrepreneur, author, and ordained pastor, is running to represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District. He is a pro-life black conservative who supports Second Amendment rights and legal immigration.

“Our nation is being set upside down by this current administration,” Montague told The Epoch Times, adding that the only hope of rectifying the problems is for a new generation of conservative leaders who are “for the people and come from the people” to step forward.

“They’re not career politicians or people that come in with hundreds of thousands of billions of dollars,” Montague clarified, explaining that Americans are looking for “everyday people” who have attended school board meetings and commissioner meetings.

Simi Bird was born to a single mother of seven children in “the ghetto” of East Oakland, California, prior to the passing of the Civil Rights Act.

But his circumstances did not define his future. Bird graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Columbia Southern University and he has a master’s degree in human resource development from Villanova University. He’s a highly decorated former Green Beret—Army Special Forces Intelligence and Operations, and Special Forces Engineer—and currently serves as the first black member of the school board for the Richland School District in Washington.

According to Bird’s profile on the website for America First P.A.C.T. (Protecting America’s Constitution and Traditions)—a new conservative coalition he defined as a nascent “anti-squad”—victim behavior was “not tolerated” in his mother’s household “because Mrs. Bird wanted her children to become strong and resilient members of society.”

“What makes America great is our values, our diversity,” Bird told The Epoch Times. “To me, America is representative of all races, all nationalities, and all religions. Diversity gives us a different lens. It’s about unity.”


Biden’s poll numbers prove it — a Democratic apocalypse is drawing near

A new poll conducted by SSRS and released yesterday by CNN puts Joe Biden’s approval rating at a dismal 38 per cent. To put that in perspective, the president’s numbers are worse than every other president since the second half of the 20th century, even clocking in one point lower than Donald Trump around July 2018.

Even more devastatingly, the survey showed that nearly 7 in 10 people say that Biden hasn’t paid enough attention to the nation’s biggest problems; only 30 per cent approve of how he’s handling the economy, and only 25 per cent of how he’s handling inflation. This comes after the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed last week that inflation jumped a stunning 9.1 per cent, a 40-year high.

Some polling shows that Democrats hold an advantage in the generic ballot, which shows whether voters would prefer Democrats or Republicans to lead Congress, and Democrats have generally started to hold an advantage since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson decision overturned the right to abortion. But the nation’s overall sentiments do not reflect how individual districts, let alone swing districts, are leaning. Many voters in hotly contested races might feel compelled to make a change and let the GOP take the reins in Congress.

For now, Biden’s dismal performance is a sign that Democrats should probably prepare themselves for a catastrophe in the midterm elections this November — one that could make the Blue Wave of 2018 and the Republican “Shellacking” of 2010 look like, well, a Tea Party.

All of this indicates why some are saying that Biden should step aside in 2024 for the good of the party. But that only raises the question of who should replace him at the top of the ticket.

Vice President Kamala Harris, the logical choice by virtue of her position, often faces even worse headwinds than the president himself. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg lacks statewide experience, while swing-state governors like Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan need to actually win reelection before they even consider a White House run (the same goes for Senators like Raphael Warnock).

Southern state governors like Roy Cooper of North Carolina might be too moderate for the party, while blue state governors like Illinois’ JB Pritzker and California’s Gavin Newsom might be too liberal. More than that, many voters may want to get behind a woman or a person of color after nominating an old, white, Catholic man last time around.

Democrats may find comfort in the fact that so many GOP Senate candidates are proving to be total duds this year, but they must resist the allure of a false sense of security. If Donald Trump or a Republican with crossover appeal like Glenn Youngkin of Virginia or Ron DeSantis of Florida decides to run in 2024, Democrats risk something that some might have thought unthinkable: a complete lockout of power for almost a decade.

Democratic data scientist David Shor warned about this last year, but if anything, he was downplaying the threat. Even if Democrats miraculously hold all their Senate seats in 2022, come 2024, if Biden is as unpopular as he is now, Democrats could lose not just the White House, but as many as eight seats.

Think of it this way: As things stand, 2024 will see three Senate Democrats – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio – fighting re-election campaigns in states that Trump won twice. As ticket-splitting declines, it will be harder for them to outperform a Republican at the top of the ticket.

Next, take the three Democrats representing Rust Belt states that Trump won in 2016 but lost in 2020: Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. If voters are still upset with the Democrats, those seats could all too easily fall to the Republicans.

Lastly, if you take the two Democrats who won swing state seats in 2018 – Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona and Jacky Rosen in Nevada – and assume they are gone too, Democrats wind up with only 42 Senate seats. And that’s if they somehow hold all their seats in 2022.

That outcome would be cataclysmic for Democrats, not to mention a boon to a Republican president with a conservative wish list. In the aftermath, the next few elections would simply mean playing defense with little room to grow. Even if Democrats somehow wind up flipping seats in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin this year, they still would risk being at only 45 seats come 2025.

Of course, these results are not prophecy. Democrats could certainly turn the ship around; the worst of inflation could be behind the US, or Republicans might field wholly unqualified candidates. But for Democrats to simply skate by, an enormous amount needs to happen first.

For now, the apocalypse looks imminent. And with respect to Idris Elba, there seems little chance it will be canceled.




Sunday, July 24, 2022

The CDC is deceiving us again — this time covering up for unsafe hospitals

If you have to go to the hospital, you don’t want to end up in a dangerous one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knows which hospitals are riskiest, but it’s hiding that information from you — your safety be damned. The feds seem to think they work for the hospital industry, not for you.

Whenever a hospital has a superbug outbreak, the CDC conceals its identity, referring only to “Hospital A.” A lot of good that does patients looking for safe care, especially patients with compromised immune systems, cancer or HIV.

It’s no joke to find out, after you’re already in the hospital, that a superbug is raging room to room or has invaded the nursery where your newborn will be placed. That’s what happens when the CDC hides outbreaks.

Now the CDC is playing statistical tricks to hide how many people have caught COVID in hospitals and to block the public from seeing which hospitals have had the biggest problems — “partly on fears of embarrassing hospitals,” Politico reports.

The stakes are high; 21% of patients who catch COVID in the hospital never make it out, Kaiser Health News found — triple the death rate for patients who don’t catch COVID.

Though the pandemic may be fading, vulnerable patients need to know which hospitals proved proficient at preventing the spread of COVID inside their walls. It’s a safety measure.

Over the course of the pandemic, tens of thousands of patients went into the hospital for other reasons — such as hip surgery, kidney disease or a heart attack — and got infected with COVID.

The CDC is rigging the definition of hospital-acquired COVID to hide this problem.

The agency says only patients who test positive after being hospitalized at least 14 days are considered infected by the hospital. That eliminates almost everyone. The average patient stays only 4.6 days.

The CDC definition also excludes any patient who left the hospital and then developed symptoms or picked up the virus in the emergency room.

It’s a coverup. The United Kingdom and many European countries count COVID infections diagnosed seven or eight days after patients enter as hospital-acquired.

At some hospitals, more than 5% of patients caught COVID there, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of state data and Medicare billing data. The CDC refuses to name these hospitals, defying Freedom of Information Act requests from the media.

When a plane crashes, the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t conceal the identity of the airline. Why does the CDC cover up for a hospital?

To be fair, the pandemic hit some regions and some hospitals harder than others. But it’s also true that some hospitals took precautions to stop the virus from spreading and succeeded in providing safer care than others.

Some hospitals tested all incoming patients for the virus and retested days later to be sure. Testing proved critical, because most patients who contracted COVID in the hospitals got it from another patient. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, eight out of nine patients who became infected caught COVID from the patient sharing their room, per the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Why didn’t all hospitals test? Blame the CDC, which left it to the “discretion of the facility.”

New Yorkers should demand to see the data the CDC is hiding. Hospital-acquired COVID is a problem here.

In January, during the Omicron surge, rates of hospital-acquired COVID were higher in New York than the national average, though lower than in Washington, DC, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of unpublished federal data. Trouble is, citywide averages don’t tell you what you need to know — the adequacy of infection prevention in your hospital.

It’s time to end the CDC’s secrecy in the service of hospitals. The CDC’s ploy to hide hospital-acquired COVID is a red flag.

Call the CDC the Centers for Deception and Coverups. The nation should be demanding a health agency that deals honestly with the public. If you have health problems, your life could depend on it.


Crushing scientific dissenters, as Fauci urges, would kill medical progress

Beware of totalitarian control of scientific and medical thought here in America. Prominent academic publications, medical organizations and even some state legislatures are trying to silence scientific disagreements about COVID-19. That will kill medical progress.

On Friday, Anthony Fauci, the face of the federal government’s COVID response, urged graduates at Roger Williams College in Rhode Island to stand up against disinformation and “the normalization of untruths” about COVID-19. Let’s hope graduates were too busy tossing their mortarboards skyward to heed Fauci’s dangerous advice.

Dangerous because there is no such thing as scientific certainty about COVID-19 or any other disease. Challenging scientific consensus is not “disinformation.” It’s how scientific breakthroughs, including medical ones, happen.

Today’s unorthodox treatment might become tomorrow’s lifesaving standard of care. Crushing scientific dissenters is a sure way to halt medical progress in its tracks.

Fauci claimed recently on national TV that those who criticize him “are really criticizing science because I represent science.” His egotism is enormous, but the problem is bigger than just Fauci.

The American Medical Association voted in November to target health-care professionals who “peddled untested treatments and cures and flouted public health efforts such as masking and vaccinations.” Warning about “disinformation,” the AMA called on state medical boards to suspend or revoke the offenders’ licenses.

A Nature Medicine review article decreed in March: “The spread of misinformation poses a considerable threat to public health and the successful management of a global pandemic.”


Scientific progress has always been a struggle between the status quo and those who challenge it and seek new knowledge.

When Galileo advanced Copernicus’ idea that the Earth revolves around the sun, he was labeled a heretic by the astronomical establishment and the Catholic Church and put under house arrest.

When Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis observed that women were dying in childbirth because physicians in obstetric hospitals weren’t washing their hands, physicians took offense and committed him to an asylum in 1865. He died there, a victim of the establishment’s censorship. His research showed that hand washing with chlorinated lime could reduce deaths to below 1%, but its importance was not understood at the time.

Later, these heretics became recognized as heroes.

Fast-forward to the 1980s, when the AIDS virus began to spread rapidly in America. Physicians devised strategies at bedside like adjunctive corticosteroids and aerosol pentamidine to help their desperate patients. It was the beginning of an explosion of new treatments.

Yet two years ago, when COVID-19 struck — a disease as unfamiliar as AIDS was in the ’80s — the impulse among government health officials was to suppress experimentation and debate.

Democratic lawmakers in California are pushing to require the state medical board to penalize doctors for spreading “misinformation,” defined as disagreeing with government bodies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or “contemporary scientific consensus.”

As The Wall Street Journal’s Allysia Finley points out, that would mean legal penalties against doctors who prescribe drugs like the antidepressant fluvoxamine, which has shown strong results in clinical trials even though it is not yet FDA approved for use expressly against COVID-19.

The standard of care to save COVID-19 patients has evolved rapidly, explains Finley. At the outset, doctors put severely ill patients on ventilators, on which as many as 90% died. Soon some doctors tried oxygenating patients with high-flow nasal tubes instead, and that succeeded. Should those doctors have been penalized for trying an alternative?

In October 2020, three distinguished scientists from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford published the Great Barrington Declaration, arguing that economically devastating lockdowns being imposed across the United States and Europe would save fewer lives than precautions targeted at the elderly and medically fragile only.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, immediately called for stigmatizing and silencing these dissenters. He viciously tarred them as “fringe epidemiologists who really did not have the credentials.” Yet they were right.

Nothing, not even a virus, is as dangerous to our future health as this silencing of medical debate. All of us, of every political persuasion, must denounce it for our own sakes.


Australia: Queensland records 5804 new Covid cases, hospitalisations climb to record 1078

So Omicron is no different from other strains. It's still the elderly at risk

Almost all Covid deaths in the past two weeks in Queensland have been older people who did not have their booster shots, acting chief health officer Dr Peter Aitken revealed on Sunday.

Queensland recorded 5804 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours while hospitalisations have climbed to a record 1078.

Nineteen people are in intensive care, with 12 on ventilators.

There have also been 110 new flu cases, taking the total active cases to 904, while there are 36 people in hospital due to the flu, three of those in intensive care.

It comes after 7644 new cases and eight deaths on Saturday.

Dr Aitken said 97 per cent of Covid deaths in the past two weeks were people aged over 65, and two-thirds of those didn’t have their booster doses.




July 22, 2022

BA.5 doesn’t care that you just had Covid-19

The pattern has become all too familiar: A new version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus emerges and begins to dominate new Covid-19 cases, until it’s replaced by an even more contagious version of the virus.

This year, subvariants of the omicron variant of the virus have ruled cases in the US. The BA.1 subvariant started the omicron wave. Then in April, BA.2 formed the majority of cases. By May, BA.2.12.1 took over. Now BA.5 is in the lead, triggering a rise in hospitalizations across the country. It may be the most contagious version of the virus to date.

Why does this keep happening?

It’s evolution. The more a virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to mutate, and eventually some of those mutations will confer a transmission advantage to the virus.

Omicron showed that it was adept at causing reinfections among people who were previously exposed to Covid-19. BA.5 appears to have an especially potent mix of mutations that evade protection from the immune system.

The good news is that Covid-19 vaccines still provide good protection against severe illness caused by BA.5 and are keeping death rates down. But because BA.5 spreads so readily, the small fraction of people getting seriously sick is adding up, an especially frustrating development for everyone who has been diligent about getting vaccinated, masking, and social distancing.

Scientists are now zeroing in on what’s making BA.5 so prevalent even in an era of widespread immunity. What they learn could help contain the current surge and counter the next one, potentially allowing them to devise booster vaccines that better shield against newer versions of the virus.

And SARS-CoV-2 isn’t done evolving. Figuring out how a variant as strange as omicron arose and how it fine-tuned into BA.5 could unlock tools for predicting and preventing other variants in the first place.

Why BA.5 is good at dodging our immune systems

If viruses have a purpose, it’s to make copies of themselves. They don’t have the tools to do that on their own, so they have to hijack cells from a host (i.e., us) in order to reproduce. The copying process can be sloppy, especially with viruses that use RNA as their genetic material, like SARS-CoV-2, so mutations abound.

Most of these changes are detrimental to the virus or have no effect, but some can make the virus cause more severe disease, infect more people, or better hide from the immune system. When lots of people have been vaccinated or previously infected, mutations that conceal the virus have a huge advantage.

“The high level of immunity in the population is likely exerting selection pressure on the virus and the virus is evolving to try to get around that immunity,” said Daniel Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

With SARS-CoV-2, when a version of the virus accumulates a distinct grouping of mutations and is deemed a public health threat, it’s classified as a variant and receives a Greek letter designation from the World Health Organization.

Smaller grouping of mutations within a variant are classified as subvariants, often described by letters and numbers based on their genetic heritage, though the line between variant and subvariant can be blurry. Adding to the confusion, SARS-CoV-2 can undergo recombination, where it blends traits from two different lineages. As researchers have improved their tracking of the virus’s genome, they’re seeing changes at a faster rate.

“What is striking is the speed at which we’re seeing the virus evolve,” Barouch said.

Omicron exemplifies how major and minor changes in the virus can take root. When it first cropped up in late 2021, it stood out for its suite of distinct mutations that set it far apart from other Covid-19 variants. Scientists couldn’t figure out its heritage since it didn’t closely resemble the major variants in circulation. Its closest known ancestor dates back to 2020, ancient times in terms of the virus’s evolution.

There are some theories, however. Omicron or a predecessor may have been circulating undetected. It may have evolved in a patient with a compromised immune system, granting the virus an unusually long amount of time to replicate and acquire mutations in a single host. It may also have jumped back into humans from another animal.

On the virus’s phylogenetic tree, a diagram that illustrates the evolutionary relationship among different versions of the virus, omicron is on a remote branch from the other variants. The dots represent reported sequences, and the distance between them reflects the number of mutations that divide them:

Compared to the original version of SARS-CoV-2 that arose in Wuhan, China, in 2019, omicron has more than 50 mutations. Thirty of these mutations are in the spike protein of the virus. These are the pointy bits that stick out from the virus and give it its crown-like appearance under a microscope.

The spikes directly attach to human cells to begin the infection process. They are also the main attachment point for antibodies, proteins from the immune system that recognize and inhibit the virus. So changes to the spike protein can alter how efficiently the virus can reproduce and how well the immune system can stop it.

Since omicron arose, SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequences show that the virus has undergone more subtle changes. There are only a handful of mutations that separate BA.5 from earlier subvariants like BA.2, but they’re enough to give the virus a massive advantage. BA.4 and BA.5 actually have almost identical spike proteins and differ in mutations in other parts of the virus.

Antibodies are very picky about the parts of the virus they will stick to, so small changes in these portions can make antibodies much less efficient. This is bad news for some antibody-based treatments for Covid-19, some of which are no longer recommended for use against omicron. But other drugs like Paxlovid still work against the newer subvariants.

A narrow group of subvariants taking over the world is a shift from how the virus mutated earlier in the pandemic. “[T]he fact that these omicron subvariants are becoming so dominant and sweeping worldwide is different from what we saw with, for example, delta, where its subvariants (which never got separate letters) never dominated in the same way,” said Emma Hodcroft, a molecular epidemiologist at the University of Bern, in an email. Even omicron subvariants have undergone recombination.

It’s partly a consequence of the global increase in exposure to the virus. There are few immune systems left that don’t have any familiarity with SARS-CoV-2. So BA.5’s most important trait for its success is how well it can elude the antibodies and white blood cells of people who were previously infected or vaccinated.

Barouch and his collaborators recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that existing immunity has a much harder time countering BA.5 compared to earlier omicron subvariants. So even people previously infected with omicron can get infected with BA.5. It may also spread more readily between people, though it doesn’t appear to cause more severe disease.

BA.5 may be in the lead now, but future Covid-19 threats could look vastly different

The fact that omicron is still spreading with just small tweaks to its genome compared to earlier variants shows that its combination of mutations is highly effective at spreading. But that doesn’t mean that future versions of SARS-CoV-2 will just iterate from BA.5. A completely different version of SARS-CoV-2 could yet emerge and start the process all over again.

“While things do seem to be at least somewhat different with omicron, in that [it’s] given rise to so many successful subvariants, I don’t think we can rule out that there may be another variant appearing unexpectedly,” Hodcroft said.

What can we do about this?

The best strategy is to limit the spread of the virus, denying it opportunities to mutate. Getting vaccinated and boosted if eligible remains critical, not just in the US, but around the world. Though vaccinated people can still get infected with BA.5, their chances are lower than those who are not immunized, they are less likely to spread it to others, and most importantly, are far less likely to get dangerously sick.

It’s also worth noting that BA.5 was actually detected in South Africa back in February, but only in the past month has it gained momentum in the US. This highlights the importance of surveillance. That means tracking genetic changes to the virus and public health monitoring to catch surges before they erupt.

The concern now is that, in the US, vaccination rates have hit a plateau even though most of the population is now eligible for a Covid-19 shot. Public health measures like social distancing and mask mandates are almost gone. And with the rise of at-home testing, many cases are going unreported. So while BA.5 may not cause the same devastation as earlier versions of omicron, it can still cause a lot of misery as hospitals fill up.

Even now, in its third year, the trajectory of the pandemic remains murky, and the virus could still bring unpleasant surprises. “What this is telling us: we need to remain vigilant,” Barouch said.


Antibodies From Vaccines Interfering Instead of Neutralizing Because of Spike Protein Changes: Dr. Risch

The two most widely-used vaccines in the United States, produced by Pfizer and Moderna, both work by sending messenger RNA into muscle cells, where they produce a piece of the spike protein from the virus that causes COVID-19. The spike protein triggers the production of antibodies, which are believed to help prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, and fight illness if one still gets infected.

But the vaccines are based on the spike protein from the original virus variant, which was displaced early in the pandemic. Since then, a series of newer strains have become dominant around the world, with the latest being BA.5.

“The vaccines only make a very narrow range of antibodies to the spike protein,” compared to the broader exposure experienced when one gets infected, Risch, an epidemiology professor at the Yale School of Public Health, told EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders.”

“The problem with that is, of course, that when the spike protein changes because of new strains of the virus, that the ability of the immune system to make antibodies that correlate to the new strains becomes reduced to the point where it may be almost ineffective over longer periods of time,” he added.

That leads to the antibodies being triggered by the vaccines not binding strongly enough to neutralize.

“What that means is they become interfering antibodies, instead of neutralizing antibodies,” Risch said. “And that’s the reason I believe that we’ve seen what’s called negative benefit—negative vaccine efficacy over longer time—over four to six to eight months after the last vaccine dose, that one sees the benefit of the vaccines turn negative.”

Worse Effectiveness Amid Spike Protein Changes

A number of recent studies have indicated that people who were vaccinated are more likely to get infected with COVID-19 after a period of time, including Pfizer’s clinical trial in young children (pdf). Some real-world data also show higher rates of infection among the vaccinated. Other research indicates vaccines still provide some protection as time wears on after getting a shot, but the protection does wane considerably. The research all deals with the Omicron variant, which became dominant in late 2021, and its subvariants.

There were relatively few changes to the spike protein as the initial variants emerged, which meant that vaccines still provided a fairly good benefit, Risch said. But Omicron started off with more than 50 changes to the spike protein, and subvariants of Omicron such as BA.5 have added more.

He pointed to data reported by United Kingdom health authorities in March (pdf)—the officials stopped reporting the data after that—pegging people who had received both a primary vaccination series and a booster as having three times the rate of symptomatic infection as unvaccinated people.

“After the second dose of the mRNA vaccines, it looks like they provide a benefit against symptomatic infection for … most people for maybe 10 to 12 weeks,” Risch said.

“After the first booster, the third dose, that drops to six to eight weeks. After the fourth booster, it may be as short as four weeks before the efficacy wears off and begins to turn negative.”




Thursday, July 21, 2022

New Study Adds to Growing Body of Evidence Suggesting Mask Mandates Are Ineffective

A new study published this month revealed that COVID-19 mask mandates in schools have little to no effect.

“Our findings contribute to a growing body of literature which suggests school-based mask mandates have limited to no impact on the case rates of COVID-19 among K-12 students,” researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of California–Davis said in a preprint study published on Research Square.

Researchers evaluated two school districts in Fargo, North Dakota, in which one had a mask mandate and the other did not during the 2021–2022 academic year.

“We observed no significant difference between student case rates while the districts had differing masking policies nor while they had the same mask policies,” they noted, adding that the “impact of school-based mask mandates on COVID-19 transmission in children is not fully established” amid mandates nationwide.

A number of other studies have found no link between mask mandates and a drop in COVID-19 cases.

In one study published in May, researchers found that COVID-19 mask and vaccine rules implemented by Cornell University had limited impact against the transmission of Omicron in late 2021 and 2022.

“Cornell’s experience shows that traditional public health interventions were not a match for Omicron. While vaccination protected against severe illness, it was not sufficient to prevent rapid spread, even when combined with other public health measures including widespread surveillance testing,” the paper said.

And researchers in Spain found that mask mandates for children in Spain weren’t linked to a lower rate of COVID-19 cases or transmission.

In an evaluation of schoolchildren, kids aged 6 and older in Catalonia were required to wear masks once school reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic, the researchers said.

Researchers compared the incidence of COVID-19 in older children to younger children to try to determine whether the mandates had been effective in the aim of reducing transmission of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, in schools.

Their study identified a much lower case rate in preschool, where there were no mandates when compared to older groups who were required to wear masks. Five-year-olds, for instance, had an incidence of 3.1 percent, while 6-year-olds had an incidence of 3.5 percent.

Researchers in Toronto, Canada, and California replicated a 2021 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of counties in Arizona, published in The Lancet in May, that expanded the number of data points and extended the time period. They discovered that cases quickly declined in the weeks after the CDC cut off its study and decreased more quickly in the counties that didn’t have mask mandates.

“School districts that choose to mandate masks are likely to be systematically different from those that do not in multiple, often unobserved, ways. We failed to establish a relationship between school masking and pediatric cases using the same methods but a larger, more nationally diverse population over a longer interval,” the researchers said.

“It was known long before COVID-19 that face masks don’t do anything,” Former Pfizer VP Michael Yeadon, a toxicologist and allergy research specialist, told The Epoch Times in May. “Many don’t know that blue medical masks aren’t filters. Your inspired and expired air moves in and out between the mask [and] your face. They are splashguards, that’s all.”


How Covid-19 has dramatically increased the number of children who can’t read — “the worst educational crisis for a century”

When covid­-19 first began to spread around the world, pausing normal lessons was a forgivable precaution. No one knew how transmissible the virus was in classrooms; how sick youngsters would become; or how likely they would be to infect their grandparents. But disruptions to education lasted long after encouraging answers to these questions emerged.

New data suggest that the damage has been worse than almost anyone expected. Locking kids out of school has prevented many of them from learning how to read properly. Before the pandemic 57% of ten­-year­-olds in low and middle­-income countries could not read a simple story, says the World Bank. That figure may have risen to 70%, it now estimates. The share of ten-year­-olds who cannot read in Latin America, probably the worst­-affected region, could rocket from around 50% to 80% (see chart 1 on next page).

Children who never master the basics will grow up to be less productive and to earn less. Mckinsey, a consultancy, estimates that by 2040 education lost to school closures could cause global gdp to be 0.9% lower than it would otherwise have been— an annual loss of $1.6trn. The World Bank thinks the disruption could cost children $21trn in earnings over their lifetimes—a sum equivalent to 17% of global gdp today. That is much more than the $10trn it had estimated in 2020, and also an increase on the $17trn it was predicting last year.

In many parts of the world, schools were closed for far too long (see chart 2 on next page). During the first two years of the pandemic countries enforced national school closures lasting 20 weeks on average, according to unesco. Periods of “partial” closure—when schools were closed in some parts of a country, or to some year groups, or were running part­time schedules—wasted a further 21 weeks. Regional differences are huge. Full and partial shutdowns lasted 29 weeks in Europe and 32 weeks in sub­Saharan Africa. Countries in Latin America imposed restrictions lasting 63 weeks, on average. That figure was 73 weeks in South Asia.

Over two years nearly 153m children missed more than half of all in­-person schooling, reckons unesco. More than 60m missed three­-quarters. By the end of May pupils in 13 countries were still enduring some restrictions on face-­to­-face learning—among them China, Iraq and Russia. In the Philippines and North Korea, classrooms were still more or less shut.

Poorer countries stayed closed longer than their neighbours. Places with low-performing schools kept them shut for longer than others in their regions. Closures were often long in places where teachers’ unions were especially powerful, such as Mexico and parts of the United States. Unions have fought hard to keep schools closed long after it was clear that this would harm children.

School closures were also long in places where women tend not to hold jobs, perhaps because there was less clamour for schools to go back to providing child care. Many children in the Philippines live with their grandparents, says Bernadette Madrid, an expert in child protection in Manila. That made people cautious about letting them mingle in the playground.

Places where schooling is controlled locally have found it harder to reopen. In highly centralised France, President Emmanuel Macron decreed that all but the eldest pupils would return to school nationwide before the end of the 2020 summer term. It was the first big European country to do this. This gave other countries more confidence to follow. By contrast, decisions about reopening in places such as Brazil dissolved into local squabbles. In America a full year separated the districts that were first and last to restart properly.

In some countries the results were truly dire. In South Africa primary schoolchildren tested after a 22-­week closure were found to have learned only about one-quarter of what they should have. Brazilian secondary-­school pupils who had missed almost six months of face-­to-­face school did similarly dreadfully. A study of 3,000 children in Mexico who had missed 48 weeks of in-­person schooling suggests they appeared to have learned little or nothing during that time.

Before covid­19 governments in many developing countries were overlooking egregious failures in their education systems. Optimists hope that the pandemic could spur them to start fixing the problems. Schemes to recover lost learning could lead to permanent reforms. Never before has there been so much good evidence about what works to improve schooling at scale, says Benjamin Piper of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.




Wednesday, July 20, 2022

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Effectiveness Quickly Wanes: Study

The effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine booster doses dropped well under 50 percent after four months against subvariants of the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines provided just 51 percent protection against emergency department visits, urgent care encounters, and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 during the time BA.2 and BA.2.12.1, subvariants of the Omicron virus variant, were predominant in the United States, CDC researchers found.

Both vaccines are administered in two-dose primary series.

After 150-plus days, the effectiveness dropped to just 12 percent.

A first booster upped the protection to 56 percent, but the effectiveness went down to 26 percent after four months, according to the study, which drew numbers from a network of hospitals funded by the CDC across 10 states called the VISION Network.

The subvariant was predominant between late March and mid-June.

The effectiveness was lower against BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 than against BA.1, which was displaced by BA.2.

Against BA.1, the vaccines provided 44 percent protection against the healthcare visits linked to COVID-19 initially and 39 percent after 150 days. A first booster increased the protection to 84 percent, and the protection barely decreased for patients 50 years or older after four months. But for people aged 18 to 49, the protection plummeted to 29 percent after 120 days.

Underlining the waning effectiveness against severe illness, the majority of patients admitted to the hospitals between December 2021 and June 2022 had received at least two doses of the vaccines.

Further, the percentage of unvaccinated patients dropped during the later period, going from 41.6 percent to 28.6 percent (hospitalized patients) and from 41.4 percent to 31 percent (emergency department and urgent care patients), researchers found.

The CDC published the research in its quasi-journal, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Most articles it publishes are not peer-reviewed, and the articles are shaped to reflect CDC policy.


The astonishing data that may prove masks DON'T work as Covid cases in Singapore and New Zealand OVERTAKE Australia

New data shows Covid cases in Singapore and New Zealand have overtaken Australia in the latest Omicron wave despite ultra-strict mask mandates.

Masks are worn everywhere in the densely-populated Asian city while New Zealanders are forced to wear them in all indoor public places, such as shopping centres and libraries.

But both now have higher case numbers per million than Australia, where compulsory mask rules have been abandoned in most indoor settings.

These figures appear to smash the push now on in Australia for a return to mask mandates, which are currently compulsory only on public transport and in aged care and healthcare centres.

Since Australian mandates began to ease last October, per capita case numbers in Singapore exceeded, matched or lagged behind Australia, before rising ahead again.

In New Zealand, case numbers were six weeks behind Australia's Omicron wave in January, but since February they have matched or exceeded Australia.

Death rates in New Zealand also overtook Australia per capita at the start of March, despite the Kiwis being on the highest code red mask mandate restrictions - and have stayed higher ever since.

New Zealanders are told to wear a mask whenever they leave home. The country has a traffic light system of restrictions and was on code red until April when it moved to code orange.

Under code red, Kiwis had to wear masks at universities and colleges and in schools from Year 4 up, and when visiting early learning centres.

Masks also had to be worn in public places like shops, shopping malls, cafes, bars, restaurants, libraries, hairdressers and beauty salons.

All indoors events and indoor gatherings needed to be masked up,

Masks also need to be worn on domestic flights, taxis, ride-sharing cars and public transport, plus healthcare, judicial, remand and aged care centres.

But masks don't need to be worn outdoors or while exercising.

Since April, masks are not now needed in schools, indoor events, museums and libraries or at hospitality venues, but must still be worn everywhere else.

The country is tipped to return to code red on Thursday as NZ case numbers surge.

In Singapore, death rates dropped below Australia in April after racing ahead between October and Christmas, but are now surging wildly and are set to overtake Australia once more.

The Singapore findings were shared on Twitter by Australian National University infectious diseases professor Peter Collignon as debate rages on the need for masks.

The post, originally made by a Singapore resident, added: 'Singapore has never dropped its mask mandates. Masks are required indoors at all times.

'Australians aren't wearing masks much at all. Let's compare the data.'

The data has been revealed as Victorian children over the age of eight are now asked to wear a mask in classrooms until the end of winter amid a spike in cases.

The state government has insisted the new advice is not a mask mandate, with students encouraged to wear a mask indoors and on public transport.

Parents have described the new rules as a 'mandate by stealth' but former Labor Leader Bill Shorten said kids should be encouraged to wear masks where possible.

'We've had 300 days of home-schooling, and the schools closed,' he told Karl Stefanovic during an appearance on the Today Show on Tuesday morning.

'To me it's a no-brainer, do you want your child sick at home or do you want them running around wearing a mask?' the father of one said.

NSW and Victorian health ministers have both so far resisted the growing calls for a return to mask mandates, but critics say the looming state elections in October and November are the main reason behind any delay in bringing them back.

The new figures come as it was revealed the median age of those dying from Covid in Australia is now 83 years old, the same age as the nation's average life expectancy.

The federal health department's latest Covid report explodes the myths being used to drive Australian authorities to re-introduce mask mandates and continue having Covid cases isolate for seven days.

The data comes as St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney said they have just 'one or two' patients in ICU - with top doctors confirming the winter wave is far less severe than those to have previously hit Australia.

'We certainly don't have many,' confirmed a hospital spokesman on Monday. 'It's not presenting so much on the very acute side, where patients need ventilation.'

The vast majority of those who have caught Covid are under 50, with 3,121,953 cases so far. Just 293 people under 50 have died of the virus since the pandemic began.

The statistics show that since Australia's mass vaccination rollout began, those under 50 face a less than one in 10,000 chance of dying from Covid.

'The median age of all those infected is 31 ... [but] the median age of those who died is 83,' the latest federal health department 'Coronavirus At A Glance' report states.

Australia's average life expectancy is 82.9 years of age.

Most killed by Covid were men over 70 and women over 80, accounting for 7,585 deaths out of the nation's total virus death toll of 10,582 as of 3pm on Friday.

And even if Covid breaks out among elderly frail residents in aged care centres, more than 95 per cent of those infected will survive.

Of the 63,875 who caught Covid in Australian aged care centres, 60,771 recovered, with less than 1 in 20 of infected residents dying, for a tragic toll of 3,104.

NSW Premier Dom Perrottet admitted on Monday that the current flu wave was now a bigger threat than Covid. 'At the moment, the current strand of influenza is more severe than the current strands of COVID,' he told 2GB.

Doomsday modelling by the Burnet Institute for the NSW government last year said the state's health system could cope with up to 947 Covid patients in ICU.

But NSW currently has just 64 Covid cases in ICU across the state with only 13 on ventilators, according to NSW Health.




Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Measuring the Efficacy of California’s, Florida’s COVID-19 Policies

In their attempt to control the spread of COVID-19, California and Florida followed sharply different strategies.

While California used a wide array of restrictive mandates, Florida used a targeted approach that focused on those segments of society more vulnerable to the lethal effects of COVID-19. The conventional wisdom is that California’s strategic response to COVID-19 came at a high economic cost, but as compared to Florida, it resulted in many lives saved. That “wisdom” is only half correct.

There’s no doubt that California’s broad-based use of mandates led to a sharper loss in overall economic activity than Florida’s more targeted approach. The extent to which each state used mandates can be quantified by referring to Oxford University’s Stringency Index, which measures on a daily basis, using a scale from 1 to 100, 11 different statewide policy interventions.

Over the period of January 2020 to July 2022, California’s average Oxford University Stringency Index “score” was 43, placing it fourth highest of all 50 states. In sharp contrast, Florida’s average index was 27, placing it far lower at a rank of 40. Not surprisingly, in light of its significantly higher average stringency, California lost more jobs than Florida on a relative basis. California’s non-farm job total is still lower than its pre-recession high, while Florida’s is 3 percent higher. That translates to California losing 43,000 jobs, while Florida gained 280,000 jobs over the same time period.

Even more striking is a comparison between the two states when the gap in their stringency scores was at its widest. In January 2021, when California’s stringency index hit a high of 63, the state had shed 10 percent of its jobs—double the 5 percent loss in Florida, which had a stringency index of 32, roughly half of California’s. During that month, California’s unemployment rate was 9.2 percent versus Florida’s 6.1 percent.

It should be noted that in spite of the fact that California experienced a greater relative job loss, Florida has a higher proportion of workers than California in the job sector hardest hit by the pandemic: leisure and hospitality.

These findings aren’t unique to California and Florida. In other research I’ve done, I showed that the 10 states with the lowest stringency scores between January 2020 to March 2022 had, on average, 1 percent more jobs than pre-recession levels. In sharp contrast, the 10 most stringent states—a group that includes California—had, on average, 2 percent fewer jobs.

Many would argue that in spite of these job losses, the tougher mandates followed by California were justified, given its lower COVID-19 death rate than Florida’s. Indeed, a comparison of the raw COVID-19 death rates between the two states initially seems to support that argument. The raw cumulative COVID-19 death rate through July is 242 per 100,000 people in California, compared to a much higher 328 per 100,000 people in Florida. That difference suggests that California’s tougher broad-based mandates saved the lives of 35,000 people in the state compared to Florida.

These comparisons using unadjusted COVID-19 death rates, however, are highly misleading. California’s population is the seventh-youngest out of all 50 states, at a median age of 37 in 2020. That compares to Florida, which ranks as the fifth-oldest state with a median age of 43 years.

When it comes down to the incidence of COVID-19 deaths, age matters—it matters big time. Although only 16 percent of the U.S. population is older than the age of 65, that age cohort accounts for almost 75 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. The fact that California has 15 percent older than the age of 65 while Florida has 21 percent clearly makes Florida more vulnerable to the lethal effects of COVID-19.

To adjust for these age differences, statisticians use age-adjusted data that basically convert statewide differences in ages so that they conform to the age cohorts of the United States. When I used that procedure to adjust California’s and Florida’s COVID-19 death rates, California’s age-adjusted death rate of 261 per 100,000 was roughly the same as Florida’s rate of 267 per 100,000.

Using an alternative age-adjustment statistical metric that measures excess deaths as a percentage of expected deaths over the period of March 2020 to March 2022, researchers found that California and Florida had the same excess death rate of 18.8 percent.

These empirical results suggest that California’s use of broad-based mandates as compared to Florida’s more targeted strategy—a strategy that came at a great economic cost to California—had no measurable impact on lives saved.

An example of Florida’s targeted strategy is its tough lockdown on visits to the state’s long-term care facilities, a policy that effectively placed these facilities in quarantine. The impact of this approach can be seen in statistics that show the cumulative COVID-19 death rate for those 75 to 84 years old was 1,606 per 100,000 in California as compared to a lower 1,279 per 100,000 in Florida. Even more dramatically, the COVID-19 death rate for those 85 years and older was 4,055 in California versus 3,087 in Florida. Florida’s more stringent targeted strategy for safeguarding the elderly largely explains why California and Florida’s age-adjusted COVID-19 death rates are roughly the same.

An example of the ineffectiveness and the high cost of California’s broad-based lockdown strategy is its closing of almost all of its public schools. A ranking of the percentage of cumulative in-person education shows that California ranked last of all 50 states at 19.2 percent. That compares to Florida’s 96.2 percent—the third highest in the nation (pdf).

An Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development estimate puts the COVID-19 era losses in lifetime earnings for a student denied in-person education at 3 percent (pdf). These losses in foregone earnings will have their greatest negative impact on students from low-income families, a loss that came with no discernable benefit in lives saved. Total COVID-19 deaths in the 5 to 14 age range cohort were 23 in California and 27 in Florida. Compare those numbers to the COVID-19 deaths for those 85 years and older of 23,116 in California and 17,319 in Florida.

Even though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was widely attacked for what many claimed to be the state’s lax stringency mandates, a careful examination of the data suggests that Florida’s policies were more effective than California’s. An important lesson that emerges from this comparison is that targeted state regulations that more carefully evaluate their potential benefits and costs are more effective than broad-based policies that have more indiscriminate effects.


Big vaccine change for Australian children aged under six

I don't like this at all. It is normal to give young kids vaccines but the Covid vaccines have a lot of troublesome side effects -- so they could seriously harm immature immune systems. And the vaccines are of dubious efficacy against Omicron anyway. So why take the risk?

There is also a long history of risks being understated in safety studies -- some things not being counted, for instance -- so the study reported below is not very reassuring

Australia‘s medical regulator has approved the use of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for children aged under five.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration examined a North American clinical trial before making its decision on infants and children.

Moderna’s product, called Spikevax, has until now only allowed for people aged over six. Those people can get two doses of the vaccine, 28 days apart. People over 18 can also get it as a booster.

After Tuesday’s announcement, children as young as six months will be able to get the vaccine. Those under six years old will be recommended two Moderna doses.

The concentration of the vaccine’s active ingredient will be lower in doses given to small children.

The North American trial was conducted across several sites and involved 6000 participants aged between six months and six years old.

“The study demonstrated that the immune response to the vaccine in children was similar to that seen in young adults (18 to 25 years) with a favourable safety profile,” the TGA said.

“Clinical trials also showed that the safety profile in children is similar to that seen in adults. Most adverse events seen in clinical trials in children aged up to six were mild to moderate and generally reported after the second dose.

“These included irritability/crying, redness and/or swelling at injection site, fatigue, fever, muscle pain and axillary (groin) swelling or tenderness,” the TGA said.




Monday, July 18, 2022

Free the National Guard … From Scientifically Dubious Vaccine Mandates

Roger L. Simon

The opening paragraph by Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, in the military reserve component’s annual posture statement reads:

“The National Guard is a lethal, cost-effective, dual-role operational force that provides strategic depth to the Army, Air Force, and Space Force, and responds to crises in our homeland. We are capable of operating in a complex global security environment, and continue to invest in modernization and readiness to prepare for the threats of the future. Today’s National Guard is an integral part of addressing the gravest challenges facing the Joint Force.”

Sort of … at least it should be.

Unfortunately, these days the Guard is being manipulated and often attacked on all sides as the proverbial political football.

First came the question of its use. Although the Guard was properly called into Minneapolis after the George Floyd rioting and into Portland, Oregon, after that benighted city’s post-election violence (maybe it should have been earlier), the question of why it wasn’t present for the Jan. 6 events—however you want to define them—remains unanswered. From what we understand, then-President Donald Trump, under whose leadership they served, offered them to the congressional leadership who, for whatever reason, were disinterested.

Yet worse, however, is what has happened now to the actual members of this volunteer army, the National Guard. (Yes, we should never forget that National Guardsmen, many of whom served previously, are all volunteers. What could be more patriotic than that?)

Those volunteers who didn’t dutifully—subserviently might be a better word—take the COVID-19 vaccines will be ejected from the National Guard.

From here on The Epoch Times:

“About 40,000 National Guard and 22,000 reserve soldiers will be blocked from service for rejecting the COVID vaccines, U.S. Army officials said on July 8.

“’Soldiers who refuse the vaccination order without an approved or pending exemption request are subject to adverse administrative actions, including flags, bars to service, and official reprimands,’ an Army spokesperson told

“The deadline for the Defense Department’s vaccination mandate passed at midnight on June 30. The order cuts off pay and some of the military benefits to the 62,000 service members.”

I’m going to say right now that those 62,000 are most likely among the bravest of the National Guard because they have the courage to stand by their beliefs as few do.

Ironically, news of this despicable treatment of the very people to whom we owe our thanks arrived not long before the father of it all, Dr. Anthony Fauci, began to backpedal:

“White House COVID-19 adviser Anthony Fauci conceded Wednesday morning that COVID-19 vaccines don’t protect ‘overly well’ against the virus.

“Speaking during a Fox News interview, Fauci told host Neil Cavuto that ‘one of the things that’s clear from the data [is] that … vaccines—because of the high degree of transmissibility of this virus—don’t protect overly well, as it were, against infection.’”

So if they don’t protect “overly well,” why are we kicking all those people out of the National Guard?

Few of those being ejected are anywhere near the supposed danger age of over 70 or so with the requisite comorbidities. Most are reasonably physically fit, possibly quite fit. But they have to go. No “our bodies, ourselves” for them.

Fauci, in the Cavuto interview, suggested the vaccines indeed did work against severe reactions for older people because he had evidence. It turned out, however, that the evidence he provided was from a study with only one person—himself. He had taken an array of shots and boosters and, at 81, only got a self-described mild case of COVID.

I will counter that with another study of one person—myself. I’m only a few years younger than Fauci. I took the initial Pfizer shots back in February 2021, abjured all boosters after that, almost never wore a mask except when forced on airplanes, and have been in many crowds, unmasked, in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Nashville and have never contracted COVID at all, at least as far as I know.

Does that prove anything? Of course not, but neither does what Fauci told Cavuto “as a scientist.” Not remotely.

I don’t know for sure what inspired Fauci’s backpedaling and his ludicrous cover, but I suspect there’s a world of potential lawsuits out there that could cause grave financial harm to Big Pharma and those like Fauci who work so closely with them. One of the reasons some say they recommend these dubious shots to children is to avoid these devastating suits. When the government makes vaccines mandatory for children, the companies that produce them are held harmless.

Following on the theme of volunteers, and since I live in the Volunteer State (Tennessee), I would be remiss in not noting that as of now our Republican governor, Bill Lee, has been on the wrong side of the National Guard story, doing nothing, despite many asking, for the ejected Guardsmen. (The Tennessee Star has been covering this closely.)

Also in Tennessee, 5th District congressional candidate Kurt Winstead, a brigadier general in the National Guard himself, has been curiously silent on his beleaguered fellow Guardsmen.

This, although the policy endangers far more than just the National Guard—it seriously endangers the already endangered national security of our country. As Breitbart is reporting, it’s on the brink of engulfing our entire army:

“At least 260,000 American troops—or about 13 percent of the 2.1 million total force—are not fully vaccinated despite a Biden administration vaccine mandate for the military, and many of them could face discharge.

“According to the Department of Defense website, at least 268,858 service members as of July 13 are still not in compliance with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s August 2021 mandate for every member of the military to be fully vaccinated with two doses of a vaccine. That figure does not count the thousands who have not taken any doses.”

I guess Biden is planning on having Ukrainians do all our fighting for us. Sorry, folks, we just don’t have the troops.


New study highlights subtle side-effect of Covid vaccine

A new survey has found over 40 per cent of respondents experienced a change in their menstrual cycle after receiving a Covid-19 vaccination.

The survey results were recently published in the journal Science Advances and the survey set out to investigate the "emerging phenomenon" of changes to menstrual bleeding after inoculation.

More than 39,000 people took part in the survey conducted by the University of Illinois and Washington University School of Medicine over the course of a few months in early 2021, after Covid-19 vaccines became widely available.

The survey found 42 per cent of respondents who had a regular menstrual cycle bled more heavily than usual after the vaccine, while 44 per cent experienced no change.

"We found that increased/breakthrough bleeding was significantly associated with age, systemic vaccine side effects (fever and/or fatigue), history of pregnancy or birth, and ethnicity," the research article says.

"Generally, changes to menstrual bleeding are not uncommon or dangerous, yet attention to these experiences is necessary to build trust in medicine."

While the number of people who experienced changes to their menstrual bleeding is startling — the authors noted people who noticed a change might have been more likely to participate.

Covid-19 vaccines have been found to be safe, with little risk of serious side effects.

A study published earlier this year found there were small and temporary changes to women's periods after being vaccinated.

Dr Kate Clancy told ScienceAlert the goal of the study from University of Illinois and Washington University School of Medicine was "never to perfectly assess prevalence".

Instead, the goal was to validate people's concerns.

Katharine Lee, an author of the report told the New York Times it is important people know they might experience a heavier-than-usual period, so they're not scared or shocked if they do.

The article notes that vaccine trials do not typically monitor adverse events beyond seven days.




Sunday, July 17, 2022

A belated victory against COVIDiocy

In a belated victory against COVID insanity, a state Supreme Court judge has declared null and void New York’s Rule 2.13, endowing the state health commissioner with unbounded power to issue isolation and quarantine orders.

Enacted in February 2022 and renewed since, the regulations have been published in the state register for possible permanent adoption. Yet it would be madness to codify this power months after the real threat of COVID receded into nothing.

Lunatic, too, given New York’s atrocious record on protecting the most vulnerable (i.e. the elderly) from the virus.

Kudos to state Sen. George Borrello (R.-Chautauqua) and his fellow complainants on their successful lawsuit over the rule — and to Judge Ronald Ploetz for his ruling.

The rule, which Ploetz noted paid only “lip service” to the Constitution, was itself the fruit of a poison tree: the overbroad powers the Legislature granted then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the pandemic’s start.

Cuomo used those powers not only to shutter the state’s economy, but to serve special interests like the hospital lobby, including via the deadly mandate for care homes to admit COVID-positive patients. The state is still reeling from his dictatorial pseudoscience today.

But COVID rules were never about science. On the numbers, Cuomo’s draconian policies had no significant effect on our outcomes when compared to states with far more liberal rules. And Cuomo himself seemed to break them whenever the mood was on him.

Those rules were about power, exercised by fanatics and hypocrites. By blocking one of them, Judge Ploetz has done New York a great service.


US agencies aren’t ‘following the science’ on COVID — and staff are too scared to complain

By Marty Makary and Tracy Beth Heg

The calls and text messages are relentless. On the other end are doctors and scientists at the top levels of the National Institutes for Health, Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are variously frustrated, exasperated and alarmed about the direction of the agencies to which they have devoted their careers.

“It’s like a horror movie I’m being forced to watch and I can’t close my eyes,” one senior FDA official lamented. “People are getting bad advice and we can’t say anything.”

That particular FDA doctor was referring to two recent developments inside the agency. First, how, with no solid clinical data, the agency authorized COVID vaccines for infants and toddlers, including those who already had COVID. And second, the fact that just months before the FDA bypassed its external experts to authorize booster shots for young children.

That doctor is hardly alone.

At the NIH, doctors and scientists complain to us about low morale and lower staffing: The NIH’s Vaccine Research Center has had many of its senior scientists leave over the last year, including the director, deputy director and chief medical officer. “They have no leadership right now. Suddenly there’s an enormous number of jobs opening up at the highest level positions,” one NIH scientist told us. (The people who spoke to us would only agree to be quoted anonymously, citing fear of professional repercussions.)

The CDC has experienced a similar exodus. “There’s been a large amount of turnover. Morale is low,” one high level official at the CDC told us. “Things have become so political, so what are we there for?” Another CDC scientist told us: “I used to be proud to tell people I work at the CDC. Now I’m embarrassed.”

Why are they embarrassed? In short, bad science.

The longer answer: that the heads of their agencies are using weak or flawed data to make critically important public health decisions. That such decisions are being driven by what’s politically palatable to people in Washington or to the Biden administration. And that they have a myopic focus on one virus instead of overall health.

Nowhere has this problem been clearer — or the stakes higher — than on official public-health policy regarding children and COVID.

First, they demanded that young children be masked in schools. On this score, the agencies were wrong. Compelling studies later found schools that masked children had no different rates of transmission. And for social and linguistic development, children need to see the faces of others.

Next came school closures. The agencies were wrong — and catastrophically so. Poor and minority children suffered learning loss with an 11-point drop in math scores alone and a 20% drop in math pass rates. There are dozens of statistics of this kind.

Then they ignored natural immunity. Wrong again. The vast majority of children have already had COVID, but this has made no difference in the blanket mandates for childhood vaccines. And now, by mandating vaccines and boosters for young healthy people, with no strong supporting data, these agencies are only further eroding public trust.

One CDC scientist told us about her shame and frustration about what happened to American children during the pandemic: “CDC failed to balance the risks of COVID with other risks that come from closing schools,” she said. “Learning loss, mental health exacerbations were obvious early on and those worsened as the guidance insisted on keeping schools virtual. CDC guidance worsened racial equity for generations to come. It failed this generation of children.”

An official at the FDA put it this way: “I can’t tell you how many people at the FDA have told me, ‘I don’t like any of this, but I just need to make it to my retirement.’ ”

Right now, internal critics of these agencies are focused on one issue above all: Why did the FDA and the CDC issue strong blanket recommendations for COVID vaccines in children?

Three weeks ago, the CDC vigorously recommended mRNA COVID vaccines for 20 million children under five years of age. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, declared that the mRNA COVID vaccines should be given to everyone six months or older because they are safe and effective.

The trouble is that this sweeping recommendation was based on extremely weak, inconclusive data provided by Pfizer and Moderna.

Few young kids get COVID-19 vaccination in the Big Apple
Start with Pfizer. Using a three-dose vaccine in 992 children between the ages of six months and 5 years, Pfizer found no statistically significant evidence of vaccine efficacy. In the subgroup of children aged six months to two years, the trial found that the vaccine could result in a 99% lower chance of infection — but that they also could have a 370% increased chance of being infected.

In other words, Pfizer reported a range of vaccine efficacy so wide that no conclusion could be inferred. No reputable medical journal would accept such sloppy and incomplete results with such a small sample size. More to the point, these results should have given pause to those who are in charge of public health.

Referring to Pfizer’s vaccine efficacy in healthy young children, one high-level CDC official — whose expertise is in the evaluation of clinical data — joked: “You can inject them with it or squirt it in their face, and you’ll get the same benefit.”

Moderna’s results — it conducted a study on 6,388 children with two doses — were not much better. Against asymptomatic infections, it claimed a very weak vaccine efficacy of just 4% in children aged six months to two years. It also claimed an efficacy of 23% in children between two and six years old, but neither result was statistically significant. Against symptomatic infections, Moderna’s vaccine did show efficacy that was statistically significant, but the efficacy was low: 50% in children aged six months to two years, and 42% in children between two and six years old.

Then there’s the matter of how long a vaccine gives protection. We know from data in adults that it’s generally a matter of months. But we have no such data for young children.

“It seems criminal that we put out the recommendation to give mRNA COVID vaccines to babies without good data. We really don’t know what the risks are yet. So why push it so hard?” a CDC physician added. A high-level FDA official felt the same way: “The public has no idea how bad this data really is. It would not pass muster for any other authorization.”

And yet, the FDA and the CDC pushed it through. That slap in the face of science may explain why only 2% of parents of children under age five have chosen to get the COVID vaccine, and 40% of parents in rural areas say their pediatricians did not recommend the COVID vaccine for their child.

More here:




Friday, July 15, 2022

Israel's fourth vaccine dose and Omicron

There are two research results reported below and both were reported on very positively. The reports below portray vaccination as protective in an Omicron-infected population.

Being a retired academic, however I looked at the results more closely and was not convinced. The final conclusion from the study report of the healthcare workers agreed well with my conclusions. It reads:

"a fourth vaccination of healthy young health care workers may have only marginal benefits"

The second study -- of the elderly -- compared only the results of third and fourth vaccinations with one-another. There was no control group so no conclusions about absolute efficacy were possible.

My takeaway is that existing vaccinations are probably totally useless against Omicron

The Middle Eastern nation became the first place in the world to offer its adult citizens a second booster in January, just as the Omicron wave charged across the globe.

Any Israeli over the age of 18 was able to get the jab, as long as five months had passed since they received their previous booster or had recovered from the illness.

More than 830,000 Israelis — mostly the elderly, health workers and immunocompromised residents — have so far taken up that offer.

The World Health Organization is yet to give an official recommendation on the efficacy of a fourth COVID-19 dose.

Experts are divided on the efficacy of a second booster for younger people.

Earlier this year, researchers studied the effects of a fourth shot on the immune responses of young Israeli health workers.

The results suggest the effectiveness of the fourth dose is no different from the effectiveness of a third dose.

While the jury may be out on the benefits for younger people, Israeli researchers say one age group clearly receives significant additional protection.

Results of a newly published study by Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev showed the fourth COVID-19 vaccine reduced the risk of death by 72 per cent among Israel's elderly.

"This is a huge step forward to control the spread of COVID in Australia and other countries, that plan to introduce the fourth dose," lead researcher Khitam Muhsen said.

The study of 40,000 nursing home residents found those vaccinated with a fourth dose of the Pfizer vaccine had a 34 per cent reduced risk of contracting the Omicron variant.

They also had a 64 to 67 per cent reduced risk of requiring hospitalisation.

"When there was a variant that had so many mutations, there was a lot of questions about whether the vaccine would be protective, or effective," Dr Muhsen said.


Worrisome reports of adverse vaccine events

Since the Food and Drug Administration authorized the first vaccines for COVID-19 in late 2020, the government and much of the media have insisted that the medicines developed in record time are safe and effective. Those who raised questions about them have been routinely dismissed as conspiracy theorists.

And yet an online database co-administered by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control has compiled more than 1.3 million reports of vaccine-implicated “adverse events” running the gamut from mild to severe, including 29,000 deaths.

Representative entries include:

A 44-year-old male from California with a blood clot in the brain (CVST) five days after receiving Pfizer vaccine, dose unknown.

A 31-year-old female from Pennsylvania with heart inflammation (myocarditis) two days after receiving Moderna’s booster.

A 58-year-old female from California with blood clots in legs (DVT) after receiving Johnson & Johnson booster. She reported:
“Day after booster on 11/16/21 my right leg was aching. 7 days later on 11/23/21 my sole of my right foot was very painful upon walking. This resolved 2 days later by 11/25/21. On day 11 (11/26/21) my ankle was slightly swollen and painful to touch. These symptoms continued to migrate up my leg to my inner thigh. On 12/13/21 I was seen by my primary care Doctor and was sent for a d-dimer blood test which was 1.77. I was seen in vascular dept and ultrasound indicated multiple DVT from my groin to my ankle.”

These reports are not anecdotes from “anti-vaxxers” on the dark web. They come from the federal government’s open-source log, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. It allows anyone to go online and report a bad reaction that could be linked to any vaccine, including those for COVID-19. (RealClearInvestigations has linked above to VAERS reports posted at, an independently run and easier to navigate database that copies reports verbatim from the CDC’s less user-friendly “WONDER” system.)

While the reports are unfiltered and unexamined, the idea is that such public input will allow researchers to identify potential problems. But the sheer number of reports, and their specificity, have the attention of concerned scientists and even some politicians like Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who has invited people harmed by vaccines to testify before Congress and advocates compensation for them.

Johnson's office said he has been admonishing the health authorities over the VAERS reports for a year. "The senator believes the CDC and FDA need to take their own adverse event early warning system seriously and be transparent with the American people," it said in a statement. "To date, they have not been."

VAERS was created in the late 1980s as an outgrowth of a congressional mandate to create a system for compensating vaccine victims and their families. In 2015, the CDC said the average number of annual reports was roughly 30,000. In 2021, there were nearly 1 million. Given the large increase during a politically charged pandemic, the usefulness of VAERS is the subject of great debate even among scientists

Some health experts believe that the number of reports is primarily a function of increased publicity around the COVID vaccines, a high number indicating only that many more people are aware of the system and concerned about potential side effects from the shots. Others say the number and strong indications in certain symptom categories – such as the cardiovascular examples cited above – paint a bleaker picture of the vaccines’ safety.

Dr. Peter McCullough, a renowned cardiologist and academic physician with over 600 papers published in medical literature, was one of the first professionals to publicly question the safety of the COVID-19 injections. On April 21, 2021, on his podcast The McCullough Report, he read out some of the early, alarming statistics from VAERS including reports of 502 heart attacks, 84 miscarriages, 321 cases of low blood platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) and 2,342 deaths. For Dr. McCullough, these numbers were a huge red flag. For comparison, he cites the last “mass vaccination program” undertaken in the United States, the 1976 swine flu vaccine. Dr. McCullough noted that there were approximately 55 million people vaccinated, with an accompanying 500 cases of Guillain-Barr syndrome, and around 25 deaths. “And the government officials at that time said, ‘we’re going to pull it.’”

Dr. McCullough said that by April 2021, VAERS reports were already so numerous that he felt the COVID vaccines should be pulled off the market. That same month, Fox News host Tucker Carlson voiced doubts about the vaccines' effectiveness, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden's top medical adviser, blasted him for pushing "a typical crazy conspiracy theory."

As of today, the system has more than 29,000 reports of deaths.

VAERS reports, however, are not hard evidence. Its website explains: “A report to VAERS generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) caused the adverse event described. It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report. VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine.” Some of the FDA and CDC’s most senior veterans advise caution in interpreting the data.

Susan Ellenberg, PhD, the former Director of the Office of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the FDA’s Center for Biologics, told RCI that “anything that gets reported goes directly into the [VAERS] system … so mostly what you get is noise.” She said that it’s nearly impossible to prove causation with this dataset alone. Dr. Walter Orenstein, formerly the CDC’s director of immunization, concurs. He said, “That’s why it’s called adverse ‘events’ as opposed to reaction because reaction implies causation. Event is basically something that follows.” Elderly people, for example, die regularly; if they are dying days or weeks after being vaccinated, that does not necessarily mean the vaccine is killing them.

More here:




Thursday, July 14, 2022

Fauci admits that COVID-19 vaccines do not protect 'overly well' against infection

He speaks from pure faith. He says that vaccines may not prevent infections but they do make the illness milder. How does he know that? He is just clutching at straws. The fact is that Omicron infections are GENERALLY milder, whether you have been vaccinated or not. We knew that from the very first cases of Omicron in South Africa. He is just blowing smoke

White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci conceded that COVID-19 vaccines do not protect "overly well" against infection Tuesday on "Your World."

DR. FAUCI: One of the things that's clear from the data [is] that even though vaccines - because of the high degree of transmissibility of this virus - don't protect overly well, as it were, against infection, they protect quite well against severe disease leading to hospitalization and death. And I believe that's the reason, Neil, why at my age, being vaccinated and boosted, even though it didn't protect me against infection, I feel confident that it made a major role in protecting me from progressing to severe disease. And that's very likely why I had a relatively mild course. So my message to people who seem confused because people who are vaccinated get infected - the answer is if you weren't vaccinated, the likelihood [is] you would have had [a] more severe course than you did have when you were vaccinated.


Dr. Malone Warns of Immune Imprinting After Fauci Floats Second Booster Shots

Dr. Robert Malone is warning of immune imprinting after Dr. Anthony Fauci signaled his backing for second COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all Americans aged 5 and older.

“I couldn’t design a vaccine if I wanted to, to be more likely to drive immune imprinting,” Malone, who helped invent the messenger RNA technology the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are built on, told The Epoch Times.

Immune imprinting refers to a phenomenon whereby initial exposure to a virus strain may prevent the body from producing enough neutralizing antibodies against a new viral strain.

The COVID-19 vaccines currently in circulation are based on the Wuhan strain of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. Also known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus causes COVID-19.

A number of strains have emerged and become dominant since the Wuhan strain was prevalent, including the currently dominant Omicron variant.

Researchers with Imperial College London and the United Kingdom Health Security Agency found that people who received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and were infected with the Wuhan strain had a lower level of protection against later strains when compared to people who had not been infected. Other groups, including researchers with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, have found the vaccines much less effective against Omicron subvariants than the Wuhan strain.

A number of studies have found negative effectiveness among vaccinated groups. That means those who get vaccinated are more likely to get infected.

In some areas, the vaccinated account for a majority of those infected or in hospitals or dying with COVID-19. In Louisiana, for example, 70 percent of the deaths recorded between June 23 and June 29 were among the vaccinated.

Second Booster Push

The vaccines were originally promoted as two-shot primary regimens (Pfizer and Moderna) or a one-shot immunization (Johnson & Johnson). They were said to have efficacy as high as 100 percent against symptomatic infection.

Due to waning effectiveness against the emerging variants, U.S. officials authorized booster doses. In March, because the effects of the boosters against infection didn’t last long, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cleared and recommended second boosters for all adults over the age of 50.

Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser, is now saying Americans 5 to 50 should be allowed to get a second booster dose.

Fauci told the Washington Post that the United States “need[s] to allow people who are under 50 to get their second booster shot, since it may have been months since many of them got their first booster.”

“If I got my third shot [in 2021], it is very likely the immunity is waning,” he added.

Fauci has no authority over authorizing or recommending boosters, but has signaled major changes in U.S. vaccine policy in the past.

White House, FDA Respond

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, told reporters on July 12 that “we have conversations all the time about what are possible things we could be doing to better protect the American people” but that the decision on second boosters will be made by the FDA and the CDC.

Fauci uttered a similar statement during the briefing.

“The FDA is evaluating the current situation, including the emerging epidemiology indicating increased hospitalization, and will be open to all potential options to address this, if necessary,” an FDA spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.

Vaccine makers and the FDA are working together to develop variant-specific shots for the fall, which they say will offer better protection. But the updated shots aren’t yet on the market.

Many U.S. adults have received a primary series of a vaccine, including 91 percent of those 65 and older and 77 percent of those 18 and older. But booster doses have been a harder sell. Only 70 percent of elderly persons who got a primary series have received a first booster, along with just 51 percent of those 18 and older, according to CDC data. A second booster has only been administered to 28 percent of the population 50 and older.

Few of the COVID-19 vaccine mandates included a booster, and most of the mandates have been rescinded due to factors like plunging COVID-19 metrics and the waning effectiveness of the vaccines.

The new BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants—which have been edging out other strains in the United States and are thought to be more transmissible, but do not seem to cause more severe illness—are “more likely to lead to vaccine breakthrough infections,” researchers with Columbia University found.

‘Vaccine-driven Disease’

The COVID-19 metrics in the United States have been creeping up in recent weeks, with the weekly average of cases jumping by 75 percent since late March and hospitalizations with COVID-19 doubling since April.

Officials blame the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, which have been edging out other strains in the United States and are thought to be more transmissible, but do not seem to cause more severe illness.

People should get a booster as soon as they’re eligible, which is typically about five months after their last shot, Jha and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. “Don’t delay,” Jha said.

But Malone is among the scientists who are challenging the idea that the old vaccines are the solution.

“You got a major problem with the new Omicron, that’s the BA.5. The people that are getting infected chronically and hospitalized and dying are predominantly the vaccinated. It’s happening all over the world,” Malone said. “Now they’ve got a problem because they have driven this because of immune imprinting. This is increasingly becoming a vaccine-driven disease.”

Fauci, a major vaccine proponent, “has basically created a situation through the insistence on the hyper vaccination where he’s actually driving the disease in the United States,” he added.

Government officials disagree. Walensky said CDC data show that people who either have not received a vaccine or have not been boosted have less protection than those who have been boosted, including against infection, even as studies show the boost against infection quickly drops after the first and second booster.

Fauci said that people who were previously infected, or have natural immunity from surviving COVID-19, “don’t have a lot of protection” against the new subvariants.

Neither mentioned how natural immunity, according to a new study, remains stronger than the protection from vaccines even with boosters, particularly against severe disease.




Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Australian Chief Health Officer: Take personal responsibility to save lives

This is a refreshingly moderate official warning but, even so, it is heavily faith-based. His faith in vaccines is surprising, given that there is no evidence that vaccines protect against Omicron. We are in fact largely at the mercy of how good our innate immune systems are. I seem to have born lucky in that -- even though I am well into the age-based high-risk group. I turn 79 this week but have had no hint of Covid

It has been 2½ years since I treated the state’s first coronavirus case.

In that time, more than 1330 people in Queensland have died with the virus and we’ve recorded more than 1.3 million Covid-19 cases.

We’ve endured two waves and a third is still at least a month away from peaking.

Our hospitals are under immense pressure – the number of Covid-19 patients has risen by 140 per cent just in the past month because of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

It’s tragic how something so minuscule (a SARS-CoV-2 virion is roughly half the size of a light dust particle) can wreak so much devastation.

Despite the passage of time and our mighty fight to suppress this disease, Covid-19 is still a major health threat that requires us to remain cautious and sensible.

That said, public health directions and mandates have served their purpose.

They helped us keep cases to a minimum, slowed transmission, and allowed us to vaccinate as much of the population as possible.

There is still a need for some health directions to remain in place, mainly to protect vulnerable people such as the elderly and immunocompromised, but we are no longer dealing with a novel virus.

Now is the time to adjust our measures to reflect this, to responsibly transition away from mandates towards taking personal ­responsibility.

By now Queenslanders are accustomed to the precautions and measures that have protected them against Covid-19. We should all be well-versed in wearing masks when we need to, physically distancing in public, staying away from others when we’re ill, and self-testing.

I have every confidence in the ability of Queenslanders to do this.

Being responsible also means making sure you and your family are vaccinated. The latest ATAGI advice recommends that people aged 50 and older get the winter booster dose.

Sadly, 97 per cent of Queenslanders who have died with Covid-19 were over 50 years old. About 91 per cent were older than 65.


British hospitals to enforce mask wearing as Covid hospital infections rise 100%

Dangerous hospitals

The NHS will enforce mask wearing again amid huge increases of Covid infections in hospitals, a leaked letter reveals.

Staff, patients and visitors will be asked to wear masks within all NHS hospitals, GP practices and dentists in the Midlands, according to the letter seen by The Independent.

The letter, sent on 7 July to NHS chiefs in the Midlands by NHS England said: “It is apparent that we have entered the next Covid-19 wave. Across the last seven days we have had a 97 per cent increase in our nosocomial Covid-19 cases in acute trust settings and a 25 per cent increase in out mental health settings, this has also included a rise in the numbers of patients who have been admitted into critical care beds. In addition, we have also observed an increase in Covid-related staff absences.

“As a result of this, we are advising that, in line with [UK Health Security Agency] UKHSA guidance, all providers review their mask wearing guidance with a view to moving back towards universal mask wearing for staff. This includes colleagues in primary care settings.”

NHS directors in the Midlands, which covers almost 60 hospitals, were also told to encourage patients and visitors to wear a mask but warned as there was no mandate to do so they may decline.

The national guidance comes after hospitals around the country have already begun to reintroduce mask mandates just weeks after dropping the measures.

During a board meeting on Thursday, NHS medical director Stephen Powis said Covid hospital admissions were likely to reach 15,000 in the next few days. The last time figures were this high was in April during the peak of the fourth wave.

During the January 2021 Covid wave the number of patients in hospital beds hit a high of more than 34,000.

Data from the ZOE Covid app recorded 325,337 Covid infections on 4 July. Around one in 10 hospital beds in England is currently taken up by Covid positive patients, more 11,000 beds occupied.


‘Hopeful Sign’: 72% Still Proud to Be American, Poll Finds

A new poll finds that patriotism is alive and well among most Americans, with nearly 3 in 4 saying they are proud of their country despite divisive domestic issues and the findings of other recent surveys.

The poll results come amid nationwide controversy in recent months over issues such as record-high gas prices, mass shootings, the House’s ongoing Jan. 6 investigation, and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Although national sentiments are far from uniform, our survey’s results display that most Americans, regardless of political affiliation, share feelings of patriotism and national pride,” a summary of the poll says.

The poll, conducted in May by FixUS, found that 72% of those surveyed agreed with the statement “I’m proud to be an American.” That number included 91% of Republicans surveyed and 62% of Democrats.

Also, 73% of those surveyed agreed that they would “prefer to live in the U.S. than in another country.”

The FixUS poll asked 2,000 participants a series of questions to determine the current climate of American patriotism. FixUS is part of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The poll contrasts with others released before Independence Day, including a Gallup poll finding that only 38% of adults surveyed say they are “extremely proud” to be an American—although 65% say they are “extremely” or “very proud.”

Similarly, a Fox News poll of registered voters found that only 39% said they are “proud of the country today,” echoing a poll by The Economist and YouGov America finding that 40% considered themselves “very patriotic” and 53% agreed that Americans are becoming less patriotic.

Most participants in the FixUS poll agreed on fundamental ideals such as America being a land of opportunity, equality, justice, and limited government. Participants rated each ideal as “highly important” on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “extremely important.”

Americans typically gave each ideal a rating over 8, the poll found, “with no notable differences by party.”

The poll also found that 85% said they agree that progress has been made to achieve these fundamental ideals and that it’s patriotic to criticize and strive to perfect the country.

Partisan disagreements surfaced with more specific statements.

One was “People who do not wholeheartedly support America should live somewhere else,” to which 59% of Republicans surveyed agreed and 63% of Democrats disagreed.

A total of 65% of Democrats and 23% of Republicans said they agreed with this statement: “For the most part, people who protest and demonstrate against U.S. policy are good, upstanding people and valued members of our society.”

Similarly, 94% of Republicans agreed that seeing the American flag flown or hearing the national anthem sung makes them feel good or very good, while only 49% of Democrats agreed.

Another large disparity between the two major parties was seen in response to the question of whether American life and culture has changed for better or worse since the 1950s.

Although 50% of Democrats said the nation’s culture has improved in the past 70 years, fully 75% of Republicans said it has deteriorated.

On related questions, 85% of those surveyed agreed that they are concerned about national polarization and 59% agreed that that they feel unheard by politicians.

Although some findings are concerning and should be openly discussed, the overall findings should be encouraging, said Michael Murphy, chief of staff for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

“While it would be nave to disregard the country’s deep divisions, it’s encouraging to discover that most Americans share fundamental beliefs about American values, history, and ideals,” Murphy said.

“A majority of Americans are patriots who value the American experiment and what it represents, and at a time when it has never been more important to put citizenship over partisanship, that’s a hopeful sign,” he said.




Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Booster value ‘uncertain’ for the under-50s

Top vaccine experts have advised younger people that having a second booster shot is unlikely to substantially reduce their risk of catching Covid-19, with very limited evidence available on the efficacy of fourth doses in reducing transmission and hospitalisation in those under 50.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation said the rapidity with which immunity from the first booster shot wanes just as Australia faces a worsening winter Omicron wave had prompted it to lower the age at which it recommends fourth shots from 65 to 50.

ATAGI is advising older people to get a fourth shot three months after their initial booster.

It also said that young people who wanted to reduce their risk of catching Covid-19, avoid having to take time off work and minimise the risk of long Covid should be allowed to have a vaccine if they chose, even though there was uncertainty as to how much of a boost in immunity they’d gain.

It was largely pressure from healthcare workers who have been demanding a fourth jab that prompted ATAGI’s change of position on second boosters.

Australia will become the first country in the world to open up fourth shot vaccination to healthy people aged between 30 and 50.

ATAGI and the government’s key focus, however, is on protecting older people from severe disease. The fourth shot will boost that protection at least fourfold.

ATAGI said a key reason for lowering the recommended age for fourth shots was the pressure on hospitals as a result of the winter Omicron wave, but it said other public health and social measures such as mask wearing and wider use of antivirals would have a bigger impact on limiting transmission and severe illness.

“Increasing the uptake of winter booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine in populations most at risk during this time is anticipated to play a limited, but important role in reducing the risk from Covid-19 to individuals and pressure on the healthcare system,” ATAGI said in a statement.

The number of people in hospital is below the peak of the January Omicron wave of 5000 people, but the current BA. 5 strain is even more infectious and experts predict numbers in hospital will eclipse January levels.

The take-up of first boosters is only 70 per cent nationwide, and only 59.5 per cent of those currently eligible had a fourth shot.

ATAGI said the evidence was uncertain.

“ATAGI recognises that some people aged 30 to 49 years would also like to reduce their risk of infection from Covid-19 and therefore may consider a winter booster dose,” its statement said.

“While rates of hospitalisation, severe disease, and death from Covid-19 are low in this age group, other factors … may influence an individual’s decision to have a winter booster dose.

“The impact of vaccination on transmission and maintenance of healthcare capacity in this age group is uncertain but likely to be limited.”


Joe Biden is at 29% approval rating, BEFORE we are officially in a recession

by Rick Manning

The Civiqs poll daily tracking service has President Joe Biden’s overall approval rating at 29 percent of registered voters. In contrast, 58 percent disapprove of how he is handling his job.

Joe Biden has done the seeming impossible, he has twice as many people believing that he stinks at his job than that he is good at it.

With the us against them mentality reining supreme in America, Biden would almost have to be trying to make people mad at you to have that few Americans think you are doing a good job. But this just proves that Joe Biden is keeping one of his promises – he is uniting America – around the idea that he is a terrible president.

It has gotten so bad that even the New York Times is noticing that Joe is slowing down just a wee bit and has written that some Democrats are wondering if he is up to the job.

Perhaps the permission that establishment media dependent voters are now receiving to disapprove of Joe accounts for part of his collapse, but it is likely simpler than that.

Rather than calming things down after President Trump’s hard push back against the left’s war on energy, blue-collar jobs, China and cultural norms, along with the COVID fatigue that caused Americans to give 2020 a zero out of five star rating, Biden’s team has frenetically sought to fundamentally transform America.

At a time when Americans wanted to catch their collective breaths, Joe Biden, who campaigned as a safe, known politician, has governed as a one administration wrecking crew.

Joe has brought us dramatically higher gasoline prices, much higher grocery costs, astronomically higher used car prices and he thinks it is Vladimir Putin’s fault. All Americans know is that every time they go to the grocery store serves as an anti-Biden ad.

Our nation’s southern border is a sieve with historic numbers of illegals crossing the border and our Border Patrol and ICE officers are hogtied by Biden open border policies.

Meanwhile on the culture front, parents were shocked to learn that their school boards viewed them as terrorist threats due to concerns about critical race theory-based curricula, gender focused teaching that shames students who think biological parts matter in sexual identification, and shockingly explicit sex education targeting innocent primary grade students. The permission slip that parents give to public schools to teach their children has been abused, and Joe Biden’s administration prompted the National School Board Association to send a letter putting parents who complained under investigation.

Speaking of permission slips, the Biden administration spent more than a year demonizing anyone questioning the safety of the vaccine and/or trying to provide treatments to those afflicted with the COVID virus. Today, two and a half years since the s has hit our shores, someone who tests positive for COVID has few treatment options and are largely at the mercy of the disease.

Crime is up. Homicides are skyrocketing. Prosecutors in many of our largest cities and counties refuse to prosecute property crimes and 30,000 more people died last year of drug overdoses than had in the previous year. Those who burn down city blocks are not pursued, while we’ve spent a year and a half focused on and prosecuting the January 6th Capitol break-in, with most cases being disposed of after months and months of no bail allowed incarceration with “parading” charges.

No kidding the country is ill at ease. The President can barely mumble out a sentence, seems incoherent much of the time and can’t be trusted by his own staff to say what they approve.

And this is before our country has even formally entered into a recession. Friday’s jobs numbers showed that those who wanted a job could get one, even if inflation is eroding paychecks faster than pay raises can take hold. However, initial unemployment claims have risen significantly and steadily since April and it is somewhat likely that the July 7 Labor Department claims report signals the beginning of the end of the job growth economy.

There is no hiding that Joe Biden is in deep political trouble.

Only 55 percent of Biden’s most dependable supporters, blacks, think he’s doing a good job. He is substantially upside down with Hispanics, whites and other races.

Young people pan him overwhelmingly with 60 percent saying he is doing a bad job and only 20 percent giving him the thumbs up. Interestingly, his approval actually increases the older the person gets peaking at 38 percent for people 65 and older.

Joe Biden is in deep, deep political trouble. This is not a good thing as our nation faces many foreign and domestic challenges. Unfortunately, Biden’s troubles are largely of his own making. He is a President who inherited the goose that lays golden eggs and cooked and ate it. Now he finds himself wondering where the golden eggs went.




Monday, July 11, 2022

Natural Immunity 97 Percent Effective Against Severe COVID-19 After 14 Months: Study

The protection against severe illness from so-called natural immunity remains superior to the protection bestowed by COVID-19 vaccines, according to a new study.

People who survived COVID-19 infection and were not vaccinated had sky-high protection against severe or fatal COVID-19, researchers in Qatar found.

“Effectiveness of primary infection against severe, critical, or fatal COVID-19 reinfection was 97.3 percent … irrespective of the variant of primary infection or reinfection, and with no evidence for waning. Similar results were found in sub-group analyses for those ≥50 years of age,” Dr. Laith Abu-Raddad, with Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, and colleagues said after studying long-term natural immunity in unvaccinated people.

That percentage is higher than the protection from COVID-19 vaccines, according to other studies and real-world data.

Swedish researchers, for instance, found in May that two doses of a vaccine were just 54 percent effective against the Omicron variant of the virus

South African scientists, meanwhile, found the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines peaked at 88 percent, and quickly dropped to 70 percent or lower.

The Qatar group found natural immunity for over 14 months after a person’s first infection “remains very strong, with no evidence for waning, irrespective of variant.”

The study was published ahead of peer review on the website medRxiv.

Few researchers have studied natural immunity long-term among unvaccinated persons, in part because many of the people have eventually received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccines, meanwhile, have waned against both infection and severe illness over time, triggering recommendations for booster doses, with some Americans even getting five doses within 10 months.

The vaccines were once said to provide close to 100 percent protection against symptomatic infection. They now provide under 50 percent protection against infection after a short period of time, even after booster doses, following the emergence of Omicron.

That strain and its subvariants are dominant in countries around the world, including the United States and Qatar.

Natural immunity was thought to provide strong protection against reinfection. But the Qatari researchers found it also provides poor protection against reinfection from Omicron.

Poor protection against Omicron

Pre-Omicron infection against pre-Omicron reinfection was as high as 90.5 percent, and remained around 70 percent by the 16th month, according to the study. But pre-Omicron infection against Omicron reinfection was just 38 percent effective, although it was higher among people infected with the original Wuhan strain or with the Delta variant, and lower among those who got sick from the Alpha or Beta strains.

Modeling signaled a drop to zero percent protection by 18 months, but the shielding still appears to last longer than that of vaccines, researchers said.

“Vaccine immunity against Omicron subvariants lasts for <6 months but pre-Omicron natural immunity, assuming Gompertz decay, may last for just over a year,” they wrote.

Limitations of the study included differences in testing frequency among the cohorts studied, and depletion of groups who had a COVID-19 infection due to deaths.


Biden and Fauci Botched the Covid Pandemic Response

There are many lessons to be gleaned from the U.S. pandemic response. House Democrats don’t care to study them.

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis last month issued a deeply partisan report demonizing doctors who purportedly espoused “a dangerous and discredited herd immunity via mass infection strategy.” The report took aim at the Trump administration’s embrace of the October 2020 Great Barrington Declaration, in which epidemiologists Martin Kulldorff (Harvard), Sunetra Gupta (Oxford) and Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford) advocated protecting the elderly and vulnerable while allowing schools and businesses to reopen. This wasn’t a strategy to infect masses of people on purpose. The goal was to minimize deaths and social and economic harm until the country reached herd immunity through infection or vaccination.

The Great Barrington strategy of “focused protection” helped minimize the pandemic’s collateral damage until vaccines became available. The Biden administration then undertook a strategy of herd immunity via vaccination. But when this strategy failed, it doubled down with vaccine mandates.

From the outset of the pandemic, the mainstream medical establishment and government bureaucracy were aligned behind a lockdown-at-all-costs strategy. The Trump White House tapped Scott Atlas, a Hoover Institution fellow and radiologist, for a contrarian perspective. Dr. Atlas endorsed the elements of the Great Barrington strategy. The House report criticizes him for a memo in which he argued that “stopping all cases is not necessary, nor is it possible. It instills irrational fear into the public. Non-prioritized testing is jeopardizing critical resources for truly critical testing and is creating problematic delays in test results for the most important populations.”

He was right on every point. Indiscriminate use of a scarce resource reduces public welfare. When tests were in short supply, Dr. Atlas’s recommendation to save them for high-risk groups such as nursing-home residents made eminent sense. His prescriptions and those of the Great Barrington Declaration aimed to maximize public welfare.

Democrats claim in their report that 130,000 lives could have been saved with more “mitigation,” but this is doubtful. California and New York, which adopted mask mandates and lockdowns during the 2020-21 winter, fared no better than Florida and Texas, which didn’t. What’s more, employment continues to lag significantly in liberal lockdown states. Had all 50 states stayed shut down until vaccines were available, with the federal government paying tens of millions of people not to work—as Democrats ostensibly would have done—we might now be experiencing high unemployment and even higher inflation.

Vaccines ultimately saved the day by reducing the Covid disease burden and giving Democratic states a reason to lift their destructive lockdowns. But the Biden administration bet too heavily on vaccines to confer herd immunity. In December 2020, Anthony Fauci projected that a 75% to 85% vaccination rate could provide a “blanket of herd immunity.” This proved too optimistic.

An ever-mutating and increasingly transmissible virus, combined with waning vaccine effectiveness, made herd immunity a moving target. By spring 2021, Pfizer’s clinical trial data showed that its vaccine was becoming less protective against infection as time passed. Four months after the second dose, vaccine efficacy had declined to 84%, making breakthrough infections more likely and imperiling the Biden administration’s goals. Yet Pfizer honcho Albert Bourla writes in his new book, “Moonshot,” that federal public-health officials feared disclosing this waning efficacy would breed more vaccine hesitancy. The Biden administration kept it under wraps until July, when breakthrough infections in Provincetown, Mass., made it impossible to deny. Stories in the media were corroborated by a study from Israel the same month showing vaccine protection against infection falling to 39%.

Only after the Washington Post published a leaked Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slide presentation showing that vaccine efficacy was declining did the agency acknowledge it. Still, Dr. Fauci in August insisted that herd immunity could be achieved “really easily if we get everyone vaccinated.” He should have known by then that was false.

None of these realities stopped the Biden administration from mandating vaccines for private workers and arguing in court, despite evidence to the contrary, that doing so was “necessary to protect unvaccinated workers from the risk of contracting COVID-19” and “that vaccines dramatically reduce the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19.” After the Supreme Court blocked the mandate in January, the administration pivoted to a strategy of focused protection—e.g., distributing antiviral and monoclonal-antibody treatments and booster shots to the vulnerable. Alas, the administration’s orders were too little, too late to help when deaths and hospitalizations soared in winter 2021-22.

Nearly 600,000 Covid deaths have occurred on Mr. Biden’s watch despite vaccines and better treatments—about 180,000 more than under Donald Trump. One lesson is the importance of diverse opinions. The Biden administration paid too much heed to experts such as Dr. Fauci and ignored those who argued against placing all its eggs in the vaccine basket.

Another lesson is that science evolves, and there’s no shame in admitting error. Most scientists were wrong about what it would take to achieve herd immunity. But it’s better to correct mistakes than compound them, which is what the Biden administration did. Why it did is something for a future GOP Congress to investigate.




Sunday, July 10, 2022

New omicron variant BA. 2.75 erupts out of India

Evolution can’t be held back. Especially when it comes to the Covid-19 virus. Yet another variant has appeared. This time in India. And it appears adapted to evade our immune response.

It passes through 1000 generations each month. That’s more than enough genetic dice rolls for successful mutations to establish their dominance.

The latest coronavirus variant identified as a potential cause for concern is variant BA 2.75 – nicknamed “Centaurus”.

It was first identified in India, but has already been detected in Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand – and Australia.

“There’s minimal data about this variant so far,” says Austrian Academy of Sciences geneticist Dr Ulrich Elling. “But it has a couple of attributes that have made us take notice.”

The Centaurus variant is a mutation of a mutation, developed from the older Omicron BA. 2 variant.

It’s the BA. 5 variant that is currently causing so much concern as it takes hold in Australia. What makes it more successful is the great ease with which it infects new hosts.

But BA. 2.75, which is only in the early stages of study, appears able to dodge any immunity built up against its parent BA.2.

Put simply, that means anyone who had Covid BA. 2 will be just as susceptible to catching it again as they were the first time around. And its even greater difference to BA. 5 could also result in a lack of immune system “recognition”.

European researchers have found BA. 2.75 to have eight extra spike protein mutations. These are the nodules found on the surface of a virus that act as “keys” to unlock a host’s cells.

The locations of these “keys” give scientists clues about their capabilities.

In the case of BA. 2.75, they’re clustered in a way that could conceal its identity to an immune system familiar with its parent. And that makes it even more distinct from the current dominant coronavirus strain – BA.5.

They’re in what’s called the N-terminal domain (NTD) – one of the more prominent protuberances of the virus.

“The NTD is decorated with mutations in BA. 2.75 in and around the neutralising antibody binding “supersite” and could thus enhance immune evasion in that region,” Dr Elling explains.

And circumstantial evidence supports this: BA. 2.75 has already been able to establish footholds around the world with extraordinary speed.

Dr Elling says the number of mutations in BA. 2.75 is “remarkable”. Omicron Delta had a similar number, but just three mutations were enough to supercharge BA.5.

“Thus, the 11 mutations distinct between BA. 5 and BA. 2.75 could allow for yet another wave as BA. 5 immunity might not protect,” Dr Elling warns. “I really hope this highly speculative thread will turn out to be a false alarm!”

“Before we are done with the BA. 5 wave, we might already have to prepare for the next,” Dr Elling tweeted. “Confirmed cases are very few still today. But the international distribution excludes sequencing errors and makes it highly likely that the real numbers are way higher.”

And the warning signs are in place.

“It is really too early to know if BA. 2.75 will take over relative to BA. 2 or even relative to BA. 5,” he adds, “but it is remarkable to note that BA. 2.75 carries alternative “solutions” in the regions mutated in BA.5.”

Viruses evolve fastest in chronic infections. It’s where one host’s immune system spends the greatest time fighting back. And the weakened nature of that fightback exposes multiple generations of the virus to a greater variety of “counter-attacks”. Those mutations that dodge these counter-attacks then go on to breed.

Imperial College London virologist Tom Peacock said he believed such cases were likely to be the cause of such significant changes seen in the likes of BA. 2.75.

“None of these individually really flag as that worrying but all appearing together at once is another matter,” he tweeted.

“It looks like something is headed toward us,” says Dr Elling. “But there’s no sure-fire evidence just yet.”


COVID Vaccines Increase Menstrual Irregularities

New disturbing pharmacovigilance signals from VAERS surrounding the use of the COVID vaccines on women of reproductive age prompted a group of doctors to call for a ban on the gene therapy COVID-19 vaccines.

Over the past two weeks, Dr. James Thorp, a maternal-fetal medicine expert, painstakingly analyzed and verified the most recent Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) data related to COVID-19 vaccines and compared them to the influenza vaccines.

“COVID-19 vaccines compared to the influenza vaccines are associated with increases in menstrual disorders, miscarriage, fetal chromosomal abnormalities, fetal cystic hygroma, fetal malformations, fetal cardiac arrest, fetal cardiac arrhythmias, fetal cardiac disorders, fetal vascular mal-perfusion abnormalities, abnormal fetal surveillance testing, abnormal fetal growth patterns, placental thrombosis, and fetal death,” Thorp told The Epoch Times last week.

His findings are listed below:

Abnormal uterine bleeding (menstrual irregularity) is 1000-fold greater
Miscarriages are 50-fold greater
Fetal chromosomal abnormalities are 100-fold greater
Fetal malformation is 50-fold greater
Fetal cystic hygroma (a major malformation) is 90-fold greater
Fetal cardiac disorders are 40-fold greater
Fetal arrhythmia is 50-fold greater
Fetal cardiac arrest is 200-fold greater
Fetal vascular mal-perfusion is a 100-fold greater
Fetal growth abnormalities are 40-fold greater
Fetal abnormal surveillance tests are 20-fold greater
Fetal placental thrombosis is 70-fold greater

Thorp said that he verified his analysis with a DOD (Department of Defense) statistical consultant that agreed to help him on the condition of anonymity.

Lack of Safety Testing

Regarding the VAERS data, vaccinologist Dr. Robert Malone, a key contributor of mRNA technology, told The Epoch Times on Thursday: “The risky strategy of authorizing the emergency use of mRNA ‘vaccine’ products prior to completion of rigorous non-clinical animal testing for reproductive and genotoxicity risks, followed by advocacy of widespread use in pregnancy, now appears to have resulted in substantial and avoidable reproductive toxicity.”

“Prior non-clinical (animal model) data from the Pfizer Emergency Use Authorization data package, together with the absence of adequate data and testing of safety during pregnancy have resulted in avoidable reproductive and fetal toxicities,” Malone further noted.

He stressed that expectant mothers should avoid the “experimental” COVID vaccines and that their infants should not be injected with them.

“These new VAERS data and analyses demonstrate that both reproductive-aged mothers and their infants have been damaged by accepting unlicensed, inadequately tested, emergency use authorized genetic vaccines,” Malone said.

Earlier this year Jessica Rose Ph.D. co-authored a VAERS analysis that got withdrawn by the academic journal Elsevier.

She told The Epoch Times that Thorp’s analysis aligns perfectly with hers.

“I do believe it is not only important, but necessary, to pull these products from pregnant/breastfeeding women and infants since there is no long-term safety data and the short-term data looks bad. As per both Moderna and Pfizer’s safety documents presented to VRBPAC pre-EUA granting for 0- 4-year-olds, this applies. They both showed terrible risk,” Rose said.

Christiane Northrup, MD., a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, also stands by the analysis.

“Having been on the front lines of the DES disaster as a young OB/GYN, I am astounded that we are repeating the same kind of mistake but on a far more devastating level. COVID-19 shots must be stopped immediately in all pregnant women before further damage is done to the next generation,” Northrup told The Epoch Times.

Thorp continued: “All of these adverse outcomes are statistically significant (p value < 0.0001)–in other words, the probability of these adverse outcomes occurring by chance alone is less than 1 in 10,000. It was incumbent upon the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, FDA, CDC, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology to have demanded this safety data prior to pushing these dangerous ‘vaccines’ in pregnancy.”

“These institutions have violated the golden rule of pregnancy: new substances be it nutraceuticals, drugs, or vaccines have NEVER been allowed in pregnancy until long-term outcome data are available. Now, the COVID-19 vaccines make prior obstetrical disasters of diethyl stilbesterol (DES) and thalidomide look like prenatal vitamins. I am calling for a worldwide ban and moratorium on the use of any experimental gene therapy and/or COVID-19 ‘vaccines’ in pregnancy until long-term safety data are irrefutable,” Thorp stated.




Friday, July 08, 2022

Corrupt science in a leading medical journal

"Lancet" has been Left-run for some time. They even campaigned against George Bush and the Iraq war. See here

There is supposed to be a clear line between medical publishing and propaganda. No less so than in the pages of the Lancet, previously considered a relative bastion of integrity in publishing. Honesty in medical publishing, meaning publication on the basis of transparent rigorous review and impartiality, is of particular importance to medicine and public health. The outcomes of such publications contribute to saving or killing people.

In 2020 the Lancet published an apparently fraudulent study discrediting the use of hydroxychloroquine in the management of COVID-19. While this was later withdrawn, it should not have passed first glance of a serious editor, as the data published by a previously unknown institution could not be credibly collated in the timeframe concerned.

A Lancet ‘commission’ to investigate the origins of SARS-CoV-2 included people who had direct conflict of interest, as they would potentially be culpable if its findings revealed a lab-based origin. This followed the publication of a letter stating that a lab-release origin of SARS-CoV-2 was a ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘misinformation,’ despite the first cases being reported within a few miles of the Wuhan Institute of Virology where research on SARS-like viruses was being performed, hundreds of miles from the habitat of the putative zoonotic hosts.

The Lancet again apparently missed the obvious conflict of interest in this letter’s authorship until forced to confront it.

Together with the Lancet’s unquestioning acceptance of mass vaccination in countries with very low mortality and high competing priorities, and its pushing of ‘zero-Covid’ in the context of a global spread with no transmission-blocking interventions, the journal’s poor history on COVID-19 does suggest an intentional bias.

Modeling Fantasy for Profit

Last week, the Lancet published a modeling study by Oliver Watson and others from Imperial College London, funded by, among others, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This predictive model from Imperial College suggests that COVID-19 vaccination introduced at the end of 2020 saved 14.4 to 19.8 million lives in the subsequent 12 months. A summary is provided here. The Imperial College modeling team previously massively overstated anticipated COVID-19 deaths in 2020.

Models should pass basic credibility criteria to be published, based on plausibility. Alternatively, a lack of coherence with real-world data or known biology should be stated. For reasons upon which one can only speculate, the Lancet again seems not to have actually assessed the credibility of the paper prior to publication. This matters, as others who lack an apparent basic understanding of scientific process, such as The Economist and various commentators on social media, then disseminate the model’s predictions as fact.

People can die when public health is twisted in this way.

Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 commenced in late 2020, and significant vaccination rates were not achieved in most populations until at least a few months into 2021. In a respiratory virus outbreak the most vulnerable, most likely to die, are likely to be overrepresented in mortality in year one. However, this first year did not produce anything like the mortality claimed to have been ‘saved’ by the vaccines in 2021. Lockdowns and other nonpharmaceutical interventions don’t account for this.

Post-infection immunity is effective in mitigating COVID-19, and more so than vaccination alone. Serological surveys indicate that most people gained post-infection immunity by mid- to late-2021. As infection rates are higher than vaccination rates for much of the world’s population, post-infection immunity would be expected to play a larger role than vaccination in reducing subsequent mortality. The African continent, with the lowest vaccination rate, has the lowest mortality rate—a multi-factorial relationship but one that should have given the Lancet, The Economist, and any thinking person pause for thought.

One could argue that vaccination was more targeted to the highly vulnerable and so disproportionately impactful—but this would run against the Lancet paper’s claim that higher vaccination rates would save even more people. The vaccine is not transmission-blocking, so the vulnerable minority account for nearly all possible vaccine impact.

The suggestion by Watson et al. that all-cause mortality can be used as a proxy for COVID-19 also runs foul of the evidence in two areas:

Firstly, randomized controlled trials of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines show a small excess all-cause mortality in the vaccinated group over the placebo. This alone makes a substantial reduction in overall mortality through vaccination unlikely, with adverse events possibly promoting non-COVID-19 mortality.

Secondly, a large increase in all-cause mortality is associated with, and expected from, lockdown measures. This is evidenced by rising malaria and tuberculosis, reduced childhood vaccination, and over 75 million added people in extreme poverty. Poverty raises mortality, killing infants in particular. UNICEF estimated 228,000 child lockdown deaths in the 6 countries of South Asia in 2020 alone, and when extrapolated across sub-Saharan Africa and through 2021 this is a lot of dead children. So lockdown deaths, which are not from COVID-19, comprise a large part of excess mortality.

Modeling or reporting COVID-19 ‘mortality’ or ‘lives saved’ raises a further issue that the Lancet and the wider media have consistently overlooked. COVID-19 deaths are concentrated in the elderly (age >75 years) with multiple comorbidities. This is the population sub-group most likely to die in the next months or year.

A child saved from malaria is likely to gain 70 years of life, while a person saved from COVID-19 is likely to gain one year or less. While that year is important, relatively few would equate it to their grandchild’s potential loss. It also means the term ‘saved’ requires considerable nuance, as those that Watson et al. claim were ‘saved’ by the vaccines in the first half of 2021 are likely to have died by now from something else.

This is why metrics incorporating life-years lost or disabled were standard up to 2020, including in the Lancet’s lucrative partnership with IHME on the Global Burden of Disease assessments funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To abandon these metrics when a pandemic appears that overwhelmingly targets those with the shortest life expectancy is extraordinary.

Weighing Lives and Profit

Tens of billions of dollars are being generated for large pharmaceutical companies and their investors through mass vaccination for COVID-19. The Lancet is a business, and as such is dependent on pleasing these dominant influencers of medical research. As diversion of resources from diseases of higher burden to mass-vaccination of young immune populations in low-income countries is demonstrably harmful to overall health through resource diversion and general impoverishment, this presents difficulties for the Lancet.

Killing children en masse is a bad look for a medical journal, but the evidence indicates this resource diversion will do, and the Lancet clearly feels inclined to support it. When a major Lancet partner faces significant income loss if the mass-vaccination paradigm is questioned, standing on principle and ethics would have taken courage and incurred risk.

This is the ethical dilemma that the high level of private investment in public health has brought. Pharma investors sponsor ‘global health’ schools, research, modeling and the public health institutions, including the WHO, which use their outputs. For-profit publishing houses must be aligned with these funding sources to thrive.

The losers in all this are the populations who have commodity (i.e. vaccine) ‘equity’ forced on them at the expense of health equity and the freedom to choose. As malaria, malnutrition, and other diseases of poverty increase, public health and its medical journals must focus elsewhere on areas profitable to their funders.

Succumbing to conflicts of interest is hardly new in human society, and humans are excellent at justifying it. This is why we need external oversight in areas where such conflicts can cause great harm. New rules on conflict of interest and transparency are needed in medical publishing, including reforms to ensure transparent peer review and open access to rebuttals of published papers. For-profit institutions cannot be the main arbiter in determining what health information reaches the public.

For now, though, it is difficult to see a path to improvement unless the publishers themselves value integrity, and the journalists interpreting them value truth. We have allowed vested interests to dominate public health discourse because we value their money more than the printed word. This matters because honesty in medical publishing determines the quality of life, and likelihood of death, of people. It is not an abstract problem.




Thursday, July 07, 2022

The CDC Is Breaking Trust in Childhood Vaccination

On June 18, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially recommended Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for all children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the agency responsible for authorizing emergency use of vaccines, it’s the CDC that crafts subsequent messaging, makes specific recommendations, and prioritizes who can, should, or should not get vaccinated. In her briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky strongly urged all parents of the nearly 20 million American children in this age group to vaccinate them as soon as possible.

For some parents, Walensky’s briefing came as a huge relief. But if polling from May is anything to go by, a larger number of parents likely greeted the recommendation with skepticism. Even before the underwhelming trial results came out, only 18% of surveyed parents reported that they planned to vaccinate their babies and toddlers. Nationally, uptake in minors between the ages of 5 and 11 as of June 22, 2022, was 29% receiving two doses, and 36% receiving one, but vaccine requirements for sports, camps, and other activities likely drove an unknown percentage of vaccination in this age group.

The Dissidents

There remains, moreover, no solid consensus among physicians about the importance of vaccinating healthy children against COVID-19. A survey from December 2021 indicates that as many as 30%-40% may not be recommending COVID vaccination for children ages 5 to 17, to say nothing of infants. A recent editorial in The Lancet expressed uncertainty about whether the benefits of vaccinating healthy 5- to 11-year-olds outweigh the risks, especially in those with a history of infection.

The gap between the CDC’s enthusiasm for vaccinating all children against COVID and that of parents and health care providers is unlikely to be bridged by approval under Emergency Use Authorization. Approval for the COVID vaccines in infants and toddlers is based on two trials that used changes in antibody levels as an estimate of efficacy, but did not assess protection from severe disease, hospitalization, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), important outcomes that parents worry about. In a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meeting on June 28, Pfizer Vice President for Viral Vaccines Kena Swanson even acknowledged that “there is no established correlate” between antibody levels and protection from disease.

In the Pfizer trial, the confidence interval—which shows the possible range of protection level—was alarmingly wide, with the lower bound suggesting the possibility of a 380% increase in the chance of infection after the third dose. Additionally, neither trial met the 50% efficacy requirement established by the FDA for approval of adult COVID vaccines. Peter Marks, the FDA’s top vaccine official, told Congress in May that the efficacy requirement would be lowered for the pediatric vaccine simply because vaccine efficacy against the omicron variant was lower in general.

With rates of severe disease now much lower in children than at the start of the pandemic—due to higher levels of natural immunity and lower rates of severe disease caused by omicron—trials would have needed to enroll hundreds of thousands of children, if not over a million, in order to detect a significant impact of the pediatric vaccine against severe disease. Vaccine companies could have conducted such time-consuming and costly trials, especially if there had been interest in international collaboration. But there was no economic incentive to do so, and every economic incentive not to: Speed, not providing meaningful information to parents and physicians about safety and efficacy, was the priority of U.S. regulatory agencies.

Because Pfizer and Moderna were permitted to seek approval for pediatric COVID vaccines under the emergency use pathway, Moderna only enrolled 6,300 total children in trials (4,700 in the vaccine group and 1,600 in the placebo group), and Pfizer only enrolled 4,526 total (2,750 in the vaccine group and 1,776 in the placebo), with two-thirds dropping out before the third dose. The trials, in other words, enrolled only a fraction of the number of participants that would have been required to determine efficacy against end points like severe disease, hospitalization, and rare adverse events such as myocarditis, which has been linked to COVID vaccination in males in the 12- to 17-year-old age group at a rate of up to 1 in 2,700.

Furthermore, the follow-up time after the second dose of Moderna and the third dose of Pfizer was only 1-3 months. Data from adults show protection against infection is transient, though protection against severe disease so far seems longer lasting. For the Moderna vaccine, efficacy against infection was not statistically significant for children between 6 months and 2 years, according to one of the company’s two analyses. In the Pfizer trial, there was no evidence of efficacy for the first two doses against omicron for this age group; the “effect” seen after the third dose was so uncertain that it is impossible to draw firm conclusions about how well the vaccine worked to prevent cases.

Still more puzzling is the fact that neither Pfizer nor Moderna—despite continued assurances that mRNA vaccines are uniquely flexible, allowing manufacturers to quickly tweak vaccines to match new variants—has released an updated version of their product: The pediatric vaccines now being administered target an outdated variant. In addition, the infant and toddler trials were mostly limited to children who had not been previously infected with COVID (estimates based on blood work showed less than 15% of children enrolled had previously been infected). With 75% of children nationally having already been infected by February 2022, the immune-naive children enrolled in the trial were not representative of their age group at large.

The general trust deficit is more troubling than skepticism toward this particular vaccine.

Even in the already troubled context of the last two years, the CDC’s unqualified recommendation to vaccinate every young child against COVID may further contribute to the profound chasm of trust between U.S. citizens and their public health agencies. In January, a Hart poll found that only 44% of respondents said they believe what the CDC says; a March Gallup poll put it at 32%. Evidence of trust slippage can be seen even in highly vaccinated places like Portland, Oregon, where CDC recommendations were for the most part embraced unquestioningly during the pandemic. Despite the CDC’s recommendation that all children 5 and up should receive a booster, as of June 26 only 8.7% of children ages 5-11 in the Portland area are boosted, compared to 3.9% in the entire state of Oregon. (The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics have not made nationwide data available.)

The general trust deficit is more troubling than skepticism toward this particular vaccine, because it could conceivably drive down uptake of other childhood vaccines that we know are more important to children’s health, such as those against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, polio, and Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib). This is not an alarmist or trivial concern, as vaccinations are one of the most lifesaving medical interventions in human history, rivaled perhaps only by antibiotics. In 1800, 46% of American children did not make it to age 5, and the majority died from what are now vaccine-preventable diseases. The smallpox vaccine alone is estimated to have saved 150 million to 200 million lives. Rates of diseases such as tetanus, rubella, polio, Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) have declined by 99% since widespread childhood vaccination became commonplace in the 20th century.

It is therefore worth our attention when, for example, a recent letter in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that flu shot uptake has decreased over the pandemic, which the authors suspect may be due to growing vaccine hesitancy in general. The CDC published a study in April showing that childhood vaccination rates fell by only 1% in 2021, a small proportion of the total when spread over 70 million children. But given that many of these vaccines require two or three doses for full coverage, this still translates to several million missing doses, and could threaten herd immunity for diseases such as measles, which require very high percentages of the population to be vaccinated. It is also difficult to separate out the factors behind this drop in coverage, because schools and local clinics—where many low-income children receive vaccines—were closed for much of the last two years. But it is reasonable to at least assume that low trust in the CDC, the agency responsible for making evidence-based recommendations about vaccines, is not helping.

Compare the CDC’s response to vaccine hesitancy during COVID to a similar challenge in the late 1990s and early 2000s: rotavirus. Only a year after Andrew Wakefield’s false claims in 1998 that the MMR vaccines caused autism—leading to one of the most disastrous setbacks for vaccination uptake in history—Wyeth’s RotaShield vaccine was pulled off the market due to evidence it caused a rare and serious intestinal malfunction (intussusception) in babies. The effect of the RotaShield withdrawal so hard on the heels of the Wakefield disaster is hard to isolate, but CDC officials acknowledged that the combined events led to “a particularly turbulent period” for U.S. vaccine programs. Referring to vaccine hesitancy that might result from the RotaShield adverse events, the CDC’s Dr. John Livengood remarked at the time that the CDC “shouldn’t be seen as withholding information right now.”

The original trial for RotaShield had enrolled 10,054 vaccine recipients and 4,633 placebo recipients. During a February 1998 meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (the same body that recently met to discuss the pediatric COVID vaccines), an FDA panel member, Dr. Margaret Rennels, noted that more babies in the vaccine group experienced intestinal intussusception than in the placebo group by about 2.5-fold, with a rate of 1/2011 (0.05%) in the vaccine group compared with 1/4633 (0.02%) in the placebo. But because the absolute numbers were small, and the trial was also relatively small, intestinal intussusception did not achieve statistical significance. RotaShield was licensed by the FDA in 1998, widely rolled out, and championed by the CDC in the spring of 1999. Intussusception was not mentioned further, and the issue was buried in a 19-page document where it was listed as a side effect that did not occur significantly more often in vaccinated babies than in the control group.

By summer, however, officials at the CDC grew concerned about a growing number of intussusception reports from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), and were anxious not to lose gains made during the Carter and Clinton administrations in raising general childhood vaccination rates. By the end of President Clinton’s first term, toddler immunization rates had achieved what was then an all-time high, thanks to Vaccines for Children, a program that expanded access to free and low-cost vaccination.

The CDC was also cognizant that Wakefield’s false claims were continuing to spur a growing movement of vaccine hesitancy. As a result, the CDC—then under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Koplan—immediately launched a large-scale investigation into the RotaShield VAERS reports. The investigation concluded that one additional case of intussusception was attributable to the vaccine for every 5,000-10,000 infants vaccinated—lower than rates of myocarditis due to vaccine injury in COVID-vaccinated adolescent males age 12-17.

RotaShield was pulled off the market that October. To justify the decision to pull a vaccine that was 85% effective at preventing hospitalization from a viral infection that had killed hundreds of thousands of infants worldwide, CDC personnel wrote the following:

At a time when many parents express concerns about the safety of vaccines and vaccine adverse events are the focus of increasing attention by the public, media, and U.S. Congress, the wisdom of recommending a vaccine that causes a severe adverse reaction in an estimated 1 in 10,000 infants must be considered.

The next vaccine against rotavirus—RotaTeq, made by Merck and released in 2004—was only released after the Rotavirus Efficacy and Safety Trial (REST) trial, which was notable for its “[randomized] design, large sample size, detailed execution, continuous safety monitoring, and lengthy duration,” and was undertaken in direct response to the perceived failures of the RotaShield trial. The authors of a paper describing its execution wrote, “The design and conduct of this study may serve as a useful tool for planning other future clinical trials, especially those evaluating uncommon adverse events.” The REST trial was conducted in 11 countries at more than 500 study sites and enrolled 70,000 subjects (including over 35,000 infants from the United States), making it one of the largest vaccine clinical trials ever conducted pre-approval. Post-approval, Merck conducted an additional study enrolling more than 85,000 infants.

The obvious drawback of a trial like REST is that it took four years to complete (though today it could almost certainly be completed faster due to advances in recruitment methods). A multiyear trial was simply not an option during COVID, which is why the notably small and short COVID vaccine trials were allowed to serve as the basis for approval under the emergency use provision. But because COVID so rarely causes severe disease in children, and current COVID vaccines do not reliably prevent transmission, especially after a few months, it is difficult to understand how such small trials could be justified without meaningful endpoints for this age group.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

<a href=""></a> (EDUCATION WATCH)

<a href=""></a> (GREENIE WATCH)


<a href=""></a> (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

<a href=""></a> (TONGUE-TIED)

<a href=""></a> <b>(IMMIGRATION WATCH)</b>

<a href=""></a> (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)


Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Infection of wildlife biologist highlights risks of virus hunting

The illness was mysterious. A 25-year-old graduate student had been hospitalized with a high fever, muscle and joint pain, a stiff neck, fatigue, sores in her throat, and a metallic taste in her mouth. She soon developed an angry rash. To make the diagnosis, her doctors had an important data point to consider: Days earlier, the woman had returned to the United States from a field expedition in South Sudan and Uganda, where she had been capturing and collecting the blood and tissue of bats and rodents. That information proved critical — and is newly relevant given concerns that the pandemic may have come from a research accident. Three days after she was admitted to the hospital in 2012, tests determined that the student was infected with a novel virus that infects a type of fruit bat that lives in the rural areas of Uganda.

The graduate student recovered and left the hospital two weeks later. But the incident, which was written up in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2014, proved scientifically important. Not only did it allow for the identification of the Sosuga virus — a paramyxovirus named for Southern Sudan and Uganda — and the knowledge that the bat virus can infect and sicken people, the woman’s infection also pointed to the dangers posed by the kind of research she was doing: trapping, manipulating, and dissecting animals suspected of being infected with novel disease-causing viruses.

Biosafety experts have long worried over the possibility that scientists seeking dangerous viruses in the wild could inadvertently become infected in the course of either capturing or coming into contact with the saliva, urine, or feces of the animals. The case of the Sosuga virus shows that those concerns are well founded.

Virus hunter Michael Callahan, an infectious disease doctor who has worked for federal agencies on global disease outbreak and the tracking of wildlife pathogens, has vividly described the high risks faced by field researchers. “Squirming, clawed and toothy animals bite and scratch during collection of body fluids. Teeth and talons easily penetrate the thin gloves required to maintain dexterity when handling fragile wildlife,” he wrote in Politico in 2021. “The fact that researchers are not infected every time they do a field collection is a question that continues to stump us.”

With more than 6 million people now dead from Covid-19, the catastrophic potential of a researcher becoming infected with a wildlife pathogen has become inescapable. While the origins of the current pandemic are still unclear, it remains possible that virus hunting could have been the cause. Rocco Casagrande, a biochemist who was hired by the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Science Policy to assess the risks of gain-of-function research, thinks a natural spillover of the virus from animals to people, a lab accident, or what he calls a “prospecting based accident” are equally likely potential causes of the initial outbreak. He imagined the prospecting scenario as “the researchers in Wuhan looking for bat viruses found one and got infected outside of the lab.”

Even as the very real chance remains that the search for new viruses led to this cataclysmic event, scientists hoping to prevent viral outbreaks continue to seek out new bat coronaviruses and other potential pandemic pathogens around the world.

Ask the Bats

The search for pathogens that infect animals is driven by the desire to prevent and prepare for their possible transmission to people. But that work, which spans the globe and is funded in large part by the U.S. government, can sometimes result in human infection — exactly the outcome it is meant to prevent.

Virus hunting — or wildlife disease ecology, as DeeAnn Reeder prefers to call it — is a field that has come under increasing scrutiny during the Covid pandemic. For Reeder, a professor of biology at Bucknell College who led the 2012 expedition on which the graduate student was infected, one of the central purposes of her research in Africa on bats’ immune responses to viruses is to understand how humans might react to the same infectious agents, knowledge she says can protect us if the pathogens jump from animals to humans. “If you want to understand how to survive a coronavirus, or if you want to understand how to survive a filovirus — Ebola fits within that context — you need to ask the bats because they know how to do it,” said Reeder.

Reeder, who put up her first bat net in South Sudan in 2008, continues to do wildlife research in Uganda. No one has previously reported her connection to the work. “I’ve never been contacted by a reporter on that particular story,” Reeder said, after being asked whether the Sosuga virus infection occurred during research on one of her projects. “I’ve always been surprised about that.” Reeder would not confirm the identity of the researcher on her project who was sickened, citing privacy concerns.

The Sosuga case shows that concerns about viral transmission from wild animals to researchers are not just theoretical. It is still unclear exactly how the infection occurred. While the graduate student only occasionally used protective gear when working with animal specimens, when she visited the bat caves she wore a paper Tyvek suit that’s become the hallmark of virus hunters, gum boots, bite-resistant gloves, and even an air-powered respirator known as a PAPR that looks like an astronaut’s helmet. The researcher did not report being bitten or scratched by any of the animals she encountered.

“Maybe outside the cave before they put the respirators on, she leaned against a rock that had been peed on, because we know that it could be in the kidneys of this particular bat species,” said Reeder. “But that’s just conjecture, which is the scary part.”


Australians to get Omicron booster

Australia is set to be one of the first countries in the world to get access to an Omicron booster jab.

Moderna’s new Covid vaccine designed to fight the original Wuhan strain of the virus, as well as the Omicron variant, is currently being assessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

“If approved, the company will be able to supply this new Omicron-containing bivalent booster vaccine within weeks- putting Australia among the first countries in the world to have access to this new COVID-19 vaccine,” Moderna’s managing director in Australia Michael Azrak told News Corp.

Health Minister Mark Butler told News Corp he wanted to be on “the front foot” in accessing the most up to date vaccines.

“I’ve had encouraging discussions with Moderna and Pfizer about the challenges of the new sub-variants and the positive developments in vaccine technology,” Mr Butler said.

“My department is in negotiations about future supply arrangements, including for under 5-year-olds and the variant vaccines,” he said.

Epidemiologists and other experts have been calling for more Australians to get a fourth jab as hospitals and health services buckle under massive pressure from both Covid and the flu.

The government’s expert advisory group on vaccines the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) was meeting on Wednesday to decide whether more Australians should get access to a fourth Covid booster.

There are more than 16 million unused doses of the existing Covid vaccines siting in warehouses and doctors clinics.

Currently a fourth dose is only available to the elderly and those who are immunocompromised or suffering certain chronic conditions.

The existing Covid vaccines were designed to work against the original Wuhan variant.

A fourth dose of these vaccines has been shown in Israel to provide a 10-30 per cent increase in resistance to infection but this protection wanes within five to eight weeks.

However, this could be enough to get Australia through the worst of the winter outbreak.

But there is concern about whether the original jab provides much protection against the new BA. 4 and BA. 5 variants sweeping the nation.

These variants appear resistant to the existing vaccine and the antibodies produced by people who were infected with the original Omicron variant.

Mr Butler has appointed former Health Department chief Jane Halton to review Australia’s vaccine purchasing arrangements. She is expected to report within weeks.

Moderna said it “continues to have constructive discussions with the Australian Government regarding the supply of Moderna’s next generation Omicron containing bivalent vaccine booster for people 18 years and older”.




Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Australia: Too late for mask mandates as Omicron continues to drive high case numbers

Omicron’s measles-like infectiousness, five times higher than any other Covid strain, is driving the continued high number of cases across the nation, but experts say Australia has done relatively well in terms of controlling case numbers.

They also say it is now too late for governments to impose restrictive rules and mask mandates, with the path out of Covid reliant instead on better public health messaging, better vaccines and earlier access to antivirals.

The reach of Omicron is clear in the numbers as the nation reached a grim milestone on Sunday, surpassing 10,000 Covid-­related deaths since the virus landed here in January 2020.

Of those deaths, almost 8000 were in the first half of this year when Omicron has been the dominant strain.

The majority of mortalities occurred in Victoria and NSW, with the states recording 3934 and 3590 deaths, respectively.

The 2022 death toll is nearly four times the previous two years’ mortality rate combined, with 905 reported in 2020 and 1323 in 2021, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

While increased movement and relaxed rules following lockdowns caused transmission to increase, Deakin University chair in epidemiology Catherine Bennett blamed the arrival of Omicron and sub variants “first and foremost” for skyrocketing cases.

“It’s the most infectious variant we’ve had. It’s more equivalent to measles than the first strain and more than five times more infectious,” Professor Bennett said.

“It’s because we’ve got these sub variants. Every time the numbers start to drop a little bit, the next sub variant comes along with not even a brief respite between.”

Ms Bennett said while masks had been proven to reduce transmission, the debate over reintroducing mandates was too late.

“This is the long haul now. You have to move from rules to something else and that something else is really good public health communication and really good education … what I think we have missed is converting to a new way of managing this disease.”

Griffith University Infectious Diseases and Immunology director Nigel McMillan said targeted vaccines were the clear next step in combating the Omicron strain.

“What we’re really holding out for, of course, is that the next vaccine to come on to the market will be a multicomponent vaccine,” he said. “It’ll have the ancestral strain, plus Omicron, and that vaccine will be much, much better in terms of preventing infection, and even much, much better at preventing hospitalisation and serious illness.”

Professor McMillan said we should be making antivirals more accessible during earlier stages of infection. “Antivirals reduce the ability of the virus to grow inside you and therefore give your body a chance to recover better to limit the infection and for your immune system to kick in and really give you full recovery. “However, they have to be used early on in infection.”

Currently, antiviral drugs are limited to people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised or those aged over 65 with some sort of comorbidity, such as diabetes.

Professor McMillan has called on them to be made more widely available if supply allows.


3 Reasons America Is Great

1. A Culture of Self-Government

Americans, even before the birth of the United States in 1776, have always been a self-governing people. One of the first orders of business for the Pilgrim settlers when they arrived on the shores of Massachusetts was to create the Mayflower Compact, a basic statement of self-government and loyalty to the British crown.

The Jamestown colony in Virginia set up the House of Burgesses in 1619, the first legislative assembly in the New World.

Following their heritage, the British colonies in America almost immediately established institutions of self-government where community participation in the creation and upholding of laws was extensive.

But in the almost two centuries between the arrival of British colonists in America and the American Revolution, the colonists’ attachment to self-government deepened in comparison to their cousins back in England, where representation was often more symbolic rather than actual.

Amid Parliament’s ultimately foolish attempts to ham-handedly rein in the colonies at the end of the French and Indian War, it was the Crown that triggered the separation, the drive for total independence.

The thought of losing their grip on self-government made the colonists believe that they would soon end up in the vice of absolute tyranny. After years of discontent and pleading with British authorities to loosen their grip of control, the colonies rebelled.

The Declaration of Independence, a remarkable and timeless document, did not just lay out the essential God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in its most famous lines.

It also lays out the blow by blow steps of the British government and the colonies to establish that it was not just the rights of the colonists that had been violated, but that the very tools of self-government that could have rectified the situation had been arbitrarily stripped from them.

Americans were a people fitted for liberty and would tolerate no less.

2. The Constitution and the Rule of Law

When the Founding Fathers set about creating our own system of government, they codified the principles of self-government to serve countless generations unborn.

After the false start, so to speak, of the Articles of Confederation, the Framers wrote, and the American people ratified, the Constitution of the United States.

This remarkable document created a framework of America’s federal system that lasts still today despite the countless societal changes that have occurred in the last two centuries.

And while, in many ways, that constitutional and federal system has been eroded over time, Americans have remained committed to the idea of the Constitution as the glue that defines our government and binds Americans under a single system with many parts.

This is the cornerstone of liberty and order that defines our republic, ensures that we have an energetic but ultimately limited government.

Certainly, other nations have codified their laws and created founding documents of many stripes, but none matches the enduring legacy of the Constitution of the United States.

The American civilization may be young, but our system of government is quite old, and has excelled through the test of time.

3. The American Dream

Self-government and the Constitution have made America strong and adaptable to changing circumstances. Just as importantly, they’ve created a system whereby the average person can thrive and prosper.

The country’s strength lies in the millions of free-born, self-governing, and self-sufficient people who have taken the protections our unique government provides and created the most wealthy and prosperous nation in human history.

Americans are, and have always been, an enterprising people. But more than just create wealth, we have used our wealth and prosperity.

America’s attachment to the rule of law and defense of private property has allowed the growth of an expansive middle-class.

Yes, America has produced many titans of industry, but the real source of our strength is the fact that the average American has had opportunities to generate wealth and prosperity and create a vibrant civil society.

Many homesteaders went West to get rich, but many more went West to build families and ensure that their children would have a better life than they had.

That’s the spirit of America.

We have used our tremendous resources not only to improve our own lives but the lives of others.

And because of our enormous prosperity Americans remain, by far, the most generous people on Earth.

This Fourth of July, as with every Independence Day, we should be thankful and grateful to be Americans, we should be proud of what our country—though imperfect as all of mankind is imperfect—has accomplished.

It is important and essential that at this time we remember, defend, and pass on what has made this country great.

4 July, 2022

'Our country is going to hell in a hand-basket': WWII veteran celebrating 100th birthday breaks down in TEARS while discussing current state of America

It's hard to disagree with him. Who ever foresaw calls to defund the police and prosecutors who refuse to prosecute?

Remembering his time in the Marines, Carl Spurlin Dekel said that while fighting in the war was his biggest pride, soldiers had not died for the America of today

It comes amid plummeting approval ratings for those in the country's highest offices, including President Joe Biden

A World War II American veteran celebrating his 100th birthday broke down in tears as he discussed the current state of the country.

Reminiscing about his time in the Marines, Tampa Bay veteran Carl Spurlin Dekel said that while fighting in the war was his biggest pride, slain soldiers had not died for the America of today.

'People don't realize what they have,' Dekel told Fox13.

'The things we did and the things we fought for and the boys that died for it, it's all gone down the drain. Our country is going to hell in a hand-basket.'

Dekel became inconsolable as he spoke about the contrasts between the America he grew up in and the current state of affairs in the country.

His remarks came during an interview to commemorate Dekel's 100th birthday, which the Silver-medal holder spent with friends and family.

Dekel said he had lived a good life and hinted at his appreciation for the little things as the reason behind his longevity and good health.

'I really believe in this whole world and believe everything is beautiful. I mean if I wake up in the morning and see these plants, and all of those flowers, and the green grass in the ground, that's beautiful,' he told Fox13.

Dekel proudly showed his many medals from his time in the Marines. But the war veteran burst into tears when thinking about the friends he had lost to the war.

'We haven't got the country we had when I was raised, not at all,' he said.

'Nobody will have the fun I had. Nobody will have the opportunity I had. It's just not the same. And that's not what our boys, that's not what they died for.'


'Armed insurrection': What weapons did the Capitol rioters carry?

Recently, Scott MacFarlane, an NBC4 reporter in Washington who covers the Capitol riot prosecutions, tweeted, "As of tonight at least 65 of the Jan. 6 defendants have been charged with 'entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon.' A counterpunch to those who argued this didn't appear like 'an armed insurrection.'"

It was just a tweet, which, by definition, can't contain much information, but it left open the question: What weapons did they have? What were the arms in the "armed insurrection"?

The Justice Department maintains a website listing the defendants and the federal charges against them in the sprawling Jan. 6 investigation. At this moment, about 670 people have been charged, many of them with misdemeanors such as "Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building."

Of the cases involving weapons, there are four main charges: "Assaulting, Resisting, or Impeding Certain Officers Using a Dangerous Weapon"; "Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon"; "Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon"; and "Engaging in Physical Violence in a Restricted Building with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon."

Going through the Justice Department site, as well as some media databases, I counted 82 defendants who have been charged with at least one of those offenses. It's possible I missed a few, but I think they represent the vast majority of those who face weapons-related charges in the Capitol riot investigation. In each charge, prosecutors have specified the weapon the defendant is accused of using.

A few observations on the list. First, on the issue of guns. Five suspects — Christopher Michael Alberts, Lonnie Leroy Coffman, Mark Sami Ibrahim, Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., and Guy Wesley Reffitt — are charged with possessing firearms. But none are charged with using them during the riot.

Alberts was arrested at 7:25 p.m., after the riot was over, when police enforcing the District of Columbia curfew suspected he had a handgun under his coat as he was leaving.

Coffman was arrested at about 6:30 p.m. after he told police that he was trying to get to his parked pickup truck. Officers found two handguns on Coffman's person and two more guns, along with possible bomb-making materials, in the truck.

Ibrahim was a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who had given his notice to resign and was on personal leave on Jan. 6; at the riot, he was carrying his DEA-issued badge and pistol.

Meredith was not in Washington at all for the riot. He arrived later that evening after allegedly texting a threatening message about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Meredith told police that "he had two firearms in his truck, and he knew that he was not supposed to have the firearms in Washington, DC. Therefore, he moved the firearms to his trailer," according to court documents. Officers found a handgun, a rifle, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in the trailer.

Finally, court papers say Reffitt had a handgun on his person on Jan. 6.

So, those are the gun cases. Many observers have pointed out that other rioters surely had guns. Since so few were arrested and searched at the scene, that is impossible to know. But it's certainly possible. What is more certain is that none of the suspects fired any guns at any point during the riot. The only shot that was fired during that time was by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd, who shot and killed rioter Ashli Babbitt as she tried to force her way into an area near the House chamber.

As for the rest of the weapons, six defendants are charged with having a knife, although none are accused of using the weapon on another person. Five defendants are accused of having a Taser or stun gun. Three are charged with having an ax. Four are charged with having a baseball bat. Seven are charged with having a crutch. Eleven are charged with having a baton of some sort. Thirteen are accused of having some sort of pepper or other irritant spray. Nineteen are charged with having a pole, usually a pole for the flags they carried. Eight are accused of having a shield, several of them police shields they apparently took at the scene.

Some of the weapons were obviously brought with the intention of being in a fight. Others were clearly improvised on the spur of the moment; in one case, the deadly or dangerous weapon used was a desk drawer. In another, it was a traffic barrier. In yet another, it was a helmet. That doesn't mean those objects could not be dangerous; one could beat a person to death with a desk drawer. But it does suggest the rioter did not arrive at the Capitol bent on armed insurrection.

In addition, the overall numbers are relatively small. Eighty-two people charged with weapons-related offenses, out of how many? That is about 12% of the 670 or so currently charged. And 670 is smaller than the total number of rioters on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6. Does that amount to an "armed insurrection"? Especially when just five people have been charged with possessing firearms, the weapon of choice for modern armed insurrectionists, and one of them didn't arrive until after it was all over, and none of them fired the weapons, even in the intensity of the physical struggle that day?

And that is the problem with the "armed insurrection" talking point. By any current American standard of civil disorder, what happened on Jan. 6 was a riot. There were some instigators, and there were many more followers. A small number were anticipating a fight, probably with antifa. And as the day went on, some people lost their heads and did things they should regret for a very long time. But a look at the Justice Department prosecutions simply does not make the case that it was an "armed insurrection."




Monday, July 04, 2022

'Our country is going to hell in a hand-basket': WWII veteran celebrating 100th birthday breaks down in TEARS while discussing current state of America

It's hard to disagree with him. Who ever foresaw calls to defund the police and prosecutors who refuse to prosecute?

Remembering his time in the Marines, Carl Spurlin Dekel said that while fighting in the war was his biggest pride, soldiers had not died for the America of today

It comes amid plummeting approval ratings for those in the country's highest offices, including President Joe Biden

A World War II American veteran celebrating his 100th birthday broke down in tears as he discussed the current state of the country.

Reminiscing about his time in the Marines, Tampa Bay veteran Carl Spurlin Dekel said that while fighting in the war was his biggest pride, slain soldiers had not died for the America of today.

'People don't realize what they have,' Dekel told Fox13.

'The things we did and the things we fought for and the boys that died for it, it's all gone down the drain. Our country is going to hell in a hand-basket.'

Dekel became inconsolable as he spoke about the contrasts between the America he grew up in and the current state of affairs in the country.

His remarks came during an interview to commemorate Dekel's 100th birthday, which the Silver-medal holder spent with friends and family.

Dekel said he had lived a good life and hinted at his appreciation for the little things as the reason behind his longevity and good health.

'I really believe in this whole world and believe everything is beautiful. I mean if I wake up in the morning and see these plants, and all of those flowers, and the green grass in the ground, that's beautiful,' he told Fox13.

Dekel proudly showed his many medals from his time in the Marines. But the war veteran burst into tears when thinking about the friends he had lost to the war.

'We haven't got the country we had when I was raised, not at all,' he said.

'Nobody will have the fun I had. Nobody will have the opportunity I had. It's just not the same. And that's not what our boys, that's not what they died for.'


'Armed insurrection': What weapons did the Capitol rioters carry?

Recently, Scott MacFarlane, an NBC4 reporter in Washington who covers the Capitol riot prosecutions, tweeted, "As of tonight at least 65 of the Jan. 6 defendants have been charged with 'entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon.' A counterpunch to those who argued this didn't appear like 'an armed insurrection.'"

It was just a tweet, which, by definition, can't contain much information, but it left open the question: What weapons did they have? What were the arms in the "armed insurrection"?

The Justice Department maintains a website listing the defendants and the federal charges against them in the sprawling Jan. 6 investigation. At this moment, about 670 people have been charged, many of them with misdemeanors such as "Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building."

Of the cases involving weapons, there are four main charges: "Assaulting, Resisting, or Impeding Certain Officers Using a Dangerous Weapon"; "Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon"; "Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon"; and "Engaging in Physical Violence in a Restricted Building with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon."

Going through the Justice Department site, as well as some media databases, I counted 82 defendants who have been charged with at least one of those offenses. It's possible I missed a few, but I think they represent the vast majority of those who face weapons-related charges in the Capitol riot investigation. In each charge, prosecutors have specified the weapon the defendant is accused of using.

A few observations on the list. First, on the issue of guns. Five suspects — Christopher Michael Alberts, Lonnie Leroy Coffman, Mark Sami Ibrahim, Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., and Guy Wesley Reffitt — are charged with possessing firearms. But none are charged with using them during the riot.

Alberts was arrested at 7:25 p.m., after the riot was over, when police enforcing the District of Columbia curfew suspected he had a handgun under his coat as he was leaving.

Coffman was arrested at about 6:30 p.m. after he told police that he was trying to get to his parked pickup truck. Officers found two handguns on Coffman's person and two more guns, along with possible bomb-making materials, in the truck.

Ibrahim was a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who had given his notice to resign and was on personal leave on Jan. 6; at the riot, he was carrying his DEA-issued badge and pistol.

Meredith was not in Washington at all for the riot. He arrived later that evening after allegedly texting a threatening message about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Meredith told police that "he had two firearms in his truck, and he knew that he was not supposed to have the firearms in Washington, DC. Therefore, he moved the firearms to his trailer," according to court documents. Officers found a handgun, a rifle, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in the trailer.

Finally, court papers say Reffitt had a handgun on his person on Jan. 6.

So, those are the gun cases. Many observers have pointed out that other rioters surely had guns. Since so few were arrested and searched at the scene, that is impossible to know. But it's certainly possible. What is more certain is that none of the suspects fired any guns at any point during the riot. The only shot that was fired during that time was by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd, who shot and killed rioter Ashli Babbitt as she tried to force her way into an area near the House chamber.

As for the rest of the weapons, six defendants are charged with having a knife, although none are accused of using the weapon on another person. Five defendants are accused of having a Taser or stun gun. Three are charged with having an ax. Four are charged with having a baseball bat. Seven are charged with having a crutch. Eleven are charged with having a baton of some sort. Thirteen are accused of having some sort of pepper or other irritant spray. Nineteen are charged with having a pole, usually a pole for the flags they carried. Eight are accused of having a shield, several of them police shields they apparently took at the scene.

Some of the weapons were obviously brought with the intention of being in a fight. Others were clearly improvised on the spur of the moment; in one case, the deadly or dangerous weapon used was a desk drawer. In another, it was a traffic barrier. In yet another, it was a helmet. That doesn't mean those objects could not be dangerous; one could beat a person to death with a desk drawer. But it does suggest the rioter did not arrive at the Capitol bent on armed insurrection.

In addition, the overall numbers are relatively small. Eighty-two people charged with weapons-related offenses, out of how many? That is about 12% of the 670 or so currently charged. And 670 is smaller than the total number of rioters on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6. Does that amount to an "armed insurrection"? Especially when just five people have been charged with possessing firearms, the weapon of choice for modern armed insurrectionists, and one of them didn't arrive until after it was all over, and none of them fired the weapons, even in the intensity of the physical struggle that day?

And that is the problem with the "armed insurrection" talking point. By any current American standard of civil disorder, what happened on Jan. 6 was a riot. There were some instigators, and there were many more followers. A small number were anticipating a fight, probably with antifa. And as the day went on, some people lost their heads and did things they should regret for a very long time. But a look at the Justice Department prosecutions simply does not make the case that it was an "armed insurrection."




Sunday, July 03, 2022

Top FDA advisor warns that new Covid-19 booster formulated for Omicron variant are 'no better' than existing shots

A key advisor to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that plans for the U.S. government to roll out Covid-19 boosters tailored to the Omicron variant could be in vain, as the shots provide little that existing shots don't already.

Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and member of the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), wrote in a STAT News op-ed that he would like to see more data in favor of the shots before the government made a heavy investment into them.

Offit was one of two VRBPAC members who voted against the shots, which were recommended by the agency's top advisory panel on vaccines by a 19-2 vote on Tuesday.

The FDA is aiming to get reformulated Covid-19 shots that specifically target the Omicron variant out to Americans as early as October. Currently available shots were formulated to target the virtually extinct original Wuhan strain of the virus. Antibodies provided by the original shots still are effective at preventing severe infection or death from Omicron, which is also a generally more mild variant compared to its predecessors.

It comes as Covid cases in America remain steady, with the nation recorded 110,688 cases per day and 376 deaths per day.

The Omicron variant emerged in late 2021 and took the world by storm: It was the most mutated version of the virus yet, and its ability to circumvent vaccine immunity caught the largely vaccinated population of many developed countries off-guard.

It rapidly spread, causing case figures in the U.S. to reach 800,000 daily.

This sparked demand for Covid-19 boosters that could specifically target the mutant strain and prevent infection.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have updated their jabs since and are expected to soon receive authorization from the FDA to roll out the shots either this week or next.

Offit notes that in data submitted by both companies, the additional Omicron booster raised the antibody levels twofold, though he doubts they'll provide much effectiveness overall.

'That kind of twofold difference is, for example, similar to the modestly greater peak in neutralizing antibodies triggered by the first two doses of the Moderna vaccine compared with the Pfizer vaccine,' he explained, noting that the protections provided were similar.

'Those two vaccines provided almost identical protection against mild and severe Covid-19, although the benefits of the Pfizer vaccine waned a bit quicker over time.'

Data submitted by the companies focused on antibody levels found in blood samples pulled from trial participants.

Antibodies provide diminishing returns, though, and doubling antibody levels does not exactly provide double the protection.

Offit says data on actual protection from infection, hospitalization and death needs to be collected first to determine how valuable these newly formulated shots are.

'Moderna and Pfizer executives have claimed that the Omicron vaccines will be protective for longer. That may be true, but how long is longer? A few weeks? A month or two?' he asks.

The FDA is eager to get these shots out, already setting targets for rollout before they've even been authorized.

Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, the agency's top regulatory body for vaccines, said Tuesday the aim was to make Omicron-specific jabs available by September.

Demand for the shots may have plummeted in recent months even as Americans' worry about the pandemic seems to decline.

A May Gallup poll found that only 31 percent of Americans report being either 'somewhat worried' or 'very worried' about catching Covid.

The poll signals the shifting state of the virus as America approaches the summer months. In previous years, the warm weather months have come with large, devastating virus surges.

The survey was conducted in mid-April, when the trend of declining cases that had existed for nearly three months to that point began to reverse.

Participants were asked of their feelings about the pandemic, the virus and what sort of personal mitigations strategies they were using - or ignoring - in their day-to-day life.

The study also found that 64 percent of Americans believed the pandemic was 'getting better.' At the time of the survey, cases had just dropped below 30,000 per day, making it one of the lowest points since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Around 21 percent of Americans said they believed the situation was about the same, and only 12 percent believed it was getting worse. The last time this few Americans believed the situation was worsening was summer 2021, when cases were at a low point, just before the explosion of the Delta variant.

These optimistic feelings have led to some changes in behavior as well. Only 17 percent of Americans reported they were still social distancing, the lowest percentage so far. Just under a third of Americans said they have avoided large crowds, a fifth reported avoiding public places and just 15 percent avoided small gatherings.

Those figures are also all pandemic-lows, Gallup reports.

Despite shifts in social distancing, Americans seem to be clinging on to masks. The poll found that half of Americans still wear a face mask in public places. While the 50 percent figure is also a pandemic low, it's significantly higher than the number of people reporting they're still worried about the virus.


America’s abortion debate isn’t coming to Britain

Probably because Britain is much less religious

Once again, Westminster politics has mistaken Britain for America. The Conservative party may be in hoc to a blonde tousle-haired populist, but it isn’t quietly stacking the judiciary with pro-life justices in order to ban abortion. This is partly because the British constitution doesn’t work that way, but mostly because there’s no popular demand to do so.

For all that it may be convenient to pretend otherwise, abortion is simply not a salient political issue in Britain. Keir Starmer described the Supreme Court’s decision as ‘a massive setback for women’s rights’. Boris Johnson called it a ‘big step backwards’, stating that he has ‘always believed in a woman’s right to choose’. For the Liberal Democrats, Layla Moran noted that ‘here we are not under threat, thank God’.

There is a remarkable degree of consensus between parties on what the law should be, and this reflects the views of the public. Some 85 per cent of the population believe women should have the right to an abortion. Just 5 per cent do not. Over 53 per cent of the population want to keep the time limits as they are or increase them, compared to 28 per cent in favour of reductions or bans. It’s reasonable to feel sympathy for those affected by American politics. It isn’t reasonable to pretend what happens there could happen here.

Obviously, this hasn’t stopped people trying. From hyperventilating articles on the threat posed to women’s rights in Britain to politicians tabling urgent questions in parliament on the government’s response to American domestic matters, the usual confusion of British and American politics has been in full swing.

Labour MP Stella Creasy tweeted that Britons should ‘be prepared’. After all, ‘no one thought American Supreme Court would ever overturn a right previously granted either’. Her message to Americans? ‘Your fight is our fight. They won’t stop trying to control women’. Another MP, Diana Johnson, claimed that ‘right-wing American groups and media will now feel fully emboldened to campaign for the rolling back of women’s rights in the United Kingdom’.

Quite how this is meant to happen isn’t clear. Every such article and argument eventually concedes two points: there’s no mass movement arguing for the change, and there’s no party advocating for it. To this, we can add one more: where there is pressure for abortion law to change, it has generally been in a progressive direction.

Britain’s Conservative party has been in power for 12 years. In this time, parliament has consistently moved to make abortion easier. In 2017, a scheme was introduced to fund abortions in England – and travel costs – for Northern Irish women. In 2018, legislation was passed to allow women to take the second abortion pill at home. In 2019, Westminster altered Northern Irish law – going above devolution – to decriminalise abortion and allow access. In 2020, taking both abortion pills at home was temporarily legalised. And in 2022, this was made permanent, while the government passed regulations to ensure that abortion services were provided in Northern Ireland.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Once again, with feeling: Britain is not America, no matter how much we seem to think it is. When people ask what the Roe decision means for Britain, it’s no different to asking what the decision to protect concealed carry rights means for policing in London. It’s an irrelevance to day-to-day British life, no matter how much social media may give the impression that our own rights hang in the balance.




Friday, July 01, 2022

Six-month-old babies could soon be vaccinated for Covid-19 in Australia as Pfizer jumps key hurdle

This is alarming. An immature immune system might not cope well with what is often a harmful vaccine

Australia is a step closer to having Covid-19 vaccinations for children aged six months to five years, with Pfizer approved to submit an application to the medical regulator.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has granted a provisional determination to Pfizer, which would allow the pharmaceutical giant to apply to extend vaccine use to the younger cohort.

Currently, the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for those aged five and over but there has been talk of extending its use to younger children, after US regulators recently approved a similar move.

A spokesman for the TGA said the provisional determination was the first step.

'The TGA considered all eligibility criteria, including evidence of a plan to submit comprehensive clinical data and the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic,' he said.

'Approval and potential supply in Australia would only commence should the vaccine be approved as safe and effective by the TGA and recommended for administration to this age group by ATAGI.'

The Moderna vaccine for children under five is already being considered for approval by the administration.

Health Minister Mark Butler did not want to put an exact timeframe on when a rollout of the pediatric vaccine would be approved.

'The TGA will take the time it needs to take, that's always been our approach, it was the former government's approach,' he told reporters in Canberra. 'I'm happy with however long they take to do the job properly.'

Mr Butler said discussions had taken place with Moderna and Pfizer to make sure vaccines were ready to be distributed once they were formally approved.

However, the health minister said it was too early to predict what the take-up rate might be.

'We have a great track record in this country of up-to-five immunisations generally,' he said.

'What the take up will be by parents of under fives is a little unknown, we'll be considering what support and information we provide to parents about this.'

The TGA said the determination did not mean Pfizer had yet submitted an application, or that it had been approved; only that it had been allowed to apply for expanded use.

Australia is on track to record its 10,000th death from the virus within days.

NSW, Victoria and Queensland together recorded 50 fatalities in the latest 24-hour reporting period, as the national toll rose to 9897.

NSW Health is warning of a rise in cases this winter as new sub-variants take over, making people vulnerable to a second dose.

The BA.2 sub-lineage remains the dominant variant. However, it is expected BA.4 and BA.5 will soon become so and are likely to be associated with an increase in infections.


Vanishing vaccine mandates

This week, with hardly a whisper from its chief public health officers, Australia largely abandoned its vaccine mandates. For the most part, they remain in force only for those working in health and aged care or with those with disabilities. There has been no explanation given as to why unvaccinated workers can now be ‘welcomed back’ into workplaces. There has been no apology to those who lost their jobs for refusing to be jabbed, or who lost their lives, or their good health, following vaccination. So far, 889 deaths have been reported to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) which may have been caused by vaccination and almost 133,000 people have reported a vaccine injury including more than 140 heart attacks, 360 myocardial infarctions, 500 strokes, 1,400 cases of deep vein thrombosis and 1,500 pulmonary embolisms.

So, why the sudden change in policy? Here’s one possibility. An Israeli study of 5.7 million people, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June, shows that unvaccinated people who gained immunity through infection, were far better protected from Covid than people who were double vaccinated. And while the study did not have enough cases of severe Covid to be definitive, it showed that unvaccinated people with natural immunity were also better protected from severe Covid.

Thus, after more than two years of advising premiers to abandon their pandemic plans and paralyse the entire country until everyone was immunised with experimental vaccines, it seems that our public health officers were wrong. Oops. Not only has Australia wasted billions of dollars on lockdowns, it has damaged the health of the vast majority of Australians by making them more vulnerable to infection with Covid.

Increased vulnerability to infection might explain why, in NSW, teachers who were forced to be double vaccinated to retain their jobs were off sick for a combined 430,351 days in the first six months of this year, an increase of 145,491 days compared to pre-pandemic levels.

It might also explain why excess mortality continues to run at a record high. Excess deaths in March were still almost 10 per cent above the historical baseline and deaths for the first three months of the year were 17.5 per cent higher than the historical average.

This spectacular public health failure was undoubtedly exacerbated by the failure to heed the lessons of early treatment of Covid-19. This time last year, on 26 June, NSW entered its long Delta lockdown. At that time, India was just emerging from its Delta spike. On 26 June 2021, Covid deaths in India were 284 per million, while in Australia they were only 35 per million. A year later on 26 June, deaths per million in Australia and India are identical – 376 per million. What happened?

A year ago, health officials in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, with 240 million inhabitants, advised that they were using a multi-drug cocktail of repurposed medications including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid with astonishing success. From a peak of 34,455 on 29 April, cases plunged to 178 on 26 June. A year later there is an average of one death per day.

The contrast with Australia could not be more stark. Australia’s public health officers weren’t content simply to disregard the evidence of Uttar Pradesh’s success with a multi-drug therapy that included ivermectin, the TGA went further than any other country in the world and on 10 September 2021 banned the use of ivermectin for the treatment of Covid.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not ban ivermectin, but it is now being sued by three eminent physicians over ‘its unlawful attempts to interfere with the practice of medicine’, specifically its ‘crusade to halt the use of Ivermectin to treat Covid-19’. The case is being prosecuted by former Ambassador Boyden Gray, who was White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush and who is representing Drs. Mary Talley Bowden, Paul E. Marik, and Robert L. Apter. They maintain that the FDA had no right to mount a campaign against a drug that had been approved and attempts to do so amounted to unlawful interference in the practice of medicine, a right reserved to the states in the US. As a result of the FDA’s actions, the doctors were referred to medical boards for disciplinary proceedings and were forced to resign from positions in hospitals.

Unfortunately, public health officials in Australia pursued the same policy of persecuting doctors who dared to criticise official public health policy. For example, Dr Paul Oosterhuis, a NSW anaesthetist with over thirty years experience in critical care and resuscitation, had his registration as a medical practitioner suspended on 3 September because of four anonymous complaints made to the Medical Council of NSW about his Facebook posts, which encouraged people to take vitamin D, zinc and seek early treatment with ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine if they became infected with Covid. In May, Dr Oosterhuis turned the tables on the Medical Council by taking them to the Supreme Court of NSW for failing to refer the complaints about him to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Two days before the case was to be heard on 12 May, the NSW Medical Council revoked his suspension. Perhaps they were stung by a judgement in the Supreme Court of NSW in April which characterised their conduct in relation to another doctor as ‘irrational’ and lacking any ‘evidentiary foundation’.

Dr Oosterhuis was not the only doctor to be punished in this way. Dr Robert Brennan, a general practitioner in NSW had his medical registration suspended for signing a newsletter from the Covid Medical Network, now the Australian Medical Network, which advocated early treatment and challenged the evidence base for lockdowns, and for mask and vaccine mandates. After conferring with the Medical Council of NSW, the Health Care Commission revoked his suspension on 17 May but warned they might take action against him again if he promoted messages ‘not in accordance with public health orders’.

In Victoria, Dr Mark Hobart is still fighting to have his medical registration restored after it was suspended for the ‘crime’ of issuing temporary exemptions to people who were concerned about the safety and efficacy of the Covid vaccines. Considering public health officials have now quietly abandoned most of their mandates, and the vaccines have been shown to be ineffective in preventing the spread of Covid, one wonders on what grounds they can possibly justify his suspension. Presumably, like their counterparts in NSW, they will abandon the case days before it comes to court but, if the NSW Medical Council is any guide, an apology, and compensation, will take a lot longer.




For the notes and pix appearing in the sidebar of the original blog see HERE

Most pictures that I use in the body of the blog should stay up throughout the year. But how long they stay up after that is uncertain. At the end of every year therefore I intend to put up a collection of all pictures used my blogs in that year. That should enable missing pictures to be replaced. The archive of last year's pictures on this blog is therefore now up. Note that the filename of the picture is clickable and clicking will bring the picture up. See here (2021). See also here (2020).

My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Personal); My Home page supplement; My Alternative Wikipedia; My Blogroll; Menu of my longer writings; My annual picture page is here; My Recipes;

Email me (John Ray) here.