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

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30 September, 2021

Bureaucratic Deceptions about COVID

By Anthony J. Ciani

As recently reported by Project Veritas, if vaccines are dangerous, then HHS will not record it.  If vaccines are dangerous, then OSHA will tell employers not to record it.  In this way, OSHA, FDA, HHS, and the CDC can claim that vaccines are safe and effective because there is no data to the contrary.  But if vaccines are not truly dangerous, then why engage in this deception?

As attributed to Goebbels, “truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”  What better way to make certain the truth never emerges than to never record it?

Pfizer’s Phase II/III vaccine trial and six-month follow-up suggest that their vaccine will kill 3 people through cardiac side effects to save 1 life from COVID (over 6 months).  Although their data clearly indicates this, and although 1 of 3 COVID deaths was in the vaccine group, the study authors conclude that their vaccine is safe and prevents death from COVID.  Perhaps they hoped that no one would read past the abstract or view the supplemental materials?  This vaccine will kill 3 healthy, young people to rescue one geriatric patient from COVID and give them a few more months to live.  How could the FDA approve this bad deal?

Doctors are required to report vaccine adverse events from the COVID-19 vaccines or any other, but as highlighted by Dr. Gonzales in the Project Veritas report, the HHS employed ER doctor recorded by the Veritas whistleblower at Phoenix Indian Medical Center, there is a mentality among doctors that if people knew the dangers of vaccines, people would refuse to take them, and if people refuse to take vaccines, then diseases will not be eradicated. 

That’s a strange belief because variola is the only virus that I can think of that was eradicated by its vaccine.  The argument presented by the government for mandated vaccination goes something like, we must protect the vaccinated from the disease against which they are vaccinated by vaccinating the unvaccinated with that which has failed to protect the vaccinated as the vaccinated spread the disease to the unvaccinated.  What a tongue and brain twister!

But as suggested by Dr. Gonzales, there are possibly orders from above to sweep vaccine side effects under the rug.  Why?

The Pfizer study as well as the Moderna and J&J studies suffer from low number statistics in a non-representative population.  In a study of 44,300 people, there were 3 COVID deaths and 3 suspicious deaths.  There were only 48 deaths total.  In six months, one would have expected 192 deaths in a representative population.  The study did not include residents in long-term care facilities, the 0.6% of our population in which the majority of COVID deaths and deaths in general occur.  How can Pfizer make any valid claim of efficacy when it never studied the segment of the population most prone to dying from COVID?  But the low numbers are even more troubling.  The Pfizer study could just as easily have found 5 adverse deaths and 2 COVID deaths in the vaccine group and 1 COVID death in the placebo group.  Five vaccine deaths to kill 1 additional person with COVID.

Monstrous.  No wonder the bureaucracies would work to cover this up, but why do it in the first place?  Three confirmed COVID deaths in 44,300 people; scaled to the US population, that is only 44,000 confirmed COVID deaths per year, among the aged and moderately unhealthy.  Sir William Osler called pneumonia, “the friend of the aged,” and the rest of the COVID deaths are exactly that.  If not COVID, something else would have done the deed.  Well over half of COVID deaths were co-infected with bacterial or fungal pneumonia, and upwards of 70% were co-infected with other deadly viruses.  The extent of co-infection with deadly pathogens is so significant that one must wonder if SARS-CoV-2 kills anyone at all.  What else would you expect in advanced degeneration?  Vaccinated or not, those of advanced age and ill-health are a target for everything, and many things find their mark.

There are two possible reasons for pushing the vaccine.  Evil or our public health professionals have so deluded themselves on the necessity of vaccines to eliminate the disease that they are no longer able to objectively consider that the vaccine might be a greater threat to public health than the disease.  The cognitive dissonance then drives them to hide the ill effects of the vaccine and its inefficacy.

The deception goes beyond vaccines.

Before 2020, OSHA published that respirators were unproven to prevent the transmission of viruses (influenza), and other sources told that masks were ineffective and potentially hazardous and only meant as a temporary intervention when healthcare workers dealt with the acutely ill.  During 2020, masks became political.

After 2020, OSHA decided that masks would protect people from respiratory viruses, but it also decided not to regulate masks as personal protective equipment (PPE), potentially eliminating the ability of employees to file complaints about adverse events from mandated mask-wearing.  To quote OSHA’s COVID FAQ, “will OSHA consider them [masks] to be personal protective equipment under 29 CFR 1910.132 or 29 CFR 1926.95 (Construction)?  Not at this time.”  From the same FAQ, “note that cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment.”  Yet OSHA requires employers to provide face coverings to protect their employees.  The contradiction is glaring.

OSHA further invested in pseudo-scientific nonsense.  To quote their FAQ, “an N95 respirator is more effective at filtering particles that are smaller or larger than 0.3 microns in size.”  Larger, yes.  Smaller, laughably, no.  And while OSHA may claim that NIOSH-approved respirators are “very effective at protecting people from the virus causing COVID-19,” no mask manufacturer puts that on their packaging.  Instead, they state that their masks are effective at preventing the spread of viruses for only so long as the FDA’s emergency use declaration is in effect, after which, NIOSH-approved N95 respirators will once again no longer be effective at preventing or reducing the spread of viruses.  This author, an expert in physics and nanomaterials was woefully unaware that a government order could change the laws of Nature.

OSHA is also participating in the adverse vaccine effect coverup.  To further quote OSHA’s FAQ, “OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and also does not wish to disincentivize employers' vaccination efforts. As a result, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904's recording requirements to require any employers to record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination.”  Recording these adverse events is still the law, but OSHA just won’t prosecute you for failing to abide by it.  At least OSHA has provided a clear reason for covering up vaccine side effects: it wants people to be vaccinated despite the risks.

If people knew the dangers and inefficacies of the bureaucracies’ COVID policies, then people would refuse to follow them, so the bureaucracies have taken it upon themselves to deceive the people for their [the people’s] own good.  Yet, these deceptions are deemed necessary by the bureaucracies because their COVID policies run contrary to the public good, and at some level, the bureaucracies seem to know this.


Long covid symptoms reported in over a third of cases

Over a third of people recovering from covid-19 have at least one long covid symptom between 3 and 6 months after infection, a study has found. The finding is based on health records from over 270,000 people in the US. The most common reported symptoms were anxiety or depression, in 15 per cent of participants who’d had covid-19, followed by abnormal breathing and abdominal symptoms, both seen in 8 per cent, and fatigue, in 6 per cent.

These symptoms are not necessarily related to covid-19, but the study compared their prevalence in people recovering from covid-19 and in people who’d had influenza, and found that, together, a set of 9 symptoms were 1.5 times more common after covid-19 than after the flu. Long covid symptoms were slightly more common in women than in men, and more common in those who had been hospitalised.

Attempts to estimate the prevalence of long covid have produced widely varying results, depending on how the condition is defined and measured. Recent figures from the UK Office for National Statistics suggested that 11.7 per cent of people who tested positive for covid-19 described themselves as experiencing long covid 12 weeks after infection, but only 3 per cent experienced symptoms continuously for at least 12 week


Animus towards unvaccinated health workers

They were the best of us, way better than any of the rest of us, by a lot according to the media and Democrats. I’m talking, of course, about the frontline workers who kept us safe and healthy throughout the pandemic. But yesterday’s heroes are today’s history’s greatest monsters…which is what the left is now saying about those they wept at the thought of just one year ago.

That opinions of people change over time is no surprise, Democrats are in the process of purging their own history of all the despots, racists, slave owners, rapists, sexual assaulters, misogynists, homophobes, etc. Weird how the party of “tolerance” has a history littered almost exclusively with people they now rip down statues of because they existed wrong, while they simultaneously defend and push to implement further the policies of those very same people. 

That disconnect is for a different day, this is about changing opinions of people praised by Democrats just last year, not those who inspired them their whole lives until they became a political liability. Doctors and nurses are now in the crosshairs of the left, at least those who haven’t been vaccinated.

The choice to get vaccinated or not is, like every other medical decision, a personal one. But the left wants it public, which isn’t really surprising from the people who champion “shout your abortion,” but is odd from the people who have declared it to be just short of a hate crime to ask a man who insists he’s a woman whether or not he’s had any parts removed. 

Putting all that aside, last year doctors and nurses were cheered, not only in public but from the privacy of people’s homes – remember when cities erupted with applause at 7:00 pm for them? The cheers are gone for anywhere between 20-40 percent of health care professionals who have not “gotten the jab,” for whatever reason.

Many medical professionals have had COVID-19, which means their bodies are likely lousy with antibodies. With that fact in mind, they know they don’t necessarily need the shot, at least not yet. We don’t know how long the immunity boost from the shot last, nor do we know how long the protection from natural infection lasts, but we do know both are real and one is likely better than the other.

Since the government has no ability for nuance, they don’t take natural immunity into account. Nor can the government take into account the fact that some people simply aren’t interested in getting the shot, no matter what. Some of them are irrational people who believe fluoride in the drinking water is a communist conspiracy to control minds, but the vast majority are sane, rational people who’ve looked at the low mortality rate and calculated their age and suspected co-morbidities and decided they simply don’t want to get it. They believe their immune system can handle it. Can it? The data shows they probably can, no one really knows unless and until they catch it. 

As adults, as Americans, that’s their right – they can do what they want with their bodies, or at least that was the mantra from the left until a few months ago. Right around the time the cheers for doctors and nurses died down, so did the left’s enthusiasm an individual American’s right to assert domain over their own physical being. Weird, right?

Now those former heroes are being fired across the country for acting in a way they have each determined is in their own best interest. “Thanks a lot, now you’re fired.” 

New York state is so vindictive, but likely not alone, that they’ve even moved to block unemployment benefits for the people they’re about to fire. The welcome mat is laid out for illegal aliens, who aren’t tested or vaccinated by the Biden administration as a matter of policy, but American heroes of just last year are cast aside as undesirable monsters trying to kill us all. There hasn’t been a fall from favor like this on the left since Democrats pretended to care about women and sexual assault during #MeToo and they mildly criticized Bill Clinton for a while. 

That “disgust” with Clinton passed as soon as it stopped being useful, the animus toward the unvaccinated likely won’t as Democrats appear to be positioning themselves around COVID powers for the foreseeable future. Clinton gets a joint appearance with the Vice President, disobedient doctors and nurses get segments comparing them to Nazis on MSNBC and CNN. That’s gratitude to the left – they love as long as they can use you, and not a second longer.




29 September, 2021

The CDC’s COVID Failures Mount

What grade does America’s premier public health agency deserve vis-à-vis the biggest public healthcare threat the country has faced in generations? The short answer would be “a failing grade.” 

Throughout the course of the COVID pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has repeatedly misinterpreted data, misinformed the public, and allowed political considerations to direct its guidelines rather than holding strictly to the known science.

The result has been widespread confusion and deep distrust in an institution that should seek to avoid any whiff of political considerations in its decision-making. Fewer Americans trust the CDC today than did before the pandemic, and the lion’s share of the blame rests almost entirely on those leading the CDC.

Although he doesn’t hold a position at the CDC, Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom Donald Trump tagged as the lead medical professional to communicate with the American people regarding the novel virus, has seemingly served as role model to the CDC’s operation. Fauci was perhaps Trump’s biggest blunder, because the Beltway’s highest-paid bureaucrat arguably cost Trump a second term through his own continual display of a total lack of humility and honesty. The CDC seemed to mimic his approach.

“The CDC is supposed to be America’s frontline institution in the fight against infectious disease,” Peter Suderman pointedly observes. “Its job is to analyze viral threats, track their spread and development, and provide the public with relevant information about how to respond to outbreaks. Not only did the agency do this job poorly in the early stages of the pandemic, but it actively hindered efforts that would have greatly improved America’s response, and it made planning errors that were both predictable and avoidable. At nearly every stage of the pandemic, the CDC got things wrong and got in the way. Its failures almost certainly made America’s pandemic worse.”

From foulups of COVID testing kits to promulgating misleading information, from allowing a partisan teachers union to dictate guidance to outrageously overstepping its boundaries with things like the eviction moratorium, the CDC failed the country. Making matters worse has been the CDC’s elitist and condescending attitude toward the American public. Rather than seeing itself as primarily a public health advisory agency, those leading the CDC seemed to see the agency as primarily a means to wield governing authority over the American people.

“The root of the problem is the agency’s self-conception: It sees itself as the ultimate arbiter of what is true and what to do on all matters of infectious disease,” Suderman further notes. “In essence, the CDC believes there is no other authority besides the CDC, so it shuts out private labs from the testing process, insists that its faulty tests actually work pretty well long after problems arise, sticks with overly complicated plans that bog down processes, and resists calls to update its guidance, even when that guidance makes living ordinary life difficult or impossible.”

The CDC’s guiding concern seems to have been politics, not science, which has created greater distrust within the minds of many Americans. Of course, the CDC’s “my way or the highway” approach will not lend itself to much introspection, something that is desperately needed if those who run the agency hope to regain any trust from the public. If this is the best Americans can expect from the CDC, then who needs it?


US expert says virus strain is mutating 'so much faster than we expected'

A new highly contagious variant of Covid-19 is the fastest mutating strain yet and three doses of vaccine will be required to protect against it, a U.S. epidemiologist has warned.

Scientists say the C.1.2 strain in South Africa has a mutation rate of 41.8 mutations per year, almost double the current global mutation rate seen in any other variant of concern so far.

The strain was first identified by scientists in South Africa in May and has since been found in England, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, Portugal Switzerland and even New Zealand.

Not a lot is yet known about C.1.2, which is yet to make its way to Australia, where there have been outbreaks of the Delta strain, chiefly in Sydney and Melbourne.

But this new strain has experts on edge, including Dr Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington DC. 

'It's got lots of troubling mutations and it's the most mutative of all variants,' he told the Today show on Wednesday.

'It's the most genetically distanced from the Wuhan 1.0 virus. Whether or not it's the next big thing, it's not necessarily that, it's the fact that the virus is mutating so much faster than we expected.'

Dr Feigl-Ding, who is a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers program, a Soros Fellowship recipient and a former Democratic Party candidate, advocated a Covid elimination strategy.

'We can't just keeping boosting the vaccines,' Dr Feigl-Ding said.

'We have to basically stop the transmission worldwide because the more bodies we give the virus, the more practice chances the virus will eventually adapt and become even more evasive or contagious.'

He also warned two doses of the vaccine may not be enough with Israel already introducing third booster shots.'

'Unless you're triple vaxxed, you're not considered fully vaxxed. And that approach as much as it sucks, it is the reality that with the face of these new variants,'  Dr Feigl-Ding said.

'Right now vaccines do work, but obviously the work against hospitalisations and deaths really well. 

'But for just casual breakthrough mild infections, with Delta it's taught us that there's a lot more breakthroughs than we know and after six months it does tend to wane a little bit.  

'This is why the sooner we end it, the sooner we can stop dealing with these upgrade software upgrade patches that we have do with the vaccine.


Here's what we know about Delta now, after months spent fighting it

Delta was recognised as a SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern in May 2021 and has proved extremely difficult to control in unvaccinated populations.

Delta has managed to out-compete other variants, including Alpha. Variants are classified as "of concern" because they're either more contagious than the original, cause more hospitalisations and deaths, or are better at evading vaccines and therapies. Or all of the above.

So how does Delta fare on these measures? And what have we learnt since Delta was first listed as a variant of concern?

How contagious is Delta?

The R0 tells us how many other people, on average, one infected person will pass the virus on to.

Delta has an R0 of 5-8, meaning one infected person passes it onto five to eight others, on average. This compares with an R0 of 1.5-3 for the original strain. So Delta is twice to five times as contagious as the virus that circulated in 2020.

What happens when you're exposed to Delta?

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted through droplets an infected person releases when they breathe, cough or sneeze.

In some circumstances, transmission also occurs when a person touches a contaminated object, then touches their face.

Once SARS-CoV-2 enters your body — usually through your nose or mouth — it starts to replicate.

The period from exposure to the virus being detectable by a PCR test is called the period. For Delta, one study suggests this is an average of four days (with a range of three to five days). That's two days faster than the original strain, which took roughly six days (with a range of five to eight days).

The virus then continues to replicate. Although often there are no symptoms yet, the person has become infectious.

People with COVID-19 appear to be most infectious two days before to three days after symptoms start, though it's unclear whether this differs with Delta.

As the virus replicates, the viral load increases. For Delta, the viral load is up to roughly 1,200 times higher than the original strain.

With faster replication and higher viral loads it is easy to see why Delta is challenging contact tracers and spreading so rapidly.

What are the possible complications?

Like the original strain, the Delta variant can affect many of the body's organs including the lungs, heart and kidneys.

Complications include blood clots, which at their most severe can result in strokes or heart attacks.

Around 10-30 per cent of people with COVID-19 will experience prolonged symptoms, known as long COVID, which can last for months and cause significant impairment, including in people who were previously well.

Longer-lasting symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, headaches, brain fog, muscle aches, sleep disturbance, depression and the loss of smell and taste.

Is it more deadly?

Evidence the Delta variant makes people sicker than the original virus is growing.

Preliminary studies from Canada and Singapore found people infected with Delta were more likely to require hospitalisation and were at greater risk of dying than those with the original virus.

In the Canadian study, Delta resulted in a 6.1 per cent chance of hospitalisation and a 1.6 per cent chance of ICU admission. This compared with other variants of concern which landed 5.4 per cent of people in hospital and 1.2 per cent in intensive care.

In the Singapore study, patients with Delta had a 49 per cent chance of developing pneumonia and a 28 per cent chance of needing extra oxygen. This compared with a 38 per cent per cent chance of developing pneumonia and 11 per cent needing oxygen with the original strain.

Similarly, a published study from Scotland found Delta doubled the risk of hospitalisation compared to the Alpha variant.

How do the vaccines stack up against Delta?

So far, the data show a complete course of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccine reduces your chance of severe disease (requiring hospitalisation) by more than 85 per cent.

While protection is lower for Delta than the original strain, studies show good coverage for all vaccines after two doses.

Can you still get COVID after being vaccinated?

Yes. Breakthrough infection occurs when a vaccinated person tests positive for SARS-Cov-2, regardless of whether they have symptoms. Breakthrough infection appears more common with Delta than the original strains.

Most symptoms of breakthrough infection are mild and don't last as long.

It's also possible to get COVID twice, though this isn't common.

How likely are you to die from COVID-19?

In Australia, over the life of the pandemic, 1.4 per cent of people with COVID-19 have died from it, compared with 1.6 per cent in the United States and 1.8 per cent in the United Kingdom.

Data from the United States shows people who were vaccinated were ten times less likely than those who weren't to die from the virus.

The Delta variant is currently proving to be a challenge to control on a global scale, but with full vaccination and maintaining our social distancing practices, we reduce the spread.




28 September, 2021

Pfizer begins late-stage clinical trial of oral drug to prevent COVID-19 in people who have been exposed to symptomatic patients

Pfizer Inc has begun late-stage clinical trials of an oral drug that could prevent COVID-19 among those who have been exposed. 

The drugmaker, which developed the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. with Germany's BioNTech SE, has previously said the antiviral candidate showed 'potent' activity against the virus in lab studies. 

Pfizer's candidate, which is called PF-07321332, belongs to a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors. The pill would work by inhibiting an enzyme that the coronavirus uses to make copies of itself inside human cells.   

The New York-based company and its rivals, including Merck & Co Inc in the U.S. and Swiss pharmaceutical Roche Holding AG, have been racing to develop an easy-to-administer antiviral pill for COVID-19.

Protease inhibitors have been effective at treating other viral pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C virus, both on their own and in combination with other antivirals, the company said.

Pfizer believes this class of molecules may provide well-tolerated treatments against COVID-19, as currently marketed therapeutics that work on the same lines have not reported safety concerns.

'With the continued impact of COVID-19 around the world, we believe that tackling the virus will require effective treatments for people who contract, or have been exposed to, the virus, complementing the impact that vaccines have had in helping quell infections,' said Dr Mikael Dolsten, chief scientific officer at Pfizer, in a statement.  

'If successful, we believe this therapy could help stop the virus early - before it has had a chance to replicate extensively - potentially preventing symptomatic disease in those who have been exposed and inhibiting the onset of infection in others.

The Phase II/III trial is a randomized, double-blind trial in which some participants will be given the drug and others the placebo, but even researchers won't know what pill the volunteers. 

The study will test Pfizer's drug in up to 2,660 healthy adult participants aged 18 and older who live in the same household as an individual with a confirmed symptomatic Covid infection.  

In the trial, half of the participants will be given the pill plus a low dose of ritonavir, an older medication widely used in combination treatments for HIV infection, and the other half will be given a placebo.

Volunteers will be required to take the pills they are given twice daily for either five days or 10 days.

Scientists will assess whether the pill is effective at preventing infection and its symptoms up to 14 days after being exposed.

Pfizer has also started another study of PF-07321332 in non-hospitalized, symptomatic adult patients.  

To date, Gilead Sciences' remdesivir is currently the drug fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of COVID-19.

However, the agency has granted emergency use authorization to two combination therapies, one from Eli Lilly and the other by Regeneron.

Pfizer's announcement comes as Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics also recently launched a late-stage trial of their experimental drug molnupiravir for prevention of the COVID-19 infection.

Molnupiravir is also being studied in a late-stage trial in non-hospitalized patients to see if it reduces the risk of hospitalization or death.


Alberta, Canada is counting ANY student who calls out sick as being a COVID case: Those who refuse testing will be added to the list

Students in Alberta who call out sick will be counted as COVID-19 cases as infections in the Canadian province surge - causing furious parents to accuse government officials of fear-mongering to maintain their grip on power after the new ruling by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.  

'If individuals choose not to get tested for COVID-19 but are home with an illness they are now counted in the list as being part of that outbreak, and so it's less dependent on needing a test to be part of identifying where there is an issue,' said Deena Hinshaw, the province's top doctor, on Thursday.   

In August, Hinshaw apologized for treating the pandemic as an 'endemic' in the early stages of COVID and for the fear and uncertainty that followed in the months after.  

In Alberta schools, students who come in contact with others infected with COVID-19 are not required to quarantine and a contract tracing measure is not in place. 

The government has also announced that data on how many schools have COVID-19 outbreaks will not be released, prompting outrage from parents who feel they have the right to know. 

Hinshaw said the current framework had been implemented based on previous evidence from other jurisdictions. 

She has said it is necessary for schools to assume anyone at home is a positive case of COVID-19 because obtaining data on COVID-19 transmissions from pubic health agencies would violate the privacy of students and staff. 

Hinshaw insisted that the method was in place so schools could promptly alarm public health officials of a possible outbreak, in order to add an extra layer of protection and mitigate the spread.

'In schools, we are taking the approach that an illness that fits that definition - respiratory illness- is treated the same way whether it is COVID or not, so additional measures can be put into place,' Hinshaw said.  

Social media users on Twitter disapproved of the measure they deemed alarmist and panic-driven. 

Ezra Levant, a reporter for Rebel News, shared a clip of Hinshaw and tweeted: 'To maintain a mass psychology of panic and fear, Alberta's corrupt public health bureaucrat now automatically counts anyone staying home from any illness as a Covid case.'

Others complained about the continued restrictions. 'These 'So Called Experts' are power hungry and will never give us back our freedoms,' said Dougle Affan.

Another user wrote: 'Broken leg, refuse covid test, counted as a Covid case. FFS, the world is careering down a very dark path. How are they getting away with this, why are journalists not taking them to task?'

Alberta, a province that aggressively advertised its 'best summer ever,' is now struggling with a surge in COVID-19 cases.   

With its healthcare system strained, and anti-vaccine and anti-mask sentiments growing among residents, public health officials are urging politicians to improve the loose restrictions that are in place. 

There were 1,061 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday. Of the 818 non-ICU, 75.5% were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. Of the 243 in ICU, 91.7%  were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.  

More than 60 doctors penned a letter to  premier Jason Kenney, who has fervently opposed a lockdown, warning him about the dire conditions and low-room capacity at hospitals. 

'Our healthcare system is truly on the precipice of collapse. Hospitals and ICUs across the province are under enormous strain and have reached a point where it is unclear if, or for how much longer, we can provide safe care for Albertans.' The Guardian reported. 

A public health emergency has now been declared and military help has been requested to transport patients to others provinces as hospitals are working on full capacity.  

Kenney has retracted his triumphant approach during the summer but still refused to order a lockdown because it made 'no sense for the 80 percent of the population that is vaccinated.'

'I know that we had all hoped this summer that we could put Covid behind us once and for all, that was certainly my hope,' he said. 'It is now clear that we were wrong, and for that I apologize.'

Kenney introduced some restrictions and promised to give more resources to hospitals when cases rose exponentially, but it was too little too late, medical officials have said. 

In Alberta, there are currently 22,320 COVID-19 cases and 2,622 people have died of of the illness since the pandemic started. In May, the province had the worst rate of COVID-19 in North America



Joe Biden slams horse-mounted agents who are overwhelmed because of his own policies (CNS News)

Border agents “dumbfounded” by Biden’s promise to “fry our agents”: “He just started a war with Border Patrol” (Not the Bee)

Jen Psaki: It’s not “constructive” for the president to visit the southern border (Daily Wire)

DHS secretary: We probably released around 12,000 Haitians (Hot Air)

Biden defends his social agenda bill, wrongly claiming the cost will be zero (Washington Post)

Nancy Pelosi sets Thursday vote on “infrastructure,” eyes smaller social spending bill (Reuters)

House Democrats pass bill to end nearly all restrictions on abortion (CNS News) | Abortion bill protects “transgender men” (Free Beacon)

AOC apologizes for “present” vote on Israel’s Iron Dome, explains her crocodile tears (Fox News)

Runs in the family: Chris Cuomo accused of sexually harassing former boss at 2005 party (New York Post)

Under U.S. sanctions, Iran and Venezuela strike oil export deal (Reuters)

The United States and Pakistan face each other again on Afghanistan threats (AP)

Turkey’s president defiant about acquiring Russian missile defense system despite potential risk for U.S. (CBS News)

Chairman disbands panel investigating COVID-19’s origins, saying its links to a nonprofit that worked with a Chinese lab raises bias concerns (Business Insider)

WHO relaunching probe into pandemic origins (Daily Wire)

Social Democrats narrowly beat Angela Merkel’s bloc in German vote (Fox News)

New video of January 6 depicts disorder and disrespect, not violent insurrection (Just the News) 

Police academies face recruiting drought after year of relentless cop demonization (National Review)

Delta wants airlines to share no-fly lists to keep crap passengers out of the skies (Gizmodo)

Policy: Pelosi’s “abortion for all” bill is more radical than Roe (Heritage Foundation)




27 September, 2021

Is there likely to be a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine

<i>Comments from Australia. Compelled medical treatment was first introduced into Australia in order to give blood transfusions to the children of Jehovah's witnesses</i>

Since the recent round of stay-at-home orders were introduced in Sydney and Melbourne, religious messages and motifs have been popping up at loosely defined "anti lockdown" protests across Australia.  

As one widely photographed sign at a Sydney demonstration in July declared: "The blood of Christ is my vaccine."

No major religion in Australia has expressly told its followers to forgo vaccination against COVID-19. In fact, many faith leaders have played a key role in combating vaccine misinformation in their communities. 

But as the above sign — and others like it — indicate, that doesn't mean people aren't being guided by their beliefs when deciding to refuse the jab. 

It's this grey area that Dr Renae Barker, an expert in law and religion at the University of Western Australia, said will make it difficult for the legal system to rule on whether policies that bar unvaccinated people from participating in certain activities — as already in place in Victoria, NSW and some industries — warrant a religious exemption provision. 

And the question is already playing out internationally, particularly in the United States, where thousands of people have already sought exemptions from vaccine mandates on religious grounds. 

"Do I think we need to have a conversation about [religious] exemptions? Possibly," Dr Barker said, "I don't think that conversation will go very far. I think politicians will very quickly say health, in this case, trumps freedom of religion."

Australia's history of religious exemptions

Looking back through Australia's recent history, there's only been one religion that has successfully lobbied for a vaccine exemption. That is the Christian Scientists, a small sect of Christianity who believes in prayerful healing to manage their health.

According to the 2016 Census, just 974 Australians reported they were Christian Scientist, out of 12 million people identifying as Christian more broadly.

In 1998, the church was granted an exemption to the Federal Government's new "no jab, no pay" laws that meant children had to be vaccinated to receive childcare and family benefits. They were the only religion to receive such an exemption — which required parents and carers to provide a letter from a church leader — sparking unfounded fears the decision would cause a flood of new converts eager to bypass the laws.

But when it comes to COVID-19, the Christian Scientists are taking a different approach.

"As far as our practice of trusting our problems to God prayerfully, that hasn't really altered," said Edwina Aubin, a Christian Scientist practitioner from Brisbane. "We're not 'anti-vax' as such, and neither are we 'pro-vax' … if it's what's required, then that's what we'll do."

Ms Aubin explains that while the majority of the church's members feel they don't require traditional medicine, instead relying on prayer and the support of practitioners in the church, there's nothing stopping them from seeking it out — whether it's a legal requirement or not.

But even so, she said the question of whether to get the COVID-19 jab "probably has challenged many Christian Scientists". In making the decision, she pointed to another core tenet of their beliefs: "Do to another what you want done to yourself."

"I certainly know those who have chosen to be vaccinated have done so because they feel it's the more loving thing to do to allay the fears of those around them," she said.

"We're conscious that we don't want to make another fearful because of our stance, and if there's no fear in our thought to go ahead and be vaccinated then that's a more loving step to take."

It's this approach that led the government to scrap religious exemptions to immunisation completely in 2015, declaring the policy no longer necessary.

But COVID-19 has brought with it fresh debate around religious and conscientious objection to vaccination, particularly as states move towards a system of different rules for the unvaccinated. 

Dr Barker said just because a religion doesn't formally ban or mandate something doesn't mean all adherents will comply: "Each individual does often have an individual interpretation of their requirements."

But this is an area where Australian courts have "really struggled" to make a legal distinction, she said. "And it's a very important distinction".

The challenge for the courts

Dr Barker said there's been a handful of cases where Australian courts have been asked to determine whether a person really did something on the basis of their religion, which is protected under anti-discrimination legislation.

To highlight the distinction she provides this example: If someone chooses to be vegan because they believe it is good for their health and their workplace refuses to provide vegan options at a lunch event, it is not discrimination. But, if someone abstains from eating animal products because it is part of their religion and the workplace fails to accommodate this, it is.

This becomes more complicated when someone's religious belief does not align with the commonly held practices of their organisation.

"The courts struggled with this idea that even different groups within the one larger religion might have different views and I suspect the courts will struggle even more with the idea that individuals within a religion will have a different view," Dr Barker said.

"Religious practice and religious belief are very nuanced, and it's very diverse, and even if we don't think people are getting their religion 'right' they sincerely believe they are.

"And it's a very challenging thing to do for a secular lawmaker, be that a legislature or a court, to say to that person 'we think you've interpreted your religion wrong'."

This means that, in the absence of religious leaders telling their followers they shouldn't be vaccinated, any push for religious exemptions would depend on the individual being able to demonstrate why they believe their decision is tied to their religious beliefs.

How it's being handled elsewhere

International law enshrines the right of all citizens to freely practise their religion, but that doesn't mean it's without limits. 

Article 18 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) sets out that these limits include what is necessary to protect "public safety, order, health or morals".

In the United States, where COVID-19 vaccination requirements vary by state, the debate over how far religious freedom can stretch in the face of a pandemic is in full swing.

Just last week, the Associated Press reported that there had been a flood of workers in industries where the jab has been made mandatory submitting letters from faith leaders despite no major religion expressly discouraging people from the vaccine.

This includes about 2,600 Los Angeles Police Department employees and thousands of government workers in Washington.

Workers looking for a way out have also been sharing tips online about how to request a religious exemption, the New York Times reported this month, and seeking out obscure religious organisations sympathetic to their plight. 

But according to Douglas Laycock, a professor of law at the University of Virginia who specialises in religious liberties, it's unclear whether there's even a legal basis for such exemptions.

Unlike Australia, most US states allow for some form of vaccination exemption for religious reasons, although often this is only for specific groups such as school children. In some instances, these exemptions could be used in a state government context, but they would not cover national rules, such as President Joe Biden's sweeping vaccine mandate that covers about 100 million people. 

Then there's the issue of private employers who may establish their own exemption system, but, as Professor Laycock wrote in The Conversation, this is not required by federal law.

Given the sudden influx of people seeking religious exemptions, and the growing anti-vaccination movement, the question then becomes how to determine whether someone's objection to the vaccine is a legitimately religious one. 

A different vaccine problem

Another pressing question for religious institutions is how they will manage in-person services if rules are put in place barring unvaccinated people from gathering.

Under NSW's plan to reopen, only fully vaccinated people will be able to attend places of worship once the state's vaccination rate hits 70 per cent. In Victoria, religious services were notably absent from Premier Daniel Andrews's announcement last week.

If widespread and long-term rules are put in place limiting who can attend religious services, it will put faith leaders in the difficult position of having to turn people away. 

"A number of churches are expressing concern that this is theologically a problem for them," Dr Barker said. "As long as religious organisations are treated the same as other equivalent secular organisations, and the usual example given is going to the cinema or theatre, it will be very hard for them to challenge."

Just last week, Bishop Paul Barker from the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne said he feared those who were not vaccinated would be turned into "the lepers of Jesus' day".

"We're anxious about where society might end up with division lines. If it's long term, that's one of our concerns," he said.

Ms Aubin, who is a member of the Christian Scientists Committee on Publication for Northern-Eastern Australia, also expressed concern at the prospect of having to bar people from attending services. 

"It's very hard to turn someone away who's coming to a place of worship, where they feel their spiritual needs are going to be met," she said. Currently, her church in Brisbane is permitted to host in-person services subject to COVID-19 check-ins and social distancing.

"If it was mandated to only those that were vaccinated, the only thing I could think [of to do] would be to go to hybrid services where we have both in-person and virtual," she said. "We would just abide by whatever was required and do our best."

If this situation arises, Dr Barker said any challenge would likely come down to an assessment of the health risk versus the benefit of allowing people to practice their religion freely.

"We don't actually yet know what the actual effect is going to be," she said. "We could have lots of people saying 'I'm not vaccinated but I want to go to the mosque for Friday prayers', or we could have absolutely nobody.

"That's what we don't know at this point."




25 September, 2021

Alcohol is good for you

I have just put up a post to that effect on my <a href="">Food & Health blog</a>


Australia has been a big user of AstraZeneca vaccine so has a lot of data on it and the data shows that blood-clotting is rare

The mortality rate from a rare blood-clotting disorder linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is nearly a fifth of what experts originally thought it could be.

Earlier this year, as data emerged from overseas about the disorder — called TTS for short — it was estimated that the chance of dying if you developed a clot was about 25 per cent.

In Australia, 11.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine — now called Vaxzevria — have been administered, with a total of 141 people developing a confirmed or probable case of TTS linked to the jab. 

Out of those 141 cases, eight people have died of the clots, or around 5.6 per cent.

In the UK, the rate of dying from TTS was 17 per cent. However, research published in August showed in one study it was as high as 22 per cent.

So, how has Australia kept its rate so low?

The head of the national medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), John Skerritt, thinks it is a combination of a few things.

First, we were given a heads-up by what was happening in the UK and Europe. "They'd vaccinated more than 10 million people before we had started to see possible cases," Professor Skerritt said. "Our doctors were able to pick up on the signs and symptoms and treat early. "We also have been able to pick up more less mild cases."

Professor Huyen Tran, a haematologist at Monash University, agreed having information from other countries early on made a big difference.

"I think initially following what we were seeing in Europe I was expecting a higher fatality rate, but I think I'd caveat that by saying they had a much longer run-in," he said.

"So that awareness, that understanding, is difficult early on, so we had that luxury of learning from other places."

Having a national hospital system that has not been completely overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases has also been crucial, allowing people who need treatment to access it quickly.

At the time of writing, 121 people have been discharged from hospital after being treated for TTS, 12 are still currently receiving treatment, but none are in ICU.

Both professors reiterated that the likelihood of even developing a clot is extremely rare and the benefits of protection from COVID-19, and its potentially long-lasting impacts, for most people, outweigh the risk of TTS.

Media coverage raised awareness

Professor Skerritt pointed out the extensive coverage of the rare clotting disorder early on may have played a role in reducing the fatality rate too.

"We are talking about something that is still extremely rare," he said. "The chance of death after a COVID vaccine in general is still well less than one in a million and there are things like being hit by lightning which are more common than that.

"With the media [coverage], it had the negative effect of causing vaccine hesitancy, but it also had the positive effect of making sure that our doctors and people and individuals were aware of the potential side effects.

"So, they'd go and see their doctors and hospitals early if they had, say, a really bad headache after getting the vaccine."

Professor Tran also believes the heightened awareness of symptoms has played a role in the successful treatment of clots in younger people, which tend to be more severe.

"I can think of an immediate example. The youngest individual that I've been involved with is actually a 22-year-old female," he said. "She presented to the emergency room within about 18 hours of the onset of symptoms with some insistence from her family. We picked up [on signs of TTS] that day and it was critical.

"She's done remarkably well so I think early diagnosis … is really, really important."

The other piece of the puzzle is that, according to both Professor Skerritt and Professor Tran, our ability to treat the disorder has also meant fewer deaths.  "It's a condition that we now know we can treat really well," Professor Tran said.

"The combination of education, early recognition, has meant early therapy [which] has led to a really good outcome."


Norway dumps all Covid restrictions to ‘live as normal’

Norway has ditched all its Covid-19 measures, even social distancing, in a radical move that as yet has unclear consequences.

On Friday, the Nordic nation’s government announced that it was time to “live as normal” with Covid-19 after 561 days of enduring some kind of restriction, whether that be venue capacity limits or stay-at-home orders.

Now, Norwegians can attend restaurants, night clubs, sporting events and anything else at full capacity, with social distancing thrown out the window.

They’ve even started encouraging travel outside of Europe, removing travel warnings.

The new rules come into effect on Saturday, 4pm local time.

“It is 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime … Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told reporters. “In short, we can now live as normal.”

That’s despite the nation of five million people having 67 per cent fully vaccinated — lower than Australia’s “magic number” of reopening, at 80 per cent.

The extreme move is part of a four-step plan to scrap all restrictions implemented on March 10 last year. Norway was up to the final step but it was postponed several times over fears of rising infections.

The country’s health Minister sent a letter to municipalities  alerting them to prepare for the ending of restrictions.

Like most countries, Norway was hit hard by the delta strain of the coronavirus. In total, the country has recorded nearly 186,000 local cases of Covid-19 and has tragically had 850 deaths. For comparison, Australia has had more than 93,000 cases to date and 1,208 deaths. In the last 24 hours, Norway has recorded 705 new cases.

However, its health body, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, recommended that society be reopened.

According to Reuters, Norway has had 98 infections per 100,000 people in its population.

Globally, there have been 230 million cases of Covid-19, with 4.7 million deaths and more than 6 billion doses of vaccine administered.

The 67 per cent vaccination figure counts the entire population, including children, not just its eligible adults. 

Earlier this month, the Pfizer vaccine was opened up to 12-15-year-olds. 

According to the nation's health body, 90.6 per cent of adults have received their first jab, while 83.8 have received their second dose.

That puts the nation ahead of Australia, which sits at 50.9 per cent of people 16 and over fully-vaccinated, and 75.4 per cent getting their first jab, according to the Federal Government. 

Last week, Norway's Covid infection levels decreased by 33 per cent compared to the week before, while hospital admissions dropped from 95 to 67 as vaccinations caught up with the virus, according to Life In Norway.

The Norwegian government said its citizens didn’t have to live a Covid-normal life if they didn’t want to.

“When the authorities‘ advice and rules essentially disappear, the individual can choose for themselves what risk they want to take and what measures they want to practice,” they said in a statement.

Norway is the second Scandinavian country to end the restrictions, following in the footsteps of Denmark who waved goodbye to lockdowns on September 10.

The UK has also adopted a largely “Covid-normal” existence although case numbers continue to flare.

Singapore adopted a similar approach in July but backflipped in less than two weeks after the plan failed miserably.

Infections went from eight to almost 200 in 10 days, prompting restrictions to be brought back for the Asian country.

In fact, on Saturday, Singapore had to tighten its restrictions even further with only groups of two allowed in restaurants and children having to switch to at-home learning, despite the nation hitting an 80 per cent double dose rate.

The news of Norway’s new-found freedom is an extra slap in the face for NSW and Victorian residents, who are both in the throes of a months-long lockdown.

The UK and Denmark are yet to backtrack on their radical move to end Covid rules entirely. It remains to be seen whether Norway will do the same.



Democrat leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi say they have a deal on tax increases (Washington Examiner) | Except several Senate Democrats undercut claims of unity (Washington Times)

FBI: Murder rate soared in 2020, highest year-over-year increase ever recorded (Daily Wire)

Joe Biden, who demands people “pay their fair share,” may owe up to $500,000 in back taxes (Daily Wire)

Hunter Biden requested more than $2 million to unfreeze Libyan assets when dad was VP (Free Beacon)

January 6 committee subpoenas four from Trump’s inner circle (Politico)

House Republicans just callously voted to draft our daughters — and GOP senators will too (The Federalist)

No joke: Biden administration stops Border Patrol from using horses in Del Rio (Fox News)

U.S. special envoy to Haiti resigns, citing “inhumane” deportation of Haitians (PBS)

Democrats feud as House approves $1 billion for Israel’s missile system (New York Times)

Dems plan to scuttle Space Force (Free Beacon)

CDC director defies advisory panel, recommends COVID booster for younger at-risk workers (Fox News)

CDC quietly removed school guidance for eliminating masks, rolling back COVID prevention efforts (Fox News)

New York health commissioner resigns after criticism over nursing home scandal (Bloomberg)

Oregon nanny state officials say you can kiss on dates — if both vaccinated (Fox News)

GOP-led Arizona election review closely matches Biden’s winning margin (Politico)

2024: Trump over Biden by 10 points, Harris by 13 (Washington Examiner)




24 September, 2021

Group most at risk of being hospitalised and killed by Covid despite vaccination

The world is experiencing the largest vaccination event in history in its attempt to deal with the global coronavirus pandemic. But despite the marked effectiveness of the various vaccines, there is still a risk – albeit small – of “breakthrough” cases.

Now a new study has identified those unlucky few who are most at risk of ending up with a serious case of Covid despite having had the jab.

Some 5.7 billion Covid-19 vaccinations have already been administered worldwide. And their effectiveness is evident, as previously locked down nations begin to reopen and pressure on hospitals starts to ease.

According to data collected by the Royal Institution of Australia’s Cosmos magazine, 92 per cent of those dosed with AstraZeneca can fight off the virus before it gets bad enough for hospitalisation. In the case of Pfizer, that figure is about 96 per cent.

“It’s clear that the vaccines are highly effective, and without them we would be facing a much deadlier pandemic,” says Yale University associate professor of medicine (cardiology) Hyung Chun.

However, among the vaccinated, there will still be a few who still suffer severe illness. And these are who the Yale study has sought to identify.

Those most at risk of severe illness

Yale studied 969 instances of Covid-19 over 14 weeks between March and July in its local New Haven Health System.

Of these, just 54 had been fully vaccinated. “The majority of fully vaccinated patients experience mild or no symptoms if infected with SARS-CoV-2,” Dr Chun says.

Of the 54 “breakthrough” cases, just 14 advanced to a severe stage.  Four ultimately needed emergency intensive care. Three died.

“These cases are extremely rare, but they are becoming more frequent as variants emerge and more time passes since patients are vaccinated,” Dr Chun says.

According to the study, most of the severe cases were aged between 65 and 95. Many had pre-existing conditions, especially type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Some had been taking immune-system suppressing medications.

Again, those “breakthrough” deaths must be put into perspective.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that, as of August 30, it knew of 12,908 vaccinated Covid-19 patients who had needed hospitalisation. Those who died amounted to fewer than 0.008 per cent of America’s vaccinated population.

Arms race

Dr Chun pointed out that many of the patients in the March to July study did not have the highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19. How much this mutation has changed the equation is yet to be determined.

Covid-19 – essentially the same type of virus as the common cold – shows the same tendency to adapt to vaccinations over time. Exactly how fast and by how much remains to be seen.

Monash University virologist Dr Vinod Balasubramaniam says Delta has become the dominant variant worldwide, “causing spikes in new and breakthrough infections” among vaccinated populations.

“There is some indication that the Delta variant may also result in more severe disease,” he says.

And the imprint vaccines leave on the body’s immune system are not permanent.

The Royal Institution of Australia’s Elizabeth Finkel says a UK preprint shows Pfizer effectiveness waning from 90 per cent to 78 per cent after three months. AstraZeneca’s strength fell from 69 per cent to 61 per cent over the same time frame.

But Covid’s previous behaviour remains the best indicator of future trends.

Those most likely to be at risk of severe illness, Dr Chun says, are those with existing health conditions.

“Identifying who is more likely to develop severe Covid-19 illness after vaccination will be critical to ongoing efforts to mitigate the impact of these breakthrough infections,” the Yale report reads.

“As effective as the vaccines are, with emerging variants and increasing cases of breakthrough infections, we need to continue to be vigilant in taking measures such as indoor masking and social distancing,” Dr Chun says.

Dr Vinod agrees: “We must first understand that the vaccines we have currently are not a miracle cure. They were designed to provide immunity against symptoms caused by the virus and the possibility of reducing transmission of the virus from person to person.”

Many researchers expect Covid-19 to become a seasonal infection, like the flu virus.

People will gradually develop a degree of immunity through both illness and vaccination, and this will protect most from severe disease.

But, like the flu, future Covid is still likely to have a severe impact upon some.

“Having had Covid-19 is unlikely to give you lifelong immunity,” says Dr Vinod. “But, even if you are infected again, the second infection will likely be less serious. We might need booster doses against variants and to provide optimal immunological memory against the disease.

“If SARS-CoV-2 experiences antigenic evolution at rates that are similar to influenza, annual shots for vulnerable populations may well be necessary.”


10,000 Unnecessary Cancer Deaths Linked to COVID-19 Pandemic, Lockdown in UK

A lack of face-to-face doctor visits in the UK since the start of the COVID pandemic may result in 10,000 unnecessary deaths due to cancer, according to a report from University College London published this week.

Researchers with the university stated that a drop in emergency referrals from general practitioners in 2020 across the United Kingdom resulted in some 40,000 late diagnoses of cancer. The delays, combined with longer National Health Service (NHS) treatment due to the pandemic, mean that thousands will die “significantly earlier” from cancer, the report found.

The study found that more than 60 percent of people surveyed by the university were concerned about talking to their general practitioner (GP) about “minor health problems” amid the pandemic. Before the CCP virus’s spread, around 80 percent of appointments with doctors were in person, but only 57 percent of consultations were face-to-face in July, the report noted.

“The immediate effect of the pandemic was to delay early diagnosis. Even before the pandemic, Britain’s performance was not up there with the best of the world,” said report co-author David Taylor, a professor with University College London, according to The Telegraph.

“There is some evidence to suggest every month treatment is delayed can increase the risk of early death by seven percent,” he said. “Some of it is about patients not presenting, worrying about being a burden on their GP, some of it is about access problems.”

In October 2020, a report from health care analyst firm Dr Foster stated that the NHS’s guidance that residents should “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives” scared patients away from seeking medical attention last year.

Dr Foster Director of Strategy and Analytics Tom Binstead said of the report last year: “Overall, the analysis suggests that the long-term effects of the pandemic are likely to be far-reaching, with a future spike in demand possible due to missed diagnoses and postponed procedures.

“Cancers may now require a greater level of treatment, or even be untreatable, if they have been left undetected or untreated as a result of the crisis.”

A spokesperson for the NHS told The Telegraph and other news outlets on Sept. 21 that during the pandemic, the agency prioritized individuals who sought care for cancer.

Services for cancer are at “pre-pandemic levels,” while the latest monthly figures suggest “more than 200,000 people referred for checks and more than 27,000 starting treatment,” the spokesperson said.


New COVID-19 Variant With ‘Unique Mutations’ Discovered at Kentucky Nursing Home

A new variant of the COVID-19 virus has been discovered at a Kentucky nursing home, where it has reportedly infected 45 residents and health care personnel, according to scientist William A. Haseltine.

The variant, called R.1, originated in Japan and infected many residents and workers in the Kentucky nursing home who were fully vaccinated, Haseltine said.

R.1 has now received more than 10,000 entries in the GISAID SARS-CoV-2 database, the world’s largest database that researchers use to track and record genomic data.

“The variant contains five mutations previously noted in variants of concern or interest … It also contains many unique mutations,” Haseltine wrote for Forbes.

“R.1 is a variant to watch. It has established a foothold in both Japan and the United States. In addition to several mutations notably in the spike and nucleocapsid protein in common with variants of concern, R.1 has a set of unique mutations that may confer an additional advantage in transmission, replication, and immune suppression.”

Haseltine’s comments come just days after the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) vaccine advisory panel voted to recommend against providing Pfizer booster vaccines to the general public, but recommended the shots for Americans aged 65 and older and for those who are at high risk, dealing a blow to the Biden administration’s vaccination agenda.

While U.S. health officials, some other countries, and vaccine makers have argued that boosters are needed for everyone, many scientists, including some inside the FDA, have disagreed, noting that regulators haven’t yet independently verified all of the available data.

Some FDA staff have also noted that it isn’t currently clear if those who receive a booster dose would have an increased risk of adverse reactions, such as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart).

Since April, increased cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported in the United States following vaccinations using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, most notably among adolescents and young adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A recent study from several top scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) and FDA has also found that the general population doesn’t need a booster dose and instead called for current supplies of vaccines to be given to unvaccinated populations, such as low-income countries.

“Even if boosting were eventually shown to decrease the medium-term risk of serious disease, current vaccine supplies could save more lives if used in previously unvaccinated populations,” the authors wrote.




23 September, 2021

Anti-viral drug remdesivir reduces risk of hospitalization in high-risk COVID-19 patients by 87% when given early

<i>Trump was right!</i>

Remdesivir reduces the risk of hospitalization and medical visits due to COVID-19 in high-risk patients, new data suggest. 

California-based Gilead Sciences Inc, the maker of the antiviral drug, published the results of its Phase III clinical trial on Wednesday.

Researchers found patients treated with remdesivir were 87 percent less likely to be hospitalized and 81 less likely to require a medical visit than those who were given a placebo.

The team says the findings shows that remdesivir, the only drug fully approved to treat severely ill coronavirus patients, can also be used for those who are at-high risk of becoming seriously ill - but are still early on in their infection.

Remdesivir was developed Gilead to treat Ebola, the deadly fever that emerged in West Africa in 2014.

While it was unsuccessful in treating Ebola, the drug appears to interfere with the ability of the coronavirus to copy its genetic material.

In April 2020, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released results from a study that found remdesivir helped patients recover 31 percent faster.

This led to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issuing emergency use authorization for the drug the following month.

A few months later, in October 2020, the FDA fully approved the drug of the use in adults and in pediatric patients ages 12 to 17 who require hospitalization.

The new trial, however, shows that the treatment may also be effective in treating patients before they are hospitalized.

Researchers looked at 562 participants at high-risk of developing severe COVID-19, of whom half were given remdesivir and the other half a placebo.

After four weeks, 5.3 percent of the placebo group were hospitalized compared to 0.7 percent of the placebo group.

The team said that this suggests the medication reduces the risk of hospitalization by 87 percent.

Additionally, the trial looked at any patients who required medical visits due to COVID-19.   day 28, 8.3 percent of the placebo group had sought medical care in comparison with 1.6 percent of the treatment group.

Researchers say this means the drug reduces the risk of a medical visit by 81 percent. 

'Antiviral medications provide maximal benefit when used early in the disease course,' Dr Robert Gottlieb, principal investigator at Baylor University Medical Center and Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, said in a statement.

'We are seeing very high numbers of hospitalized patients as new COVID-19 infections surge, placing increased demands on already over-burdened healthcare systems. 

'Remdesivir, also known as Veklury, is an effective antiviral for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and an essential tool to help reduce disease progression.'



There’s no shortage of misinformation out there about the coronavirus, and some of the most pernicious claims swirl around vaccines and fertility. With apologies to Nicki Minaj, there is no credible scientific evidence that any of the COVID-19 vaccines cause impotence. However, there is now a wealth of data that shows getting infected with this virus can cause erectile dysfunction and other reproductive health problems for men.

Crucially, getting a vaccine is not the same thing as contracting a disease. Vaccines are designed to provoke an antibody response, and the ones approved or authorized for use in the U.S. don’t even contain dead or weakened versions of the virus. They instead use pieces of its genetic material to train the body’s immune system. (Pictured above, a man getting a rapid COVID-19 test.)

By contrast, coming down with COVID-19 allows the virus to replicate in your cells, and as Sharon Guynup reports this week, several studies show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can invade tissues in the penis and testicles. As it happens, the testicles are a perfect hideout for a variety of viruses because they are immunologically privileged body parts, meaning they are shielded from the immune system. Once COVID-19 invades this region, it can hang out there indefinitely. “This may explain why 11 percent of men hospitalized with COVID-19 suffered testicular pain,” Guynup writes.

Other studies have found that men seem to be six times more likely to develop brief or long-term erectile dysfunction after contracting the virus. That’s likely because the coronavirus is known to attack blood vessels all over the body, and the penis relies on blood vessels to maintain an erection. Cells also become oxygen-deprived when blood vessels narrow, which means the surrounding tissues become inflamed and the vessels lose elasticity. “No oxygen, no sex,” says Emmanuele A. Jannini, a professor at the Tor Vergata University of Rome.

These kinds of health repercussions can be difficult to track because patients may be embarrassed or self-conscious. And it can be tough to report on them and not invite readers to dissolve into giggles with an unintentional pun. But this is serious science that deserves to be taken seriously. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 10 percent to 30 percent of people infected with the virus—at least 42 million cases in the U.S. and 226 million worldwide—experience a range of ongoing symptoms collectively called long COVID. People can develop these debilitating symptoms even after a mild or asymptomatic infection. And the list includes several reproductive health problems for men, from sexual dysfunction and swollen testicles to mental health issues that decrease arousal.

Research is still in progress, and plenty of unknowns remain. But it’s clear enough by now that if you care about your reproductive health, you should be more worried about getting the virus than the vaccine. “The plausible relationship between COVID-19 and erectile dysfunction is one more reason for the unvaccinated to get their shots,” Jannini says. “If they want to have sex, better to get the vaccine.”



Supreme Court to hear oral arguments challenging Roe v. Wade on December 1 (Washington Examiner)

Justices will also weigh New York’s limit on carrying a handgun (Washington Times)

Democrats/Leftmedia mistake horse reins for “whips” in Border Patrol footage (Post Millennial)

Joe Biden’s agenda is hanging by a thread as Democrats threaten to tank two major bills (BuzzFeed)

Only 49% think Biden is mentally stable enough to be president (Breitbart)

Shades of Donald Trump: Biden administration asks Pentagon to send military to border (Washington Examiner)

Biden to raise refugee admissions cap to 125,000 (Washington Post)

CIA chief team member reported Havana syndrome symptoms during trip to India (The Hill)

North Korea’s nuclear program going “full steam ahead,” IAEA says (Reuters)

Stateside COVID death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities (Axios)

U.S. to ease travel restrictions for vaccinated foreign visitors (CNBC)

S&P 500 fell 1.7% on Monday for its worst day since May; Dow sheds 600 points (CNBC)

The great holiday supply chain shortage (Axios)

“Back to square one”: Justin Trudeau’s liberals win Canada election but missed the majority in parliament (AP)

UK court decides kids under 16 can take puberty-blocking drugs without court approval (Daily Signal)

Civil suit filed against Texas doctor who violated abortion ban in the first test of law’s constitutionality (Washington Examiner)

Emmy viewers call out hypocrite celebs for not wearing masks and social distancing (Fox News)

Here’s how Chuck Schumer is trying to gaslight the GOP on debt (Daily Beast)

Policy: Heaping on the SALT: Democrats press Biden to reinstate a tax break for the wealthy (City Journal)

Policy: Why Taiwan matters to the world (Heritage Foundation)




22 September, 2021

Vaccines that grow on leaves and don't need needles: A look at COVID jabs you may not have heard of

You've heard of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, but what about Medigen and Zydus Cadila? 

In the race to vaccinate the world and in the face of supply issues and sanctions, some countries have developed homegrown vaccines.

There are geopolitics and vaccine nationalism at play, but the pandemic has seen a flurry of vaccine development – from the first-ever DNA vaccine to one grown on leaves.

While a lot of these vaccines sound new, the science and technologies they're built on have been around for a long time.

As ANU virologist David Tscharke notes, vaccine development is a tough business – in the past, if a vaccine already existed for a disease it was difficult to break through with a new idea.

But the pandemic has blown the field wide open.

"Nobody knew who was going to be first, nobody knew if the first one would work," Professor Tscharke said.

"So there was an enormous push into all of these really interesting vaccine technologies."

But they all basically work in the same way – telling the body to build up an immune response, so if they ever get infected with the virus, the body knows what to do.

The world's first DNA vaccine

India has often been called the pharmacy of the world, but it's not just manufacturing vaccines — it's researching and developing them too.

The homegrown vaccine from Zydus Cadila stands out for a bunch of reasons — it's the world's first DNA vaccine, and it's also needle-free. It carries the genetic code for the coronavirus spike protein, which the body can then read and generate an immune response.

The vaccine, called ZyCoV-D, was approved on August 20 and is delivered via a jet injector, sometimes called a gene gun.

It uses a high-pressure stream of fluid to blast it into the cells of the skin.

Some other DNA vaccines being developed are delivered by a patch, which is embedded with hundreds of tiny needles coated in the vaccine.

DNA vaccines don't need to be stored at low temperatures like mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna.

ZyCoV-D has a reported efficacy of 67 per cent  — lower than some other vaccines but still above the World Health Organization's 50 per cent threshold. It requires three doses.

Iran has been the worst-hit country in the Middle East and was battling a fifth wave that appeared to peak at 50,000 daily cases and 700 daily deaths last month.

In January this year, Iran's supreme leader banned the import of Pfizer and AstraZeneca, saying he didn't trust the US- and UK-made jabs.

Later, Iran did end up importing AstraZeneca that was manufactured in other countries, such as Russia or South Korea, and the new government last week approved the single-dose Johnson & Johnson.

But in the meantime, the country developed its own vaccine — COVIran Barekat — which was approved for emergency use in mid-June, before phase three trials were complete.

Early phases in clinical trials reported an efficacy of more than 90 per cent, but results have not yet been peer-reviewed.

It's an inactivated vaccine, meaning it's made by growing the virus, then killing or inactivating it. It's a similar type to China's Sinopharm vaccine — which has been the most administered in Iran.

Iran has also said US sanctions have hindered their efforts to get vaccines, but it can access them through COVAX.

"There are some countries that are under quite a lot of sanctions. So Iran is a country where it's quite difficult for them to access things depending on what the political situation is," Professor Tscharke said. 

Although the US sanctions do not include medicines, in practice they have deterred international banks from financial transactions involving Iran — something that the Human Rights Watch in the past has said can have knock-on effects for Iranians' access to health care.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen made a soft-power move last month when she got her first vaccine — a home-grown variety called Medigen.

Taiwan was upheld as a poster child early on in the pandemic, keeping the virus largely under control for more than a year.

But a spike in infections in May this year highlighted the island's low vaccination rates, with only about 1 per cent vaccinated against COVID-19 at the start of that outbreak.

Taiwan refused Chinese vaccines like Sinopharm and Sinovac and instead accepted donations of AstraZeneca from Japan and Moderna from the US.

Medigen is a subunit protein vaccine, like Novavax, and its Chinese name means "high end".

The President said she wasn't nervous when she received her jab, but Medigen hasn't undergone phase three trials — due to be tested in Paraguay.

It was granted emergency approval in July amid criticism from the opposition that its approval was rushed.

Cuba has approved three vaccines for emergency use — the Abdala vaccine, Soberana 2 and single-dose Soberana Plus, and the country has another two jabs in development.

All are protein subunit vaccines, like Medigen or Novavax, and Soberana Plus can work as a booster shot.

Soberana Plus, according to the New York Times, is also tailored for those who have had COVID-19 before, in what was described as a world first.

Cuba, which is renowned for its healthcare system and has a long history of developing vaccines, has injected some national pride in its vaccine names.

Abdala is named after a poem by young revolutionary and independence hero Jose Marti, while Soberana 2 means "sovereign".

Earlier this month, Cuban authorities began inoculating toddlers as young as two years old with Soberana 2.

It has also been approved for use in Iran, while Abdala has now been approved in Vietnam.

Can vaccines grow on trees?

The majority of the world's flu vaccines are grown in chicken eggs, but Canada-based Medicago is opting for plants for its COVID-19 vaccine. 

Professor Tscharke said while protein for vaccines often is grown in fermenters or vats in factories, it's possible to use a plant instead, which can be quick and inexpensive.

The idea behind this one is that it contains proteins that mimic the structure of the virus, but does not contain genetic material.

The vaccine is grown in a wild species indigenous to Australia and is related to tobacco, and the company is partially funded by cigarette maker Philip Morris International.

The plant-based vaccine is still ultimately injected, but Professor Tscharke says the broader idea of growing vaccines on plants is another platform given a push during the pandemic.

There have also been high hopes for further development of oral and edible vaccines, he said.

"People have liked the idea that you could eat your vaccines … I remember somebody who wanted to have a polio vaccine in the banana."


CDC studies show waning vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization in elderly

Covid-19 vaccines continue to work well at preventing severe disease for the vast majority of Americans but they are becoming less effective at blocking infection, according to a series of studies the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday.

Two of the analyses suggest that as the Delta variant spread this summer, the shots became less effective at keeping people 75 and older out of the hospital.

Breakthrough infections are still rare, and unvaccinated people still face significantly higher risks of illness and death from the virus. They were about 4.5 times more likely to become infected, and more than 10 times more likely to need hospitalization or die from Covid-19 than were fully vaccinated people. But the three new studies add to recent evidence that vaccines’ protection against infection ebbs over time.

CDC began last month to release the results of targeted vaccine effectiveness studies, showing protection against infection beginning to wane in residents of New York and Los Angeles and among frontline health care workers. But the agency has taken weeks to complete one of its largest and most comprehensive analyses of breakthrough infections — based on data from 13 jurisdictions with the ability to match immunization records with Covid-19 lab reports.

That study, one of the three released Friday, compared the relative risks of infection, hospitalization and death between people who are fully vaccinated and those who are not across different age groups. The CDC looked at 600,000 people infected with Covid-19 from April through mid-July. It found that overall, vaccine effectiveness against severe Covid-19 disease remains high. Incidence rate ratios for hospitalization and death changed relatively little after the Delta variant became the most dominant strain of the virus in the U.S., the study showed.

But the vaccines’ ability to prevent any infection — including mild disease — decreased from 91 percent to 78 percent after the Delta variant took over this summer.

Between April 4 and June 19, before Delta’s rise, fully vaccinated people accounted for 5 percent of cases, 7 percent of hospitalizations and 8 percent of deaths. Those figures roughly doubled between June 20 to July 17 as the variant spread. Fully vaccinated individuals accounted for 18 percent of cases, 14 percent of hospitalizations and 16 percent of deaths.

The CDC also released two reports that looked more closely at hospitalizations associated with the Delta variant and vaccine effectiveness.

One of those reports pulled on data from 1,175 patients 18 and older who were hospitalized at five Department of Veterans Affairs facilities between February and August. VA hospitals generally treat people who are older, with a higher prevalence of underlying medical conditions, than the general population.

The vaccines were 87 percent effective overall at preventing hospitalization, protection that remained relatively consistent before and after Delta became the country’s dominant variant, the study shows. But that figure masks notable differences between age groups. The shots were only 80 percent effective at keeping adults over 65 from being hospitalized with Covid, while they were 95 percent effective for people between ages 18 and 64.




21 September, 2021

Shunning Vaccination, But Lining Up For Antibodies

A Costly Therapy Soars in the Unvaccinated

Lanson Jones did not think that the coronavirus would come for him. An avid tennis player in Houston who had not caught so much as a cold during the pandemic, he had refused a vaccine because he worried that it would spoil his streak of good health.

But contracting Covid shattered his faith in his body’s defenses — so much so that Mr. Jones, nose clogged and appetite vanished, began hunting for anything to spare himself a nightmarish illness.

The answer turned out to be monoclonal antibodies, a year-old, laboratory-created drug no less experimental than the vaccine. In a glass-walled enclosure at Houston Methodist Hospital this month, Mr. Jones, 65, became one of more than a million patients, including Donald J. Trump and Joe Rogan, to receive an antibody infusion as the virus has battered the United States.

Vaccine-resistant Americans are turning to the treatment with a zeal that has, at times, mystified their doctors, chasing down lengthy infusions after rejecting vaccines that cost one-hundredth as much. Orders have exploded so quickly this summer — to 168,000 doses per week in late August, up from 27,000 in July — that the Biden administration warned states this week of a dwindling national supply.

The federal government, which was already covering the cost of the treatment — currently about $2,100 per dose — has now taken over its distribution as well. For the coming weeks, the government has told states to expect scaled-back shipments because of the looming shortages.

With seven Southern states accounting for 70 percent of orders, the new process has unsettled some of their governors, who have made the antibody treatment central to their strategy for enduring a catastrophic wave of the Delta variant.

More supplies are on the way. The federal government bought 1.8 million more doses this week, expected to arrive in the fall and winter. But for now, some hospitals are uncertain of supplies, state health officials said, even as patients keep searching for doses.

“We have providers struggling to get the necessary product,” Kody Kinsley, who leads operations for North Carolina’s Covid-19 response, said in an interview. “I think what has happened is a classic logistics issue, where all of a sudden there’s much more demand.”

Amid a din of antivaccine messages, monoclonal antibodies have become the rare coronavirus medicine to achieve near-universal acceptance. Championed by mainstream doctors and conservative radio hosts alike, the infusions have kept the country’s death toll — 2,000 per day and climbing — from soaring even higher.

And after months of work by President Biden and Southern governors to promote the treatments, they have won the affection of vaccine refusers who said that the terrors and uncertainties of actually getting Covid had made them desperate for an antidote.

“The people you love, you trust, nobody said anything negative about it,” Mr. Jones said of the antibody treatment. “And I’ve heard nothing but negative things about the side effects of the vaccine and how quickly it was developed.”

Some Republican governors have set up antibody clinics while opposing vaccine mandates, frustrating even some of the drugs’ strongest proponents. Raising vaccination rates, scientists said, would obviate the need for many of the costly antibody treatments in the first place. The infusions take about an hour and a half, including monitoring afterward, and require constant attention from nurses whom hard-hit states often cannot spare.

“The people you love, trust, nobody said anything negative about it,” said Lanson Jones.“The people you love, trust, nobody said anything negative about it,” said Lanson Jones.
“It’s clogging up resources, it’s hard to give, and a vaccine is $20 and could prevent almost all of that,” said Dr. Christian Ramers, an infectious disease specialist and the chief of population health at Family Health Centers of San Diego, a community-based provider. Pushing antibodies while playing down vaccines, he said, was “like investing in car insurance without investing in brakes.”

The government-supplied monoclonal antibodies, made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, have been shown to significantly shorten patients’ symptoms and reduce their risk of being hospitalized — by 70 percent, in the case of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail. The treatments, given in a single sitting, use lab-made copies of the antibodies that people generate naturally when fighting an infection.

Patients and doctors alike overlooked the treatments during the wintertime surge of infections. But hospitals and health centers have now ramped up their offerings, transforming dental clinics, mobile units and auditoriums into infusion centers. In states like Texas, where elective surgeries have been postponed to make room for Covid-19 patients, operating room nurses have been enlisted to give infusions.

One factor driving the demand is that many patients, including vaccine skeptics, have been spreading the word about their seemingly miraculous recoveries.

“They’re like, ‘I have Covid, I want this treatment, my friend or family told me about this,’ ” said Jennifer Berry, the Houston Methodist nursing director of infusion services. “Now the word is out.”

At Houston Methodist, nurses administered nearly 1,100 treatments across eight sites in the first week of September, well more than twice as many as any week last winter. The hospital reduced the average time between orders and infusions to two days this month from three days in early August, giving patients a better chance of fighting off infections.

Juggling the infusions with more seriously ill Covid patients this summer forced the hospital, in one case, to move a monoclonal antibody clinic to a strip mall storefront.

But the Texas health department has helped, providing 19 nurses for a different Houston Methodist infusion clinic, said Vicki Brownewell, the lead administrator for the hospital’s program. The Biden administration has also invested $150 million in expanding access to monoclonal antibodies, and Houston Methodist has used federal money to arrange medical taxis for patients struggling with transportation.

Even so, the infusions remain inaccessible to many. Given the heavy demands on staff and the need to create separate infusion rooms for infectious patients, certain communities, especially in rural areas, do not have clinics.

In San Diego, Dr. Ramers said, some large, for-profit hospitals have decided not to administer the antibodies at all because of the logistical hassles, leaving wealthier, well-insured patients to hunt down doses at his publicly funded clinic. Some nurses that he hired for infusions left for short, betterpaying assignments in hard-hit intensive care units.

“The natural, capitalist incentives for health care organizations that are for profit don’t really favor doing this,” Dr. Ramers said. “It’s a lot of work.”

Of the 2.4 million monoclonal antibody doses shipped nationally, at least 1.1 million have been used. Precisely how many are still sitting on shelves is hard to determine because of reporting gaps. Still, waning federal supplies and soaring demand from less-vaccinated Southern states have caused what several states have described as large shortfalls in deliveries.

North Carolina providers have requested 15,000 weekly doses, the health department there said, more than double what the federal government has allocated. Florida said its latest weekly allotment left clinics there 41,000 doses short of what they wanted.

Crushing demand in Southern states as the unprotected fall ill.

Hospitals had previously been able to order the drugs themselves. But the Department of Health and Human Services will now decide how many doses each state receives based on case rates and use of the treatment. State governments, in turn, will decide on doses for individual sites.

The new ordering process, which the Biden administration said would ensure “equitable distribution,” has unsettled some backers of the drug. Gov. Ron De- Santis of Florida, a Republican, warned on Thursday that state officials were unprepared for the new responsibility of parceling out doses.

And in heavily vaccinated states, like New York, people coordinating treatments fear that shipments will plummet because of low case rates, leaving hospitals with so few doses that they shutter their programs. Some hospitals recently reported growing numbers of vaccinated patients receiving infusions.

Diana Berrent, the founder of Survivor Corps, which has worked to help patients find monoclonal antibody treatments, said that involving state governments would create delays: “You’re layering in 50 new layers of bureaucracy,” she said.

Doctors have warned that antibody treatments alone cannot keep pace with ballooning outbreaks. Whereas any one vaccination protects untold others from exposure, a single infusion only helps a single patient. Infusions must be given within 10 days of symptoms; they are unhelpful to most hospitalized patients. And receiving the antibodies once does not keep people from becoming seriously ill if they catch the virus again later.

“Something like that just doesn’t scale,” said Dr. Howard Huang, the medical leader for Houston Methodist’s infusion program.

As a result, health officials have warned that vaccine skeptics may become so enamored of monoclonal antibodies that they become even more resistant to getting a protective shot.

Within days of his infusion, Mr. Jones, the patient in Houston, had left the bedroom where he had been quarantined and returned to his work as a landscape architect. But he was still weighing whether to be vaccinated.

His doctor was pushing for the shot, he said. But the monoclonal antibodies had worked so well that he was tempted to simply return for another infusion if he caught Covid-19 again.

“If I can go get an infusion and feel as good as I do right now, man, I’d rather not take a vaccine that has just been developed,” he said. “That makes me nervous, still.”


Biden Sabotages Lifesaving Antibody Treatment - Sends Less Than Half Needed to FL

The Biden administration is not about saving lives. They are about control, money, and tyranny! 

Although lifesaving medications and treatments have been found to work against COVID-19, they continue to fight the distribution of them and instead try to force more vaccines.

This week, Biden's administration sabotaged doses of lifesaving coronavirus antibody treatments being delivered to Florida, sending less than half of what is needed for the week. The admin claims they are prioritizing "equitable distribution," but many suspect that it is revenge against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other Republican governors whom Biden vowed to get "out of the way."

The Biden administration this week began to cut the distribution of monoclonal antibodies to red states, such as Florida and Alabama, contending those states, including Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, and Louisiana, are comprising too big a share of the supply in recent weeks — 70 percent.

“HHS will determine the amount of product each state and territory receives on a weekly basis,” said a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).




20 September, 2021

Now the Lancet U-turns over Covid lab leak theory and publishes 'alternative view' calling for a 'transparent debate' on the origins of the virus

The Lancet medical journal has bowed to pressure over its heavily-criticised coverage of the disputed origins of the Covid pandemic by publishing an 'alternative view' from 16 scientists – calling for an 'objective, open and transparent debate' about whether the virus leaked from a Chinese laboratory.

It was revealed earlier this year that Peter Daszak – a British scientist with long-standing links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology – had secretly orchestrated a landmark statement in The Lancet in February 2020 which attacked 'conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin'.

The now-infamous letter, signed by 27 leading public health experts, said they stood together to 'strongly condemn' the theories which they said 'do nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice'.

They also lavished praise on Chinese scientists who they said had 'worked diligently and effectively to rapidly identify the pathogen behind this outbreak… and share their results transparently with the global health community'.

Now, The Lancet has agreed to publish an alternative commentary which discusses the possibility that laboratory research might have played a role in the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

It also directly confronts the efforts of science journals to stifle debate by labelling such theories as 'misinformation'.

In the article, the authors argue that 'there is no direct support for the natural origin of SARS-CoV-2, and a laboratory-related accident is plausible'. 

They add that the February 2020 statement 'imparted a silencing effect on the wider scientific debate'.

And they say scientists, 'need to evaluate all hypotheses on a rational basis, and to weigh their likelihood based on facts and evidence, devoid of speculation concerning possible political impacts'.

Science itself, they go on, should 'embrace alternative hypotheses, contradictory arguments, verification, refutability, and controversy' and rather than congratulating China on its supposed 'transparency', they call on the secretive superpower to open up.

China fiercely resisted a full and unrestricted probe into the origins of the outbreak by the World Health Organisation, resulting in what is widely considered to be a neutered investigation. 

The subsequent report, published in March, concluded the SARS-CoV-2 virus probably passed to humans from a bat via another unidentified species.

It all but dismissed the theories that the virus was engineered in a laboratory, or was a natural virus that escaped from a lab.

But the report was criticised by 14 nations including the UK, US and Australia, while even the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, admitted it was 'not extensive enough'. 

The Mail on Sunday has repeatedly drawn attention to The Lancet's role in obscuring the origins of the virus and its early spread.

The new commentary, published in The Lancet on Friday, said: 'The world will remain mired in dispute without the full engagement of China, including open access to primary data, documents, and relevant stored material to enable a thorough, transparent and objective search for all relevant evidence.'

One of the signatories, Professor Nikolai Petrovsky of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, told The Mail on Sunday: 'It might seem small, but after 18 months of complete denial, the very act of [The] Lancet agreeing to publish this letter acknowledging the origins of Covid-19 remains an open verdict, is a very big deal.

'For a leading medical journal like Lancet to agree to finally open its doors to a letter from scientists highlighting the ongoing uncertain origins of Covid-19, indicates how far we have come in 18 months in requesting an open scientific debate on the topic, but also indicates just how far we still have to go'.


The economic consequences of working from home that no one is talking about

The work from home revolution is in full swing and there are some big benefits available to anyone able to tune in to their job remotely - including saving money. But there are also some underappreciated economic consequences of widespread working from home we need to consider.

Each week worked from home during lockdown this year has saved me more than $60 in both travel and food expenses. I also gain more than two hours a day in time that would normally have been spent commuting. If this was a permanent arrangement, I would be saving perhaps $3000 a year and getting about 100 hours of extra time back in my schedule. So what would happen if I continue to make those savings, every year, and so did many other office workers across the country?

PwC Australia future of work lead Ben Hamer said the firm’s research into the shift to remote work found three-quarters of Australians want a hybrid of home and office working post-pandemic. Only one in 10 wanted to return to working five days a week in an office environment.

“Between 40 to 50 per cent of the labour market are looking to leave their employer in the next 12 months and, with 100,000 more jobs in Australia than pre-COVID alongside record high vacancies and historically low unemployment, we are on the precipice of The Great Resignation,” Hamer said. “We are about to see a massive exodus of workers ... And there is no going back to the way things were.”

Some employers will also benefit from making working from home an ongoing proposition, as they are able to reduce their office floor space and all the associated costs that come with renting or owning premises, widen their available talent pool and, presumably, have a more attractive working environment for staff wanting a work-life balance.

This all sounds like a major win. But there are some serious consequences for the economy if we give up our office space for good, and individually realise all these savings.

Working from home is set to be a permanent shift for much of Australia, but while workers at some of the biggest companies are happily leaving the city behind - there are downsides to consider.

The Productivity Commission last week released a report into the working from home phenomenon and, while acknowledging its potential, raised some concerns. This included diminished physical activity and potentially more loneliness for those not in an office environment, as well as the potential loss of opportunities for collaboration and connection.

The commission also warned about rising inequality between those able to work from home, who are more likely to be well paid and highly educated, and those who are in jobs requiring face-to-fact contact or who do not have the space, resources or ability to work remotely. It’s possible a shift to working from home could segregate society and make life even more unfair. On the other hand, the report said remote work would better open up opportunities for those less able to leave their home to work, such as carers and parents, and those living in regional areas.

However, one issue not getting enough attention is what happens to the businesses that have previously benefited from all the office-related spending from staff packed into high rises and central business districts.

The commission says the shift to working from home might see “some businesses that require high foot-traffic in order to be viable — such as cafes and hairdressers — [choosing] to locate in suburbs rather than in city centres”.

This is plausible. But what if some people never return to their old spending habits again?

Here is where the “paradox of thrift” may kick in. Economists generally agree that an individual’s decision to increase their personal savings may benefit them upfront, but this would be detrimental for the economy as a whole due to decreased activity (particularly if lots of people chose to save more than usual). This is then bad for that individual and everyone overall.

Ultimately, the extra savings many are benefiting from during the lockdown is money that usually would have been spent back into the economy at cafes, restaurants and dry cleaners. This is money those businesses no longer receive and are no longer able to use to pay staff.

It’s possible some people will choose to spend their money with as much abandon as they used to but now in their local area instead. As the commission theorises, some businesses will benefit from relocating from the city to the suburbs and perhaps serve morning coffee to workers in those locales.

But it’s also possible some of this spending will change for good. Some people will be fine making their coffees for themselves in the morning if the convenience of having a coffee made by someone else requires the inconvenience of needing to leave the house when you otherwise do not need to.

There are also fewer barriers to making your lunch, rather than ordering it, when your pantry and fridge are right in front of you. The wider ramifications of this on a more permanent basis could extend to sustained drop in demand for a range of other goods and services, such as corporate attire, catering, dry cleaning and transport, that will not find enough customers even if they move location.

This may mean more saving and debt reduction on an individual level, and it could also mean the shrinking of major industries that have served as the lifeblood of business parks and CBDs across the country. It might also lead to the creation of new industries and new businesses to take advantage of this extra cash no longer being spent on things like lattes and takeout.

The office exodus might just spark a spending renaissance too.



John Durham indicts Democrat lawyer Michael Sussmann for false statement (National Review)

Judge rejects DOJ move to block Texas pro-life law (Fox News)

Federal judge blocks Biden administration from expelling migrants under COVID public health order (National Review)

Americans still trapped at Mazar-i-Sharif Airport in Afghanistan, and — surprise! — the Taliban is not cooperating (Daily Wire)

“Angry and bitter”: France snubs Biden over defense agreement with Australia, cancels gala celebrating U.S.-French relationship (Daily Wire)

Virginia governor’s debate gets heated as Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin trade swipes (Washington Examiner)

Arizona 2020 election audit report due for public release September 24 (Washington Examiner)

Minnesota Supreme Court allows anti-cop ballot question concerning Minneapolis police (NPR)

Italy mandates COVID passports for all workers (Washington Examiner)

France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay (Axios)

Combo shot for COVID and flu vaccines under development (HealthDay News)

Who’d a thunk it? Obesity in children accelerated during the pandemic (Axios)

Small business group announces lawsuit against Biden administration over vaccine mandate (Just the News)

New congressional plan would push top tax rate to an astounding 60% in four states (FEE)

The global food price crisis isn’t going away (Axios)

Big Brother: Treasury Department seeks to track financial transactions of personal bank accounts over $600 (FEE)

Here’s Anthony Fauci pre-pandemic laughing at the “paranoid” idea that masking is effective against infectious disease (Not the Bee)




19 September, 2021

Why you may not need a COVID-19 booster yet after all

Given what we know about breakthrough infections, most experts remain unconvinced there’s enough data to justify an extra dose for most Americans.

Top scientists have dealt a blow to President Joe Biden’s plan to begin rolling out COVID-19 booster shots to most Americans. On September 17, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee rejected a bid to approve a third Pfizer dose for anyone age 16 and older. Instead, the committee threw its support behind a proposal to grant emergency use authorization of boosters for people age 65 and older or who are at high risk for severe disease, such as health-care workers or people with underlying conditions.

For weeks, scientists have vigorously debated whether there is enough data to justify an extra dose for most Americans. Two top scientists reportedly resigned from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the plan to administer boosters, which they have since criticized in a paper published in The Lancet.

The data trickling in so far does seem to suggest that the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are less able to prevent infection after six to eight months, but experts point out there are wide discrepancies.

In July, Israel said data from its highly vaccinated population shows that Pfizer’s vaccine is now only 64 percent effective against preventing infection. Then there were the alarming reports that month of a large COVID-19 outbreak in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Out of hundreds who had been infected, about three-quarters were fully vaccinated. By contrast, a United Kingdom study in August found that the Pfizer vaccine is 88 percent effective against the Delta variant. Weeks later, a study of New York State residents showed a combined vaccine effectiveness of 79.8 percent among those who had received the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson jabs.

One thing that’s perfectly clear to scientists is that the COVID-19 vaccines are still performing admirably where it matters most: protecting against severe disease and death. In the aftermath of the Cape Cod outbreak, scientists pointed out that only four of the people who got breakthrough cases had to be hospitalized. And according to a September 10 report from the CDC, the vaccines are more than 90 percent effective against hospitalization and death. Unvaccinated people are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people and 11 times more likely to die.

That’s why many experts have been scratching their heads since August, when President Biden announced that his administration planned to offer third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. His team advised Americans to get the boosters eight months after their second doses, and they set a September target for clinics to start giving people third jabs. “It will make you safer, and for longer. And it will help us end the pandemic faster,” Biden said at the time.

Most scientists instead emphasize that the data will be much clearer if regulators can take more time before weighing the science behind booster shots, since breakthrough infections remain overwhelmingly mild.

“Your protection does not fall off a cliff at six months or eight months,” says Anna Durbin, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

Protection against severe disease

To understand why breakthrough infections happen, it helps to recall how the immune response works. Antibodies are the first line of defense against infection, and people can develop antibodies that target the SARS-CoV-2 virus both through natural infection and vaccination. When the virus enters the body through the nose or throat, the antibodies that reside there fight off the virus before it can take hold.

But your body can’t maintain high levels of antibodies against every pathogen it has ever encountered all the time. People also tend to have relatively low levels of antibodies in their noses and throats because they have to travel there from your bloodstream. So sometimes a virus—particularly one as potent as the Delta variant—can slip past them to cause a breakthrough infection.

As the virus penetrates the cells in the nose and throat, it begins to replicate. At that point, a person may exhibit symptoms characteristic of an upper respiratory infection, including stuffiness, cough, fever, and fatigue.

“It’s a nuisance but it’s not life-threatening,” says Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunobiologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

That’s when the rest of the immune system kicks in to keep the infection from escalating to the lungs, where it can cause severe harm resulting in hospitalization or death. Having been trained by the COVID-19 vaccines to recognize the virus, the immune system ramps up production of new antibodies, as well as memory B and T cells that join the fight.

It takes time for an infection to travel to the lungs, giving your immune system plenty of opportunity to mount a robust defense. Bhattacharya says severe disease is low among the vaccinated because they can clear the virus from their systems more quickly. This both reduces the severity of their symptoms and reduces the window in which they can infect others. “I think we’re fairly confident in that,” he says.

Assessing the evidence

Booster shots are additional doses of the original vaccine that increase antibodies in the nose and throat, so they would decrease the chance of getting an infection in the first place. And researchers say that the data on breakthroughs is an early signal that the vaccines’ ability to prevent infection is waning, particularly among people with compromised immune systems and older populations.

These are groups that you would expect might not have a robust response to the standard dose of the vaccine, says Jack O’Horo, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic who is based in Rochester, Minnesota. People who have had solid organ transplants, for example, take medication that suppresses the response of their memory cells. They rely on antibodies alone to fight off infection—and studies have shown that they have a poor antibody response to the vaccine.

In August, this evidence prompted the FDA to approve use of a booster dose for certain immunocompromised populations. “To the extent that a third shot gets them a little bit closer to what we see in healthy people after their second shot, I think that’s worth doing,” Bhattacharya says. “That’s the easy one.”

The next group that scientists suggested might benefit from booster shots were older Americans. According to a September CDC study, people over 65 account for about 70 percent of hospitalizations from breakthrough infections. But scientists note that there may be specific age groups or other factors in play, such as whether someone lives in a nursing home. Still, the FDA advisory committee agreed that there’s enough evidence to suggest that people over 65 should be eligible for boosters.

It’s a little trickier to parse the data for other populations. Recently, a September 7 preprint echoed the findings of previous studies when it showed that the odds of vaccinated people testing positive for COVID-19 are higher 120 days after the date they reached full vaccination. Yet O’Horo, co-author of the study, stresses that “this was from a very small risk to a small risk.” He says follow-up research is needed to break down the populations whose risk of a breakthrough infection—while still small—is most concerning.

Ultimately, O’Horo says the findings of his study provide “a very early signal” to federal regulators that it’s time to carefully assess how the vaccines are working. He also points out that the FDA and CDC have access to more and better data than what has been released publicly about the vaccines’ real-world effectiveness.

“If I had to boil it down to a single phrase, it would be, Walk, don’t run,” he says. “We have information suggesting that this is a good time to have a scientific discussion about boosters, but it is emphatically not a time to hit a panic button.”

Complicating factors

There are other factors to consider when it comes to administering booster shots to the general population. For one, the three vaccines approved or authorized for use in the U.S. aren’t all the same.

Recent studies suggest that people who received Moderna’s vaccine are better protected from severe breakthrough infections because it elicits higher and more durable antibody levels than Pfizer’s vaccine. And a recent CDC report showed that the Moderna two-dose shot remains 95 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations compared to 80 percent for Pfizer and 60 percent for Johnson & Johnson.

But it will take more in-depth investigation to tease out what that means for who needs booster shots: Scientists point out that the Moderna vaccine is administered at a higher dose than Pfizer’s vaccine and with a longer interval between doses. It also rolled out after Pfizer’s vaccine, so the data are slightly lagging.

“People shouldn’t be running out and saying, I want a Moderna vaccine now,” Durbin says, adding that Moderna’s effectiveness is likely to drop off over time as well.

It’s also possible that another dose might not be a booster at all, but rather the proper dosage. Vaccines typically take years to develop because researchers take time to study many different dosing options. For the COVID-19 vaccines, they didn’t have that luxury of time to test whether three full doses might be better than two, says Francesca Torriani, an infectious disease specialist at University of California, San Diego Health.

And that could end up being the case. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an earlier White House press briefing that he “would not at all be surprised that the adequate full regimen for vaccination will likely be three doses.”

The bottom line for boosters

Ultimately, the decision on boosters comes down to what regulators are trying to achieve: to reduce all symptomatic infections among Americans, or to slow transmission of the virus. Bhattacharya says there just isn’t evidence yet to show that a booster would provide much extra protection to most people.

He points to the discrepancies among global studies of vaccine effectiveness. Most show only a slight drop, but a handful of countries see a more significant change. The Biden administration has cited Israel’s reports that the Pfizer vaccine is now only 64 percent effective in its plan to roll out boosters. If that’s true, Bhattacharya says, it suggests boosters would offer a large benefit to the general population. But he cautions against putting too much weight in any one study.

“Most scientists believe that both in the short term and in the long term we have so much more to gain by getting the rest of the world vaccinated,” Bhattacharya says. He argues that the pockets of unvaccinated people around the world are far more dangerous than breakthroughs, because they create potential for even more dangerous variants that might evade the vaccines entirely.

Durbin agrees that global vaccine distribution should be the focus, and she adds that experts need to manage expectations about the purpose of vaccines.

“We are so privileged to be able to have these vaccines that are so highly effective,” she says. “Unfortunately, because of that people now think that they shouldn’t have any symptoms, there shouldn’t be breakthrough infections. And that’s just not a reasonable expectation,” she says.

Torriani points out that there might be an even easier and more effective way to prevent breakthrough infections in the U.S.: wearing a mask. Earlier this month, she was part of a team of researchers that examined breakthrough infections among health-care workers in San Diego. They noted that the drop in vaccine effectiveness from June to July was likely caused by waning immunity and the emergence of the Delta variant. Yet the study also coincided with the end of masking requirements in San Diego, which Torriani says likely increased the risk of breakthrough infections. It’s yet another factor that public health officials need to keep in mind when making policy.

“We still need to mask,” Durbin says. “It’s going to help prevent COVID, it’s going to help prevent you from getting influenza, it’s going to prevent you from getting other colds and respiratory illnesses. It just makes good sense. Wear a mask.”




17 September, 2021

Australian GPs hit out at restrictions on supposed Covid treatment Ivermectin

<i>The general Leftist determination to find fault with Trump has to be factored into any judgment about Ivermectin.  As I read it, the condemnations of it and the devotions to it are both too sweeping.  

On my reading of the research literature, it is in a familiar class of drugs that is useful if taken early in disease onset but useless after that.  So both sides can quote findings that support their position.</i>

The move by Australia's legal drug authority to warn general practitioners against prescribing the drug Ivermectin as a supposed 'Covid treatment' has divided the grass roots medical fraternity.

Last week, the Therapeutic Goods Administration issued new restrictions on the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19 symptoms amid fear it was being handed out by GPs to those using it as an unauthorised treatment for the virus.

The drug, which has traditionally been used to treat lice and scabies in humans, and which also is used to treat conditions in animals, gained popularity as a potential Covid cure after ex-United States President Donald Trump talked it up while in office. 

News of the direction stirred robust debate among doctors commenting under a Royal Australian College of General Practitioners article. 

While some welcomed the decision, many appeared furious that they were being told what was best for their patients. 

'The contempt we are held in by our bureaucracy is palpable,' one GP stated. 

'Once again general practice is considered the lowest common denominator of medicine, and our competence and objectivity to treat our patients appropriately is questioned,' another doctor wrote. 

Some GPs argued it was 'common knowledge' among doctors that vaccination alone was not the only approach to manage pandemics.

'Being vaccinated does not make anyone a superhuman to COVID infection. If our goal is to keep Australian safe from dying, shouldn't we give alternatives to those who for whatever reasons will rather die than take the vaccines,' one doctor wrote. 

'India saved their nation with Ivermectin. Do we want people to die in their homes in the name of promoting vaccination? GPs should stand up for choice.' 

GPs are now only able to prescribe ivermectin for TGA-approved indications, such as scabies and certain parasitic infections.

The changes mean only specific specialists , including infectious disease physicians, dermatologists, gastroenterologists and hepatologists, will be permitted to prescribe the drug for other 'unapproved indications' if they believe it appropriate.

'These changes have been introduced because of concerns with the prescribing of oral ivermectin for the claimed prevention or treatment of COVID-19,' the TGA told doctors.

'Ivermectin is not approved for use in COVID-19 in Australia or in other developed countries, and its use by the general public for COVID-19 is currently strongly discouraged by the National COVID Clinical Evidence Taskforce, the World Health Organisation and the US Food and Drug Administration.'

'I am neither for or against Ivermectin at this stage,' one GP commented.

'WHO had given contradictory statements on Covid inflection right from the start. For example, no human to human transmission.'

Some GPs claimed they had been bullied by anti-vaxxers desperate for access to the drug to treat Covid.  

'I have been approached by an aggressive family twice and I obliged once which was so hard next time that I needed to call police to get rid of that patient - frustrating indeed,' a GP stated.  

It is understood the drug's promotion by anti-vaxxers has led to a dramatic increase in its uptake by the large sections of the community. 

The drug has been used as an authorised treatment for Covid-19 in some eastern European, South American and Central American nations, and was used in India to during the outbreak of the Delta strain, but is not recommended by the WHO. 

It came back into the headlines this month when prominent podcaster Joe Rogan said he used the drug and others to treat his Covid infection and rapidly recovered, with some attacking his promotion of unauthorised treatments. 

A quick look on social media reveals the drug is widely promoted in anti-vaccination circles as an alternative to the jab. 

'There has been a 3-4-fold increased dispensing of ivermectin prescriptions in recent months leading to national and local shortages for those who need the medicine for scabies and parasite infections,' GPs were warned.

The health watchdog has warned improper use of the drug can be associated with serious adverse effects, including severe nausea, vomiting, dizziness and neurological effects such as dizziness, seizures and coma. 

Although some GPs remain skeptical of the TGA advice.  

'Ivermectin is wrongly painted as a dangerous drug and a "serious overdose reaction" of diarhoea is mentioned. This is laughable,' one GP wrote.

'Many patients taking all sorts of medications are experiencing diarhoea and a S/E. Should we remove all these meds from GP's hands then?' 

Former Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who in August assumed the leadership of Clive Palmer's United Australia Party, has repeatedly said drugs such as ivermectin and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine - another unproven treatment - should be used to treat Covid.

'I'm not saying take the drug. I'm not saying the drug works, but I'm saying the doctor should be free to sit down with their patient and make a decision,' he previously told SBS.

Last month, the equivalent to the TGA - the US FDA - put out a tweet urging people not to take ivermectin, amid a surge of calls to poison centers nationwide. 'You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,' the agency wrote.


Almost Half Of Covid Hospitalizations were not

It's the question so many of us have been wondering ever since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic over a year and a half ago. Just how many of those scary hospitalization numbers we keep hearing about are and were there *with* and not *because of* the virus itself?

It is, after all, a highly contagious respiratory virus, so it's going to infect a lot of people, including those in hospitals for other health reasons. However, information on that topic has been difficult if not impossible to obtain ... that is, until researchers took on the difficult task of combing through tens of thousands of VA hospital records to find a shocking statistic that could likely be true nationwide - almost HALF of Covid-19 'hospitalizations' in 2021 have either mild or asymptomatic cases. That means they are either hospitalized for something else entirely or they are being (unnecessarily?) admitted for a mild Covid case.

Here's The Atlantic's David Zweig with the scoop: 

[Researchers] analyzed the electronic records for nearly 50,000 COVID hospital admissions at the more than 100 VA hospitals across the country. Then they checked to see whether each patient required supplemental oxygen or had a blood oxygen level below 94 percent. (The latter criterion is based on the National Institutes of Health definition of “severe COVID.”) If either of these conditions was met, the authors classified that patient as having moderate to severe disease; otherwise, the case was considered mild or asymptomatic.

The study found that from March 2020 through early January 2021—before vaccination was widespread, and before the Delta variant had arrived—the proportion of patients with mild or asymptomatic disease was 36 percent. From mid-January through the end of June 2021, however, that number rose to 48 percent. In other words, the study suggests that roughly half of all the hospitalized patients showing up on COVID-data dashboards in 2021 may have been admitted for another reason entirely, or had only a mild presentation of disease.

Additionally, Zweig writes, the study found that "the introduction of vaccines strongly correlates with a greater share of COVID hospital patients having mild or asymptomatic disease."

Zweig concluded by explaining how Covid hospitalization rates "can be misleading, if not considered carefully."

Clearly many patients right now are seriously ill. We also know that overcrowding of hospitals by COVID patients with even mild illness can have negative implications for patients in need of other care. At the same time, this study suggests that COVID hospitalization tallies can’t be taken as a simple measure of the prevalence of severe or even moderate disease, because they might inflate the true numbers by a factor of two. “As we look to shift from cases to hospitalizations as a metric to drive policy and assess level of risk to a community or state or country,” Doron told me, referring to decisions about school closures, business restrictions, mask requirements, and so on, “we should refine the definition of hospitalization. Those patients who are there with rather than from COVID don’t belong in the metric.”

Given the prevalence of hysterical headlines about hospitalizations, this is important information indeed!



Antony Blinken says most Afghan evacuees weren’t vetted before airlift (Washington Times) 

Senate Democrats threaten subpoena after Pentagon chief refuses to appear at Afghanistan hearing (Washington Times)

House Democrats break Joe Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $400K (Washington Times)

Congressional Research Service raises questions about OSHA vaccine mandate's legality (Daily Wire) 

Arizona becomes first state to challenge constitutionality of the vaccine mandate (Daily Signal)

“Breach of trust”: Secret Facebook program exempted celebrities and VIPs from moderation policies (Daily Wire)

Intelligence experts say Al-Qaeda could reform in Afghanistan in “one to two years” (Daily Wire) 

Top U.S. general in Afghanistan told chain of command he disagreed with withdrawal (Washington Times)

What could possibly go wrong? DOJ allows former intel/military members who hacked for foreign country to pay to escape prosecution (Daily Wire)

China following Russian model with large-scale buildup of nuclear force (Washington Times)

“Absolutely outrageous”: North Korea fires two ballistic missiles toward Japan (Fox News)

Big Meat hits back at Biden administration for blaming inflation on industry (Fox Business)

Facebook knows Instagram is toxic to teens, leaked documents reveal (Morning Brew)

Surveys show 3.2 million estimated first-time gun buyers in first half of 2021 (NSSF)




16 September, 2021

Third Pfizer Covid vaccine produces 10 TIMES more antibodies than second jab, Israeli study finds

Medics at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, outside Tel Aviv, compared the antibody levels in staff one week after their third and second doses. 

They found that the Pfizer vaccine — which Israel is solely relying on for its immunisation programmes — stimulated a tenfold greater immune response.

While the research only looked at healthcare staff at one specific hospital, it is hoped that the findings will apply more broadly to the rest of the population.  

The hospital said it was treating the results with caution and would be monitoring staff in the coming months to see how long the boost to immunity lasts.

Antibodies are just one part of the overall immune response to Covid, which also includes white blood cells known as T cells that give longer protection. 

It comes just a day after the UK finally signed off on a mass booster campaign for 30million over-50s, health and social care staff and Britons with severe health issues.

Israel became the first country in the world to roll out third doses in August, initially inviting over-60s but later gradually opening it up to everyone over the age of 12.

Nearly 3m Israelis have been 'boosted' so far and the country but officials in the UK believe younger people are still enjoying very high protection.    

Israel had led the way with the original vaccine rollout last December, becoming the fastest country in the world to vaccinate everyone who wanted a jab.

The trail-blazing programme suppressed the virus by summer which allowed it to become one of the first nations to lift all pandemic restrictions.

But cases began to soar over the summer, due to a combination of vaccines waning and the new Delta variant, which infects vaccinated people more easily.

Israel is set to begin preparations to administer fourth doses of the coronavirus vaccines already, 

The country's national coronavirus czar Salman Zarka said last week that the country needs to prepare for a fourth injection, which could be modified to better protect against new variants of the virus.

'Given that that the virus is here and will continue to be here, we also need to prepare for a fourth injection,' he told Kan public radio. 'This is our life from now on, in waves.'

'It seems that if we learn the lessons from the fourth wave, we must consider the [possibility of subsequent] waves with the new variants, such as the new one from South America,' he said at the time.

'Thinking about this and the waning of the vaccines and the antibodies, it seems every few months — it could be once a year or five or six months — we'll need another shot.'

He added that he expects Israel to be given out vaccines that had been specially adapted to cope with different variants of the virus by late 2021 or early 2022.

While Israel is seeing record case numbers in its fourth wave, the jabs are still protecting against severe illness with Covid deaths running at about half of the level of its second wave.

Israel pulled the trigger on a booster vaccine programme in August, which has stabilised the spiralling outbreak.

The country recorded 136 hospital admissions in the week to September 12, down from the peak of 165 in the last week of August. Weekly hospitalisations had soared from just four in June.

Cases continue to rise but this is believed to be due to a big testing blitz in schools, which went back at the start of the month.

Infections also remain very low among the triple-jabbed, the country's health ministry said.

The results in Israel will likely have inspired UK health officials to green light a booster programme.

But they have stopped short of recommending third doses to the entire population, with shots being reserved for the roughly 32m deemed most vulnerable to Covid.

It will start next week and Britons will only be invited for a booster six months after getting their second jab.

That appears to be the 'sweet spot', according to officials who signed off on the move due to waning immunity.

That decision is largely in line with Israel's programme, which is only offering third doses to people five months after their second.

However, MailOnline revealed today that  only 1.6million people in the UK, mainly care home residents and frontline health workers, were fully vaccinated by March 15 - the cut off point to qualify for a booster.

The UK didn't breach the 30million mark until June, meaning the campaign won't be open to millions of vulnerable adults until much closer to Christmas.

Experts told MailOnline the decision to delay boosters by six months should not be a cause for concern because the gap means people are only given a top-up dose as their immunity starts to wane. 

But they warned it could be a problem for a 'small number' of older and vulnerable people whose immunity drops faster than expected.

Booster doses of the Pfizer jab, or a half dose of Moderna, will be administered to those eligible from next week, regardless of which jab they initially received.

For those who cannot get either of those two mRNA jabs, such as due to an allergy, they will be given a dose of AstraZeneca's vaccine.

The jabs will be dished out through vaccination centres, primary care networks and pharmacies and can be given at the same time as annual flu jabs.

Department of Health bosses said the booster campaign will 'ensure the protection vaccines provide for those most at risk of severe illness from Covid will be maintained over the winter months'. 

Pfizer's jab, made alongside German partner BioNTech, is already approved for over-12s in Britain.  

It is the first phase of the Government's winter plan to avoid another lockdown. If hospitalisations rise quickly, ministers have warned they could be forced to reintroduce face masks and work from home guidance. 

Dr Doug Brown, chief executive at the British Society of Immunology, told MailOnline: 'Receiving two vaccinations against Covid has been shown to be highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalisation and death as well as generating an effective immune response that does provide this protection in the long term. 

'We don’t yet know exactly how long immunity will last, which is why the government’s decision to offer booster doses to the most vulnerable is a welcome move which will help us be prepared for the worst this winter. 

'With the third dose being offered six months after the second, studies have shown that we can be confident that for those six months people will have protection during that period from their initial vaccinations with the third dose providing an additional boost to the immune system.

'In addition to boosters, we must not take our foot off the gas and continue to make every effort to reach people who have not had their first doses of the vaccine and encourage them to come forward for a Covid vaccination. 'Vaccination is our only way out of this pandemic.' 

Earlier this month, half a million severely immunosuppressed people, who are most at-risk from Covid and were unable to mount a full response to the vaccine, were invited to get a third dose.


Clinical trial to test whether anti-parasite drug ivermectin is effective at treating Covid set to begin in Minnesota

Clinical trials will soon begin in Minnesota to test whether or not anti-parasite drug ivermectin is effective at treating COVID-19.

The University of Minnesota Medical School will be examining the drug along with two others to determine their effectiveness at combatting the virus.

Ivermectin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human use to treat certain parasite-related conditions, and it is regularly available by prescription.

However, many are harming themselves because they are purchasing versions of the drug meant for large animals like cows and horses at livestock stores and consuming doses of that are too large to be considered safe for humans.

Researchers are currently recruiting participants for the study. To be eligible, a person must be between ages 30 and 85 and have tested positive for COVID-19 n the past three days.

People who are currently hospitalized for any reason, or are taking metformin, insulin, sulfonylurea or have heart, liver of kidney disease are not eligible.

As an incentive, anyone who participates will be offered $400.

Those who are chosen for the study will be placed into one of six groups, each of which will be using a different set of drugs for treatment. One group will receive ivermectin alone and another will get a combination of ivermectin and metformin, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes.

A third group will be given metformin alone, the fourth group will receive fluvoxamine - a drug that treats obsessive compulsive disorder - and a fifth group will receive a combination of those two drugs.

The sixth and final group will receive a placebo.

Researchers hope they can either discover new potential treatments for Covid, or rule these drugs out entirely as ineffective.

All three are already FDA approved for human use, though not for viruses. 

Ivermectin garnered attention of social media as a potential Covid treatment after an Australian study found the drug could inhibit replication of the virus's cells.

Dr Timothy Geary, a parasitologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and one of the world's foremost experts on the drug, explained to in an interview last month that the study was being misinterpreted.

'In that study they showed that in cell cultures, ivermectin could inhibit [Covid] replication, but the concentrations required for that effect were in a range called the micromolar range - very high concentrations relative to what you would find in the plasma of a treated person or an animal, which would be 20 to 50 times lower,' he said.

'At high concentrations in cell culture, many compounds can have all kinds of effects but when you look at what we would call pharmacological levels - what we actually see and treated patients - it is far higher than [what would be used in humans]

'So the standard doses of ivermectin that we use for people are never going to reach the levels that would be effective in against the virus based on that one study.' 

Many have used the drug inappropriately to protect themselves from the virus, however.

There has been a 24-fold increase in prescriptions for the drug compared to before the pandemic began, a CDC report from last month found.

Those prescriptions are generally safe, however, because they are of human versions of the drug. 

Where people are running into problems is when they purchase veterinary versions of the drug, which come in doses much larger than what is safe for humans - and overdose.

This has led to a spike in calls to poison control in recent months, and many local and federal officials issuing warnings against use of the drug.




15 September, 2021

Britain's Test and Trace system has had barely any impact on thwarting the spread of Covid, according to official estimates.

The controversial £37billion scheme has been heavily criticised over the past year for being ineffective at breaking the chains of transmission.

New Government modelling found the programme – which critics have described as being the biggest ever waste of taxpayer money – may have only slashed cases by as little as six per cent.

It also estimates that people isolating prevented 1.2million to 2million secondary cases, with NHS Test and Trace responsible for stopping 300,000 to 500,000 of these. 

The estimate assumed people with Covid symptoms and their households would still have isolated if testing wasn't on offer. 

But health chiefs noted that without the offer of testing, millions more people would have needlessly self-isolated when they weren't infected because they wouldn't have been able to prove they were negative through a swab. 

Test and Trace identified around 900,000 positive cases in August, according to official figures. 

It comes as Boris Johnson will today warn that the pandemic is 'far from over' as he unveils his 'winter plan, admitting that another lockdown cannot by completely ruled out.  

A report published by NHS Test and Trace looked at what impact it had over and above if people with symptoms still isolated without any access to testing. 

It did this by analysing the transmission reduction from testing, tracing and isolating from the current scheme.

This was then compared to an imagined scenario where testing was not on offer and households were told to self-isolate if someone developed Covid symptoms.

A panel including 'Professor Lockdown' Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, helped with the modelling.

The study, which looked at the period from last August to April, found the Test and Trace scheme reduced transmission between 10 and 28 per cent.

Will Boris's winter plan be enough to avert lockdown? 
Boris Johnson will today warn that the pandemic is 'far from over' as he unveils his 'winter plan' - admitting that another lockdown cannot by completely ruled out. 

The PM is set to flesh out his strategy in a press conference this afternoon, after Health Secretary Sajid Javid has given the outline to MPs in a statement. 

He will insist that vaccines can be the main defence against the disease, with boosters for the over-50s and jabs for under-16s starting soon.

But blueprint includes the return of compulsory masks, working from home and some social distancing if the NHS is under threat. Vaccine passports will still be an option, even though they will not be introduced in England from next month as originally intended.

And health minister Nadhim Zahawi said this morning that lockdown is on the table as a 'last resort' if infections run completely out of control.

Scientists are already warning that the country is going into the winter with high levels of cases, saying that 'does not bode well' for hopes of avoiding further restrictions.

But if people stayed at home when they suspected they had the virus anyway, like they are supposed to, the testing system only reduced transmission from six to 19 per cent. 

However, the report claimed the T&T system was 'critical' in reducing the R rate – a measure of how quickly the virus is spreading – and bringing it below one. 

It told 11million people to isolate during the study period. 

However, the report warns that the data gives a 'very high-level view of the impact of the whole system', so should not be used to evaluate its specific components.

And it notes that testing and contact tracing may have prevented outbreaks in other settings, such as from hospitals, which were not included in the figures. 

It also warned it is 'extremely difficult to estimate how people would really behave' if testing was not in place, so the numbers it assumed would isolate without testing may be overstated and underestimate the impact of Test and Trace. 

NHS Test and Trace has contacted more than 14.9million infected people in England and their close contacts and processed over 262million tests since it was launched last June.

Between last August and April, the programme identified between 25 and 65 per cent of infected Britons and their close contacts.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: 'Since its inception, NHS Test and Trace has played an important role in countering this virus – along with the phenomenal vaccination programme – contacting over 14.9million people from across the country and breaking chains of transmission to stop outbreaks.

'With around one in three people with Covid showing no symptoms, regular testing and contact tracing, alongside the wall of defence built by the vaccination programme, are fundamental to ongoing efforts to keep people safe and help the return to a more normal way of life.'  

It comes as the Prime Minister is set to flesh out his strategy in a press conference this afternoon, after Health Secretary Sajid Javid has given the outline to MPs in a statement.

He will insist that vaccines can be the main defence against the disease, with boosters for the over-50s and jabs for under-16s starting soon.

Boris Johnston said yesterday: 'The pandemic is far from over, but thanks to our phenomenal vaccine programme, new treatments and testing we are able to live with the virus without significant restrictions on our freedoms.'


Britain is preparing for a long, virulent winter without a single lockdown. Can they pull it off

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is backing booster COVID-19 vaccine shots for vulnerable people and the elderly as part of his plan to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed and future lockdowns as the UK approaches winter. 

The prime minister is hoping to avoid a winter like last year, when a second wave fuelled by the Alpha variant caused more than 50,000 deaths on either side of the peak in mid-January 2021.

On Monday, it was announced England's vaccine rollout will expand to those aged between 12 and 15, and on Tuesday it was revealed in the government's 32-page plan that booster shots will be available for those over the age of 50, frontline health workers and the clinically vulnerable – estimated to be around 30 million people.

As well as booster jabs, the government has prepared a "plan B" in the event hospitalisations rise dramatically and the National Health Service is put at risk of being overwhelmed, which could involve mandatory facemask wearing, vaccine passports and a return of working from home.

With another 26,628 people testing positive for COVID-19 and a further 185 deaths recorded on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said in one way the UK was in a more challenging position than it was at the same time last year, when cases hovered around 3,000 per day.

"But in many other crucial respects, the British people – all of us collectively and individually – are incomparably better placed to fight the disease," he said. "We have more than 80 per cent of all over 16s now double vaccinated, and we have COVID anti-bodies in around 90 per cent of the adult population. "Those vaccines are working."

So how exactly is Boris Johnson's government going to prevent another deadly winter?

The UK is backing vaccines to do the heavy lifting over the winter months, with transmission likely to increase as students go back to school, workers return to workplaces and people spend more time indoors as the days get shorter and colder.

Earlier on Tuesday, England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Johnathan Van Tam, said vaccines had saved 112,000 lives since being rolled out at the end of last year.

"Our latest estimates are that since we began deploying these vaccines, they've probably averted in the region of 24 million cases of COVID in the UK and 112,000 deaths — so, incredibly successful to date and remains so," Professor Van-Tam said.

"We're not past the pandemic — we're in an active phase still.  "We know this winter could quite possibly be bumpy at times."

Along with advising children aged between 12 and 15 get vaccinated, the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation made the recommendation to deploy booster shots across all four nations in the UK, which will be given at least six months after people had received their second dose of the vaccine.

It said there was evidence of a small decline in effectiveness of the vaccine against hospitalisation for older people, dropping from just over 90 per cent to just under 90 per cent after five to six months. "We've been seeing some waning immunity (in older people)," Dr Robertson said.

"But really, I think what they're trying to do is look forward and look what could happen in the future. and mitigate against that."

At the peak of the pandemic last winter, England alone had more than 30,000 patients in hospitals with COVID-19. Currently there are just over 8,400 across the UK, and the biggest concern for the government remains that figure rising dramatically and the NHS becoming overwhelmed, which would see an increase in deaths from COVID-19 and other causes that would not be able to be treated.

If numbers do start rising, the public will be urged to act more cautiously, face coverings could become legally mandated in settings such as indoors and on public transport, and mandatory vaccine passports could be introduced for large events and other indoor settings.

"The thing I would stress about Plan B is that it contains a number of different shots in the locker and you wouldn't necessarily play them all at once, far from it," Mr Johnson said.

"Because so many of the population have some degree of immunity, smaller changes in the way we're asking people to behave can have a bigger impact."

No more lockdowns?

On Monday, the UK's Telegraph newspaper quoted a senior government source as saying Mr Johnson was "dead set" against another lockdown, as rumours swirled that plans were being drawn up for an October "firebreak" lockdown to try and quell infections.

While there is scant detail of lockdown contingencies in the government's winter plan, on Monday, a Downing Street spokesperson conceded the strategy could not be ruled out if things got out of hand.

Mr Johnson was criticised several times in 2020 for delaying nationwide lockdowns as the virus tore through the country.

But with the success of the vaccines, the prime minister will be loathe do go down the lockdown route again over winter.




14 September, 2021

India may be reaching 'endemicity' after emerging from second COVID-19 wave

The number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths in India has dropped dramatically since a second wave of the virus peaked in May.

First the Alpha and then the Delta variant — which was first detected in India and is now causing strife elsewhere in the world — ravaged the country.

But the seven-day average of daily reported cases this week is just a tenth of the 400,000 recorded during the peak.

Reported deaths are down, too, with an average of fewer than 500 per day, down from more than 4,000 per day.

According to health authorities, more than 439,000 people in India have now died with the virus. 

The relatively stable numbers, which lasted throughout August, prompted the World Health Organization's chief scientist to suggest India may have reached a state of "endemicity".

That is, it may be endemic or constantly present in a particular place. 

So how did they get there and is the worst of the pandemic over for India?

What is it like in India at the moment?

While the usual caveats apply about numbers being underestimated due to inadequate testing and reporting, it's clear that things have improved India-wide. 

In May, Delhi's health system was completely overwhelmed, with medical oxygen supplies exhausted, leading to distressing images of makeshift outdoor crematoriums.

This week, less than 2 per cent of Delhi's COVID-19 beds were occupied.

Business has picked back up and schools are reopening in some states. 

Soumyadeep Bhaumik, from the George Institute India in New Delhi, said the health system was now "functioning normally" and focusing on vaccination.

However, he said, life was not back to a pre-COVID normal.

Cases were low across most of India but there had been a surge in Kerala in the past few days, he said.

"There is no 'lockdown' now but movement restrictions appropriate to the transmission are now being implemented in different states in India," he told the ABC. 

"Kerala has more restrictions now because cases are increasing, but other states, which have low cases, have fewer."

How did India get out of the Delta wave?

While India's federal government did not implement a nationwide lockdown during the second wave, by mid-May almost all of India's 36 states and territories had instituted full or partial lockdowns.

Other countries such as the UK, the Netherlands and Israel saw sharp declines in cases as a consequence of high vaccination rates and high infection levels.

In India, only about 10 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated, while about 36 per cent of people have had at least one shot.

However, a serology survey conducted in June and July indicated two out of three people in India had COVID-19 antibodies.

"The massive community spread in COVID-19 in the second wave earlier this year meant a lot of people were exposed — symptomatic or otherwise," Dr Bhaumik said.

"It also created awareness about the need to wear masks, avoiding crowds et cetera."

University of Cambridge researcher Ankur Mutreja told the ABC the combination of the state lockdowns and the increase in natural immunity combined to flatten the curve.

"While lockdowns hammer the curve directly, natural exposure during leaky lockdowns facilitates that hammering," Dr Mutreja said.

He said the high rate of antibodies from exposure was helping to keep a lid on the situation for the moment.

"Vaccination rates have also increased massively in India since the second wave, with more than 10 million doses being administered each day for the last few days," he said.

Conspiracy theories about ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine
A conspiracy theory going around at the moment is that India began treating people en masse with hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin and that was responsible for the fall in cases and deaths.

AAP fact checked the claim and found it was baseless.

"There is no evidence that new guidance on the use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine led to a reduction in COVID-19 cases in India," they found. 

"In fact, hydroxychloroquine was reported to be in widespread use well prior to the country's second-wave outbreak."

Experts — including the ivermectin's manufacturers — have repeatedly said there was no evidence the drugs were effective in treating COVID-19.

'We may be entering some stage of endemicity'

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan late last month told The Wire that while India would probably experience a third wave, it would likely not be as severe as the second.

"We may be entering some kind of stage of endemicity, where there is low-level transmission or moderate-level transmission going on but we are not seeing the kinds of exponential growth and peaks that we saw a few months ago," Dr Swaminathan said.

India would continue to have "ups and downs in different parts of the country" in areas that were less affected in the first and second waves or with lower levels of vaccine coverage, she said.

That's why Kerala, which was less affected during the second wave, was experiencing a surge now, she said.

David Anderson, from the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, said "endemic" normally just meant that a disease was always present in a population.

"That means that if you have a susceptible population, whether they're unvaccinated or they haven't been infected previously, it can find them and infect them," he said.

He said whether an endemic virus could be managed well enough to prevent an unacceptable loss of life was another question.

He said he didn't believe having two-thirds of the population vaccinated or with antibodies from COVID-19 infections was enough to prevent exponential growth. 

Either more people had been exposed to the virus than the serology surveys indicated or the impact of the virus now was being under-reported, or both, he said.

"I can't help but think that in India, they must still be having quite high rates of infection, but people are just not seeking care to the same degree," he said. 

What does the future hold?

Since May India's state and federal governments have put more resources into public education on social distancing, tightened the borders, hired more health workers, set up new medical oxygen plants, stockpiled medicines for infections such as mucormycosis and beefed up the country's virus tracking system.  

The experts contacted by the ABC agreed that India's relative respite from COVID-19 was probably only temporary and a third wave was on its way.

When it will arrive and how severe it will be is up for debate.

Dr Mutreja said vaccination rates had "increased massively" since the second wave, with more than 10 million doses being administered each day for the last few days, but another wave was "imminent".

He said how big it would be depended on how quickly the Delta variant evolved into a "more capable escape variant", the speed of India's vaccination campaign and how effective the vaccines were against the next variant. 

Rajib Dasgupta, chair of Jawaharlal Nehru University's Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, agreed that the combination of increasing vaccination coverage and high levels of immunity acquired through infections was protecting much of the population.


New vaccine coming from Australia

<i>Works with Delta</i>

Speaking at an online scientific symposium on Friday, UQ Professor Paul Young said they were well down the road to developing a new version of their vaccine candidate, using the same molecular clamp technology.

Professor Young told the meeting that after the initial version 1.0 vaccine was abandoned in December 2020 because of cross-reactivity issues with HIV screening tests, he fully expected the international funding body that initially backed the research, to request he and his team move on to other projects.

However, in a Zoom call shortly after announcing to the world that they had failed in their initial push for an Australian-developed COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine’s backers told him to go back and try again.

“When I got on that Zoom meeting, there were 126 people there,” he said.

“Having seen our phase one clinical data, they were unanimous with wanting us to stay focused on COVID. So, we have done that, and we are taking a new COVID vaccine forward.”

Version 1.0 had performed well in the initial clinical trials, giving well over 90 per cent coverage against the Wuhan strain of the virus, using a molecular “clamp” to hold a protein in a shape that mimicked part of the spike protein seen on the outside of SARS-CoV-2, which caused the body to make antibodies for the virus.

However, the actual clamp molecule used was sourced from the HIV virus because it was very effective and the researchers didn’t have time to look for a better candidate.

Although there was no risk of contracting HIV from the small molecule, it did set off HIV screening tests, something the researchers did not initially think would happen.

“What tipped us over in the end was not wanting to cause vaccine hesitancy,” he said. “And so the right decision was made at that particular time. Whether that was the right decision, given the fullness of time, I don’t know.

“But we’ve turned it around and found a successful alternative, so that we’re very pleased with, and we will progress with that.”

Professor Young said they had developed around 20 new versions of the vaccine, using a different molecule for the “clamp” used to hold the spike protein together.

He said they would be entering clinical trials in 2022, with work being done on animal models in the near future.

“Not surprisingly, we’re looking at a number of different variants including Delta, and the new clamp is working well,” he said.



Voters rightly concerned trillions in domestic spending will fuel inflation (Free Beacon)

House Democrats propose making permanent expanded ObamaCare subsidies (The Hill)

FBI releases declassified records on its investigation into possible Saudi-9/11 links (Washington Examiner)

North Korea tests first cruise missile with possible nuclear capability (Reuters)

A trip down memory lane: Biden administration promised it wouldn’t mandate COVID vaccine (The Federalist)

Jen Psaki admits vax mandate doesn’t include migrants at border, refuses to answer why (Daily Wire)

Apple must change its tightly controlled App Store, judge rules (NPR)

Portland callers to 911 more often on hold for over five minutes as calls rise, staff drops (The Oregonian)

Dumb… Salesforce CEO says he’ll move workers out of Texas due to abortion law, yet California-based businesses have been flocking to Texas to escape higher taxes and regulations (Fox Business)

Capitol Police recommend disciplinary action for six officers after internal investigation into January 6 riot (CBS News)

Russia completes construction of Biden-approved Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline (NBC News)

Policy: Compassionate enforcement: Cities must balance public services with public order to reduce homelessness (City Journal)

Policy: Seven hard truths Americans should know about Social Security — and five ways to strengthen it (Heritage Foundation)




13 September, 2021


I have just put up another post on my <a href="">Food and Health</a> blog.  It is about a partial cure for Alzheimers


Surge in Covid cases in those vaxxed - but it could have its benefits

Many people are worried about reports of “breakthrough” Covid-19 infections overseas, from places like Israel and the United States.

A breakthrough infection is when someone tests positive for Covid after being fully vaccinated, regardless of symptoms.

The good news is most breakthrough infections usually result in mild symptoms or none at all, which shows us that vaccines are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do — protecting us from severe disease and death. Vaccines aren’t designed to protect us from getting infected at all (known as “sterilising immunity”).

People with breakthrough infections can go on to infect others. Preliminary evidence indicates immunised people can have high levels of virus in the nose, potentially as high as unvaccinated people.

Life has returned to some normality in many vaccinated countries, despite thousands of new cases. Source: Getty
Life has returned to some normality in many vaccinated countries, despite thousands of new cases. Source: Getty
However, if you’re vaccinated you’ll clear the virus more quickly, reducing the length of time you’re infectious and can pass the virus on.

Here’s why breakthrough cases are happening, and why you shouldn’t worry too much.

Waning immunity

Two studies from the United Kingdom suggest the immunity we get from Covid vaccines wanes over time, after about four to six months.

While the more-infectious Delta variant continues to circulate, waning immunity will lead to more breakthrough infections.

But the reduction isn’t large currently. Vaccine effectiveness is very high to begin with, so incremental reductions due to waning won’t have a significant effect on protection for some time.

Israeli data shows some vaccinated people are becoming ill with Covid. But we need to keep in mind Israel’s vaccine rollout began in December 2020, and the majority of the population were vaccinated in early 2021. Most are now past six months since being fully vaccinated.

Given most people in Israel are vaccinated, many Covid cases in hospital are vaccinated. However, the majority (87 per cent) of hospitalised cases are 60 or older. This highlights what’s known about adaptive immunity and vaccine protection — it declines with age.

Therefore we’d expect vulnerable groups like the elderly to be the first at risk of disease as immunity wanes, as will people whose immune systems are compromised. Managing this as we adjust to living with Covid will be an ongoing challenge for all countries.

What would be concerning is if we started seeing a big increase in fully vaccinated people getting really sick and dying — but that’s not happening.

Globally, the vast majority of people with severe Covid are unvaccinated.

We’ll probably need booster doses

Waning immunity means booster doses will likely be needed to top up protection, at least for the next couple of years while the virus continues to circulate at such high levels.

Our currently approved vaccines were modelled on the original strain of the virus isolated in Wuhan, not the Delta variant, which is currently dominant across most of the world. This imperfect match between vaccine and virus means the level of protection against Delta is just a little lower.

Because the level of effectiveness is so high to begin with, this small reduction is negligible in the short term. But the effects of waning over time may lead to breakthrough infections appearing sooner.

mRNA vaccines in particular, like Pfizer’s and Moderna’s, can be efficiently updated to target prevalent variants, in this case Delta. So, a third immunisation based on Delta will “tweak”, as well as boost, existing immunity to an even higher starting point for longer-lasting protection.

We could see different variants become endemic in different countries. One example might be the Mu variant, currently dominant in Colombia. We might be able to match vaccines to whichever variant is circulating in specific areas.

The dose makes the poison

Your level of exposure to the virus is likely another reason for breakthrough infections.

If you’re fully vaccinated and have merely fleeting contact with a positive case, you likely won’t breathe in much virus and therefore are unlikely to develop symptomatic infection.

But if you’re in the same room as a positive case for a long period of time, you may breathe in a huge amount of virus. This makes it harder for your immune system to fight off.

This may be one reason we’re seeing some health-care workers get breakthrough infections, because they’re being exposed to high viral loads. They could be a priority for booster doses.

Might unvaccinated kids be playing a role?

It’s unclear if children are contributing to breakthrough infections.

Vaccines aren’t approved for young children yet (aged under 12), so we’re seeing increasing cases in kids relative to older people. Early studies, before the rise of Delta, indicated children didn’t significantly contribute to transmission.

More recent studies in populations with vaccinated adults, and where Delta is the dominant virus, have suggested children might contribute to transmission. This requires further investigation, but it’s possible that if you’re living with an unvaccinated child who contracts Covid, you’re likely to be exposed for many, many hours of the day, hence you’ll breathe in a large amount of virus.

The larger the viral dose, the more likely you’ll get a breakthrough infection.

Potentially slowing the number of breakthrough infections is one reason to vaccinate 12 to 15 year olds, and younger children in the future, if ongoing trials prove they’re safe and effective in this age group. Another is to protect kids themselves, and to get closer to herd immunity (if it’s achievable).

A silver lining

Breakthrough infections likely confer extra protection for people who’ve been fully vaccinated — almost like a booster dose.

We don’t have solid real-world data on this yet, but it isn’t surprising as it’s how our immune system works. Infection will re-expose the immune system to the virus’ spike protein and boost antibodies against the spike.

However, it’s never advisable to get Covid, because you could get very sick or die. Extra protection is just a silver lining if you do get a breakthrough infection.

As Covid becomes an endemic disease, meaning it settles into the human population, we’ll need to keep a constant eye on the interaction between vaccines and the virus.

The virus may start to burn out, but it’s also possible it might continually evolve and evade vaccines, like the flu does.


Denmark ditching all Covid restrictions – except one

Denmark has become the first European country to lift all domestic Covid-19 restrictions after vaccinating 80 per cent of all people over the age of 12.

Danish minister of health Magnus Heunicke declared the pandemic is “under control” due to high rates of vaccination in Denmark and the virus is no longer a “critical threat to society”.

“The government has promised not to hold on to the measures any longer than was necessary, and there we are now,” Mr Heunicke said.

The move was approved in late August with all restrictions officially scrapped from today.

Danes no longer need to show a “Covid pass” to enter restaurants, sports centres, nightclubs or large events.  Schools have reopened, with children no longer being sent home if they come into close contact with a confirmed case.

Only those infected have to quarantine and workers can go back to the office as normal.

However, it’s not a complete return to pre-pandemic life.

Restrictions around borders and travel remain in place for now because they are controlled by a separate political agreement, which is set to expire at the end of October. Denmark’s border rules currently allow most people who can prove they are fully vaccinated or can present a negative test to visit the country.

Double-dosed Americans and Canadians can enter Denmark for any purpose. Those not considered to be fully immunised must present a negative test result and must also take a test upon arrival.

But the threat of restrictions being re-implemented still looms if the health system becomes overwhelmed with positive cases.

“But even though we are in a good place right now, we are not out of the epidemic. And the government will not hesitate to act quickly if the pandemic again threatens important functions in our society,” Mr Heunicke said.




12 September, 2021

The Mu variant is on the rise. Scientists weigh in on how much to worry

Laboratory studies suggest this variant may be better at avoiding the immune system but lags Delta when it comes to transmission and infecting cells.

One of the newest variants of COVID-19, known as Mu, has spread to 42 countries, but early studies suggest that it is less easily transmitted than the dangerous Delta variant, which has triggered a resurgence of the pandemic in the U.S. and many other countries.

Mu quickly became the dominant strain in Colombia, where it was first detected in January, but in the U.S., where the Delta virus is dominant, it has not spread significantly. After reaching a peak at the end of June, the prevalence of the Mu variant in the U.S. has steadily declined.

Scientists believe that the new variant cannot compete with the Delta variant, which is highly contagious. “Whether it could have gone higher or not if there was no Delta, that's hard to really say,” says Alex Bolze, a geneticist at the genomics company Helix.

In Colombia, however, the Mu variant is responsible for more than a third of the COVID-19 cases. There have been 11 noteworthy variants to date, which the World Health Organization has named for the letters of the Greek alphabet. The newest variant, Mu, is the 12th. WHO has labeled this latest version of SARS-CoV-2 a Variant of Interest, a step below a Variant of Concern. 

Delta and three other variants have drawn the highest level of concern. But a Variant of Interest, like Mu still raises worries. Mu has many known mutations that can help the virus escape immunity from vaccines or previous infection.

Still, the good news is that Mu is unlikely to replace Delta in places like the U.S. where it is already predominant, says Tom Wenseleers, evolutionary biologist and biostatistician at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, who previously estimated the transmissibility and impact of Alpha variant in England.

How is Mu different? 

Most genetic sequences reveal that Mu has eight mutations in its spike protein, many of which are also present in variants of concern: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta.

Some of Mu’s mutations, like E484K and N501Y, help other variants evade antibodies from mRNA vaccines. In the Beta and Gamma variants, the E484K mutation made the variants more resistant to a single dose of mRNA vaccines.

A study, not yet peer reviewed, has shown that the P681H mutation helps transmission of the Alpha variant—it may do the same for Mu. 

Mu also harbors novel mutations that haven’t been seen in variants before, so their consequences are not fully understood. Mutation at the 346 position disrupts interaction of antibodies with the spike protein, which, scientists say, might make it easier for the virus to escape.

A study using epidemiological models, not yet peer reviewed, estimates that Mu is up to twice more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2 and caused the wave of COVID-19 deaths in Bogotá, Colombia in May, 2021. This study also suggests that immunity from a previous infection by the ancestral virus was 37 percent less effective in protecting against Mu.

“Right now, we do not have [enough] available evidence that may suggest that indeed this new variant Mu is associated with a significant [..] change in COVID,” says Alfonso Rodriguez-Morales, the President of the Colombian Association of Infectious Diseases.

But some clues are emerging that Mu can weaken protection from antibodies generated by existing vaccines. Lab-made virus mimicking the Mu variant were less affected by antibodies from people who had recovered from COVID-19 or were vaccinated with Pfizer’s Comiranty. In this study, not yet peer reviewed, Mu was the most vaccine resistant of all currently recognized variants.

In another lab-based study, antibodies from patients immunized with Pfizer’s vaccine were less effective at neutralizing Mu compared to other variants. 

“[Mu] variant has a constellation of mutations that suggests that it would evade certain antibodies—not only monoclonal antibodies, but vaccine and convalescent serum-induced antibodies—but there isn’t a lot of clinical data to suggest that. It is mostly laboratory […] data,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at a White House press briefing on September 2.

The COVID-19 vaccines—Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Sinovac, all of which are available in Colombia—still seem to offer good protection against Mu, according to Rodriguez-Morales.

How prevalent is Mu?

The Mu variant rapidly expanded across South America, but it is difficult to know for sure how far Mu has spread, according to Paúl Cárdenas, microbiologist at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador.

“[Latin American countries] have provided very low numbers of sequences, compared with the numbers of cases that we have,” says Cárdenas. South American countries have sequenced just 0.07 percent of their total SARS-CoV-2 positive cases, although 25 percent of global infections have occurred in the region. This contrasts with 1.5 percent of all positive cases sequenced in the U.S. and 9.3 percent of all positive cases sequenced in the U.K.

“We are not necessarily looking at the reality of the distribution of the variants [in Latin America], because of the limitations in performing genome sequencing,” says Rodriguez-Morales.

That said, except in Columbia where Mu has been spreading since late February, the variant is becoming relatively less frequent globally, including in the rest of South America.

“Additional evidence on Mu is scarce, similar to Lambda and other regionally prevalent variants, because of limited capacity for follow-up studies, and because these variants have not yet been a significant threat in high-income countries like Delta is,” says Pablo Tsukayama, a microbiologist at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru. He hopes the WHO’s designation of Mu as a variant of interest will change that.


Moderna Announces Development of Combination COVID-19 Booster and Flu Vaccine

Moderna announced on Thursday it had begun development for a potential single-dose vaccine that is a combination of a Wuhan coronavirus vaccine booster shot and seasonal flu shot. 

In a press release published Thursday, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel announced the new development and shared the progress of other programs the company is working on, such as their “cancer vaccine.” 

“Today we are announcing the first step in our novel respiratory vaccine program with the development of a single dose vaccine that combines a booster against COVID-19 and a booster against flu,” Bancel said in a statement. “We are making progress on enrolling patients in our rare disease programs, and we are fully enrolled in our personalized cancer vaccine trial. We believe this is just the beginning of a new age of information-based medicines.”

As we previously reported, Moderna informed investors and analysts last month that the company was planning for a booster COVID-19 shot in addition to its already-existing two-dose mRNA vaccine shot. As of right now, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be administered to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, the vaccine has not been fully approved by the FDA.

“We are pleased that our COVID-19 vaccine is showing durable efficacy of 93% through six months, but recognize that the Delta variant is a significant new threat so we must remain vigilant,” Bancel said in a statement last month announcing plans for a potential booster shot. In the statement, Bancel also said Moderna is “looking forward towards our vision of a single dose annual booster that provides protection against COVID-19, flu and RSV for adults.”

Perhaps that vision could be on the horizon with this hybrid coronavirus/flu vaccine in the works.  Moderna has not revealed when it plans to have the booster shot completed.



RNC to sue Biden administration over vaccine mandates (Washington Examiner)

“We will fight”: Ron DeSantis promises to battle Biden’s sweeping mandates (Daily Wire)

Pentagon top brass to testify before Senate panel on chaotic U.S. pullout from Afghanistan (Washington Times)

GOP letter to Biden flags Afghan evacuees’ “rushed and incomplete” vetting (Fox News)

Taliban lets plane carrying Americans and other foreign nationals leave Kabul (CBS News)

“Their interior minister has an ‘FBI Wanted’ poster”: White House challenged after calling Taliban “businesslike and professional” (Daily Caller)

New and improved? Hardly: Taliban tortured journalists who covered protests in Kabul despite “free press” pledge (Daily Wire)

Fort Hood terrorist congratulates Taliban from death row in handwritten letter (Washington Examiner)

Merrick Garland’s Justice Department suing Texas over pro-life law (The Federalist)

Rand Paul calls for Anthony Fauci to be jailed for lying to Congress (Washington Examiner)

DOJ moves to release FBI documents on investigation into possible Saudi-9/11 hijacker links (Washington Examiner)

Team Biden puts systemic racism at center of U.S. foreign policy (National Review)

The CDC quietly changed the definition of “vaccination” so as to fit the political narrative (Not the Bee)

FDA declines emergency use authorization for Humanigen COVID-19 drug (The Hill)




10 September, 2021

Pfizer breakthrough as drugmaker one step closer to rolling out Covid-killing wonder pill

PFIZER has made another breakthrough in their historic fight against COVID-19 after announcing they are one step closer to rolling out a coronavirus-killing wonder pill.

The simple pill is designed to be taken at home in the early stages of COVID-19 infection and it could be another big step forward in the fight against the virus. We have seen over the last months a variety of treatments for the virus, including the Oxford-AstraZena vaccine, created by British scientists. 

While vaccines are highly effective at reducing the risk of death or getting seriously ill from contracting the virus, and things like ventilators can help to save lives to people who have been hospitalised, there is also a need for effective oral treatment.

There are currently a few pills being developed that are aimed at treating Covid, but Pfizer's is the first one to reach advanced human trials.

The drugmaker plans to trial the drug on 1,140 adults infected with the virus who are not considered to be high risk and are unlikely to suffer from serious illness or death if they catch COVID-19.

The pill, which is technically called PF-07321332, is in a category of antiviral agents called protease inhibitors.

Proteases are enzymes that are used for viral replication and protease inhibitors have been developed in the past to treat deadly diseases like and hepatitis C and HIV/AIDs.

Pfizer said in a statement: "Protease inhibitors, like PF-07321332, are designed to block the activity of the main protease enzyme that the coronavirus needs to replicate.

"Co-administration with a low dose of ritonavir is expected to help slow the metabolism, or breakdown, of PF-07321332 in order for it to remain in the body for longer periods of time at higher concentrations, thereby working continuously to help combat the virus.

"Ritonavir has previously been used in combination with other antivirals to similarly inhibit metabolism."

Martin J. Blaser, director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers University, also hailed the breakthrough.

He said: "The hope is that the Pfizer drug and ritonavir together will sufficiently inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 protease to slow down the virus enough that [the] host's immune defences will overcome and eliminate it."


There Are Better Ways to Fight COVID-19 Than Mask Mandates

Even though policy should be based on accurate data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is failing to accurately justify its guidance that vaccinated people wear masks.

The data clearly show that the vaccine helps people more than previous interventions, including mask mandates, and that the risk of dying from COVID-19 for the vaccinated is extremely low.

The CDC should follow the science, be transparent, and base all guidance on the data.

Originating in India, the delta variant is now the primary strain of COVID-19 here in the United States. A number of states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas, have been experiencing surges in new cases and hospitalizations. 

Given such concerns, the CDC investigated the delta variant’s spread last month. In a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released on July 30, a number of researchers examined COVID-19 spread last month during a variety of festivities in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 

The authors made a number of claims, including that 74% of those who tested positive for COVID-19 after the festivities were fully vaccinated.  

Not surprisingly, this statistic made the news headlines. For example, the day the study was released, an article on reported: “CDC study shows 74% of people infected in Massachusetts Covid outbreak were fully vaccinated.” 

Given how much attention the analysis had gotten, my colleague Norbert Michel and I decided to take a look at the study in critical detail. After all, public policy should be informed by credible and accurate analysis. 

We found that the study failed to look at the question at hand with sufficient rigor and does not provide support for the study’s main recommendation about mask wearing among the vaccinated.

Among the 469 who tested positive, 74% indeed had been vaccinated. However, as we discussed in our report, the data that this estimate is based on are not representative of the Barnstable attendees, let alone of the entire country. Therefore, it would be a mistake to use those estimates to make inferences of the broader American population. 

Second, there’s a more fundamental question the authors neglected to look at: Infection rates in the broader context of the number of people who actually attended the festivities, both vaccinated and unvaccinated. 

We also examined this question, making a variety of assumptions on available data and information. Assuming an attendance of 60,000, as has been suggested by a number of people, and a vaccination rate of 90% of attendees, we found the following infection rates.

Of course, as it’s difficult to know the actual vaccination rate, we reestimated the above percentages under a variety of other assumptions as well. 

At the time of publication, the state of Massachusetts and Barnstable County had adult vaccination rates above 74%, and Provincetown itself had a rate of 90%. 

As the festivities may have included some out-of-state visitors as well, we decided to estimate the percentage of infections under vaccination rates between 60% and 98%.

So, there you have it, under all such assumptions, less than 2% of the vaccinated attendees caught COVID-19.  Irresponsible reporting suggesting that 74% of those vaccinated caught the virus, however, needlessly causes panic and will only increase vaccine hesitancy. 

Although some research has indicated that the vaccines may have slightly less efficacy in preventing infection against the delta variant than prior variants, the vaccines are nevertheless highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death.

Furthermore, as a result of the CDC’s “study” on Barnstable, Massachusetts, one of the policy recommendations is that the fully vaccinated continue to wear masks in areas of high disease proliferation. 

However, as Michel and I have illustrated in prior work, mask mandates do not meaningfully impact case proliferation. In an earlier Heritage Foundation special report, we statistically examined the impact of an executive order signed by Kansas’ Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, allowing each of the state’s 105 counties to take part in an optional mask mandate last year.

Our analysis did find slightly less case growth at times in the cases in which masks were mandated.  However, on a monthly basis, those differences were not statistically significant and, most alarmingly, per capita cases and deaths continued to grow in both groups through most of the second half of last year.

Vaccines, on the other hand, have been largely successful, as is evident by the steep drops in case counts, followed by increases in vaccination rates over the years. Bottom line: Unlike masks, the statistics on vaccine efficacy are solid and well-established.

Of course, there will continue to be breakthrough cases, but the CDC’s own data indicate that the truth is the vaccines have had over 90% efficacy against hospitalization and death. 

Not surprisingly, however, among the unvaccinated, COVID-19 can still be quite deadly, especially for the elderly and those with chronic conditions.  The following chart puts those odds in perspective with other causes of death.

As the chart illustrates, however, the odds of dying of COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated, although not zero, are slim to none. In fact, those under 65 have significantly higher odds of getting struck by lightning.

Bottom line: Mask mandates on the vaccinated will only increase vaccine hesitancy and thus only prevent our country from putting this pandemic behind us. 

One of the best ways to encourage the vaccine hesitant to reconsider is not mandates, but rather to equip them with good statistical analysis, so they can work with their doctors to make informed decisions. The CDC would do well to fix this failure.




9 September, 2021

Antibiotics and bowel cancer

I no longer post regularly on my <a href="">Food & Health blog</a> but I have just put up something there that should be of general interest -- An article about a link between antibiotics and bowel cancer


AstraZeneca boss says booster jabs may not be needed

Booster vaccines may not be needed for everyone in Britain, the boss of AstraZeneca has said.

Chief executive Pascal Soriot said that rolling out third doses too quickly would be an "unnecessary burden" on the NHS.

He also called for patience from the government, stressing the UK was "a few weeks away" from having a definitive answer on the effectiveness of two doses in providing long-lasting protection.

Mr Soriot said that shortly it will have been six months since the first people had their second jabs so the data would give "a clearer picture of the immune response needed to provide continued, protective immunity".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Soriot, alongside the company's executive vice-president of biopharmaceuticals R&D Sir Mene Pangalos, said: "Moving too quickly to boost across the entire adult population will deprive us of these insights, leaving this important decision to rest on limited data.

"A third dose for all may be needed, but it may not. Mobilising the NHS for a boosting programme that is not needed would potentially add unnecessary burden on the NHS over the long winter months.

"Because NHS staff and resources are scarce, another national mobilisation would potentially leave us with fewer resources for cancer screenings and the other care provided by doctors and nurses each day."

Their comments come as Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Wednesday he is "very confident" there will be a booster programme for coronavirus, but is awaiting advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

He told Sky News: "In terms of who actually gets it and when, we're waiting for final advice which could come across, certainly, in the next few days from the JCVI."

He said the advice is expected to include information on whether people should get different vaccines to the ones they have already had or the same ones, and added: "I'm confident that we can start the booster programme this month."

However WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last month that booster shots should be delayed in highly vaccinated countries, like the UK, and the doses prioritised for countries will low vaccination rates.

He added that there is a debate in the scientific community about whether "booster shots are effective at all".

The UK's chief medical officers are currently reviewing the benefits of vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds after the JCVI declined to recommend a widespread rollout to the age group on health grounds alone.

Mr Javid has said he expects to hear from the UK's chief medical officers in the coming days on their views as to whether there should be a mass rollout of Covid-19 vaccines for young people.

He told Sky News: "I want to give them the breathing space, it's their independent view and that's exactly what it should be. But I would expect to hear from them in the next few days."


Dr. Scott Atlas, Others Throttle Bangladesh Mask Study: 'Extremely Weak Tea'

<i>I rubbished this study <a href="">on 3rd.</a></i>

Dr. Scott Atlas, former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center and a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, called a recent study purporting to measure the effect of masking on curbing the spread of Covid-19 in Bangladeshi villages "extremely weak tea" during a Fox News appearance earlier this month.

The randomized trial, the results of which were posted September 1 by the nonprofit organization Innovations for Poverty Action and are currently being peer reviewed, measured over 340,000 people in 600 villages. It claims to show that an increase in the usage of surgical masks can lead to a reduction in the spread of the virus in certain age groups (via NBC News).

For five months beginning last November, [study co-author Mushfiq] Mobarak and his colleagues tracked 342,126 adult Bangladeshis and randomly selected villages to roll out programs to promote their usage, which included distributing free masks to households, providing information about their importance and reinforcing their use in the community.

Among the roughly 178,000 individuals who were encouraged to wear them, the scientists found that mask-wearing increased by almost 30 percent and that the change in behavior persisted for 10 weeks or more. After the program was instituted, the researchers reported an 11.9 percent decrease in symptomatic Covid symptoms and a 9.3 percent reduction in symptomatic seroprevalence, which indicates tBangladeshhat the virus was detected in blood tests.

While the effect may seem small, the results offer a glimpse of just how much masks matter, Mobarak said.

"A 30-percent increase in mask-wearing led to a 10 percent drop in Covid, so imagine if there was a 100-percent increase - if everybody wore a mask and we saw a 100-percent change," he said.

The scientists said masks significantly reduced symptomatic infections among older adults, and found that surgical masks were more effective than cloth versions.

Appearing earlier this month on Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle," Atlas called the fact that the study was randomized "important" before citing a similarly randomized study from Denmark conducted last year that showed that "individuals wearing masks do not have a lower risk of infection testing for virus than people not wearing masks."

"This is a different type of study," said Atlas, a frequent and early lockdown critic who briefly served as a member of former President Donald Trump's White House coronavirus task force last year. "This tests to see if people in a village get symptomatic Covid if the villagers wear masks versus other villages that don't wear masks as much."

The Hoover Institution fellow went on to describe two results from the study before explaining why he feels it's hardly the definitive evidence pro-maskers have been searching for these past 18 months.

One, in people defining Covid as symptoms plus anti-bodies, there is no evidence that cloth masks have any impact, no significant impact with cloth masks for people who have Covid as defined by Covid symptoms with antibody documentation. So cloth masks are worthless according to this study. 

The second part is the surgical mask study. And the surgical mask study shows that there is from my reading here about an 11% decrease in individuals having symptomatic Covid with antibodies. 11%. And basically only older people. So what this shows you after all is said and done is it confirms that cloth masks are worthless. It shows - if you take the data at face value - a very minimal impact, 11%, decrease in symptomatic cases in mask usage by the village. 

And so, you know, of all the clamoring for something desperately to show that masks work, this is what I would call extremely weak tea. In fact, it confirms the reason why we have seen all over the world and in the United States that mask usage by the population does not significantly stop the spread of the virus.

It's being oversold, but people are desperate to find some pebble somewhere that shows masks work.

Atlas, by far, wasn't the only critic. Professor Francois Balloux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute and professor of computational biology at University College London, tweeted that it's "not obvious" from the study that masks are "statistically significantly associated with reduced transmission at the level of the population."

Nick Hudson, chairman of (PANDA), tweeted a blog post by Substack writer el gato malo titled, "bangladesh mask study: do not believe the hype," calling it "sound commentary."

From el gato malo's analysis:

To claim that masks caused any given variance in outcome, you need to isolate masks as a variable. They didn't. This was a whole panoply of interventions, signage, hectoring, nudges, payments, and psychological games. It had hundreds of known effects and who knows how many unknown ones.

We have zero idea what's being measured and even some of those variables that were measured showed high correlation and thus pose confounds. when you're upending village life, claiming one aspect made the difference becomes statistically impossible. the system becomes hopelessly multivariate and cross-confounded.

The authors admit it themselves (and oddly do not seem to grasp that this invalidates their own mask claims)

Gato's post has gotten lots of attention on Twitter for its thoroughness.

Harvard professor Dr. Martin Kulldorff called it "odd" that "mask advocates are excited by this study."



Texas governor signs GOP voting restrictions voting integrity into law (AP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci faces call to resign and answer for report about U.S. government-funded Wuhan research (Daily Wire)

Who'd a thunk it? Minnesota man freed by Kamala Harris-supported bail fund now charged with murder (Fox News)

Four Taliban members swapped for Bowe Bergdahl now in Afghan government (NY Post) 

A trip down memory lane: Barack Obama's prisoner swap broke the law, GAO says (NPR)

Chinese muscle in on Afghanistan's rare earth mineral deposits, creating more headaches for Biden (Washington Times)

ICE counts 463 sanctuary jails and prisons in U.S. - and another 156 give limited cooperation (Washington Times)

House Republican demands Hunter Biden's art dealer assist in investigating White House corruption (Breitbart)

Democrats poised for bitter September spending battle within their own ranks (Washington Examiner)

Human Rights Campaign fires its president, Alphonso David, after he advised Andrew Cuomo during sexual misconduct scandal (Daily Wire)

ACLU denounced pandemic mandates before COVID-19 (Fox News)

South Dakota governor bans telemedicine abortions (National Review)

Oregon residents outraged by video of flagrant shoplifting (National Review)

Odds of a "breakthrough" COVID infection worsen with Delta variant (Washington Times)

University of California doctors challenge its vaccine mandate as "irrational" (Just the News)

Biden's inflation woes persist with production stoppages at "Big Three" automakers (Washington Examiner)

Catholics frustrated as increasing attacks on churches go unnoticed (Washington Times)




8 September, 2021

'Mu' variant has been detected in EVERY US state except Nebraska

The Mu variant of COVID-19- which scientists fear could be more transmissible than Delta - has now been detected in all U.S. states with the exception of Nebraska. 

Florida and California have reported 384 variant cases- the highest numbers among the 49 infected U.S. states. 

Los Angeles County reported close to half of the California cases with 167.

The new cases however only reflect 0.2 percent of total variant samples from the state of California between June and August. 

Alaska previously had the highest number of Mu variant cases with 146. That represented four per cent of all cases recorded in the isolated state.

Other U.S. states have also shared their Mu numbers, with 42 in Maine, 73 in Connecticut and 39 in Hawaii, according to Newsweek.      

The Mu variant- which was identified in Colombia in January - has spread to 41 different countries including the United States, and is also feared to potentially be vaccine-resistant. 

The variant became of interest due its potential to become more transmissible and vaccine resistant as discovered by the World Health Organization on August 30.  

 The CDC, however, has not shared this analysis.  

Director of LA County Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a statement: 'The identification of variants like Mu, and the spreading of variants across the globe, highlights the need for L.A. County residents to continue to take measures to protect themselves and others.

'This is what makes getting vaccinated and layering protections so important. These are actions that break the chain of transmission and limits COVID-19 proliferation that allows for the virus to mutate into something that could be more dangerous.' 

Dr. Anthony Fauci also commented on the Mu variant claiming that it would not be the next dominant COVID strain.  'Even though it has not in essence taken hold to any extent here we always pay attention to at all times variants,' he said.   'We don't consider it an immediate threat right now.'

This mutant strain was first spotted in Colombia in January.  It has since spread to more than 40 countries including the UK, US, France, Japan and Canada.

Is it increasing in prevalence?  

There have been 4,000 cases detected to date, but this is thought to be an underestimate because many countries that have suffered outbreaks do very little surveillance for variants.

The number of cases blamed on the variant declined globally last month, amid the spread of the Delta strain. 

In Colombia - where it was first detected - it is still behind around six in ten infections.

Can the strain dodge vaccine triggered immunity?

The variant carries the mutation E484K, which can help it escape antibodies.

This change is also found on the South African 'Beta' variant and Brazilian 'Gamma' variant. 

A PHE study previously suggested it could make vaccines less effective. But UK health chiefs said more research was needed.  

The variant has been further described by Fauci as 'a constellation of mutations that suggest that it would evade certain antibodies, not only monoclonal antibodies, but vaccine and convalescent serum- induced antibodies.'

The peak of Mu variant cases were present in mid-July and have been declining since. However, the fear is that the variant will strengthen again in the future.   

The nation has eclipsed an average of 1,500 COVID-19 deaths per day, the first time the mark has been reached in six months - since the vaccination drive began in earnest.

Figures from Johns Hopkins University released early Tuesday showed that the US has recorded 40,018,318 cases of COVID since the pandemic began, with 647,072 people known to have lose their lives as a result. 

When the 1,500 figure was last reached in March, though, the vaccines were not as widely available as they are now. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reports that deaths increased by 131 percent in August compared to previous months.

COVID-19 cases are also 300% higher this year when compared to last year's labor day weekend - before any vaccines were available. 

Hospitalizations nationwide have spiked as well, with August having double the amount of COVID-19 patients admitted than June did.

 The rise in deaths corresponds with a rise in hospitalizations.

More than 102,000 American are hospitalized with the virus, and 75 percent of hospital beds nationwide are currently in use.  

Nationwide, the U.S. has recorded over 40 million COVID-19 cases and 648,000 deaths from the virus, the most of any nation in the world in both categories
Delta transmission in children low, causes mild illness, report finds -- Australian report

There has been a five-fold increase in the spread of COVID-19 in educational settings but only 2 per cent of children who caught it during the latest outbreak have been hospitalised, and most experienced mild or no symptoms, a new report from the National Centre for Immunisation and Research has found.

Transmission between children has also been low, it found.

The report looked at transmission of COVID-19 in schools and households between June 16 and July 31, and found that the NSW experience was consistent with overseas studies showing the Delta variant was more transmissible and led to more infections among children and young people.

Professor Kristine McCartney, a specialist at The Sydney's Children's Hospital at Westmead, said the rate of transmission between children was low, and most of the transmission was between unvaccinated adults. "The spread between children themselves was very low," she said.

"We're very lucky to know, and it's consistent with data over the course of the pandemic, that COVID-19 is mild among children.

"Only around 2 per cent will require hospitalisation and, for many of those 2 per cent, it's for monitoring and social care. Unfortunately, often their parents are unwell with COVID-19 and that's why they're being cared for in the hospital."

The report found that across 19 schools and 32 early childcare services, there were 59 people - 34 students and 25 staff members - who attended while infectious. From those primary cases, 2347 people were considered close contacts.

The overall transmission rate at early childhood centres was 4.7 per cent, with 106 secondary cases involving 69 students and 37 staff members. Transmission occurred in 19 of the 51 settings. The highest transmission in early childhood settings was between staff members, and from a staff member to children.

Transmission was lower in schools, the report said, at a rate of 2.1 per cent; there were nine secondary cases in 728 close contacts. "This was likely due to the school holiday period and subsequent limited onsite attendance in term 3," the report said.

Dr Archana Koirala, a paediatric infectious disease specialist and University of Sydney lecturer, said full participation in education services was essential for children to learn and develop socially.

"These results should give confidence to families, schools and the community that we have robust evidence on how the Delta variant behaves in children," she said.

The study found the so-called attack rate - or the transmissibility of the strain - was highest between adults (11.2 per cent) and second highest from adults to children (seven per cent). Between children it was 1.6 per cent and from children to adults it was 1.5 per cent.


Toxic Double Standards Get More Blatant

Let's take the shooting of Ashli Babbitt. When one compares it to some other high-profile shootings, like the Michael Brown case, for instance. Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department went through an ordeal, even though Brown had tried to take his gun, an action that warrants the use of deadly force.

Did Wilson ever get the "puff piece" interview with Lester Holt that the cop who pulled the trigger on Ashli Babbitt did? Many of the voices who condemned the clearly justified actions of Wilson also seemed to have no problems with the shooting of Babbitt. If anything, if it had been Donald Trump's reelection that would have been confirmed by the electoral vote count, and a Capitol Police officer had fired a fatal shot in circumstances similar to those surrounding Ashli Babbitt, how would that have been covered by the biased media outlets?

The toxic double standards don't stop there. We could also look at a tale of two lieutenant colonels. Marine Stuart Scheller called for accountability in the wake of the horrific bombing that killed 10 Marines, two soldiers, and a Navy corpsman during the dishonorable debacle caused by Joe Biden's betrayal in Afghanistan and was immediately fired. He now expects to be court-martialed.

Contrast that to the hero treatment Alexander Vindman got for what Byron York describes as his political gamesmanship on behalf of the deep state. Never mind that Vindman was among a bunch of bureaucrats actively undermining his commander-in-chief. Just imagine the way the usual suspects at MSNBC would have reacted if Vindman had tried to mess with Barack Obama's Iran giveaway or Iraq withdrawal the way he did with Trump's policy vis-…-vis Ukraine.

Speaking of Trump's Ukraine policy, remember how so many of those "news" outlets harped on that phone call with Ukraine's president? Well, consider the lack of curiosity about Biden's phone call this past July with the president of Afghanistan, one in which he allegedly expressed knowledge of the precarious situation preceding the dishonorable debacle the pullout became. If Biden is held to the standard Democrats demanded of Trump, he'd be impeached and removed.

When combined with the many earlier cases of double standards, not to mention the lies and hateful rhetoric, abuses, and other assaults that defy any sense of fairness or common sense, it's clear that much of the establishment media - and other defenders of so-called "norms" - have been running on double standards for a long time. The thing is, grassroots Patriots are tired of it, and they're increasingly losing respect for those who not only impose double standards but also those who refuse to call them out. In the long run, that will have some dire consequences for the country.



President Biden's approval tanks; only two others have had lower ratings at this point (Fox News)

DOJ vows not to protect preborn babies in Texas (Axios)

Only off by . well, nearly 100%: AP adds embarrassing correction to article claiming 70% of calls to Mississippi poison control were about Ivermectin ingestion (Daily Wire)

The end of enhanced unemployment benefits brings hope to small businesses (Fox Business)

In wake of Andrew Cuomo scandal, entire board resigns from Time's Up, whose top leaders aided and abetted the disgraced ex-governor (Daily Wire)

Patriotic restaurants across America honored our troops killed in Kabul by reserving a table for them and setting out 13 beers 

Apple wisely delays iPhone photo-scanning plan amid fierce backlash (AP)

Policy: Social Security bailout will create another set of problems (Market Watch)




7 September, 2021

Promising drug a new weapon in curbing COVID's worst effects

<i>Comment from Australia</i>

Yesterday 1281 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in NSW. By October many of these will be seriously ill in hospital, some in intensive care, and a few will die. Others will progress to indefinite multifaceted illness called "Long COVID".

Can this miserable trajectory be modified, while we wait for the vaccination drive to "stop the spread"?

Clinical trials and overseas experience with a class of therapeutic drugs called monoclonal antibodies suggests that it can - but only when they are given early. COVID-19 patients treated in a trial of one such drug called Sotrovimab exhibited an 79 per cent relative reduction in hospitalisation and deaths. In March, the independent regulator halted patient recruitment because of "profound efficacy". Even with small numbers, before the Delta outbreak, the statistics were persuasive.

The first of 7700 doses of Sotrovimab quietly slipped into Australia three weeks ago. We have waited some time. It now has Therapeutics Goods Administration provisional approval for vulnerable patients, such as the elderly and immunocompromised. It is being used in Shepparton, Victoria. What are the plans for NSW?

Sotrovimab is the latest and, possibly, best therapeutic monoclonal antibody to inhibit the COVID-19 virus attaching to human tissue. The US Federal Drug Authority authorised its emergency use in May. The headline cost is $US2100 a dose, and it's free to vulnerable Americans.

President Trump was treated with, among other drugs, a duo of anti-COVID monoclonal antibodies labelled Regeneron, similarly authorised in America last November. The US National Institute of Health recommends either drug for vulnerable patients. Don't mention them in the same breath as ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine.

With COVID on the march in America, antibody distribution has massively scaled up. The Texas state government has just established public antibody infusion centres.

Intravenous antibody infusions take an hour, in infectious patients. No small short-term imposition on overstretched health systems. Yet, one which could prevent a much greater hospital overload in the months which follow. Perhaps a treatment centre on an oval near a hospital should be considered. Like the precautionary Surge Centre in Canberra.

The United Arab Emirates, where Delta is prevalent, and logistics are military-grade, announced striking results, with no deaths among 6175 COVID-19 patients treated in July.

Nevertheless, and crucially, immunologists worry that indiscriminate use of a single antibody such as Sotrovimab might cause resistant variants to emerge and leak into the community. It is no substitute for vaccination. The ethical issues are obvious.

Monoclonal antibodies attack and disable unwanted targets. Think Herceptin for breast cancer, Keytruda for melanoma , Emgality for migraine and Humira for arthritis - all monoclonals, each created or modified for a very specific target. Each is a feat of structural molecular engineering.

It was Britain's Cambridge scientist, Sir Gregory Winter, who devised and developed the generic technology that underpins monoclonal antibodies. At first, business failed to see their potential. And so, as he recounted in his 2018 Nobel address and at Sydney University in 2019, it was seed-funding from the Australian racing industry which launched monoclonal antibodies to market. The deal was done on a boat on Sydney Harbour. He overheard a whispered comment "Let's give Greg the money. Let's see how the boffin trots". Annual monoclonal revenues now well exceed $100 billion, to untold human benefit.

The Australian perspective has come full circle. Professor Daniel Christ is a former PhD student of Winter's and is now at the Garvan Institute. He sees a way around this antibody resistance problem. And he looks to the experience in treating HIV infection with three different drugs which curbed that epidemic.

Since early 2020, his team has worked flat out to create monoclonals against COVID-19. They now have three antibodies which are more potent than Sotrovimab in vitro, When used together, they should be very resistant to mutation escape.

If these ventures succeed, Australians will have good reason to be thankful for investment in science.


New study finds AstraZeneca more effective against Delta strain

Deakin University Chair of Epidemiology Professor Catherine Bennett says the AstraZeneca vaccine is more effective than others against the Delta strain of COVID-19 in certain instances.

Professor Bennett cited a new study from Bahrain, conducted in partnership with Columbia University in the United States, which found "extraordinary differences" when comparing a number of vaccines.

"They found for those over 50 . 44 times less likely to end up in ICU if you have AstraZeneca, and I think it's 33 times less likely with Pfizer," Professor Bennett told Sky News host chris Kenny.

"Both extraordinarily effective, but AstraZeneca actually has the edge on that."


Suicide a bigger problem than Covid

<i>Comment from Australia</i>

One-in-four Australians say they know someone who died by suicide or attempted to take their own life in the past year - equivalent to five million adults - a new survey has found.

Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive officer Nieves Murray said major social and economic events had historically influenced suicide rates.

"We know social and economic isolation are the biggest drivers of suicide rates and Covid-19 has seen Australians subject to 18 months of rolling lockdowns and disruption to their personal lives, employment and businesses," she said.

"We've seen how quickly Covid-19 cases can get out of hand and we need to have the same national policy focus and vigilance to stop suicide rates doing the same."

The survey commissioned by Suicide Prevention Australia and completed by YouGov in August, found 25 per cent of adult Australians surveyed knew someone who had died by suicide or attempted to take their own life in the previous 12 months. About 15 per cent knew the person directly, while another 11 per cent knew them indirectly.

About 16 per cent said they had sought help or searched for advice from a suicide prevention service in the past 12 months, about 16 per cent said they had indirectly sought help.

Most people thought "social isolation and loneliness" was the biggest risk to suicide in the next 12 months, with 64 per cent rating it as an issue.

This was followed by unemployment and job security (58 per cent); family and relationship breakdowns (57 per cent); cost of living and personal debt (55 per cent); and drugs and alcohol (53 per cent).

While the latest data from suicide registers in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland do not show an increase in suspected suicide deaths in 2020, or since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Ms Murray said the number of deaths in 2019 had been the highest recorded in Australia, growing from 3093 in 2015, to 3318 in 2019.

"There have never been more lives lost to suicide in this country," Ms Murray said.

Those surveyed were particularly worried about the suicide risk among young people aged 12-25 years old (42 per cent), followed by middle aged Australians aged 25-55 years old (29 per cent) and men (29 per cent).

Other people thought to be at risk were those living in regional and rural areas (24 per cent), LGBTQI Australians (21 per cent), Indigenous Australians (18 per cent) and those aged over 55 (18 per cent).

The survey also supported a stand-alone national suicide prevention act, similar to one introduced in Japan, which would require the Federal Government to consider and mitigate suicide risks when making all decisions, not just ones related to health.

About 66 per cent thought Australia should introduce similar legislation.

Ms Murray said legislation was the best prevention against suicide rates increasing.

"The heightened economic and social threat posed by Covid-19 means we cannot afford to wait to legislate," Ms Murray said.

"Australia needs a national suicide prevention act and we need to act now. "We all have a role to play in preventing suicide. An act will legislate a whole-of-government priority to prevent suicide and focus the attention of every agency to address the risk of suicide across our community.

"Suicide prevention isn't limited to health portfolios. Housing is suicide prevention, employment is suicide prevention, finance is suicide prevention, and education is suicide prevention."

The organisation noted that more than three times the amount of people died from suicide in 2019 (3318 people) than have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began (1019 people as of September 2).




6 September, 2021

Worrying deaths among vaccinated service members

It seems that everyone is cheering now that the FDA has "approved" the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine which in some people's minds deems it safe to use. There is plenty of debate if the vaccine was actually approved or if it was a different vaccine that will be made in the future but that nevertheless, there are still questions that have not been answered.

Now, the Pentagon has mandated that the injections must be given to all active-duty service members. The majority of service members have already taken the jab under extreme coercion, but there are thousands of troops have resisted the jab until this point.

However, expect more pressure than ever before for them to submit to taking the experimental jab.

Sadly, what you won't hear on the mainstream media is that many troops that have been forced to take this medical experiment have severely been impacted healthwise.

Let us have an honest moment between us now.  The men and women that sign up for the military are typically the healthiest groups of young people, right?  So, why are they having these types of condition?

Now, a military doctor has come forward to shed some light on the recent developments that should send a chill down your spine.

Dr. Lee Merritt stated the experimental jabs have killed more active-duty service members than COVID-19 itself.

Dr. Merritt recently addressed the American Frontline Doctors and discussed how all through 2020 there were only 20 deaths among all active duty military personnel related to COVID. However, there are now many reports of tumors and over 80 cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), which has a 5-year mortality rate of around 66%, following the COVID-19 shots given to the military.

With the vaccine program we've ostensibly killed more of our young active duty people than COVID did.

This is the not the first time the military has been implicated in killing active duty military with experimental vaccines. It happened also during the Gulf War with the experimental anthrax vaccine, which some estimates claim killed 35,000 military people with what was originally termed "Gulf War Syndrome."

There has been no long time date to suggest what the potential side effects could be down the road so that is even more concerning for anyone who is reading this.

The future of our men and women is at stake and no one can give us the answers as to if this is something everyone should be injected with. Sadly, with our current administration, we may never know.


Here's what we know about the mu variant

A coronavirus variant known as "mu" or "B.1.621" was designated by the World Health Organization as a "variant of interest" earlier this week and will be monitored by the global health body as cases continue to emerge across parts of the world. It is the fifth variant of interest currently being monitored by the WHO.

The variant was first detected in Colombia in January 2021, where cases continue to rise. It has since been identified in more than 39 countries, according to the WHO, among them the United States, South Korea, Japan, Ecuador, Canada and parts of Europe.

About 2,000 mu cases have been identified in the United States, so far, according to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), the largest database of novel coronavirus genome sequences in the world. Most cases have been recorded in California, Florida, Texas and New York among others.

However, mu is not an "immediate threat right now" within the United States, top infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci told a press briefing on Thursday. He said that while the government was "keeping a very close eye on it," the variant was "not at all even close to being dominant" as the delta variant remains the cause of over 99 percent of cases in the country.

It's unclear how much protection the vaccines offer against this variant. "The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape," the WHO said in a statement Tuesday, raising concerns that it may be more resistant to coronavirus vaccines than other variants. "But this needs to be confirmed by further studies," it added.

Fauci said that while laboratory data had shown that the mu variant can evade certain antibodies - among them those induced by vaccine shots - there is currently a lack of clinical data and other research involving people, showing this. He underscored that in general, vaccines remain effective and the best protection against the coronavirus.

Vaccine maker Pfizer told The Post in an email that it was studying the mu variant and expected to share data soon with a peer-reviewed journal. "To date, we are encouraged by both the real-world data and laboratory studies of the vaccine and see no evidence that the virus or circulating variants of concern regularly escape protection," said Pfizer's spokesperson Kit Longley.

Is the mu variant more transmissible?

Pa£l C rdenas, a professor of infectious diseases and genomics at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, has studied mu and told The Post that current evidence showed that it was likely "more transmissible" than the original coronavirus strain. Mu has "been able to outcompete gamma and alpha in most parts of Ecuador and Colombia," he said.

However, there was no sign yet that people should be more worried, C rdenas added. "People should know that these variants emerge all the time and it is important that they are characterized in order to be tracked," he said.

Most viruses change over time, and although some mutations have little to no impact on the virus's properties, others can change how it spreads, its severity and the effectiveness of vaccines or other medicines.

For now, the WHO says more studies are needed to understand the characteristics of the mu variant - and that it will monitor how it may interact, in particular, with the more common delta variant.



Jobs report disappoints - only 235,000 positions added vs. expectations of 720,000 (CNBC)

President Biden rips SCOTUS, orders federal crackdown on Texas over "heartbeat" law (Daily Wire) 

Nancy Pelosi: House will vote to codify Roe v. Wade (National Review)

Settled science? Senior FDA officials to step down over disagreement with White House on booster shots (Fox Business)

Twenty states sue feds over foolish transgender mandate in schools (Daily Wire)

Friendly fire: Republican Liz Cheney promoted to vice chair of select committee investigating U.S. Capitol riot (Washington Times)

Joe Manchin calls on Democrats to "pause" $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, citing inflation concerns (National Review)

Biden claims he visited Pittsburgh synagogue that was attacked. Synagogue says that's false. (Daily Wire)

House GOP demands full, unedited transcript from Biden-Ghani phone call (Daily Caller)

Republicans question number of Americans left in Afghanistan as horror stories roll in (Washington Examiner)

The Biden administration can't reach one-in-three released migrant kids (Axios)

Non compos mentis: Biden helps secure Tajikistan's border amid U.S. border crisis (Fox News)

Former Georgia prosecutor indicted over handling of Ahmaud Arbery's case (CBS News)

Charges filed against "transgender" sex offender for exposing himself to women in a spa (The Federalist)

We're shocked - shocked! Taliban announces China will be their main partner (Human Events)

Inmates running the asylum: Taliban victory parade features dozens of armored U.S. military vehicles and tons of weapons (Not the Bee)

Islamist stabs six at New Zealand supermarket; suspect dead (Fox News)

USA Today (sort of) retracts "fact-check" against Gold Star families to protect Biden after he dishonored slain soldiers (PM)

Biden administration erased Afghan weapons reports from federal websites (Forbes)

Biden to go back on vacation, even as his own people are horrified Americans were left behind (RedState)

Judge conditionally approves Purdue Pharma opioid settlement (AP)

Belly Laugh of the Week: Federal government looking into McDonald's ice cream machines (Daily Wire)




5 September, 2021

Lessons from the "Diamond Princess"

<i>There are a number of articles circulating that see governmental reactions to Covid as the product of malign conspiracies.  And it is true that government Covid policies are not well justified by the science.  

There is however an old provrerb that says never attribute to malice what can equally be attributed to stupidity or folly.  And it is my view that the lockdowns etc. are just the sort of stupidity that we expect from politicians rather than being due to anything more devious.

The conspiracy articles oftem preent a good case for a very different response to the virus but the paranoia in them makes for a tedious read.  Below however I present an excerpt from one of the conspiracy articles that seems to me well reasoned

I have always argued that government responses to the virus should have been limited to particularly vulnerable groups</i>

The outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship served as an inadvertent petri-dish to study the COVID virus. Thanks to that example, by the end of February 2020, we knew that COVID was not some monster virus like the 1918 Spanish Flu but was simply another coronavirus strain that was closely related to previous coronaviruses and that most of us already carried some level of cross-reactive immunity to protect us.

How do we know that? The virus circulated freely onboard the ship, yet age corrected lethality remained between 0.025% and 0.625% (that's on the order of a bad flu season and nothing at all like the fatality rate of the 1918 Spanish Flu, which was between 2% and 10%). Only 26% of the passengers tested positive for the virus and of those that tested positive 48% remained completely symptom free despite the advanced age of most of these passengers! 

The Diamond Princess didn't turn into the floating morgue of bygone eras when ships carrying a disease were forced into quarantine. That should have been the first clue that this virus was anything but novel in the colloquial understanding of the term. Like most cold and flu viruses, only those with weak immune systems were in danger while everyone else got off with little or no symptoms. That is simply not how a truly novel virus behaves when it encounters a population without any pre-existing cross-reactive immunity. The only plausible explanation for that lack of deadliness (deadly for some, annoying for some, and asymptomatic for most others) is that most people already have sufficient pre-existing cross-reactive immunity from exposure to other coronaviruses. 

Research subsequently confirmed what the Diamond Princess outbreak revealed. Cross-reactive immunity. As I mentioned before, studies like this one demonstrated that up to 90 - 99% of us already have some residual level of partial protection to COVID. And we also subsequently found out that most people who were exposed to the deadly SARS virus in 2003 have little to fear from COVID, again because of cross-reactive immunity. COVID was never a mortal threat to most of us.

The important thing to remember is that the Diamond Princess data was already publicly available since the end of February of 2020. Operation Warp Speed, the vaccine development initiative approved by President Trump, was nevertheless announced on April 29th, 2020. Thus, our health authorities knowingly and opportunistically recommended lockdowns and promoted vaccines as an exit strategy after it was already clear that the majority of us had some kind of protection through cross-reactive immunity. The Diamond Princess example provided the unequivocal proof that the only people who might benefit from a vaccine, even if it worked as advertised, were the small number of extremely vulnerable members of society with weak immune systems. Likewise, lockdowns should have been recommended only for nursing home residents (on a strictly voluntary basis to protect their human rights) while the pandemic surged through the rest of us.


How long does immunity last after COVID vaccination? And do we need booster shots

An important factor in achieving herd immunity against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is is how long the vaccines protect you.

If a vaccine continues to work well over a long period, it becomes easier to have a significant proportion of the population optimally protected, and in turn suppress or eliminate the disease entirely.

As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines continues, public attention is increasingly turning to booster shots, which aim to top up immunity if it wanes. But is a third dose needed? And if so, when?

Let's take a look at what the data tell us so far about how long immunity from COVID-19 vaccines might last.

Immunity after a COVID-19 infection?

The presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 is used as an indicator of immunity, with higher levels indicating greater protection.

Once antibody levels drop below a particular threshold, or vanish completely, the person is at risk of reinfection.

Initially, scientists observed people's antibody levels rapidly decreased shortly after recovery from COVID-19.

However, more recently, we've seen positive signs of long-lasting immunity, with antibody-producing cells in the bone marrow identified seven to eight months following infection with COVID-19.

In addition, scientists have observed evidence of memory T cells (a type of immune cells) more than six months following infection.

A study of more than 9000 recovered COVID-19 patients in the United States up to November 2020 showed a reinfection rate of only 0.7 per cent.

These findings closely align with a slightly more recent study suggesting reinfection after COVID-19 is very uncommon, at least in the short term.

While it seems likely there's some level of lasting protection following COVID-19 infection, if you've had COVID, getting vaccinated is still worthwhile.

There's some evidence vaccination after recovery leads to a stronger level of immunity compared to "natural" immunity from infection, or immunity from vaccination alone.

People with so-called "hybrid immunity" appear to exhibit a more diverse range of antibodies.

How long does immunity from vaccines last?

The vaccines deployed against COVID-19 in Australia and most of the western world come from two classes.

Those produced by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are viral vector vaccines. They use an adenovirus (which causes the common cold) to prime the immune system to respond to SARS-CoV-2.

The vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA-based technology. The messenger RNA gives your cells temporary instructions to make the coronavirus' spike protein, teaching your immune system to protect you if you encounter the virus.

For the viral vector vaccines, despite ongoing trials, there's little data available on the duration of the antibody response.

The original studies showed efficacy for one to two months, however the duration of protection, and whether a booster will be needed, require further evaluation.

Notably, a vaccine similar to AstraZeneca against a related coronavirus (Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS) showed stable antibody levels over a 12-month follow-up period. This gives hope for lasting protection against similar coronaviruses.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are the first vaccines based on mRNA technology to be approved for human use. So there's still significant research required to evaluate the nature and duration of immunity they induce.

Interestingly, "germinal centres" have been identified in the lymph nodes of people vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. These act as training sites for immune cells, teaching them to recognise SARS-CoV-2, indicating a potential for long-lasting protection.

Initial studies only evaluated short-term efficacy, however recent research has found strong antibody activity at six months.

What about Delta?

Variants such as Delta, which are more transmissible and potentially more dangerous, are likely to increase interest in booster programs.

All vaccines show modestly reduced efficacy against Delta, so any decrease in protection over time could be more problematic than with the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, or other variants.

A recent preprint (a study yet to undergo peer review) found protection against the Delta variant waned within three months with both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.

This research from the United Kingdom showed the Pfizer vaccine was 92 per cent effective at preventing people from developing a high viral load at 14 days after the second dose, but this dropped to 78 per cent at 90 days.

AstraZeneca was 69 per cent effective against the same measure at 14 days, dropping to 61 per cent after 90 days.

This study shows vaccinated people who become infected with Delta still carry high amounts of virus (viral load).

Third booster doses will be important to reduce these breakthrough infections and subsequent transmission.

Although the UK study looked at infections rather than hospitalisations or deaths, data from around the world continue to show the unvaccinated are making up the vast majority of patients who develop serious illness.

Nonetheless, scientists are continuing to investigate how waning immunity could affect protection against the more serious outcomes of COVID-19.

OK, so what now?

Pfizer has reported positive results from trials of a third dose to boost immunity, and the company is seeking formal approval for a booster from the United States Food and Drugs Administration.

The United States has announced it will begin distributing third doses next month to people who received an mRNA vaccine eight months ago or more.

Other countries, such as Israel, have already begun rolling out boosters.

The move to offer third doses in some high-income countries has raised ethical concerns, with many people around the world still unable to access a first or second dose.

A number of countries have authorised booster doses for at-risk populations in response to the rise of the Delta variant.

This includes older adults and those with compromised immune systems, to combat the increased risk of severe disease and diminished vaccine protection in these people.




4 September, 2021

My Sabbath today. 

Before my ilness I was posting to 6 blogs every day except Saturday and I am now back to that


3 September, 2021

Much-touted  Bangladesh study of masks is a snark

Multiple accounts have popped up (e.g. <a href="">here</a>) saying that the study vindicates mask-wearing.  It does not.  Just two quotes from the study abstract tell the tale: 

"Neither participants nor field staff were blinded to intervention assignment"

"The proportion of individuals with COVID-like symptoms was 7.62% (N=13,273) in the intervention arm and 8.62% (N=13,893) in the control arm"

For a start, the study was of people with "COVID-like symptoms", not actual disease and there was NO data on deaths. So there is a lot of room for slippage there.  How often were the "symptoms" actually indicative of COVID infection? 

Secondly, the figures for mask-wearers and non-mask-wearers differed only slightly (7.62% vs 8.62%) -- to a  degree readily explainable by the fact that the study was not blinded.  The experimenters knew who the wearers and non-wearers were and it is routine that such a circumstance gives results favourable to the hypothesis.

Not blinding the study was a huge breach of scientific protocol and renders the results of zero authority.


1st Patient Begins Pfizer's Oral COVID-19 Drug Trial

The first patient in a clinical trial analyzing Pfizer's oral COVID-19 drug has received the first dose of the medication, the company announced on Sept. 1.

The study is analyzing a protease inhibitor known as PF-07321332. The drug is meant to combat COVID-19 in patients who experience symptoms from the disease, but don't require hospital care.

The randomized, double-blind trial will enroll about 1,140 participants, approximately half of whom will receive a placebo. The participants will receive the drug or the placebo every 12 hours orally for five days.

People who are given the drug will also receive ritonavir.

"If successful, we believe this therapy could help reduce severity of illness among a broad population of patients," Rod MacKenzie, Pfizer's chief development officer, said in a statement.

The company has already begun a separate trial that's testing a different protease inhibitor, this one administered via IV.

Inhibitors are a type of medication that stops viruses from replicating.

Antiviral pills against COVID-19 have yet to be developed. The IV-administered remdesivir, produced by Gilead Sciences, was approved by U.S. drug regulators in 2020.

Other companies are also attempting to produce the medicines, including Merck and Roche.

Merck has already begun a late-stage trial analyzing its pill candidate, dubbed molnupiravir. Interim results from a phase two trial for Roche's pill, AT-527, have shown promising results, Roche and its partner Atea Pharmaceuticals stated in July.

Pfizer said that if its trial shows PF-07321332 is safe and effective, it could ask regulators for authorization in the fourth quarter of 2021. 


The developer of ivermectin is performing late-stage trials on a drug that could actually prevent COVID-19

Merck & Co partnered with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to develop molnupiravir.

Enrollment for late-stage trials for their drug have already started. 

The companies hope the drug could prevent COVID-19 infection in patients, but have yet to share further detail of how exactly it will be used. 

Merck is also the developer of ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug that has gained infamy due to false claims that it could combat the virus - which is the real use for molnupiravir.

Molnupiravir could fill the role that many are currently incorrectly using ivermectin for.

A study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that the drug could prevent replication of viral cells of COVID-19 and other similar viruses.

The drug, which can be taken via a pill, is now entering late stage trials in the United States as Merck plans to eventually seek FDA approval.

Over 1,300 volunteers aged 18 or older will be recruited for the study and live in a house with someone who has a symptomatic case of the COVID-19.

Merck also plans to use the drug in some lower income countries in the meanwhile, attempting to acquire emergency authorization.

The company has partnered with Indian generic drug manufacturers to produce and sell versions of molnupiravir in the country, pending approval from local regulators.

Merck hopes the drug could help alleviate these countries COVID-19 situations while they await a larger supply of the vaccine. '

Only around 36 percent of Indians have received at least one shot of the virus, and less than 11 percent are fully vaccinated.




2 September, 2021

The Afghanistan Disaster - Trump or Biden

In the wake of our nation's disgraceful and disastrous retreat from Afghanistan (AFG), which I detailed yesterday in "The War Is NOT Over," there is a lot of deliberate obfuscation about the difference in the Afghan exit plan negotiated by Donald Trump and that executed by Joe Biden. Of course, Biden's Beltway cadres and their Leftmedia parrots are leading that disinformation campaign.

The line goes something like, The longest war is over, the exit happened under Biden, but it was Trump's fault because he negotiated with the Taliban, thus he bears responsibility. But thanks to Biden, America's longest war is over and it would have ended badly regardless.

That is a colossal dumper full of pig manure.

Typical of the leftists' rhetoric is this from Juan Williams, Fox News's perfunctory peddler of Biden's party-line tripe: "I think this is a bold headline day for America that forever war is over. I think we accomplished the goals that we set when we went in there 20 years ago, that Afghanistan was not used as a terrorist launching site. The American people want this war over. And when you think about the 13 heroes whose bodies came home this weekend . you know what, those people died in a good cause. They are the last people who will have died in this, you know, America's longest war." (Killed by terrorists harbored by the Taliban.)

In fact, assuming the American citizens Biden abandoned behind enemy lines get out safe, this war is far from over for the Afghan allies we left behind, some 80,000 of whom were already approved "special immigration visa" holders, and who will now be targeted for extinction. And this war is far from over for those who will become targets of violence perpetrated the Taliban's terrorist surrogates worldwide in the coming years.

Williams then invoked the blame-spreading: "I think that when you look at this, and you're looking at four presidents, you look at President [George W.] Bush, who chose to go in there and didn't know how to get out. You look at President [Barack] Obama. He really didn't know how to get out. Trump negotiating with the Taliban. And now, President Biden underestimated the strength of the Afghan government. There are a lot of mistakes here."

Let's clear up who is responsible for the deadly exfil "mistakes."

In recent days, Biden has repeatedly attempted to blame-shift his AFG failure to Trump.

Asked last week who was responsible for the Kabul bombing and AFG cluster, Biden correctly said, "I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that's happened of late."

Predictably, he qualified that response: "But here's the deal: You know - I wish you'd one day say these things - you know as well as I do that the former president made a deal with the Taliban."

That was a lie. Trump's exit plan was with the Afghan government but included terms that the Taliban had to meet.

Ironically, moments later, Biden attempted to defend his own coordination with and dependence on the Taliban by insisting the bombing was ISIS-Khorasan (ISK), not the Taliban. He lied about this distinction.

For the record, this is the same Sunni Islamist Taliban who, according to the Department of Defense (DoD), just released "thousands" of Sunni Islamist ISK terrorists from Bagram Air Base just 30 miles north of Kabul a week earlier, and the same Taliban whose leader proclaimed last week that Sunni Islamist Osama bin Laden had no connection to the 9/11 Islamist attack on our country.

And recall that the Taliban "head of security" in Kabul, Khalil Haqqani, is a U.S. government-designated terrorist and has a $5 million bounty on his head. What could go wrong?

Political analyst Rich Lowry describes Biden's remarks last week as "the arsonist bragging about how many fires he has put out," and notes, "Honor has always had an enormous influence on human affairs and the conduct of governments - until, evidently, the advent of President Joe Biden in the year 2021."

Biden and his cadre spent the last month speaking of the Taliban as if they were some trustworthy and legitimate government entity, rather than the amalgam of violent Sunni Islamist terrorists who invaded Afghanistan from Pakistan after the Soviet retreat - and have now rapidly reconstituted. There is virtually NO degree of ideological separation between the so-called "Taliban government" thugs and their surrogate terrorist groups, just doctrinal differences. And there is now no doubt that the more violent Sunni ISK Islamists (also from Pakistan) and Sunni al-Qa'ida Islamists have risen just as rapidly as surrogates under the Sunni Taliban protectorate. To insist that ISK and al-Qa'ida are not under the Taliban umbrella is a distinction without a difference.

Then yesterday, defending his decision to abandon Americans behind enemy lines, Biden again blamed Trump while taking credit for "the extraordinary success of this mission." "Extraordinary success"? Perhaps from the Taliban's perspective.

Biden insisted: "My predecessor, the former president, signed an agreement with the Taliban to remove U.S. troops by May 1, just months after I was inaugurated. . The previous administration's agreement said that if we stuck to the May 1st deadline that they had signed on to leave by, the Taliban wouldn't attack any American forces. . But if we stayed all bets were off, so we were left with a simple decision. Either follow-through on the commitment made by the last administration and leave Afghanistan or say we weren't leaving and commit another tens of thousands more troops going back to war. That was the choice - the real choice. I was not going to extend the war."

After making sure to mention the retreat plan "was based on the unanimous recommendation of my civilian and military advisors - the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all the service chiefs, and the commanders in the field," he then added, "I take responsibility for the decision."

To be clear, as I noted in "Biden's Afghan Blowup," Trump's drawdown plan had two primary and finite conditions: First, that the Taliban had demonstrably cut their ties with al-Qa'ida, ISK, and other terror groups, and second, that they successfully negotiate and maintain peace with the AFG government.

With Trump gone, the Taliban summarily discarded those conditions and ousted the AFG government. And why wouldn't they? Obviously, they had no fear of Biden enforcing those terms. Former Director of National Intelligence Rick Grenell concurs: "The Taliban onslaught started coming once Joe Biden got into the White House. The Taliban knew they couldn't make the move when Trump was in office."

According to seasoned political analyst Brit Hume, "If you believe the Biden administration's claim it was bound by the Trump-Taliban deal and thus had to get out fast," you need to get your facts straight.

Referencing an investigative report published a week earlier, "Was Biden handcuffed by Trump's Taliban deal in Doha?" the authors concluded: "U.S. officials made clear at the time that the agreement was conditions-based and the failure of intra-Afghan peace talks to reach a negotiated settlement would have nullified the requirement to withdraw. One day before the Doha deal, a top aide to chief U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad said the agreement was not irreversible, and 'there is no obligation for the United States to withdraw troops if the Afghan parties are unable to reach agreement or if the Taliban show bad faith' during negotiations."

Hume noted: "The president is fond of saying, 'Well, we were bound by the Trump administration's deal with the Taliban.' In fact, when that deal was struck in February 2020 [our negotiators] made it very clear that this was conditions-based and if the Taliban did not [meet those conditions] we were under no obligation to remove our troops. One of the key provisions of that deal was that the Taliban and the Afghan government would negotiate a [peace agreement]. They never did that."

Hume concludes, "On that score alone, Biden was not obligated to pull our troops out."

In one particularly devastating summation, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) made clear who failed: "The President made the decision to trust the Taliban. The President made the decision to set an arbitrary August 31st deadline. The President made the decision to abandon Bagram Air Base. The President made the decision not to expand the perimeter around Karzai International Airport. The President made the decision to undermine our NATO allies. The President made the decision to break our word to our Afghan partners. The President made the decision to tell one lie after another as the crisis unfolded. The President made the morally indefensible decision to leave Americans behind. Dishonor was the President's choice. May history never forget this cowardice." (At least Biden kept his promises to the Taliban.)

Worth including in that list is the fact that in June, Biden waved a federally-required mandate that the Department of Defense provide a detailed assessment of risks if the U.S. leaves Afghanistan. So DoD never produced that assessment for the chambers controlled by Pelosi and Schumer. Hmmm.

National Review's senior political analyst Jim Geraghty outlined the disastrous sequence of events from Biden's claim in July: "The likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely." That comment sure didn't age well.

Commentator Tammy Bruce observed: "Biden says Taliban was in its strongest position ever when he came into office. . Then how is it that he insisted just a few weeks ago that the Taliban we're not going to take over the country?"

After issuing those false assurances, a month before the Taliban swept over Kabul, Biden instructed Afghan president Ashraf Ghani: "I am not a military man.but.the perception around the that things aren't going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban. There's a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture."

Barack Obama's former senior adviser, David Axelrod, concluded: "You cannot defend the execution here. This has been a disaster. . It is heartbreaking, it is depressing, and it's a failure. And he needs to own that failure." (Recall that during last year's Demo primary, Obama said, "Don't underestimate Joe's ability to f-k things up.")

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich observed: "We have not seen a president this incompetent. We haven't seen a president surrender to an enemy in the way that Joe Biden has. And he's allowed a seventh-century tribal group to defeat the most powerful country in the 21st century. It's an astonishing outcome."

Fact is, Trump was this nation's strongest domestic and foreign policy leader in decades.

Anyone - ANYONE - who believes that the resurgence of the Taliban and their ISK and al-Qa'ida thugs would have occurred under a second Trump term is so deeply deluded as to be in a state of complete denial.

When Trump left office, we had about 3,000 troops left in AFG. There had not been a military death in over a year until last week, when 13 Americans were murdered - the worst loss of American lives in a decade.

For context, the U.S. has about 750 military base sites in almost 80 countries. We have almost 54,000 personnel in Japan and 26,000 in South Korea. In Europe we have 35,000 Americans in Germany, 13,000 in Italy, and 9,000 in the UK. In the Middle East, we have 4,000 personnel in Bahrain, 1,800 in Turkey, 1,500 in Saudi Arabia, and 1,100 in Kuwait.

But only one country has sponsored a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and that was AFG. Trump's conditions for removing most of our remaining military personnel from that nation was a good plan. Then Joe Biden happened.

Given the resurgence of the Taliban, there is now a very real renewed threat of terrorist assaults on American soil and Americans abroad. Recall that Biden's director of national intelligence warned him in April that the Taliban rise would result in an imminent and perilous threat to the continental U.S.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was clear about the looming national security threat. He noted, "This is one of the worst foreign policy decisions in American history, much worse than Saigon," because the withdrawal from Vietnam did not signal a significant threat to Americans. To that point, he added: "Just because we decided to stop fighting doesn't mean the terrorists go away. So they're still out there. They're invigorated. They're emboldened. They're excited about the success they see in bringing America to its knees in Afghanistan."

Former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton was very clear about that threat: "This was a known. By canceling the insurance policy of having American and NATO forces fighting the terrorist . in Afghanistan, made it less likely we would have to fight them in the streets and skies over America. What has happened here is seen as a Taliban victory over the United States . and has given terrorists all over the Middle East a huge psychological boost. . There are many reports of foreign terrorist fighters already coming into Afghanistan . and we are going back to the pre-9/11 environment."

So we leave the AFG theater after two decades with the Taliban thugs in a much more powerful position than when we arrived in 2001. In great measure, they are far more dangerous and deadly because of billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment Biden left behind.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken put a smiley face on it: "A new chapter of America's engagement with Afghanistan has begun. It's one in which we will lead with our diplomacy. The military mission is over. A new diplomatic mission has begun."

Laughably, Biden's State Department spokesman issued this directive: "The Taliban needs to meet its commitments and obligations in Afghanistan on freedom of travel, respecting basic rights of the people, upholding its commitments on counterterrorism, not carrying out reprisal violence against those who stayed, and forming an inclusive government."

Or what? And who is going to confirm the Taliban is meeting its "commitments and obligations"? Maybe the UN can send in its inspectors.they have a great track record.

Apparently now, Blinken believes his leverage is giving the Taliban direct financial aid, ostensibly to help clean up the humanitarian mess Biden left.

Biden's ineptitude, and that of his feckless administration, is epic, reckless, and deadly.

As I outlined previously:

The intermediate concern of Biden's failure is the consequences for tens of thousands of Afghan allies, civilians, and families whom Biden abandoned. As the Taliban firms up its organizational structure and returns to its extremist tyrannical control, the bloody purges will be underway.

The extended concerns are that Biden has reseeded the al-Qa'ida and [ISIL](] turf, putting the U.S. homeland at risk of another terrorist attack.

The consequences of Biden's now-obvious failure as commander-in-chief have immediate and dire implications for our national security that extend far beyond the borders of Afghanistan. Biden's AFG retreat will embolden far more powerful tyrants, notably our near-peer adversaries China and Russia, and of course Iran and North Korea are on the move.

Power does not tolerate a vacuum.

The catastrophic failure of our AFG mission and retreat was certainly not because of any deficit of courage and commitment from our warfighters, but abject dereliction of duty by Biden's senior military leaders.

But the buck stops with Biden. The catastrophe in AFG was not, first and foremost, the plan; it was the man. The Taliban, ISK, ISIL, and al-Qa'ida all feared Trump - none fear Biden. But even most of Biden's conservative media critics have yet to wake up to that reality as they keep focusing on his failed plan.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley just couldn't figure this out: "There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days."

However, what Milley, SecDef Lloyd Austin, and the rest of Biden's Beltway high command failed to see was the red flag right in front of them the whole time: Joe Biden. And it is because the Taliban had no fear of Biden that this evil overran the Afghan government and its people in just days. Again, with Trump gone, the Taliban summarily discarded all the conditions he set for withdrawal and ousted the Afghan government.

Back in 2010, even Osama bin Laden declared that then-VP Biden should not be targeted, because if he became president, he would "lead the US into a crisis."

For Biden's boundless ineptitude, we will pay a price much higher than the disaster we left in Afghanistan.

Last week, before the Kabul bombing, our national security analyst, Gen. B.B. Bell (USA, Ret.), strongly condemned Biden's disgraceful exit from AFG, noting his "shameful presidential dereliction of duty" and declaring emphatically that not only should Biden's military leaders resign, but also: "He should be impeached and removed from office immediately, and criminal charges should be considered." That clarion call is even louder now.

Finally, amid all the exit fanfare from feckless Joe Biden and his inept senior military and diplomatic cadres, I was deeply moved by a single sentence that sums up what was conceived as an orderly troop drawdown under Donald Trump, but devolved into a disgraceful and deadly retreat by Biden.

"In what f***ing world was it a good idea to just hand over a country to these people?" Those words were from Operation Enduring Freedom combat veteran and former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw (R-TX).

Crenshaw and many other AFG war veterans are deeply concerned about the fate of Afghan security force allies with whom they worked. The Taliban has been brutal in its slaughter of those allies, thousands of civilians. and journalists as they advanced to Kabul.

The purge has just begun.

Notably, two days ago when Crenshaw and other congressional veterans attempted to name, on the congressional floor, their 13 military brothers and sisters killed last week, they were blocked by Democrats.

Combat veteran Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), who was severely wounded in AFG, protested: "We took a moment of silence with pretty much all Republican veterans, then asked to be recognized to read names [of those killed]. [Democrat leaders] did not acknowledge us, and just closed the House down." Combat veteran Greg Steube (R-FL) also protested: "House Democrats just refused to recognize Republican veterans on the House Floor to read the names of our fallen service members in Afghanistan. That's how far our nation has fallen."

Finally, let me emphasize that the objective of Biden's compressed Afghan exit schedule has been, for months, to time the exit in order to provide him a political "I got the troops out" victory lap ahead of the 20th observance of the 9/11 Islamist attack on our nation.

There will be NO victory lap.

There WILL be more Islamist attacks against the U.S. and our people and installations abroad.

The Taliban will celebrate 9/11 in our abandoned Kabul embassy.

Brace yourself, America.




1 September, 2021

Blogging revival complete

I am now once again posting on <a href="">TONGUE-TIED</a>.  So I am back to where I was before I got cancer. I am posting on 6 blogs daily. I was previously posting on 6 days a week only -- nohing on Saturday.  And I think I will revert to that also


Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine creates TWICE as many antibodies as Pfizer's, study finds

Those who receive Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine produce twice the protective antibodies of those who receive the Pfizer vaccine, a new study suggests.

Researchers from East Limburg Hospital in Belgium compared antibody levels produced by both vaccines among about 1,600 hospital workers, finding that Moderna recipients produced 3,600 antibody units per milliliter while Pfizer recipients produced only 1,400.

While the findings may suggest that Moderna is more effective against Covid, scientists are still working to understand how antibodies contribute to protection - as Pfizer and Moderna have both proven very successful in preventing infections.

More research is needed to compare the vaccines and study how long immunity lasts, as the U.S. prepares to roll out booster shots in September.

The Covid vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have both proven to be very effective at protecting people against the virus. Both vaccines demonstrated over 90 percent efficacy in clinical trials. 

Since the vaccines' roll out in the U.S., they've protected millions from severe Covid symptoms, hospitalization and death from the virus.

Out of over 170 million Americans fully vaccinated, just 11,000 have contracted a breakthrough infection leading to hospitalization or death. That's about 0.006 percent.

As the Indian 'Delta' variant drives case surges across the U.S., however, some scientists and leaders are concerned that these vaccines become less effective as time passes after vaccination.  These concerns have led the federal government to announce a plan for booster shots starting in late September.

The study addresses vaccine efficacy concerns by examining the immune system's response to vaccination.

This study - published Monday in JAMA - is unique in that it's the first to directly compare antibody response resulting from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Antibodies are proteins in the body's immune system that recognize - and neutralize - foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria.

Scientists measure antibody levels by taking patients' blood samples, then introducing a specific foreign invader - such as the coronavirus spike protein - into the sample.

If a patient's immune system is prepared to respond to the invader, antibodies will multiply and trigger other immune system actions.

The Belgian researchers measured Covid antibody levels among about 1,600 healthcare workers at their healthcare facility.

All the healthcare workers had received two doses of an mRNA vaccine - about 700 received the Moderna vaccine and just under 1,000 received the Pfizer vaccine.

The researchers tested these workers' antibody levels before they were vaccinated and six to ten weeks after their second doses.

Those workers who received the Moderna vaccine had much higher antibody responses to the coronavirus spike protein than those who received Pfizer, the researchers found.

Moderna recipients had an average antibody titer of 3,800 units per milliliter, while Pfizer recipients had an average titer of 1,400 units per milliliter.

Antibody levels among the Moderna patients were 2.7 times higher.

The researchers suggested that this big difference may be a result of a longer wait time between doses for the Moderna vaccine (four weeks as opposed to three weeks for Pfizer), as well as a higher concentration of Covid mRNA in Moderna's vaccine.

While these results appear to suggest that Moderna recipients are better protected against Covid than those who got Pfizer's jabs, outside researchers have cautioned that antibody levels do not exactly correspond with protection.

'I would urge caution in making the conclusion that because Moderna demonstrated a slightly higher peak on average that its efficacy will be slower to wane,' David Benkeser, a biostatistician at Emory University, told Bloomberg. 'Such a conclusion requires a host of assumptions that have not yet been evaluated,' he said.

The researchers themselves acknowledge that more study is needed to determine the relationship between antibody levels and Covid protection - along with how long protection lasts.

Scientists also continue to evaluate the vaccines' ability to protect against Delta and other concerning variants.

'Still, it's possible that higher initial antibody levels might correlate with longer duration of protection against mild breakthrough infections,' Deborah Steensels, a microbiologist at East Limburg Hospital and lead author on the study, told Bloomberg.

'Also, if higher antibody levels are confirmed to be important, then the Moderna vaccine might be better for immunocompromised people who don't respond well to vaccines, she said.

This study follows other recent research that has suggested Moderna's vaccine may be more durable - and better at protecting recipients against breakthrough cases - than Pfizer's.

In addition to comparing the vaccines against each other, the researchers also compared antibody levels between those patients who did and did not have a prior COVID-19 infection.

A small number of healthcare workers in the study had previously faced Covid infection, including 22 percent of the Moderna group and 13 percent of the Pfizer group.

The researchers found that these previously infected workers had much higher antibody levels - about 9,500 units per milliliter, compared to 1,600 units per milliliter for those who weren't infected.

That's a six-fold difference. This finding suggests that, for people who both experience a Covid infection and get vaccinated, the infection may act as a natural booster shot - providing extra protection against future interactions with the coronavirus.


Corporate Social Justice Programs Don't Work

According to a new report from The Washington Post, America's corporations have committed "at least" $49.5 billion to the cause of "racial justice" since the George Floyd murder last year riveted our national attention on race.

This amounts to a little over $1,100 for every Black man, woman and child in America.

Or, from another perspective, about $16,500 for every Black household earning $25,000 or less.

But we're not talking about corporate America, despite their deep concern for racial justice, just simply giving black Americans cash. As much as they undoubtedly care about these Black citizens, they would never trust them to just take the money and spend properly.

These corporate executives nationwide have concluded that they can justify taking a huge chunk of their shareholders' funds -- an amount equal to the entire economy of the state of Alaska -- and spend it in a way that will produce more racial justice.

It is reasonable to ask why they believe they can achieve this.

It goes against all experience we have had with government.

The federal government has been spending trillions since the war on poverty began in the 1960s -- $20 trillion, by some estimates -- and the incidence of poverty over these years has hardly budged.

Apparently, these corporate executives feel they have some insight that has eluded politicians all these years.

A large percentage of these funds is earmarked for loans and investments in housing and business loans.

According to the report, $28 billion flows from a pledge by JPMorgan Chase to move 40,000 families into home ownership over the next five years.

But, again, special loans and grants to encourage minority home ownership are nothing new.

Government has been doing this for years, causing more damage than good.

Most should recall that we had a major financial crisis in our country in which we saw a collapse in financial markets in 2008 that was the worst since the Great Depression.

According to research at the American Enterprise Institute, this collapse was driven by the bursting of a highly inflated bubble in housing prices, the result of widespread deterioration in lending standards driven by government affordable housing goals and mandates.

Black citizens, who these government programs were designed to help, were disproportionately hurt when housing prices collapsed as a result of the plethora of bad loans.

The great mystery is why the principles that made and make our country great are nowhere to be found in the various ideas and programs being promoted with this vast sum of funds.

Why have so many in corporate America signed off on left-wing dogma that American principles -- principles of protection of life, of liberty, of property -- are the problem rather than the solution?

A healthy portion of American Blacks are doing very well because of these American principles.

Per the Census Bureau's recent annual report -- Income and Poverty in the United States, 2019 -- a larger percentage of Black households, 29.4%, were earning $75,000 or more than the percentage earning $25,000 or less, 28.7%.

Those left behind need liberation from government control of their lives. Less government-created ghettos from federal housing programs, more freedom from failing government schools and from broken government entitlement programs such as Social Security.

I started promoting the idea 25 years ago of releasing low-income earners from the Social Security payroll tax and allowing them to invest those funds in a personal retirement account. Back then, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 10,000. Today, it stands at 35,000.

The very naysayers I heard back then are the ones bleating today about unfairness and the wealth gap.

Rather than betraying the tradition of free enterprise capitalism that built corporate America, America's corporations should be promoting these values. This is the path to more prosperity, more justice, for all Americans.




For the notes appearing at the side of the original blog see HERE

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