Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Vaccinations may have helped against severe illness but neither masks nor vaccinations have shortened the pandemic

February 10, 2022

For almost 3 years, epidemiology and rock-star epidemiologists have been flailing their way through the pandemic. Ridiculous modelling and constantly changing and contradictory advice have become the norm. 

At least there are some few who are beginning to be self-critical about all the mistakes that  epidemiology – which is no science – has made. Even fewer are willing to admit that blindly “following the science” means also following the 90+% of scientific research which goes down the wrong path. 

  • It was first thought that the infection would spread like influenza. But instead it spread in clusters which negated all hopes for achieving some kind of herd immunity.
  • the pattern of mutations of the corona virus was not as predicted (more hope than prediction) and that made specific vaccines less useful and for shorter times than expected.
  • vaccination has probably helped more in preventing serious illness than in preventing any spread of infection.
  • Infection was first thought to be air-borne. Then it was thought to be liquid-borne. In fact it is both and neither. These assumptions led to confused advice about the use of masks and types of masks. In fact, the use of masks may have helped in preventing a few of the infected from infecting others but has had little effect in stopping the mask-wearers from being infected.
  • even if the WHO had not tried to avoid blaming China and had raised the warning flag two months earlier than they did, no country had any useful plans for preventing the spread of infection in place.
  • Travel restrictions were never introduced fast enough to prevent the entry of a virus into a region.

The response to the pandemic will be studied for a long time yet and all the mistakes made will be the subject of many PhD theses to come. The social “sciences” are going to have a field day.

I believe in vaccines. I am sufficiently scared of serious illness to have taken all the vaccinations and boosters as they have become available. No doubt I will also take the 4th shot if and when it becomes available. It has generally been forgotten that for an effective vaccine to be useful and do its work, a vaccinated person needs first to be infected. But it is perfectly clear to me that, of course with the best intentions, vaccines have been grossly over-hyped as a means of preventing infection. Uncertain and bad science has also been used to justify the introduction of authoritarian and mandatory measures by governments. It may even be that the over-reliance on over-hyped vaccinations has prolonged the effects of the pandemic for longer than necessary. The purpose of mandatory vaccinations has misguidedly been the prevention of infection (not the prevention of serious illness) but the stark reality is that vaccinations have not been, and cannot be, very effective in preventing infection. The various mask mandates introduced in many countries have been both ridiculous and ineffective.

 


Why are vaccines not shortening the length of the pandemic?

January 27, 2022

The Covid-19 virus was first encountered at the end of 2019 though the World Health Organization only declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020, and a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Total global deaths now exceed 5.6 million and after over 2 years, the pandemic continues. We received our first doses of vaccine in April 2021, the second dose in June 2021 and the third, booster shot in December 2021.

The major difference – for a layman – between the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1920 and this Covid pandemic is that there were no vaccines available 100 years ago. The Spanish flu hit in 4 major waves; one in March 1918, the second (the deadliest) in August 1918, a third, mainly in Australia, in January 1919 and the final fourth wave in early 1920. By March 1920 the Spanish flu was less deadly than common influenza and the pandemic was over. With no vaccines of any sort available, the Spanish influenza pandemic lasted just 2 years. It is estimated that the total number of deaths was somewhere between 17 and 50 million and that up to 500 million were infected.

With Covid-19, vaccines were available first about 11 months after the outbreak though most received vaccines in the second year of the outbreak. A remarkable achievement. The logistics of carrying out mass vaccinations has been equally impressive. So far over 5 billion of the 7.3 billion global population have received at least one dose. Around 4 billion have received two doses. Close to 60% of the global population has been vaccinated to some extent. Around 360 million are thought to have been infected and around 5.6 million have lost their lives.

There is little doubt that the quality of health care after being infected is orders of magnitude more effective than 100 years ago. It is also reasonable to conclude that the vaccines have prevented many deaths. Numbers infected are similar to 100 years ago (360 m / 500 m) but number of deaths are drastically lower (5.6m / 17 – 50 m). Yet the pandemic continues and the earliest it may recede – we think – is this autumn of 2022 which will be 3 years after it started.

It would seem that vaccines have not reduced the length of the pandemic at all. In spite of all the advances in health care and the huge medical/pharmaceutical efforts in understanding the virus and creating vaccines, we are entirely reactive in our response. Vaccine development is reactive. Getting vaccinated is proactive but defensive and does not harm the virus. Health care is reactive. We have no means, it would seem, of taking the initiative and attacking the virus. We are forced to rely on natural mutations eventually reducing its virulence. Our actions, being reactive, would seem to have no impact on the length of the pandemic. Epidemiology has not impressed me during this pandemic. Every so-called mathematical model (which depends finally upon human behaviour) was wrong. (Of course epidemiology is a discipline of clerks and statistics – a social “science” if it must be called a science). They have not been able to do more than regurgitate the same advice as from 700 years ago at the time of the Black Death. Avoid the infected, wash your hands, wear a mask, burn your dead!


Austria: Could next step be branding and internment of the unvaccinated?

January 20, 2022

The Austrian parliament is showing Europe the way and has made vaccination mandatory for the over 18s.

Austria parliament approves mandatory Covid vaccination

Vienna (AFP) – Austria’s parliament on Thursday approved making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for adults from next month, becoming the first European country to do so despite a wave of protests opposing the measure. Tens of thousands have demonstrated against mandatory vaccination in regular weekend rallies since the measure was announced in November in a bid to drive up the country’s vaccination rate. But all parties, except the far-right, supported the measure, with the new legislation passing with 137 votes in favour and 33 votes against it.

I wonder what they will do with the unvaccinated. First, brand them by pinning a coloured label on them so they can be avoided? If they persist, they could  vaccinated by force? If they still resist, their property could be confiscated and they could be sent to special internment camps?

A final solution for the pandemic?

You would think the Austrians might have learned their lesson. 

Exterminating The Unvaccinated

…….. It stands to reason that forcible vaccination of the reluctant is preferable to their incarceration. A quick execution would be much cheaper if a little unethical. Deprival of employment is already here for some. Deprival of citizenship has been suggested for others. Maybe they could be branded with a yellow star and used  – forcibly – for the trial of untested vaccines? 

……..


Exterminating The Unvaccinated

January 6, 2022

Italy will now make it mandatory for over 50s to be vaccinated. If it is mandatory I expect that appropriate force will be used. One would expect that a single 20 year old should be able to subdue and jab around fifty 80 year-olds per day. It might take 2 to subdue a 50 year-old.

Macron has been mouthing off (apparently literally) about making life as difficult as possible for the unvaccinated. Sweden has now made it perfectly legal for any establishment to discriminate as desired against those without proof of full vaccination (thought it is unclear if “full” means 2, 3 or 4 shots). The market for fake vaccination certificates has been given a boost and is booming. The Australians have made idiots of themselves with the Novak Djokovic affair. (Of course, Novak has been a little idiotic himself).

It is apparent that, among the politically correct and the unthinking, the unvaccinated are the new scum of the earth – even if vaccinations provide no great protection from being infected by the Omicron variant. I wonder what the hierarchy of incorrectness is?

  1. Unvaccinated, infected are clearly the worst sort.
  2. Unvaccinated, uninfected are somewhat better
  3. Unvaccinated with natural immunity are not to be assumed to exist
  4. Infected though vaccinated
  5. Vaccinated and uninfected have a place reserved in heaven.

It stands to reason that forcible vaccination of the reluctant is preferable to their incarceration. A quick execution would be much cheaper if a little unethical. Deprival of employment is already here for some. Deprival of citizenship has been suggested for others. Maybe they could be branded with a yellow star and used  – forcibly – for the trial of untested vaccines? 


Most of science is about discarding what is wrong and “following the science” leads to many false trails and cul-de-sacs

December 31, 2021

I see that the CDC is under fire – again – for producing confusing and contradictory recommendations. The CDC defends itself by claiming that they are “just following the science”. The scientific method is a long process from observation to theory and – as I take it to be – goes as follows:

Observation > correlation/ analysis > hypothesis

hypothesis > experiment/falsification/analysis > hindcasts/forecasts/nowcasts > verification > theory

Probably less than one in a 1,000 hypotheses get to being considered a theory of any significance. Probably less than one in a 100 “sound” theories stand the test of time. Anybody who thinks any science is settled is just an idiot. Science is not a thing but a process. True science is – and needs to be – permanently skeptical. Most of the work of science actually consists of discarding what is wrong. It is inevitable that “following the science” will lead you down more false paths than correct ones. Yet “following the science” is claimed as justification for actions. Following false trails is imbued with a sanctity and a virtue it does not have. It is also a way of avoiding blame.

Backtracking from previous advice, giving conflicting advice and following false trails has been evident more often than not over the last two years as authorities have tried to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The medical response to the pandemic can be classed into 3 areas.

  1. Public health measures
  2. Vaccination
  3. clinical treatment (including drugs for clinical use)

Public health measures across the globe have been confusing, contradictory and blatantly political. Of course, epidemiology is no science even if it tries to cloak itself in scientific methods. What is certain with the spread of the Delta and the Omicron variants is that public health advice today is much the same as it was 700 years ago with the Black Death in Europe. “Avoid the infected, wear a mask and burn your dead”. Pharmaceuticals are doing very well as programs of mass vaccination are rolled out across the globe every 3 months. It is a business which has a bright future ahead of it. Certainly the speed with which testing methods and vaccines are being produced and rolled out is impressive. Both the testing and the vaccination production industries are proving to be wonderfully remunerative. There have been great advances in the clinical treatment of those infected and in the identification of drugs (many taken from other uses) for effective treatment. But there have also been a very large number of false starts with “promising” drugs which have later been found to be not very effective. Health services and health care personnel have been rushed of their feet and have done a remarkable job. They have also gone down many cul-de-sacs. In spite of the advances in treatment many of those infected are still losing their lives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) backtracked on a few more facets of COVID-19-related guidance this week, leaving the agency open to more social media mockery.

This week the CDC admitted its initial estimates about the prevalence of the omicron variant were way off. A few days earlier, the agency also revealed it was shortening the length of quarantine for COVID patients from 10 days to five if they were asymptomatic at that time. Those walk backs followed a series of other confusing announcements from the CDC, including fluctuating guidance on masks. The agency initially said only unvaccinated individuals should wear face coverings, until July, when the CDC changed course to say vaccinated individuals should resume wearing masks in certain situations.

NBC’s Peter Alexander confronted CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Wednesday, wondering why Americans should “trust” her and her agency in light of all the “mixed messaging.” She said they are simply following the science.

I am afraid the CDC is just going through a CYA exercise.

It has been 2 years now. We have followed the recommendations of the medical and public health fraternity. We have had 3 vaccinations so far. I expect we shall have to have a fourth in April or May.  And a fifth and a sixth before this pandemic is over.

It is almost time to rename the Omicron variant as the Covid-21 virus.


Virus GoT as Omicron mates with Delta to give us Delmicron

December 24, 2021

It sounds like the Game of Thrones. Which virus strain is going to conquer?

Hindustan Times:

As cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus are being reported in the US and Europe and rising in India, reports about “Delmicron” have emerged over the last few days. A member of the Covid-19 task force in Maharashtra has said there is a possibility that the West is caught between twin spikes of the Delta and the Omicron variants of the coronavirus.

“Delmicron, the twin spikes of Delta and Omicron, in Europe and US has led to a mini tsunami of cases,” Dr Shashank Joshi was quoted as saying by a leading newspaper. The highly contagious Omicron variant was first detected last month in southern Africa and has now been reported in 89 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Delmicron is not a new variant of the coronavirus but the Delta and the Omicron strains together fuelling Covid-19 cases. Data shows Omicron is the more dominant variant in the US and accounts for 73 per cent of all new cases, up from less than 1 per cent at the beginning of the month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the Delta variant was responsible for more than 99.5 per cent of the Covid-19 infections in the US last month.

……..

Doctors say people with a weak immune system, the elderly and ones with comorbidities are at higher risk of getting infected with the Delta and Omicron variants, simultaneously, according to a report. It added that areas with low vaccinations rates are also at risk. However, health experts are divided on whether the combination of the two variants can lead to a super strain.

That’s all we need now. Virus strains selectively sharing the characteristics most suited to their own survival.


 

Of course vaccines work! As long as you keep taking them, avoid the infected and wear a mask

December 22, 2021

Medical science has come a long way since the 14th century but epidemiology is clearly no science.

700 years ago the best advice was to avoid the infected, wear a mask and burn the dead. During the early part of 2020 hopes rested on herd immunity being achieved. Advice on masks was ambiguous and contradictory. Social distancing was the new buzzword. Only the elderly were at risk. If older citizens were vaccinated and the younger people developed immunity through survivable infection then herd immunity could still be reached. Then the pharmaceutical community produced a dizzying range of vaccines and convinced the politicians that mass vaccinations were the way to go. Billions were poured into mass vaccination programs. But vaccinations seem to be addictive.

So we got our first shots (Astra Zeneca) in April 2021. Two shots were needed of this vaccine so we got our second shots in June 2021. We practiced social distancing. We avoided large gatherings. We wore our masks. We didn’t meet with friends and family. But herd immunity was not achieved. The virus was a step or two ahead and kept mutating. Mutating sufficiently to make any vaccine less effective. The Delta variant took over. A “booster” vaccination would do the trick said the epidemiologists. So we got our 3rd shots (Pfizer) in December 2021. ( I took my usual flu shot as well).

And now Omicron is here. None of the vaccines can prevent infection by the Omicron variant but apparently, they still do help in keeping the effects milder. 

So we are waiting for shot number 4 – perhaps in March/April 2022?

And we can expect Numbers 5 and 6 later in 2022.

Yes, indeed! Vaccines do work. Three shots per year against Covid for the foreseeable future. And keep avoiding the infected and wear a mask as they did against the Black Death 700 years ago.

But don’t abandon healthy skepticism. Don’t put uncertain, speculative “science” on a pedestal. Don’t believe everything the medical pundits say and keep a large bucket of salt handy if you are listening to epidemiologists.


Is Omicron the unexpected end game for Covid?

December 6, 2021

There is an intriguing report out today.

‘Extremely mild’ Omicron variant is rapidly killing off much more deadly Delta coronavirus mutation

Excitement is growing among Coronavirus experts in Southern Africa and around the world as it increasingly seems that the new Omicron variant is rapidly replacing the much more deadly Delta mutation. Experts are so ecstatic because it seems more and more that the Omicron variant is much more contagious and dominant than Delta, but also much milder and less deadly. 

Some experts are therefore even urging countries to drop restrictions and let Omicron spread so the more infectious but less severe variant can kill off Delta quicker.

Delta displacement in full swing

Infections in South Africa have started to rise rapidly in recent days, a sign that displacement of the lethal Delta variant is in full swing, according to Adrian Puren, the acting executive director of South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). “What will outcompete Delta? That has always been the question, in terms of transmissibility at least, … perhaps this particular variant is the variant,” Puren told Reuters in an interview earlier this week.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said there is early evidence to suggest Omicron has an “increased risk of reinfection” and its rapid spread in South Africa suggests it has a “growth advantage” compared to Delta. Therefore, virologist Marc van Ranst pointed out that “if the omicron variant is less pathogenic but with greater infectivity, allowing Omicron to replace Delta, this would be very positive.”

Well! Well!

Perhaps it will be the mutating virus itself which will allow it to survive in some relatively harmless symbiosis with humans who will no longer try to kill it off.

It is a very attractive end-game – from a human perspective – after a turbulent 3 years but I am not taking any bets as yet.

Saved by a mutation?


The WHO has failed in curbing the Covid19 pandemic

November 13, 2021

History will show that the World Health Organisation was complicit in suppressing information at the start of the pandemic in a misguided, political effort to shield China from charges of gross negligence. Those actions by the WHO were themselves acts of wilful negligence.

During the course of the pandemic – soon entering its 3rd year – it is difficult to see any impact of the WHO.

The beneficial impact of WHO actions, if any, cannot be discerned in the spread, or the speed of spreading, of the virus. 

The impact of WHO actions on curtailing the numbers who died cannot be discerned.

Most of the successes (and failures) in tackling the pandemic have been at the national and bilateral level.

If the WHO has provided any benefits during this pandemic, these benefits cannot be discerned in the raw data.

The existence of the WHO has made no significant difference to the course of this pandemic.

The purpose of the WHO is not a bad idea. But it is the bureaucratic/political cadre at the WHO which needs to be uprooted.

Nature.com

…….. the agency is lumbered with a cumbersome and expensive organizational structure comprising a headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and six semi-autonomous regional offices. This has resulted in a complex, bureaucratic and ineffective management structure. It is a body that is ripe for root-and-branch reform.


The man-made Chinese virus – more a cover-up than any conspiracy theory

May 31, 2021

My post from a month ago was not so fanciful after all:

Covid 19 : A Chinese biological weapons test gone wrong?

  • Just a naturally occurring mutation of a coronavirus? Unlikely.
  • An accidental virus crossover to humans from a Chinese wet market? Perhaps.
  • An accidental escape of the virus from a Wuhan laboratory? Possible. 
  • Were Chinese scientists considering the coronavirus as a biological weapon? Certainly. 
  • An accidental escape from a Chinese biological weapons program? Possible. 
  • An intentional release of the virus as a biological weapons test? Unlikely
  • Just another conspiracy theory? Hardly.

There have been a number of reports recently which make it even more likely that the pandemic was caused by the accidental escape of a man-made virus from a Wuhan laboratory which did have a section devoted to work for the military. The first is admittedly from the Daily Mail but is about a paper by reputable authors in a reputable – if not well known – scientific journal. Cambridge University Press – Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery. (The scientists have apparently had great difficulty in getting the attention of more well known Journals where a few influential establishment scientists have been reluctant to rock the boat).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is qrb-discovery.jpg

COVID-19 ‘has NO credible natural ancestor’

  • DailyMail.com exclusively obtained the new 22-page paper authored by British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr. Birger Sørensen set to be published in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery
  • The study showed there’s evidence to suggest Chinese scientists created the virus while working on a Gain of Function project in a Wuhan lab 
  • Gain of Function research, which was temporarily outlawed in the US, involves altering naturally-occurring viruses to make them more infectious in order to study their potential effects on humans 
  • According to the paper, Chinese scientists took a natural coronavirus ‘backbone’ found in Chinese cave bats and spliced onto it a new ‘spike’, turning it into the deadly and highly transmissible COVID-19
  • The researchers, who concluded that COVID-19 ‘has no credible natural ancestor’, also believe scientists reverse-engineered versions of the virus to cover up their tracks
  • ‘We think that there have been retro-engineered viruses created,’ Dalgleish told DailyMail.com. ‘They’ve changed the virus, then tried to make out it was in a sequence years ago.’
  • The study also points to ‘deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data’ in Chinese labs and notes that ‘scientists who wished to share their findings haven’t been able to do so or have disappeared’ 

This perhaps explains how the first Chinese vaccine was available so quickly.

Other reports include:

WSJ: Intelligence on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Debate on Covid-19 Origin

Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory. 

Intelligence reports from the US and the UK report that a section of the Wuhan lab was answerable to the Chinese military but the Chinese have not been forthcoming about what activities this section was involved in.

Fox: Pompeo says Wuhan lab was engaged in military activity alongside civilian research

NBC News: Biden asks intelligence agencies to ‘redouble’ efforts to determine coronavirus origins

There may be a UK variant and a S African variant and an Indian variant but the virus is Chinese. This is looking more and more like a cover-up by the Chinese rather than any conspiracy theory.



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