Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

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.


Covid-19 and dwindling peers but, paradoxically, less loneliness

May 24, 2021

The data is still accumulating but it does seem globally that around 80% of all deaths due to Covid-19 are of those over 70 years old. In Sweden, 89% of deaths are of those over 70; in the US, 82% of deaths are of those over 65. Males are more likely to die of Covid or Covid induced conditions than females. All over Europe longevity statistics have been noticeably affected. Male longevity has reduced by close to 1.5 years and female longevity by about half that (c. 0.8 years).

My peers were dwindling anyway but they are dwindling faster due to Covid. Over the last year, eleven friends on my “frequently mailed list” (c. 4.5%) have disappeared (not all due to Covid).  But the paradox is that loneliness has not increased. The enforced physical self-isolation has led to a massive increase in digital contact methods. (I do not mean social media which I find more trouble than it is worth). Zoom calls, video calls, on-line contacts leading to more direct video and audio calls, have all increased markedly. I have seen and talked to many people – some after many years – who I probably would not otherwise have done. I have seen and talked to relative strangers by video calls which I would not otherwise have done. I have made new friends.

I wrote the post below about 3 years ago but I am – paradoxically – more hopeful about combating loneliness now. Not social media but digital/video contact could be the medium for mitigation. Surprisingly, and even though my peers continue to dwindle, the last year has demonstrated ways of maintaining contact and even of forging increased contact with younger generations. I see that apartment designs are already beginning to include a work-from-home space. Old-age and care homes will need to design-in digital, voice-activated, video contact facilities to a much greater degree than they do. Video contact cannot replace physical proximity but it could provide a tool to battle loneliness.


Dwindling peers or The loneliness of the long-distance survivors

Of those aged 50, the annual mortality rate is about 300/100,000. By the age of 60 this has increased to about 800/100,000 and then increases sharply to around 25,000/100,000 by 90 and encompasses virtually everybody by the age of 100. (There are currently about 300,000 people world-wide who are 100 years old and a handful who have reached 115 years old). On average women live around 4 -5 years longer than men.

Defining “peers” to be those of a similar age, I assume that most people probably reach a maximum number of peer-acquaintances at a little over the age of 50. In my own case I would guess that this was probably when I was around 55.

An increasing mortality then applies to a dwindling cohort of peer-acquaintances. The longer one survives the faster one’s peer-acquaintances shrivel.


Setting peer-acquaintances to be 100% at 50 (and ignoring accretion of new peer acquaintances), their number has dropped to around 80% at 70, and have halved by the time one has reached 80. At our 50th school graduation anniversary when we were all around 65, around 10% of our classmates had passed away. By the age of 90, peer-acquaintances have dwindled to less than 10% of those who were alive at 50. Those who live to 95 have virtually no acquaintances of their own age left alive.


Covid 19 : A Chinese biological weapons test gone wrong?

May 9, 2021

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.

Chinese Scientists Discussed Weaponising Coronavirus In 2015

A Chinese scientific paper titled “The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapons” suggested that World War Three would be fought with biological weapons.

Beijing: A document written by Chinese scientists and health officials before the pandemic in 2015 states that SARS coronaviruses were a “new era of genetic weapons” that could be “artificially manipulated into an emerging human disease virus, then weaponised and unleashed, reported Weekend Australian.
The paper titled The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapons suggested that World War Three would be fought with biological weapons. The document revealed that Chinese military scientists were discussing the weaponisation of SARS coronaviruses five years before the COVID-19 pandemic. The report by Weekend Australian was published in news.com.au.

Peter Jennings, the executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), told news.com.au that the document is as close to a “smoking gun” as we’ve got. “I think this is significant because it clearly shows that Chinese scientists were thinking about military application for different strains of the coronavirus and thinking about how it could be deployed,” Jennings said. “It begins to firm up the possibility that what we have here is the accidental release of a pathogen for military use,” Jennings added.

He also said that the document may explain why China has been so reluctant for outside investigations into the origins of COVID-19.

…….. 

This is not a new theory.  By the criteria used for determining what makes a good biological weapon, Covid- 19 is not the best possible.

Forbes:

……. Overall, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has some “desirable” properties as a bioweapon, but probably not enough to make it a good choice for military purposes. Regardless, it has certainly reminded us of our vulnerabilities as a society to a new pathogen, and how crippling a pandemic can be, as we continue to watch the entire world grappling with how to contain it.  ………

Will China ever be held accountable? Hardly.


700 years of epidemiology: “Avoid contact, wear a mask, wash your hands, burn your dead”

May 3, 2021

It was practised in 1350 during the Black Death. It was practised during the Great Plague in 1666. And it was still the best advice during the Spanish Flu in 1919. And it is no different today.

In 700 years the advice for the prevention of infection has not changed.

Like any other social “science”, epidemiology is a discipline and a field of study but it is no science.

“COVID-19 is a major acute crisis with unpredictable consequences. Many scientists have struggled to make forecasts about its impact. However, despite involving many excellent modelers, best intentions, and highly sophisticated tools, forecasting efforts have largely failed”.

1997: The Failure of Academic Epidemiology: Witness for the Prosecution, Carl Shy, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 145, Issue 6, 15 March 1997, Pages 479– 84.

Academic epidemiology has failed to develop the scientific methods and the knowledge base to support the fundamental public health mission of preventing disease and promoting health through organized community efforts. As a basic science of public health, epidemiology should attempt to understand health and disease from a community and ecologic perspective as a consequence of how society is organized and behaves, what impact social and economic forces have on disease incidence rates, and what community actions will be effective in altering incidence rates. However, as taught in most textbooks and as widely practiced by academicians, epidemiology has become a biomedical discipline focused on the distribution and determinants of disease in groups of individuals who happen to have some common characteristics, exposures, or diseases. The ecology of human health has not been addressed, and the societal context in which disease occurs has been either disregarded or deliberately abstracted from consideration.

And more recently:

2020: Forecasting for COVID-19 has failed, Ioannidis, Cripps and Tanner

Epidemic forecasting has a dubious track-record, and its failures became more prominent with COVID-19. Poor data input, wrong modeling assumptions, high sensitivity of estimates, lack of incorporation of epidemiological features, poor past evidence on effects of available interventions, lack of transparency, errors, lack of determinacy, looking at only one or a few dimensions of the problem at hand, lack of expertise in crucial disciplines, groupthink and bandwagon effects and selective reporting are some of the causes of these failures. Nevertheless, epidemic forecasting is unlikely to be abandoned.

Of course, actual health care and the medications available have advanced immeasurably during this time. Medicine and the development of medicines and vaccines have come a very long way since the Spanish Flu. But the prediction of human behaviour – which is what epidemiology is – is as uncertain now as it was in the Middle Ages. Mathematical forecasts – whether for pandemics or for climate – are only as good as the most inaccurate assumption made. Very often assumptions made are to comply with some other agenda. Sometimes, the assumptions made are just downright stupid.

And so, for over 700 years the advice for the prevention of infection has been and remains “Avoid contact, wear a mask, wash your hands and burn your dead”.


No “aspiration before vaccination” causing serious side effects?

March 26, 2021

We are still waiting for our turn and when vaccine is available. The shambles in the EU is especially telling. The EU’s incompetence in acquiring vaccines has been remarkable and the the go/stop/go/pause/go strategy regarding the Astra Zeneca vaccine has not helped.

However it now seems that one of the causes of the vaccine side-effects may be because basic vaccination techniques are not being followed.

From Swedish Radio this morning:

An expert group at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will now investigate whether the explanation for the unusual but severe side effects that may be linked to corona vaccination can be found in the way the vaccination is given. This is a special procedure that must be performed during vaccination, but which is not always done. One of those who reacted to that is Hans Bendroth. He is a retired nurse who now works extra as a covid vaccinator.

“I have seen it several times during the pandemic now, in news items from both abroad and Sweden, how to just knock the needle into the muscle and push the vaccine. Then you have no idea where you have ended up”  he says.

To aspirate means to withdraw the plunger itself in the syringe, before injecting the medicine, to see where the needle is located. If blood then flows back into the syringe, it is a sign that the needle is in a blood vessel, and not in muscle tissue, and then you have to start again. Hans Bendroth, his wife and son all work in healthcare, and are some of the nurses and doctors who contacted Vetenskapsradion after reacting to the lack of aspiration.

In Denmark, the Serum Institute now recommends that for the time being always aspirate in covid vaccination, while investigating a possible link between vaccination and the unusual but serious events with blood clots and bleeding, as a precautionary principle.


EU vaccine shambles “an advertisement for Brexit”

January 28, 2021

There is little doubt that the EU member states would each have done much better if they had taken care of their own and not relied on the EU negotiating for them or believing in EU solidarity. It is not just incompetence that the EU was late in placing vaccine orders. It became gross incompetence when the orders they placed were “junk orders” with pledges for “best efforts” and with no commitments. The EU contract with AstraZeneca has a “best efforts” clause and no specific time-table.

The EU did not allow member countries to negotiate for themselves but, instead, insisted on negotiating for the block – late and apparently without much display of competence. Ursula von der Leyen is catching the blame but it is the cowardly, risk-averse and cover-your-ass attitude of the EU bureaucracy which is the main culprit. That is the EU sickness.

La Grande Guerra:

German media savages EU for vaccine shambles which it calls ‘an advert for Brexit’

German media has rounded on the EU over Europe’s vaccine debacle today – calling it ‘the best advert for Brexit’ while blaming chief Ursula von der Leyen for the delays. The EU is acting ‘slowly, bureaucratically and protectionist… and if something goes wrong, it’s everyone else’s fault’ fumed a front-page editorial in Die Zeit, one of Germany’s best-respected broadsheets. Meanwhile Bild tore apart Von Der Leyen’s explanation of the vaccine delays and threat to stop supplies heading to the UK line by line, accusing her of placing ‘junk’ orders for vaccines three months behind Britain. ‘She says: “We know that there is no time to lose in a pandemic,” but what she means is: “We may have wasted time. But we will NEVER admit that”,’ the newspaper wrote. ……..

Bild added: ‘[Von Der Leyen] is responsible for EU junk orders. ‘Also for the fact that the EU only reached an agreement with AstraZeneca in August, not in June – as [German health minister] Jens Spahn wanted but was not allowed to. Valuable preparation time passed. Von der Leyen cannot do anything for the current audacity of AstraZeneca. The criticism is justified. But it must also be self-criticism.’

‘In the UK,’ Die Zeit adds, ‘the government’s independent and swift vaccination policy is seen as evidence that the EU is too bureaucratic and slow – and is now left behind.’ 

The criticism came as the CEO of AstraZeneca – the company which sparked the row by cutting EU vaccine supplies by 60 per cent – spoke out to defend himself, while also pointing the finger at delays in Brussels. Asked why supplies were being cut to the EU but not the recently-departed UK, Pascal Soriot said it had nothing to do with national favourtism and everything to do with the fact that the EU placed its vaccine order late. ‘We had problems in the UK too,’ he told a trio of European newspapers including Italy’s Repubblica. ‘But the contract with the British government was signed three months before the one with the EU, therefore we had time to prepare and resolve similar issues. The UK and the EU have two different production chains and at the moment the British ones are more efficient because they started earlier.’

Britain signed a contract for 300million doses of vaccine in mid-May, he revealed, but it took the EU until August to put pen to paper on the same deal. Embarrassingly for the bloc, it appears that Germany, the Netherlands, France and Italy had originally been looking to do a deal with AstraZeneca in May – but were blocked by the EU, which insisted it take over negotiations. ………

Meanwhile Bild newspaper accused Von Der Leyen of shirking blame and wasting time, while adding that ‘Brexit Brits’ have escaped the crisis. According to ITV’s Robert Peston: ‘The extra talks with the European Commission led to no material changes to the contract, but wasted time on making arrangements to make the vaccine with partner sites.’ The delays in producing the vaccine are now thought to be due to under-production at one of those sites, located in Belgium. Face with growing public anger over the failings, Italy threatened to sue to get its vaccine doses, while Von Der Leyen has ordered AstraZeneca  to ‘meet your obligations.’ But, according to Soriot, the company is meeting its obligations because it only signed a ‘best effort’ deal with the EU – promising to try and achieve 300million vaccines, but acknowledging that the complex process might be hit by delays. ‘We are two months behind schedule,’ Soriot admitted. ‘But we are working to solve these problems.’


A failure of Public Health policy, globally and in Sweden

January 25, 2021

A Monday morning rant.


One thing is certain.

The pandemic has shown, globally and in Sweden, an utter failure of public health policy. Epedemiology is not a science. It may use scientific methods but science is a process which leads to knowledge. And the level of knowledge of pandemics and human behaviour is clearly not so very high. The media and governments – and the general public – have been incredibly gullible and have swallowed speculation as being knowledge.
Health organisations (WHO and FHM) were not even certain to begin with whether to encourage the spread of the virus to get to herd immunity or to contain the spread. Even now, one year later, the only real advice is “avoid infection”. Social distancing, lockdowns, closed schools, closed shopping centres, isolation bubbles, face masks are no different to the advice available 500 years ago when infection was experienced.

The Lancet: “From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Public Health Agency, Folkhälsomyndigheten (FHM), embarked on a de-facto herd immunity approach, allowing community transmission to occur relatively unchecked”.

For every crazy proposal from the scientific community there was another scientist available to present the opposite view. For every crazy idea there was a politician available to promote it. Governments abdicated their own responsibility by relying on bureaucrats pretending to have knowledge. In the case of the Swedish government there was first denial followed by abdication of responsibility. The excuse given was that they were following the advice of “expert institutions” – except that the experts did not actually know very much.

In any case, all those old people who died were going to die anyway.


En misslyckande i folkhälsopolitiken

En sak är säker.

Pandemin har visat en misslyckande i folkhälsopolitiken globalt och i Sverige. Epedemiologi är ingen vetenskap. Det kan använda vetenskapliga metoder men vetenskap är en process som leder till kunskap. Och kunskapsnivån om pandemier och mänskligt beteende är uppenbarligen inte så hög. Media och regeringar – och allmänheten – har varit otroligt lättlästa och har svalt spekulation som kunskap.
Hälsoorganisationer (WHO och FHM) var inte ens säkra på att börja med om de skulle uppmuntra spridningen av viruset för att komma till flockimmunitet eller att begränsa spridningen.

The Lancet: “From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Public Health Agency, Folkhälsomyndigheten (FHM), embarked on a de-facto herd immunity approach, allowing community transmission to occur relatively unchecked”.

Redan nu, ett år senare, är det enda riktiga rådet att “undvika infektion”. Social distansering, lockdowns, stängda skolor, stängda köpcentra, isoleringsbubblor, ansiktsmasker skiljer sig inte från de råd som fanns för 500 år sedan när infektion upplevdes. För varje galet förslag från det vetenskapliga värld fanns en annan forskare tillgänglig för att presentera motsatt uppfattning. För varje galen idé fanns en politiker tillgänglig för att marknadsföra den. Regeringar avstod från sitt eget ansvar genom att förlita sig på byråkrater som låtsas ha kunskap. För den svenska regeringen var det första förnekandet följt av avstående från ansvaret. Ursäkten var att de följde råd från “expertimyndigheter” – förutom att experterna faktiskt inte visste så mycket.

 I vilket fall som helst skulle alla de gamla människorna som dog ändå dö.


Vaccine philanthropy is only possible if you first have vaccine nationalism

January 23, 2021

There have been a number of sanctimonious platitudes about the dangers of vaccine nationalism from the usual suspects (UN Sec Gen, WHO Dir Gen, …). This has been virtue signalling at its worst. Any national government which did not first secure its own citizens would be failing in its primary task. It is again a case of people forgetting that international is not possible without first securing the national. Philanthropy between countries cannot happen unless there is first nationalism.

And so it is between India and Brazil.

Covishield is the brand name of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. So far India has despatched over 3 million doses of Covishield to Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Seychelles, Mauritius and Brazil. Brazil receives 2 million doses today. President Bolsanaro has invoked images from the Ramayana in his message of thanks. Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are to also receive vaccines in the next despatch. This vaccine can be transported and stored at between +2 and +8 degrees Celsius and has a shelf-life of 6 months. This vaccine philanthropy by India is only possible because sufficient stocks, greater than the rate of vaccination, are available for its own citizens.

The EU has not yet approved this vaccine but this approval is expected on 29th January. Neither has the US approved. I have my own theory that the EU delay in approval is not unconnected with protecting some market for the other, more expensive, more difficult to transport vaccines. Not quite a conspiracy theory but at least some unconscious collusion.



Science has delivered the vaccines but blindly “following the science” caused the pandemic to spread

December 31, 2020

Science is not knowledge. Science is the process of acquiring knowledge.

It is inevitable that the the bulk of scientific effort produces no new knowledge. Gullibility lies in blindly “following the science” rather than following the knowledge.

Following the knowledge and applying the scientific method has led to the remarkably quick production of a number of vaccines but the spread of the pandemic was, without doubt, due to “following the science” even when the science was leading down false and fruitless trails. Epidemiology is still primarily about theories of behaviour which are far removed from being knowledge. Epidemiology is still more art than knowledge. Merely following the scientific method does not bestow credibility to the field. Applying the method does not make alchemy or homeopathy or witchcraft or “social sciences” into sciences. Every crazy idea about treatment or preventing the spread of the virus was, in fact, proposed by a “scientist”.

Only a minority of supposed “scientists” (probably around 20% by the 80:20 rule) actually do original science. Only a minority of postulates become hypotheses and only a minority of those ever become theories. That is the nature of science. In a majority of cases “following the science” will inevitably lead down fruitless paths. But there has been very little effort by journalists or politicians to distinguish between “following the science” and knowledge. In the absence of knowledge skepticism has been suspended and fake science and junk science have been elevated to be knowledge.


Social distancing needs both space and time

December 25, 2020

For airborne infections social distancing of 2m is not going to be enough. I presume the new London mutation of Covid-19 is particularly infectious because it is airborne. Face masks are not very helpful if the virus is airborne.

From the CDC

Airborne transmission is infection spread through exposure to those virus-containing respiratory droplets comprised of smaller droplets and particles that can remain suspended in the air over long distances (usually greater than 6 feet) and time (typically hours). 

I take this to mean that to avoid infection you must avoid the space occupied by an infected person by 2m or by (say) 2 hours. Social distancing then has physical and temporal components.

But which also means that following in the footsteps of an infected person (for example in the supermarket checkout) does not have the necessary temporal distancing. Ventilation only shifts the virus further doing the time it stays “alive”/active. While ventilation to the the outside (on a plane, for example) will be helpful, airflow within an enclosed space only increases the distance needed in space to avoid infection.



%d bloggers like this: