Posts Tagged ‘covid-19’

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.


Ethics and mandatory vaccinations

August 30, 2021

Yesterday a woman died in New Zealand due to the Pfizer vaccination. So far New Zealand has reported 26 deaths due to Covid and one death due to the vaccination. It is already mandatory in New Zealand for workers in health care, at quarantine facilities, and at ports and airports to be vaccinated. It is not universally mandatory but the peer pressure to get vaccinated around the world is enormous. Probably between 100 and 200 have died globally directly from the side-effects of vaccines. It may even be more, but globally, statistics for deaths due to vaccination are very difficult to come by. The number of deaths is, no doubt, very small but it has become politically incorrect to report the deaths due to vaccination. More and more workplaces and services are now demanding vaccination certificates. Vaccination passports have been suggested as a qualification to travel, enter workplaces and restaurants and shopping areas. 

The woman who died in New Zealand of the vaccine, would not have died if she had not received it. She may have died later of Covid or other causes, or she may not have. She had a known pre-condition which led to the vaccine causing her death, though it was not known in advance that she would die. Her risk was not 1 in several million. Her risk of dying – in hindsight – was 100%. Taking the vaccine, for her, was a death sentence. If her vaccination had been mandatory, it would have been an execution of an innocent person by the majority due to ignorance. The issue is not whether the risk of death by vaccination is 1 in 10 million or 1 in 100,000. The issue is that for the unknown few who are susceptible, the chance of death is certain. It is one thing to voluntarily take a a 1 in 100,000 risk. It is something else I think, to be coerced to pull the trigger yourself in a game of Russian Roulette where the gun has 1 bullet in a chamber of 100,000. Mandatory vaccination would sacrifice those few who would be killed by the vaccine for the greater good.

If mandatory vaccination of the many, causes the death of a few, the greater good has no doubt been been served. But a few innocent people are effectively executed. Which means that the majority are justified in killing – by ignorance rather than intention –  a few for the greater good

My wife and I have had both shots of the AstraZeneca vaccination. Fortunately, we suffered no serious side-effects. We still try to avoid crowds and intentionally meeting the unvaccinated, even though, if we have developed protection, our risk would be low. Of course, we don’t really know how much protection we have actually developed.

In perceived emergencies, individuals are coercively subordinated to the greater good. Excesses by a majority against individuals are increasingly allowed.

But I could not support vaccinations becoming coerced by being made mandatory. 

 


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 : 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.


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.’



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