Covid-19 Diary : Sunday 30 August, 2020


I should start off by thanking the extremely kind readers who have responded to this year’s annual fundraising drive already.  Thank you so very much indeed.

I only realized on Friday the unfortunate juxtaposition of my annual event with what is going on in the country as a whole.

I am sure you too are getting emails from politicians you’ve never heard of, from both political parties, plus assorted other organizations and issues groups, all needing your help in this upcoming election, and getting exhausted with all the fundraising artifices they employ to encourage you.  But whereas politicians are backstopped by their PACs, their big donors, and their party support, I’ve none of that.  Alas, I’ve no multi-million dollar contributions coming in the back door.

Everything you see on The Travel Insider, and everything you read, comes from one single source – me, and essentially, for the first year ever (due to the ongoing collapse in the travel industry), everything needs to be supported also from one single source – you.

If you’ve valued the steady stream of Covid-19 coverage that you’ve been receiving since February (123 articles – at least two every week without fail, sometimes many more), as well as everything else you’ve been receiving since late 2001 when The Travel Insider came into being, please would you now step up to the plate and reciprocate in whatever form feels fair and appropriate.

Becoming a Travel Insider Supporter is quick and easy, and gets you instant access to some extra content, as well as the pride and pleasure in knowing that you’ve made the content you receive more strongly yours.

Talking about extra content, as you know, I’m working on a complete book – a “survival guide” – that will have all the essential knowledge you need about the coronavirus – what it is, how to avoid it and how to survive it, variously at home, at work, and if/when traveling.  There are 200 pages of content in various stages of completion currently, and in its full form it will be a gift to supporters.

I had to do a terrible thing the last few days however and rewrite a section.  It was terrible not only because it felt like wasted effort, but also because the rewrite wasn’t in the form of adding freshly discovered good news.  Quite the opposite.

Surprisingly, even after over six months of global affliction and 25+ million reported cases, we are still discovering some very basic and fundamental things about the virus.  Such as, for example, does being infected by the virus and surviving earn you any resulting immunity?  The assumption (more like ‘hope’) had been yes, of course it would.  The CDC went as far as to say that if you tested to have a new infection within three months of an earlier infection, then the test would be wrong.

But, as I detailed on Thursday, one man in Hong Kong was shown to conclusively have come down, a second time with the virus.  Hardly had the professional reassurers finished telling us not to worry, this was just one isolated case that we couldn’t draw any major lessons from, the very next day two more patients in Europe were also shown to have come down, a second time, with the virus.  We were again reassured not to worry, because they had, all three, experienced more than three months of immunity, and their cases were mild.  Plus, they were old (cold comfort for those of us who are also moving on in years).

And then, news came out on Friday of another person definitely re-infected.  This time it was a young man in Nevada, only one month after the first infection, and with the second infection being much more severe.

This is terribly alarming, both for what it is and for what it implies.  Part of the ugly implication is to just how effective a future vaccine might be.  If “having the real thing” is not earning us any immunity, what are the chances that a vaccine will succeed where the actual illness and body’s immune system have failed?

Perhaps I could add that the vaccines that are being rushed through their trials and testing at present have never been given “challenge trials” where vaccinated people are then exposed to the virus to see if the vaccine works or not.

Although there have been volunteers in their thousands offering to be vaccinated and then exposed, the FDA and other groups are refusing to allow that to happen.  It wouldn’t be ethical, we are told.  Apparently it is ethical to ship an unproven vaccine and describe it as effective, but it is not ethical to test and trial it so we know, for sure, before it is shipped and used, if it works or not.

I’m reminded of the phrase “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you” yet again…..

Current Numbers

Little change in the last week.  Panama has climbed another step in the minor country list, but it is a very large further step from its current place, with 21,283 cases per million, up to where Bahrain sits with 30,150 cases per million.

In the major country list, Argentina appears, immediately moving to 9th position.  Europe’s surging numbers causes Spain to rise up a position as well.

As projected, Brazil has now swapped places with the US on the death rate list, Chile has gone up two places, and Peru has swapped with Belgium to now have the highest major country death rate in the world.  South America is really suffering at present.

Top Case Rates Minor Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday
2French GuianaFrench Guiana
4San MarinoPanama
5PanamaSan Marino
8Vatican CityOman
9ArubaVatican City


Top Case Rates Major Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday
6South AfricaSouth Africa
8Saudi ArabiaSpain
10SwedenSaudi Arabia


Top Death Rate Major Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday


I Am Not a Doctor, But….

I’ve regularly written about the artificial nature of the six foot distancing guideline.  There’s nothing magic that happens at the point between 5’11” and 6’1″.  It is just a simple easy round number to remember, in both US measurements and metric (2 meters).

Here’s a great article on that subject.

And here’s a related article that hopefully describes a situation you’ve not experienced – waiting to get into an elevator.  With social distancing restricting the number of people in an elevator from some uncomfortable crowded number that might total a dozen or more people, and now down to perhaps as few as two or three, waits for elevators in some buildings have become extremely lengthy.  Interestingly, the elevators are most crowded at lunch time.

Some new experimental drug trials for virus treatments/cures are showing positive results for Ivermectin.  And an observational study for hydroxychloroquine falls over backwards to give equal time to the very few negative studies out there, but even after doing so, still finds clear benefit in HCQ use, even without the critical pairing with zinc which seems to be what greatly boosts the positive outcome.

Heathrow is testing a new Covid-19 test that could give results in 20 seconds.  That’s a great test, which the British are desperate to deploy, so as to justify ending the quarantine requirements imposed on people arriving from many “less safe” destinations.

But, fast testing is only part of the problem.  The thing is that most Covid-19 tests don’t show positive until two or more days after a person has become infected.  So the test tells us that arriving passengers at Heathrow were free of the virus two days earlier, but it doesn’t tell us what happened in the most recent 48 hours – including the higher risk experience of flying to Heathrow.

The good news – the new test will definitely reduce the number of new cases entering Britain.  The bad news – it won’t eliminate the continued introduction of fresh sources of infection.  Britain, along with almost every other country in the world (including the US) has no plan or goal to eliminate the virus, merely to “bring it under control”.  But doesn’t almost every country in the world realize that “bringing it under control” requires continued, continual, and continuous measures – social distancing and masks to slow the spread when new cases appear, and testing/tracing to find new cases and restrict their spread?

It is a bit like fighting World War One.  In that war, there were a terrible continued series of battles along front lines that little moved from one year to the next, and which could have continued that way, killing off the youth of Europe, if it weren’t for the collapse of Russia and the entry of the US, both in 1917.  Fighting the virus to an impasse, a standstill, shouldn’t be our ultimate objective.  Neither should developing vaccines that might work for half the people vaccinated, and for three months or so before needing to be renewed.  We want to win, not to stalemate.

You doubtless remember the clamor of experts all shouting at us, in the early stages, to slather hand sanitizer on our hands like our lives depended on it, back in March/April.  And the consequent shortages of hand sanitizer.

I wondered at the time, but didn’t want to say anything, but now it turns out that actually, there’s very little chance of catching the virus via our hands (a statement that has only obliquely been made), it seems fair to note that there may be a nasty side effect of all that hand sanitizer we’ve been using.

Timings And Numbers

The website shows a continuing improvement in US new case rates.  33 of the states had level or lowering rates of new cases on Thursday and Friday, rising to 35 on Saturday and Sunday morning, but dropping to 31 on Sunday afternoon.

As you can see, South Dakota is still head and shoulders above all other states, presumably as a result of the Sturgis motorbike rally a couple of weeks ago.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but one of the other regular “leading offenders” has been Hawaii.  Here’s an interesting article that very gently chides Hawaii for its missed opportunity.  While the article allows for “all the usual suspects” to be blamed, including of course President Trump, whether rightly so or not; the simple fact is that HI never eliminated the virus before relaxing its controls.  You can’t declare victory until you’ve won the war.

Hawaii started its state reopening on 7 May, and removed most restrictions on 1 June.  As you can see, the first relaxations saw the new case numbers stop declining, and the second level of restriction removal has seen, for now almost three months, steady increases in new cases every day.  Three months of just watching the daily new case rates rise.  And rise.  And rise.  What were they thinking?

If Hawaii had kept all restrictions in place for a few more weeks, and eliminated the virus, it could be virus free like New Zealand was for 102 days.  NZ is almost back to virus free again, after instantly reacting to the new case that appeared a couple of weeks ago.  HI still has a chance to become a second NZ, but is showing no signs of having the resolve to do so.

One more bit of bad news.  The excellent IHME projection has increased its projected total deaths by 1 December, from an earlier count of  310k deaths to a new count of 317k deaths.  Currently we are at 187k deaths.

Logic?  What Logic?

As of right now, there have been 25.4 million people infected with the virus, and 850,503 people have died.  One of the most affected countries has been the UK, with 334,467 cases and 4,923 deaths – the fourth highest death rate in the entire world.

But tell that to the throngs of people who marched in London on Saturday, claiming the entire virus was/is a hoax.

Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again on Thursday.

And if you’ve found some value in this update (and the 122 previous ones) please consider joining with your fellow Travel Insider readers and becoming a Travel Insider Supporter.

Please click here for a listing of all our Covid-19 articles.


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