Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 3 September, 2020


It has been a hectic week this week, every which way (but in a good sense), and so straight into the meat of today’s diary entry – today happily with quite a bit of good news in it.

Current Numbers

Today sees the disappearance of Vatican City and Armenia off the minor country list, but the addition of Andorra and Maldives.

Brazil hasn’t quite overtaken the US in the major country list, but give it a few more days and if things continue as they have been, it surely will.  Argentina, nowhere last Thursday, is now in ninth place.

Sweden dropped two places on the death list, but will probably stay at 9th place for quite a while now before maybe dropping further.

Top Case Rates Minor Countries

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Qatar Qatar
2 French Guiana Bahrain
3 Bahrain French Guiana
4 San Marino Panama
5 Panama San Marino
6 Kuwait Aruba
7 Aruba Kuwait
8 Oman Oman
9 Vatican City Andorra
10 Armenia Maldives


Top Case Rates Major Countries

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Chile Chile
2 Peru Peru
4 Brazil Brazil
5 Colombia Colombia
6 South Africa South Africa
7 Spain Spain
8 Bolivia Bolivia
9 Saudi Arabia Argentina
10 Dominican Republic Saudi Arabia


Top Death Rate Major Countries

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Belgium Peru
2 Peru Belgium
3 Spain Spain
5 Italy Chile
6 Chile Italy
7 Sweden Brazil
9 Brazil Sweden
10 Mexico Mexico


I Am Not a Doctor, But….

As you know, the two major objections to using hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 are that it doesn’t work and is too dangerous.  As you hopefully also know, the vast preponderance of all trials and studies have shown that Covid-19, when taken correctly, does indeed work.

And now there’s an interesting study that suggests HCQ is not harmful to the heart either.  Not only does this peer reviewed study point out that no-one has died after taking HCQ for Covid-19, but it goes way further than that.  It suggests that HCQ is actually protective and beneficial to the heart.

The study was published on 20 August.  How long will it take the FDA to reverse their negative finding about HCQ?  Meantime, an average of almost 1,000 Americans are dying every day from Covid-19.  Almost 13,000 between 20 August and now…..

Here’s an interesting and positive article about a new possible approach to treating Covid-19.  Note that it also mentions, almost as an after-thought, that Vitamin D “has already been shown to help those with Covid-19”.  I told you that I forget when, but way over a month ago, and it is also in the draft of my upcoming book that Travel Insider Supporters can access.  I hope you’re keeping your Vitamin D levels at optimum values accordingly.  🙂

And another piece of good news if true.  A new study has uncovered another existing drug that seems able to be repurposed for fighting Covid-19.  I was astonished to see this drug – masitinib, not nearly as well known as HCQ and Ivermectin, can even be purchased online after searching for it on Google.  I’d probably want to see more confirmation and better understand the drug before adding it to my already bulging medicine cabinet, but it is wonderful to see more possible treatments being identified.

And even more good news.  WHO has caught up with reality again, and now is agreeing that steroids can help for people with severe cases of the virus (but not for people with moderate cases – there is an inflexion point in an infection; prior to which one shouldn’t take steroids, and after which one should).  It bases its reversal on studies showing a reduction of deaths of between 6.7% and 8.7% – that’s not exactly a night-and-day difference, but if you’re one of the 6.7% – 8.7%, you’ll surely not be complaining.

All these little tweaks and changes, while often minor individually, in aggregate help to explain why death rates are dropping so encouragingly.

“I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” – it is great to see this article joins with me in decrying the puzzling decision by the FDA to restrict the new almost instant “at home” Covid-19 tests, only healthcare providers can get them and administer them.  The test is almost identical to an at-home pregnancy test (and less expensive).  Why can’t we be allowed to buy and use these directly?

Lots of vaccine news this week.  We were delighted to read of a nasal spray type vaccine that is showing promise in trials with mice.  Particularly if a vaccine needs to be given three times to older people (like, ahem, me), and only lasts three months, I’d much rather do a few squeezes of a spray bottle every quarter than make monthly doctor visits for injections.

We were surprised to note the illustrious Dr Fauci is becoming very much more positive than he has been before, and is now saying a vaccine is likely to be ready by the end of the year.

We do hope he’s not basing that prediction on headlines like this :  “Novavax coronavirus vaccine is safe, published results show”.  The reality behind that headline is that a stage one trial of 108 patients uncovered no serious side effects.  But there’s still stages two and three of that trialing process to be conducted.

What we’d most like Dr Fauci to tell us is not the date on which a vaccine starts to become available, but how effective the vaccine will be, how long it will last for, and also a pinky-promise that it will be safe.

Timings And Numbers

The rate of virus cases in the US is starting to swing in the wrong direction again.  On Saturday, there were 35 states with decreasing new virus case counts.  That dropped to 31 on Sunday, 28 on Monday, and then 25 for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The state with the most extreme rate of growth?  South Dakota continues in last place – you’ll remember it is where the motorbike rally was a few weeks back.

That’s a truly nasty rate of growth, isn’t it.

Talking about nasty rates of growth, IHME have updated their projection of total US deaths.  They’d formerly been saying 317k deaths by 1 December.  That has risen to 326k, and they’ve extended their projection on to 1 January.

It is going to be a rough December.  Another 84,555 people are expected to die in December alone – almost 3,000 every day.  Assuming the projection is correct, of course.

Mexico put on a good display of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing this week.  Their President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, suggested that by the end of this year, “the tourism sector will have normalized”.  The ministry of tourism, however, says that conditions won’t return to normal until 2023.

Closings and Openings

United Airlines is wearing its happy hat.  Their CEO, Scott Kirby has obviously been chatting with Mexico’s President.  He says there’s a pent-up demand for travel, and demand will roar back once there is a vaccine.

We agree there is a pent-up demand for travel, but we really doubt there’ll be a sudden roar of demand once a vaccine is released.  It will take a long time for the vaccine to be made available to all who want it, and it is likely that many people are not going to take the vaccine, at least not in the first few months it is out there.

One of the problems is how to re-open again once the virus has been beaten back in an area.  Nowhere has got that right, except perhaps New Zealand, and to a somewhat lesser extent some of the Southeast Asian nations with such extraordinarily low virus rates, no matter with or without social distancing and everything else.

I spoke about Hawaii opening too fast, too soon, and the problems that has brought (and still is bringing – HI’s daily new case count continues to increase).  Here’s an interesting case study of another island nation – Tahiti – and its problems.

Logic?  What Logic?

This is so intuitively obvious that we’re surprised a formal study was needed.  But, yes, a study has now shown that face shields and face masks with valves in them aren’t very effective at stopping the spread of the virus.

I was particularly chagrined, when collecting my daughter’s birthday cake last week from the bakery, to note that the staff in the bakery all had face shields rather than masks.  That’s particularly a problem when they’re making cakes – things that don’t get cooked at home (and any virus particles killed by the heat) after people have collected them and taken them home to eat.

Virus?  What Virus?

We can understand how people are reluctant to let go of a valuable Twitter account with half a million followers, just because the nominal owner of the account died.  But we’d expect the people who continue to use that account to be careful what they say.  In this case, surely the ultimate in bizarre ironies is the still active Twitter account of Herman Cain, who sadly died back in July of the virus, which sent out a tweet downplaying the risk of the virus.

So how safe is it to fly?  After some “covidiots” refused to wear masks and didn’t socially distance on a flight from Greece to Wales, and after 16 people on the flight tested positive, all 193 passengers and crew (no open middle seats on that flight!) have been ordered to self-isolate in quarantine.


I’m often critical of the CDC, FDA, and WHO.  Some people suggest I should shut up and respectfully accept their antics without comment or criticism, because I’m not a doctor.  So I’m pleased to see this article, from an Associate Professor of Management, Policy, and Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center (my goodness, what a mouthful), agreeing with me.

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

And if you’ve found some value in this update (and the 124 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.

4 thoughts on “Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 3 September, 2020”

  1. The article questioning the reliability of recommendations from the CDC specifically says that that the CDC is now compromised by political decisions made by the non-scientific body of the White House Task Force. The medical science has been compromised by political pressure. That is why the advice is unreliable and often contradictory. That is why the reputation of the CDC is now compromised.

    1. David Rowell – Seattle, WA, USA – New Zealander now living in the United States.

      We can argue as to why it is the CDC is so dreadful. I’m simply pleased to see it acknowledged that it sometimes gives faulty advice as a first step, and as a response to people who claim that only “experts” such as the CDC should have any voice in discussions about Covid-19.

  2. I’m confused. The link to what is referred to as peered reviewed study is per the text at the link “We performed a literature search for the effects of HCQ and azithromycin on the heart.”

    How is a a literature search a peer reviewed STUDY? Its not a study at all.

    Its also is very restrictive in it’s conclusion “has been shown to be at least somewhat effective” and not as gushing as your article implies.

    While I get and the below reference supports, with reasonable doctor’s care, HCQ isn’t likely to cause issues. I highlight doctor’s care as the reality is if 2 pills is good, 4 pills isn’t better.

    As best I can find, the any double blind trial hasn’t shown an significant positive results

    1. David Rowell – Seattle, WA, USA – New Zealander now living in the United States.

      The journal that the study appeared in peer-reviews everything prior to publication. So therefore it is peer reviewed.

      I never said that the study was gushing. Please don’t put words into my mouth when clearly I said no such thing. What I said, as you can see above, is

      And now there’s an interesting study that suggests HCQ is not harmful to the heart either.  Not only does this peer reviewed study point out that no-one has died after taking HCQ for Covid-19, but it goes way further than that.  It suggests that HCQ is actually protective and beneficial to the heart.

      I see no support for your claim “reasonable doctor’s care” is required; but it is hard to say more, because I’ve no idea what you mean with that phrase. No-one is suggesting that four pills is better than two (well, depends on the dosage, I guess….)

      As for the NIH study you reference, I’ve discussed that before and pointed out the problem with it.

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