It has been a record breaking few days, with the US registering higher-than-ever-before numbers of deaths. On several days, we exceeded 2,880 deaths a day – a number which has a certain significance. That is the daily number that results from deaths occurring at a rate of two every minute. We broke through the 16 million total case number today, and on Friday morning will exceed 300,000 deaths.
A week ago, we were the seventh most afflicted country in the world, as measured by death rate. Today we have moved up to sixth place, and fifth place is looking increasingly possible in another week or two.
It is true that tomorrow the Pfizer vaccine will almost certainly be given an “emergency use approval” allowing it to be administered to specific groups of at-risk people in the US, with the defined group of “at-risk people” likely to be “everyone 16 and over”! But is that something to be excited and happy about, or not?
I’m no anti-vaxxer. Not at all. I decry the fear-mongering, ignorance, and mathematical/statistical idiocy that surrounds anti-vaxxers and their ridiculous claims. But neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna “vaccines” are vaccines as we know such things to be. The comfort we’ve derived from 200 years of progressively better understood vaccine development, and the underlying concept of using an inactivated or weaker strain of a virus as a way of safely teaching our bodies what to do if it encounters the real virus has in this case been replaced by new methodologies and processes and ways to create some type of future defense capability within our bodies.
The “messenger RNA” concept espoused by these two vaccines has been experimented with for about twenty years now, and prior to these two vaccines, has never been able to be managed and successfully used in a practical “vaccine”. Have the researchers happily got it right this time, or have the compressed trials just not been long enough to allow for longer-term side-effects of these drugs to appear? Things like auto-immune disease, infertility and/or cancer take time to become noted, and while there’s no reason to anticipate any of these three (or assorted other) things to occur, there’s no guarantee at present they might not, either. We just don’t know, and in a case where we don’t know, making sweeping claims of safety and rushing to mass-vaccinate tens, even hundreds of millions of people seems ill-advised rather than justified.
It astonishes me that the same people who argue vehemently against using known-to-be-safe drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as treatments and preventative measures then pivot 180° and argue enthusiastically in support of these vaccines about which we know so little.
Even looking at the positive side of the vaccines – their claims of around 95% effectiveness – are dubious, due to the major uncertainty of these numbers because of the small sample sizes. If you’re in, for example, an elderly age group, you might find the vaccine is claiming “100% effectiveness” based on one person in the control group in your age range becoming infected, and none in the trial group. But if tomorrow, one person in the trial group then becomes infected, you’ve gone from 100% effective to “makes no difference”, all in a single event.
That’s a bit like the claims that used to be made about the Concorde – it was “the safest plane to ever fly” for several decades, but then after one single accident, it suddenly became one of the most dangerous – the huge switch in status being because there were so extremely few Concordes and flying so seldom that a single crash caused a major percentage shift in safety.
We could be vaccinating hundreds of millions of people around the world, only to then discover some unexpected but really nasty side-effect. The chances of this are probably very low, but offset against that are the hundreds of millions of people potentially at risk.
Plus we don’t yet have any idea how long they remain effective for, and there is the astonishing statement by Pfizer’s chairman that they don’t yet know if a vaccinated person might still get a weak dose of the virus or not, and if they did become infected, whether they’d be infectious and capable of passing it on to other people. Isn’t that sort of a big deal?
Other vague mysteries are also in the background – for example, with the AstraZeneca vaccine, it seems our bodies start to build up a resistance to the vaccine itself, making each subsequent dose less effective.
So I’m going to hold back from being vaccinated as long as I can, waiting to see what happens; meantime, more and more vaccines are being developed and in some cases, being actively distributed and used. It is entirely possible that the very first vaccine to become available will not prove to be the very best vaccine.
If you’re in a low-risk group (not too old and no comorbidities) and are living a low-risk lifestyle (not a lot of socializing, you don’t work indoors, etc), you might want to be slow rather than fast to be vaccinated too.
But – and here’s an important disclaimer. Don’t let me keep you away from the vaccine if you feel you’re at risk. It seems more likely than not that the vaccine will provide good protection for most people in most cases; and sometimes a bird in the hand (protection against the real threat of the virus) is better than two in the bush (concerns about unknown and potentially non-existent side-effects or complications). There’s lots more about the vaccine and concerns/unknowns in the special Supporter only content below.
In the US state rankings, we had ND edge out LA for 47th place in the death list. All other ranks stayed the same.
In the minor country list, Slovenia’s brief appearance on Sunday has now been edged out by Georgia. In the major country list, Europe continues to edge out South America, with the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Italy all moving up.
On the death list, the US is now at, I think, its highest place ever, and Brazil has been replaced by the Czech Republic.
US Best and Worst States
|A week ago||Now||A week ago||Now|
|1 Best||VT (7,439)||VT (8,675)||VT (120)||VT (143)|
|5||OR (18,800)||OR (21,300)||OR (231)||OR (266)|
|47||WI||WI (73,182)||LA||ND (1,447)|
|51 Worst||ND (106,428)||ND (113,802)||NJ (1,953)||NJ (1,998)|
Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Andorra (89,294)||Andorra (92,990)|
|4||French Polynesia||French Polynesia|
|10||Panama (39,421)||Georgia (44,898)|
Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Czech Republic (50,167)||Czech Republic (52,560)|
|3||USA (43,803)||USA (48,331)|
|12||Italy (27,553)||Chile (29,519)|
Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Belgium (1,456)||Belgium (1,516)|
|10||Brazil (822)||Czech Republic (861)|
The rest of this newsletter is for the very kind Travel Insider Supporters – it is their support that makes all of this possible, and it seems fair they get additional material in return. If you’re not yet a Supporter, please consider becoming one, and get instant access to the rest of the Diary Entry, to our 400+ page book on the virus, and much extra content on other parts of the website too.
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Items below include the vaccine that was rushed to market before even going through Phase three testing, whether employers can demand employees are vaccinated, cruise lines considering mandatory vaccination for passengers, the Pfizer vaccine surprises with an unexpected severe side effect, the outright lie of “full data” being disclosed about vaccine trials, still more unknowns, the illogic of being told to stay at home, except when shopping at indoor malls, and assorted other items too.
SUPPORTER ONLY CONTENT
END OF SUPPORTER ONLY CONTENT
Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again on Sunday.