The outgoing Trump administration agreed with the incoming Biden administration. That’s a sentence you probably never expected to see, and might never see again. Sadly, the agreement was on a matter that they’re both totally wrong about. How is it that politicians only agree when they’re all wrong, and seldom/never when they’re all right?
The matter of their agreement affects us all, and could even be a literally life and death matter. The policy for vaccine distribution. Both sides have now agreed to distribute every dose of vaccine asap, with no hold-backs for the second dose that is required, either 21 or 28 days after the first. Instead, they’re going to hope and trust that, by the time second doses are needed, they’ll be available.
Now that’s not an entirely stupid policy, in a case where there’s a reliable tested proven distribution channel. “Just in time” ordering and deliveries have been a fact of commercial life for several decades. That’s why your supermarket, if you’ve ever noticed, no longer has much space out the back for inventory – shipments come in and go almost directly/immediately onto the shelves, and if shipments don’t come in every day (sometimes twice a day) the shelves quickly empty out. Even Boeing has a just-in-time approach to how it assembles planes – it expects the sub-assemblies to arrive shortly before they are needed, more or less one by one, rather than getting in batches of three months’ supply at a time.
But can we trust the government to get this right? Please keep in mind this is a government and healthcare infrastructure that is still unable to ensure we all have access to tests and fast results from tests any time we wish. Or masks – where are the N95 masks for you and me, especially now the more readily transmittable version of the virus is becoming more prevalent?
It is also relevant to note that the problem at present is not a lack of vaccine. It is a lack of ability to distribute the vaccine, and confusing policies for who should be allowed to get shots. Doubling the inventory of vaccine available for immediate use doesn’t mean that we’ll immediately double the number of vaccinated people.
These problems are also nothing to do with which parties controls the House, Senate, and Presidency. These problems redound to senior and junior administrative people at every step of the policy and distribution process. It will not get instantly better next week. And if we have twice as many doses dispensed sooner, it is going to be twice as difficult to get second doses to those people in time.
Invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure second doses are manufactured in time seems like a laughable response to the problem. Is anyone suggesting that Pfizer and Moderna aren’t manufacturing every possible dose they can at present? Is there latent unused vaccine production capacity somewhere else in the US that could be instantly pressed into service in time for second doses to be ready to be injected into people’s arms in less than three weeks? Suggesting that as a solution ignores the problem – our problem is in the distribution channel, not the supply channel.
Here’s another piece that shows the total lack of sense in the vaccine distribution process currently. Will the Defense Production Act or a new President change any of that? Sadly, absolutely not, and certainly, not in the three weeks or less between now and when the 3 million people with first doses will need their second doses.
And please don’t think “if I end up only getting one dose, at least it is better than no dose at all”. There’s precious little evidence to support that deceptively reassuring but possibly totally wrong line of reasoning.
To put this all in context, there’s no more than a three week acceleration of our vaccination program with this dangerous concept. If we’re so desperate that three weeks is worth such a risk, how is it that the FDA were so slow to approve the vaccines in the first place? Why didn’t we lock the FDA decision makers in a room with no food or water and tell them they couldn’t emerge until they’d ruled on approving or disapproving the virus? Their approval was a simple process, they’d been getting updates during the trialing, and the approval was almost guaranteed to be given. But we allowed them leisurely weeks to ponder the matter at their leisure.
As another example of the ineptness of our public health professionals to manage a stunningly simple part of defending against the virus – face masks – this is a great article about how, now 9+ months into the virus pandemic, there are still no standards or guidelines about masks, and a shortage of the only officially approved N95 masks, while there continue to be an abundance of masks being promoted and sold that are almost totally useless.
As a vivid example, here’s an article wondering if wearing two masks might be twice as good as one, and a prudent thing to do with the new more infectious strain of virus out there. That’s a fair question to wonder about. So why is there no guidance? Where is the public health leadership in this? Isn’t this something the CDC should surely have already developed answers for, not just in the last nine months, but in the nine and even ninety years before? How is it that masks seem like an alien technology to these experts?
No change in the ranking of the best five US states for case rates, but the worst five saw IA leave and RI appear, and TN/UT swap places. No changes in death rankings at all.
No change in the minor country rankings. In the major country case rates, the Czech Republic continues to extend its lead over the rest of the field, and Belgium continues to fall further behind the US. The UK moves up one place.
The US moved up a place on the death list, and Argentina’s place at the bottom of the list has now been taken by Sweden.
US Best and Worst States
|A week ago||Now||A week ago||Now|
|1 Best||VT (13,467)||VT (15,342)||HI (211)||HI (225)|
|2||HI||HI||VT (248)||VT (260)|
|5||WA (35,165)||WA (37,662)||OR (372)||OR (412)|
|47||IA (92,475)||RI (95,289)||CT (1,763)||CT (1,838)|
|48||UT (92,739)||TN (98,179)||RI||RI (1,884)|
|49||TN (92,872)||UT (99,053)||MA||MA|
|50||SD||SD (118,138)||NY||NY (2,079)|
|51 Worst||ND (123,554)||ND (125,158)||NJ (2,223)||NJ (2,280)|
Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Andorra (107,953)||Andorra (114,674)|
|4||San Marino||San Marino|
|8||French Polynesia||French Polynesia|
|10||Georgia (59,092)||Georgia (61,383)|
Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Czech Republic (74,141)||Czech Republic (80,834)|
|2||USA (66,660)||USA (71,786)|
|3||Belgium (56,451)||Belgium (57,696)|
|7||Spain (43,300)||UK (47,890)|
|8||UK (42,447)||Spain (47,300)|
|12||Italy (36,752)||Italy (38,671)|
Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Belgium (1,712)||Belgium (1,743)|
|3||Czech Rep (1,177)||Czech Rep (1,293)|
|4||UK (1,153)||UK (1,263)|
|5||Peru (1,146)||USA (1,198)|
|6||USA (1,127)||Peru (1,161)|
|7||Spain (1,105)||Spain (1,135)|
|8||France (1,023)||France (1,061)|
|9||Mexico (1,003)||Mexico (1,056)|
|10||Argentina (972)||Sweden (1,005)|
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Items below include a discussion on the growing number of new strains of virus and their potential resistance to both vaccines and new treatments, will we be stuck with the virus forever, even asymptomatic sufferers risk severe lung damage, a peer review article on ivermectin, disappointing results from a Chinese vaccine, unknown results from a Russian vaccine, two promising new vaccines, improved case rates in the US, some ridiculous statements from the UK, an uncoordinated confusion in the cruise industry, difficult policies for people including US citizens traveling to the US, and yet another one month extension of the closed Canadian and Mexican borders.
SUPPORTER ONLY CONTENT
END OF SUPPORTER ONLY CONTENT
One final item for today, passed on without comment – the Canadian lady who was fined for walking her husband on a leash like a dog, claiming she was “dog walking” and therefore exempt from lockdown requirements.
Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again on Sunday.