We are now something like 18 months into this pandemic. You would think that by this point, and after all the resources, people, and trillions of dollars spent, we would have at least some semblance of order and consistency in terms of what we do and how we respond to something that is sadly an everyday event – someone coming down with the virus. In the US, this event has now been repeated almost 36 million times.
But please read this article and note how even today, there is absolutely no clear-cut and simple process, or coordinated response, for what happens when a person says “I’m infected”. Never mind more complicated issues such as if the person is immediately offered ivermectin or any other sort of treatment; just the simplest of things are confusing and awkward, or never followed through on (like contact tracing).
How are we doing such a terrible job of the simplest parts of responding to the virus?
Which brings to mind a wayward thought I’m increasingly having. What would I do if I thought I had the virus? I know the first thing I’d do would be to use one of the cheap Abbott BinaxNow tests – I’ve even bought some and have them in the medicine cupboard at home for “just in case” use.
These are increasingly appearing in the most unlikely of retailers – I even saw a display stand full of them when at a Best Buy store last weekend. They can also be ordered on Amazon, and the price is dropping, with many places now selling them for a bit less than $20 for a box containing two tests.
And what if the test result was positive? What would I do then? Probably not very much, except self-isolate. I wouldn’t even know who to call, and would see no benefit, in reporting my infection. If the result of reporting an infection was an immediate supply of treatment medications to minimize the infection and ensure a fast full recovery, then of course, I’d instantly report. But with the response to an infection being “stay at home, and don’t bother us unless you’re so ill you need an ambulance to take you to hospital”, there’s no benefit whatsoever.
It is worth pointing out how the reluctance to admit to the presence of many promising safe at-home treatments for Covid is now harming us in yet another way, by discouraging voluntary reporting of infections and thereby reducing the amount of accurate data we are getting in terms of who is infected, when, and where.
While the self-testing at home is currently rare in the US, it is becoming more common here and in other countries – the UK will send you an almost unlimited supply of at-home tests, and some states in the US (Colorado, for example) are starting to do the same thing.
My guess is that an increasing number of people might feel the same way I do, especially if reporting one’s infection is as difficult and inconvenient as mentioned in the article above. Yet, even with this possible factor, we are still seeing soaring rates of new Covid cases every day in the US. Friday saw us with 101,098 new cases reported (so far, the number will probably adjust up with late reporting from some counties); as for Saturday and Sunday, the numbers are anyone’s guess. Only 18 states have yet reported any data for Saturday, and of course, Sunday’s reporting is even scarcer.
While Friday’s case count was notable for bringing us back into “six figure” territory for the first time since early February, it is far from being the nation’s highest daily count (that was on 8 January when, for the only time, we shot through the 300,000 count for a single day). But in Florida, its Friday daily count of 21,683 new cases, was indeed the state’s highest ever count.
Here’s a rather confusing set of tweets, all in a series of linked replies to each other, but it is worth reading through them. The consistent theme – the CDC seems to be forever on the back foot, a day late, and a dollar short. It can’t keep up with the virus or even with research into combatting the virus – both being things you’d think they’d be 100% on top of.
An interesting CDC study found that in Massachusetts, 74% of all the people who reported Covid infections had been vaccinated. I don’t know, but I’ll guess Mass has about the same vaccination rate of 74% as the reported case rate, in which case it would seem the vaccines are doing diddly squat in terms of suppressing infections. On the other hand, though, the vaccines unquestioningly are keeping people out of hospital, out of the ICU, and out of the cemeteries, so they are working, just not as completely as one would have hoped.
Here’s a very sensible article, written for the Brits, but definitely one that the governors of FL and TX should read, as should all other public health and political leaders. It makes the case for vaccine passports as being sensible and beneficial.
And what if we don’t implement vaccine passports, don’t bother too much about masks or social distancing, and just muddle on as best we can in our uncoordinated manner? What is the worst that could happen? Are we past the gravest danger of people dying in the millions, thanks to vaccines?
Ummm, errr, no. Not at all.
The UK’s SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) braintrust of “experts” speculates that the virus could mutate some more and become so deadly than one in every three people dies. Happily, SAGE is as often spectacularly wrong as it is exactly right. Let’s hope this speculation also falls on the “spectacularly wrong” side of the ledger.
Lastly in the introductory comments, here’s an article reporting that the FDA is eager to fast-track the full-approval of the vaccines, moving them from their current “Emergency Use Only” provisional approval. They believe this will encourage more people to get vaccinated.
My opinion – and note, it is just an opinion, a guess – is they are completely wrong about this. Quite ignoring the assumption that people who choose not to be vaccinated care about or believe/trust anything the FDA says and does, one of the credible concerns about the vaccines is that their emergency use approvals were rushed through in an extraordinarily abbreviated manner. If a second rushing of approval to grant full unconditional use is granted, doesn’t that magnify the concern about lack of full proper cautious scrutiny and due diligence?
By all means, the FDA can issue “progress reports” indicating the vaccines are on track to full approval with no issues of concern appearing, but I’d urge them to “make haste slowly” so that when the final ultimate approval is granted, it is of unimpeachable probity. And not just for the benefit of the unvaxxed, but also for the peace of mind of all of us who have been and continue to be vaccinated. There is a steady drip, drip, drip, of frightening stories about vaccine consequences. We need these all chased down, fully resolved, and fully cleared.
A change in the minor country case rate list today, with tiny St Barth (total population of only 9,910) appearing, and going straight to 9th place.
In the major country list, the Netherlands rose to second place, but the Czech Republic still stays firmly in its first place. There was some shuffling further down the list.
There were no changes in the death rate list. And, of course, lots of movement in the “most active countries for new cases last week” list. The UK continues to drop back down the list again, and most of the rates to “qualify” for the list were higher than a week ago.
In Europe, overall there was a 13% drop in new cases over the last week. Major rises included Iceland (up 59%), Norway (46%), Germany (42%), Austria (28%), Italy (27%) and France (21%). Both the UK and Spain reported drops of 30%, Portugal dropped by 20%.
I estimate the US rose by just over 50%, which probably should have placed it on the list too, but my number is only an estimate due to lack of accurate data. Canada had a bad week with a 61% rise, albeit on a very low base number. The world as a whole saw a 9% rise in new cases.
Top Case Rates Minor (population under 10 million) Countries (cases per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Andorra (187,320)||Andorra (189,641)|
|2||Seychelles (179,273)||Seychelles (183,716)|
|5||San Marino||San Marino|
|6||Gibraltar (142,488)||Gibraltar (147,862)|
|10||Uruguay (109,114)||Luxembourg (115,969)|
Top Case Rates Major (population over 10 million) Countries (cases per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Czech Republic (155,861)||Czech Republic (155,975)|
|3||Netherlands (107,336)||Sweden (108,193)|
|4||Argentina (106,200)||Argentina (108,137)|
|5||USA (105,683)||USA (107,381)|
|12||UK (83,467)||UK (86,136)|
Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Peru (5,855)||Peru (5,869)|
|2||Czech Republic (2,829)||Czech Republic (2,831)|
|8||Poland (1,990)||Poland (1,991)|
|9||UK (1,892)||UK (1,900)|
|10||USA (1,882)||USA (1,889)|
Top Rates in New Cases Reported in the Last Week (new cases per million) for Countries over one million population
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Cyprus 5,360||Cuba 5,422|
|2||Botswana 4,798||Georgia 4,881|
|9||Netherlands 2,617||Kazakhstan 2,687|
|12||Argentina 1,977||Iran 2,491|
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Items below include the contradiction where some governors insist on the primacy of state rights over federal rights, but don’t then defer to their own counties and cities, a somewhat salacious story about virus research, more on ivermectin, are side-effects good or bad when getting vaccinated, a new motivation encouraging some to vaccinate, the record-breaking rate of case-rate increases in the US, and a possible nasty scam when getting tested for the virus overseas.
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Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again on Thursday.