Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 12 August, 2021

Since the last diary entry, the US has moved up to second place in the ranking of major countries and their Covid infection rates.  It is also tenth on the list of death rates, and slowly moving up to likely become ninth.  Both are “per million people” rankings, so are adjusted for population size.

This chart also points out how our current growth in cases has set two new records – it is the greatest percent increase, in the shortest time, ever since the start of the pandemic.  We had a seven times growth in cases in the four months between mid September and mid January, but now we have had a ten times growth in cases in less than two months.  Oh yes, and unlike the seven-times run up previously, this new “wave” is still rising.   It seems likely that early next week will see us break through the 150,000 cases in a single day mark, a level we’ve not been at since January.

Why has the US suffered so badly with Covid?    This article blames the FDA as a major contributor to this tragic failing, and deservedly makes that claim.  This is a related article.

Of course, the CDC are pretty much an “equal offender”, and an article, headed “Where the hell are the data?” echoes the theme of my Sunday Covid diary entry where I bemoaned the lack of accurate, timely and complete data.

And, to be fair, as well as the CDC and FDA, the abundance of “experts” with bad advice and bad studies has also contributed to our problems.  For example, this article cites an expert as saying herd immunity is impossible due to the Delta variant, a claim apparently quickly echoed by other not-independently-thinking experts as per this article, two days later.

These experts misunderstand what herd immunity is.  Herd immunity does not mean no-one ever gets the virus.  It simply means that when the virus appears, it may be passed on a bit, but with an “R” rate of less than 1.0, meaning that each infected person infects less than one more person.  For example, if the R rate is 0.5, and we start off with, say, ten people infected, they infect five more, who in turn infect 2.5 more, who infect 1.25 more, who infect 0.625 more, and so on down to essentially zero.  But the ten initial cases still did infect 9.5 or so more people in total before the outbreak died out.

Herd immunity does not mean that “members of the herd” are magically protected from becoming infected.

Herd immunity means that if you’ve been vaccinated, or if you’ve already had a given virus and developed immunity as a result, if you encounter a disease carrier, you’re unlikely to be infected; if you have neither vaccine-based immunity nor prior-infection based immunity, you’re unlikely to meet a disease carrier in the first place – but if you do meet such a person, you’re fully at risk of becoming infected.  Herd immunity simply means you’re playing Russian roulette with a revolver with many hundreds of bullet spaces in the cylinder rather than only six.  You’ve a much better chance of emerging unscathed, but if you’re unlucky, you’re fully at risk.

It is true that the more infectious a virus, the higher the percent of people that is needed with vaccine or infection based immunity to ensure that any outbreaks don’t grow, but herd immunity remains feasible.  If each person infects two people (an initial R of 2.0) then we need more than 50% of the population immune to get the R rate down to 1.0 or less.  If the R rate is 4, then we need 75% immune, and if it is 6, we need 83% immune.

The reason our cases are still rising is not so much due to the impossibility of herd immunity – it is difficult but not impossible to reach this, but rather due to the lack of people who have vaccine or infection based immunity – our numbers are insufficient to ensure that each new case does not result in more than one subsequent new cases and a growing outbreak.  But the good news, such as it is, might be that each new case we get brings us another step closer to herd immunity.

On the other side of that step closer though are the concerns that the vaccine based immunity might be shorter lasting than hoped for.  The vaccine companies and their supporters, with a perfectly straight face, are suggesting “that’s normal, just like annual ‘flu shots, it looks like you’re going to need annual shots for Covid, too”.

But that is distorting the truth.  The reason we have annual ‘flu shots is not because the vaccine based protection fades within twelve months, but because every year, we are faced with a different type of ‘flu virus.  We need a new vaccine for the new ‘flu virus; last year’s vaccine is still protecting us against last year’s virus.

Think of other vaccines you’ve had.  None of them have a requirement for annual boosters.  Many are things we have once or twice when we’re young and then never again.  About the closest might be the tetanus vaccine, for which it is recommended you get a booster shot every ten years.  Actually, even that might be much more often than actually needed, but with the shots being low-cost and low-impact, that terrible phrase “out of an abundance of caution” seems to apply and we are encouraged to have booster shots, whether needed or not, “just in case”.

Of course the vaccine manufacturers would love to see us soaking up vaccine shots as often as possible.  It is more profit for them.  They seem to be actually encouraging us to perceive their vaccines as short-lived.

If their vaccines are only good for a year (or less) my response to them is not “sell us more shots” but rather “develop better vaccines”.  Why isn’t everyone else demanding this, too?  Seriously.  We discuss this further in the additional material, below.

Current Numbers

In the minor country table, “fully vaccinated” Gibraltar continues to climb up the ratings, and is now in fourth place, compared to sixth place a week ago.  So, Gibraltar – tell us again how well your vaccination program has worked for you?

In the major country table, the US has risen two places since last Thursday, and now is in second place.  It is unlikely to overtake the Czech Rep and rise to worst country status any time in the foreseeable future, and meantime, it is being pursued by Argentina, which could take over the second place if there is a shift in daily case rates.

There were no changes in the death rate table, and with the numbers well spread out between each other, we continue not to expect changes any time soon, although we do note how the US is very slowly narrowing the small remaining gap between itself and the UK.

The last table, showing the rate of new cases over the last week, has the usual jumble of changes.  The UK is now showing rising numbers again, up 9% on the week, and the US barely missed out on being included in the table, with a 23% rise over the week and a rate of 2,638 new cases per million.

In Europe, Switzerland had a 76% rise in cases, Germany a 45% rise, Austria 35%, Ireland 33%, and France and Italy both with a modest 7% rise in cases.  Spain had a 23% drop, the Netherlands 13%, and Portugal 4%.  Europe as a whole experienced a 3% rise in cases.  Highly vaxxed Israel is now appearing as number six in this list.

Canada had a 71% rise in cases, and Mexico an 8% rise in cases.  The world as a whole saw a 4% rise.

Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Andorra (191,331) Andorra (192,602)
2 Seychelles (187,672) Seychelles (190,812)
3 Montenegro Montenegro
4 Bahrain Gibraltar (154,008)
5 San Marino Bahrain
6 Gibraltar (151,099) San Marino
7 Maldives Maldives
8 Slovenia St Barth
9 St Barth Slovenia
10 Luxembourg (116,486) Aruba (120,528)

 

Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (156,039) Czech Republic (156,151)
2 Netherlands (109,349) USA (111,668)
3 Argentina (109,299) Argentina (110,964)
4 USA  (108,973) Netherlands
5 Sweden (108,545) Sweden
6 Spain Spain
7 Belgium Belgium
8 Portugal Portugal
9 France France
10 Brazil Brazil
11 Colombia (93,668) Colombia
12 UK (87,624) UK (90,499)

 

Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Peru  (5,878) Peru  (5,888)
2 Czech Rep  (2,830) Czech Rep  (2,830)
3 Brazil Brazil
4 Colombia Colombia
5 Argentina Argentina
6 Belgium Belgium
7 Italy Italy
8 Poland Poland
9 UK (1,905) UK (1,914)
10 USA (1,897) USA (1,910)

 

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 Botswana  6,609 Georgia  7,474
2 Georgia  5,764 Botswana  5,899
3 Cuba  5,657 Cuba  5,380
4 Eswatini Eswatini
5 Malaysia Malaysia
6 Spain Israel
7 Cyprus Iran
8 Kazakhstan Kazakhstan
9 Iran Iran
10 UK 2,663 UK 2,895
11 Mongolia Kazakhstan
12 Libya  2,402 Cyprus  2,808

 

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, additional material on previous diary entries, and much extra content on other parts of the website too.

If you’re a contributor, you should make sure you’re logged in to the website, and when you are, you’ll see the purple text and balance of the newsletter below on the website.  If you’re not logged in, or reading this via email, you need to log in on the website first.

Items below include Florida loses another lawsuit, Canada comes up with a vaccine passport by a different name, why is the most effective form of virus protection not considered when deciding who can travel, socialize, etc, another promising Covid treatment drug, an update on hydroxychloroquine, mixed news about ivermectin, is it a case of “the more, the merrier” for vaccination doses, what about other vaccines that might be better, why is highly vaccinated Israel also suffering from very high new Covid infection rates, the surprising type of people who are “vaccine hesitant”, the nearly-all-red map, NZ’s plans to re-open the country and when, and are two masks better than one?

SUPPORTER ONLY CONTENT

……….

END OF SUPPORTER ONLY CONTENT

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

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

4 thoughts on “Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 12 August, 2021”

  1. lifegotinteresting

    The drug companies pushing for boosters at the same time they are trying to overcome vaccine hesitancy is certainly strange. It reminds me of the extended warranty they try to sell you when you buy an electronic product. It’s a really great product, but it could break at any time. ?????

  2. David, I respect your writing, enjoy your weekly newsletter and I am a contributor to your efforts, but I think you are making a mistake by stating, “Visible tattoos – surely the ultimate in ugliness and a visible indication of bad life choices – will also be allowed.” While I do not have a tattoo and dislike them, I think your statement is over the top. 30% of Americans have a tattoo, and 40% of those under 35 have a tattoo. While tattoo or body art is not attractive to me, it is clear a large segment of the younger population embrace this practice, and certainly many of those people are not making bad life choices. From a business perspective it is just bad business to promote opinions that alienate such a large segment of the population. Like most fashion statements tattoos can be acceptable if proper choices are made. I prefer a more formal appearance for flight crews, but this does need to be tempered with changing fashion trends as tattoo use is up 50% over the last 10 years.

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

      Hi, David

      Just because people have tattoos doesn’t mean I must like them. My newsletter is a mix of facts and opinions. My opinion on tattoos is they’re as ugly and evil as original sin. I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

      I do understand your point about “bad business to promote opinions that alienate”, but I’m not going to become a slave to commercial constraints and say only what people want me to say. What would be the point of my newsletter if all I did was say things that are thought to be “safe” and uncontroversial? The whole point of my newsletter is to reflect on the way things should be and could be, not to sycophantically endorse things the way they are.

      Yes, this does cost me considerably in readers and support. But the first thing is to be true to oneself.

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