Science and politics make awkward bedfellows. Science is more concerned with the truth, or ought to be; politics more concerned with expediency, survival and the avoidance of blame. For that reason, politics is closer to human nature.
It is natural to simply hope for the best, to take precautions a little too late, and relax them a little too early. In the UK there was a reluctance to go Full Chinese, and shut everything down, particularly in the early days when there seemed no reason to panic. Business is business, and the lack of gainful employment brings poverty, gloominess and even ill-health. Instead, the Government’s response was hesitant, often somewhat contradictory, and generally too optimistic. The virus was faster to adapt than the government was to control it.
Bureaucrats followed an influenza model they had designed in 2011. They screwed up by not stopping Wuhan flights immediately; kept worrying about globules (wash your hands) and not aerosols (wear a mask indoors), so thus screwed up about masks; and did not enunciate or illustrate the key advice: don’t breathe in what other people have breathed out. Too many infected people had come into the country for the test and trace systems to be able to function. Too little was done to protect care homes. Too many people breathed in stagnant air in buildings and public transport. Too many rules were established, with too many variations and exceptions, and not enough repetition of the general principle that the contagious element is airborn and hangs around in crowded, closed spaces where people are exhaling a lot. Don’t breathe in what others breathe out.
Has too much fuss been made of Covid-19? Many skeptics felt it was just a bad case of the flu, plus general hysteria. Of course, asking whether a seasonal epidemic is bad invites the reply: “Compared to what?”. It now seems pretty clear that compared with the usual 5-year death rates, Covid-19 has been bad. It is hard to be precise in the middle of the current resurgence of cases, but it looks as if excess deaths are about 12% higher than base-rate. Here is a snapshot:
Just by eye, current death rates are similar to the first outbreak in March/April. The next 4 weeks will show if they go any higher, but given the almost 82,000 deaths, we are highly likely to be over 100,000 deaths before Easter. Given that about 600,000 Brits die a year it is an appreciable increase.
Long term data is often far more instructive. The Office for National Statistics has been churning out the figures. As befits a sturdy and thorough institution it has an extremely open website which quickly gives you everything except what you want to know. So, here is an abstracted picture derived by others from the ONS data. I like this one far better.
What they list as WW1 could also be described as WW1/Spanish Flu. That was the worst, worse even than the Irish potato famine. WW2 was pretty close, the 1951 flu very bad, the Hong Kong one far less so. Covid-19 in its early stages had certainly been against trend and clearly significant. The current leap in cases gives it the status of the worst event since the World War 2. And remember, these are just deaths, not measures which rely on diagnostic tests or death certificate categorizations. People are dying in larger numbers than usual.
Vaccinations have been given to roughly 2.5 million.
This is good news. I pay most attention to 1st dose totals, which seem to provide far more protection per jab than the second one (which just makes a good level of protection somewhat better), and quickly reduce the likelihood that a person will need a hospital bed. As you know, I don’t do policy, but if I was asked, I would suggest the second jabs supplies should be redirected towards giving more people their first jab.
Less good are the accounts of some vaccines going unused on some occasions; of vulnerable people having to sit together indoors for 45 minutes as they go through the entire bureaucratic procedure; and of some people missing their precious appointment slots (possibly because appointment messages did not get through) and staff then having to ring round their friends for last minute vaccinations of short-shelf-life phials.
Tales abound of some young 81-year olds getting their jab before their more worthy 90 year old seniors. An 82 year old male friend had to talk staff into also vaccinating his 77 year old wife (eventually they agreed to do it if she could arrive in 30 minutes, which she did); and a few impetuous 71 year olds have jumped the queue, apparently because health workers in some parts of the country are just jabbing anyone who looks mildly decrepit. Queuing is a very important activity in this country. It celebrates fairness, justice, status, precedence and a supreme contempt of those deficient immoral deviates who try to push ahead to rise above their station. Latecomers (those who are young, or healthy old) should be further down the pecking order, and preferably out of sight in another distant street. “We are all in this together, but I was first.”
Variations in rates of immunization are referred to in the Press as “postcode lottery”. This is seen as a bad thing, so much so that some successful clinics are being denied supplies until others catch up. This has been denied, but in a way which suggests that the laggards have been favoured, on the principle that those who are poorly organized need to be rewarded in some way. A good policy, justly delivered, will still have some regional variations, and there should be less alarm at some inevitable differences in the speed of advance, given that we are all advancing.
More recent data, obtained by the simple expedient of phoning and emailing friends and colleagues suggests that things have changed for the better over the last week. A local centre is said to be working with great efficiency, texting appointment invitations and waiting times are only about 5 minutes out in the street before being called in for vaccination. We await the call.
Although the initial focus was on the different types of vaccine, attention has now shifted, quite rightly, to the UK’s ability to deliver the vaccines that they had pre-purchased months ago. There is an international battle to get more vaccines now, and to jab them into arms as quickly as possible.
The UK missed a trick. As a supposedly rational, science based nation, it was in a position to have run a very large (say 400,000 health workers) volunteer Phase 1 study of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in March 2020, and to have done so without a formal control group. Showing the efficacy of the vaccine would have been done by comparing the vaccinated with the far larger unvaccinated population. If the trial had been extended in stages from the young healthy to the older healthy, and then the even older but less healthy, we could have effectively vaccinated 2.5 million people by late Autumn 2020 (supposedly as part of a very large trial for volunteers), and would not be going through our current lockdown.
It will be great if we are better prepared next time.
Phooey! Where is the normal winter flu? Obviously Covid killed it. No one is dying of pneumonia?
Overall USA deaths are no higher than normal.
One simple stat tells the truth. Sweden: 1.8 million children ages 1-15 still went to day care and school. Covid deaths: ZERO. Covid deaths of day care workers and teachers: ZERO.
“They screwed up by not stopping Wuhan flights immediately”. And Italian flights. And they should have stopped Britons returning from continental ski resorts, and, and, and.
You must have a higher opinion of politicians and civil servants than I do if you think they were likely to get such things right. Still, let’s have a law that all skiing hols must go here:
Old Trumpy got Wuhan flights right and was bombarded with accusations of being xenophobic, racist, Nazi.
Our civil servants proved their incompetence by appointing the astrologer from Imperial College to the key advisory committee – the members seem to have become more a Committee of Public Safety than mere advisors.
By the way, I think the quarterly figures plotted in figure 5 here give a revealing history of our death rates which, it turns out, are equal to those of year 2000.
A lie. Except for the week ending in 20-10-17 and of course the most recent weeks for which death certificates are still trickling in (don’t make the Johns Hopkins mistake), there hasn’t been a week starting with the one ending in 20-03-28 where excess “all cause” mortality in the US hasn’t been 110% or more compared to the same week in 2017–2019. 16 weeks over 120%, and for three awful weeks it was 140% plus or minus 3%.
It isn’t a Phase I study if you enroll hundreds of thousands of people!!!
While all phases are very concerned about safety, as you too should be, a normal Phase I trial is all about getting the right dosing, and I gather Phase II is to get a better read on dosing. That said, on skimming the Oxford Phase I/II trial as published in The Lancet they’d already achieved part of that to their satisfaction with a three different doses trial using a MERS vaccine candidate on the same virus vector platform.
So for their Phase I/II trial started on April 23rd, besides safety, which I claim can’t be skipped this early in the process, they were checking serological (blood) immune system results like antibodies after one dose, and after a second either a minimum of four weeks later, or after eight weeks. Add two weeks for the immune system to respond and to run the tests, and you can construct a timeline for a forget about safety let’s try a huge Phase III trial as you outline.
Which we now believe would be OK as far as safety goes, and even with the sketchy claims based on 5,800 people each vaccine and control resulting in a 70% efficacy result would have done more than a little good. Although I’m not sure it would have given results a whole lot faster, expect that perhaps this would have been less of a clown show than the tests Oxford and AZ/Oxford actually did.
The flip side is that without proper Phase III trials, which I’m not claiming AZ/Oxford really did intentionally, there’s a chance, probably pretty small given how much was known by that time, that the vaccine would produce a worse outcome. Looking for Completed trials on ClinicalTrials.gov using the platform, prior to this COVID-19 Phase I/II trial they’d never tried the platform on more than 24-40 people at a time, the COVID-19 Phase I/II trial upped the number to a bit over 500 “Healthy adults aged 18-55 years.”
And still, even a small chance of disabling a substantial fraction of 400,000 of your health care providers (HCP, common American words of art) is an awful risk to take. If you rolled snake eyes, you’d not have a suitable vaccine, and you’d have to bend the curve even more because you substantially decreased your hospital capacity. Without 20/20 hindsight that’s too risky a bet for my tastes, but this is surely a debatable point.
Thanks for your very detailed points, particularly on the purposes of the trial stages 1 to 3.
The policy I am proposing is certainly risky, but I take as my benchmark the early best estimate of death rates, which in March and April 2020 were pretty alarming in most European countries. A vaccine just has to be better overall than the observed fatality rate. True, as treatments improved the fatality rate went down, and days in hospital were reduced, which argues in favour of your case that immunizing health workers would have been risky. However, we have over a century of experience with vaccination, so I assume there is a lot of accumulated knowledge, and particularly better understanding in the last 15 years or so. This should have provided reliable platforms, and very manageable risks. For example, the neutered/damaged virus approach which I think the Chinese used is pretty standard stuff, and nothing particularly wrong with it.
I think the issue is the apportionment of blame. If many die of the virus, the government can blame the virus. If some are made ill, or some die of the vaccination, even if many lives are saved, governments will be blamed. Those contingencies make them cautious about stopping the virus, for fear of doing any harm while trying and very probably succeeding in preventing a greater harm.
In this particular instance the epidemic is not all that lethal. The next one might be, so it would be good to be able to offer volunteers a fast track to an open trial on the next vaccine. It is a calculated risk which many could be willing to take.
I believe those were mail-in deaths they were counting.
As at 5 pm today Friday 15 January, 3.2 million people across the UK have received vaccines.
You’re welcome, and I thank you for prompting me to learn more about the AZ/Oxford vaccine, which is now even more pertinent for as I guessed, Pfizer’s bad news in December about early shipments is being compounded right now for what sounds like Europe and Canada so far (it also makes it in the US, and Pfizer is now accepting help from Trump’s!!! Operation Warp Speed (OSW) for their claimed supply chain problems).
I suppose so, but as you acknowledge later this is not how humans work, and you can’t know that without testing. For details of one very relevant failure mode, and lots of great illustrations, see this article for some of the history of antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) and how it was addressed for SARS type viruses. The start is a terrible 1960s crude technology vaccine, when a trial sub-population of infants who later got infected put 16 out of 20 or 80% of them in the hospital, and killed two (more details in this paper, “The respiratory syncytial virus [RSV] vaccine landscape: lessons from the graveyard and promising candidates“). The current example of what might be this problem (and it’s much worse if it isn’t) is a dengue vaccine.
Better, yes. Good enough? Dengvaxia, from Sanofi Pasteur (which along with GSK failed for the elderly their first COVID-19 vaccine attempt, only discovered in a Phase 1/2a trial), is modern technology and was marketed starting in 2016. Its problem, likely ADE, was only discovered in Phase IV, that is the “post-marketing” phase where a drug or biologic is tracked as long as it’s still on the market.
On the other hand, I would assume storied Sanofi thought they’d avoided whatever problem can be caused by the vaccine, and the above link does not provide solid data that it would have been caught in Phase III. Which per some quality time with ClinicalTrials.gov was tested on at least 17,000 people who got the vaccine, and it’s simple enough math that substantially higher than 1 in 17,000 adverse effects won’t be found in normal, US FDA strength Phase III testing. But still a illustration that we don’t have this stuff down cold. And the Oxford platform had never been tested beyond Phase I, and so far has the worst efficacy after secretive Sinovac’s CoronaVac, which is an inactivated virus vaccine.
Of course, 20/20 hindsight also applies to the perceived threat as you mention, and which I will say was not deliberately overstated, was well within my own crude range of wild guesses. We just didn’t have enough data thanks to the PRC/CCP to make good estimates, and our using flu models obviously was sketchy for a fairly different coronavirus which transmits fantastically better than SARS and MERS. While being less lethal, although we don’t as far as I know really know why various people get bad outcomes. Even comorbidities and age aren’t enough to explain it, because such a high fraction of older people don’t die from it, even get it asymptomatically or very nearly so.
Back to vaccines:
As mentioned above, that was absolutely not the case with Oxford’s platform. Or as I’m told has become a meme in Eastern Europe and Russia, “British scientists say….” Having the head of your effort be a woman not dedicated to science as a career was probably a mistake. Note also efforts to burnish her reputation by talking about her universal flu vaccine are propaganda, it failed. But so has everyone else’s, so that’s not a negative.
It’s my understanding gained over decades of being somewhat interested in this sort of thing that you just can’t say that about poking the human immune systems with a stick. And based on prior SARS and maybe MERS vaccine attempts, we’d actually expect the Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine to be the most dangerous unless they used an engineered version of SARS-CoV-2 that includes the “molecular twist ties” that avoid ADE per my first link above. But would also prevent the normal method of manufacturing it, while probably making manufacturing safer (one tries to avoid making huge quantities of lethal pathogens).
Your penultimate paragraph could be restated as “First, do no harm” from the Hippocratic Oath. I will say I’m very glad I didn’t have to make any of these decisions except for myself. And your last paragraph? Yep, one day another gain of function experiment will escape from a lab, might be fairly transmissable and kill a large fraction of those who get it (the two cut against each other, dead people aren’t good at transmitting), and we won’t be prepared in pretty much any way, except in more proven platforms like mRNA vaccines.
Presumably you’re quoting an authoritive source for this remarkable statistic. Since you’ve got it, would have been nice to have added that link(s) so that it be used for others to make the case. No link – no basis for believing it on the part of some people.
There was a good article in this morning’s WSJ showing the total “excess deaths” during the epidemic across most of the countries in the world that have reliable statistics:
On average, these “excess deaths” have been running about 40% higher than the reported number of Covid-19 fatalities, suggesting that the true impact of the epidemic has been greatly under-stated.
The numbers are even worse in the US. For example:
This indicates that American Covid-19 deaths may have been 70%(!) greater than the widely-reported totals. Since deaths have greatly accelerated since early December and our vaccination efforts have not gone well, we might even get close to a total body-count of a million before the epidemic abates.
But as I keep on emphasizing, it’s entirely a matter of personal opinion whether a million American deaths is a big number or a small number…
What was the cause of the spike in death rates circa year 1930?
Do California girls have bigger balls than Q larpers?
Basically threatening to inject Gavin Newsom and Richard Pan with bullets. See video here:
OK Ron, look at a global heat map of COVID deaths, and explain why the US is so disproportionately affected. I thought we were on the other side of the world from the outbreak, I thought we were the leading edge of scientific knowledge and power? Instead we are the global leader in COVID deaths. Even liberal, socialist California is overwhelmed by COVID numbers. Why? Do you remember “stay at home for two weeks to flatten the curve?” That was nine months ago. Now we have nearly escalated to “everyone who doesn’t get a vaccine and an immunity passport is a terrorist.” I see some red flags there! Where the hell is your American Pravda on COVID-19?
They screwed up by not testing for Coronavirus, and China didn’t.
After the SARS outbreak, China established a 70,000-node, one-click detection network to alert Beijing for early patterns of similar outbreaks.
That’s why the virus was loose in Italy and the US before it was detected in China:
3.2 million people across the UK have received vaccines.
One of whom was a Labour MP who queue-jumped in his local hospital and then bragged of his cunning.
He has since changed his tune and attributed his success to happenstance.
Somewhere there is a nurse or doctor who should have had that jab.
Indeed, an intelligent article.
I have often thought that the seasonal flu should be a good control. We don’t have any experience with COVID 19, but we do with the seasonal flu. If masks etc. are a waste of time, we should have a roughly normal flu season. If masks etc. really work, then we should have very little flu and that means that COVID19 really is astonishingly infective. So far, the latter seems true.
It should also be mentioned that the longer the virus is allowed to rage uncontrolled, the more chances it has to mutate into something even nastier… which seems to be happening, but it could get worse. Caution suggests that even if COVID19 is not QUITE that bad just yet, knocking it down before it has a change to become so, is perhaps the road of caution.
I am also astonished at how little effort has been put into the quality and availability of public masks. These would seem to be critical for controlling the spread of an aerosol-based virus, and apparently even crude masks are better than nothing, but high quality masks are many times as effective as shoddy or homemade ones. If everyone is wearing a mask that is 10% effective, vs. everyone is wearing a mask that is 95% effective, shouldn’t that make a huge difference? And we’re not talking interstellar rocketships here we are talking simple masks for heaven’s sake. It would I think take very little effort to radically improve the situation, but I see nothing. What am I missing?
Is there more money to be made in vaccines than in disposable masks? Or perhaps our elites really don’t care enough to bother to make the effort?
The current variants of COVID-19 mutating into something “nastier” depends on your definition of that. The British variant being more transmissible may be a thing, but as of yet I haven’t heard that it’s more pathogenic. It’s suspected origin also bears mentioning, it was likely from someone with a wonky immune system which allowed an ecological fight inside his body for a more effective strain. We suspect this due to the number of simultaneous mutations it accumulated (as I understand it the U.K. leads in going to the trouble of sequencing lots of samples), without any serious selection pressure yet to transmit better between humans, or so we believe.
And we can’t do anything about that for a while in developed countries, maybe not in general because a partial failure to gain immunity from a normal infection would also likely happen with a vaccine. Then the simple fact we’re not going to be able to vaccinate the whole world for 2-3 years, if ever.
As for masks, what you’re missing is how difficult and nasty it is to properly wear a mask that thoroughly filters what you exhale, like a medical grade N95 mask; have you ever worn for an extended time an industrial grade P100 or thereabouts respirator that does not filter your exhale? We should have come up with and distributed the best practical surgical grade masks, but even then compliance, getting people to wear them correctly, is hard, and probably IQ correlated, which of course the West isn’t allowed to consider or address. Plus while I don’t know about other Western countries, the US completely screwed up its messaging on masking.
I’d put some money on that hypothesis.
Mostly because our government is totally incompetent…
Over the last year, I published a major article on the subject, plus a bunch of other columns:
This is a MYTHOLOGY. It is a meme. Are we really more incompetent than every other nation on Earth? Invoking American incompetence to explain our COVID nightmare is no different than invoking American exceptionalism to explain how we golfed on the Moon. Both are emotional appeals that have no basis in fact. If you are comfortable with the idea that the virus may be part of a U.S. biowarfare program against China, meaning that everything the media has told us about the origins of the virus is a lie, then why would you turn around and accept the media’s numbers uncritically? First the COVID epicenter was in New York City, now Los Angeles. These are SHOW BUSINESS towns controlled by you-know-who and totally subservient to Washington DC.
To me it seems blindingly obvious that the federal media have used the COVID pandemic as a psychological warfare campaign against Americans, allowing them to avoid culpability for moral and economic collapse, allowing them to marginalize and impugn constitutionally guaranteed rights, and, yes, allowing them to change the fundamental rules of the Presidential election. More than anything else the media has created a continental atmosphere of FEAR around COVID that is in NO WAY proportional to sliver of Americans who are said to have died from the disease. At some point America must realize that everything on MSM is bought and paid for! Everything on MSM is an investment designed to squeeze a profit from Americans. When there are no more profits to be had, they will simply squeeze out our blood.
Or, just maybe, the hysterical and draconian government scare measures put in place to save our medical systems from being overrun with Corona Chan patients has correspondingly denied income, livelihoods, food & shelter, healthy lifestyles, mental health and basic health care to a sufficient number of citizens that a great many more than usual have died or taken their own lives. No Corona Chan even necessary to accomplish this totalitarian feat.
You actually believe that the vaccination shell game is about people’s health?
It should be sufficient to observe the strategies employed to herd the population into lining up for “vaccination” (universal scare campaign, enforcement of socially and economically devastating behavioural rules, draconian measures including loss of freedoms to those who refuse the “vaccination”, governments around the world legally banning perfectly safe and readily available treatments to cure Corona Chan, etc etc etc) to understand that the injections are the objective of this whole “pandemic” exercise.
It should also be sufficient to observe the likes of Hungary and most especially China, to understand that the Corona Chan “pandemic” can actually be brought under control and effectively squashed without Moderna’s or Pfizer’s insanely lucrative fast-tracked experimental prototype mRNA “vaccines”, for which they have been granted complete legal immunity from prosecution for any injuries, adverse reactions or deaths.
More to the point – Western populations have yet to see just what comes out the other end of the pipe after destroying their economies and foregoing proven highly effective medicinal remedies for Corona Chan and instead stampeding en masse to get Bill Gate’s mandated “vaccinations”.
Anyone with eyes to see should recognise the ominous similarities with George Orwell’s classic right about now.
A million deaths is a big number, no question, but there are several issues.
1. This isn’t a random assortment of people. It’s people with a median age close to 80 (the US life expectancy) with a median 2 comorbidities.
2. This is very likely a one-off. If you’re able to survive the virus the first time you get it, your immune system will get used to fending it off the next time it comes in contact with it. I’m assuming that’s why it kills so many old people and practically no children. The immune system gets less adaptable and flexible with age. So the life expectancy drop and excess deaths aren’t likely to last in the long term even if no measures or vaccinations take place.
3. Even if the excess deaths number is big, why is this a reason to punish people who are not in danger (young and healthy people) or people who just refuse to be scared of the virus by forcing them to wear masks and take vaccines? I mean are these people guilty of the deaths?
4. Why is the media so monolithically in favor of every restriction, lockdown, mask mandate or vaccine? Why is there no dissent? There’s plenty of dissent at the level of regular people.
Shouldn’t we be more precise,
and clearly state those excess deaths are “deaths somehow related to Covid-19″ (i.e. also including deaths from lockdown-despair, reduced access to regular healthcare, etc.),
as opposed to
the [implicit] assumption those are all “deaths directly caused by Covid-19″?
Thanks for your detailed reply, and the references, which I have followed up, and in one case tweeted out to others. The work on studying the shape, not sequence, of viruses, and how they bind to human cells, is fascinating. On the actual failures of vaccines in the examples given, the approach was not a modern one (formaldehyde). On the dengvaxia I was left totally confused:
Dengvaxia is approved for sale in 19 countries, including the European Union and the United States, and has saved an estimated 1 million lives.
Seems a good deal to me, but I do not know what happened in the Philippines. Should it not have been given to children? I am missing something, I know.
I had more to reply to you, and the system swallowed it all. Here goes again.
I would like every vaccination and medication to be monitored for ever. A possible approach is to tell pharma companies that they can keep copyright for as long as they fund independent govt inspectors to monitor everyone who take their drug. We are now very good at Big Data, I am told. If Google and Amazon can keep so much data on all our buying habits, why can’t we keep a simple personal record of every vaccination and medicine we have ever taken.
I filled my allowed daily contributions to the ‘Newslinks’ section, and thought I might post this link here, as it closely matches the general topic of the piece and of the comments:
Quite a few lies you pack into one run on sentence. Both are buying mRNA vaccines, both types for Hungary, a direct 100 million dose purchase announced from BioNTech (normally teamed with Pfizer) by the PRC. I haven’t followed up on that, and now I see the CCP is going into propaganda mode against Pfizer due to the very disappointing efficacy of secretive Sinovac’s CoronaVac.
Note also to discount if your read that article the CCP’s claims about inactivated vaccine technology, sure it’s mature, but it also caused the 1960s RSV vaccine disaster, and beware if Sinovac didn’t modify the SARS-CoV-2 strain they use to stabilize the spike protein (see above for lots more on this). Since they’re ~95% effective when secretive Sinovac CoronaVac might be as low as 50% … well, there’s a third option, “active” like the mRNA vaccines, ones that use viral vectors, a bit older technology that’s been through Phase III trials for Janssen and Gamaleya (Sputnik-V, at least 90% effective) and the U.K./AZ/Oxford claims so, but I’m a dubious, there’s been too much lying about that also disappointing vaccine.
It’s idiots like you who give sceptics about the Rona Panic, like me, a bad name. Excess deaths in the USA and around the world are significantly above normal. Some significant fraction these excess deaths are the results of insanely stupid policies that have increased deaths due to depression-related causes, e.g. suicide, drug ODs and homicide, denial of or refusal to obtain appropriate medical care, and the like. (In NY Cuomo’s idiotic policy of forcibly housing Covid-19 cases among the susceptible probably caused around 10,000 unnecessary deaths.) But even allowing for these, excess deaths clearly show that we are in the midst of a serious pandemic.
Yeah, the shapes of all these things, the “protein folding” field as part of it was called when I was last attending a university, is fascinating. Heck, this was key to Watson and Crick’s breakthrough with DNA, and why that woman gets less credit because she had exactly the same data and failed to figure out the puzzle (her best guess was a triple helix, and she might have shared the Nobel, did some great work later on viruses, except they don’t give them to dead people…).
Nit, on patent, and it’s the universal choice of countries to get drugs off patent quickly so we can get cheap generics from the PRC and India (and it says a great deal India is more trusted than the PRC to make finished drugs; other more Western countries also make them, but the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) supply chain is trailing back to 80-90% PRC).
In the US we have a system of reporting adverse events (AEs) possibly related to drugs and biologics, that’s what the “post-marketing” Phase IV is about, and how we’re getting reports on AEs correlated with mRNA vaccine inoculations. I can personally attest to having used for a long time one drug that was promising, but after a while got a “black box” warning, that’s in the prescribing information for doctors and pharmacists. A literal box, an outline in black like the rest of the document, that’s up front and tells these people about serious dangers discovered in Phase IV, that one could have killed me when I first started taking it. Just checked now, and one of my maintenance drugs also has a legitimate black box, but not relevant to me.
So we’re depending on heath care practitioners (HCPs), pharmacists, and heck, individuals to report AEs up to the FDA, and the FDA doing the right thing. Which you’ll find other examples of, the most recent notorious one Vioxx/rofecoxib “was one of the most widely used drugs ever to be withdrawn from the market.” Per Wikipedia, but also see how it’s back on the market as an “orphan drug” for what sounds like a very nasty disease for which “the current standard of care” is or was “high potency opioids”, which I’m uncertain would directly treat the problem.
So besides the issue of regulatory capture, see Boeing and the 737 MAX for just the latest infamous example because it was written in so much blood, just what would these inspectors do that’s not already part of the system? Nosy personal medical questions would not be welcome in the US at least, and I’m sure that’s true for a number of other societies.
“Be careful what you ask for.” Obama’s “stimulus” package included a requirement that all HCPs make “meaningful use” of electronic medical records. According to a good friend who’s a domain expert in this field, as in developing one of these systems, those two words turned into “750 pages” of regulations.
It won’t take you much searching to confirm that a whole lot of primary contact US HCPs, doctors and “nurse practitioners,” the latter who handle a lot of the standard stuff load under the supervision of a doctor, now spend more time looking at a computer screen than their patient (which I can again attest to as of a month ago, but that was telemedicine where there wasn’t a high premium at looking at the patient so much). There are in some electronic medical record graphical user interfaces (GUIs) a set of red/green lights, unless they make enough or all of those lights turn green they’re in big trouble.
Also privacy. The totalitarian tech Left (TTL) might be giving the world a big object lesson in this for the US, are no doubt able to at a moment’s notice create lists of future war criminals like the KGB maintained for Western Europe in case of a successful Warsaw Pact invasion.
About Dengvaxia, I too am missing something, just can’t justify looking into the highly politicized details (although I anticiapte possibly needing to get a yellow fever vaccination before I die as the US devolves into a Third World country), but I hope it serves as a minor and usefully recent object lesson to be careful with “first cause no harm” with vaccines. The immune system is wild and crazy, generally in a very good way, but not always, be it natural issues or interventions like vaccines.
I won’t be taking any one of these vaccines, unless at the point of a gun, and I am well-informed, retired epidemiologist.
The most promoted vaccines are based on an entirely novel method of operation which begins at the sub-cellular level.
While other vaccines, even ones based on tried and true methodologies, are usually tested for at least several years to determine whether there are dangerous long-term effects these vaccines have been tested for only months.
Other vaccines are tested across very large test populations to allow for finding potentially dangerous variations in safety and efficacy across different sex, race, age, morbidity factors.
These vaccines have only been tested for efficacy across rather small test populations. The tests get away with this by using very sophisticated statistical methodologies but these allow almost no room for tests of efficacy within sub-populations. One can determine this just by looking at the published data.
All that really doesn’t strike me as correct in any way, and the ending bit is potentially sociopathic (whereas your 1. is frankly so).
Ignoring for now that it’s a novel pathogen coming under selection pressure to mutate in some individuals, and will so as lots of people get immunity, a whole lot of younger than elderly people get terrible, awful serious cases. Many people are noting it often takes the form of a vascular disease after getting transmitted by our respiratory systems, and there’s more than a little morbidity among people who survive it of all ages.
I’ve also never heard older people’s immune systems become less “adaptable and flexible,” rather, they become less effective like everything else. See for example the 4X dose of flu vaccine now marketed for the elderly, my father certainly could tell it caused a greater reaction than the normal one. In any case, this is absolutely not something you can make the sort of assumptions you do without running them down to see how correct they might be. AKA real public health is hard, and in the US, unfortunately infectious disease control is long out of fashion.
Plenty of them absolutely are when they broke the isolation of elderly people who then got COVID-19, and again, remember morbidity, deaths are not even close to the whole picture, and both plus getting ill for a long time are certainly “punishment.”
In the US, a lot of it is to remove the BAD ORANGE MAN. See how Pfizer, perhaps literally, put on ice samples of their Phase III trial to make sure they wouldn’t be able to report on efficacy before the election. Also precisely timed for a pre-declared sale of stock by its CEO, there’s lots of moving parts here. Also see how many party lines, how many lockdown policies are suddenly getting reversed now that the BAD ORANGE MAN is almost out of the White House.
A lot of it is obviously the desire for control, “Inside of many liberals is a fascist struggling to get out.” John McCarthy 1993. Most of the Associated Press (AP) articles I read about COVID-19 thanks to a local news station are narrative first, facts an afterthought. ORANGE MAN BAD. Deep South BAD.
And of course ignore the mass murderer who’s still governor of New York, how he’s credibly threatening to fine anyone who gives a vaccine out of order of priorities one million dollars and loss of their licenses (it’s already in progress for Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital), which along with clumsiness is resulting as Jack D. feared in lots of perfectly good doses getting thrown away. And while I’m trashing Cuomo, depending on how many accounts you already have set up, it takes as many as 51 separate actions to sign up for a vaccination, including uploading a picture of your ID. Don’t have a computer or smartphone? Can’t use them well and don’t know anyone who can, or that threatens your isolation? Too bad, for most of these people he’s already amply demonstrated he doesn’t want them around, if you’re on Medicaid he literally wants you dead, it started blowing a hole in his budget in the fall of 2019.
Thank goodness for federalism! My Red flyover state is doing at minimum OK in pretty much every way WRT to COVID-19, and without the frank fascism.
Cynicism isn’t sociopathy. Sociopathy would be something harmful to society as a whole. This disease overwhelmingly kills people who are neither biologically nor economically productive. Cynically speaking, it’s almost certainly an aggregate plus for society. The measures taken to “contain” it definitely seem sociopathic to me.
This obsession with keeping old people alive forever proves how decadent and arrogant humans have become in relationship with nature. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, people have gotten so used to playing God and subjugating nature, that when nature strikes back even a little bit, like with this virus here, everybody throws a tantrum and acts like it’s the end of the world.
100 years ago, the Great Powers of the time threw millions of young men to die in trenches for some silly Imperial ambitions and you would’ve been labeled a traitor for condemning this. Right now a few old people die and it’s mass hysteria. What would humanity do if it lost 5% of those over 70? It’s just so unacceptable. It’s “sociopathic”. Let’s force young people to wear masks and take some vaccines with unknown long-term effects. That’s “humane”.
Funnily enough, the Guardian, which is generally Covid Central as far as bad news which might possibly be blamed on the government is concerned, has nothing either on the Denmark deaths.
The Paper Of Record, the Daily Mail, is running the story.
You should stick to epidemiology, because this is a lie. Every “active” vaccine eventually results in mRNA for one or more virus proteins being used to simulate a total adaptive immune system response. Although of course “active” is my own coinage to lump together precise mRNA vaccines with all the preceding live virus ones, and the ones for COVID-19 from AZ/Oxford, Gamaleya, and Janssen.
“The most promoted?” Maybe that has something to do with their advanced technology that along with more than a decade of research into SARS type vaccines allowed Moderna to develop their vaccine candidate inliterally over a weekend, finished by January 13th, 2020? Then the usual vaccine development slowdown occurred, waiting for money, in this case 1) we had to decide COVID-19 was a serious threat 2) to do Phase I trials, and in general Moderna needed a partner, here the US government, eventually Operation Warp Speed (OWS), which I bet Pfizer is now wishing its TDS hadn’t previously prevented them from working with it.
Citation Needed on the years, as in point me at a Phase III trial on ClinicalTrials.gov that went on for that long for a pathogen of urgency, for which there was no good treatment, and of course no existing vaccine. You also keep forgetting that none of these vaccines, US and EU at least, have been properly licensed yet, the FDA has used its non-approval—they emphasize that in the fact sheets—Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) process, seeing as how this is an emergency and all, the EU a conditional marketing approval if I remember their words of art correctly, who’s remit includes emergencies.
ClinicalTrial.gov and papers and/or FDA briefing documents published based on them, please. Then we can compare the totals, populations etc. Pfizer and Moderna recruited for their 43,000 and 30,000 people trials. Or just see the latter to falsify your claims, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
Again, you’re going to have to find Phase III trials substantially larger than 30,000 for us to drill down to sub-populations with any utility. Or ones of urgency that waited a couple of years before marketing the vaccine … except that has to be balanced against the probability of getting the illness, which is of course high now for COVID-19. Another wrinkle is that if it’s serious enough, after you have enough efficacy and safety date, it’s unethical to not offer the vaccine to your control subjects.
So don’t take the mRNA vaccines—are there any in development you might someday consider taking??—but please don’t lie or exaggerate the facts about them to discourage others.
What’s stopping me from giving you an “AGREE” on this whole comment is your definition of “significant fraction.” Do you have any at least slightly educated guess? 1-5-10%?
Some I think are interpreting the data as the fraction between Official cases and total all cause mortality increase, which is obviously bogus, there’s a lot of undiagnosed COVID-19 deaths for a variety of reasons. But again I have no sense of those numbers, epidemiology as a deadly serious topic, formally learning it at last, is 2020 for me, one reason I’m mostly vaccine posting. Maybe someone could help us with his domain knowledge?
Urk, the BAD ORANGE MAN is one reason it’ll be difficult now or any time in the near future to figure this out, deaths due to the above causes are merely a few broken eggs needed to make the Harris/Biden omelet, as we can see the dogma about a lot of them suddenly changing. Also lots of totally desired effects, deaths of the bourgeois who run small businesses along with their pesky hard to control businesses themselves, Cuomo’s Final Solution to the Medicaid Problem you mention, etc.
That Orwellian suggestion has at least one advantage: it might make it possible to get better data on bad (or good) interactions among medicines, including vaccines.
But would that be a good swap for The State, and anyone who leaks or hacks its records, knowing an awful lot about you that you might not want them to know?
Still, we can all take heart from one of this morning’s more interesting story in the paper.
More than 400,000 fingerprint, DNA, arrest and offence records may have vanished from police databases following a technology blunder, The Times has learnt.
A letter to chief constables yesterday revealed that a software error that deleted crucial evidence from the Police National Computer [PNC] could be worse than first thought.
The arrest records were accidentally deleted during a weekly “weeding” session to expunge data from the national computer, which is owned and operated by the Home Office. DNA and fingerprint records were also removed because the databases holding them were connected to the PNC.
Our Rolls Royce civil service at work.
Matthew 3:2 Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
This is a big part of the COVID-19 problem. And not just for the vaccine(s). It applies for any countermeasures. Also arguably applies when particular countermeasures are not employed. As an example, consider the case of intentionally going lighter on the lockdowns during the summer to allow getting closer to herd immunity and lessen the chance/severity of a second wave in the winter. A higher death rate (even if small in magnitude compared to that likely from a more severe second wave, as we are having now) would be treated as a failure.
I would add that it is not just fear of doing harm. It is fear of doing any harm which is directly traceable for blame purposes. Even if the net effect is positive.
Do you mean DOES filter your exhale? Alternatively, does not have a release valve for the exhale.
If one is going to compare excess deaths (measured by deviation from average) across the years into the early 20th century it is important to consider how the raw death rates have changed since then.
I think these comments and graphs give a better perspective on what an average year was like before antibiotics.
Yes, we electors certainly impose perverse incentives on our politicians.
I admit statistics idiocy conjoined to Rona Panic skepticism.
Reid Wilson wrote Epidemic: Ebola and the Global Scramble to Prevent the Next Killer Outbreak.
He said recently that pandemics are nothing new: “We have pandemics on a regular basis.”
But do “we” shut down the economy (of the middle class – working class) on a regular basis?
Or only when one of those regular pandemics coincides with
— ageing out of Baby Boom bubble (surplus people, useless eaters, drag on Social Security, medical care, nursing home storage)
— looming financial crisis of epic proportion?
Just hazarding a guess:
In 4 or 5 years, when some horrible effects of mRNA emerge — think asbestos, Thalidomide, etc. — novel legal theories will develop so that class action trial lawyers can get a piece of the action.
I’m looking ahead: I don’t want to get one of those letters with pages of microfine print inviting me to join a victim class that might, just might get $150 after the $trillion case wends its way through 12 years of legal action.
I like my DNA just the way it is, thanks: It’s Who We ARE.
I mean does not; I know a lot of normies have used them for when we’re doing projects that create a lot of dust or whatever. And have found with their breath going straight out the mask it’s still plenty uncomfortable after not too long. Now imagine having to push it out in an increasing soaked with condensed water filter.
TL;DR: really effective “95%” masks to avoid giving COVID-19 to others aren’t in the cards for the population as a whole.
At best we can try reduce the rate efforts, which are worth it if they actually work in practice, for your society and all that, don’t create smaller more dangerous particle aerosols, etc. The West isn’t (North)East Asians, we shouldn’t be confident we can try to adopt similar measures and get similar results.
You can’t hesitate to brand Mr. Thompson the proverbial pack horse with blinders on.
Yes from your tallies you claim the figures are higher because of Sars-Cov2 however the tests
are bogus and this is an incontrovertible fact, yet this measures the incidence. All the outspoken
scientists who are willing to risk severe dangers state unequivocally that the symptomatology
is a complete joke and that deaths having impossible links to the hypothetical scourge are
routinely called Sars 2 fatalities.
Thus it is a complete tautology to claim that excess mortality is from the cause
being attributed to it since all the tools of measurement are patently faked. Is Mr. Thompson
assuming the deaths of primarily the elderly and infirm cannot be intentionally accomplished
otherwise? Oh, I am to understand that neither the State nor medical system is capable
of mass murder? I am to presume the legitimacy of a humanitarian ethos guiding our
collective human ministrations? Naturally I have not known after these many months of
any person dying of this hypothetical illness. Empirically as a participant in the social matrix
I see no evidence the hospitals are occupied to a surfeit which one would expect if as Thompson’s figures do that our epidemic is easily half of the 1918 epidemic. Mr. Thomson is
a true believer that indeed we are the inheritors of progress. The materialistic technological
development of humanity is truly a marvel of…. well…. its incessant advertising of itself. Medicine
and the internet are prima facie proof of the inherent moral principles and the advancement of
war and totalitarian control are mere bumps in the road of our obviously statistically verifiable
assault on the wickedness and savagery preceding our age. No, it is statistically unquestionable
that the State and its 1000’s of mercenary corporations would never connive to murder masses
of people that is thoroughly preposterous. Thus the “excess” of deaths sending the whole worlds population into bankruptcy cannot be attributed to any factors except precisely what our cogent
rational institutions ascribe as the cause. Mr. Thompson you are really such an uncanny genius
that the voluminous datas appearing daily need not be mentioned because after all 82,000
people since the unprecedented denial of health care and quality of life has been denied to our
elderly population because of the sole dominating crisis of all time if statistically
measured by the response.
Mr. Thompson, I ask you to please not merely brush-off the cited John Hopkins study
which concludes the information of deaths is patently false but rather please demonstrate where
the PHD in medical statistics made her fatal flaw. Because if you do not I am afraid your own fatal
flaw is revealed to wit, a childish and frankly absurd reliance on a medical system already
convicted in the mass murder and chemical experimentation on human beings for centuries.
Whaddayah think, man, we’re stupid?
Pretty sure Mr. Thompson is more concerned about COVID-19 in the U.K., whereas the Johns Hopkins video was a ludicrous case of not reading the caveats about the CDC’s collating and tallying of death certificates, they take up to eight weeks to trickle in from the individual states so you have to cut the most recent weeks you include in your study or do silly statistical tricks to try to address that (I only mention the latter because a CDC MMWR study did just that).
If you’re not cutting and pasting a screed with existing line breaks, and actually want to check for yourself, start here.
Although which is it? A global conspiracy to kill a bunch of people under the cover of a pandemic, with serious enemies like the PRC vs. the rest of the world, the US against Russia, Israel vs. Iran, etc. all cooperating, or the statistics about excess deaths being fake and that covert worldwide mass murder campaign isn’t actually happening? Hard to take anyone seriously when they assert two mutually contradictory facts.
Hard to take anyone seriously when they assert two mutually contradictory facts.
Oh that’s nothing: I saw a comment recently elsewhere that stated that viruses don’t exist – they’re a pure invention designed to enrich Big Pharma.
The commenter might have been being sarcastic but I suspect not. More likely another loony.
Given that you’re bringing up the mostly a fraud issue of asbestos (TL;DR: blue bad, white not so bad), class action lawsuits, and “lawyers”, I assume you’re American like me, but have forgotten the FDA didn’t approve it? And what does industrial asbestos have to do with FDA authorized or approved drugs or biologics? But, yes, novel legal theories to transfer money to the plaintiff’s bar, big supporters of the Democrats, are hardly out of the question.
The fundamental paradigm of molecular genetics is long term stable store DNA is transcribed into mRNA, which is then transcribed into proteins. For the purposes of these vaccines, a stabilized version of the spike protein, which is chopped into bits which are presented on the surface of the cell, just as if it had a natural infection from viral RNA. That gets the immune system’s attention, and in due course these cells get zapped.
So to modify your DNA, a couple of enzymes would be required like the ones in retroviruses, reverse transcriptase to go backwards from mRNA to DNA, then integrase to integrate it into a cell’s DNA. But see above, even if that was happening, your immune system would zap the cell. Even if you’re in the 5% for whom vaccines don’t work, the innate immune systems’ natural killer cells might do the job. And see above comment 33, this is eventually how all “active” vaccines work, the non-mRNA ones with live viruses are just a means to the end of getting mRNA making one or more viral proteins.
OK. So you are making a comparison to the release valve version with an implied comparison to the filter version which is even worse. Not sure if I am the only one who found that confusing, but thanks for clarifying in any case.
There’s even worse, those who deny the germ theory of disease, Louis Pasteur was a fraud. And both types seem to be both entirely serious and loony. None can explain smallpox and cowpox, Variolae vaccinae as in smallpox of the cow, or how 18th Century country doctor Edward Jenner is an archetype of Big Pharma.
China and Indonesia are doing the exact opposite of the rest of the world and vaccinating the young first. In China, children are being vaccinated with top priority, because — according to them — they are one of the prime vectors of the disease. Some months ago a WHO spokesperson said there was no evidence of Covid-19 cases transmitted by children. In Europe and the U.S. people under 16 are not taking the vaccine for now. Brazil plans to do as in Europe and the U.S. and vaccinate the elderly first. Considering that the first vaccine to be dispensed here is the Coronavac from Chinese company Sinovac, the data from the Brazilian elderly will be very useful to China if and when they decide to vaccinate their own elderly.
Is it possible that this was a coordinated move between Brazil and China? I find it unlikely, but I guess we will never know for sure. Just like we will probably never know whether Sweden’s contrarian anti-lockdown policy was decided of common accord with other EU countries in order to have a control sample in this whole pandemic response experiment. I just find it extremely suspicious that Sweden of all countries should be the contrarian one. It seems to be one of the most conformist countries in the EU.
Haven’t checked ClinicalTrials.gov lately on Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, but the latter was only willing to go down to tweens for a trial to see how it worked on them and the risks. Which is the big individual well being vs. public health tradeoff, one we’ve usually made in favor of the latter, like rubella AKA German measles.
I suppose one way of looking at it is that we’ve got our strategy, healthcare workers first makes complete sense, after than everyone but the young, that’ll take months and by then we can make better decisions about the young, should have at least one other vaccine of the viral vector variety (Janssen) and probably a good chance for protein + adjuvant (Novavax), and even AZ/Oxford is continuing their US (sized and protocol) Phase III trial.
For the PRC, I wonder how much CoronaVac works better on the young, if this is a pure public health effort which still makes sense, if vaccinating children is for show, or if they’re using better vaccines they haven’t tried to market outside of the country. Because its efficacy in Brazil is useful for public health, but otherwise modest from what I’ve heard, like around 50%???
Thanks for the reply. About CoronaVac, it has been reported that, though its overall efficacy is 50%, it completely prevents moderate and serious forms of the disease. I suppose only time will tell how true this is, but if it is confirmed I think it will be fully satisfactory for individual protection. For public health, on the other hand, I think it will fall short, what with a large proportion of the vaccinated being still capable of developing symptoms like coughing and thus being important disease vectors in a population of largely unvaccinated persons.
Come to think of it, that would explain why China is vaccinating the young first. There is an extremely low percentage of the population who caught the disease and is thus immunized. In Brazil a lot more people caught it, so it would make more sense to vaccinate the adults who have been sheltering at home for a whole year and need to get out.
For that, a prerequisite is to have smarter public health authorities. That does not sound like something that’s likely to happen.
Nice job hashing up the stastistics in such a way to make a minor hiccup in deaths in absolute terms look bigger.
Twelve percent? Is that supposed to be a lot? Over 60 cohort is 90%, so for the under 60 cohort thats 10% of 12%, so they could not even notice.
The writer is a complete moron.
He talks about the possibility we had in March of comparing a vaccinated with an unvaccinated group, but as we did not have a vaccine available at that time, then….
Also, he speaks about the “efficacy” of any vaccine which is available, and so is clearly unaware of the meaning which pharma gives to this word, ie that an antibody response is generated, which is by no means the same thing as producing immunity against infection or transmission of this “virus”, which we have to assume is just wishful thinking anyway, as no virus has ever been isolated or purified.
The only thing the various manufacturers claim about their vaccines is that they reduce the severity of covid 19 symptoms, although exactly how one knows that the symptoms have been reduced in severity is anybody’s guess, as everybody seems to have different symptom severities depending on age and comorbidities – if any, and many have no symptoms whatsoever, and are diagnosed as “positive” not on the basis of an infected / not infected test result, but purely as an artifact of the cycle number which was run on the PCR test, which has never been standardized, and so positivity is simply in direct proportion to cycle number, and thus completely invalid as a means whereby government policy should be formulated.