Wednesday 1st of December 2021

infectious perspectives...

infectious...infectious...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NSW government has unveiled its long-awaited roadmap for schools to return to face-to-face teaching, as the state recorded 882 COVID-19 cases and two deaths.

 

 

Key points:
  • High case numbers mean NSW Health will no longer report the isolation status of new infections
  • All school students will be expected to return to classrooms by November 8
  • NSW infection figures, including hotel quarantine, have surpassed Victoria

The state government said students would have a "staggered return" to schools from the end of October and would delay HSC exams until November 9.

It also announced vaccinations for school staff would be mandatory by November 8, with priority for jabs given to them from September 6.

Mask wearing will also be mandatory for staff and high school students, and "strongly encouraged" for primary school students.

The schools announcement comes as high infection numbers mean NSW Health will no longer report the isolation status of new cases, and whether they’re linked to known clusters daily.

“With current case volumes, this data is not a meaningful representation of case investigations,” a spokesperson said.

This data will now be included in a weekly report.

Overnight, two men, aged in their 60s and 90s, died from COVID-19.

Both men had one dose of the vaccine, and had underlying health conditions.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said a significant number of new infections were being detected in Sydney's west and south-west.

"It's actually more than 80 per cent, and we do today also want to call out people living in the local government area of Camden and people living in the rest of the local government area of Penrith," she said.

 

Read more:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-27/nsw-records-882-covid-19-cases-and-two-deaths/100412046

 

polishing school benches soon...

Federal Education Minister urges Victoria, ACT to release plan for schoolsBy Michaela Whitbourn

 

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge has welcomed the NSW government’s plan for a staged re-opening of schools for face-to-face learning, which is set to start on October 25 for kindergarten and year one students.

Mr Tudge said at a press conference in Canberra earlier today that the plan provided “confidence and certainty for parents and students”.

“That they can see that light in the horizon, they know when the schools are going to be open, they can forward to that time and they can plan accordingly.

“Of course, I would love to see similar confidence and certainty being able to be provided to Victorian and ACT parents as well, in order to give them that peace of mind that schools can be opened and opened safely and the kids to be able to get back to school.”

NSW recorded 882 new local cases of COVID-19 today, compared with 79 in Victoria and 21 in the ACT.

“Getting back to school is just so important for kids. The mental health consequences of children not being at school has just been devastating.

“If we can get these schools open again, do so safely, get community activities open again and do that safely, then we can help address some of those mental health issues and enhance kids’ learning as well”.

 

Read more:

https://www.smh.com.au/national/australia-news-live-nsw-covid-19-cases-continue-to-soar-as-outbreaks-worsen-in-victoria-new-zealand-20210826-p58m8z.html

 

FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW WWWWWWWWWWWW

 

No comments from this Gus peanut gallery, but plenty of them comes to mind...

scomo's infection...

Scott Morrison invoking “Team Australia” rings hollow in Gladys Berejiklian’s office.

It has ever since the bushfire crisis when Team Morrison started briefing against the New South Wales Premier.

The obviously poor relations between the Prime Minister and Labor Premiers get plenty of attention, but relations are not good with NSW’s Liberal Premier either, whatever public words are uttered, however many smiling photo ops are staged.

 

To paraphrase Henry Kissinger, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies in politics, only interests.

The burning summer of 2019-20 seems like a long time ago in this crisis-ridden world.

Scott Morrison hasn’t forgotten it though – it was after he had ignored advice from fire chiefs to prepare, it was when he was in Hawaii not holding a hose, mate, when he tried to force people to shake his hand, when his leadership rating dived, when the polling showed Gladys Berejiklian was viewed as a better leader, the one on the job, the one with empathy.

 

Team Morrison did not like that. With a modus operandi now well understood, blame needed to be spread.

That appalled NSW state government MPs. They haven’t forgotten the summer of 2019-20 and – cutting across factional differences – they are shocked that Team Morrison is at it again.

Team Morrison also did not like word getting out that the NSW and Victorian premiers united to force the Prime Minister to get serious about COVID as the next crisis unfolded, leading the states in taking on the quarantine responsibilities the Commonwealth shed.

It’s the nature of the press gallery to play along with such briefing against individuals – it’s all part of the “drop” culture. It’s easy copy.

Niki Savva hasn’t played along, reporting the Team Morrison briefing against Ms Berejiklian in her debut column for the Nine newspapers on August 5.

 

“Senior NSW Liberals say the same background briefing tactics used against Brittany Higgins and Julia Banks are being deployed against Berejiklian, all designed to blame her for the NSW calamity, not his vaccination debacle,” Savva wrote.

“They report a blazing row last week between a senior staffer of the Premier’s, who called a senior Morrison staffer to accuse him of undermining Berejiklian in briefings to journalists. The Morrison man apparently replied he had merely relayed ‘facts’. Bingo.”

Scott Morrison’s communications and media team are not Macquarie Street’s favourite people.

It’s not hard to briefed on the “briefing” – or “undermining”, to use a less euphemistic term. Such is the nature of politics, it flows in both directions:

“Scott Morrison has a glass jaw; Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth in public, in private he’s a ‘whatever it takes’ man; He is a prime minister acting like a state director (one of his jobs before winning preselection was NSW Liberal Party state director) – spin over substance, micro-managing, an administrator not a leader; The reason why he’s behind on issues is because he waits for the polling before acting.” we’re variously told.

Such a relationship doesn’t help deal with a national crisis.

However many times Mr Morrison repeated “plan” and “dawn” on Monday, the national cabinet’s alleged agreement to end lockdowns and open state borders seems more a matter of Prime Ministerial assertion than reality.

The Labor premiers straying from Mr Morrison’s version of the agreement feeds into pressure to keep Premier Berejiklian on board or the agreement – Mr Morrison’s pathway to claiming vaccination success – is dead.

 

A curious and none too credible Channel 7 story on Friday suggesting Police Minister David Elliott or Tourism and Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres could take over as Premier was seen as having Team Morrison’s fingerprints on it.

Firmly in Scott Morrison’s personal federal faction is Alex Hawke from the Sydney Hills district. Mr Hawke is close to Mr Elliott, who reportedly has been unhappy about not being in the NSW crisis cabinet.

But there are always staffers who work within their own perceptions of their boss’s political interests or provide plausible deniability.

The silly thing about such political games is that Ms Berejiklian has no choice but to chant Mr Morrison’s 70 and 80 per cent vaccination mantra. (Actually 56 and 64 per cent of the population.)

NSW is only attempting a holding operation on COVID now, a rear-guard action. Numbers might go down or up but like the rabbit calicivirus in 1995, Delta is out of the bottle and not going back in – the price of not mandating vaccination and PPE for aircrew limo drivers and subsequently not locking down hard early.

How did Ms Berejiklian make that second mistake?

She is a Premier who seeks consensus, who prefers to avoid a hard conversation. She’s famous for consulting with business.

Her crisis cabinet skews economy-first through Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Minister for Jobs, Investment and Tourism Stuart Ayres and Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Industry and Trade John Barilaro.

And then there was the combination of “Gold Standard” hubris and pressure from Canberra to not turn Victorian.

So now the promise of opening up based on a debatable vaccination rate is part of the softening-up process for “living with COVID” whether or not state health systems are ready.

 

Health Minister Brad Hazzard was asked twice on Wednesday whether hospitals could cope with the forecast 4000 cases a day when they were already struggling.

Both times he sidestepped the question.

NSW embracing and selling the inevitable is the political solution for the Morrison government’s desire to shed responsibility.

Once the vaccination race-not-a-race is declared won – be prepared for a Prime Ministerial photo op headlined “Mission Accomplished” –  dealing with COVID is all the states’ problem.

That was the coda in the Prime Minister’s Monday media conference: “We must ensure that our public health systems are ready for the increase in the number of cases that will occur,” he said. (Translation: public health systems, i.e. hospitals, are the states’ problem.)

“We must be clear about the rules, the common sense rules that continue to apply post 70 per cent and post 80 per cent, which is factored in to the work that is being done.” (States’ rules.)

“Cases will not be the issue once we get above 70 per cent. Dealing with serious illness, hospitalisation, ICU capabilities, our ability to respond in those circumstances, that will be our goal.” (Yep, all that lot are states’ goals.)

“And we will live with this virus as we live with other infectious diseases. That’s what the national plan is all about, was always about. That’s how we designed it and that’s how it needs to be implemented. Because the national plan is our deal with all Australians.” (It is what it is.)

And then there was stuff about lockdowns extracting an extremely heavy toll and it being darkest before the dawn and a less-than-rousing cover of Maureen McGovern’s The Morning After, concluding with: “There will be those who will seek to undermine the national plan. There will be those who will seek to undermine confidence in it. I think their motives are clear.” (Anyone who questions me is un-Australian.)

And Team Morrison has ways of dealing with those who cause problems.

 

Read more:

https://thenewdaily.com.au/opinion/2021/08/26/morrison-team-australia-berejiklian/

 

Read from top.

 

assangeassange

a reasoned response?...

 

By Michael Tomlinson

 

In the first quarter of 2020, the first Covid-19 pandemic wave swept the world. This caused a wave of fear to also sweep across the world, leading to governments taking desperate countermeasures that imposed limits on everyday freedoms never before seen in our lifetimes. Stories about Covid-19 went viral in the media, which have covered the pandemic 24/7 throughout 2020 and 2021 to the exclusion of many important health-related topics. 

The world succumbed to a kind of Covid monomania. 

What were the origins of this extraordinary response, why was it so extreme, and how well have governments justified the harsh countermeasures to the public? There are several key themes and concepts underlying the narratives that governments and media have used to justify the response which have lodged in the public mind.

An influential underlying driver has been the subjective feeling that extreme measures are proportionate to an extreme threat.

There was an early theme in the government and media narratives that compared this pandemic to the 1918 influenza pandemic, in which over 50 million people lost their lives worldwide. The total number of deaths for Covid-19 in the US has passed the number of deaths in 1918 – however, the US population is now more than three times larger than 1918. And the years of life lost are proportionately smaller again as Covid-19 mortality increases exponentially by age, whereas the 1918 pandemic took people at earlier ages when they had many more years of life to expect. Here is one media report that explains this well. 

 

So, the Covid-19 pandemic, while of course it deserves to be taken seriously, is more comparable to the lesser-known Asian fluof 1957-58, which is estimated to have caused over one million deaths worldwide (when the world population was less than a third what it is now). In some countries (for example, Australia) all-cause mortality actually went down in 2020.* Sweden, which used the lightest touch of most any country in the world, without mask mandates or school closures, fared very well, with fewer excess deaths than European countries.

In any case, even if the Covid-19 pandemic was comparable in scale to 1918, it simply would not follow that extreme measures would be more effective than moderate measures.

The origins of the great wave of fear lie in the first quarter of 2020, when the Imperial College London Covid-19 Response Group published their notorious Report 9, which predicted that 2.2 million people would die in 3-4 months of 2020 in the US if aggressive government interventions were not put in place.

This was based on unspecified “plausible and largely conservative (i.e. pessimistic) assumptions,” which were not supported by any evidence or references.

The key concepts were, first, that dire outcomes would ensue if normal social interactions in the population were maintained during a pandemic caused by a ‘novel’ virus they had never encountered before. There were historical precedents for this when colonial invaders made first contact with indigenous populations, but nothing like it in modern developed country populations. Second, the ICL group concluded that interactions needed to be reduced by 75% over eighteen months until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more), by reducing mobility through “general social distancing.”

The report generated three scenarios based on these key assumptions: 1) “do nothing”; 2) a package of measures designed to “mitigate” the effects of the pandemic; and 3) a package aimed at “suppressing” it. 

As the assumptions were not in any way supported by evidence, the projections of extreme loss of life in the ‘do nothing’ scenario represent an unfalsifiable hypothesis. No governments went down that path and they all implemented countermeasures to a greater or lesser extent. To justify these measures, they have continually held the hypothetical threat of massive loss of life over us.

What is remarkable looking back on it, however, is that the projections presented in the ICL report that started it all do not convincingly favor suppression. 

Figure 2 in the report shows epidemic curves for various mitigation scenarios starting with ‘do nothing,’ which supposedly results in a peak of demand for ICU beds towards 300 per 100,000 of population.

 

(see graph)

 

The traditional package of case isolation and home quarantining, together with social distancing only for the over 70s results in a peak below 100. 

Figure 3A presents curves for suppression strategies including the one with general social distancing which shows a similar curve, but the peak is actually higher, well over 100 ICU beds per 100,000 of population.

 

(see graph)

 

The traditional package with the addition of social distancing for the over 70s is clearly the winning strategy in the report, and bizarrely, is quite close to the ‘focused protection’ strategy advocated by the distinguished authors of the Great Barrington Declaration.

So, the (imaginary) data presented in the Ferguson report actually shows a better outcome from mitigation – but they recommended suppression! 

This sleight of hand has occurred with some other papers where the authors reach conclusions that are at odds with their own results.

A pandemic of modelling then took place across the world, with many other groups making local projections along the same lines, generating worst case scenarios that cannot be tested.

The models have subsequently been found to be extremely fallible, with highly variable outcomes depending on questionable assumptions and key values selected.

Where they generate factual scenarios that can be tested, they have been caught out. When Italy moved to relax its restrictions in the summer of 2020, the ICL Covid Response Group warned in Report 20 that this would lead to another wave, with peaks higher than before and tens of thousands of deaths within weeks.

 As Jefferson and Hehneghan pointed out, “by 30 June that year, just 23 daily deaths had been reported’.” This shows us that the assumptions about the effectiveness of the interventions are particularly weak.

Likewise, a modelling group at my Australian alma mater predicted that with “extreme” social distancing the number of infections in Australia would peak at around 100,000 per day towards the end of June 2020. In fact, the total number of cases peaked at a little over 700 per day in August, many orders of magnitude less than the projection.

Nonetheless, these reports were taken at face value and scared the hell out of the world’s governments and then their peoples, and the governments rushed to accept the group’s recommendation to implement harsh interventions until a vaccine became available. 

Another key underlying theme in the narratives has been “we are all at risk.” Government representatives have been at pains to emphasise that anyone can fall victim to Covid, including young people, and therefore everyone needs to join in the common enterprise to defeat it. Media articles often play up uncommon examples of younger people who became seriously ill in hospital, but downplay all reactions from vaccines as “rare.”

But the reality has always been that risk of Covid (the disease) rises exponentially with age. Charts showing rates of hospitalization divide sharply between the upper age quartiles and the lower age quartiles. There are certainly cases of disease in all age groups, but Covid (and Covid mortality) are sharply distinguished from the 1918 flu by being concentrated strongly in the post-working age population.

Despite this, governments have relentlessly pursued universal strategies, targeting (if that’s the word) everyone in the entire world. 

In the first instance they went beyond the traditional strategy of testing and tracing to find and quarantine sick people and their contacts, and extended this to quarantining the entire population in their homes for the first time in history, using stay-at-home public health orders to enforce lockdowns. This has never been recommended by the World Health Organization, which has consistently advised that lockdowns should only be used for short periods at the beginning of a pandemic, to buy governments some time to put other strategies in place. 

By 2021 it became possible to evaluate the outcomes of these policies against real data

One study strikes at the heart of the key assumption that reducing mobility improves outcomes. This study was published in the world’s top medical journal, The Lancet, and shows that lockdowns do have an effect on infection rates, but only in the short term. 

The authors reviewed the evidence from 314 Latin American cities looking for an association between reduced mobility and infection rates. They concluded that: ‘10% lower weekly mobility was associated with 8·6% (95% CI 7·6–9·6) lower incidence of COVID-19 in the following week. This association gradually weakened as the lag between mobility and COVID-19 incidence increased and was not different from null at a 6-week lag.’ 

Although they present the findings as supporting the link between mobility and infection, in fact they severely undercut the utility of any link. Lockdowns do reduce infection rates, but only for a few weeks, not for any meaningful period. And this study does not draw any conclusions about the effect on the outcomes that matter, such as hospitalisations and mortality.

Hard evidence that lockdowns improved these outcomes is very difficult to find. In some instances, lockdowns were imposed just before the peak of the epidemic curve, which then turned down. But we must avoid falling into the post hoc fallacy, assuming that because ‘B’ follows ‘A’ in the alphabet, ‘A’ must have caused ‘B’.

Empirical studies of different countries or regions mostly fail to find significant correlations between lockdowns and any change in the course of epidemic curves resulting in improved outcomes (particularly mortality). For example, a study of mortality outcomes in all countries with more than 10 deaths from Covid 19 at the end of August 2020 concluded that: 

The national criteria most associated with death rate are life expectancy and its slowdown, public health context (metabolic and non-communicable diseases…burden vs infectious diseases prevalence) economy (growth national product, financial support) and environment (temperature, ultra-violet index). Stringency of the measures settled to fight pandemic, including lockdown, did not appear to be linked with death rate. 

Consider, for example, the case of two cities – Melbourne and Buenos Aires. They have been competing for the title of world’s highest number of days in lockdown (in total). Both cities have imposed measures at the same level of stringency, but Buenos Aires has six times the number of total deaths (taking into account its larger population). Clearly the differentiating factors must be environmental. Latin American countries combine high urbanisation levels and lower GDP per capita, so the differences in living conditions and health systems are driving these differences in outcomes, not the feeble attempts by governments to manage the circulation of the virus.

Some studies purport to find that lockdowns help, but this is usually based on extrapolating from short-term reductions in infection rates and/or counterfactual scenarios based on modelling. There are many studies that find that lockdowns fail, which have been gathered together into various compendia on the web such as this one. There are too many unfavourable findings and not enough favourable ones to justify governments relying on this severe and harsh option.

A few countries, mainly islands in the Pacific regions, managed to hold the virus at bay and go beyond suppression to achieve periods of elimination, or “zero Covid.” Politicians vowed that they would not just “bend the curve” but crush it, or drive the virus into the ground,” as if viruses can be intimidated by political pressure the same as people. 

Having no land borders makes it a lot easier to control interactions with the outside world, but as Covid-19 became endemic in all other countries, the zero-Covid countries reluctantly relinquished the dream and prepared to open up and learn to live with the virus.

Their governments could still spin this as consistent with the original rationale of a period of eighteen months of suppression “until a vaccine becomes available’.” The ICL group never spelled out what would happen when a vaccine did become available, but there was an unspoken implication that suppression would no longer be needed, or at least some of the suppression measures would no longer be needed. 

Vaccination would in some way end the pandemic, although how exactly was never spelled out. Would this effectively be a suppression strategy giving way to a mitigation strategy? Consistent with government approaches throughout the pandemic, no objectives or targets would be set against which success could be measured. But vaccination was certainly supposed to stop the spread.

Governments are vulnerable to action bias, the assumption that in a crisis, taking vigorous action (any action) is better than restraint. They are expected to actively manage crises. As the epidemic waves mount, they come under irresistible pressure to hold them back, to go further, and then further again. Attacking the waves in the present became an overriding imperative, and longer-term collateral damagefrom the countermeasures has weighed far less in the balance, because it extends beyond the electoral cycle.

The world’s governments are now repeating their original mistaken model of implementing universal, one size-fits-all measures, this time pursuing universal vaccination – “vaccinate the world.” They still want to “drive the virus into the ground” and prevent it from circulating in the community. This is often said to be necessary because it will reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging, which supposedly remains higher so long as there are communities in the world that are not fully vaccinated.

No-one is safe until we are all safe” is the prevailing slogan, supporting a goal to ‘end the pandemic.’ An alternative perspective is that implementing mass vaccination in the middle of a pandemic would create evolutionary pressure that would make it more likely that troublesome variants would emerge. This view has been widely debunked in the media, but without reference to contrary research.

As we have seen, the main groups at risk are the older quartiles. An alternative strategy would be to focus on vaccinating these groups, and allow the lower risk quartiles to encounter the virus, recover usually after a mild illness and develop natural immunity. This would arguably give greater protection against later infection than vaccination. Gazit et al found that vaccinated individuals were 13 times more likely to become infected compared with those who had previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2. Natural immunity may also protect against a broader range of variants with vaccination giving very specific protection against the original variant.

A “focused protection”’ model was advocated by one of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration (with others) in a contribution to the Journal of Medical Ethics.

There should have been a deep strategic debate about these two alternative strategies, but there was not. Governments continued down the one-size-fits-all path without considering any other options.

Equally, weight should be given to raising Vitamin D levels in these most vulnerable groups, many of which don’t get out much and so lack exposure to sunlight. Already before Covid 19 came along, a comprehensive review had established that Vitamin D ‘protected against acute respiratory tract infection overall,’ especially for those most deficient, which is likely to include most residents of elderly care homes.

Since the onset of this pandemic, more specifically, studies have found links between low Vitamin D status and Covid-19 severity. One such study found that ‘regular bolus vitamin D supplementation was associated with less severe COVID-19 and better survival in frail elderly.’ As a contributor to The Lancetsummed it up: “Pending results of [more randomised controlled trials] of supplementation, it would seem uncontroversial to enthusiastically promote efforts to achieve reference nutrient intakes of vitamin D, which range from 400 IU/day in the UK to 600–800 IU/day in the USA” (see Vitamin D: A case to answer’).

meta-analysis of the use of Vitamin D in treatment concluded:

As a number of high-quality randomized control studies have demonstrated a benefit in hospital mortality, vitamin D should be considered a supplemental therapy of strong interest. At the same time, should vitamin D prove to reduce hospitalization rates and symptoms outside of the hospital setting, the cost and benefit to global pandemic mitigation efforts would be substantial. It can be concluded that further multicenter investigation of vitamin D in SARS-CoV-2 positive patients is urgently warranted at this time.

And yet in the first phase of the pandemic, this benign strategy with a prior track record against infectious respiratory diseases was overlooked in favour of a harsh and completely novel strategy with no prior track record and little supporting evidence. The 2019 WHO review of NPIs for influenza did not even cover stay-at-home orders.

The sole reliance on vaccination to save the day at the end of the suppression period is looking increasingly shaky already as we move into the last quarter of 2021. Israel has been the world’s laboratory for testing the effectiveness of universal vaccination using the new mRNA vaccines. But the research on outcomes from Israel and the United Kingdom has revealed that:

  • Protection against infection steadily wanes over the months (see pre-print here)
  • Protection against transmission is even more short-term, evaporating after three months (see pre-print here).

Consequently, Israel experienced a third wave of the epidemic peaking on 14 September 2021, more than twenty per cent higher than the second wave. Vaccination did not stop the spread.”

So, where to from here? The answer is obvious to the world’s governments – if vaccination is not working well enough yet to end the pandemic, we must double down and have even more vaccination! Bring out the boosters! Governments have bet the farm on vaccination, but it cannot deliver because it only addresses part of the problem.

But the strategies that have been followed since the outset of the pandemic have failed to end the pandemic and have not evidently contained it especially in the worst affected countries in Latin America. 

We are constantly told to “follow the science,” but key findings of science that do not fit the dominant narrative are overlooked. We have had 19 months of essentially futile attempts to stem the tide, causing deep, widespread and long-lasting adverse effects to lives and livelihoods, yet there is no hard evidence that going for suppression instead of mitigation has produced better outcomes. 

Good governance requires that these issues and strategic choices should go through a deliberative process in which the strategic options are weighed up before a decision is made, but this has never happened, certainly not in the public eye.

At some stage, it may no longer be possible to avoid hard strategic thinking. Only 6% of US Covid cases do not also involve “comorbidities;” in other words concurrent chronic and degenerative conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension. Most of these are the “diseases of civilization” that are strongly correlated with the Western diet and sedentary lifestyle factors. 

This caused the editor of The Lancet to write an opinion piece provocatively called “COVID-19 is not a pandemic,” by which he meant it was actually a ‘syndemic,’ in which a respiratory illness is interacting with an array of non-communicable diseases. He concluded: “Approaching COVID-19 as a syndemic will invite a larger vision, one encompassing education, employment, housing, food, and environment.” 

Over a year later, his appeal has clearly been too sophisticated and has fallen on deaf ears. Governments prefer the quick fix. There has been no larger vision. Short-term strategies that can be boiled down easily into slogans have prevailed.

The first step towards that larger vision will be to abandon the leading myths that:

  • An extreme threat justifies the use of extreme measures
  • We are all at risk so the same extreme measures must be used for everyone.

Instead, governments should move towards a more nuanced strategy, with additional measures differentiating by risk group. 

And address the underlying causes of the crisis in health amongst our seniors. SARS-CoV-2 is just the trigger that has precipitated the crisis. In order to solve a problem, you first have to understand what the real problem is. 

Governments have sought to micromanage the circulation of a virus around the world, by micromanaging the circulation of people. It didn’t work, because they conceptualised the circulation of the virus as the entire problem, and ignored the environment in which it was circulating.

Those who have challenged lockdown strategies have been labelled “science deniers.” But on the contrary, there is a dearth of scientific evidence to support these strategies and a high number of negative findings. The challengers are challenging the basis of conventional opinion, not the science.

The house of science has many rooms. Policy makers need to go beyond cherry-picking the evidence in one or two of these rooms. They should open all the relevant doors and represent the evidence that they find validly. Then have the debate. Then set some clear objectives against which the success of the chosen strategies can be measured.

There should be a clear relationship between the strength of the evidence required for a strategy and the risk of adverse effects. The higher the risk, the higher the bar should be for evidence. Harsh policies should require very high quality evidence.

Governments got it all wrong. They should have chosen the mitigation strategy all along, leaving the management of pathogens to actual medical professionals who deal with individuals and their problems rather than push a central plan hatched by computer scientists, political leaders, and their advisors.. 

Decision-making processes have been ad hoc and secretive, a model that leads to governments making colossal mistakes. It is very hard to understand how lockdowns have become a standard operating procedure despite there being no evidence that they improve outcomes and vast evidence that they wreck social and market functioning in a way that spreads human suffering.

Good governance requires that we do better next time. The basis of government decisions that affect the lives of millions must be publicly disclosed.

And especially: “follow the science” – all of it!

 

Read more:

https://brownstone.org/articles/the-greatest-failure-in-the-history-of-public-health-the-case-for-the-prosecution/

 

 

*bold by Gus

 

It seems that with the ("magic") goal of 80 per cent of people having been vaccinated — but not fully protected against catching Covid 19, as protection is also relative to efficiency of the vaccines (from 60% to 90 percent) — the political landscape around the world has morphed towards a more "relaxed" compromised of dealing with the infection. This was the "Great Barrington Declaration" goal (without so much vaccination in sight). The severe restrictions might have caused more damage than the disease itself.

 

 

 

The Great Barrington Declaration


The Great Barrington Declaration – As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

 

On October 4, 2020, this declaration was authored and signed in Great Barrington, United States, by:

 

Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist with expertise in detecting and monitoring infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine safety evaluations.

Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, vaccine development, and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician, epidemiologist, health economist, and public health policy expert focusing on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations.

 

See all the co-signers

 

 


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bean-counting the jabs...

The deputy secretary at the US Treasury has put Americans on notice that the only way to end the plague of empty shelves around the country is for every resident to be vaccinated. The frank warning came off as a threat to many.

Wally Adeyemo, the Biden administration’s second-highest official in the Treasury Department, appeared to publicly blackmail the still-sizable portion of Americans who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 during a Thursday ABC interview, seemingly blaming them for the ongoing shortages of consumer goods that have led many to mock the president as ‘Empty Shelves Joe’.

Despite viral photos depicting thousands of cargo ships lined up at the Port of Los Angeles ready to unload their goods, Adeyemo claimed that the supply chain issues plaguing so many US retailers are an international issue and will only let up when a sufficient percentage of the country has been vaccinated.

 

Describing the disastrous economic conditions as “an economy that’s in transition,” Adeyemo acknowledged that “we are seeing high prices for some of the things that people have to buy.” While he praised the administration’s stimulus payments, he also pinned the blame squarely on the unvaccinated.

The reality is that the only way we’re going to get to a place where we work through this transition is if everyone in America and everyone around the world gets vaccinated.

While the ABC reporter repeatedly suggested that the country’s shortages of toilet paper and other panic-buy items could be traced to international supply chain disruptions, a growing number of Americans are demanding answers regarding the weirdly specific nature of certain products missing from store shelves. Some have even voiced doubt concerning whether the shortages are being introduced deliberately, either to gin up hatred against the unvaccinated or keep Americans economically off-balance as they grow accustomed to the wild disruptions of the pandemic.

Adeyemo did the Biden cabinet no favors by adding fuel to the conspiratorial fire, explaining the primary reason Biden continued to push for everyone to be vaccinated was that only then could the White House “provide the resources the American people need to make it to the other side” of the supply chain problem.

Despite blaming the international shipping industry for empty shelves in the US, the media establishment has acknowledged that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach - which together process 40% of the nation’s imports - had their busiest years on record last year, giving the lie to the notion that the products missing from American shelves simply don’t exist. However, many truckers working for shipping companies have balked at the idea of mandatory vaccination, leaving their firms’ fleets woefully understaffed, and others have gone on strike to demand better working conditions.

 

Read more: https://www.rt.com/usa/537637-supply-chain-covid-unvaccinated-biden/

 

 

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covid in russia...

Russia has officially registered more than 1,000 daily coronavirus deaths for the first time since the start of the killer pandemic, with the skyrocketing number of registered infections now beating one grim record after another.

The daily death toll from Covid-19 has been on the rise for the last six days and reached 1,002 people over the past 24 hours, according to figures released on Saturday.

The number of daily cases also set a new record, with 32,196 people infected, which is almost 1,000 more than Friday’s data. 

Russia’s capital, and most populous city, Moscow, remains the worst-hit area in the country, with 6,545 new coronavirus cases, followed by St. Petersburg with 3,088. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin earlier sounded the alarm over “very high” infection rates in the megapolis, which have increased by 20-30% since the beginning of the week.  

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/russia/537673-coronavirus-record-death-toll/

 

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