When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, February 06, 2021

Links - 6th February 2021 (Covid)

Daily Caller on Twitter - "CNN guest Dr. Rob Davidson says that social distancing isn't as big of a concern at the March on Washington as it was last night at President Trump's speech because "this is a public health crisis they are marching against. Systemic racism has taken so many lives in this country""

How the West followed China into lockdown - "Karl Wennberg is a Swedish sociologist. He is a professor at the Institute for Analytical Sociology at Linkoping University, Sweden. He recently published a report on the world’s reponse to Covid. It found that 80 per cent of developed countries went into lockdown within two weeks of each other because they simply copied each other’s policies, rather than producing responses tailored to their populations or the progression of their Covid epidemic... the countries we looked at differed widely in terms of population density, healthcare systems, demographic situations and the number of elderly people in the population. All these are very relevant factors when it comes to the rapid spread and the impact of Covid-19. You would have hoped the actions governments took could be explained by these traditional epidemiological factors, which are based around an idea of the susceptibility of each population to this virus. But, in fact, that is not what explains the way governments reacted to Covid-19. To understand why this has happened, it is important to think about psychological factors. Humans are greatly influenced by the behaviour of other humans, and specifically those they compare themselves with. Key decision-makers obviously compare themselves to other key decision-makers, and hope to be perceived as better than them, or at least not any worse than them. The desire to not be seen to have performed worse is incredibly important when it comes to explaining the decisions made around Covid-19. If you follow what everybody else does, and suffer on a par with everybody else, you can say there was nothing much that could be done to prevent that suffering, and may get away with it. But if you act differently from everybody else but face abysmal results – worse than other countries – you put yourself into a terrible position as a politician. This helps to explain why countries behaved in such similar ways... less democratic countries (including some in the EU) were very quick to pull the trigger and close down everything from workplaces to schools. The majority of countries were slower in adopting these measures, because in more democratic countries the responsibilities of the government go beyond public health. What surprised us and made me a bit concerned in our report was the fact that the more democratic countries tended to mimic each other much more than the less democratic ones. Being elected and being responsible is at the heart of democracy. If decision-making is outsourced by copying what everyone else is doing, that is problematic. In doing this, we have ended up telling ourselves that China and Turkey were in the right about Covid... assessing their own outbreaks... It is interesting and, from a political-science perspective, worrying that these types of restrictions are so often and so easily enacted, because they are not as easily repealed. Among the over 100 countries tracked by the Varieties of Democracy Institute in Sweden, over 80 countries have adopted temporary or permanent legislation curbing civil liberties. While that may be important for stopping the spread of infectious disease for a couple of months, it is of course problematic to the extent that these types of tools are easily available for politicians, and they may be used again in the future... even relatively minor measures like this and the wearing of masks have negative consequences for human interaction and wellbeing. Some stronger measures, such as closing schools, have very bad consequences for future wellbeing, life earnings and so on. Doing it for a couple of months might not be so bad, but doing it for years and years may be highly problematic."

The Swedish experiment looks like it's paying off | The Spectator - "why isn’t Sweden changing tack in the fight against the pandemic? ‘The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance’, wrote Albert Camus in The Plague – a book that eerily depicts the suffering of the human condition when a disease sweeps through society. And lately, scientists and observers have ventured that explanation publicly: perhaps Sweden’s refusal to fall into line is because Tegnell and his team are a bunch of philistines?... A journalist from French television that I talked to on Sunday admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that ‘it’s almost as if we want Sweden to fail because then we would know it is you and not us that there is something wrong with’."

Ontario's Stage 3 reopening brings no surge in COVID-19 cases after 4 weeks
This suggests that lockdowns are ineffective

Lab-Made? SARS-CoV-2 Genealogy Through the Lens of Gain-of-Function Research - "If you hear anyone claim “we know the virus didn’t come from a lab”, don’t buy it — it may well have. Labs around the globe have been creating synthetic viruses like CoV2 for years. And no, its genome would not necessarily contain hallmarks of human manipulation: modern genetic engineering tools permit cutting and pasting genomic fragments without leaving a trace. It can be done quickly, too: it took a Swiss team less than a month to create a synthetic clone of CoV2."
>Someone I know in the field: "as far as I can tell, he doesn't have evidence that the virus was made in a lab, he's just linking lots of random things and going... hmmm interesting. To address some of his points:
Can scientists do gain-of-function research? Of course they can. They have done so famously for bird flu (H5N1) which is what triggered the moratorium. But is that what happened here with SARS-CoV-2? I think not.
The Nature Medicine paper's argument is that if you really were trying to make a deadlier SARS virus, you wouldn't have designed SARS-CoV-2. The reason is that the predicted structure of the RBD part that SARS2 has is actually supposed to be pretty lousy at binding. If you were trying to create a bioweapon, or even just a slightly more dangerous virus for research purposes, it would be a pretty stupid thing to do and a waste of resources.
The next point to raise is the issue of timing. The pangolin virus, which he is suggesting was used as the RBD of SARS2, was sequenced in Feb 2020, *AFTER* SARS2 had already spread around the world. What he sees as an "interesting" coincidence is more likely a case of oh man we'd better go sequence every possible old sample we have and finding a similarity because of the sheer number of other coronaviruses out there than any evidence that this obscure pangolin virus was used to make a bioweapon.
One point that he fails to address is the O-glycosylation mutation in SARS-CoV-2, which is thought to help it hide from the immune response. Unlike other mutations which you can select for in cell culture, this mutation requires you to pass the virus around in humans, even selective pressure in other lab animals won't generate it.
One more strong piece of evidence that it was NOT man made is non-synonymous mutations. Synonymous mutations are those base changes that don't lead to a change in the protein produced, which happen at a consistent rate. Using the ratio of non-synonymous mutations to synonymous mutations can give you a sense of how much selective pressure (human or otherwise) the virus has been put under. SARS-CoV-2 has very few non-synonymous mutations, which means that it is very unlikely that it was produced using forced selection in the lab.
Last but not least, while the Medium author shows the ability to do BLAST alignments and use PubMed, this is something even an undergrad can do. He is not a virologist, or even a PhD scientist. He was actually trained as a software engineer and is now CEO of an anti-aging startup. Make of it what you will."

How Pandemic Shattered the Harmony of Medieval Europe’s Diverse Cities
Yet liberals now cheer border closures

Coronavirus: For every three COVID-19 deaths, lockdown may have caused another two - "The national lockdown may have indirectly caused 16,000 excess deaths in two months, according to government analysts.The new report says a reluctance to attend A&E and difficulties accessing medical assistance likely meant that for every three deaths from coronavirus itself, a further two occurred because of the wider impact of the lockdown. The findings provide a possible explanation for the prime minister's recent claim that another full national lockdown would only be considered as a "nuclear option"... Although the calculations found that 2,500 lives may have been saved by people adopting healthier lifestyles during lockdown, the modelling suggests there could be a further 26,000 excess deaths by March 2021 as a result of ongoing restrictions to medical care.Overall the analysis estimates there could be a total of 81,500 non-coronavirus excess deaths over the next 50 years as a result of longer waiting times for non-urgent elective care, as well as increased deprivation resulting from a deep recession."
More lockdown!

I fucking hate pseudoscience -  "I have really backed off my public stance on COVID recently, but after the last couple weeks, I think one more rant is acceptable. 2 weeks ago I was a confirmed COVID case and it sucked - sick to my stomach, hard time sleeping, aches and all that. One week ago, I was rushed to the ER and then taken by ambulance to the University of Utah Respitory ICU. My oxygen was so low that I almost died, almost went on life support and almost sent my kids through life without a dad. But, I have always been resilient and a week later I am back home, working and loving life (albeit a little harder to breath nowadays) Having almost died, I stand by my assertion that COVID is being blown out of proportion to serve a higher greed. Masks are stupid and so is social distancing. If you are at risk, take care of yourself, but don't give up a good life because someone else tells you to be afraid." "Seems reasonable"
If I win the lottery, I'm going to tell people to ignore statistics because I'm proof you can win

The lockdown is tearing at Ireland's social fabric - "Even when our now unelected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar picnicked bare-chested in the Phoenix Park, among a group of friends, contrary to the guidance issued by his own government to ‘not to stay too long at the site or have picnics’, the Irish media’s response was extremely relaxed. (No baying mobs of reporters outside Leo’s residence.) Could it possibly be that his affinity with the cultural and social value system of Dublin’s notoriously incestuous political and media elites, and his at times cravenly pro-EU outlook, has completely immunised him from the type of witch-hunt visited upon the family of Dominic Cummings in the UK?... What is missing is any consideration being made by our political class as to the possibility that people are capable of weighing risks, and taking sensible actions. We are infantilised, and the hitherto very patient tolerance of it is wearing thin."

How New York’s Coronavirus Response Made the Pandemic Worse - WSJ - "In the first few days of March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio assured New Yorkers things were under control. On March 2, Mr. de Blasio tweeted that people should go see a movie.Only after the disease had gripped the city’s low-income neighborhoods in early March did Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio mobilize public and private hospitals to create more beds and intensive-care units. The hasty expansion that ensued, led by New York government leaders and hospital administrators, produced mistakes that helped worsen the crisis, health-care workers say... While leaders in states like California and Ohio acted quickly to contain the spread, Messrs. Cuomo and de Blasio delayed taking measures to close the state and city even as the number of cases swelled, despite warnings from doctors, nurses and schoolteachers. California issued a statewide lockdown with 1,005 cases as of March 19, while New York remained open with 5,704 cases... Even after New York announced its first coronavirus case on March 1, the city health department was advising New Yorkers they were more likely to get the flu... when Mr. de Blasio said known New York City cases had already ballooned past 300, he reluctantly closed schools. Los Angeles closed schools around the same time with about 50 cases"
Damn Trump!

Coronavirus: The tenants enduring Australia's toughest lockdown - "Amid a second wave of coronavirus, the entire city of Melbourne has just been ordered back into lockdown for six weeks.But for 3,000 people living in public housing tower blocks, an even stricter lockdown was imposed on Saturday.Unlike other Melburnians, residents of the nine towers cannot leave for any reason - they are subject to a police guard.It's the toughest lockdown seen in Australia so far... The majority of residents have limited income and come from non-English-speaking backgrounds. Many are migrants - some who arrived as refugees - from African nations, Vietnam and China. There are many young families and pensioners. Premier Andrews described some living in the towers as among the state's most "vulnerable" people... Unlike those in the towers however, other Melburnians can leave home for essential work, exercise, shopping and care-giving purposes."
Presumably the people who praise(d) Australia's "successful" response to covid-19 support armed police forcibly keeping public housing residents locked down
Covid hysteria means oppressing minorities is good

Sydney mosque to let 400 people celebrate Eid - despite fears of infections at churches and funerals - "A mosque in Sydney has been given permission to let up to 400 worshippers celebrate Eid al-Adha - even though coronavirus clusters have emerged from churches and funerals."

Whisper it, but here comes a 1920s-style, post-pandemic boom - "The Twenties were preceded by a devastating pandemic that might have knocked anything up to 10 per cent off global GDP, and in terms of its human tragedy, hugely surpassed anything Covid 19 is likely to inflict... the US and Britain fared somewhat better with a mortality rate of “just” 0.5 per cent, but the numbers nonetheless put our own contemporary “health emergency” in some perspective. As one of the worst affected nations by Covid in Europe, Britain has so far lost  just 0.07 per cent of its population to the disease, which statistically is almost irrelevant. Yet the immediate, and largely self inflicted, economic impact appears to have been much bigger than back then."

A L E X ✯ on Twitter - "I’m no longer using stoplights. It’s the governments way of trying to tell me what to do in my own car. You are sheep if you use stoplights. Other people aren’t my responsibility. They should look out and make sure I’m not coming!"

China delayed releasing coronavirus info, frustrating WHO - "Throughout January, the World Health Organization publicly praised China for what it called a speedy response to the new coronavirus. It repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for sharing the genetic map of the virus “immediately,” and said its work and commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words.”But behind the scenes, it was a much different story, one of significant delays by China and considerable frustration among WHO officials over not getting the information they needed to fight the spread of the deadly virus... Despite the plaudits, China in fact sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information. Tight controls on information and competition within the Chinese public health system were to blame... Chinese government labs only released the genome after another lab published it ahead of authorities on a virologist website on Jan. 11. Even then, China stalled for at least two weeks more on providing WHO with detailed data on patients and cases... all at a time when the outbreak arguably might have been dramatically slowed. WHO officials were lauding China in public because they wanted to coax more information out of the government... If WHO had pushed too hard, it could even have been kicked out of China, said Adam Kamradt-Scott, a global health professor at the University of Sydney. But he added that a delay of just a few days in releasing genetic sequences can be critical in an outbreak. And he noted that as Beijing’s lack of transparency becomes even clearer, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s continued defense of China is problematic.“It’s definitely damaged WHO’s credibility”... On Jan. 3, the National Health Commission issued a confidential notice ordering labs with the virus to either destroy their samples or send them to designated institutes for safekeeping. The notice, first reported by Caixin and seen by the AP, forbade labs from publishing about the virus without government authorization. The order barred Shi’s lab from publishing the genetic sequence or warning of the potential danger.Chinese law states that research institutes cannot conduct experiments on potentially dangerous new viruses without approval from top health authorities. Although the law is intended to keep experiments safe, it gives top health officials wide-ranging powers over what lower-level labs can or cannot do... WHO had issued an unusual public rebuke of Tanzania for not providing enough details about a worrisome Ebola outbreak... On Jan. 11, a team led by Zhang, from the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center, finally published a sequence on virological.org, used by researchers to swap tips on pathogens. The move angered Chinese CDC officials, three people familiar with the matter said, and the next day, his laboratory was temporarily shuttered by health authorities... On Jan. 13, WHO announced that Thailand had a confirmed case of the virus, jolting Chinese officials.The next day, in a confidential teleconference, China’s top health official ordered the country to prepare for a pandemic, calling the outbreak the “most severe challenge since SARS in 2003”, as the AP previously reported. Chinese CDC staff across the country began screening, isolating, and testing for cases, turning up hundreds across the country.Yet even as the Chinese CDC internally declared a level one emergency, the highest level possible, Chinese officials still said the chance of sustained transmission between humans was low."

SARS-CoV-2 infection: the environmental endurance of the virus can be influenced by the increase of temperature - "a remarkable difference between the two temperatures exists, suggesting that virus vitality can be influenced by the environmental temperature. Our results support the hypothesis that in the hot season the increase of temperature could influence the environmental endurance of SARS-CoV2 and reduce Covid-19 transmission probability."

It’s Not Whether You Were Exposed to the Coronavirus. It’s How Much. - The New York Times - "Generally, people who harbor high levels of pathogens — whether from influenza, H.I.V. or SARS — tend to have more severe symptoms and are more likely to pass on the pathogens to others.But in the case of the new coronavirus, people who have no symptoms seem to have viral loads — that is, the amount of virus in their bodies — just as high as those who are seriously ill, according to some studies. And coronavirus patients are most infectious two to three days before symptoms begin, less so after the illness really hits. Some people are generous transmitters of the coronavirus; others are stingy. So-called super-spreaders seem to be particularly gifted in transmitting it, although it’s unclear whether that’s because of their biology or their behavior.On the receiving end, the shape of a person’s nostrils and the amount of nose hair and mucus present — as well as the distribution of certain cellular receptors in the airway that the virus needs to latch on to — can all influence how much virus it takes to become infected. A higher dose is clearly worse, though, and that may explain why some young health care workers have fallen victim even though the virus usually targets older people. The crucial dose may also vary depending on whether it’s ingested or inhaled.People may take in virus by touching a contaminated surface and then putting their hands on their nose or mouth. But “this isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads”... Three factors seem to be particularly important for aerosol transmission: proximity to the infected person, air flow and timing... just cracking open a door or a window can banish aerosols... aerosols, because they are smaller than 5 microns, would also contain much less, perhaps millions-fold less, virus than droplets of 500 microns."

Poll: Americans Trust The Media The Least For COVID-19 Information - "levels of trust in information provided by “Donald Trump, Your state’s governor, Anthony Fauci, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Medical and health professionals, and National media” concerning coronavirus have all decreased since March 2020... only 35 percent of Americans trust the mainstream media for COVID-19 information... 40 percent trust President Donald Trump... Low trust in the mainstream media shouldn’t come as a surprise. Whether it’s a lack of acknowledgment about violent riots or allegations against the president using only anonymous sources, the media has proven time and time again that it doesn’t deserve the American peoples’ trust"

The COVID trap: will society ever open up again? | Spectator USA - "As Milton Friedman used to warn: ‘Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.’Measures that seemed unthinkable a few months ago have been implemented in haste and without debate. In the UK, as in many other countries, the rationale changed. First, lockdown was designed to ‘buy time’ so the health service could prepare. Next, it was needed to ‘flatten the curve’. But when the curve peaked a few weeks later, the restrictions didn’t merely stay in place, they were reinforced.Is the science on face masks weak? No matter, let’s make them mandatory anyway. Is there any evidence that closing borders has any meaningful effect on slowing the spread of the virus? With parliamentary debate suspended, no one will really ask. It was always a certainty that Putin or Xi would use any kind of Reichstag fire to grab more power, but it is very worrying to see similar behavior in liberal democracies... The crisis has led to a new popularity for protectionism. The French always think that globalization has gone too far, but what’s surprising is that the Germans have shifted their position. Angela Merkel says that the pandemic has revealed a need for more European production and the bloc’s new industrial strategy talks about ‘an opportunity to bring more manufacturing back to the EU’... These protectionist reactions to the COVID crisis are the result of a fundamental mismatch between our stone-age brains and the nature of the modern world. Instinctively rushing to put up or defend the perimeter and kill strangers made sense when the threat was a raiding band — but now?H.L. Mencken once joked that the goal of much of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamoring for safety. He was referring to a human instinct. When we feel threatened, the danger often triggers a ‘fight or flight’ reaction, which makes us want to pick fights with scapegoats or foreigners or to hide behind walls or tariff barriers. And we start looking for the big man (or, in Scotland’s case, woman) to keep us safe. After that, few people want to be an outsider, a critic, a troublemaker. Those who protest against measures taken in the name of national safety are quickly shouted down.But now that we’ve engaged in this massive experiment of shutting down societies and economies, surely we need a frank discussion about its merits and about whether these instincts are appropriate in a complex global economy. The enemy, after all, is a virus, not a raiding band. We shouldn’t bat away outsiders but co-operate with them in accumulating knowledge and producing solutions... But hang on, you might say, we’re living in unprecedented times — as politicians love to tell us — and they call for unprecedented action. But this pandemic is small by historical standards. Even now, the global number of deaths from COVID-19 is still lower than from the Hong Kong flu of 1968. But there was no lockdown, no mass school closures, nor did we throw ancient civil and economic liberties overboard. What’s new, this time, is our reaction, not the virus. Sooner or later we will face a worse pandemic or another devastating crisis. What would we be willing to sacrifice then?"

Coronavirus: Tests 'could be picking up dead virus' - "The main test used to diagnose coronavirus is so sensitive it could be picking up fragments of dead virus from old infections... this could be leading to an over-estimate of the current scale of the pandemic"

Community Independent Journal - Posts - "Over the course of the COVID crisis, we have repeatedly seen leading scientists and scientific organizations change their recommendations, and we have seen multiple scientific studies retracted or at least highly debated. Many view this as proof that science doesn't work and/or scientists don't know what they are doing. In reality, this is exactly what we expect to see when science works.Science is a method, not a body of facts, and the method is often messy. Peer-review does not end with publication. Rather, studies are subjected to the scrutiny of the entire scientific community, and the fact that high-profile papers sometimes get retracted is evidence of science correcting itself. Similarly, the fact that scientists change their views as new evidence about a novel virus comes to light is a good thing! It means that scientistsare learning and adjusting their views rather than clinging to biases and preconceptions. That's how science works."
Ironically the people who try to browbeat others with sweeping dogmatic statements about "science" won't get it

Coronavirus: Australia abandoned us – now we're stranded, homeless and jobless in Singapore - "The artificial cap on citizens returning to Australia, put in place by the Morrison government, did not change between then and now.On Friday, we received an email from the airline reminding us that our flight on September 4 was upcoming. All was good. Until 3.30am the next day. We both received an SMS and email telling us that our booking had been cancelled. Not the flight, but our booking. The reason: restrictions imposed by the Australian government. The next available flight now is October 23. Our contents are due to be sent this Wednesday to Australia. Our lease on our condo, which our landlord graciously allowed us to end 10 months early, will be taken over by a new couple, so we are out this week. In a few days, we will be jobless and homeless in a foreign country with no support whatsoever, despite decades of paying taxes to my nation. I feel totally abandoned by my country and betrayed by its leaders. I am angry. The Sun-Herald front page didn’t help my mood. It reported the government was not even meeting its own quotas to get citizens home – by as many as 1000 a week. I am old-school. I won’t say in print what I wouldn’t say to someone’s face. I would say this to Scott Morrison’s face: "You abandoned me, and tens of thousands of Australians like me."We do not want a handout. We just want to get home. I suppose I could buy a boat."
Yet another price of covid hysteria

People think Dominic Cummings made a terrible blunder. Actually it was a strategic masterstroke - "Let us place ourselves, for a moment, in the great man’s shoes. We see the devastation being wrought upon the British economy. We observe the despair of honest workers who through no fault of their own have lost their livelihoods. We note the misery of pensioners unable to see their grandchildren. The time has come, we decide, to end the lockdown, reopen the economy, and return everyone to normal life.But how? Our characteristically persuasive messaging – “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives” – has proven all too successful. Millions now appear terrified to leave their homes, or go to work, or send their children back to school. The Prime Minister, meanwhile, has grown frustratingly nervous about loosening restrictions. What is Westminster’s most brilliant thinker to do?Simple. Break lockdown himself – and then, when the breach is inevitably exposed, refuse even to apologise."

Airbnb Implements New Rules for Guests Under 25 in Hopes of Preventing House Parties - "Guests who are 24 and younger with less than three positive reviews or a negative review won’t be able to book a whole house close to where they live, Airbnb recently announced"
Ageism is good. But if bad behavior is shown to correlate with more sensitive demographics...

Unexplained excess deaths at home almost nine times higher than those from Covid - "in the last eight weeks of death registrations, 1,117 people were registered with Covid-19 on the death certificate but excess deaths at home were at 5,556 – suggesting the coronavirus response is now far more deadly than the virus... Professor Michael Griffin OBE, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, said the UK could not go back to a situation in which vital procedures such as cancer surgery are stopped.He said: "The second wave of Covid-19 is imminent, and it is essential to learn from the first phase. To date, measures have not yet effectively been put into place to avoid another shutdown of vital procedures."In April, the college discovered that 87 per cent of cancer surgeons had stopped or reduced the number of operations carried out. Experts have estimated that cancer deaths could rise by up to 20 per cent this year as a result of the coronavirus response.Surgeons would have to work at 160 per cent of their capacity to get waiting lists back to pre-virus levels within a year, but most are only operating at 40 per cent capacity because of Covid safety measures"

Covid: Is it time we learned to live with the virus? - "Prof Carl Heneghan, the head of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University, says the current situation is "utter chaos" with a constant stream of new restrictions and schools sending whole year groups home when just one person tests positive. All this at a time when the level of infection is still very low.This, Prof Heneghan says, is the consequence of trying to suppress the virus. Instead, he argues we should accept it is here to stay and try to minimise the risks, while balancing that against the consequences of the actions we take.In particular, he's concerned the Covid test is actually so sensitive it's picking up what is effectively dead virus as it spots traces of it months after the person has stopped being infectious."We need to slow down our thinking. But every time the government sees a rise in cases it seems to panic"... The argument put forward by Prof Heneghan and a number of other experts is that more weight needs to be put on disease rather than cases. While hospital admissions have started rising they are still incredibly low compared to the spring and the increase is much more gradual than it was... Prof Robert Dingwall, a sociologist and an adviser to the government, believes the public may well be now at the stage where it is "comfortable" with the idea that thousands will die from Covid just as they are that they die of flu.He believes it is only a particular element of the public health and scientific leadership who worry about driving down the infection level and is critical of politicians for not being "brave enough" to be honest with the public that the virus will be around "forever and a day" even with a vaccine... Prof Mark Woolhouse, an expert in infectious disease at Edinburgh University... argues the government must carefully "balance the harms" of Covid with the consequences that come from trying to contain it. He says there is already growing evidence the "cure has been worse than the disease" because of the wider societal costs... if you look at the age-adjusted mortality rates, which take into account the size and age of the population, you can see that while 2020 has undoubtedly been a bad year compared to recent years, what has been seen in terms of people dying is not completely out of sync with recent history. It is actually comparable with what happened in the 2000s... Prof Woolhouse says lockdown simply deferred the problem, but did have the benefit of buying time, which he thinks could now be used to better protect the vulnerable.That means intensive targeting of testing at care homes to prevent the virus from getting in - four in 10 deaths have been among care home residents... The other factor to consider is that doctors are in a much better position to treat severe illness. Two steroid treatments have been found to reduce the risk of death in the seriously ill, while much has been learned about how Covid behaves, which means hospitals will be better prepared for problems such as blood clots and kidney damage.It means many are confident the scale of deaths seen earlier will not be repeated... Prof Sunetra Gupta, of Oxford University, believes there may well be more immunity already than we think because of a combination of natural immunity and more exposure than screening suggests - she says the antibody markers that are relied on to identify previous exposure are not so reliable for this particular virus.She says allowing young and healthy people to be exposed over the winter will be of benefit in the years to come. "This is how we have always managed viruses. Why is this so different? If we keep introducing restrictions and lockdowns while we wait for a vaccine it will be the young that suffer the most, particularly those from more deprived backgrounds. We can't keep doing this - it would be an injustice.""

Covid-19: Do many people have pre-existing immunity? - "In late 2009, months after the World Health Organization declared the H1N1 “swine flu” virus to be a global pandemic, Alessandro Sette was part of a team working to explain why the so called “novel” virus did not seem to be causing more severe infections than seasonal flu... The data forced a change in views at WHO and CDC, from an assumption before 2009 that most people “will have no immunity to the pandemic virus” to one that acknowledged that “the vulnerability of a population to a pandemic virus is related in part to the level of pre-existing immunity to the virus.” But by 2020 it seems that lesson had been forgotten... Ulrich Keil, professor emeritus of epidemiology from the University of Münster in Germany, says the notion of randomly distributed immunity is a “very naive assumption” that ignores the large disparities in health in populations and “also ignores completely that social conditions might be more important than the virus itself.” He added, “Tuberculosis here is the best example. We all know that the immune system is very much dependent on the living conditions of a person, and this depends very much on education and social conditions.”Another group led by Sunetra Gupta at the University of Oxford has arrived at similar conclusions of lower herd immunity thresholds by considering the issue of pre-existing immunity in the population. When a population has people with pre-existing immunity, as the T cell studies may be indicating is the case, the herd immunity threshold based on an R0 of 2.5 can be reduced from 60% of a population getting infected right down to 10%, depending on the quantity and distribution of pre-existing immunity among people... The research offers a powerful reminder that very little in immunology is cut and dried. Physiological responses may have fewer sharp distinctions than in the popular imagination: exposure does not necessarily lead to infection, infection does not necessarily lead to disease, and disease does not necessarily produce detectable antibodies... herd immunity thresholds “may be greatly reduced if a fraction of the population is unable to transmit the virus.”“The conventional wisdom is that lockdown occurred as the epidemic curve was rising,” Gupta explained. “So once you remove lockdown that curve should continue to rise.” But that is not happening in places like New York, London, and Stockholm. The question is why... T cell studies have received scant media attention, in contrast to research on antibodies, which seem to dominate the news (probably, says Buggert, because antibodies are easier, faster, and cheaper to study than T cells). Two recent studies reported that naturally acquired antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 begin to wane after just 2-3 months, fuelling speculation in the lay press about repeat infections. But T cell studies allow for a substantially different, more optimistic, interpretation. In the Singapore study, for example, SARS-CoV-1 reactive T cells were found in SARS patients 17 years after infection"

WARMINGTON: Meet Ontario's suffering COVID scapegoats - "“We have had no COVID-19 positive tests,” said Michelle Zanussi, manager of Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub on The East Mall. “We have taken measures to keep people safe while trying to stay open.”Rick Hugglestone, of Mississauga’s Mulligan’s Pub, on Dundas St. — just west of Erin Mills Pky. — has not only followed every rule, but built glassed-in partitions at tables to protect his customers and staff... Yet, there are public health officials urging Ford to shut down in-dining in response to a second wave. So far, Ford has rejected pressure from Toronto medical officer of health Eileen De Villa and Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, who both have foolishly suggested suspending indoor dining. “These are people that have put their life in these small restaurants and they put everything they have and I have to be 100%, I’ve proven before we will do it in a heartbeat, but I have to see the evidence before I take someone’s livelihood away from them,” Ford has said.“I want to exhaust every single avenue before I ruin someone’s life. It is easy to go in there and say, ‘I’m just shutting down everything.’ Show me the evidence — hard, hard evidence.”Evidence shows most restaurants and pubs are the shining standard of how businesses can operate during a pandemic. They deserve a pat on the back instead of being threatened with a second shutdown.Suggestions that restaurants spread COVID are unfair, pub owners say.“If they go through with this, it won’t be fair, but it will also put our industry in jeopardy, no question,” Hugglestone said.The veteran pub owner poignantly added: “It’s easy for a doctor to say shut us down, but they don’t lose their income like we do. They don’t run the risk of going out of business.“We really feel like we are the scapegoats of the pandemic and it’s just not right.”... they’re collecting names and numbers of customers so that information can be used for contact-tracing efforts should someone contract the virus.“We are glad to do it,” Hugglestone said. “But we do notice that Costco, Loblaws, Walmart or Home Depot are not being asked to do it and we don’t see any difference in the risk.”"

Ontario says no trick or treating this Halloween in coronavirus hotspots - "Epidemiologist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the decision to cancel Halloween in Ontario's two largest cities "doesn't sit right" with him, and more should have been done to adapt the activity to make it safe.
'This....doesn’t sit right.The goal should be to find ways to do things safely rather than cancel.Halloween shouldn’t be too tough to do safely:Outside, wearing masks, restricted to family units, distant from others - is about as low risk as it gets.' Bogoch's colleague, fellow epidemiologist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy agreed.
'100% agree. How many times do we have to throw the beauty out with the bathwater? There's caution and then there's common sense and it's actually possible to have both #SafeHalloween'"
When politics means it's more important to be seen to be doing something than to do something useful

‘It doesn’t make sense’: Backlash grows after Ontario’s advice for Halloween trick-or-treating in hot spots - "Medical experts contacted by The Globe and Mail said they were confused by the province’s reasoning, especially when trick-or-treating can take place outdoors with face coverings and physical distancing. The recommendation also came on the same day Ontario announced it would be allowing indoor dance classes to resume in the hot spot regions.Andrew Morris, an infectious-diseases physician at Sinai Health and the University Health Network, both in Toronto, said he disagreed with the recommendation and is worried it will harm the credibility of provincial and municipal public-health leaders... Andrew Boozary, the University Health Network’s executive director of health and social policy, predicted Ontario’s recommendation against trick-or-treating in hot zones “will cause an uproar” among people already frustrated by inconsistent messages about how to reduce the risk of catching the coronavirus.“We want to support public-health officials,” Dr. Boozary said. “But when we start to see so much conflicting messaging and ideas around what’s actually safe, we can really start to lose people.”Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at the University Health Network, said the recommendation could end up backfiring... Cancelling trick-or-treating will likely only add to many peoples' frustrations and growing sense of COVID-19 fatigue, said Zain Chagla, an infectious-diseases physician at St. Joseph Healthcare Hamilton."
So much for following the 'science'

LILLEY: We keep cancelling life in Ontario without proper evidence - "On Sept. 30, the people of Ontario were allowed to see the latest modelling from the province regarding COVID-19. The release of the models came two days after Ontario hit its most recent peak for new cases, 700 in a single day.As they released that modelling, the doctors behind it warned that things would only get worse. “We will see a dramatic increase in number of cases with cases now doubling every 10 to 12 days,” said Dr. Steini Brown.Brown is the dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. With degrees from Harvard and Oxford, I don’t doubt his credentials but that doesn’t mean he is always right.If we followed Brown’s prediction from that day, we would be looking at close to 2,800 cases per day instead of the 704 reported on Monday... I’m not disappointed that we are below what the doctors called the “low scenario.” In fact, I’m quite happy.But if you’ve followed the numbers and trends as I have, then you would know that we have always tracked below the “low scenario.”It’s why I am so frustrated that after spending a week speaking out against the idea of closing all restaurants, gyms and many other businesses in hot spots without hard data, Premier Doug Ford did just that... We’ve been told for months that it takes close contact with someone — in the range of 10-15 minutes of face to face contact, speaking without a mask and within two metres to be able to contract COVID-19 — but somehow, trick-or-treating will spread the virus... Asked to present their evidence for trying to effectively cancel the day, Williams said they don’t have any so let’s be cautious. Well, why not also close everything? Close the schools, close the stores, shut down take-out.I’m not sure how thousands of adults going for their morning coffee won’t spread COVID but trick-or-treating will."
As with climate change, even adaptive expectations just don't kick in, let alone rational expectations. The human need for drama cannot be avoided

Toronto pub is giving customers disposable blankets so they can stay warm on the patio
Of course, there're still environmentalists in the comments who aren't happy. Presumably it's better for the industry to die than for there to be vaguely defined "environmental impact"

US history of using crises like Covid-19 to justify mass detention - "This is, according to Andrea Pitzer, an expert on mass detention and author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, exactly the climate that could lead a country down a path it may eventually regret. It often begins, Pitzer said, with clearly defined and reasonable goals—apprehending terror suspects, say, or containing a disease—and then devolves into something very different.“Humanity has a long history of using indefinite detention without trial to do horrific things,” Pitzer told Quartz. “With such broad powers and a lack of accountability, [and] given the president’s current aggressive bending of law to detain asylum seekers, it’s hard to imagine any vulnerable community in the US that wouldn’t be at risk in this situation over time.”... Public health issues like the coronavirus pandemic have long been used by governments to deny rights to groups of people, she explained. In the 1990s, Pitzer said, thousands of asylum seekers from Haiti—some of them HIV-positive—were intercepted at sea by the US Coast Guard and detained indefinitely at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, who was serving as president George H.W. Bush’s attorney general at the time, oversaw the program and reportedly believed that “everyone who was HIV-positive should be returned to Haiti.”"
From April
Another reason most Western countries (Australia and New Zealand excepted, which have been surprisingly authoritarian) cannot contain covid-19
Ironically, many of the people bashing Western countries for incompetence in controlling covid are also very quick to bash them for violating human rights. But if you just want to bash the West, you don't need to be consistent

Coronavirus: Trump backs away from New York quarantine - "US President Donald Trump has said quarantining New York "will not be necessary", after the state's governor said doing so would be "preposterous"... New York Governor Andrew Cuomo responded by saying that quarantining the state of New York would be "preposterous" and "anti-American"... He told a press briefing earlier on Saturday: "I don't know how that can be legally enforceable. And from a medical point of view, I don't know what you would be accomplishing."But I can tell you, I don't even like the sound of it."Mr Cuomo also said he would sue nearby Rhode Island if the authorities there continued targeting New Yorkers and threatening to punish them for failing to quarantine."
Trump is damned for what he does/did, and what he does/did not do. Since the conclusion is pre-determined - that Orange Man bad - it doesn't matter what he does

Ontario shut down non-urgent health services in the spring. Now hospitals are seeing many more patients with advanced cancers
We need more lockdown!

Friendships and relationships worsen during COVID-19 lockdown - "A quarter of people have reported their relationships with colleagues and co-workers have worsened over lockdown, and a fifth have said their friendships outside of their household have also got worse... 18% of respondents reported a worsening of relationships with their spouse/partner, 20% reported a worsening of relationships with other adults they lived with and 17% with children they lived with. Relationships outside of the household have also suffered, with 19% reporting a worsening of relations with children outside of the home, and 16% with parents or other relatives"
A lockdown fanatic I know claimed that covid had improved people's relationships

School re-openings have avoided 'catastrophe,' says Ontario doctor - "Sending kids back to school in Ontario has not been the “catastrophe” that some predicted and has largely been done safely, says an infectious diseases specialist.A number of recent international studies, along with COVID-19 case data, have also backed up the idea that re-opening schools has not fuelled the pandemic... “The good news is that schools have opened, and we haven't had a catastrophe. And there was so much prediction that this is not going to be safe and we're going to have death mass deaths of teachers, and it's going to spur the epidemic. And although there's been small outbreaks in schools, they're small, they have not led to any catastrophe.”But Silverman says he’s concerned about the levels of fear that continue to exist among teachers and parents.“It's not good for public health for everybody to live in terror. And when….there's something good happening we should also make the point that something good because there was so much controversy about it.”... Pediatricians have been warning throughout the pandemic about the physical, mental and emotional toll that closed schools have on children"
So much for liberal fears. But then, they only listen to the science when they agree with it

Coronavirus lockdowns 'may kill MORE than herd immunity' - "Research released on Wednesday shows that strict lockdowns – particularly those curbing the activities of the young – are unlikely to cut deaths in the long run and may even increase them.The Edinburgh University study examined various lockdown-style scenarios and found that while they might protect hospitals, they could also prolong the pandemic and prevent the build-up of herd immunity. The scientists concluded that coronavirus required a different strategy from a flu epidemic – and the focus should be on shielding the elderly and vulnerable.Lead author Professor Graeme Ackland, from Edinburgh University, said: ‘Unless a vaccine magically appears and is rolled out across the entire population in the next six months, then shutting down society is unlikely to reduce overall deaths.’... The study also found that shutting schools ‘leads to more overall deaths from Covid-19’ than allowing them to remain open.This is because it prevents herd immunity building up among the healthy and young, who face only a tiny risk of dying from the disease... A separate study on Wednesday found that 86 per cent of corona victims do not show three main symptoms when they test positive.   And there were growing questions over the effectiveness of lockdown-style restrictions as figures showed that new rules have failed to curb coronavirus in almost all the local areas that have been living with them for two months... The Edinburgh University study - released on Wednesday - was published in the British Medical Journal, co-ordinated by the Royal Society and funded by UK Research and Innovation, an arm of the Government. "
A covid hystericist proclaimed "I don't agree with those analyses" with no reasons given when informed about the studies showing lockdowns killed more people than covid (including this, which is peer reviewed). I guess following the science is only when the "science" supports hysteria (how odd that climate change hysteria is the same)

German Official Leaks Report Denouncing Corona as ‘A Global False Alarm’ - "Germany’s federal government and mainstream media are engaged in damage control after a report that challenges the established Corona narrative leaked from the interior ministry...
The dangerousness of Covid-19 was overestimated: probably at no point did the danger posed by the new virus go beyond the normal level.
The people who die from Corona are essentially those who would statistically die this year, because they have reached the end of their lives and their weakened bodies can no longer cope with any random everyday stress (including the approximately 150 viruses currently in circulation).
Worldwide, within a quarter of a year, there has been no more than 250,000 deaths from Covid-19, compared to 1.5 million deaths [25,100 in Germany] during the influenza wave 2017/18...
Initially, the government tried to dismiss the report as “the work of one employee”, and its contents as “his own opinion” – while the journalists closed ranks, no questions asked, with the politicians.But the 93-pages report titled “Analysis of the Crisis Management” has been drafted by a scientific panel appointed by the interior ministry and composed by external medical experts from several German universities."

Lockdowns Could Kill More People Than COVID-19 - "In the UK, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) provides scientific and technical advice to support government decision makers during emergencies. Under pressure from a legal challenge from aviation tycoon Simon Dolan, on 29 May the government released the minutes of SAGE meetings from the period leading up to the lockdown announcement on 23 March. Lawyer Paul Chaplin went through the minutes. On 18 March, SAGE advised that “the measures already announced should have a significant effect,” and additional measures might be needed only “if compliance rates are low.” At no point before 23 March did SAGE recommend anything resembling a full lockdown. Instead, at a meeting on 10 March, the group noted that banning public gatherings would have little effect since most viral transmission occurred in confined spaces, such as within households. Based on the earlier broad summaries provided, Christopher Snowdon from the Institute of Economic Affairs concluded: “the strategy which preceded the lockdown… was based on science whereas the decision to go into lockdown was political.”"

Is 'coronaphobia' more deadly than the coronavirus? - "Too many Western governments privileged abstract mathematical modeling over actual science based on observational data. The initial explanation was the need to flatten the infection curve to protect the health systems from being overwhelmed. The logic was not to avoid the virus but to slow down its spread over many more weeks and months. This would then help to manage the disease and keep the numbers requiring hospitalization and intensive care within the capacity of health systems to cope.“Mission creep” is familiar to conflict analysts. It has infected United Nations peace operations, NATO expansion and multilateral operations like Libya in 2011, all with unhappy consequences. The mission creep from flattening the curve to eradicating COVID-19 has been equally ill-conceived and calamitous. The initial goal was reasonable and realistic; the obsession with elimination is not. To ensure compliance from increasingly skeptical and resentful people, the focus has shifted from very low mortality to rising infections in allegedly devastating second waves. Imagine, if you will, a disease so vicious that millions who are asymptomatic must be tested to know if they’ve had it. COVID-19’s lethality doesn’t compare to the Spanish flu of 1918–19. Scaled up to today’s global population, that would translate to 250 million dead. Our health systems are infinitely better compared to a century ago. Yet authorities did not close down whole societies and economies in 1918. The state did not enter into homes to tell people how to live, who and how many to meet, when, where, and what they could shop for, and which businesses could operate under what conditions.The global death toll from COVID-19 is around 700,000, making it the 20th deadliest killer on annual statistics. Fourteen causes kill over a million annually. The top killer is coronary heart disease with 9.5 million deaths; influenza and pneumonia kill three million. Screening and treatment for many deadlier illnesses have been deferred because of the obsession with COVID-19. In Australia the average daily death toll from all causes is 432; the total COVID-19 fatalities on Aug. 5 was 255. For that people’s lives, livelihoods, education and freedoms have suffered massively. Melbourne is effectively under martial law masquerading as medical law... Project Fear posits a false choice between tough lockdowns and doing nothing. A whole range of calibrated interventions is available."

Six deadly lockdown sins - "Fourth, the lockdowns barred people from some healthy open air lifestyle options in parks, gardens and on beaches, instead cooping them up in high-risk environments like congested living complexes. In New York, two-thirds of new hospital admissions were infected at home while sheltering-in-place. Prolonged exposure in enclosed environments is high risk; in outdoor settings the risk is under 5 percent. The Guardian reported on May 9, 6,546 more non-COVID-19 deaths at homes across Britain compared with the seasonal five-year average.Fifth, to protect the hospital system, patients were discharged into care and nursing homes to deadly effect. About half of America’s COVID-19 deceased were nursing home residents.. “We discharged known, suspected, and unknown cases [from hospitals] into care homes which were unprepared. … We actively seeded this into the very population that was most vulnerable.”... A study in South Africa suggests the lockdown could kill 29 times more people than it saves. A study by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health warns infant mortality could increase by 1.2 million this year in poor countries and maternal mortality by 56,700 because of ruptured health services. Professors Jay Bhattacharya and Mikko Packalen estimate the lockdown’s long-term global impact could “end up taking nearly six million young lives in the coming decade” in developing countries... Not all critics of hard lockdown policies are motivated by greed. Conversely, the self-virtuous can sometimes climb so far up the moral high horse that they lose sight of the ground reality. This crisis finally confirms just how disconnected inner-city elites are from the values of liberal international solidarity that animated their intellectual forebears."

Hunger Is Threatening To Kill More People Than Covid This Year - "The world is hurtling toward an unprecedented hunger crisis.As many as 132 million more people than previously projected could go hungry in 2020, and this year’s gain may be more than triple any increase this century. The pandemic is upending food supply chains, crippling economies and eroding consumer purchasing power. Some projections show that by the end of the year, Covid-19 will cause more people to die each day from hunger than from virus infections.What makes the situation unmatched: The massive spike is happening at a time of enormous global food surpluses. And it’s happening in every part of the world, with new levels of food insecurity forecast for countries that used to have relative stability... By the end of the year, as many as 12,000 people could die a day from hunger linked to Covid-19, potentially more than those perishing from the virus itself, charity Oxfam International estimates... “Even the mildest forms of food insecurity have lifelong consequences,” said Chilton of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities. Problems with physical and cognitive development in children and adolescents can hamper the chances of staying in school or getting a job, continuing a cycle of poverty... Hunger can spark seismic shifts in the political landscape. Going back to the days of the French Revolution, food insecurity has sent people into the streets demanding better conditions. Surging food prices were part of the economic crisis that helped fuel recent protests in Lebanon and demonstrations over shortages erupted in Chile earlier this year.Deep-seated inequalities along gender and racial lines also correspond to disproportionate impacts from hunger... ""It’s hard to take surplus milk in Wisconsin and get it to people in Malawi -- it’s just not realistic or practical""

David Staples: Lockdowns will cause 10 times more harm to human health than COVID-19 itself, says infectious disease expert - "The harm caused by lockdowns is much worse than the disease of COVID-19. That’s the argument from numerous public health officials and economists around the world, including an Alberta expert in infectious disease and critical care, Dr. Ari Joffe of the Stollery Children’s Hospital and the University of Alberta... The cost of lockdowns in Canada is at least 10 times higher than the benefit in terms of population health and well-being, he estimates, at least if you account for numerous variables such as economic recession, social isolation and impacts on life expectancy, education and the full gamut of health-care priorities.If you look at the issue worldwide, lockdowns will cause at least five times and, more likely, as much as 50 times more harm than benefit... The risk to children from influenza each year is greater than the risk of COVID-19, he says. If an individual is less than 65 and has no co-morbidities their COVID risk is also low. The focus should be on protecting people over the age of 65, he says, while also respecting their right to live as they choose."

Anxiety From Reactions to Covid-19 Will Destroy At Least Seven Times More Years of Life Than Can Be Saved by Lockdowns - "Medical studies show that excessive stress and anxiety are among the most debilitating and deadly of all health hazards in the world. Beyond their obvious effects like suicide and substance abuse—these mental stressors are strongly related to and may trigger and inflame a host of ailments like high blood pressure, digestive disorders, heart conditions, infectious diseases, cancer, and pregnancy complications.Based on a broad array of scientific data, Just Facts has computed that the anxiety created by reactions to Covid-19—such as stay-at-home orders, business shutdowns, media exaggerations, and legitimate concerns about the virus—will destroy at least seven times more years of human life than can possibly be saved by lockdowns to control the spread of the disease. This figure is a bare minimum, and the actual one is likely more than 90 times greater.This study was reviewed by Joseph P. Damore, Jr., M.D., who concluded: “This research is engaging and thoroughly answers the question about the cure being worse than the disease.”... a 2011 meta-analysis in the journal Social Science & Medicine about mortality, “psychosocial stress,” and job losses finds that “unemployment is associated with a substantially increased risk of death among broad segments of the population”... the meta-analysis examined “235 mortality risk estimates from 42 studies” and found that “unemployment is associated with a 63% higher risk of mortality in studies controlling for covariates.” Regardless of whether job losses from Covid-19 lockdowns are brief or sustained, the study found that the death correlation “is significant in both the short and long term,” lending “some support to the hypothesis and previous findings that both the stress and the negative lifestyle effects associated with the onset of unemployment tend to persist even after a person has regained a job.” Also of relevance to current job losses, the study indicates that added unemployment benefits, like those recently passed into federal law, are unlikely to mitigate the deadliness of job losses. This is because the meta-analysis found that the associations between unemployment and death in Scandinavia and the U.S. are not significantly different, even though the Scandinavian nations offer more generous welfare benefits. Thus, the authors conclude that “these national-level policy differences may not have much of an effect on the rate of mortality following unemployment.”"

Impact of population density on Covid-19 infected and mortality rate in India - "we investigate the influence of population density on Covid-19 spread and related mortality in the context of India. After a detailed correlation and regression analysis of infection and mortality rates due to Covid-19 at the district level, we find moderate association between Covid-19 spread and population density"

Population density, a factor in the spread of COVID-19 in Algeria: statistic study - "we endorse population density as a catalyst factor for the proliferation of COVID-19 in Algeria"

The spread of COVID-19 virus through population density and wind in Turkey cities - "population density and wind were effective in spreading the virus and both factors explained for 94% of the variance in virus spreading"

Association of Social Distancing, Population Density, and Temperature With the Instantaneous Reproduction Number of SARS-CoV-2 in Counties Across the United States - "social distancing, temperate weather, and lower population density were associated with a decrease in the instantaneous reproduction number of SARS-CoV-2"

Urban Density and COVID-19 - "density has affected the timing of the outbreak in each county, with denser locations more likely to have an early outbreak in each county, with denser locations more likely to have an early outbreak. However, we find no evidence that population density is linked with COVID-19 cases and death... population density is positively associated with proxies of social distancing and negatively associated with the age of the population"

Social distancing, population density, and spread of COVID-19 in England: a longitudinal study - "After the introduction of social distancing measures, the incidence rates per 100 000 people dropped stronger in most densely populated ULTAs."

[2005.01167] The COVID-19 pandemic as experienced by the individual - "We study measures of `population-weighted density', which capture density as perceived by a randomly chosen individual. These measures of population density can significantly explain variation in the initial rate of spread of COVID-19 between countries within Europe. However, such measures do not explain differences on a global scale, particularly when considering countries in East Asia, or looking later into the epidemics. Therefore, to control for country-level differences in response to COVID-19 we consider the cross-cultural measure of individualism proposed by Hofstede. This score can significantly explain variation in the size of epidemics across Europe, North America, and East Asia. Using both our measure of population-weighted density and the Hofstede score we can significantly explain half the variation in the current size of epidemics across Europe and North America"

Ontario premier says decision on easing Stage 2 restrictions will be made 'very soon' - "Ford is facing internal backlash over the COVID-19 public health restrictions, after new data released last week showed that that bars, restaurants and gyms have not been significant known sources of outbreaks.A detailed sector-by-sector breakdown, presented to the public on Thursday, pointed to schools, daycares, long-term care and retirement homes as the primary source of outbreaks."
Covid hysteria strikes again

LILLEY: Are Ontario's top docs being honest with premier? - "How did Premier Doug Ford go from swearing he wouldn’t shut down restaurants without hard evidence to closing them down for much of the province two days later?Based on conversations with key players, the evidence presented to the government by the medical experts and questions put to Ford and others, it would appear the government was shown a mix of statistics and facts designed to obtain the result the doctors wanted – close up the businesses... According to officials in Ford’s office, he was never shown specific data on restaurants or gyms, or data about Toronto, Peel or Ottawa. What he, his cabinet and caucus were shown was a document titled, Evidence to Support Further Public Health Measures in High Transmission Areas: the need to act now.The document was long on warnings but short on evidence to back up the decision to close indoor dining. In fact, the words indoor, dining and restaurant do not appear in the document at all, nor do the words cinema, theatre or gym... as Ford was announcing his hope for a reopening plan to come this week, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate medical officer of health, made some odd comments.“So, we look at what happened before we implemented the modified Stage 2,” Yaffe said, “Something like 30% to 40% of outbreaks, particularly in Toronto and in Ottawa, were in restaurants or gyms.”That claim was in direct opposition to the data that had been released the day before.When I asked her office for clarification, I was told that she arrived at that number by taking out all the outbreaks in “long-term care homes, retirement homes, schools, day cares or hospitals.”That is called manipulating statistics. The only way to arrive at the 30%-40% figure cited by Yaffe is to remove all the high spreading locations and claim restaurants are the problem."

Facebook - "Covid lockdowns are fundamentally a failure of government. They're seen as the last available option when all other health policies or pandemic measures have failed... Instead of looking to Victoria (Melbourne) as an example of how to deal with covid, no one should. Three months of hard lockdown and over four months (so far) of restrictions is a poor choice, only taken because of governmental failure.Instead, most of the world should be looking to countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan. These countries, especially the first two, have large high density populations and poorer public health facilities than most western states. They have not needed secondary* lockdowns, because their public health measures have been far more successful."

The 'Work Staycation' Is On The Rise. Here's Why People Are Doing It - "My work staycation lasted four days: the weekend was spent sans work – exploring Whitstable and Herne Bay, sitting on quiet pebble beaches, eating fish and chips. And Monday and Tuesday was spent working from ‘The Potting Shed’ in Wickhambreaux, a home away from home. Despite being a short break, the whole experience – mentally and physically – left both of us feeling renewed."

Strippers Say Doug Ford's Covid-19 Ban On Strip Clubs Is Discrimination - "those who spoke to VICE News said strip clubs are being singled out, while nightclubs, bars, and restaurants have remained free of sweeping bans and casinos have been allowed to re-open. Dancers, club owners, and sex worker advocates were also critical of comments made in the media by Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory, which they described as stigmatizing."

Meme/a> - Then: "We need a new plague lol the world is overpopulated! I hate humans lol" Now: *wearing mask* "What's wrong with you?! Do you want people to die you selfish asshole?!"

Ontario is moving Peel out of Stage 2 and into the COVID-19 red zone - "Well, it looks like Brampton won't be joining Toronto in a modified Stage 2 for another week, as requested by the Peel's Medical Officer of Health: Instead, it'll become part of Ontario's first "red zone" restricted hot spot... Ford acknowledged on Friday that the region's numbers are "through the roof," but did not go so far as to put the region in his government's harshest restriction level: Grey-Lockdown.He called putting Peel in the red zone a "fair compromise" between mayors who didn't want businesses to suffer and doctors who fear that everyone will suffer much, much more with the reopening of certain facilities.I suppose we'll have to wait and see what happens to find out who's right. In the meantime, let's hope that Brampton party people can chill for a bit while case numbers climb in their region."
I'm surprised people aren't blaming 'racism'

Brampton's top doctor wants a complete ban on all private get togethers - "Remember a few months ago when people in Brampton kept defying Ontario gathering limits to have huge house and backyard parties, sometimes with hundreds of people even though the city was one of the worst COVID hotspots in the entire country?... Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh — Peel Region's counterpart to Toronto's Dr. Eileen de Villa, who last month got her wish when she suggested that indoor dining and fitness classes be shut down — advised for the new moratorium, along with a ban on weddings until February 2021 and a few other restrictions... "The reality is that one of the most significant drivers of transmission in our region is people getting together and socializing at home""
"Racism" makes people have huge parties during a pandemic

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, ‘We will take swift action in any school where there are positive tests’ - "What Public Health England have said, they looked at the, don’t forget we had 1.6 million pupils back in school in June. And they looked at infection rates in schools that were extremely low. And those infections that were identified in schools, the, the Public Health England attribute those to activities outside the school rather than the school itself. So schools are very safe for pupils to return to. And as I said the chief medical officer’s view, all 4 chief medical officers’ views, that it's better for children to be in school than to incur the very real risk of long term damage to their life prospects by not being in school, not being helped by their teachers to catch up"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Death by coronavirus or hunger? - "‘While small developed continents like North America and Europe have reasonably robust safety nets to help many in need, many countries in Africa and Asia do not’
‘Now in Salam, people say they can't stay at home for 24 hours. So people are just saying we'll continue going to work. It's better we die of Corona than die of hunger.’...
‘Many of the responses that African governments have taken have really been addressed more at people in the formal sector, who by definition, are people who are likely to be a bit better off and possibly not as vulnerable. An example from Ghana is providing free water to citizens for three months. But that only happens if you have a formal water connection from the company, whereas many people in poorer areas have to buy their water from a tanker truck. So they're not benefiting from this. So I think they've taken responses that have been that have been fairly quick and that are useful, but that are often again, not necessarily well targeted at the poorest people. One of the challenges here is that 85% of workers in Africa work in the informal sector. So they haven't necessarily got an employer who can kind of serve as an intermediary from the government.’
‘Do you think food starting to become a bit of a political tool as well?’
‘It very much is. And this has actually shown very clearly, in neighboring Uganda, the government has actually begun distributing food aid in the capital in Kampala. And they have explicitly banned opposition politicians from handing out food, saying that they will be charged with attempted murder if they do so. And it's very clear that, you know, distributing food is of course, an incredibly politically popular thing to do. This is seen as something that's politically risky for the government, and also in both Kenya and Uganda, the capital cities are really bastions of the opposition. I think there's a very strong sense that, you know, allowing people to organize themselves too much could essentially pose a political risk during a time which is, you know, there's a great deal of political violence around this crisis already, so trying to control the flow of aid is quite important for the state.’...
‘African governments may have focused on the, not the wrong public health aspect of the crisis, but on only a subset of the broader public health aspects of this crisis. Whereas of course Coronavirus exposure is quite serious, but hunger is also incredibly serious. Hunger also weakens the immune system. Hunger will produce many of the same effects that Coronavirus may, just over a slightly different time scale.’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Losing your taste to coronavirus - "‘When someone loses their sense of smell, it’s often devastating.’
‘All kinds of downstream psychological effects start to take place. People become more paranoid, they start socially isolating, they worry about their body odor. They feel incompetent. There is evidence from a study that was actually done in the UK quite a long time ago that people who had been blinded by an accident reported that initially they were, you know, very, very traumatized as one might obviously imagine, but that a year later, they had adjusted and were coping reasonably well with their new disability, whereas when people lose their sense of smell, they initially often don't recognize the significance of it, but a year later these people who have lost their sense of smell are actually doing much worse with their life. And there's also actually evidence that losing one's sense of smell influences what are known as executive function abilities. These are things like planning and analytical thinking and being able to sort of do certain jobs properly. So people's life really does fall apart...
In terms of the value of somebody's life, for example, an insurance claim, the American Medical Association values losing your sense of smell as between one to 5% of your life's worth. Whereas loss of vision is given 85% and unfortunately, because of this bias, you know, the money isn't behind either the research academically or the drug development or intervention development, you know, pharmaceutically.'"

Will a Covid-19 Vaccine Change the Future of Medical Research? (Ep. 430) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "If the Moderna trial is successful, their vaccine could be approved for emergency use as early as this fall. When you think about the successful vaccines in our collective past — for polio or measles or H.P.V. — the timeline from discovery to licensing is, on average, 10 to 15 years. The novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, meanwhile, was identified less than one year ago....
ZAKS: There are three components. One is, our science and technology enables us. It enabled us to start in record time and it’s also enabling us to increase our manufacturing so rapidly. No. 2, the level of collaboration has meant that we don’t usually wait for the weeks and months that you typically wait in the drug-development cycle. I think we’re very fortunate in this country to have the F.D.A. that we do. They are working nights and weekends just like we are.And the last element that I think people often don’t appreciate: one of the biggest reasons that it takes so long for developing vaccines is because, remember, vaccines are treating a healthy population, trying to prevent a really uncommon event of an infection. And so typically, you go and you treat thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, and then you sit around and you wait for years for the events to accumulate. Well, in the current transmission in the United States, unfortunately, that transmission is high. And in a very paradoxical manner, the worse it is out there, the quicker we will be able to demonstrate efficacy."

Government Mandated Lockdowns Do Not Reduce Covid-19 Deaths: Implications for Evaluating the Stringent New Zealand Response - "The New Zealand policy response to Coronavirus (Covid-19) was the most stringent in the world during the Level 4 lockdown. At least ten billion New Zealand dollars of output (around 3.3% of GDP) were lost then, compared to staying at Level 2. For lockdown to be optimal requires large health benefits to offset these output losses. Forecast deaths from epidemiological models are not valid counterfactuals, due to poor identification. Instead, I use empirical data, based on variation amongst United States counties, over one-fifth of which just had social distancing rather than lockdown. Political drivers of lockdown provide identification. Lockdowns do not reduce Covid-19 deaths. This pattern is visible on each date that key lockdown decisions were made in New Zealand. The ineffectiveness of lockdowns implies New Zealand suffered large economic costs for little benefit in terms of lives saved."

Lockdowns and Mask Mandates Do Not Lead to Reduced COVID Transmission Rates or Deaths, New Study Suggests - "The paper’s conclusion is that the data trends observed above likely indicate that nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) – such as lockdowns, closures, travel restrictions, stay-home orders, event bans, quarantines, curfews, and mask mandates – do not seem to affect virus transmission rates overall.Why? Because those policies have varied in their timing and implementation across countries and states, but the trends in outcomes do not... One of the key candidates for the key “omitted variable,” i.e. the true cause of the decline in transmission rates after the first month of an epidemic, is that human interaction does not conform to simple epidemiological models. In the real world human social networks overlap in such a way that a virus can spread rapidly for a short period of time, as some people contact more networks than others, but reaches natural dead-ends and roundabouts where potential new hosts in a “new” social network have already been exposed through other networks. The effect can resemble what some think of as “herd immunity,” but at relatively low infection rates.The authors reason that even if NPIs were effective early on, they do not appear to be anymore"

COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdown: response time is more important than its strictness - "we use country-specific reports of daily mobility from people cellular usage to model social distancing. Our data-driven model enabled the extraction of mobility characteristics which were crossed with observed mortality rates to show that: (1) the time at which social distancing was initiated is of utmost importance and explains 62% of the number of deaths, while the lockdown strictness or its duration are not as informative; (2) a delay of 7.49 days in initiating social distancing would double the number of deaths; and (3) the expected time from infection to fatality is 25.75 days and significantly varies among countries."

LILLEY: Ontario doing well on COVID despite what some 'experts' say - "Over the weekend, spokespeople for the biggest hospitals in Toronto said they were at a tipping point... UHN includes Toronto General, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital plus Toronto Rehab and the Michner Institute. Across their entire system, there are 15 COVID patients and fewer than 10 of them are in ICU.Is that a crisis?Can 15 patients swamp Ontario’s biggest hospital, including Toronto General which proudly boasts that Newsweek ranked them one of the ten best hospitals in the world last year?If that’s all it takes, then it’s a sad statement on UHN.Yet doctor after doctor, even the Ontario Hospital Association, have claimed they are at a tipping point province-wide, despite just 500 patients in a system designed for 14.7 million people.One particularly sour doctor is Michael Warner, head of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto’s east end. He’s always got time to speak to the media or criticize the government as being inadequate in their response on social media.His hospital’s website says they have seven patients with COVID-19. That’s right, seven. As in one above six.Dr. Warner has been critical of the government’s response at every turn despite being wrong time and again like his wild claims about back to school being a disaster.It’s not that there aren’t hospitals dealing with issues, William Osler in Brampton does have dozens of COVID-19 patients — but that’s the rarity... For this, Warner and his ilk want the province locked down, Australia style, which would basically mean months of house arrest. The goal is no longer to flatten or bend the curve but to get to zero cases.The reality is that Ontario is doing well compared to other jurisdictions across North America in dealing with COVID-19 despite what the naysayers claim."

Time for a more balanced approach, say Ontario doctors concerned with restrictions - "Several Ontario doctors are speaking out to call for a more balanced approach to managing the pandemic, now that more potentially harmful restrictions are being introduced during the second wave of COVID-19.“We’ve already seen the impact of lockdowns on people’s lives,” says Dr. Neil Rau. “Everybody came to an agreement that we would seek a balanced approach. But now we are falling back.” Rau, an infectious diseases specialist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, also laments that some doctors and public health officials are now advocating for an approach known as “COVID zero”, where more aggressive measures are introduced to entirely eliminate the virus. “The COVID suppression view is becoming a marginalized view,” he says, observing that fewer of his colleagues are adopting this perspective. “Once you have an endemic level of COVID, the economic fallout and carnage [of much larger lockdowns] would be so great that it’s not worth it.” Instead, Rau urges government to throw more resources at the health care system, create capacity and build more field hospitals — such as the one created in Halton Region that’s able to accommodate dozens of new patients.Rau points out that the hospital system has been overwhelmed in previous years due to a bad influenza season. “We didn’t close every restaurant and gym and control people’s lives like this. This is really an over-reaction.”Dr. Robert Sargeant, who attends to patients at a COVID-19 ward at St. Michael’s hospital in downtown Toronto, is also frustrated at the current response.“This idea that we can drive this down to zero is ridiculous,” says Sargeant. “The people who are advocating for this are totally off base in my mind.”... “It’s very hard to try to have this balanced conversation,” says Dr. Martha Fulford, an associate professor at McMaster University and an infectious diseases physician at Hamilton Health Sciences. “This obsessive reporting with COVID numbers is bizarre… nobody should be giving COVID numbers without also giving economic numbers and suicides.” Fulford cites a study published in Psychiatry Research earlier this year that projected suicides in Canada caused by the pandemic would range anywhere between 418 to 2,114, depending on the severity of the economic situation.The impact on children is of particular concern for Fulford, who also focuses on pediatrics."

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective - "Pfizer on Wednesday said its COVID-19 vaccine was 95 percent effective and had no serious side effects — and that it will be submitted for regulatory approval “within days”"
Covid hystericists say that we don't know what will happen to people infected with covid months or years later, so we are justified in locking down until a vaccine arrives. Yet, the same principle can apply to a vaccine

Lock down or crack down? York Region says 'no thanks' to provincially imposed COVID-19 lockdown - "Mayors and regional councillors took advice from York's medical officer of health and sent a letter to Queen's Park Nov. 19 asking to be exempt from ramped-up restrictions that are expected to be announced for York, Peel and Toronto Nov. 20.Ford warned earlier this week that these hot spots can expect tighter restrictions, "and they're gonna be tough", because the case counts are rising and hospitals are reaching capacity, he said.York Region's top doctor, Dr. Karim Kurji, believes that's not necessary.At a council meeting Nov. 19, Kurji said all three local hospitals are coping with their current COVID-19 workload, public health is contacting virtually 100 per cent of the cases within 24 hours, and the region has only been in the Red Zone since Nov. 16; it takes 10 to 12 days to see the effects of those extra measures... "Our businesses are dying," Jackson said. "Landlords are not being helpful. Even with provincial and federal funding, people can't stay afloat and they're closing up for good, but I think in particular cases like banquet halls and event spaces, we need to tighten up the rules, because they're finding loopholes... and it's causing further spread." Mayors and councillors also raised concerns about local entrepreneurs who struggle to follow protocols while larger big-box stores and grocers continue business as usual.Small business owners are confused and frustrated, Georgina Regional Coun. Robert Grossi said."They don't see a level playing field," he said. "They have done everything asked of them, but they are seeing a clear double-standard when it comes to enforcement and following the rules."You can go into any big box store and trip over the number of people there and they're doing an astounding amount of business in the middle of a pandemic.""
Hystericists don't care about destroying the economy, or of how lockdowns don't save lives, and the political incentives reward alarmism

Routine BCG immunization in infancy and COVID-19 containment in Japan - "the prevalence of COVID-19 was inversely correlated to BCG vaccine coverage in ten prefectures. The higher the infection rate, the lower was the vaccine coverage in 2004 terms... A more detailed analysis of the age-stratified population showed that the prevalence of the infection was higher among the age groups 20–34 and 40–54 years. These generations may actually be among those who were poorly covered by vaccination, in the years leading up to 2005... These findings suggest that BCG vaccination does play an influential role in protecting against the spread of infection on a mass scale"

Canadian Publishers, Booksellers Want Bookstores To Be Declared An 'Essential Service' In Ontario - "70% of the books sold in the country focused on mental health and self-care."
Essential = anything you like, apparently. This is like the artists and their supporters in Singapore who got triggered when Singaporeans didn't think they were "essential"

Politics, Science and the Remarkable Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine - The New York Times - "the government was willing to spend whatever it took, eliminating financial risks and bureaucratic roadblocks and allowing mass production to begin even before the trials were done... Pfizer signed a $1.95 billion agreement in July to sell the federal government 100 million doses of its vaccine if it was successful, guaranteeing it a buyer, no small incentive. It also called on the Trump administration a few times to get access to manufacturing supplies."
People with TDS claim that Warp Speed was useless because Pfizer, even if it didn't have guaranteed demand from the US government, could rely on worldwide demand. Good luck with that. The Chinese and Russians will want to use their own vaccines. Even smaller players won't necessarily use vaccines from US companies (Malaysia for example is in bed with China). Even if they do, they likely will wait for FDA approval first
The Pfizer vaccine all the Trump haters would prefer - since it was developed without government R&D money - needs to be stored at -70 degrees. Moderna's vaccine - developed explicitly with Warp Speed help - needs to be stored at only -20 degrees. So distribution problems may mean that the Moderna one is preferable. In any event, the New York Times notes that the US government expedited the process - so Pfizer benefited from Warp Speed despite not taking R&D money from them

Understanding Ontario’s long-term care tragedy | The Star - "97 per cent of Revera LTC residents’ infections during COVID’s first wave can be traced back to outbreaks that occurred prior to April 20. Since family caregiver visits to LTC homes had been suspended in March, there is little question that these infections were unknowingly brought into LTC by well-meaning, asymptomatic staff who often lived in communities with a high prevalence of infection. It was not until May that our public health officials introduced mandatory bi-weekly COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic LTC staff. This policy dramatically reduced deaths in Ontario’s LTC homes: from 80 a day at its peak, to single digits by June.The second factor contributing to the spread of infection within LTC homes was the presence of multi-residential rooms, where up to four residents were literally sharing infected air. The studies that link COVID LTC deaths to private ownership of homes by companies like Revera often fail to mention that these companies operate virtually all the homes in Ontario with multi-residential rooms. Of Ontario’s 80,000 LTC residents, the 28,000 people living in homes with these multi-residential rooms were at tremendous risk for the virus spreading between them.Why had the private companies like Revera not redeveloped these buildings to eliminate multi-residential rooms in homes originally built in the 1970s? Prior to SARS-CoV-2 arriving in Ontario, Revera had made application to the Ontario government to redevelop the majority of these older homes. I accept part of the blame for the delay in redeveloping these multi-resident room homes, since the ministry that I served for four years failed to approve most of the applications for redevelopment, as had the current government prior to COVID-19. Hopefully, these redevelopment applications are being rushed to approval today.The accusation that infections were caused by privately owned home operators reducing staffing to maximize profits is false. This claim is made by individuals who must not understand how care is funded in Ontario’s LTC homes. The personal support workers (PSWs) who provide most of the care in LTC homes are generally unionized, and hourly wages are similar in privately owned and non-profit homes.The operators of LTC homes cannot profit from “skimping” on staffing, since their revenues from the province are entirely dependent on how much they pay out to their care providers. The province provides funding for staffing to each home based on its number of residents and the residents’ clinical needs. If this calculated funding is not entirely paid out to staff, the government claws it back. There is no profit on government staffing payments in LTC homes."

Pandemic Practice: Horror Fans and Morbidly Curious Individuals Are More Psychologically Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Benji Backer on Twitter - "Just got canceled to speak at a climate change reform event because of a past tweet where I linked COVID-19 to the country of China. They claimed it was racially insensitive.Absurd.
I’ve been on the frontlines speaking out against racism for the past few weeks, months, and years. To be canceled for being “racist” because I linked COVID to China really sucks...and exposes why so many people are frustrated with the division in our country right now."
When grievance mongers claim that you shouldn't call covid the Chinese/Wuhan virus, it's not because, as they claim. they're concerned about Asians being discriminated against, since

A year after Wuhan alarm, China seeks to change Covid origin story - "Nearly a year after doctors identified the first cases of a worrying new disease in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the country appears to be stepping up a campaign to question the origins of the global Covid-19 pandemic.State media has been reporting intensively on coronavirus discovered on packaging of frozen food imports, not considered a significant vector of infection elsewhere, and research into possible cases of the disease found outside China’s borders before December 2019.The official People’s Daily newspaper claimed in a Facebook post last week that “all available evidence suggests that the coronavirus did not start in central China’s Wuhan”... Claims that the virus had origins outside China are given little credence by western scientists. Michael Ryan, director of the health emergencies programme at the World Health Organization (WHO), said last week that it would be “highly speculative” to argue that the disease did not emerge in China. “It is clear from a public health perspective that you start your investigations where the human cases first emerged”... Reports of Covid circulating in Italy in autumn 2019, based on samples from a cancer unit, seem “weak”, said Prof Jonathan Stoye, a virologist at the Francis Crick Institute in London. “The serological data [from Italy] can most likely be explained by cross-reactive antibodies directed against other coronaviruses.” In other words, antibodies found in the cases in Italy had been triggered in individuals who had been infected by different coronaviruses, not those responsible for Covid-19... A positive test “doesn’t indicate infectious virus, just that some signal from the virus is present on that surface,” Andrew Pekosz of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University told AP. “I’ve seen no convincing data that Sars-CoV-2 on food packaging poses a significant risk for infection.”But as the human and economic toll of the pandemic mounts, Beijing is keen to protect its reputation at home and abroad. Covid-19 has now infected over 60 million people and killed nearly 1.5 million... “Recent months have shown what a catastrophic impact the pandemic has had for China in international public opinion.”He does not think there is any doubt in the minds of senior Chinese leadership about the origin of the virus, and sees the focus on reporting possible alternative origins as a propaganda campaign.The reports fit an internal narrative of a strong China led by an efficient Communist party. Domestically, Beijing has promoted its enormous success in virtually eradicating the disease and returning life within its borders to something like normal. Internationally, China’s aims probably include introducing some doubt for global audiences who are likely to believe it, turning basic facts into a “contested, politically sensitive matter” in relations with Beijing, Small said.China’s questioning of the origin of the virus in Wuhan might be more credible if it was supporting an independent investigation into the disease, but instead authorities have repeatedly proved obstructive. WHO investigators who visited Wuhan earlier this year were not able to visit the food market linked to the initial outbreak. A new team is expected to head to China soon to build on initial work by a Chinese team, but they still don’t have a date for travel, with the WHO saying only that they will travel “in due time”.Understanding the origins of Covid-19 is vital to efforts to prevent the next pandemic. Unfortunately, for now Beijing seems more focused on the question of who should carry blame for the disease, than on understanding where it came from.“What we’re seeing at the moment is indicative of where the Chinese government wants all this to come out – and that place is certainly not an open, accountable effort to determine what went wrong and ensure that it never happens again,” Small said."
Or, covid emerged in China before it was officially discovered (e.g. satellite photos showing crowds at Chinese hospitals in mid-2019), then spread to the rest of the world before it was officially discovered Interestingly, many of the same people who complained the CCP downplayed covid-19 in the first place (e.g. covering up deaths) do the same. This suggests that pre-existing beliefs are motivating their claims

The New York Times - Posts | Facebook - "Britain is giving vaccinated people a wallet-size card to show that they’ve received the first of two required doses. There are concerns the cards could divide society into two tiers, granting cardholders access to some services and businesses, while others are excluded."
The New York Times - Posts | Facebook - "The Trump administration is requiring states to submit personal information of people vaccinated against Covid-19, including their names, birth dates, ethnicities and addresses. Some state officials fear that a federal registry could be misused."
The reaction of people on the NYT Facebook to both stories is interesting: they all endorse the UK's giving of cards that show that you've received the vaccine - supposedly just meant as a reminder, but as we've seen with covid and 2 weeks to flatten the curve, the slippery slope is very real (though from the comments they all support immunity passports, which is not what the cards are right now), while all condemning the US's collection of data "to ensure that people who move across state lines receive their follow-up doses; to track adverse reactions and address safety issues; and to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine among different demographic groups"
Somehow I'm pretty sure they would all be very upset at the idea of fake immunity passports (and supportive of a way to verify that someone has been vaccinated), while also thinking it very important to ensure people get both doses so it works, collect scientific data on the vaccine, as well as ensuring that minorities are protected (e.g. that it is important to know that the vaccine works well on minorities)

Faking coronavirus: Winnipeg parent pushes schools to screen kids before being sent home

An0maly - Posts | Facebook - "Protesters launch fireworks and other items at Chicago police officers guarding Columbus statue in Grant Park"
"Launching fireworks at police is a crime, not a protest. But remember, opening your business is dangerous to the media & they don’t treat you this nicely. Yet group gatherings galore like these ones get praised, defended & understated!"

Covid: Melbourne's hard-won success after a marathon lockdown
Comment (elsewhere): "Clown World update. Exactly 5 weeks after the BLM marches during a pandemic community transmission is now flaring up as expected. But the authorities in Victoria are in denial about the likely source almost certainly due to political correctness/fear of calling out the woke brigade. Cases too high for contact tracing to now work and spilling over into NSW where community transmission is now established too. Pretty much exactly as predicted."

Damaged lungs, degraded muscles: Why flu makes you feel so bad - "After a few days, these T cells move to the lungs and begin to kill the virus-infected cells. This process creates a great deal of lung damage similar to bronchitis, which can worsen existing lung disease and make breathing difficult. In addition, the buildup of mucous in the lungs, as a result of this immune response to infection, induces coughing as a reflex to try to clear the airways. Normally, this damage triggered by arrival of T cells in the lungs is reversible in a healthy person, but when it advances, it is bad news and can lead to death.The proper functioning of influenza-specific T cells is critical for efficient clearance of the virus from the lungs. When T cell function declines, such as with increasing age or during use of immunosuppressive drugs, viral clearance is delayed. This results in a prolonged infection and greater lung damage. This can also set the stage for complications including secondary bacterial pneumonia, which can often be deadly. While the influenza virus is wholly contained in the lungs under normal circumstances, several symptoms of influenza are systemic, including fever, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. In order to properly combat influenza infection, the cytokines and chemokines produced by the innate immune cells in the lungs become systemic – that is, they enter the bloodstream, and contribute to these systemic symptoms. When this happens, a cascade of complicating biological events occur... It is well-known that muscle aches and weakness are prominent symptoms of influenza infection. Our study in an animal model found that influenza infection leads to an increase in the expression of muscle-degrading genes and a decrease in expression of muscle-building genes in skeletal muscles in the legs.Functionally, influenza infection also hinders walking and leg strength. Importantly, in young individuals, these effects are transient and return to normal once the infection was cleared. In contrast, these effects can linger significantly longer in older individuals. This is important, since a decrease in leg stability and strength could result in older folks being more prone to falls during recovery from influenza infection. It could also result in long-term disability and lead to the need for a cane or walker, limiting mobility and independence."
Since long term side effects mean countries must be locked down long term to contain covid...

Chris Selley: Good news for Ontario on vaccines — assuming it's not more government baloney - "[There is] a public health communications strategy that was totally unsuited to the long haul of a pandemic and that sometimes seemed deliberately designed to erode public confidence, trust and compliance.A week has passed and Queen’s Park still has not articulated a plausible reason for suddenly abandoning its regional approach to restrictions, under which the entire north of the province went mostly unscathed and the city of Ottawa successfully flattened the curve twice over, and implementing its “provincewide shutdown” for two weeks, minimum. Ontario’s advice on who should and must and can’t get tested for COVID-19 has meandered all over the map, and its hapless chief public health officer, Dr. David Williams, has often seemed befuddled that people don’t take each new contradictory piece of information as gospel. Many of his colleagues in other provinces and cities also seem flummoxed when asked why their current advice and stipulations very obviously conflict with previous ones. In an interview with The New York Times last week, the much-lauded Dr. Anthony Fauci revealed that he had been crafting his messaging to the American public on vaccines and herd immunity according to his gut instinct about what people are ready to hear and how they might react to it. It was by no means an astonishing admission; it was just astonishing he would reveal this strategy right at the beginning of the vaccine rollout, when it could do maximum damage to his credibility, and the credibility of public health officials everywhere."

r/scrubsgonewild subreddit stats (Women in scrubs gone wild.)
Big data suggests that most hospitals are not being overwhelmed by covid

Randall Denley: Doug Ford tells Ontario he's scared, then refuses to say what's scaring him - "The government’s last round of modelling was released on Dec. 21 and provided the scare factor that led to a province-wide lockdown, a move that overturned the province’s policy of acting on actual regional case numbers and positivity rates, not predictions of what might happen.The headline-grabbing scary number in the last projection was that Ontario could reach 30,000 COVID cases a day by Jan. 24. If that projection had been accurate, Ontario would have 10,000 cases a day now. Instead, it has about 3,500. The provincial modellers showed potential lower numbers, too, in line with what we have actually seen. Perhaps those would not have had a sufficient fear factor to justify the current lockdown.Modelling is only as good as the assumptions it is based on, and the 30,000 case per day prediction assumed a case increase of seven per cent a day. There was no persuasive argument that such a rate was likely, and it has been proven to be wildly unrealistic. So, something to think about before you fall off your chair when you see next week’s case numbers... Adding a curfew would seem to offer little likelihood of a better result unless one thinks that most COVID transmission takes place after 8 p.m. Imposing a curfew is what a government does when it has run out of useful ideas but still wants to be seen to do something... If Ford’s next lockdown doesn’t close some so-called essential workplaces, it will be meaningless. Supply chain disruptions are a real issue, but maybe manufacturing and distribution should be shut down for at least a couple of weeks.At least that approach would be rational, which is a little more than one can say about the snap decision to keep elementary schools closed for an additional two weeks. It seems that infection numbers in children have increased considerably while they were out of school. The solution is to keep them out of school longer."
I love it whenever people take models as "proof"

Moralization of Covid-19 health response: Asymmetry in tolerance for human costs - "We hypothesized that because Covid-19 (C19) remains an urgent and visible threat, efforts to combat its negative health consequences have become moralized. This moralization of health-based efforts may generate asymmetries in judgement, whereby harmful by-products of those efforts (i.e., instrumental harm) are perceived as more acceptable than harm resulting from non-C19 efforts, such as prioritizing the economy or non-C19 issues. We tested our predictions in two experimental studies. In Study 1, American participants evaluated the same costs (public shaming, deaths and illnesses, and police abuse of power) as more acceptable when they resulted from efforts to minimize C19's health impacts, than when they resulted from non-health C19 efforts (e.g., prioritizing economic costs) or efforts unrelated to C19 (e.g., reducing traffic deaths). In Study 2, New Zealand participants less favorably evaluated the quality of a research proposal empirically questioning continuing a C19 elimination strategy in NZ than one questioning abandoning an elimination strategy, although both proposals contained the same amount of methodology information. This finding suggests questioning elimination approaches is morally condemned, a similar response to that found when sacred values are questioned. In both studies, condition effects were mediated by lowered moral outrage in response to costs resulting from pursuing health-minded C19 efforts. Follow-up analyses revealed that both heightened personal concern over contracting C19 and liberal ideology were associated with greater asymmetries in human cost evaluation. Altogether, results suggest reducing or eliminating C19 have become moralized, generating asymmetries in evaluations of human suffering."
Covid hysteria means only covid harms are important

Exaggerated risk of transmission of COVID-19 by fomites - "A clinically significant risk of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission by fomites (inanimate surfaces or objects) has been assumed on the basis of studies that have little resemblance to real-life scenarios... In my opinion, the chance of transmission through inanimate surfaces is very small, and only in instances where an infected person coughs or sneezes on the surface, and someone else touches that surface soon after the cough or sneeze (within 1–2 h). I do not disagree with erring on the side of caution, but this can go to extremes not justified by the data. Although periodically disinfecting surfaces and use of gloves are reasonable precautions especially in hospitals, I believe that fomites that have not been in contact with an infected carrier for many hours do not pose a measurable risk of transmission in non-hospital settings. A more balanced perspective is needed to curb excesses that become counterproductive."

Questioning COVID-19 Surface Stability and Fomite Spreading in Three Aeromedical Cases: A Case Series - "In 1 case, 195 downstream contacts were all tested to prevent a mass outbreak in a deployment posture. Analysis of these contacts yielded only a single positive test, which could be reasonably ascribed to respiratory droplet transmission. While these cases and their contacts ultimately represent a small sample size, we suggest fomite spread may not be a significant means of transmission for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in real-world operational scenarios."

Low risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission by fomites in real-life conditions - "A study done in a hospital environment showed that most surfaces were contaminated, including air-conditioning vents, bed rails, bedside lockers, and rarely, toilets. Of note, environmental surface contamination declined after week 1 of illness, and intriguingly, no surface contamination was detected in intensive care unit (ICU) rooms... A number of objects and surfaces were swabbed. Remarkably, only the continuous positive airway pressure helmet of one patient was positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. More importantly, attempts to culture the positive swabs on Vero E6 cells were unsuccessful, suggesting that patient fomites and surfaces are not contaminated with viable virus. Our findings suggest that environmental contamination leading to SARS-CoV-2 transmission is unlikely to occur in real-life conditions, provided that standard cleaning procedures and precautions are enforced"

Poor hygiene, water quality can lower COVID-19 fatality rate, says study - "Countries with poor hygiene, sanitation and quality of water appear to have a lower Covid-19 case fatality rate as compared to rich countries with better hygienic conditions, a study has found.The latest analysis by researchers in India has added to the growing body of evidence in support of the “hygiene hypothesis,” which argues that areas or countries with high levels of background infections are likely to experience fewer Covid deaths."

Fact check: Hospital TikTok dancing aimed at boosting morale - "A Facebook meme shared Dec. 30 by Texas radio show Walton and Johnson juxtaposes the Spanish flu of 1918 against the COVID-19 pandemic. A black-and-white photo of occupied hospital beds manned by solemn doctors and nurses is a sedate contrast to two images of health care workers grinning and dancing during COVID-19. The meme suggests medical professionals are not taking the present pandemic seriously compared with their historical counterparts."
Apparently if your hospital is overwhelmed, you have time and energy to rehearse, film and edit an elaborate video

WHO predicts COVID-19 will become endemic, like chickenpox - "World Health Organization officials are predicting that the “destiny” of the COVID-19 virus is to become endemic, suggesting it could continue to spread through the population at a steady rate despite a global vaccination effort"
Eternal lockdown! Since we must save lives from covid (and only covid) at all costs, and not everyone can get vaccinated, the solution is clear

From Costa Rica to Zambia, coronavirus pandemic forces debt crisis - The Washington Post - "Costa Rica built Latin America’s model society, enacting universal health care and spending its way to one of the Western Hemisphere’s highest literacy rates. Now, it’s reeling from the financially crushing side effects of the coronavirus, as cratering revenue and crisis spending force a reckoning over a massive pile of government debt. The pandemic is hurtling heavily leveraged nations into an economic danger zone, threatening to bankrupt the worst-affected. Costa Rica, a country known for zip-lining tourists and American retirees, is scrambling to stave off a full-blown debt crisis, imposing emergency cuts and proposing harsher measures that touched off rare violent protests last fall. To keep the lights on, a progressive, eco-friendly nation is weighing desperate solutions — including open-pit gold mining, even oceanic fracking. “Costa Rica is facing a social crisis,” said Ana Rosa Ruiz, an economist at the Costa Rican Technological Institute... By the end of 2020, total government debt worldwide was projected to soar by $9 trillion and top 103 percent of global GDP, according to the Institute of International Finance — a historic jump of more than 10 percentage points in just one year... even if a repeat of the cascading financial crises seen in Latin America and Asia in the 1980 and 1990s is avoided, the debt surge threatens to linger as a millstone around the necks of nations for years. It will compromise their ability to fight the first global increase in extreme poverty since the 1990s, and to invest in infrastructure projects, education and innovation down the line... In a country that pledged to rely entirely on renewable energy by 2030, the debt debate is pitting the country’s economic future against cherished environmental ideals. Activists, and the government, say any boost in oil and natural gas exploration runs counter to everything the country has worked for. The nation, they say, must find other ways."
It's okay, governments can just print more money forever
"Sustainability" is only sustainable if you have money to burn

California COVID relief results in $2 BILLION in fraudulent claims - "There appears to be as much as $2 billion missing from California's new pandemic unemployment support program.A report recently put out by the Bank of America indicated that there could be as many as 640,000 fraudulent accounts on the system... California inmates have also been applying for and possibly receiving assistance due to the pandemic while still being incarcerated, despite their not being eligible for unemployment benefits while in prison. This money often winds up in the hands of organized criminal organizations... Washington State also had a rather low bar for unemployment claims, and ended up sending millions to a Nigerian scammer."

Mark Latham's Outsiders - Posts | Facebook - "IDENTITY POLITICS, AN INDIGENOUS EMPLOYMENT SCHEME, HAS CAUSED THE VICTORIAN COVID DISASTER The reason Dan Andrews won't say what went wrong at Melbourne's hotel quarantine has become clear. The job was given to a Sydney-based firm, Unified Security, because they were Indigenous. This was under the Government's 'Social Inclusion Procurement' policy administered by the Victorian Department of Jobs. The Departmental Executive who awarded the work on the basis of Aboriginality had previously given Unified Security jobs when she was at the Melbourne-based charity, The Brotherhood of St Laurence. Unlike two other security firms used (Wilson and MSS), Unified Security was not on the government's preferred panel of security suppliers. The guards were untrained and unprepared and the virus was allowed to spread out of the COVID quarantined hotels. Now Melbourne is a ghost town in lockdown.
Identity politics has claimed its biggest victim: all of Victoria, indeed the entire country, given the damage to the national economy. Employing people on skin colour, not merit, was always going to be a disaster. All Australian governments do it but now the lesson is clear: taxpayers fund these services to get the best, most competent person for the job, not to hand out contracts on the basis of race, gender or sexuality. NOTHING BEATS MERIT SELECTION"

How accurate are covid death reports? - "Minnesota officials found that 40% of thousands of death certificates should not have had covid as the underlying cause of death.Minnesota Rep. Mary Franson and Sen. Scott Jensen believe the covid death count was inflated.They said they found covid blamed for deaths from falls, a drowning, dementia, stroke and multi-organ failure.Rep. Franson said a man ejected in a car accident was “counted as a covid death” because the virus was in his system... Minnesota Rep. Franson said she and a team reviewed 2,800 “death certificate data points” and found that about 800 of them did not have the virus as the underlying cause of death."This is not just quibbling about whether the virus was the primary cause of death. But someone who drowned did not die of covid just because they had the virus."This is not the first time we’ve seen this. There have been other isolated reviews which have shown issues with deaths being attributed to the virus when the virus clearly wasn’t the cause."We’ve even seen people who have tested negative prior to death still be written up as having died of the virus.""

NSW police chief vows to block Black Lives Matter protest planned for Sydney
BLM apologists claim that the BLM protests didn't spread covid because BLM protesters weren't shoulder-to-shoulder, but this is patently untrue as this and many other photos show

How Restaurants Must Step Up and Change to Support BLM Protests
BLM apologists claim that the BLM protests didn't spread covid because the protesters wore masks, but there're many photos showing not everyone wore a mask, and of those who did, not everyone wore them properly

Masks not enough to stop COVID-19's spread without distancing, study finds: Even though common mask materials block most of the droplets that spread the virus, that may not be enough at close distances
BLM apologists claim that the BLM protests didn't spread covid because the protesters wore masks, but even those who claim masks work tell us they're not enough and you still need to socially distance

Wear Your Mask and Stop Talking - The Atlantic - "“Every route of viral transmission would go down if we talked less, or talked less loudly, in public spaces,” Jose L. Jimenez, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who studies disease transmission, told me. “This is just a very clear fact. It’s not controversial.”... talking quietly, rather than yelling, reduces the risk of viral transmission by a degree comparable to properly wearing a mask."
BLM apologists claim that the BLM protests didn't spread covid because the protesters wore masks, but the protests involved a lot of shouting, which means the masks' effect was negated (even if you believe they work)

One-third of Ontario businesses report they will not survive the second lockdown - "over a third of Ontario businesses report their business will not survive a second lockdown"
When political incentives mean introducing pointless measures that destroy the economy while taking on unsustainable debt are supported by a majority of people. When a truly deadly pandemic comes along, there will be no more financial and political capital left

Many restaurants won't survive another shutdown: association president - "According to a recent report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), 60 per cent of Canadian business owners in the hospitality sector -- which includes restaurants -- are losing money every day they stay open, and 25 per cent are actively considering shutting down or declaring bankruptcy."

Why months of 'Stay Home' messaging didn’t work in Ontario - "Toronto’s pseudo lockdown shuttered small stores that might only ever have a few customers at a time but enabled crowding at large retailers. Ice-cream shops were essential; bookshops and toy stores were not. In Peel region, 3 per cent of outbreaks were traced to restaurants, while industrial settings and schools/ daycares accounted for 22 and 20 per cent respectively; only indoor dining was addressed... Non-essential retailers may stay open for curbside pickup—but people are only allowed to leave the house for essentials. And although the government’s own health experts acknowledged that restrictions won’t work without social supports for workers, no such supports were announced...   “Stay home” was advice authorities knew many people couldn’t take. Front line workers were one example. “If the only message is ‘stay home,’ you’re ignoring that massive population that can’t,” Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious-diseases specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, said in an interview. What could actually help stem transmission, he noted, is policies such as isolation centres for sick essential workers, or paid sick leave, a measure that many health experts have been advocating, given that only 10 per cent of low-wage and essential workers have access to it... “Nobody was talking about essential workers [when] even in the summertime in Quebec and Ontario, we had cases in factories, in food-processing plants.”Stay Home (as opposed to a stay-at-home government order) was also advice many people weren’t likely to take even if they could, especially indefinitely. Total quarantine would have stopped the spread of COVID—just as not having sex would stop pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. But decades of sex education and mitigation strategies for drug abuse have taught us that abstinence campaigns, when they fail, produce higher-risk behavior. And they often fail. Teenage girls who take purity pledges, a 2016 University of Massachusetts study found,  have a more than 50 per cent risk of non-marital pregnancy versus teens who don’t; they’re also at higher risk for HPV... More effective AIDS messaging—even within communities more at risk—shifted the emphasis from telling people they shouldn’t to telling them how they could safely.Sex educators have long followed this course. Harms-reduction approaches to drug abuse, too, rely on a similar strategy... Stay Home was useful guidance in the spring, when we knew less about the virus, Chakrabarti said. By the fall, the idea had diminishing returns. “It’s important to keep the recommendations where they have the highest yield,” he explained. The real goal, to cut transmission and minimize mass hospitalizations that overwhelm the health care system, he  believes, could have been accomplished with more strategic messaging, teaching the public to mitigate risk effectively, and putting in place measures like sick pay. Restrictions and lockdowns become necessary, but he is wary of interventions like curfews, or the emerging direction, in some quarters, to wear masks outdoors even when physically distancing... The science actually suggests a more nuanced approach could work. We knew from ten months’ worth of research that COVID transmission involves a stew of factors: viral load (how much virus is in the infected person’s nose), length of exposure, physical proximity, the influence of mitigating measures such as masks and quarantines. Could authorities have told us ways to have small degrees of safe social contact? It would have served as a useful reminder that any less caution was too little. And if there really was no safe way to have contact, it would have helped to have clearer messaging on why not. There was a moment, in late spring, 2020, when Ontario’s pandemic response accomplished this. As governments everywhere struggled to balance health and safety with mental wellness, Ontario came out with a remarkably humane and savvy approach. With the COVID curve flattening reassuringly, it allowed residents to expand their social bubbles, carefully. We are the same people we were then—only more tired or lonely or bored, yearning more for social connection"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Will Greece and Turkey go to war? - "Peru had one of the highest detals from COVID-19 in September, but it was not counting his people's deaths Professor Ilario insisted. His uncle's body, like many others, was hidden in a boat and taken by river back to his village to be buried traditionally, rather than cremated under strict regulations for those who died of COVID. Culturally, we can't accept that they burnt our dead. We have to give our people an honorable burial, Ilario said"
Clearly racism is why Peruvian indigenous peoples are suffering so badly from covid!

The Narrative on COVID-19 Lockdowns Is Changing Now That Joe Biden Won - "The speed with which the media and Democrat politicians are changing their tune on COVID-19 lockdowns and business closures is becoming clearer. So obvious that many of us predicted it in advance. Now that Joe Biden has been elected, you don’t need to be emotionally and financially destroyed or miserable. After next week, there will no longer be a political opponent to blame it on... New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that New York could not wait for complete vaccination to reopen during his State of the State address. Then Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced she was going to reopen bars and restaurants as quickly as possible. She said it was because people were not following guidelines at private gatherings... Dr. Scott Atlas and the doctors and researchers who signed the Great Barrington Declaration will accept your apology now. Along with America’s Frontline Physicians, specifically Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi. Their video arguing against lockdowns using global data in April of 2020 was yanked from YouTube. Don’t even start to wonder how many lives would be better right now if they had been allowed to make their case to the public.But that was not the time. There was an election to win. Now is the time, and you know it because media outlets are reporting the lockdown study... The study matches information from the CDC that says prolonged close contact is the most likely transmission scenario. The agency had already said that surface transmission and outdoor transmission were not significant risks... they celebrated governors like Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer and New York’s Andrew Cuomo, whose dystopian lockdowns have ruined lives and businesses and hurt children by keeping them out of school. They trashed Republican governors like Ron DeSantis and Brian Kemp, despite their better results. And it appears it was all just as political as it always seemed."

Democratic politicians shift positions on lockdowns as Biden inauguration looms - "Florida, which has not engaged in lockdowns, has similar rates of contagion as New York, which has shuttered much of society. California has the highest level of infection, and the strictest restrictions."

Experts warn of pandemic's deepening impact on mental health as caseloads rise - "A recent study conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) says 40 per cent of Canadians report their mental health has deteriorated since March — a figure that rises to 61 per cent among the unemployed."So many of the things that perhaps we took for granted before that contribute to our mental health have disappeared. So the social connection with family and friends, the connections we experience through work, a reliable income, things like this," said CMHA national CEO Margaret Eaton.Eaton said she fears that many people are so deep in despair now that they can't see past it."We know that Crisis Services Canada, which runs the Canadian Suicide Prevention Service, has seen a 200 per cent increase in demand," she said. "So the calls are coming in fast and furious.""
Eternal lockdown!

Man lived inside O’Hare for 3 months before detection, prosecutors say - "A California man who police said claimed to be too afraid to fly due to COVID-19 hid out for three months in a secured area of O’Hare International Airport until his weekend arrest, prosecutors said Sunday.Aditya Singh, 36, is charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanor theft... Hagerty said Singh reportedly found the badge in the airport and was “scared to go home due to COVID.” She told the judge other passengers were giving him food."
Covid hysteria strikes again

Don’t let Covid kill off democracy - "The row in the UK parliament over the Tory government’s lunatic lockdown rules has revealed the parlous state of British democracy. As in other areas of political life, from the economy to liberty, the coronavirus crisis has exposed and accelerated underlying problems in society.We now see how the British government can impose the most extraordinary measures ever seen in peacetime – banning family gatherings, interning students and inventing new offences such as dancing or ‘mingling’ – without a parliamentary debate or vote, thanks to the constitutional powers of the Crown. It looks more like a medieval monarchy than a modern democracy.Parliament prides itself on being sovereign. Yet when concerned Conservative MPs sought to amend the lockdown law this week, the Speaker who chairs debates in the House of Commons refused even to allow their amendment to be discussed. Why? Because he feared that it would break constitutional rules and the dispute would end up in the Supreme Court, where unaccountable judges rather than elected MPs would decide the law... How did Boris Johnson’s government circumvent parliamentary debate? It introduced the latest measures by imposing statutory instruments rather than passing laws. These special instruments rest on the residual constitutional power of the Crown, which gives Her Majesty’s Government the right to rule like a king in the monarch’s name. As Mr Speaker Lindsay Hoyle told MPs, statutory instruments cannot be amended in parliament in the normal way. The ‘rebel’ Tories’ only option was to vote down the government’s entire Coronavirus Act – something they were never going to do. It was eventually renewed by 330 votes to 24.Apparently, the only way parliament can hope to annul a statutory instrument is by passing a motion known as a ‘prayer’ to the monarch. This pleads ‘That an humble address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the [name of statutory instrument] be annulled’. The last time MPs annulled a standing order was in 1979 when they rejected a measure affecting the price of paraffin, which many people used to heat their homes back in those dark ages.Democracy really hasn’t got a prayer while we’re governed by a system which has our elected MPs crawling through such constitutional barbed wire to grovel to the Crown... To see a snapshot of where things are heading, look at last week’s big briefing by those two rather creepy-sounding government experts, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance. They warned that tough measures would be needed to contain Covid this winter and avoid thousands more casualties. There was no elected politician present, and the media were not even allowed to ask questions, such as about where the boffins had got their dramatic numbers of projected deaths. One thing we do know is that the notion that the experts always know what’s best for the rest of us is a potentially mortal threat to democratic debate."
Of course, we know enforcing lockdown is more important than democracy, since people can't be trusted
Yet, liberals keep bashing Boris

Covid rules are destroying our humanity - "A mum was tasered at her son's football match for not wearing a mask. And no one intervened... Reminiscent of an episode of Charlie Brooker’s dystopian sci-fi series Black Mirror, redditors plastered the site with emojis celebrating Kitts’ electrocution. Virtual awards, bought using real-world currency, were gifted to users who disparaged the woman’s mask-less antics. ‘Makes breathing inconvenient. For mouth breathers’, remarked one user. ‘If the taser didn’t work, should he have shot her?’, asked another... while this crisis will subside, the reams of legislation left behind will continue to scar society for years. In the UK, Conservative MP Steve Baker touched on this point, lamenting the nearly 200 changes the UK government has made to its Covid rules since March. ‘How do people think that liberty dies? It dies like this, with government exercising draconian powers, without parliamentary scrutiny in advance, undermining the rule of law by having a shifting blanket of rules that no one can understand.’"
Police brutality is good when it comes to enforcing covid hysteria

K: The Overlooked Variable That's Driving the Pandemic - The Atlantic - "By now many people have heard about R0—the basic reproductive number of a pathogen, a measure of its contagiousness on average. But unless you’ve been reading scientific journals, you’re less likely to have encountered k, the measure of its dispersion. The definition of k is a mouthful, but it’s simply a way of asking whether a virus spreads in a steady manner or in big bursts, whereby one person infects many, all at once. After nine months of collecting epidemiological data, we know that this is an overdispersed pathogen, meaning that it tends to spread in clusters, but this knowledge has not yet fully entered our way of thinking about the pandemic—or our preventive practices... The now-famed R0 (pronounced as “r-naught”) is an average measure of a pathogen’s contagiousness, or the mean number of susceptible people expected to become infected after being exposed to a person with the disease. If one ill person infects three others on average, the R0 is three. This parameter has been widely touted as a key factor in understanding how the pandemic operates. News media have produced multiple explainers and visualizations for it. Movies praised for their scientific accuracy on pandemics are lauded for having characters explain the “all-important” R0. Dashboards track its real-time evolution, often referred to as R or Rt, in response to our interventions. (If people are masking and isolating or immunity is rising, a disease can’t spread the same way anymore, hence the difference between R0 and R.)Unfortunately, averages aren’t always useful for understanding the distribution of a phenomenon, especially if it has widely varying behavior. If Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, walks into a bar with 100 regular people in it, the average wealth in that bar suddenly exceeds $1 billion. If I also walk into that bar, not much will change. Clearly, the average is not that useful a number to understand the distribution of wealth in that bar, or how to change it. Sometimes, the mean is not the message. Meanwhile, if the bar has a person infected with COVID-19, and if it is also poorly ventilated and loud, causing people to speak loudly at close range, almost everyone in the room could potentially be infected—a pattern that’s been observed many times since the pandemic begin, and that is similarly not captured by R. That’s where the dispersion comes in.There are COVID-19 incidents in which a single person likely infected 80 percent or more of the people in the room in just a few hours. But, at other times, COVID-19 can be surprisingly much less contagious. Overdispersion and super-spreading of this virus are found in research across the globe. A growing number of studies estimate that a majority of infected people may not infect a single other person. A recent paper found that in Hong Kong, which had extensive testing and contact tracing, about 19 percent of cases were responsible for 80 percent of transmission, while 69 percent of cases did not infect another person. This finding is not rare: Multiple studies from the beginning have suggested that as few as 10 to 20 percent of infected people may be responsible for as much as 80 to 90 percent of transmission, and that many people barely transmit it... Using genomic analysis, researchers in New Zealand looked at more than half the confirmed cases in the country and found a staggering 277 separate introductions in the early months, but also that only 19 percent of introductions led to more than one additional case. A recent review shows that this may even be true in congregate living spaces, such as nursing homes, and that multiple introductions may be necessary before an outbreak takes off. Meanwhile, in Daegu, South Korea, just one woman, dubbed Patient 31, generated more than 5,000 known cases in a megachurch cluster... influenza does not have the same level of clustering behavior... In study after study, we see that super-spreading clusters of COVID-19 almost overwhelmingly occur in poorly ventilated, indoor environments where many people congregate over time—weddings, churches, choirs, gyms, funerals, restaurants, and such—especially when there is loud talking or singing without masks. For super-spreading events to occur, multiple things have to be happening at the same time, and the risk is not equal in every setting and activity, Muge Cevik, a clinical lecturer in infectious diseases and medical virology at the University of St. Andrews and a co-author of a recent extensive review of transmission conditions for COVID-19, told me... Overdispersion should also inform our contact-tracing efforts. In fact, we may need to turn them upside down. Right now, many states and nations engage in what is called forward or prospective contact tracing. Once an infected person is identified, we try to find out with whom they interacted afterward so that we can warn, test, isolate, and quarantine these potential exposures. But that’s not the only way to trace contacts. And, because of overdispersion, it’s not necessarily where the most bang for the buck lies. Instead, in many cases, we should try to work backwards to see who first infected the subject... if we can use retrospective contact tracing to find the person who infected our patient, and then trace the forward contacts of the infecting person, we are generally going to find a lot more cases compared with forward-tracing contacts of the infected patient, which will merely identify potential exposures, many of which will not happen anyway, because most transmission chains die out on their own... The reason for backward tracing’s importance is similar to what the sociologist Scott L. Feld called the friendship paradox: Your friends are, on average, going to have more friends than you... although Sweden joins many other countries in failing to protect elderly populations in congregate-living facilities, its measures that target super-spreading have been stricter than many other European countries. Although it did not have a complete lockdown, as Kucharski pointed out to me, Sweden imposed a 50-person limit on indoor gatherings in March, and did not remove the cap even as many other European countries eased such restrictions after beating back the first wave. (Many are once again restricting gathering sizes after seeing a resurgence.) Plus, the country has a small household size and fewer multigenerational households compared with most of Europe, which further limits transmission and cluster possibilities. It kept schools fully open without distancing or masks, but only for children under 16, who are unlikely to be super-spreaders of this disease. Both transmission and illness risks go up with age, and Sweden went all online for higher-risk high-school and university students—the opposite of what we did in the United States. It also encouraged social-distancing, and closed down indoor places that failed to observe the rules. From an overdispersion and super-spreading point of view, Sweden would not necessarily be classified as among the most lax countries, but nor is it the most strict. It simply doesn’t deserve this oversize place in our debates assessing different strategies... in Japan, they had noticed the overdispersion characteristics of COVID-19 as early as February, and thus created a strategy focusing mostly on cluster-busting, which tries to prevent one cluster from igniting another. Oshitani said he believes that “the chain of transmission cannot be sustained without a chain of clusters or a megacluster.”... Japan also focused on ventilation, counseling its population to avoid places where the three C’s come together—crowds in closed spaces in close contact, especially if there’s talking or singing—bringing together the science of overdispersion with the recognition of airborne aerosol transmission, as well as presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission. Oshitani contrasts the Japanese strategy, nailing almost every important feature of the pandemic early on, with the Western response, trying to eliminate the disease “one by one” when that’s not necessarily the main way it spreads."

Deemed essential, long-haul truckers risk infection and spreading COVID-19 with every shift - The Globe and Mail - "Peel has tracked COVID-19 infections by sector in about 42 per cent of total cases. The two leading occupational groups of people who contracted the virus from mid-April to late November, 2020, listed were health care and trades, transport and equipment operators (a group that includes truck drivers), which both accounted for 7 per cent of cases. Though the work of a driver is mostly solitary, there have been 13 outbreaks in the transportation sector in Peel since March. (The leading sites of workplace outbreaks are manufacturing and industrial, where there have been 82 outbreaks.)... “You think you don’t have COVID because there’s obviously no signs of symptoms. So you just come home, rest for three days, and now you’re back onto the road again,” he said. He’s spoken to two drivers who have contracted COVID-19 and infected their families."
All those celebrating New Zealand and Australia's relative success forget that isolated island nations don't have to worry about essential truck drivers from abroad

Covid: Australian city of Perth goes into snap lockdown after guard tests positive - "The guard and his family have been placed into quarantine at a state-run facility... In recent months in particular, the nation has taken swift and aggressive actions to contain outbreaks at their source, and it currently has a travel ban in place preventing residents from overseas travel."
Covid "success" doesn't mean there's no lockdowns, even while you still have a modern day Berlin Wall

Why did the WHO change the definition of herd immunity? - "The screenshots from the WHO’s website are real. The first herd immunity definition is from the June 9 version of the COVID-19 serology Q&A page. The second definition is from the November 13 version of the same page. There has actually been a recent update to the webpage since these claims began circulating that made further changes, and that update is from December 31.You can see that the June 9 version had a one-paragraph definition for herd immunity that said it is the “indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.”The Nov. 13 version, however, focused entirely on vaccination and said “'herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity’, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.” The Dec. 31 version that is now displayed includes the definition from the June 9 version with further clarification that the WHO supports achieving herd immunity through vaccination rather than mass infections."
They edited it again on Dec 31 so clearly though the media tell us there was no issue (despite herd immunity already being understood as something that could be achieved naturally even before covid), someone thought that what they'd done was problematic

Toronto's drive-thru holiday light trails are shutting down earlier than planned - ""This news has come as a shock to us, as our events are all completely contactless, and COVID-safe. Guests never leave their vehicle and tickets are scanned through their closed car window, way finding signs direct them where to go and how to proceed," Gidaro told blogTO."The government encouraged entrepreneurs and people in the Tourism sector to pivot to this event model, specifically through the Recovery Tourism Grant, which was created to give funding to drive-thru and drive-in type events. These type of events were allowed to operate in the government's COVID framework released back on Nov. 20 even when operating in areas that were put in the Grey Lockdown zone.""
Covid hysteria means that it's more important to be seen to be doing something that works than to do something that works. Or even things that are counter-productive (e.g. encouraging people to be indoors instead of getting Vitamin D and exercise)

75% of businesses on iconic Hollywood Boulevard have been boarded up since the beginning of Covid lockdowns. 75 PERCENT!

Lockdowns cripple the poor and pamper the rich - "Those in the US earning under $50,000 per year were the most likely to report a decline in their personal finances in 2020, whereas those earning over $100,000 reported a net improvement. The job security, take-home pay, personal life and work-life balance of the poorest have deteriorated significantly, too.More strikingly, lower earners also experienced the greatest deterioration in mental and physical health. Those with postgraduate degrees, on the other hand, reported improvements in their physical health – by a whopping 23 per cent.As spiked has repeatedly highlighted since the lockdowns began last year, the consequences for the working class have been devastating, while the more affluent seem to have profited from the restrictions. In the US, between 18 March and 10 April 2020, over 22million people lost their jobs. But in the same three weeks, the wealth of billionaires increased by $282billion, according to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies... All this gives the lie to the absurd claims that opposition to lockdown serves the interests of the wealthy. Supporters of the lockdown – particularly on the left – are quick to denounce any call to reopen society as an attempt to ‘save the billionaires’."
Why elites like lockdown so much - they don't care about the poor

Lockdown scepticism must live on - "Last Sunday’s papers launched what almost seemed like a coordinated attack against people who dare to question the conventional wisdom and, increasingly, the religious tenets of the pro-lockdown mainstream. The Observer invited Conservative MP Neil O’Brien to brand vocal opponents of mandatory house arrest as dangerous loons. Meanwhile, in The Sunday Times Dominic Lawson attacked healthy scepticism of the government’s efforts to fight the virus, implying such objections were motivated by capricious disregard for the elderly and blind trust of ‘pet experts’.Lockdown sceptics like myself, now routinely slandered as ‘Covid-sceptics’, have taken a serious kicking in recent weeks... [Covid deaths do not justify] slandering critics of lockdown as a homogeneous crowd of deluded cranks who reject ‘the science’. Supporters of the government’s destructive measures would do better to address, with intelligence and good faith, the strongest arguments made by those of us who oppose them. But the remarkable levels of conformity in parliament and the media mean that O’Brien and Lawson feel no obligation to do so. Instead, bar the occasional good point, they prefer to set fire to a battalion of straw men. O’Brien has fun combing through predictions made by lockdown sceptics that did not materialise. Toby Young, editor of the Lockdown Sceptics blog, is singled out for saying: ‘There will be no “second spike” – not now, and not in the autumn either.’ Young has since graciously admitted that this summer prediction was mistaken. The same cannot be said for Neil Ferguson’s insistence, a full week after Sweden’s daily deaths actually peaked, that fatalities there would continue to ‘increase day by day’ — not to mention Chris Whitty’s presentation of a graph projecting 49,000 daily UK cases by mid-October (there were actually around 15,000). Lawson also gives in to the temptation to make easy points. Anti-lockdown scientists and journalists are rubbished for wrong predictions, while the far more influential data manipulation by official state advisers is conveniently ignored. Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty are praised for their foresight, despite the disgracefully outdated government statistics which bounced us into a second lockdown in November... O’Brien shows a similar lack of comprehension, caricaturing the point that most Covid fatalities occur among the old as tantamount to not caring about the demise of our elderly neighbours. But the point has never been that old or otherwise vulnerable people should be neglected. The argument, at least since the Great Barrington Declaration, has been that such people can self-isolate voluntarily. With multiple vaccines providing a fast-track to herd immunity, the ‘focused protection’ strategy promoted by the GBD’s authors now carries greater, not less, weight: voluntarily self-isolating people, thanks to the miraculous work of virologists, now have a green light to rejoin society once they have received their jabs. Lockdown sceptics merely believe this process should take place without state force or the threat of punishment... Two central pillars in the anti-lockdown argument still stand strong, defiant against the pot-shots taken by the likes of O’Brien and Lawson. First, there is the lack of reliable evidence to indicate that lockdowns effectively contain coronavirus, be it in the short- or long-term. Second, there is the unforgivable absence from the public debate of any official cost-benefit analysis, which would assess the much-touted, if dubious, advantages of lockdowns against their undeniable harms: permanently wrecked businesses, suicides of despair and the backlog of fatal non-Covid illnesses. On the first point, neither O’Brien nor Lawson establish any causal connection between reduced disease transmission and the pernicious, draconian measures they support. O’Brien just asserts that mandatory house imprisonment, forcible business closures and rationing of exercise are ‘necessary to control the virus’. He then attributes a recent fall in cases to the present lockdown, apparently ignorant of data that suggests infections were already falling before the measures could have had any effect.Moreover, back in May last year, following the peak of the first wave in Europe, Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government found no correlation between the stringency of government measures and deaths from the virus. This is consistent with a more recently published study from Stanford University which, comparing the various approaches adopted by different countries, concluded that ‘there is no evidence that more restrictive non-pharmaceutical interventions (“lockdowns”) contributed substantially to bending the curve of new cases in England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain or the United States in early 2020’... The only such impact assessment [on cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns] that is publicly available hails not from Westminster, but from Bristol. It is an understatement to say that the findings do not reflect well on the pro-lockdown mainstream. Led by Philip Thomas, a professor of risk management at the University of Bristol, the research concludes that the government’s measures will claim the equivalent of 560,000 lives due to the health impact of the ‘deep and prolonged recession it will cause’. Supporters of lockdown are free to pressure the government to publish its own such analysis to rival Thomas’s one, although I cannot help noticing a strange absence of curiosity from the likes of O’Brien and Lawson on this vital matter."
Some claim that the data shows that lockdowns don't work because they weren't strictly enforced. But this violates the dose-response relationship principle
When I presented numerous peer reviewed papers about lockdown not working to one covid hystericist, he mocked me as a conspiracy theorist. So much for following the science
Given a 0.23% IFR for covid (which is surely lower now, given improved medical techniques and a possibly less virulent mutated virus), the deaths that lockdown will cause far exceed those that covid ever could. And covid hystericists who go on about the long term harm of covid even if you don't die pretend that lockdowns don't have long term harm even if you don't die

Covid-19 Mortality: A Matter of Vulnerability Among Nations Facing Limited Margins of Adaptation - "Higher Covid death rates are observed in the [25/65°] latitude and in the [−35/−125°] longitude ranges. The national criteria most associated with death rate are life expectancy and its slowdown, public health context (metabolic and non-communicable diseases (NCD) burden vs. infectious diseases prevalence), economy (growth national product, financial support), and environment (temperature, ultra-violet index). Stringency of the measures settled to fight pandemia, including lockdown, did not appear to be linked with death rate."
I presented this as one of 3 peer reviewed studies showing that lockdowns didn't work to reduce deaths, and one covid hystericist at first claimed that he hadn't read the papers, even months after I'd presented them more than once in the face of his doom-mongering, then many months later finally said that the risk of mutations justified lockdowns to reduce spread since the mutations would make covid worse, even after I cited experts saying that mutations tend to make viruses less virulent. Other covid hystericists similarly refuse to follow the science, preferring their apocalyptic narrative.

Association of country-wide coronavirus mortality with demographics, testing, lockdowns, and public wearing of masks - "In univariate analyses, the prevalence of smoking, per-capita gross domestic product, urbanization, and colder average country temperature were positively associated with coronavirus-related mortality. In a multivariable analysis of 196 countries, the duration of infection in the country, and the proportion of the population 60 years of age or older were positively associated with per-capita mortality, while duration of mask-wearing by the public was negatively associated with mortality (all p<0.001). International travel restrictions and a lower prevalence of obesity were independently associated with mortality in a model which controlled for testing policy. Internal lockdown requirements and viral testing policies and levels were not associated with mortality. The association of contact tracing policy with mortality approached statistical significance (p=0.06). In countries with cultural norms or government policies supporting public mask-wearing, per-capita coronavirus mortality increased on average by just 15.8% each week, as compared with 62.1% each week in remaining countries."

Assessing mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closure effects on the spread of COVID‐19 - "we do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs. Similar reductions in case growth may be achievable with less‐restrictive interventions... Because of the potential harmful health effects of mrNPI—including hunger, opioid‐related overdoses, missed vaccinations, increase in non‐COVID diseases from missed health services, domestic abuse, mental health and suicidality, and a host of economic consequences with health implications,—it is increasingly recognized that their postulated benefits deserve careful study. One approach to evaluating NPI benefits uses disease modelling approaches. One prominent modelling analysis estimated that, across Europe, mrNPIs accounted for 81% of the reduction in the effective reproduction number (Rt), a measure of disease transmission. However, in the absence of empirical assessment of the policies, their effects on reduced transmission are assumed rather than assessed. That analysis attributes nearly all the reduction in transmission to the last intervention, whichever intervention happened to be last, complete lockdowns in France or banning of public events in Sweden... We compare epidemic spread in places that implemented mrNPIs to counterfactuals that implemented only less‐restrictive NPIs (lrNPIs). In this way, it may be possible to isolate the role of mrNPIs, net of lrNPIs and epidemic dynamics... In none of the 8 countries and in none out of the 16 comparisons (against Sweden or South Korea) were the effects of mrNPIs significantly negative (beneficial)... The direction of the effect size in most scenarios points towards an increase in the case growth rate, though these estimates are only distinguishable from zero in Spain (consistent with nonbeneficial effect of lockdowns). Only in Iran do the estimates consistently point in the direction of additional reduction in the growth rate, yet those effects are statistically indistinguishable from zero. While it is hard to draw firm conclusions from these estimates, they are consistent with a recent analysis that identified increased population‐level transmission and cases in Hunan, China, during the period of stay‐at‐home orders, attributed to increased intra‐household density and transmission. In other words, it is possible that stay‐at‐home orders may facilitate transmission if they increase person‐to‐person contact where transmission is efficient such as closed spaces... Our behavioural model of NPIs—that their effectiveness depends on individual behaviour for which policies provide a noisy nudge—helps explain why the degree of NPI restrictiveness does not seem to explain the decline in case growth rate. Data on individual behaviours such as visits to businesses, walking or driving show dramatic declines days to weeks prior to the implementation of business closures and mandatory stay‐at‐home orders in our study countries, consistent with the behavioural mechanisms noted above. These observations are consistent with a model where the severity of the risk perceived by individuals was a stronger driver of anti‐contagion behaviours than the specific nature of the NPIs. In other words, reductions in social activities that led to reduction in case growth were happening prior to implementation of mrNPIs because populations in affected countries were internalizing the impact of the pandemic in China, Italy and New York, and noting a growing set of recommendations to reduce social contacts, all of which happened before mrNPIs. This may also explain the highly variable effect sizes of the same NPI in different countries. For example, the effects of international travel bans were positive (unhelpful) in Germany and negative (beneficial) in the Netherlands... NPIs can also have harms, besides any questionable benefits, and the harms may be more prominent for some NPIs than for others. For example, school closures may have very serious harms, estimated at an equivalent of 5.5 million life years for children in the United States during the spring school closures alone. Considerations of harms should play a prominent role in policy decisions, especially if an NPI is ineffective at reducing the spread of infections... the proportion of COVID‐19 deaths that occurred in nursing homes was often higher under mrNPIs rather than under less‐restrictive measures. This further suggests that restrictive measures do not clearly achieve protection of vulnerable populations. Some evidence also suggests that sometimes under more restrictive measures, infections may be more frequent in settings where vulnerable populations reside relative to the general population"
Even just looking at cases, not deaths, lockdowns don't reduce them - but may even increase them

The Long-Term Impact of the COVID-19 Unemployment Shock on Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates - "We adopt a time series approach to investigate the historical relation between unemployment, life expectancy, and mortality rates. We fit Vector-autoregressions for the overall US population and for groups identified based on gender and race. We use our results to assess the long-run effects of the COVID-19 economic recession on mortality and life expectancy. We estimate the size of the COVID-19-related unemployment shock to be between 2 and 5 times larger than the typical unemployment shock, depending on race and gender, resulting in a significant increase in mortality rates and drop in life expectancy. We also predict that the shock will disproportionately affect African-Americans and women, over a short horizon, while the effects for white men will unfold over longer horizons. These figures translate in more than 0.8 million additional deaths over the next 15 years."
All the liberal covid hystericists mocking policies that seek to reduce the economic harms of covid pretend that recessions don't kill people

Most Read of 2020: Lockdowns Could Kill More People Than COVID-19 - "Christopher Snowdon from the Institute of Economic Affairs concluded: “the strategy which preceded the lockdown… was based on science whereas the decision to go into lockdown was political.” A scandal is brewing in Denmark because of a leaked email to the Politiken newspaper. The head of the health ministry told the head of the Health Authority to suspend his professionalism as a public servant, and instead adopt an “extreme precautionary principle” when giving political advice based on a deliberately inflated reproduction number (2.6, not 2.1). Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen then proceeded to mislead the public, it’s alleged, by implying that her decision to impose a strict lockdown on the country was based on advice from the health agency. Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young’s logic on school closures is also primarily political. She accepts the evidence that schools are not a high-risk environment for the spread of the virus but closing them helps to convince people how grave the situation is. “So sometimes it’s more than just the science and the health, it’s about the messaging.”"

Mental health experts sound off on lockdown harms - "The pandemic and its lockdowns are causing an unprecedented mental health crisis that is having serious ramifications that will be felt for years to come, according to experts on the ground who are speaking out about their concerns.“I have never seen anything like it in my 20 years,” says Michelle Sorensen, a clinical psychologist who sees patients in Ottawa. “People are really spiralling after almost a year of traumatic stress”... Berber points to one example of an older patient whose despair led him to request medically assisted dying despite suffering from no serious health challenges. Berber refers to that case as “the canary in the coal mine” and “a predictor of things to come.”... “My patients accepted the initial lockdown, appreciating the need to learn about the novel virus,” he says. “This acceptance of the early lockdown has been replaced with skepticism, with many believing that the ongoing lockdown measures are unreasonable and draconian.”It’s become a common refrain to “listen to the experts,” but to date, Canadian officials have done a poor job of including the voices of the many experts speaking out on the serious harms being caused by the restrictions and closures across the country."

Our children are paying the highest price in lockdown - we owe them answers - "Remember when David Cameron accidentally left one of his children in a pub? “How can you forget a child?” chorused his critics while the less than perfect parents among us merely smirked.I don’t find it so funny now though. I never realised that this would be somehow policy; that in the ongoing emergency of a pandemic, an entire generation wouldn’t be so much left in the pub (well, the pubs aren’t even open!) as simply abandoned. Schools will not open until who knows when; there will be no exams; university teaching is all online but the fees remain the same. Jobs? Don’t make me laugh. Hospitality, where many young people worked, has been wiped out. Parents are in crisis because home schooling is a nightmare... I count myself lucky as I don’t have school age children, but most of my friends who do are now seriously worried about their children’s general withdrawal. These are kids with access to laptops and many are now on screen for more than 12 hours a day – the very screens that their parents have spent years trying to wean them off... Even if everyone is vaccinated by the end of the year, children, particularly those of school age, will have lost a couple of years not just of education, but also of important socialisation. Some will bounce back, but I worry some never will because they have had to lock themselves down emotionally to cope"

How The Pandemic May Be Fueling 'Deaths Of Despair' - "Ordinarily, a spike in unemployment doesn't lead to a spike in overdose deaths. People who aren't working often don't have the money to buy drugs.But University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan says the COVID-19 recession is unusual. Federal relief payments put more money in people's pockets last spring, just as many of the usual ways to spend it were closed off."Vacations or eating out or anything group oriented — going to a sports game, concerts, bars. And that kind of left the sort of things that you do by yourself," Mulligan said. "Taking opioids is something that people can do by themselves." Mulligan, who was a White House economist in the Trump administration, argued in a recent working paper that increased isolation during the pandemic may have contributed to rising "deaths of despair" — that is, suicides, alcohol-related deaths and especially drug overdoses."

Workers have lost out on nearly $9,000 in income due to coronavirus lockdown (so far) - "In total, U.S. workers have lost $1.3 trillion in income, amounting to an average loss of nearly $8,900 per worker, according to research published by the Society for Human Resource Management and Oxford Economics"

Lockdown has ravaged the working class - "In every single aspect of life, the working class has suffered most during lockdown. Worse still, over the course of the past year, class inequalities have grown wider and have become more entrenched. And yet, at each turn, left-wing lockdown lovers have demanded ever-more severe restrictions on people’s lives. Take housing. The rich worried about the tax implications of building the perfect home office and stressed about the etiquette of Zoom calling someone with a smaller garden or more down-at-heel kitchen. Meanwhile, poorer families struggled to cope in tiny flats with no outside space at all. While the government advised allocating a separate bathroom to a family member who might catch Covid, or opening Christmas presents under a tree in the garden, it became increasingly apparent that coronavirus was spreading more rapidly in areas of high density and overcrowded housing. Clearly, these inequalities existed before the pandemic. But rather than demanding playgrounds be opened up so children in cramped housing had somewhere to play, the Guardian’s lockdown fanatics told us that, yes, it was absolutely acceptable ‘to shout at strangers who aren’t social distancing’ in a park or at the beach.Or take education. We know that closing schools to all but a tiny number of pupils has had a devastating impact on the educational attainment of the poorest children. It’s not just that better-off families were able to provide the laptops, wifi, desk and quiet room to work in. When teaching falls on parents, educational inequalities reverberate through the generations. And, tragically, it was in the most disadvantaged homes that teaching was most likely to be left to parents. State schools may have got their act together this time around but the lesson of the first lockdown was that private-school pupils received more online teaching. Middle-class children were more likely to be engaged with the online classes on offer and, as a result, were less likely to have fallen behind. These inequalities are real, measurable, and will set back the life chances and career aspirations of working-class kids. And yet the left-wing lockdown lovers, from their well-paid positions as union leaders or headteachers, insist schools must remain closed to all pupils. Worse, they now look for ways to keep even the most disadvantaged children out of the classroom... Unemployment is slowly rising and is predicted to reach 2.6million, or 7.5 per cent of the working-age population, in just a few months time. Behind such statistics are parents lying awake worrying about how to feed their children, debt, evictions, ill health and growing social inequality. It is lockdown – not coronavirus – that has thrown an increasing number of families into poverty. But, like a broken record, self-styled champions of the working class, people like Paul Mason, continue to demand stricter, longer lockdowns. And Owen Jones, in blaming ‘the combination of Covid and class’ for devastating Britain’s poorest, accepts no responsibility for the policy he was once vocal in calling for. This government, with all its talk of ‘levelling up’, needs to be held to account not just for coronavirus deaths but for the lives destroyed because of lockdown. And we must never forget the role a privileged left-wing elite has played in calling for lockdowns and cheering on each new restriction."

How to redesign COVID vaccines so they protect against variants - "Evidence grows that new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can evade immunity produced by vaccines or previous infections"
Eternal lockdown!

Delaying second dose of Pfizer vaccine could boost infections and deaths, study warns - "federal advisors have given the green light to a stop-gap measure: delaying the second dose of the shots so more people can at least get the protection of one... a new mathematical modelling study by Canadian and U.S. researchers, already facing criticism from other experts, suggests the strategy has its risks.Putting off the second dose of the Moderna shot by up to 12 weeks to allow more people to receive one dose should lessen the amount of infection, hospitalizations and deaths, the study concludes.But doing so with the Pfizer vaccine, whose first dose is less effective, could have the opposite result — more illness than if the follow-up doses were put in people’s arms on schedule, the research suggests... “Whether to vaccinate more individuals with the first dose of available vaccines and delay the second dose.”Their answer to the conundrum, in a paper posted online but not yet peer-reviewed, was a mixed bag, depending on the product in question... https://twitter.com“Their underlying assumptions look to be incorrect,” echoed Julie Bettinger, a vaccine-safety scientist and another member of the advisory committee... University of Ottawa health policy expert Amir Attaran, while not commenting directly on the new paper, said he has qualms about changing the recommended gap.“In the absence of evidence for delaying doses — and neither vaccine’s clinical trials furnished such evidence — it would be speculative and imprudent to deviate from the planned dosing schedule,” said Attaran, who has a doctorate in immunology. “The immune system is an often-mysterious black box that does not behave as predicted, and so humility before the data is best.”... clinical trials expert Ed Mills, an advisor to the Gates Foundation and part-time McMaster University professor, was dismissive of the model, partly because there is no previous data on COVID vaccination with which to verify the accuracy of the projections.“This is all just made up,” he said. “It’s as likely to be true as if you or I ask our kids for their predictions.”"
Covid hystericists like to claim modelling data that never ever needs to go through peer review is evidence supporting lockdowns. But when even data based on actual numbers is disputed, it's clear that modelling data needs to be taken with a shaker of salt
Evidently humility about predictions of covid doom is needed too

Why Did COVID-19 Cases Dramatically Decline In India? - ""It's not that India is testing less or things are going underreported," says Jishnu Das, a health economist at Georgetown University. "It's been rising, rising — and now suddenly, it's vanished! I mean, hospital ICU utilization has gone down. Every indicator says the numbers are down... There's some evidence that India's climate may help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses... urban India's severe air pollution might exacerbate COVID-19... extreme heat may also force people indoors, into air-conditioned spaces... many other diseases are already rampant: malaria, dengue fever, typhoid, hepatitis, cholera. Millions of Indians also lack access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygienic food. Some experts speculate that people with robust immune systems may be more likely to survive in India in the first place... A study of nearly 85,000 coronavirus cases in India, published in November in the journal Science, found that the COVID-19 mortality rate actually decreases there after age 65 — possibly because Indians who live past that age are such outliers. There are so few of them... Serological surveys — random testing for antibodies — show that a majority of people in certain areas of India may have already been exposed to the coronavirus, without developing symptoms... India's numbers went down exactly when experts predicted they would spike: in October, when millions of people gathered for the Hindu festivals of Diwali and Durga Puja. It's when air pollution is also worst, and experts feared that would exacerbate the pandemic too.Cases have also declined despite what many thought would be a superspreader event: tens of thousands of Indian farmers camping out on the capital's outskirts for months."

Ontario MPPs urged to push for small business reopening plan - "The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is urging Ontario MPPs to allow all businesses to reopen at 20% capacity once the current lockdown is scheduled to end next week.The CFIB argues Ontario is now the only Canadian province operating under a “blanket lockdown with no end in sight” after Quebec announced a gradual reopening plan... The organization says only 37% of Ontario businesses are completely open, only 32% are fully staffed, and just 18% are seeing normal sales levels.CFIB research also found that 20% of Ontario businesses are considering permanently closing before the pandemic ends — which could translate to a potential loss of 75,000 businesses and 873,000 jobs."
Covid hystericsts only bash governments for pandering too much to business, not for killing them, since no measure is too strict for them - getting rid of covid is about purity and all measures are justified since it is more important to look like you're doing something effective than to do something effective.

Peru has the toughest lockdown in the world and still ended up with the worst fatality rate - "Well aware of its situation, Peru decreed what must surely count as the toughest and, relative to infection rates, earliest lockdown on the planet.On March 16, when there were only 28 confirmed cases, Peru closed its borders and imposed an eye-watering curfew. Men and women were allowed to leave home on alternate days, and only for essential purposes. The restrictions were enforced by the army and, by and large, they were obeyed. Google images showed a massive reduction in the number of people outdoors.The economic consequences were catastrophic. Even in a wealthy country such as Britain, closures hit folk with cash-in-hand jobs much harder than people who can work from home. In Peru, where around two thirds of the economy is informal, things ground to a halt. Yet it did not slow the virus. Peru’s excess deaths – the number of people who have died in 2020 as against what would normally be expected – are the highest in the world.Yes, Peru’s healthcare system is poor, but no more so than those in many Latin American countries, let alone most of Africa, where the virus has not been nearly so lethal. Peruvians themselves, naturally, blame their government. Human beings will generally judge a policy less by its intrinsic merits than by whether they like the person proposing it. Thus, in Britain, where there is a Conservative government, Leftists argue that we should have locked down earlier. In Spain, where there is a socialist government, it is the other way around, and Rightists have convinced themselves that the epidemic was far worse because big events to mark International Women’s Day on March 8 were allowed to go ahead.In both cases, we are giving in to bogus anthropocentrism, imagining that there must somehow be a human hand in big events. Our ancestors blamed plagues on witches or religious minorities. We blame them on politicians... Perhaps there are differing levels of pre-existing immunity, or at least of resistance. Peru’s worst outbreak was in Iquitos, the largest settlement in the world that cannot be reached by road or rail... Could that extraordinary isolation have made local people more susceptible? The Brazilian city of Manaus, further down the Amazon, was also peculiarly badly hit. Maybe the peoples or those remote towns had had less exposure to previous coronaviruses – just as the Vietnamese, after SARS, had had more. Or perhaps, as Hitoshi Oshitani from Japan’s National COVID-19 Cluster Taskforce says, there is a dollop of luck involved, in the sense that the coronavirus is overdispersed, meaning that a small number of superspreaders are responsible for most cases.We don’t know for sure. But, looking at Peru, with the harshest restrictions in the world and the worst outcome, it seems clear that lockdowns are not the key factor. Sadly, though, the desire to attribute human agency, to find someone to blame, is embedded deep in our DNA. We would rather demand crackdowns than accept that we are dealing with something outside our control. And, alas, we keep getting our wish."
Clearly their lockdown didn't go far enough!

When Will Covid Pandemic End? Vaccine Calculator Shows 7 Years at Current Rate - Bloomberg - "With vaccinations happening more rapidly in richer Western countries than the rest of the globe, it will take the world as a whole seven years at the current pace... Only a third of countries have even begun their vaccination campaigns... One metric Bloomberg’s calculator doesn’t account for is any level of natural immunity that might result from recovering from Covid-19. It’s possible that hard-hit places might require a lower level of vaccination to prevent widespread transmission. While there’s evidence that people who recover from illness do retain some level of natural defenses, it’s unclear how much protection is offered or how long it might last"
Covid hystericists don't believe in natural herd immunity, we don't know how long vaccine-induced immunity lasts and this calculator doesn't take into account new strains, some of which the vaccines are not as effective against. So... eternal lockdown it is!

Covid Performance - Lowy Institute - "countries in the Asia–Pacific, on average, proved the most successful at containing the pandemic. By contrast, the rapid spread of COVID-19 along the main arteries of globalisation quickly overwhelmed first Europe and then the United States. However, Europe also registered the greatest improvement over time of any region — with most countries there at one point exceeding the average performance of countries in the Asia–Pacific — before succumbing to a second, more severe, wave of the pandemic in the final months of 2020. Synchronous lockdowns across the highly integrated European continent successfully quelled the first wave, but more open borders left countries vulnerable to renewed outbreaks in neighbouring countries... On average, countries with authoritarian models had no prolonged advantage in suppressing the virus. Indeed, despite a difficult start and some notable exceptions, including the United States and the United Kingdom, democracies found marginally more success than other forms of government in their handling of the pandemic over the examined period... Categorising countries based on their population size revealed the greatest differences in experiences with the COVID-19 challenge. These results stand even after taking into account per capita indicators to evaluate performance, minimising the likelihood of a methodological bias against countries with more infections because they have larger populations. The fact that internal borders are often more open and porous than international borders may have facilitated the spread of the virus within countries with larger populations... Smaller countries with populations of fewer than 10 million people consistently outperformed their larger counterparts throughout 2020
So much for mocking Westerners for being undisciplined unlike Asians, and democracies for being inferior to authoritarian countries
6 of the top 10 are island countries (New Zealand, Taiwan, Cyrprus, Iceland, Australia and Sri Lanka), which suggests that being an island helps in controlling covid (in 1995, 25.2% of independent countries were islands, so that's massive overrepresentation). Islands tend to be small too

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