Links 8/26/2021

LED streetlights contribute to insect population declines: study Agence France Presse

Economists must grapple with climate tipping points before it’s too late Canary Media (gf). A must-read; lucid and calm. And no models!

Swiss Re Signed a $10 Million Carbon Capture Deal Bloomberg

Fed prepares for virtual Jackson Hole meeting under cloud of Delta FT


Safety of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine in a Nationwide Setting NEJM. Pfizer, Israel, using the Clalit Healthcare Services database. Vaccinated group: 1,736,832. Control group: 848,609 (Figure 1). From the Conclusion: “n this study in a nationwide mass vaccination setting, the BNT162b2 vaccine was not associated with an elevated risk of most of the adverse events examined. The vaccine was associated with an excess risk of myocarditis (1 to 5 events per 100,000 persons). The risk of this potentially serious adverse event and of many other serious adverse events was substantially increased after SARS-CoV-2 infection.” So you pays your money and you takes your choice. Figure 4:

Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections (preprint) medRxiv. Pfizer, Israel, using the Maccabi Healthcare Services database. n varies by the statistical model used; the smallest is 14,029. “Now, when sufficient time has passed since both the beginning of the pandemic and the deployment of the vaccine, we can examine the long-term protection of natural immunity compared to vaccine-induced immunity. To this end, we compared the incidence rates of breakthrough infections to the incidence rates of reinfection, leveraging the centralized computerized database of Maccabi Healthcare Services (MHS), Israel’s second largest Health Maintenance Organization…. SARS-CoV-2-naïve vaccinees had a 13.06-fold (95% CI, 8.08 to 21.11) increased risk for breakthrough infection with the Delta variant compared to those previously infected, when the first event (infection or vaccination) occurred during January and February of 2021…. SARS-CoV-2-naïve vaccinees were also at a greater risk for COVID-19-related-hospitalizations compared to those that were previously infected.” The statistical models are above my paygrade; perhaps one of our knowledgeable readers can comment.

Booster shot of J&J vaccine raises antibody levels, company says Science. Preprint not yet available. n = 17 + 79 (two studies).

Pentagon requires military members get COVID-19 vaccine immediately The Hill

DOMINIC LAWSON: It’s a sad irony that every anti-vaxxer who dies of Covid might just save lives Daily Mail. There it is.

* * *

The FDA Really Did Have to Take This Long Hilda Bastian, The Atlantic

Does the FDA think these data justify the first full approval of a covid-19 vaccine? Peter Doshi, British Medical Journal (antidlc). From August 23, still germane. Doshi is a senior editor at BMJ. This is from his blog.

* * *

“Now is the time to use ivermectin,” said Haruo Ozaki, chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Association (Google translate) Yomiuri Shimbun (original). Ozaki’s recommendation is for off-label use under “battlefield” conditions:

[OSAKI:] I am aware that there are many papers that ivermectin is effective in the prevention and treatment of corona, mainly in Central and South America and Asia. There is no effective therapeutic drug, although it is necessary to deal with patients who develop it one after another. The vaccine is not in time. At such an imminent time, there is a paper that ivermectin is effective for corona, so it is a natural response for clinicians to try using it. Doctor-led clinical practice. That’s why many test papers came out.

Yagisawa, Foster, Hanaki, and Ōmura make the same case in “Global trends in clinical studies of ivermectin in COVID-19” (PDF), linked to at NC 6/5: “Doctor-led clinical practice.”

The Bizarre Refusal to Apply Cost-Benefit Analysis to COVID Debates Glenn Greenwald. Not sure what Taleb would think of this.


China’s ‘common prosperity’ push does not mean ‘killing the rich’, official says Reuters. Yesterday, no robbing. Today, no killing!

Billionaire Donations Soar in China Push for ‘Common Prosperity’ Bloomberg. Presumably China’s rulers know their Bearded One, and know that capital is a social relation that no amount of laundering can change.

Beijing’s American Hustle Foreign Affairs

Taiwanese shrug off China threat and place their trust in ‘Daddy America’ FT


Anti-junta police force formed in Karenni State by striking police officials Myanmar State. Parallel state structures big if true. And ditto:

The NUG.

When Myanmar’s military seized power in a Feb. 1 coup, millions across the country took to the streets in protest. WaPo

Russia to deliver missile systems to post-coup Myanmar on time Reuters

Confusion Reigns in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam Weekly


Kerala’s COVID-19 lessons for India and Modi’s government Reuters. Kerala’s current protocol.


Resistance in Afghanistan Appears to Be Growing Der Spiegel. Funded by….

CIA has launched clandestine ops to rescue Americans in Afghanistan: report The Hill

Afghans rush to flee Taliban as hopes emerge for more time Agence France Presse

Exclusive: Americans’ harsh judgment on Afghanistan costs Biden’s approval, down to 41% USA Today. Commentary:

The Media Manufactured Biden’s Political ‘Fiasco’ in Afghanistan Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

Biden made the hard choice in Afghanistan, and the right one WaPo

I Commanded Afghan Troops This Year. We Were Betrayed. Sami Sadat, NYT (dk).


The Middle East Is Preparing for the United States’ Exit From Syria Foreign Policy. That’s a damn shame.

Biden looks for air-clearing in first meeting with Israel’s new leader CNN. Hey, maybe we can ask Bennett to explain to us what our foreign policy should be from the floor of the House, like Bibi did.


British Melodrama Over Afghanistan Withdrawal Masks Their Own Impotence And Irrelevance Michael Tracey (gf). Kicking a poodle hardly seems fair.

German election wide open as Merkel successor loses poll lead FT

New Cold War

Nord Stream 2: the difficult birth of Russia’s gas link to Germany Reuters

The Caribbean

The Return of the Marines Black Agenda Report

Biden Administration

Wall Street Is Ready to Put Lina Khan’s FTC to the Test Bloomberg

Harris urges Vietnam to join U.S. in opposing ‘bullying’ by China Los Angeles Times. Ironies aside, fitting international relations into the micro-aggression frame has always struck me as odd.

Intelligence community delivers report on COVID-19 origins to Biden CBS

Democracy for Sale: Examining the Effects of Concentration on Lobbying in the United States (PDF) American Economic Liberties Project

Our Famously Free Press

Cable News Military Experts Are on the Defense Industry Dole The Intercept

Groves of Academe

As COVID Surges in Georgia, Persuasion is Not Guaranteed Academe

[Opinion] ‘Seeking shelter from the storm: on leaving the UvA’ Folia

Imperial Collapse Watch

Dangerous Illusions The National Interest

Class Warfare

Get Shots or Get Out, U.S. Employers Are Telling Workers Bloomberg. I guess we have “corporate health” now, not public health. So it goes.

The Corporate Deterrent To More Vaccinations Daily Poster. No paid time off. Naturally. The people permitted to change social relations in the workplace are non-essential workers who can work from home. Period. Everybody else at a minumum needs a union, and maybe that’s not enough.

O Canada! Claudia Sahm, Stay-At-Home Macro

U.S. Billionaires Got 62 percent Richer During Pandemic. They’re Now Up $1.8 Trillion. Institute for Policy Studies. Capitalism seems to be anti-fragile.

COVID-19: A Catalyst for Rising Inequality in Thailand The Diplomat

What Made the Battle of Blair Mountain the Largest Labor Uprising in American History Smithsonian

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. petal

    Getting ugly out there.
    Arkansas detention center doctor is treating COVID positive inmates with cow deworming drug FDA warns is dangerous – as people in Oklahoma flock to feed stores to buy it
    “-Physician Dr Rob Karas who works at the jail in Washington County, Arkansas, has been using the anti-parasite drug ivermectin to treat inmates with Covid-19
    -Dr Karas also prescribed ivermectin to an anonymous county official even though he tested negative for the virus
    -Despite FDA warnings the drug is also sold out across Oklahoma and there have been 10 poison calls related to ivermectin since May
    -Diarrhea and vomiting are two more common, minor side effects out of many a person who takes ivermectin could experience”

    More at the link.

    1. AndrewJ

      It really is. I think I preferred the times when nobody in the US media was talking about IVM. Now it’s like some right wing media personality has taken it up as a pet cause* , and the liberals are duly and blindly slamming it as bad because the other team says good. Or vice versa, somebody started dropping stories in mass media slamming IVM as an animal drug, and now the right wing is reflexively trumpeting it as good. JFC our politics are toxic, and poison everything.
      A liberal quasi-apologist blogger, gin and tacos, that I’ve followed for over a decade heard of it, now is using it as a prop to make deplorables jokes. And his fan base is 100% on board, “lol, those stupid hicks, sticking horse dewormer up their backsides”.
      The news that Kerala has dropped it and Tokyo has picked it up fascinates me. I’m aware that at this point I’m stanning for it, and will continue to do so until it’s seen it’s fair day in studies with reasonable n and proper dosages. It’ll be an interesting experience looking back a few years from now… am I caught up in hype, or tapped in to an effective medication that’s being actively and purposefully discouraged by western media and the pharmaceutical industry (because – tinfoil hat on – they stand to profit from vaccine sales and patentable treatments)?
      It really is getting ugly out there.

      The mention in yesterday’s water cooler comments about a cowboy field remedy using privermectin, a sheep drench, going back before Covid is also fascinating. I love the development of folk medicine. Herbal medicine traditions come from both myth, wishful thinking, but also generations of observation and positive results. Here’s a homegrown and relevant example, if true. Though I’m leery of the idea of the claim the cowboys take an external drench internally. Hmm.

      *I wouldn’t know. I appreciate the occasional TAC piece linked here, but generally am not tapped in to the right wing world view.

      1. norm de plume

        Well said.

        ‘and the liberals are duly and blindly slamming it as bad because the other team says good’

        I think the reasons they are slamming it have less to do with with the Repubs than with their own side. There is a clear agenda, The Official Line, originating way above politics among the Owners, and once the influencers in govt, media and esp Big Tech have acted on the memo, it’s monkey see, monkey do and keep up with the Joneses for everyone else from then on. In other words, it feels like there is at least as much pro-action as reaction going on. There is indeed a rather frightening coherence about it.

        The horse and cow thing is obviously a meme of choice, a go to trope for the brave Official Line Defenders. I read it only yesterday in a column by an ostentatiously liberal ex-footballer having a dig at a libertarian ex-tennis player:

        ‘What Cash says is dangerous, so let’s go through it. He begins by lauding the nutters’ drug of choice, Ivermectin. “I’ve been taking [it] for over a year and a quarter now,” Cash said. “Ivermectin works. It’s a cheap drug. It’s a wonder drug. And I’m living proof that I have been in the worst areas everywhere around the world and I haven’t come close to getting COVID.”

        Actually, Ivermectin is mostly used to eliminate parasites in cows and horses. Despite that, in certain places where banjo music is the entertainment of choice, so many people have taken it that real damage has been done.’

        I don’t have the energy to go thru this piece’s laziness and sins of omission, but it is standard boilerplate for much of our inbred MSM commentariat, who have lately been climbing over each other to claim gold in a sort of Virtue-Signalling Olympics, with the Two Minutes Ridicule a favoured approach.

        The footballer signs off his column as ‘journalist and columnist’. The second is fine, if columnist means ‘writes about everything without knowing anything’, but if he is fair dinkum, he will lose that first one.

    2. Mikel

      I guess they couldn’t be bothered to start recalling the stories of India’s success with the form of Ivermectin that is approved to be prescribed to humans.

    3. Stephen V.

      Allow me to inject some correctives into this “story.” I first consulted Dr. Karas 10 years ago about tick disease. This, at a time when his colleagues were still chanting “we have no Lyme in AR”: (meaning no studies which showed Lyme). Which turned out to be nonsense of course. But this is the rub: Stories such as this are founded on the assumption not only that we all must follow (FDA, Doctor’s) orders but worse that actual clinical observations are to be discounted, suppressed and de-platformed. Instead we get the cow de-wormer meme.
      “Jail doctor” Karas (presumably) was er, inspired by Obamacare to open his first urgent care clinic which was followed a few years ago by a second location. When I checked last week they were swamped. I consider him somewhat of an entrepreneur which I do not mean pejoratively. IOW, he does not need this jail gig which this story and our PMC Rep. Madison are trying to get him fired from. Being a lawyer, Madison knows her Quorum Court (think “County Board”) has no direct jurisdiction over the jail and certainly no power to fire a physician. She is probably preparing her run for State AG.
      Quote:[Madison] questioned: ‘Are we allowing him to effectively experiment on our detainees at our jail with no oversight?’
      Au Contraire Ms. Madison. We are all participating in a grand experiment. We are coming to find out on a daily basis (‘breakthrough infections’) that the vaccines do not function as the daily narrative reports. But these uncounted-by-the-CDC little data-points will not be resolved by boosters. Worse than a self-licking ice cream cone –like the bugs that have evolved beyond the pesticides aimed at them–the so-called vaccines in vivo, provide an evolutionary impetus to the virus. In that we are all in this together, vaxxed and non-, it starts & ends with our immune system. And our betters have decided that prevention & education are off the table & worthless when the potential market is the entire world.

      1. norm de plume

        Also well said.

        ‘Stories such as this are founded on the assumption not only that we all must follow (FDA, Doctor’s) orders but worse that actual clinical observations are to be discounted, suppressed and de-platformed’

        Partly it’s our capacity to be seduced or blinded by size and institutionality, partly our often unreasonable hope for a quick fix panacea imposed by trusted authorities. Our lack of pushback against the complete absence of the usual prevention and early treatment strategies and the embrace of an experimental ‘saviour’ vaccines may also be at least partially explained by these human tendencies.

        But it seems to me there must also be some organised skulduggery behind the almost Leninist wave of suppression we are seeing, in concert with the all-court pro-official story we are being force fed in the trad and social media.

        I tried two weeks ago to get my doctor to prescribe IVM for me and my family as a prophylactic or at the very least as a treatment if one of us gets the bug. He refused point blank. ‘I will not prescribe or even discuss. We have our recommendations from the Dept. Go and get vaccinate!’ I then rang a leading immunologist who had gone public with his support for IVM. He is an Emeritus Fellow of the medical college I work for, though I made clear I was calling in a personal capacity, thanking him for his stand and asking for advice about procuring IVM. He said it should be taken as part of a package which a compound chemist not far away could make up, but I would need a prescription. ‘Good luck with that’ he said. He also said his phone had been ringing ‘off the hook’ from GPs also wanting to know about IVM as so many of their patients were asking about it. That encouraged me so I called a few other local docs but the Prof was right – no dice.

        I genuinely feel this is a curtailment of my human right to make an informed choice about what I allow into my and my children’s bodies. We are being strong-armed into taking substances that simply cannot have had the testing required to establish long term safety (let alone efficacy) yet being denied access to a drug that has been administered to humans 3.7 billion times without significant ill-effect. I don’t think you need to wear a tin hat to detect something fishy here. I am wondering if in fact my govt has signed contracts with the vax manufacturers which feature some of the clauses found in those leaked South American agreements which explicitly prohibit the recommendation of any other treatment or drug.

        I have watched quite a few interviews over the last few months with some of the doctors who made those ‘clinical observations’ about IVM, charming people from faraway places including quite a few Americans, passionate but persuasive in their recitations of excellent result after excellent result. They tend to appear on the fringes because that is only place they can get a hearing; if the mediascape doesn’t ignore them it slurs and belittles them (often for appearing on the fringes!), and yet, think about it, what’s in it for them, these frontline local doctors, in taking on the Borg? They stand to lose friends, their reputation and even their registration. Whereas the generally faceless people making the decisions they are speaking up about can hide safe in their institutional cocoon with unreasonably high salaries and stock options.

        Who you gonna trust?

  2. Howard Beale IV

    Delta Airlines is now saying in essence – “No jab, your healthcare premiums go up $200 per pay period.”
    Now it will be only a matter of time before things like diabetes, obesity, et. al. will make your premiums go up…

    1. Samuel Conner

      > Now it will be only a matter of time before things like diabetes, obesity, et. al. will make your premiums go up…

      Given how widespread chronic health conditions are in US, this might be a useful development in a “sharpening the contradictions” sense. It seems plausible that this would increase the demand “from below” for universal free-at-point-of-care health care.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        No. It will mean that poor, underserved populations will experience a “lack of access” to health care because they can’t afford the premiums – just like always. These people will get sicker without disease management and end up costing even more to treat than if they had been seeing a provider on a regular basis.

        1. tegnost

          costing more to treat as in money transfer from gov to medical industry grift (you can’t call it healthcare) through shoes or wheelchair wheels on the floor of an medical institution, from diabetes brought on by the food pyramid to long covid. The person doesn’t matter, indeed, a fly on the wall probably hears a lot of “too many poors anyway” when gracing the tonier compost bins or french laundries. It’s a bizarro world where the corporate citizenx are socialists. The people are the herd, and are to be managed as such.

    2. John Beech

      Respectfully, but properly dosed, the risk of Ivermectin seems reasonable. Especially balanced against death, or long-COVID, but that’s just me, a country bumpkin who is fairly called stupid.

      However, I have eyes and a brain, and without depending on some idiot mother and her Facebook rants as the media portrays things, I do read some professional literature. And at least amongst MDs on the front lines, prescribing it prophylactically doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

      Regarding inmates, the fact it’s cheap and readily available along (with the likelihood Arkansas inmates are last in line) means the whole idea strikes me as sound. Or put another way, what’s the harm?

      Surely you’re not saying 10 calls to poison control, perhaps (likely?) by folks who can’t do the math involved in calculating the human dose, which is on the order of 1/10th that for a 1000lb horse or 2000lb cow (e.g. math you can do in your head) trumps the possible benefit of a drug widely prescribed for humans for more than 25 years. And there does seem to be some evidence on the plus side being generated. Or am I mistaken?

      1. Samuel Conner

        > what’s the harm?

        This isn’t being argued now by opponents of ivermectin stand-alone prophylaxis or therapy, but it might be a legitimate concern.

        Single mechanism of action (MoA) agents are vulnerable to the emergence of resistance in the target pathogen — a mutation in the target molecule or function/system could in principle reduce pathogen vulnerability to the agent MoA while not severely impairing pathogen fitness. For a virus that mutates rapidly and that is already very widely spread in the population, wide employment of single agent therapies that have a single MoA could select for resistant pathogens and result in loss of utility of the agent.

        From what I have read, Ivermectin is thought to have multiple antiviral MoAs. If that’s right, it would be less vulnerable to the emergence of resistance, since the probability of multiple simultaneous protective mutations is lower than the probability of single protective mutations.

        It might be important to thoroughly understand Ivermectin’s anti-CV MoAs before embarking on a campaign of widespread use. If it is vulnerable to resistance emergence as a stand-alone agent, it might be a lot better to not deploy it widely until there are other agents with different MoAs with which it could be be employed in combination therapy. A too soon deployment might, I think, risk loss of present efficacy as a stand-alone agent and future efficacy in combination therapy.

        That’s all quite hypothetical, but I think it’s a valid concern about the possible downside of deploying what looks like a potentially really useful stand-alone agent. It might be that, as a matter of “stewardship of future antiviral potential”, new antiviral agents should be deployed only in combinations that have several independent MoAs in order to effectively eliminate the risk of selection of resistant strains.

        If that’s right, it’s not a happy thought about the present situation. It’s probably not going to excite enthusiasm in Big Pharma, either.

        1. Societal Illusions

          IVM also isn’t presented by any doctors that i’ve read, nor the FLCCC, as a stand-alone treatment. they are always multi-pronged to cover many bases and add synergistic impacts (D, C, Zinc, azithromycin, melatonin, etc).

          i’m about to curtail my “advocacy” for this stuff as it’s exhausting, but i’d encourage you to watch this. the dr has been ridiculed for his views, and the Australian politician is a bit of a nonconformist and surely suffers from that, but this is the most succinct and clear explanation of the thought process and and learnings from successfully treating real patients. he runs urgent care centers in CA with a dr. partner so unlikely all 6000 patients were his alone, but i found it tied together much i’ve learned.

          vaccines are surely relevant for a portion of the population. non-sterilizing ones aren’t probably as relevant a solution as being able to treat early and reduce symptoms so it becomes more of a nothing-burger. It’s actually infuriating to me that this idea is so successfully suppressed and maligned. great PR whomever is handling it.

          1. Samuel Conner

            The inclusion of immune- and otherwise health-supportive adjuvants in IVM+ therapy, I think, does not vitiate the underlying concern that if the agent itself has a single MoA, it will be more readily evaded by mutant pathogens.

            By all means, one wants to promote patient general health and immune function, but these may not be adequate to prevent resistance to single-agent therapies.

            Agent combinations with distinct targets in the pathogen or pathogen life cycle are, I think, much less vulnerable to resistance.

            1. marku52

              One of the MOAs of IVM that seems resistant to “resistance” if I may coin a phrase, is that it blocks use of the importins alpha and beta. Corona uses these pathways to insert RNA into the cell, where it interferes with interferon production.

              Since IVM interrupts a disease *process*, rather than creating antibodies against a specific strain, it seems more robust against variants.

        2. Samuel Conner

          After writing this, an alarming thought occurred that perhaps Delta is resistant to Ivermectin. I think I read somewhere (having trouble finding a page; maybe this was a comment in NC) that it has been reported that the FLCCC “I-MASK+” protocol is less effective against Delta than against wild-type.

          The government of India was criticized for de-endorsing Ivermectin in standard therapy in favor of an on-patent agent. It’s hard not to infer a $ motive in this, but it’s also possible to envision a “stewardship of anti-viral resources” motive (one that perhaps should have been present even if it was in fact not) — use the agent to beat down the crisis, but then withdraw it before resistance emerges and spreads widely.

          I’ve read suggestions that certain classes of antibiotics should be completely banned in all applications for several decades in order to allow sensitivity to them to re-emerge in the target pathogens. The idea would be that one would always have a set of antibiotics not in present use, basically waiting for the bacteria to genetically drift back into sensitivity. Then, once sensitivity has become widespread, the “on the shelf” antibiotics could be re-introduced as once again effective therapies.

          Combination therapies of new agents (or new with old agents) is an alternative or complementary approach to this.

          I think that the comparatively short-sighted character of infectious disease therapy regulation may need to change in favor of something closer to “global central planning” . At present, the regulatory regime seems to be focused on “safety and present efficacy”, without much concern for how new therapies will affect the evolution of the target pathogens.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The government of India was criticized for de-endorsing Ivermectin in standard therapy in favor of an on-patent agent.

            I am by no means an expert in India, but India is a Federal system, and AFAIK responsbility for health care is devolved to the State level. I believe that different states have different protocols and drug schedules. India also has more than one medical society, and IIRC they differ in their views. Every so often I imagine I’ll try to straighten all this out, but I think it would take somebody a lot more familiar with India and the Indian press than I am to get a handle on it.

            In any case, no, not “the government of India.”

          1. Samuel Conner

            I think it’s a valid comparison for vaccines that stimulate a “narrow” immune response. The mRNA vaccines stimulate a response to the spike protein, which would be more easily evaded by mutants than the immune response to infection or to a vaccine that employed attenuated whole virus or multiple viral antigens.

            We know from decades of therapy of bacterial infections that single MoA therapies tend to become ineffective over time. The target pathogen evolves. I think that in future, multi-MoA anti-infection strategies will become the norm.

      2. Eureka Springs

        Cheap? I noticed in the article linked in comments yesterday the ivermectin prescription cost 76.00. Outrageous considering reports last year it cost a penny or two to produce. Seems like some pharma corporate persons would want to push that kind of mark up x a few billion scrips as much as possible.

        1. lordkoos

          At one local pharmacy (the only one that would fill the scrip) it was $155 for a months supply.

      3. Darthbobber

        Depends. Veterinary formulations of some drugs differ from the human formulations in more ways than dosage. No idea of this is one of those.

        There are also often differences in inactive ingredients.

    3. outside observer

      I wonder, if it were to happen that the next variant that comes along causes the vaccinated population to have higher costs (which seems to be what the Israeli preprint in links says could happen), if the same logic would be applied to their insurance premiums at that time. My guess is no.
      Also, I thought covid costs are being covered by the government at this time? Or are we out of the pandemic already?

    4. griffen

      It’s already at that point. I recall in late 2018 that I had to receive a health certificate / screening to qualify for a lower-cost premium or face the higher expense without it. Not a large employer.

      I think a year later, the fix was in to acknowledge whether an individual was smoking or non-smoking. All else equal, employers face a litany of bad options so making the less-evil option is about all one could hope. Just to put a plug in for the burdensome, unenviable HR task of it all.

    5. pasha

      delta airlines can only get away with this because the company self-insures, a relatively-rare practice exempt from many ACA provisions. otherwise, the ACA only allows higher fee for those who smoke (tho it does allow reduced fee for “wellness” activities like gym membership)

      1. Societal Illusions

        this could easily have been positioned as a savings for those vaccinated. it was not. i wonder why?

  3. PlutoniumKun

    The Bizarre Refusal to Apply Cost-Benefit Analysis to COVID Debates Glenn Greenwald. Not sure what Taleb would think of this.

    I like Greenwald, but he is way off base on this. There are two areas where cost benefit analysis is probably more misleading than useful – one is where there are a very large number of unknown or unquantifiable risks, the second is when we are dealing with comparing incommensurate values.

    Both these apply very strongly with Covid. As Taleb has pointed out, with long tail risks, you have to apply the precautionary principle. That doesn’t mean you don’t at least set out the direct economic costs and benefits of various options (this is always useful), but you can’t look to CBA as a particularly useful tool for assessing Covid alternatives.

    But on a more general point, the core failure IMO of policy in most of the ‘developed’ countries was to set out clear alternative strategies and targets rather than ‘implied’ strategies. It is only when these are made explicit can any sort of informed public debate take place. The absence of this has led to mass confusion, gaslighting and CT.

    1. CuriosityConcern

      I would call myself a fan of GG, but he cites the low ped mortality rate and then doesn’t acknowledge that the measures probably contributed to that low rate…

      1. nycTerrierist

        Big fan of GG here, also scratching my head:
        he seems to dismiss the cost-benefit of kids infecting their caretakers
        if/when they bring the virus home from school, which seems likely.

        and let’s not forget the teachers, and staff, who
        will be vulnerable

        1. Randy

          I understand Greenwald perfectly well. He’s mad he got burned by liberals on Russiagate and some civil liberties issues, so now he has to rail against anything liberals in his twitter feed support. Saying this as a fan of his but he is making the same mistake that law professor who predicted covid would only kill 500 people did, mistaking his competency in one area for being able to comment on health issues he has no training in.

        2. Eloined

          Just as GG is scratching his head over quasi-risk assessments that are indistinguishable from supposition, such as “which seems likely” and “who will be vulnerable.”

          Supposition: an idea that is the starting point for making a case or conducting an investigation; an uncertain belief (online dictionaries).

          I agree the precautionary principle is called for, and also that “but the children” is not a sound argument.

        3. CloverBee

          He is dismissing the risk to kids with Delta, out of hand as well. I know a lot of parents looking at kids in the ICU or with the UK numbers of kids with long COVID (we don’t do science in the US of A anymore) and going, wtf. Delta endangering kids changes the CBA calculation drastically.

          I often wonder if things would have been taken more seriously if kids were impacted initially. Most families don’t have spare kids anymore.

          1. Basil Pesto

            I often wonder if things would have been taken more seriously if kids were impacted initially. Most families don’t have spare kids anymore.

            I’ve wondered along the same lines before but if it were instead something like a viscerally unpleasant, flesh eating disease. or even if it caused something like pre-treatment AIDS. But that’s an even more grounded hypothetical.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        So why did those measures only affect kids and the adult rate is much higher when everyone took the measures?

        Also, if the argument is that kids aren’t in as much danger of getting seriously ill or dying, which seems to be the case at least according to the CDCs data, but they could transmit the disease to older people who could all be vaccinated at this point, isn’t that an admission by those now calling for stricter measures that vaccines don’t work? well And if they don’t work, why are we now pushing boosters while demonizing “horse paste”?

        I say this as someone who has been vaccinated and who has at least tried to glance at the charts posted in Water Cooler fairly often. To me, it seems that while vaccines haven’t been as effective as they were touted to be by the elites, they have actually worked to greatly reduce death and hospitalization, if not transmission.

        What I’d like to see is mandatory paid time off for people who want to get vaccinated coupled with a non-patronizing non-insulting approach to get more people vaccinated, along with an admission that there are also other measures that can be taken to stop the spread such as suggested by the Japanese health official linked to today.

        As Lambert mentioned a while ago, you have to meet people where they are, figuratively and literally. I got my vaccine at a mobile clinic at a local diner that came to my neighborhood and I didn’t have to have any contact a medical establishment and all that entails. Done in 15 minutes. More of that please so we can all get in with our lives.

        1. John Beech

          Hear, hear!

          To which I’ll add, data seems to be coming out this works. What other metric is there?

          So Merck won’t clean up because it’s off patent? Boo-hoo!

          Me? This is yet another reason I switched parties to support Senator Sanders. I’m Californian in this regard . . . despite living in Flori-duh!

          And FYI, I asked my wife to quit rather than return to school and when they countered with an offer for a 1-yr sabbatical, supported her saying yes to that. This, despite the $100k swing in our personal finances. So at least we’re walking the walk.

        2. marku52

          Yes, and help for anyone hurt by the vaccine. Not “Too bad for you, you signed away all your rights…..”

      3. MG

        The ped mortality rate isn’t the only metric to use and is ignoring the 0.5-1% of infected children under 12 who are ending up hospitalized.

        Figure that 10-30% potentially with end with some form of long haul COVID after they leave the hospital.

        It is small percentages but the count quickly adds up if you get into the millions.

        For perspective, only 1% of children exposed to polio end up with paralysis yet parents in the 1940s and 1950s were generally terrified of even a small local outbreak before the polio vaccine.

    2. Carolinian

      clear alternative strategies and targets

      Yes everything about this situation is so very clear if only they would make the effort.

      I’d say Greenwald is spot on. The real problem is that our decision makers are acting like they have clarity and logic when they are actually blundering in a fog and making it all up as they go along. People like Biden seem to be incapable of admitting they are wrong about anything. This most definite of elite diseases is of course the opposite of science. And we have a scientific problem here, not a political one.

      1. Mikel

        It’s this type of “cost-benefit” analysis that created the situation where healthcare systems aren’t prepared – not even two years into this – to be able to handle sudden and sustained increases in patients.

            1. Carolinian

              The concept of cost benefit analysis is applied all over the world every day and most especially in medicine. If you think this is wrong then you haven’t spent much time around hospitals or caring for an aged parent.

              And no it’s not just because hospitals are now run by MBAs but rather because most older people–and I’m not exactly young myself–recognize that the young are the future and the older and retired have to do the best they can to protect themselves without sacrificing the well being of their grandchildren in the process.

              All of which is to say there’s a sensible middle ground in all this and a bureaucratic insistence on absolute control would not be that.

              1. juno mas

                Hospitals will actually move “heaven and earth” for any patient of any age—IF they have billable health insurance. Cost/benefit analysis can easily misunderstand itself.

                1. Carolinian

                  Do Not Resuscitate orders do exist and patients willingly sign this power over to their relatives. It’s not just an economic question since maintaining people in a vegetative state with no ultimate hope can itself be regarded as inhuman.

                  Which is to say there are many kinds of “costs,” particularly when it comes to illness.

              2. Mikel

                You’re talking about where cost-benefit is applied. I’m just saying where it comes from and so it’s an economic frame.

                And I’ll repeat my reply about the “sacrificing well-being of children” since you keep repeating this concern.

                There are youth with co-morbidities too. Or their parents or other caregiver – in many cases this could be a grandparent – have co-morbidities.
                So that would count as a economic and quality of life sacrifice if they have long term health issues (still not yet 2 years into this thing) or their caregiver has long term health issues or dies.

                And now with Delta, the effect on youth seems to be enhanced.

                Probably need a more expansive definition of well-being in this country.

    3. diptherio

      I used to like GG a lot more than I do now, and this article is a good example of why I don’t go out of my way to pay attention to his takes anymore. He can often see right through the BS of the neoliberal mainstream, but seems completely blind to his own BS. He’ll call out an overstatement of harm when it’s a screechy leftist making the claims, but he will also blow way out of proportion the “immense harm” to children of not locking them up in a factory-job-simulator for 8 hours a day.

      I wrote my undergrad thesis on CBA, and I can tell immediately that GG has not made any serious study of the matter. It’s universal and uncontroversial, he says…which is true if you’re a neoliberal Democrat or Republican…but actually a lot of people object to putting dollar values on things like human life. Glenn is apparently unaware. And that’s not even to get into the problems of ignorance vs. uncertainty that Taleb has detailed so ably, so many times.

      And his whole “what, you don’t want to ban cars? why do you want to kill people?” analogy is ripped straight from the playbook of a sub-par high school libertarian debater. It’s astounding that no one read that and clued him in to how juvenile it comes off as. This is almost as nutty as his claim (in earnest, with a straight face) that Steve Bannon and Donald Trump are socialists. Just bizarre.

      1. John Beech

        You don’t have to stop liking Greewald because you don’t like everything he writes. I continue watching MSNBC and CNN (along with some FOX) despite despising their coverage of many, many things. Simply integrate what resonates with your brain and ignore the rest. Easy peasy!

        1. diptherio

          I do just that. I’m just saying this kind of thing is why I find it pretty hard to fall prey to the genetic fallacy with regards to GG. I don’t expect it to be good, or even logical, just because it comes from him…but neither do I expect it to be utterly useless or off-base.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        I agree with you on the factory job simulator bit, but as much as I’d love to sit around reading Herodotus and teaching French to my spawn, she wouldn’t have it and I have to work.

        Having kids at home watching tiktok all day instead of learning and socializing isn’t good for anybody. Remote learning last year was a complete joke. And trying to get kids away from the screens at home after the schools have been pushing ipads on them from a young age is difficult to say the least. You don’t get much work done with a screaming preteen who wants their screen back around.

        I didn’t like Greenwald’s “cost-benefit analysis” framing much myself – I’d prefer arguments not framed using capitalist lingo myself – but I do think his overall argument is OK. Half-assed lockdowns have only brought us to the brink of a civil war and haven’t stopped the virus anyway.

        When authorities start talking about shutting down airports and banning international travel to stop the spread, then I might start thinking they are actually serious, rather than just promoting half measures that tick everybody off just to make it look like they’re doing something authoritative.

        1. Arizona Slim

          One of my American friends moved to Mexico several years ago. Last year, during the first tidal wave of COVID, she told me that the Mexican government put school lessons on television.

    4. Objective Ace

      Very good point about unqualifiable risks. But even if you just focus on the quantifiable risks he’s off base. His comparison to traffic fatallities is orders of magnitude off. There are under 40,000 deaths traffic fatalities annually compared to 500,000+ excess covid deaths *with precautions in place*. And the precautions in place were made on a cost/benefit analysis. Many public health experts and scientists (and NC) were championing much more stringent precautions based on the unqualifiable tail risks

      1. Carolinian

        That’s 40,000 year after year after year. Therefore historically traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the US. And his analogy is quite valid. He’s saying that the American public are cavalier about traffic safety while the media at least are obsessing about the irresponsible unvaccinated. They are not obsessing about, oh say, Biden declaring the vaxxed should act like Covid is over and congregate in super spreader events as long as jabbed.

        And lets not pretend that there isn’t a cost/benefit calculation to the vaccination campaign. The cost is the risk of exposing billions of people to an experimental drug that has not been thoroughly tested for long term effects. The benefit is supposed to be the ability to act like Covid is over, as just mentioned. This is a theme that some of us have been chiming on for some time. The precautionary principle isn’t very convincing if you are cautious in some areas and reckless in others.

        1. Basil Pesto

          The benefit was that it weakened serious illness and death for several months. in an ideal world this would have bought time to plan or implement the next stages of a comprehensive, multinational response to the crisis (and this is a crisis, regardless of your continued resistance to the idea). Hence PlutoniumKun’s quote:

          But on a more general point, the core failure IMO of policy in most of the ‘developed’ countries was to set out clear alternative strategies and targets rather than ‘implied’ strategies. It is only when these are made explicit can any sort of informed public debate take place. The absence of this has led to mass confusion, gaslighting and CT.

          which you weirdly took a random excerpt of and misread.

          Of course this is not an ideal world, there was dithering, vaccine complacency, ongoing annoying pissweak non-lockdowns, and mask oriented culture war inanity. As you say, it was taken as the ability to act like covid is over’ This was dumb and wrong, disastrously so, but it was never the the benefit of the vaccines, because of course it’s not a benefit at all. It’s just a big, fat nothing. Treading water.

          Then with the received wisdom, extremely popular but completely unsupported, that Zero Covid policy is inherently teh devil freedom crush0r when in fact I suspect, and non-trivial analysis cited above supports, that it’s precisely the opposite, as anyone living in NZ or Australia until June would gladly tell you (and in fact I sheepishly boasted about it here on several occasions when I kind of blissfully stopped paying attention to Covid news in the southern summer, as it became a non-issue in this corner of the world).

          Australia is slipping now for imo four main reasons: 1. Mismanaged hotel quarantines for travellers in the first place 2. Appalling Americanski-style misleadership in New South Wales 3. what I’m now calling ‘vaccine complacency’ arguably leading to a “we’ll be right” complacent mindset (see my discussion of the so-called Doherty report, with Kev, above) 4. Lack of awareness and adequate, clear communication of the increased transmissibility of Delta, and I think this is quite a big deal. For example masking uptake is strong, but they are often poorly fitted, sometimes worn sub-nostril, almost always surgical or cloth, no double masking. no badger seals. Weeks ago I linked to a study that showed that in Melbourne’s major lockdown last year, the numbers didn’t start to decline until the mask mandate was introduced some weeks after the strict lockdown began (we have 4 bona fide reasons to leave our residences) – I believe we’re seeing a similar dynamic here and that those numbers likely won’t decline until mask guidance – to say nothing of nasal spray prophylactics etc. – is updated.

          Arguments that it’s now impossible scientifically (politically is different but political fatalism of the ‘it can’t be done so fuck it’ kind doesn’t convince me) to attain Zero Covid because Delta are, at this point, something of a handwave. I mean, the “we can’t even stop the flu!” people seem to have conveniently and hilariously forgotten that, er, actually, maybe we have, or at least massively retarded it.

          1. Carolinian

            I don’t think I misinterpreted, certainly not deliberately. What I am asserting is that those clear strategies have never existed and if they did we wouldn’t be having this debate. The mixture of politics and pharma self dealing into the whole wretched mess has probably made it worse. But that’s just my view, not some kind of attack on PK.

        2. juno mas

          Traffic deaths are actually trending downward during the pandemic. Should we have more pandemics or lower traffic speeds, or encourage mass transportation?

        3. bdy

          FWIW, a universal 25 mph speed limit would be super nice. The ~40,000 lives a year is more than enough to justify it, but that’s the tip of the benefits iceberg. It would reduce emissions substantially even as it promoted a virtuous cycle that reduced them even more — as lighter, safer modes of transportation suddenly found space to operate on the streets, fore-fronting automobiles’ waste by removing the fools gold of breakneck speed from the equation.

          The fact that a blatantly obvious measure like “use heavy machinery safely” lies so far outside the pale of serious discourse is less a feature of cost/benefits thinking than a bloody lesson in how collective barbarism dovetails with force of habit (kinda like anti-masking). We’d rather let those children bleed out on the pavement in terrified pain than wrest five hours out of our work week and give it over to a peaceful commute, or add two days of travel to our precious vacay.

          Hello. Reduce consumption when you’re in a consumption driven extinction event. Driving 25 represents a minor sacrifice compared to the list of stuff we gotta start doing stat if we’re at all serious about survival.

      2. Terry Flynn

        Someone once calculated the implicit “value of a statistical life” inherent in CBA as practised in transport (public transport especially). Then they calculated what it works out as in public health. The two differ by whole orders of magnitude….. I don’t recall which was bigger – transport I think.

        Now, there could be good reasons why govts value your life very differently when it comes to train travel compared to health care. But the problem is they never explained why. (Because health care invented a new method – cost-effectiveness analysis – in an attempt make it look as if they weren’t putting monetary values on curing cancers etc but the methods are inherently incommensurate.) Govts were gonna look really really dumb.

      3. Bill Smith

        He is talking about vivid deaths of children, of which there are very few. What are the costs of skipping a year or two of education? It is an issue that should be explored

        1. John

          Bill, I violently agree with you. Skipping a year or two isn’t the end of the world. But there is a real problem, which is . . . who cares for them so Mom and Dad can continue working?

          Me? I don’t pretend to have the answers so while I definitely understand where parents clamoring for their spawn to return to school are coming from, I also see teachers being a bit less than enthused at prospects of being cooped up with disease ravaged children. Believe me, as a spouse of a teacher, I know for a fact parents often exclaim, ‘you’re not that sick, you’re going to school’ and this will definitely result in more teachers dying.

          Thing is, they’re not in the Army, so this isn’t what they signed up for!

          So closing the circle in my agreement with your take is this; I agree letting them sit out is a better answer – but – we also have to figure out how to make it so parents can do this (financially). Anyway, Capitalism as we know it likely won’t survive this. Not saying we go all in on Socialism, but we must find a balance.

          My 2¢

    5. Mikel

      He was saying measures taken hurt the least least privileged, those unable to jet way or work from home without also getting into the fact that deaths from Covid were also higher among the workers deemed essential.

      But that can only not be considered a high “cost” to pay unlessyou think of them as interchangeable and easily replaceable.
      This is a just a version of an argument for profit over people.

      I’ll let somebody else with more patience with non-sense dive into the twisted logic of comparing contagious diseases and driving cars.

      1. Carolinian

        deaths from Covid were also higher among the workers deemed essential.

        Deaths from working class (often) groups like AA and Latinos seem to be greater but within those groups it is still the elderly and co-morbid who are most at risk. So the argument that the young are being sacrificed (economically, quality of life) still applies.

        If you think Greenwald’s points are off the wall then consider that protests are taking place around the world against draconian lockdowns. Clearly it’s not just Americans who are too dumb to listen to the “experts.”

        1. Mikel

          “So the argument that the young are being sacrificed (economically, quality of life) still applies.”

          There are youth with co-morbidities too. Or their parents or other caregiver – in many cases this could be a grandparent – have co-morbidities.
          So that would count as a economic and quality of life sacrifice if they have long term health issues (still not yet 2 years into this thing) or their caregiver has long term health issues or dies.

          And now with Delta, the effect on youth seems to be enhanced.

        2. lordkoos

          Not just Americans, just most of the western world. People in the far east seem to have no problem following guidelines that protect public health.

    6. dk

      I am not hearing/reading mention that shutdowns, especially early ones, are opportunities to spend heavily in infrastructure improvements and prime the supply pipelines, so that further shutdowns are less necessary. In the case of schools this would take the form of spending on ventilation and PPE stock.

      GG doesn’t suggest this but then hardly anyone else does either. Which puts Greenwald squarely in the neolib box, which, pithy observations not withstanding, he never ever leaves.

      One of the unspoken implications of “cost-benefit analysis” in contemporary discourse is the the cost should always be LOW, on the pretense that thrift is the highest virtue. And spending on school ventilation would surely be high, but after spending even more because the first round of purchases were garbage and the installations were more complex than expected, the benefits are kids in schools, decreased community spread, and the further stabilization possible from those gains.

      In contrast, every shutdown without accompanying spending leads to a new round of profiteering from dominant corporates. The incentives are all perverse.

  4. Basil Pesto

    Oh, Kevin…

    You will enjoy this.

    Australian public fed nonsense as country heads to “irreversible” decision. (re: Doherty)

    It touches on what I was trying to get at yesterday:

    A) the pols have misrepresented the Doherty report in a fundamentally dishonest way

    B) It’s still bad anyway

    but it goes into B) in more depth and detail than I’ve been capable of to date. It is well worth a read for getting a better handle on the the issues at play. An NC-style repudiation. Again, would welcome commentary from more technically capable members of the commentariat if they can spare the time/energy (it’s all a bit Australia-specific though)

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that page, Basil. I am going to have to go through it in detail. Seems to that the Doherty model is not the only one out there-

      ‘Ending lockdowns and other public health restrictions once 80% of the adult population is vaccinated could result in 25,000 deaths in total and 270,000 cases of long Covid, new modelling warns.’

    2. The Rev Kev

      Jee-zuz. Have just read through it. It is far, far worse than I ever thought. Does Scotty from Marketing think that the Doherty approach will win him next year’s election? You think that Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland & the rest will re-open up to NSW which is letting it spread uncontrolled? As that article mentions, Sydney’s Westmead hospital is already overwhelmed with ambulances stacked up outside. And where is all this ICU capacity supposed to come from to meet the tens of thousands of cases that will be showing up. Does Doherty have a model for that? There is going to be a helluva butcher’s bill before this is all over.

      1. Wukchumni

        Such different styles in the Antipodes…

        Arden slipped away from the dogma pond when barely an adult and is taking a rational course of action in NZ (props to y’all living on the South Island-the last bastion of no pandemic-so far) while across the pond, enthusiastic mystical bowing league members Gladys & Scotty are doing something irrational, but then again their worldview is the suspension of disbelief.

        1. ambrit

          The way their actions look from this ‘pode, their worldview is more accurately described as the “suppression of disbelief.”
          One could make the argument that this lot are navigating, and, alas, leading, from a Theocratic Worldview.

          1. juliania

            Or maybe, when your National Anthem begins :

            God of nations at Thy feet
            In the bonds of love we meet
            Hear our voices we entreat –
            God defend our free land!

            …the deity just might give a listen?

            1. Tom Bradford

              I’d point out that the core of the present outbreak in New Zealand appears to be attributable to a church meeting. Must have been the deity’s day off.

  5. Raymond Sim

    Yesterday was the first day of the new school year here in Davis, California. As of this morning Birch Lane Elementary(583 students) lists 5 students positivie and 50 in quarantine.

    Overall the district, which has about 8500 students and 1000 staff lists 17 students and 3 staff positive with 68 students and 3 staff in quarantine.

    It looks like roughly half of the district’s campuses have at least one positive student – I’m not sure where all the programs are housed.

    My recollection is that last year the number of students whose parents consented to testing was more than half, but not a whole lot more.

    Given national trends, it looks as if the only way they’ll be able to keep the schools open is if students stop coming.

    1. Blue Duck

      I’ve commented about our experience with California public school and Covid over the last few days. Our twin sons were exposed in their second grade class on day two of the school year. We weren’t notified until the following Sunday. Therefore my sons sat in a classroom for five days with Covid swimming around, and sat unmasked at lunch tables without social distancing.

      There is a looming public health crisis in California. This time it is going to involve children aged 11 and under. At this stage, and in my opinion, the majority of Californian elementary school students have been exposed to Covid. They are all unvaccinated.

      Further more, this public health crisis will occur as Governor Newsome is fighting for his political life. What decision will Newsome make if he has to choose between saving children’s lives by shutting down the schools and thus sealing his political doom, or keeping the schools open to save his own behind. Will Newsome sacrifice himself or our children? I do not have high hopes…

      1. ambrit

        It is a shame to realize that the PMC class to which I’m fairly sure Newsome belongs has as an article of faith that they are too important to sacrifice anything of theirs. They believe that the “little people” were “put there by the Great Bureaucrat” to do the sacrificing.
        It all reminds me of “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Goethe. Don’t ask me why.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > It is a shame to realize that the PMC class to which I’m fairly sure Newsome belongs

          Newsom is one of the “four families (with handy chart)” that run California, i.e., he’s a member of a clan of oligarchs. I’d say he’s full-on bougie.

          The LA Times lists “eight families” (with handy table) backing him in San Francisco, but I assume 4 of those families are gentry (local power bases, not state-wide, which in California means national).

          Perhaps California readers can comment further!

      2. Raymond Sim

        As I noted in another comment, official stats for counties all over the state are showing big spikes. I don’t know how much of that is cases acquired in school and how much is just kids arriving for the first day getting tested, choose your poison, they’re both bad. Maybe it will turn out to be one of those totally innocent inconsequential statewide data glitches.

    2. howard in nyc (formerly nor cal)

      Raymond, thanks for the Davis update. As a proud member of the first graduating class of Robert Willet Elementary, (we used to whup Birch Lane regularly in sports), reminds me to check the local Davis Enterprise paper more often. Hope the district handles things rationally.

      1. howard in nyc (formerly nor cal)

        City recreation department had after school sports for us. Most schools had (and still have) an adjacent city park; high school kids were hired part time to run these programs. Extinct long ago; Davis had an awesome city recreation department, they still do I’m told, with a ton of great programs, but very different than in the 60s and 70s. Times change.

        1. Raymond Sim

          Dang, short version would be ‘masks while indoors, air purifiers but I don’t know what kind, no mention of CO2 monitors that I saw, eat outside – when possible, distance while eating – to the extent possible. More talk about cleaning and handwashing and doorknob-not-touching than ventilation.

    3. Raymond Sim

      Just found out one of my grandchildren is being quarantined for exposure. The infected child is a friend. Seems the kids are more wary of me finding out what’s going on than they are of the virus.

      They’re not stupid, but they’re vulnerable to certain kinds of propaganda. Some of you reading this are peddlers of that shit.

  6. Ian Perkins

    Economists must grapple with climate tipping points before it’s too late

    “Not only are these tipping points not a sure thing, but each one is, in its own right, relatively unlikely to transpire.”
    I’m not sure about that. Several respected climate scientists suspect we might have already crossed one or two. In many cases, the temperature at which they might kick in is simply unknown.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Please, please, keep the effing louts known as “economists” totally away from anything having to do with ecocide. They will just “price it in” and provide the usual cover for more of the effing same because “uncertainties.” These critters in part presided over the killing of the precautionary principal and the in-filling with “risk assessment.”

      1. Ian Perkins

        ecocide. They will just “price it in”

        An early and influential paper in the field of ecological economics priced the biosphere at around $50 trillion, IIRR. True, they had an idiosyncratic notion of the biosphere which excluded us, but what ‘us’ would be left without the rest of life?

        1. lordkoos

          Putting a price on the biosphere… only economists could think of such a thing.

          Hey, I’ll give you $45 trillion for it and not a penny more…

          1. Kouros

            Isn’t the saying that economists know the price of everything but the value of nothing still valid?

    2. Eloined

      David Roberts has been curating semi-sanguine smatterings of climate news and policy ideas for nearly twenty years, going back to Grist — here some alarmism to validate the highly-concerned crowd, there some touting of policies-du-jour for aspirational relevance to policymakers.

      Peppered too with misstatements that are odd for someone so obviously clever and supposedly steeped in this stuff, such as that “[t]he commonly cited examples of potential tipping points are the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets,” and not — as bulleted in passing further below — the thawing of permafrost which is copiously underway.

      A philosophy grad student turned would-be king wonk. if this seems too harsh, I can only say I’ve seen his work stop conspicuously short of realism too often over too many years to see him as anything but a niche writer targeting those who believe climate change is certainly a problem but more significantly a subject for intellectual and professional indulgence. In that vein, I read him from time to time because his articles do pack in the facts.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The PNAS article. This is the part of the methodology that appealed to me:

          A growing body of research has explored climate tipping points using economic models. We reviewed this literature and identified 52 papers that model the economic consequences of at least one climate tipping point (SI Appendix, Table S1). Many of these studies, however, represent climate tipping points in a highly stylized way. Examples include an instantaneous jump in the model’s equilibrium climate sensitivity (11), an arbitrary reduction in global gross domestic product (GDP) (12), and a one-off permanent reduction in global utility (13). While such studies have helped put climate tipping points on the economic research agenda and contributed to understanding qualitative aspects of climate policy in the face of tipping points, such stylized representations are unrealistic from a geophysical point of view and difficult to calibrate quantitatively. Therefore, we also identified those studies that are based on geophysical foundations (i.e., with at least a reduced-form representation of the key underlying geophysical relationship[s] that govern the tipping point). This yielded 21 articles, highlighted in SI Appendix, Figs. S1–S3 and Table S1.

  7. Raymond Sim

    Regarding comparisons of naturally acquired immunity with that from vaccines: The question is “Are the vaccines worthwhile?” not “Is a dose of Covid maybe a good thing?”

    If you have the least notion the latter might even be worth asking, you’ve tested positive for mind-poisoning.

    1. Carolinian

      Because you say so?

      Please see Greenwald today on the zero Covid mania and the hubristic notion that refusing to accept such an approach is “mind poisoning.”

      Of course for over a year now there are highly qualified epidemiologists who have been saying that naturally acquired immunity is the only thing that will ultimately stop this–that plus the fact that many of the most vulnerable will unfortunately have succumbed.

      1. Raymond Sim

        “Of course for over a year now there are highly qualified epidemiologists who have been saying that naturally acquired immunity is the only thing that will ultimately stop this–that plus the fact that many of the most vulnerable will unfortunately have succumbed.”

        1) Please name two or three of these geniuses.

        2) Can you explain their rationale?

        1. Yves Smith

          OMG, the stupid, it burns. There is no such thing as “naturally acquired immunity” when:

          1. Immunity to getting infected by wild type Covid confers immunity of at best 8 months. We’ve read of reinfections in way shorter time frames but like everything with Covid, data is not so hot.

          2. Variants variants variants! They shorten and may completely obviate immunity from prior infection. We linked to a paper that Delta is primed to completely escape the vaccines. Recall that vaccine-conferred immunity is better than getting infected (aside from all the morbidity risk) because the neutralizing antibody levels are higher. So if Delta evolves to evade vaccine-conferred immunity, it is pretty certain to largely/fully escape natural immunity too.

          1. Carolinian

            From up page

            SARS-CoV-2-naïve vaccinees had a 13.06-fold (95% CI, 8.08 to 21.11) increased risk for breakthrough infection with the Delta variant compared to those previously infected, when the first event (infection or vaccination) occurred during January and February of 2021…. SARS-CoV-2-naïve vaccinees were also at a greater risk for COVID-19-related-hospitalizations compared to those that were previously infected

            My understanding of medicine-speak translates this as immunity through infection is indeed superior re Delta to immunity through vaccination. Happy to be corrected if that is wrong.

            Doubtless there are other studies that say different things. So perhaps either view is not a slam dunk. But for some of us amateurs who follow this–somewhat–on the web there seems to be very little certaintly about anything when it comes to Covid.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > My understanding of medicine-speak translates this as immunity through infection is indeed superior re Delta to immunity through vaccination. Happy to be corrected if that is wrong.

              That’s not what the study says. It says:

              breakthrough infection with the Delta variant

              and not, therefore, with the Lambda, or Epsilon, or Omega or whatever variant. There’s also no telling how long the effect lasts*, even without new variants. It also applies only to Pfizer, and not any other vaccine, in particular not to killed-virus vaccines.

              So, I think with “superior” you are getting way out over your skis. The effect is interesting and shows our immune system can be pretty clever, but no more.

              NOTE * The abstract says “long-term,” but that can only be a matter of months, starting when the jabs were given. That’s not what a layperson thinks of when they hear “long-term.”

              1. Carolinian

                I did say “re Delta.”

                And there are people who say the vaccines themselves are creating these variants which, as I believe IM Doc has said, may turn very deadly indeed. He didn’t say the part about the vaccines. Those suspicions are based on ADE or other phenomena which are indeed way above my pay grade or, if you will, back where my skis are.

          2. Phenix

            Yves, I have had Covid 2x. I am an essential worker. I had the original and most likely delta. I have had no problem dealing with either of them. My symptoms were so mild I didn’t know I had it until my wife tested positive. I leave the house for errands.

            I will not give my kids the vaccine. I will not take the vaccine. I will not risk the side effects on myself or anyone I care for. I understand your position but I am not responsible for you. You, and no one else, should ask a child to risk heart damage and other known side effects in order for you to live your life.

            I don’t think I need to rehash the arguments about sterilizing and non sterilizing vaccines or the fact that vaccine protection wears off just like naturally acquired immunity. The length is up to debate though. Natural acquired immunity can last 11 months
            which is longer than the vaccines.

            Covid is here to stay. The PTB did not go for a zero Covid approach and the approaches they have taken are tearing the communities apart.

            I agree with you and a majority of the commenters about the school reopening fiasco. My son’s are homeschooled now. I doubt we are going back.

            1. juliania

              That’s good news, Phenix, and bravo to you for home schooling. I have been mulling over how to say that ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ as far as keeping kids home when schools are such difficult vectors for the virus. My own kids with their kids have treated the challenge in different ways, and my own experience began as WW2 unfolded – my father went overseas when I was two weeks old and didn’t come home till I was four. We then lived as a matter of course with my grandmother, who took in lodgers to make ends meet. You do what you must.

              This is a similar crisis, but even when it wasn’t, I was a single parent, raised my children working at home caring for other children, just a few, but it paid the bills. You do what you must, and your children, their welfare, always come first.

              It isn’t really about the job; it never was. It’s about priorities.

            2. Tom Bradford

              Good on you, Phenix. I’m an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid, or perhaps it’s cholera or tuberculosis, but it hasn’t affected me so, like Typhoid Mary, I’ll go on with my life as usual.

              I fully support your reasons for not getting inoculated against these things. In fact I’d like to meet you and shake you by the hand.

            3. Raymond Sim

              “Natural acquired immunity can last 11 months
              which is longer than the vaccines.”

              You know of an automatic cut-off date for vaccine- induced immunity?

              Does death count as permanent immunity?

              I don’t want my grandkids taking the available vaccines right now, or ever without better transparency. But if anything could push me into changing my mind it’s the hell world premature surrender will put us in.

              If anything is going to lead to a world where we’re forced to vaccinate our kids, it’s premature surrender.

          3. Still Above Water

            1. Immunity to getting infected by wild type Covid confers immunity of at best 8 months.

            Anecdata: my brother was donating antibody-rich plasma for 10 months after infection. His antibody levels were excellent. After 13 months, he continues to party unmasked in GA and FL with “immunity impunity”. An outlier? Perhaps. More data needed.

            FWIW, when he went back the 11th time, they told him they could no longer test for antibodies, and could not give him a satisfactory answer as to why. Putting on my tinfoil hat, I told him that if they have no data as to how long antibodies last, then nobody can challenge them when they say that natural immunity doesn’t last and everyone must get vaxxed.

  8. QuarterBack

    Re CIA flights out of Afghanistan, it is useful to understand some background. The CIA is very closely aligned with the State Department and serves as State’s de facto military arm when DOD is unwilling to support State’s wishes. This creates a decades old friction between the agencies to the extent that both agencies withhold intelligence from each other and many CIA missions and intel about actors are not shared with DOD before, during, or after. At this point, most of the US citizens still in Afghanistan are there serving some function directed, funded, or otherwise encouraged by State. In the final days and hours, State may be losing patience with DOD to get their people out (US and others), and have taken it upon themselves perform their own extractions. CIA may also be trying to enable some of their more sensitive personnel to be extracted without “too many questions” being asked by DIA during the identification and vetting process.

    Another interesting tell of potential friction recently was Secretary of State Blinken’s use of the word “stranded” to describe the US citizens still inside Afghanistan. Blinken, as the Nation’s top diplomat would certainly know the significance of that word coming so soon after White House Press Secretary Psaki took specific offense towards the use of that term in a press conference.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And there is apparently no way to pry the claws of the “policy establishment” (with the internal frictions and low-intensity conflict that’s been going on since shortly after the natioin’s founding) off the throats of the rest of us?

      And I reject that BS about “rough men” being in any way “protective” of our “democracy.” Evil and corruption in equal measures — what do either State/CIA or DoD/whatever actually do to “promote the general welfare,” as opposed to “promoting the welfare of the Generals?”

      There’s precious little reserves of homeostasis left in the biosphere to allow these monsters to continue to prowl and play their Great Games.

    2. Darthbobber

      All of which is to say that many of the remaining mysteriously “stranded”, who were formally told to leave in May but chose not to, may well be the CIA’s own.

      1. QuarterBack

        But, there may also be many USAID funded NGOs performing various humanitarian missions in places too remote to travel by land to Kabul, or to have reliable communications. In the chaos that is happening in Kabul, it is easy to see how a group of distant teachers or water treatment engineers might not be on the DOD list, but because State grants funded them, State knows about them, and DOD may have never planned for their evacuation.

        1. John k

          Odd that such types wouldn’t have left in April and the ones remaining mostly cia/state types.

          1. QuarterBack

            Probably had assurances by the prior Afghan government that they would be allowed to continue their work after US troops left, with protection from the Afghan Army.

    3. Oh

      The US Citizens (civilians is the term they use in the Press) are all probably CIA and contractor personnel who were too greedy to leave right away. They made so much money on this war and yet we’re supposed to feel sorry for these guys. The MSM makes a big fuss about their being stranded tells me the ones feeding this line are from the Military Industrial Complex who are not happy that this gravy train is ending.

  9. Skip

    Regarding Links’ Syraqistan and Biden’s meeting with Israel’s new leader, (the prospect of Bennett explaining what US foreign policy should be, like Bibi did).

    Many people think only of Netanyahu’s 2015 speech to Congress, which got a lot of comment because it amounted to a dissing of Obama in an attempt to sabotage the nuclear agreement with Iran. But he also addressed Congress in 1996, portraying himself as a tough-minded peacenik, to rave media reviews. Netanyahu’s tragically successful 2002 testimony to Congress has fallen into a bipartisan memory hole. In it Netanyahu claimed Saddam was developing nuclear weapons, which would go to a “terror network”, and that war with Iraq would inspire a democratic uprising in Iran, that taking out Saddam would have “enormous positive reverberations on the region.” All of this carefully coordinated with Israel’s Neo-dis and dat confederates, including many of the loudest critics of Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. The gift that keeps on giving.

    1. urblintz

      The CIA has been there a lot longer than most remember and contrary to the established narrative of protecting Afghans from Russians… we were there first:

      “The Brzezinski Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur (1998)
      Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs that the American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahiddin in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. In this period, you were the national security advisor to President Carter. You therefore played a key role in this affair. Is this correct?

      Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention [emphasis added throughout].

      1. Polar Socialist

        What Brzezinski left out was that the ruling faction of the People’s Democratic Party at the time was considered pro-US – especially by the faction that overthrew them.

        Soviet Politburo supported the other faction mainly because they were not as anti-Islamist (and less pro-USA), since Politburo figured too much secularization too fast in a place like Afghanistan would only be counterproductive.

        A wild idea.

      2. Skip Intro

        That would make Bin Laden’s success into drawing the US into a costly quagmire in the graveyard of empires pretty ironic wouldn’t it? They trained him well. Do you think Blair expected the brits could settle the scores for their last Afghan adventure? 0 and 2 must sting.

    2. David

      “maybe we can ask Bennett to explain to us what our foreign policy should be from the floor of the House, like Bibi did.”

      His parents certainly got involved in our domestic policy. “Bennett’s parents were raised in non-Orthodox Jewish homes and were progressive activists during the 1960s in San Francisco. His father was arrested while taking part in an anti-racism sit-in protest in 1964.”

      Gee, wonder how they would feel about their kid’s segregation of Palestinians?

  10. John Sweeney

    CIA ‘clandestine’ rescue ops in Afghanistan: If the Hill reports this, it follows that the ‘ops’ aren’t clandestine at all. Shaping the political narrative?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Came across the same poem in high school in Oz. It was the 70s and we had some free-thinking teachers too.

  11. Terry Flynn

    To be honest neither Israeli paper fills me with confidence. Caveat: when looking at “patterns of odds or risk ratios” most of my experience was earned in stated preference data, not revealed preference (in this case actual disease outcome) data. Though I concluded pretty early on that the problem I am used to spotting is, unfortunately, extremely likely to be present in Covid-19 data, once I learnt what the vaccines do and do not do.

    The NEJM paper first. Appendicitis, Herpes Zoster and swollen lymph nodes are the three outliers in a pattern of otherwise “reduced risk rates”. I’m PhD not MD but I can see links between all the other outcomes, given what we know what Sars-Cov2 infection does. The potential auto-inflammatory responses mentioned before (I’m seeing the dermatologist again within a fortnight – a year of treatment since a suspected Covid infection with increasingly strong steroids has failed to calm my immune system down) make a non-clinician like me shrug at the three outliers and say “yeah if I had to guess ones that didn’t fit the key outcomes picture they’d be good candidates”. But I’m happy for one of the excellent clinicians around here to correct me.

    In short, vaccination could easily have left “underlying individual-level vulnerability” to Sars-Cov2 infection (mean) unchanged but merely beefed up body defences so the consistency of getting a CLINICALLY SIGNIFICANT OBSERVABLE case of the nasty outcomes is reduced (increased variance, manifesting itself as lower risk ratios – exactly what the table and graph show). Plus, the percentile bootstrap for CIs? Tut tut. When you know of repeat infections, individual patients are, statistically speaking, clusters with separate infections in a person being the “bottom level of variation” and the patient being “one level up”. My PhD thesis used Fortran simulations to compare methods of estimating CIs for percentile and other bootstrap methods in clustered clinical and cost-effectiveness data. Should be using bias-corrected and accelerated (BCa) method – my 4 papers dating around 2000-2005 show the results if you need a sleep-aid.

    The other paper. Didn’t have time to do anything but skim it. Saw similar issues in interpretation. In short, the interpretations of data given in both papers cannot be proven to be wrong. It’s just that in my experience, when I’ve had a separate source of data to unconfound the means from the variances, the patterns I see in these papers are 99% of the time variance effects. Given what the clinicians on here and elsewhere are saying regarding the vaccines and their better effects upon symptoms than transmission, nothing the clever bench scientists and docs at the coal face leads me to think my (alternative) interpretation of these data is wrong and indeed is much more likely.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Thank you for this analysis.

      Question (which reveals how far above my “pay grade” this is):

      is it possible to unconfound means from variances in studies of this kind? You’ve previously written that a second dataset is required — what would that look like for an unbiased evaluation of vaccine efficacy and side effects?

      1. Terry Flynn

        Thanks. The more I write, the more I find ways to (I hope) explain this esoteric-but-crucial issue. Imagine (for the sake of argument we’ll just talk the Pfizer vaccine but any will do) the vaccine is sterilising. The prevalence of Sars-Cov2 and associated horrid disease outcomes should be a non-increasing function of the proportion vaccinated. Once you get the disease or get vaccinated (leave aside the small number of highly immunocompromised people) you won’t get Sars-Cov2 again. Eventually you do actually achieve herd immunity.

        This is a mean effect. Your level on some “latent scale of vulnerability to infection” goes down and you effectively have zero variance: you will either be a zero or a 1. Nobody, in 3 decades of life, is getting it 2, 3, 4+ times. The Israeli and other papers are effectively assuming the vaccine is sterilising, even though they don’t realise it. The proof is that they used the percentile bootstrap – there were warnings in the small print of various statistical manuals even before I got my teeth into this in my PhD back around 2000! So they don’t read the small print about the logit and probit functions. Bad start.

        So the fact we’re seeing such high numbers of breakthrough cases and variants STRONGLY suggests there are variance effects at play. Maybe the “true” model is a mean-variance mixture. Maybe (worst case scenario) it is entirely a variance model. NC people have discussed what might be happening long term to you cumulatively if you get Sars-Cov2 6 times in your life, for instance. So everything we’ve been OBSERVING in real life suggests a significant part of the “better risk ratios and odds ratios” is rooted in variances, not means, not to mention the fact if the media had been as observant as NC and seen that Pfizer et al all gave outcomes in terms of “symptom reduction” and not “immunity” they’d have known we live in a “variance world, not purely mean world”.

        Now, to answer your question. Unfortunately most of my experience in splitting means and variances comes from marrying two stated preference datasets, or (like McFadden did to get his “nobel”) marrying “real” (revealed preference) data with a second stated preference dataset. Marrying two revealed preference datasets? Certainly possible and if done well, is actually the “most robust” way to split the confound. However, with a moving target like a fast mutating coronavirus? This is a big ask. The reasons for my first few paragraphs were really to illustrate use of “tricks” I’ve learnt over 20 years of “spotting” how much is mean, how much is variance. I am a stats/public preferences guy. I rely HEAVILY on the people “at the coal face” to give me the insights I need to know whether a “pattern of odds ratios” is likely entirely variance in nature. Thankfully the info about the vaccines and day-to-day observations from people like Ignacio etc here helps me immensely. Otherwise I’d have no clue.

        However, a second dataset would have to broadly match (say) the larger Israeli dataset in terms of patient characteristics, would have to come from somewhere else, and would have to “alter some key aspects of the intervention” – so maybe concentrate on different exposures (outdoor versus indoor with VERY good measures of viral shedding and inhalation) with follow up. Essentially try to “alter a condition we KNOW will radically change the mean and/or the variance”.

        So returning to my simplistic equation of xy=8. Another equation that merely told you the same thing but with a slightly different transform is no use. You really need to somehow standardise x or y. This is where I’d be knocking on the doors of the scientists to brainstorm with them how to get a study going where either mean or variance was kept similar to before and you knew exactly how you were doing so, so the differences in odds ratios must then come from the “other” variable.

        I hesitate to even mention this, but a certain dreadful regime in human history understood this well and via awful totally unethical interventions taught us loads about “how consistently a human will experience something” (variances). Modern trials and basic humanity of course make this kind of thing unthinkable. So it typically takes some out of the box thinking from people who work out how to get two datasets where (for instance) their consistency of getting it is the same but we see very different odds ratios (thus giving us true means).

        1. Mikel

          “The Israeli and other papers are effectively assuming the vaccine is sterilising, even though they don’t realise it.”

          I get this part of what you are saying. In layman’s terms: They are using metrics for sterilizing vaccines for non-sterilizing vaccines.
          Is this near to what you are saying or no?

          1. Terry Flynn

            Yes. The “conventional” interpretation (like theirs) assumes mean differences which conceptually is a sterilising vaccine.

            If it isn’t a sterilising vaccine then by definition there must be variance (since an individual can potentially catch it multiple times). So they’re setting variance to a trivial level and all their odds ratios are being interpreted as mean changes. When any regular of NC knows it isn’t sterilising so their interpretation of the frequencies (as means) MUST be incorrect.To what degree? I can’t be sure. But the speed with which variants emerged as well as breakout cases does not fill me with hope.

            My personal view is that the effects are almost 100% variances. Which means most people will ultimately be susceptible to repeat infection unless we create vaccines faster than variants emerge. And I don’t think that’s possible. Which just reinforces what NC said all along -should have gone for eradication like with SARS and MERS during period we had a universally working vaccine.

              1. Terry Flynn

                Thx Tegnost. This discussion actually helped me too. By thinking about sterilising/non-sterilising vaccines I realised we HAVE a variable that perfectly distinguishes “mean world” from “variance world”.

                Do we know the split? Still no.But I realised that sterilising nature is how to rule in or out variance effects. So I know qualitatively that any study that just quotes odds/risk ratios must be wrong in that it is based on mean -sterilising vaccine – effects.

                I can’t tell you how wrong the answers are.but they’re wrong. Very very wrong.

    2. Raymond Sim

      Whenever I’ve become a bit better informed on some aspect of the relevant biology, I’ve become aware of unwarranted tacit assumptions seemingly underlying approaches to investigation, and analysis of Covid data.

      The mean/variance dichotomy pops up immediately when people who believe in droplet dogma try to interpret epidemiological data on an airborne pathogen. The term ‘superspreader’ owes more to confusion on this basis than to the phenomenon being exceptional.

      Thus even the task of formulating the rudiments of a proper mathematical analysis of the pandemic is challenged by the kind of problems you’re describing.

  12. John Beech

    The warehouse is illuminated and these have changed over the years from sodium to fluorescent to LED. Bugs still swarm like always. Sample size of one but I have eyes and there’s been no change in that respect. Make of it what you will.

    1. GF

      It may depend on the wavelength of the LED. They can emit different color temperatures depending on the lighting need. Some may not be attractive to insects?? Haven’t seen anything about studies to make this determination. The color temperature of the LEDs in this case could have been purposely adjusted to keep insects away.

      1. hunkerdown

        There seems to be a bit coming out recently.

        Kamei et al. (2021), on sensitivity by order to three types of lamps. Fewer insects were collected in traps lit by 2200K (candle flame) LED lamps, where more 440nm energy is converted by a more active phosphor layer, than by traps lit by 5000K white LED lamps or mercury vapor.

        Kühn et al. (2021), on aquatic insects. It seems to be accepted that “In several studies, light sources with strong short-wavelength emissions have been shown to attract the highest numbers of flying insects,” most likely to the monochromatic 440nm energy not being consumed and re-emitted as yellow by a less active phosphor layer. This study observed that most aquatic insects like wavelengths about equally.

        Thanks for the inspiration for a fun little research project. Go long phosphor!

  13. Ian Perkins

    Biden is their best friend & creation, yet they seem willing to destroy him for shutting down just one of the Empire’s numerous money-laundromats (Mark Ames tweet)

    The Nib has an excellent little cartoon explaining the different approaches to Afghanistan taken by recent Republican and Democrat presidents (spoiler alert: omit ‘different’?).

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If you give an inch, they will take a mile. I think that is the worry with Biden as he is probably a useless idiot as opposed to a true believer. The world won’t collapse and a daily 9/11 won’t happen (covid aside) if these minds of changes happen. Imagine a semi-functioning DoJ. There are rumors Biden is threatening the 9 house members who are publicly working against reconciliation, including a threat to fire a relative.

      Matt Stoller points out routinely Biden can’t help but be a better President than Obama. Even minor disruptions are a threat to 20 years of lawlessness.

      For the msm crowd, ratings are an issue too. There is an element of not wanting to acknowledge the disconnect from reality and shrinking audiences, they will move to double down on glory days. Now that Trump is gone and the White House isn’t the destiny of Team Blue, they don’t have to pretend to be anything other than the Bush Republicans they have always been.

  14. cnchal

    > U.S. Billionaires Got 62 percent Richer During Pandemic. They’re Now Up $1.8 Trillion. Institute for Policy Studies.

    . . . It estimated that 25 top billionaires paid on average just 3.4 percent of their wealth-growth in federal income taxes and that several, including Jeff Bezos (worth $188 billion on August 17, 2021) and Elon Musk (worth $175 billion on August 17, 2021), went multiple recent years paying zero federal income tax.
    Tax wealth like work. People with more than $1 million a year in income will have to pay a top tax rate on the sale of stock and other assets that is the same as the top rate workers pay on wages.

    This article fails to explain how Bezos and Musk get away with paying zero personal federal income tax. Bezos and Musk’s salary is well under a million so those new rules won’t affect them.

    Another fail is the neglect to explain the source of the wealth that Bezos and Musk have. Never is the grossly inflated stawk prices of Amazon or Tesla mentioned, and that for example, Bezos cashes out a billion a year of stawk chips and that he cashed out five billion this year, not quite at the top but close.

    Bezos and Musk have a best buddy. His name is Jerome. He’s got Mr. Market higher than a kite. That’s the source of their wealth.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Pentagon requires military members get COVID-19 vaccine immediately”

    As regular troops already have to take 17 shots before going overseas, they may not have much choice about taking this one. But it may not be so simple for National Guard troops who are, after all, volunteers. It may be that some or perhaps many will have strong enough feelings about these vaccines to pull the plug on their service. And I don’t think that there could be much done about it. And it is not like the pool of possible volunteers is growing. Not with long covid it isn’t.

  16. Olivier

    If immunity from infection proves more effective than that from mRNA vaccines that would not be surprising IMO since the latter elicit an immune response against the spike protein only (by design) whereas an infected person mounts a fuller immune response, i.e., against every part of the virus. The funny thing is that earlier (if memory serves me right) there were reports that, on the contrary, immunity from vaccines was stronger. What do our resident doctors say?

    1. saywhat?

      The funny thing is that earlier (if memory serves me right) there were reports that, on the contrary, immunity from vaccines was stronger. What do our resident doctors say? Oliver

      Not a doctor but the difference might be quantitative (spike-based vaccines) versus qualitative (immunity from infection).

    2. Ian Perkins

      Re COVID vaccines that rely on spike protein, or parts thereof: it’ll be interesting to see how vaccines that present the whole virus in inactivated form, such as China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm, or Iran’s Barekat, fare in comparison when data starts becoming available.

      1. Tom Doak

        I would love to know exactly how we are going to get reliable data on the Iranian vaccine, or the Chinese ones, when we have to look overseas to Israel for data on the American ones.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Even if it proved itself that the Russian or Chinese or Iranian or Cuban vaccines were much superior to the mRNA vaccines, there is no way that you will be ever able to get any. They will say that they cannot import any of those vaccines unless it has been thoroughly tested by the FDA who will either slow-walk it (like the EU is doing with the Sputnik V vaccine) or they will just not bother looking at it.

        2. Ian Perkins

          Your comment appears to assume that data from the USA is more reliable than data from elsewhere. Sinovac and Sinopharm have been widely used in various countries – I think I read that China has exported more doses than all other countries combined, though I’m unsure if I’m remembering that rightly. Barekat is rather newer, and, I think, only being used in Iran so far, so we’ll probably have to wait longer for data, if any is forthcoming.

      2. Lee

        Searching on Google for “effectiveness of sinovac” brings up quite a few links.

        Based on my layperson’s understanding, it does make sense that a vaccine that activates an immune response to more viral components than just its spike protein would be more effective and provide fewer opportunities for vaccine evasion through mutation. Might it possibly also produce more side effects, which so far seem to be less of a concern than becoming ill with the virus while unvaccinated?

        1. Ian Perkins

          I haven’t seen reports, official or via the rumour mill, of significant side effects from the Sinovac or Sinopharm jabs. Then again, the nastier side effects of the Pfizer and Astra-Zeneca jabs are pretty rare according to official sources, so it’s possible the Chinese jabs have some serious ones that aren’t being picked up or reported.

    3. Olivier

      Maybe we need to distinguish between stronger / longer-lasting vs. fuller immune response. It stands to reason that infection would result in a fuller response but I am pretty sure I have seen reports to the effect that the immunity from vaccines is stronger and wanes more slowly. But which characteristic is more protective? That’s the rub.

      1. Samuel Conner

        There’s an additional concern that I’m not qualified to assess, but it is being expressed in some quarters (and I think is mostly ignored or dismissed in polite conversation): “what is the relative rate of decline of neutralizing versus enhancing antibodies produced in response to the vaccine and in response to infection?”

        This has been mentioned repeatedly in “Debt Rattle” links at Automatic Earth. Some months ago, Derek Lowe expressed the view that targeting the spike protein with mRNA vaccines had low risk of antibody-dependent-enhancement, which is encouraging, but I suspect that the studies on which that assessment is based were of “prompt immune response” and did not track the long term induced immunity of the test subjects. If neutralizing antibodies decline faster than enhancing antibodies, that could spell trouble.

        1. Raymond Sim

          There’s no big faction that wants to be honest about what role immune memory is likely to play as the pandemic rolls on. This is as true of vaccine skeptics as of true-believers.

          But as it rolls, I would suggest that the safest prediction is that the next big problem will be bigger than the last. And whatever everybody’s hollering about on any given day is, it’s probably not the next big problem.

          Right now everybody in my head is hollering about this:

          Bear in mind that while this would have its worst effects on immunity from the spike-based vaccines, it would be bad news for everybody.

    4. IM Doc

      From one clinician in one practice so this is not dispositive.

      Since the advent of Delta in mid May when we saw the first repeated vaccine breakthroughs I have now in my own practice had 179 vaccine breakthroughs including myself.

      In that same time frame, I have had 14 patients who were previously infected become sick and positive again. Interestingly, in my group all 14 of these were related to having been vaccinated or boostered (on their own by lying to the pharmacy) the week or so before.

      I am therefore not certain how to classify those 14. Partially vaccinated or partially boostered?

      As to patients with previous positive covid illnesses, many of whom with documented IgG antibody tests as positive, and unvaccinated, I have had a grand total of zero become ill so far, even with delta.

      I am evermore relying on my own observations about advice I am giving rather than this constant mishmash of research and public health statements. I am doing this for my own sanity and the sanity of my patients who are quite confused and angrier by the hour.

      1. Raymond Sim

        “As to patients with previous positive covid illnesses, many of whom with documented IgG antibody tests as positive, and unvaccinated, I have had a grand total of zero become ill so far, even with delta.”

        I’m not wanting to pick nits, but your writings here are attended to very closely, so I think it’s important that readers understand that ‘previously infected, as verified by IgG tests’ and ‘previously infected’ are not identical categories. If there were more overlap we might not be in this mess at all.

        1. IM Doc


          I have very bad timing some times when I sit down to write something – an alarm goes off – or a patient crumps – and I lose all my train of thought. I really should be careful about not going ahead and submitting during those times.

          There are all kinds of patients who have had an illness and were COVID positive – but who later do not have any kind of antibodies. I have honestly not seen any of these patients get sick either.

          There are others who check their antibody status like a hawk every few months or so – I am not so sure that this is too helpful either.

          I just saw a report on TV just now from Israel – that a new study of the data show that about 0.2-0.3% of the previously infected are getting COVID in the past few weeks. That too is consistent with what I am seeing. It does not appear to be too common at all.

          As you can only imagine – trying to be rational in this environment with people who are scared to death has become next to impossible.

          I am not comfortable assuming that someone will never have COVID again once they have had the real disease – that is just not the way corona viruses work. I do think it is very likely that future infections in an already infected person will likely become more muted on each subsequent turn. THAT IS how all other corona viruses work. We have 4 circulating corona viruses in humans right now – and we all pass them around to each other year after year – with various symptoms of URI or congestion, cough, or flu-like illness.

          What I am trying to convey in what I wrote earlier – is that what I am seeing on the ground in my own practice is consistent with the conclusions of the above paper – patients with a history of COVID positive illness and certainly with IgG antibodies just are not showing up in my office with COVID right now. The only ones who are have almost always been vaccinated in the preceding weeks – and that is something I have noticed all the way back to December. It really puzzles me. The same cannot be said for vaccinated patients – by a long shot – they continue to show up in droves. Another 6 just this AM. I absolutely see unvaccinated patients who have never had COVID before all the time. Just not in the numbers of the breakthroughs. But I feel there are so many more factors at work there – a doctor’s office is not the place to find those patients. The unvaccinated have sub-cohorts that do not seek medical care, many are young and are barely if at all symptomatic – but the most concerning is the large number of them who cannot afford to be sick – and certainly not be in quarantine – without losing their job – so they do not seek care. I lament the fact that our health authorities have been so negligent in their record-keeping – we are quite literally totally blind in these matters.

          I will also say that the worm is clearly turning in many of my colleagues. I think we are all starting to realize that we are going to have to learn to live with this. That was the central theme of a Grand Rounds I attended this week on Zoom. The vaccines are certainly not the silver bullet. We are going to have to work very hard on any repurposed or new antivirals. We are going to have to take masking and distancing much more seriously until this thing has calmed down to a dull roar (may be months – may be years – who knows at this point?) and we are going to have to work hard to protect the vulnerable – and we are going to have to put down the swords and really begin to work hard together. There are many of us in medicine who are working hard with our colleagues about not being so rigid about vaccine primacy. For example, after the presentation today, I do not think there was a single person who could forcefully support vaccine mandates for those with IgG antibodies – especially younger patients. I am seeing hardened minds changing – very slowly – but changing nonetheless. That is why I write here – non-medical people would never see what I am seeing behind the scenes.

          1. juliania

            I’m reading this late, and usually folk go on to water cooler at or before this point. I strongly suggest to all readers that they take a final look at both places, even the next morning if possible, to catch up on such important comments as this one.

            Thank you very much, IM Doc. It goes with the earlier request from Peter Doshi to the FDA that two years more of study be up-fronted to the public to bring a full account of what the virus does to light, and how best to face it. Amen to that. I would also recommend that we each feel humbly uncertain of what we know or do not know. Everyone is making their best surmise as they see it for themselves and their loved ones. There are no villains here among us, or at least very few. What you have said that most resounds to me, IM Doc, is that vaccinated or un-vaccinated makes no difference. I would say the difference is only in our minds, and if we feel sure we are on the right track, that counts for us, but it doesn’t count for someone else. Each must take the certainties and priorities important to each.

            And maybe in two years we will know the science better.

          2. Raymond Sim

            For what my two cents are worth, I believe that with the current high levels of community transmission, symptomatic infection correlating with recent administration of a vaccine could be due to causes some people might characterize as ‘good’, i.e. repair of immune memory leading to attack on an unresolved infection. Obviously not necessarily a good thing for the individual patient, but eggs, omlets etc.

            Personally I would call it one more of the many reasons a vaccine campaign without transmission control was a bad idea. It was in my mind ahead of time, so it was probably even on a list of such I enountered somewhere.

            Also, and again, fwiw, I read an analysis which seemed to me, realistic about the complexities of immune response and the capabilities of the virus, with the exception that I’m not sure the superantigen was properly taken into account. That author put the time horizon for equilibrium at about five years, while declining to predict the degree of carnage.

            I believe the author’s background is in veterinary immunology. I think that’s what led me to reflect that if this disease turned up in hogs, the economical solution would likely be eradication of the hogs.

          3. Carolinian

            Thanks as always for your contribution and your clarity. Some of us here crave practical information.

    5. voislav

      I took one for the team and I’ve read the study. Several problems with it, so I’ll organize them in bullet points.

      – Use of relative increases hides the low level of reinfections. Overall reinfection rates were 1-2% over 3 month follow-up, most of it for the vaccinated group. This is well below the stated vaccine efficiency. So even though vaccinated reinfection rates were much higher than unvaccinated infected, they were still low in absolute numbers and well below the vaccine efficiency figures.

      – Survivor bias. Some people don’t develop an immune response to either vaccine or infection. In the vaccinated group these people are included because they are the ones suffering breakthrough infections. In the previously infected group these people are absent because they died and thus cannot be reinfected. So by selecting only people who survived infection, the study is eliminating people from the unvaccinated group who did not develop COVID immunity upon infection.

      – Comparison with infected and vaccinated. Third group in the study was people who received a single vaccine dose within 30 days of a positive COVID test. These people showed the lowest infection rates, 50% lower than previously infected. This observation was not addressed in the paper, while it’s easy to explain when survivor bias is taken into account.

      So while the study is very useful in terms of aggregated data, the authors failed to realize the inherent selection bias of not including COVID death rate amongst the non-vaccinated infected when comparing reinfection rates. Adding COVID death rate to the unvaccinated group eliminates the difference in re-infection rates and shoots down their conclusion that natural immunity is more effective than vaccines. Sadly, I doubt that potential reviewers will catch on.

    6. Larry Y

      I think the study you’re talking about refers to immunity to Delta. I think the strong vaccine immunity refers to the original variant.

      IIRC, Delta has mutations on the spike, while most of the vaccines target the spike protein…. So the answer is variants.

      For me, a booster only makes sense if it accounts for mutations. Perhaps trains the immune system to target other parts of the virus, but then it’s basically a new vaccine.

      1. Dean

        The potential of immune escape variants was reviewed recently in Nature Reviews Microbiology:

        Given that the current vaccines induce polyclonal antibodies a recent (not yet accepted) article argues that there is a significant barrier to immune escape:

        It concludes:
        “Thus, optimally elicited human polyclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 should be resilient
        to substantial future SARS-CoV-2 variation and may confer protection against future
        sarbecovirus pandemics.”

        The study PI’s were on the most recent TWIV.

    7. Raymond Sim

      “If immunity from infection proves more effective than that from mRNA vaccines that would not be surprising IMO since the latter elicit an immune response against the spike protein only (by design) whereas an infected person mounts a fuller immune response, i.e., against every part of the virus.”

      Exposure to every part of the virus does not necessarily make for a more effective response, nor even necessarily one that could be considered ‘fuller’ – for instance, sometimes it tees off on the wrong thing.

      “The funny thing is that earlier (if memory serves me right) there were reports that, on the contrary, immunity from vaccines was stronger. What do our resident doctors say?”

      LOL if there’s anything the pandemic has taught me it’s to not expect MD’s to know much about the immune system. The key difference between getting one of the vaccines and getting infected is the ‘getting infected’ part, where the virus gets to mess with you. The tons of evidence that you don’t want to let it do that, and in particular that you don’t want it messing with your immune system still stand.

        1. Raymond Sim

          Yeah, but I’m talking about stuff that is in fact well understood. I wouldn’t expect the MD on the street to be able to tell me whether identical twins are running with one soul or two, or even to know that the usual explanation for the occurence of fraternal twins is questionable. But I would expect them to be aware that explanations involving polyspermy and/or a diploid ovum involve phenomena we know do occur, if only through pathology.

          Then on the other side we have demonstrable falsehoods repeated as truths, but you’ve heard the spiel.

          Whenever I repeat myself here I think of the poor moderators reading it yet again.

        2. saywhat?

          Thanks for the link. An excerpt:

          Taia Wang of Stanford is a little less sanguine. She tells me several studies, including upcoming ones, consistently show that many people seem to lose their neutralizing antibodies after a couple of months. “If you asked me to guess six months ago, I would have thought that they would last longer,” she says. “The durability is not what we’d like.”

          But “the fact that you don’t have measurable antibodies doesn’t mean that you aren’t immune,” Iwasaki says. T-cells could continue to provide adaptive immunity even if the antibodies tap out. Memory B-cells, if they persist, could quickly replenish antibody levels even if the current stocks are low. And, crucially, we still don’t know how many neutralizing antibodies you need to be protected against COVID-19.

          Read: We need to talk about ventilation

          Wang agrees: “There’s a common notion that antibody quantity is all that matters, but it’s more complicated than that,” she says. “The quality of the antibody is as important.” Quality might be defined by which part of the virus the antibodies stick to, or how well they stick. Indeed, many people who recover from COVID-19 have low levels of neutralizing antibodies overall, but some of them neutralize very well. “Quantity is easier to measure,” Wang adds. “There are more ways to characterize quality and we don’t know which ones are relevant.” (This problem is even worse for T-cells, which are much harder than antibodies to isolate and analyze.) from Immunology Is Where Intuition Goes to Die [bold added]

      1. Dean

        I would agree theoretically that infection should produce broader immune responses. This would be especially true for CD4 and CD8 responses. One problem may be the large variability in immune responses infected individuals.

        The scientific literature (sorry running low on time so can’t provide references) seems to be mixed with some studies showing better immunity to vaccine and others indicating better immunity after infection. Some state that immunity to vaccine is higher initially but wanes faster than natural immunity. Some indicate that previous exposure to SARS-CoV-1 provide protection to Covid-19. Still others show that vaccinating survivors (mRNA jab) provides more robust and broader immunity.
        A study has reported that vaccines (mRNA) can produce bone marrow plasma cells which would be long lived antibody producers.

        I do think that infection followed by vaccination generates the strongest immune responses. One question is whether immunization followed by infection will give the same immunity as discussed:

  17. Darthbobber

    Pottinger’s dreadful Foreign Affairs piece on China. (For those unfamiliar, he was deputy national security advisor for the second half of the Trump Administration, and is presently with the Marathon Initiative, which I link to here.)

    Marathon Initiative is cute. Invokes Miltiades and troops standing against dreaded “hordes from the east”,

    Mentions that from it’s inception in 49 the PRC saw the US as an antagonist. Fails to mention that we were exactly that, and most hysterically and openly so.

    Then everything involving US relative decline and China’s relative rise over 3 decades is simplistically down to a sinister Chinese hybrid war against us.

    As to his suggestions of countermeasures, like most such pipedreams they seem that the “opponent” will just be sitting back and admiring our brilliant work, rather than formulating and implementing the rather obvious counter plans.

    The attachment to the already vanished unipolar order is palpable. And the pretence that the “rules based” version of Pax Americana, now sans Pax, is something besides transparently obvious bullying is pretty implausible except to those exposed to the endless agitprop of our corporate press.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Marathon Initiative – ha! That’s an apples to oranges comparison right there. The Persians were a relatively new empire in 490 BC, but they were an empire. In comparison the Greeks were a ragtag bunch of squabbling hillbillies. Had the Persians felt like devoting the resources, they would have likely crushed the Greeks like an olive in a press. They considered the Greeks a mild annoyance who it might be nice to conquer, but there were other more valuable properties (Babylon to name one) that attracted the Persians’ main attention. It was definitely not two world powers squaring off as is the case today.

      What is it with these think tank people harkening back to ancient history lately (see also the Thucydides Trap) and completely misunderstanding it? It sure doesn’t seem like China wants war with the US, but the US feels like it still has to show the world it’s still the biggest swinging d*ck around.

      1. Darthbobber

        In their minds, and in the minds of those they hope to influence the myth exists. The reality is beside the point.

        Might also recall that the local Athenian empire justified in terms of its role in that war reached a point where it and it’s opponents tore Greece apart pretty thoroughly, and eventually competed with each other in inviting Persian influence, with numerous military figures also going into Persian service when they fell afoul of local politics.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            I have to say I can’t really blame Greece at this point. Thanks to the EU’s austerity measures, they barely have the resources to take care of their own citizens, and they often seem to bear the brunt of US “adventures”.

            I visited Greece in the early 90s and I saw a few older widows on the streets of Athens looking for money, but that was about it. Fast forward a few years, and by the mid to late 90s there were refugees from the various US-led bombings with limbs blown off begging on the streets.

            Really tired of the hand wringing over immigration everywhere. Maybe one of these days people will realize there would be far fewer immigrants/refugees if the US and its allies would stop destabilizing those immigrants’ countries, either economically or by blowing their people to pink mist. Greece shouldn’t have to shoulder the responsibility for problems caused by the US, and neither should any other country.

            Here’s a modest proposal – set up a nice meeting between all the Afghan or Libyan or Syrian or Honduran (I could go on) refugees and the Clinton and Bush and Obama families (for starters), with the latter carrying all their wealth in cash to the tete a tete, and then let the two sides sort it out amongst themselves. We’d have a lot better world in short order.

            1. Darthbobber

              There is that. Given how welcoming the more affluent EU members will be, the Greeks probably assume that as the first stop they will also be the end of the line.

    2. Larry Y

      Stop fetishizing Ancient Greece, and instead start reading Sun Tzu.

      Asking them to read Confucius might be a bridge too far though.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’m pretty sure they are fetishizing the movie 300 or at least the previews, not ancient Greece. They may pick from a few odd tidbits they half remember, but its about the imagery from the movie.

        Sun Tzu would be the enemy or at best a foreign person they could tolerate as long as everyone stays far apart.

  18. Wukchumni

    Gooooood Moooorning Fiatnam!

    The platoon was ensconced in a C-17 not far from wheels up when we were overcome with arbitrage macht frei, that is a mercenary offered us $3000 each to catch another flight hopefully leaving Kabul sooner rather than later.

    The tragedy of the situation being if only we knew who our replacements were, we could’ve cut out the middleman and got the whole amount of $6500.

    Luckily one of the grunts had a copy of Niccolò Machiavelli’s book and we adopted tactics of the Prince, getting full price for a 1-way trip back to the world, trading places with San Diego schoolchildren on a field trip.

  19. Tom Stone

    Does Pfizer have enough pull with the FDA to have Ivermectin declared a schedule 1 narcotic?
    Heinz had enough pull to have ketchup declared a vegetable when it comes to federally subsidized school lunches, so there is a precedent.

    1. Synoia

      Probably not banned, because it is readily available over the counter for farmers. Check the Tractor Supply stores and web site.

      It is recommended for horses, which are much more delicate (Get sick) mammals than Humans.

      An analogy: Horses are like racing cars, needing premium fuel , Goats are like garbage trucks, and will eat a much wider array of materials, some of which we humans do not recognize as foods.

      If Ivermectin does not harm a horse, I’d take it.

      1. CallMeTeach

        Ivermectin is also given to dogs to prevent heart worm. This whole time I’ve wondered why people haven’t noticed this when they yammer on about “horse wormer,” considering they probably have it in their house already.

        (Needless to say, I don’t recommend taking dog Ivermectin.)

      2. Raymond Sim

        “… horses, which are much more delicate (Get sick) mammals than Humans.”

        Irrespective of the merits of Ivermectin, this is terrible, fallacious reasoning.

        ‘More delicate’ and ‘less delicate’ are not legitimate classifications. This kind of thinking is why the damned virus keeps suprising people. And if anybody does get harmed by veterinary Ivermectin you can bet some sort of stupidity like this will play a part.

        Before anyone starts, I know a thing or two about horses. Their supposed delicacy has more to do with the ways people keep, use, and feed them than their intrinsic nature. The ‘premium fuel’ referred to being a major culprit.

    2. John Beech

      Why Pfizer? Ivermectin was Merk’s product. And while it’s now off patent, I suspect they are all racing to develop a patentable drug, wouldn’t you agree?

      1. barefoot charley

        I assume Tom’s joke expects Pfizer to illegalize all alternative treatments to their $33 billion (so far) PMC wonder drug. It’s all about monopoly, baby. Seeing the media scrums even on legit competition like the J and J actual vaccine, he exaggerates a fair point

        1. LifelongLib

          I’m sure some of the “PMC” are getting nice salaries, but most of the $33 billion is going to whoever it is that’s paying the salaries.

  20. lyman alpha blob

    RE: I Commanded Afghan Troops This Year. We Were Betrayed.

    I’m reading it from a non-paywalled link and assuming it’s the same text as the NYT:

    Anyway, something seems a little off about this unknown character who suddenly is given space in the Times oped section. First there’s this:

    I am a three-star general in the Afghan Army. For 11 months, as commander of 215 Maiwand Corps, I led 15,000 men in combat operations against the Taliban in southwestern Afghanistan.

    Shouldn’t that be I was a three-star general at this point? Sarcasm aside though, he follows with this shortly after:

    …the corruption endemic in Mr. Ghani’s government that flowed to senior military leadership and long crippled our forces on the ground irreparably hobbled us.

    Maybe those who know more about the military can chime in, but wouldn’t a three-star general be considered “senior military leadership”. I’d imagine at that level one would be able to requisition funds, etc. Maybe I’m wrong, but it sure sounds like someone might be missing their rice bowl.

    1. Darthbobber

      Given his first harbinger of doom, the rest becomes redundant:

      “First, former President Donald Trump’s February 2020 peace deal with the Taliban in Doha doomed us. It put an expiration date on American interest in the region”

      This seems to acknowledge the obvious. That any path involving American withdrawal meant doom. Which is, in and of itself, a damning indictment of the whole misbegotten venture.

      Given that, the additional causes of doom don’t greatly matter.

      And he places his heroic efforts in Helmand province? Wasn’t that province already largely under Taliban control by 2018 at the latest?

    2. lordkoos

      The other day there was a NC link to commentary from an American who spoke Pashtun and who was in Afghanistan for years… she also blamed much of the failure on corruption in the Afghan government.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “The Afghan Army Collapsed Against the Taliban. Here’s Why.”

    If you read between the lines, you see that the Afghan Army could only successfully fight off the Taliban with American backup and that that was by design. It was never meant to fight them with its own resources but remain dependent on the superior technology that the west had to offer. So while the Afghan army used highly technical special reconnaissance units, propriety software, specialized weapons systems, real-time intelligence, helicopters and airstrikes, the Taliban relied on AK-47s & RPGs – and local knowledge.

    In some ways it reminded me of that 1951 story by Arthur C. Clarke “Superiority” where ‘It shows the side which is more technologically advanced being defeated, despite its apparent superiority, because of its willingness to discard old technology without having fully perfected the new. Meanwhile, the enemy steadily built up a far larger arsenal of weapons that while more primitive were also more reliable.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Lavrov’s point about the US not tolerating junior partners just vassasls is relevant. The armies we set up are dependent on the US providing logistical and firepower support, hence they can’t be used against us or give the locals an element of autonomy.

    2. Darthbobber

      And the fact that remained like this to the end tells you RIGHT THERE that the possibility of ever really, really leaving was not taken seriously.

      During the interwar period it was common for junior Brits coming into the colonial service to come up with sketches for what a “transition to independence” might look like. But they remained sketches and nobody took even the most cursory steps toward fleshing them out, much less doing implementation.

      So when the empire came to be dismantled, it happened as a helter-skelter rush for the exits, with results that continue to reverberate in Africa, the mideast, and the subcontinent even today.

  22. Samuel Conner

    I’ve poking around this page (estimated active COVID case prevalence by county) to get a sense of how severe the current wave is in my region, and in other regions:

    the (estimated — and given the lack of testing for low-symptom breakthrough cases in the vaccinated, it might be an optimistic estimate) case prevalence in Florida is above 1% of the population even in relatively low population counties. In some counties, it’s approaching or above 2%.

    I think that the mask mandates that local school boards are imposing in defiance of the governor are already “too little/too late”. I don’t see how they can safely continue in-person learning under these circumstances.

    1. Raymond Sim

      When I was a kid on Wake Island some of my schoolmates witnessed a KC-135 strike the ocean before crashing onto the runway. The way big planes on approach can seem hardly to be moving frequently suprises people seeing it for the first time, but it was old hat to us kids. So when they said it seemed to happen in slow motion, they weren’t talking about that. They watched it happen oh-so-slowly at 100 mph, more or less. That’s how this feels to me.

    2. Raymond Sim

      Counties all over California are showing big spikes in new cases, to the extent this is due to back-to-school testing, it provides an, admittedly indistinct, glimpse of actual incidence. I’m just going to say that if testing arriving schoolkids doubles or triples your daily new case numbers, at a time when numbers are already high, you might have a problem.

  23. Mikel

    Looking at the subjects today under “class warfare” and propose a new category:
    Dealth Cult Economy. Or Death Cult Economics.

    1. Wukchumni

      How one lives is so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation, and it’ll be $6500 per, cash preferred, but we do take most major credit cards. (with apologies for the amendment, Machiavelli)

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Given the spectre of private security forces didn’t deter the Taliban, it’s possible, besides the lost contracts in Afghanistan, Prince’s gift of providing mercenaries is coming to an end.

      1. Wukchumni

        Erik Prince and his mercenaries instituted under the reign of George II weren’t all that different from the Hessian mercenaries brought to the USA by King George III, it was all about the money.

        The money paid out was in Hessian Thalers, which always had the nickname ‘Blood Thalers’ in numismatics.

        Here’s what they looked like, in a typical tale of owe.

        1. Raymond Sim

          Being a Chester County boy, I hate the Hessians as much as if they were from Pittsburgh. But I don’t believe they weren’t actually mercenaries, as it was the person they were in service to who placed them at the disposal of the British.

    3. jr

      Met a woman once who used to work with Prince. He is everything you imagine and more. You’re either born that way or you’re raised that way but the result is the same.

      Watch for his near inevitable entry into politics with a wary eye…

      1. pasha

        born to wealth and privilege, prince was also raised that way. his father was an early supporter of the john birch society. his sister is betsy prince de vos, whose husband dick is heir to the amway grifting fortune — and amway all but controls michigan’s republican party

  24. John

    Regarding the Beijing’s American Hustle by Matt Pottinger piece in Foreign Affairs. I noted with interest that on his wiki page he was also a proud author of: Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan.
    Do the jokes just write themselves?

  25. The Rev Kev

    “Harris urges Vietnam to join U.S. in opposing ‘bullying’ by China”

    I’m fully confident that Vietnam will be able to play off the main powers against each other in the coming years. As an example, Harris promised 1 million additional doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam whereupon China said that we will see those 1 million vaccine doses and raise them 1 million additional vaccine doses. Certainly it focuses Vietnamese minds that they share a border with China some 1,297 km (806 miles) long. But they will not trust the west either and certainly not enough to let the US to establish missile bases there. That would be insanity that. But I doubt that they will listen to a person that tells them ‘Let’s you and them fight!’ Harris speaks with forked-tongue they know.

    1. Wukchumni

      {channeling my inner Ala ‘Mak mode}

      Yo Hanoi’
      Me so annoyed
      I’m fly in my kicks
      Counting on Taiwan for chips
      I don’t know what they want from me
      It’s like the more money they come about, the more problems we see.

    2. Melba

      Harris, who didn’t even have a passport, is now a world traveling diplomat.

      Political dysgenics in action.

      1. The Rev Kev

        George Bush didn’t have a passport either before he became President. It was something to take pride in in his circles back then.

  26. antidlc

    RE: Does the FDA think these data justify the first full approval of a covid-19 vaccine?

    Doshi’s blog entry links to another blog entry from June 8, 2021
    Why we petitioned the FDA to refrain from fully approving any covid-19 vaccine this year

    From that June 8 blog entry:

    We also call on FDA to require a more thorough assessment of spike proteins produced in-situ by the body following vaccination—including studies on their full biodistribution, pharmacokinetics, and tissue-specific toxicities. We ask the FDA to demand manufacturers complete proper biodistribution studies that would be expected of any new drug and request additional studies to better understand the implications of mRNA translation in distant tissues. We call on data demonstrating a thorough investigation of all serious adverse events reported to pharmacovigilance systems, carried out by independent, impartial individuals, and for safety data from individuals receiving more than two vaccine doses, in consideration of plans for future booster shots. We ask the FDA to request necessary studies in specific populations, including those previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, pediatric subjects, and those with immunological or other underlying medical complexities. Given the nature of the novel vaccine platforms, our petition asks for experts in gene therapy to be included among the external committee advising the FDA.

    1. pjay

      The comments here by those with a background in medicine, medical research, or health policy have been helpful for those of us who try to follow the science but continue to get more “confused and angrier by the hour” given the politicization of current “debates” (thanks again to IM Doc). On that topic, I would really appreciate informed assessment of Doshi’s critique of the FDA decision, and the research on which it was supposedly based, that is posted in today’s links above. It certainly suggests a rigged process, at the very least.

      1. antidlc

        “On that topic, I would really appreciate informed assessment of Doshi’s critique of the FDA decision, and the research on which it was supposedly based, that is posted in today’s links above.”

        I would appreciate that assessment as well.

        If you read Doshi’s bio:

        Peter Doshi is a senior editor at The BMJ and on the News & Views team. Based in Baltimore, he is also an associate professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. His research focuses on the drug approval process, how the risks and benefits of medical products are assessed and communicated, and improving the credibility and accuracy of evidence synthesis and biomedical publications. Doshi campaigns for greater transparency of clinical trial data and leads the Restoring Invisible and Abandoned Trials (RIAT) initiative, which aims to ensure clinical trial publications are accurate, complete, and data are publicly available. Doshi also has strong interests in journalism as a vehicle for encouraging better practice and improving the research enterprise. Doshi completed a fellowship in comparative effectiveness research at Johns Hopkins and received his PhD in history, anthropology, and science, technology and society from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

        I am not a medical person, but it seems to me that “studies on their full biodistribution, pharmacokinetics, and tissue-specific toxicities” would be something that should be available prior to approval.

        Combine that with the fact that there was no public meeting where questions could be asked , it seems to me that we are just being told to sit down, shut up, and don’t ask questions.

        Maybe I’m wrong.

        1. pjay

          On your last observation, Urblintz posted a link to what I thought was a very relevant 2016 article from Scientific American in today’s Water Cooler comments. Its title: “How the FDA Manipulates the Media.” I’d like to see it updated; I have a feeling there is a lot of new material available.

          1. antidlc

            Thanks for the heads up. I hadn’t seen urblintz’s post.

            So the press has been silenced, doctors and scientists are silenced because they don’t want to jeopardize their funding (and thus, their jobs), and the public is silenced because there are no open meetings. Did I get that right?

            What a system we have.

      1. Melba

        Getting rid of our landline. Buying first smartphone.
        Was going to buy an Apple product, but after reading about their policies, it will be an Android. Recommending the same to everyone in our large circle of friends.

        It’s apparently easier to cull Googlegarbage from an Android phone then it is to try and control the innerworkings of the Apple software.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Trust Google only so far. In many realms, the lesser Evil has proven not the lesser — only the more seductive and soothing, Better to place no trust where no trust is wise.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “The Middle East Is Preparing for the United States’ Exit From Syria”

    Foreign Affairs still getting it wrong. They talk about ‘a concerted effort to wean Syria off Turkish and Iranian support’ but they did not think that one through. Turkish support? Turkey is illegally occupying Syrian territory and wants to keep it. Call that support? And Iranian support? As in one of the few nations that helped Syria in it time of need and did not throw it to the Jihadi wolves?

    But the best bit was at the end of the article where it says-

    ‘As Lina Khatib wrote in Foreign Policy, Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin can kick-start a deal where Russia accepts the formation of a transitional government “composed of elements of the current regime—but from outside the Assad family—and elements of various opposition groups and civil society.” In return, Russia gains international recognition of its interests in Syria as well as a continuation of its political and military sway in the country.’

    Russia has a legal right to be in Syria as they are there at the invitation of the Syrian government so has no need of any dodgy so-called international recognition. But ‘a transitional government’ with elements of various opposition groups? Which groups would that be exactly? Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham maybe. Hurras al-Din? Jamaat Ansar al-Islam? Some of the other terrorist groups in Idlib? Maybe the Kurds that have seized Syrian territory under US protection? Foreign Affairs should get out of DC more.

    1. Carolinian

      They’re just pushing the same old wheeze as the Obama administration malefactors who whipped up the civil war in the first place–i.e. bend to our will (tr. get rid of Assad) and we’ll stop messing with you. As if.

    2. Kouros

      The Middle East Is Preparing for the United States’ Exit From Syria Foreign Policy. That’s a damn shame.

      yeah, was it sarcasm from Yves or is she seriously thinking that US withdrawal from illegally occupying a country is a bad thing?

      1. Brian L.

        That was Lambert, and he is being a trifle snarky, as is his wont.
        Speaking of which, I got a good chuckle out of the poodle bit, Lambert.

  28. Zagonostra

    Sitting on an an airplane getting ready for a direct flight to FLl. I’m wondering how long before vaccination and testing will be mandatory. I don’t look forward to driving 23 hours instead of 2 and half hour flight. Sister has to pay $140 for a Cv test to go back to Italy.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      $140 is outrageous. In Tuscany (my summer locale) a full blown molecular “tampone” with results in English for international travel goes for 70 euro at a private lab (public lab way cheaper, but a day or two slower and not sure re English translation). In Moscow a similar PCR test at private clinic with English printout runs you about 3500 rubles = $45. A standard rapid PCR in either locale is about half the price of a molecular, max. Curious to know where one encounters such inflated prices for run of the mill lab tests. USA?

      1. zagonostra

        CVS MedExpress in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Maybe it’s because she needs it within 48 hrs of her flight. There were other choices less expensive, but since her flight is Monday, she didn’t have much of an option.

        1. Irrational

          USD 150 per person at a lab near the in-laws near Tampa
          USD 200 per person at at lab at the Houston Airport in United’s terminal, which had been contracted by United.
          Maybe United gets kick-backs.
          Oh yes: no receipts given, so no way to get a refund.

        2. ohnoyoucantdothat

          2750 rubles ($37) at sherometovo airport in Moscow with 2 hour turn around max with English printout. Just checked a week ago as I’m pretty sure I’ll be making one last trip back to the states very soon. Personal situation is falling apart quickly. Don’t understand how these doctors get away with this robbery. Was charged $225 for same test in Albuquerque airport with no guarantee on 24 hour turn around in early June.

    2. LifelongLib

      Here in Hawaii people arriving from out of state have to provide proof of U.S. vaccination or negative covid test, or be subject to a 10 day quarantine.

      There’s already been talk of requiring the covid test even for vaccinated people because of all the breakthrough infections. It’s not clear that the state/counties can do that though because the CDC hasn’t recommended it.

  29. shinola

    By the time I’ve scanned the comments, someone has probably already reported it; sorry if this is a repeat.

    TV Nooze is reporting an explosion at one of the gates at Kabul airport & speculates caused by suicide bomber. Multiple American & Afghan civilian casualties reported & enhanced by being inside blast walls.

    My question: Actual attack by “enemy” or false flag? (Oh, now reporting 2nd explosion). Either way does not bode well for winding down US involvement in Afghan civil war…

    1. ambrit

      This brings up the question of which enemy? The Taliban is not besties with ISIS.
      I would not rule out an arms length ‘false flag’ action with a splinter group being manipulated by outside ‘supporters’ to act independently.
      It’s like the old sports adage; “Get your game program here! You can’t tell them apart without a program!”
      Stay safe, where ever you are.

    2. voteforno6

      This is somebody else taking advantage of the chaos. The Taliban has no reason to do something like this, and the U.S. doesn’t either – their goals are probably as close to being aligned right now as they will ever be.

      1. tegnost

        hmmm…let me see now…
        Should the weekend news cycle be about leaky vaccines and mandates or suicide bombers…
        Find out at 7 on your local or cable news channel!

        I can see some benefit to the us and wall st, not so much for the taliban

        1. voteforno6

          And your evidence is what, exactly? How exactly would Wall Street arrange something like this, and why? As for the U.S., its goal is to pull out of Afghanistan. We know this, because that’s what they’re doing right now.

          It’s kind of absurd to think that “the us and wall st” would cook up something like this to distract from other stories in the news, especially considering that those stories will still be there after the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            I would be most surprised if there were any evidence … heads would roll. I also have little doubt of the ability of Big Money to arrange events, even events possibly at conflict with ostensible US Government goals. You can call me a conspiracy theorist if you like. Even my double-layer tin foil hat has had a difficult time protecting me of late.

            The US withdrawal from Afghanistan promises to be a massive cluster-F–k, with or without conspiracy theories.

          2. tegnost

            what’s your evidence that someone else is taking advantage of the chaos? All I was doing was postulating that it was someone with lots to benefit from chaos.
            Wall St., and the U.S. political establishment. Have you ever heard the term “wagging the dog”? I admit to being cynical. The very idea that biden would go against the bipartisan blob is a non starter for me. Show me evidence of one time biden ever did that?

  30. Wukchumni

    I’ve decided to slit my risks and go all in on zinc laced pennies (97% zinc) in order to save & save myself from the ravages of Covid by building a portable ‘Abraham Cage’ with overlapped Lincolns creating the perfect pandemic proof chain mail as it turns out. I’m still getting used to being out in public and have a tendency to veer towards the CoinStar machine, but have fought off the urges. It all makes sense I keep telling myself.

    1. Raymond Sim

      I think that would technically be scale armor, but it sounds gorgeous. And every day will be leg day!

  31. montanamaven

    According to the Strether rule, we should be looking at wide angle and aerial shots and not these closeups of the streets of Kabul and the airports. Or have I missed them? Wish I wasn’t so cynical but after the whole “White Helmets” rescuing chemical weapons victims, I want some reporting on the evacuation that rings more true than what we are getting now. Why do we get all those You Tube and Instagram videos of protests and riots in US cities last year and videos of unruly passengers on airplanes and yet nothing from Kabul? Were all the phones confiscated? I’m confused.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > According to the Strether rule, we should be looking at wide angle and aerial shots and not these closeups of the streets of Kabul and the airports.

      Well, it’s not a really a rule… That said, I’ve seen some aerial shots. I’ve never thought of doing a crowd count. Good call!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Please do not double post if your comment does not immediately appear. When you do that, you are training Skynet that you are a spammer, because that’s one of the things spammers do.

  32. Soredemos

    >The Return of the Marines Black Agenda Report

    This hyperbolic drivel reminds me why I generally don’t pay attention to Black Agenda Report. The earthquake is not a ‘pretext’ for deploying those soldiers. Disaster relief is actually why they’re there. Why else would they be there? Haiti Liberte has no answer, other than a vague reference to the “arrogance and the repressive desire of the army of the dominant imperialist power of the region accustomed to killing, rape, and torture”. That seems like an attempt to distract from the issue. No mention is made of the fact that the ‘invading’ Marines are there at the request of the Haitian government.

    Disaster relief missions are one of the few truly legitimate and beneficial forms of deployment for the US military. I’m well aware that there is an ugly history of abuse by foreign troops sent to help Haiti, but the appropriate response to that is not to reflexively decry any foreign aid as an ‘invasion’.

    If BAR and Haiti Liberte really want it though, I suppose we could always just recall the troops. I’m sure the Haitians starving amid the rubble who might have otherwise been helped wouldn’t be too pleased with that move though. But hey, I guess the ‘revolutionary struggle of the Haitian people’ doesn’t necessarily require all of those people to still be alive or anything.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Perhaps your average Haitian looking for assistance would prefer, well, some sort of civilian disaster relievers providing that disaster relief rather than trained killers from a nation who has meddled in their politics and replaced Haiti’s leaders as it saw fit in the recent past? Just spitballing…

  33. John Emerson

    “So you pays your money and you takes your choice. :”

    I don’t get it. For every disorder on the chart except three, the infection was significantly worse than the vaccination, and for more than one disorder the disease was overwhelmingly worse. . For appendicitis there was little significance either way, for herpes zoster the vaccine is significantly worse, and for lymphadenopathy the vaccine was very significantly worse than COVID. But lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph nodes) is frequently benign and is only serious when it is a symptom of something else.

    That looks like a no-brainer tradeoff. Not very many things are cost-free.

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