New, Radically Different Covid Variant Getting Footholds Now as Media and Officials Remain Complacent

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Before we get into this post, we need to flag a major caveat: that the Covid variant that will be the major focus of this piece, B.1.640, looks as if it could largely or entirely escape the current vaccines because it is very different from wild type and Delta. Our GM was telling our Covid brain trust about this variant when it hadn’t even been given a designation, in late October, after it had been sequenced in Africa. It has started spreading and a case was sequenced in California.

However, let us stress that how serious this variant is, or if it in the end even rates as serious, is not yet known.

But what is disturbing is the failure of the press, even the scientifically-oriented press, to say much about variants. The charitable interpretation is that like so much other Covid-related messaging, no one want to spook the horses until they are sure some new potentially bad development really is bad

But requiring that level of proof is what let Covid become a pandemic in the first place. I don’t know how many of you recall February 2020 well, but there were plenty of sites, as well as officials, dismissing concern about Covid and the Trump plan to shut down air travel as wildly exaggerated to stoke xenophobic China-bashing. Remember Pelosi showing her solidarity with Covid by going to Chinatown for a meal?

And even though scientists are looking at sequencing data from countries around the world, it’s not clear how many of the misbehaving blips on their radars are being reported to public health officials, let alone doctors who are too busy treating patients to keep up on bleeding edge concerns. GM explains that how we do science is part of the problem:

There are large collaborations and whole labs that do things like following variants; the problem is that by the nature of the scientific process contrasted with the nature of the process of viral spread, one cannot wait for them to understand what is happening. So one has to look into the databases in real time and exchange information with other people who do the same.

But another very real issue is that governments ex China have thrown in their lot with prioritizing business over public health. So they aren’t about to give the Confidence Fairy fainting spells by giving warnings about variant risk and spread, particularly since by the time it shows up in sequencing, an unknown number of people in the vicinity of the infected are almost certain to have been exposed.

GM gave this high-level overview yesterday:

The most likely future major developments of the pandemic fall into one of these three scenarios:

1. We get a second-generation Delta variant that has a major advantage over all other Delta lineages. This is the most likely one simply because right now 98% of the virus circulating around the world is Delta and Delta was the most fit variant to begin with.

2. We get a second-generation variant from one of the lineages that have still survived the Delta sweep that is capable of competing against Delta. Eyes are on Lambda/C.37 and Mu/B.1.621 and possibly P.1, because those are the only first-generation variants that still circulate in significant numbers in South America

3. Something new appears out of nowhere that is fitter than the rest. This will most likely come from Africa– there is no surveillance in the depths of the continent and there is no knowing what is brewing there.

Note, however, that there should be no expectation of another Delta-like sweep, i.e. something so much fitter than everything else that it displaces (almost) all other variants. Those may well be very rare events, it’s just that there an easily accessible peak in the fitness landscape in this case. We can end up with a zoo of variants of roughly comparable fitness. Which will be worse than having a single dominant one, as then vaccines will have to target all of them, while immunity from infection with one will not work well against the others.

B.1.640, if it turns out to be a significant event, and not just something we are way too concerned about for no reason, is exactly a #3 kind of event. So was C.1.2 (which has not gone anywhere either, it is in fact still slowly gaining ground in South Africa)….

But in general, we have learned a lesson from the last year — single mutations on currently fit backgrounds rarely make a big difference. On many occasions — E484K on top of B.1.1.7, K417N on top of B.1.617.2 (the original Delta+), etc. — we got very worried about such variants, but they went nowhere.

The real breakthroughs come when multiple mutations combine in the right way to make something distinct and highly fit. And usually that happens unobserved, quite often in the same individual with a chronic infection, and then it bursts on the scene as a newly formed variant.

So if a Delta derivative is the next big thing, most likely it will be cooked in the HIV+ population in South Africa and will carry a lot of new mutations that nobody anticipated.

Then we will spend a year studying the effects of those mutations (people are still putting out preprints, describing how Alpha/B.1.1.7 gained its fitness advantage on the molecular level, and finding new unexpected aspects of it), until the next variant appears, and so on…

Let’s contrast that summary with media coverage. I don’t mean to pick on the Deseret News, since the press is only as good as its sources, but a November 18 article exemplifies what sure looks like official complacency. The headline, The worst COVID-19 variant yet may arrive this spring, expert says, implies that no big bad new variant is yet on the horizon but who can be sure. It does mention A.30 as reported in Germany as capable of evading the vaccines in October but GM dismissed it then: “I wouldn’t worry about A.30, it was only ever seen twice, last in May.”

In fairness, another variant has reached prime time press, a Delta variant names AY.4.2. As GM explained on October 6:

People are right now worried about AY.4.2, which is AY.4 + Y145H. The suspicion is that with the Y145H mutation it has gained a sialic acid binding site, and thus potentially a new mode of cell entry.

If true, this will be another example of viral evolution completely blindsiding us…

From GM on October 10:

And finally, what should be officially AY.4.2 — AY.4 + S:A22V + S:Y145H — seems to be growing very fast in the UK, but that is anecdotal, databases have not caught up with the annotations yet.

Data is catching up with anecdata. AY.4.2 looks to be even more contagious than Delta, but it might be less dangerous. From Bloomberg on November 18, More Infectious Covid Delta Sub-Variant Spreading Fast in U.K., Survey Shows:

A more infectious new version of Covid-19’s delta variant is spreading fast in the U.K., accounting for about 12% of the samples gathered in the most recent government survey.

That represents a 2.8% daily growth rate for sub-variant AY.4.2 over the course of the REACT survey, from Oct. 19 to Nov. 5, the researchers said. Still, the new sub-variant seemed less likely to cause symptomatic Covid.

Outside researchers cautioned that it’s too early to say for sure whether the new sub-variant is really less likely to make people sick, or whether there are other factors at work. If AY.4.2 was spreading among people who were younger or in places with broad vaccine coverage, “these factors could account for the observed difference,” Simon Clarke, an associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said in a briefing distributed by the Science Media Centre.

Now let’s turn to GM’s and his colleagues’ current cause for pause, B.1.640. GM first mentioned it nearly a month ago and isn’t liking it any better. As he explained in his first message about it, before it had a designation:

This is a very interesting new variant:

https://github.com/cov-lineages/pango-designation/issues/297

This looks like another one of those African variants that are only seen in small numbers when they leave their country of origin because of the lack of sequencing there:

Description:
Conserved Spike mutations – P9L, E96Q, Δ136-144*, R190S*, I210T*, R346S, N394S, Y449N, F490R*, N501Y*, D614G, P681H, T859N, D936H* (*seen conserved in all sequenced except French sequence)

Conserved non-Spike mutations – NSP2 – P129L, E272G*; NSP3 – L1301F*, A1537A*; NSP4 – S386F* R401H*, T492I; NSP6 – V149A*; NSP12 – P323l; ORF3a – T32I*, Q57H*; M – I82T; ORF8 – Q27*STOP; N- D22Y, T205I, E378Q (*found in all but one sequence)

So this has a big deletion around 144, a bunch of other NTD mutations (probably that whole epitope is taken out altogether), has R346S, a Y449 mutation (seen in C.1.2), F490 mutation (F490S is the main immune escape mutation in Lambda/C.37), plus N394S, which hasn’t been seen before, and then P681H (FCS mutations) and T859N (see in other aggressive variants).

Looks quite bad both in terms of contagiousness (because of P681H) and immune escape — NTD epitopes are gone, and it has big bad mutations in all the epitopes in the RBD.

It probably won’t take over though because it does not have P681R, unless selection regime changes.

But it shows that there are still non-Delta survivors out there that might stumble upon a game-changing mutational innovation.

Jerusalem Post wrote about it on November 13 in New COVID variant found in France: Reason for panic or not quite yet? after it spread to Europe. Key sections:

A new COVID variant identified in a handful of European countries is raising concerns among some health professionals because there are changes to the coronavirus spike protein that have never been seen before.

The variant, known either as B.1.X or B.1.640, was first reported by the French paper Le Telegramme after it infected 24 people at a French school in the Brittany region last month. When the variant was discovered in France, the school at which the outbreak occurred was forced to close half of its classes, Le Telegramme reported.

A handful of cases were also discovered in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Scotland and Italy, although the Delta variant and its descendants continue to be the most dominant strains.

As GM pointed out:

This has nothing to do with Delta, in fact people have really hard time placing in on the tree — it is so far removed from anything else that it just sits on a very long branch of its own.

It also shows a lot of genetic diversity within the ~25 sequences that are available so far, which is a mystery on its own. Usually that suggests a lot of circulation out of sight somewhere where they don’t sequence a lot. Congo-Brazzaville does fit the description, but it is still interesting that it only came out now. My guess is it was festering somewhere in the countryside there, then it made its way to Brazzaville, which is probably the only place in Congo where they sequence anything, and from there it got to France. And from France it got to California, the UK, Italy, Switzerland, and now the Netherlands too (there was another sequence posted yesterday).

Africa is just a black hole in terms of surveillance.

They do an excellent job in South Africa relative to the other countries, to the extent that we even know that for some mysterious reason, the region about Port Elizabeth is specifically the one that produces the most nasty variants — both B.1.351 and B.1.638 all seem to trace to there, not entirely sure about C.1.2 — but even then it is nowhere near the level of the UK, for understandable reasons. Which is why C.1.2 and B.1.638 show up all of a sudden and you already see a complex mix of subvariants indicating long cryptic spread and diversification that nobody noticed.

But the rest of the continent is just largely a blank.

The Tanzanian A.30 variant was only spotted in South Africa in travelers.

B.1.620 seems to have originated in the Cameroon/CAR/Congo-Brazzaville neighborhood (most likely southeastern Cameroon), but was only identified in Lithuania of all places.

And so on.

There is barely any monitoring.

Starting with cases and deaths — based on a few case studies, it appears that most urban areas in Sub-Saharan Africa are at 50-80% serpositivity and have lost 0.2% or more of their population (with median age 20 or so) but official numbers undercount, often by factors of 100x or more.

Sequencing? Forget it.

Perhaps more important than whether B.1.640 turns out to both significantly evade the vaccines and be reasonably contagious is that the officials and the press are making forecasts that are far out on the optimism end of the spectrum. GM pointed out that a very realistic future is one with lots of variants, so that getting vaccinated or having been infected only protects patients from some of them.

And GM pointed out it’s not as if you new variants as the reason to be careful:

Another blatant example of denial:

As the YouTube algorithm these days is giving you only links to corporate mainstream media, I got this suggested to me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Vgngr_gozA&ab_channel=MSNBC

Q: Could this year’s winter surge be as bad as last year’s
Answer from “expert”: No, we’ve experienced our Delta wave.

Of course this year’s summer surge was 2.5x the size of last year’s. So the default guess should have been that the winter surge would be 2.5x worse too.

And you don’t need a new variant to have another wave, it’s as if everyone has forgotten that in 2020 there were three waves and the big winter one was driven by plain vanilla B.1 varieties (B.1.2 was the main one, which had no spike mutations other than D614G). Which is ironically why the “experts” were telling everyone that the virus has “exhausted its evolutionary potential” and no major antigenic drift is to be expected. Which, had it been the case, would pose the very obvious question regarding how the hell these viruses diversified so much in bats and circulated in them for millions of years, but there is no place for logic and reason when peddling hopium to placate the masses…

So keep your guard up! Winter, or as Lambert put it, people in close quarters indoors in poorly ventilated spaces, is coming!

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109 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    ‘I don’t know how many of you recall February 2020 well, but there were plenty of sites, as well as officials, dismissing concern about Covid…’

    Yeah, I recall February very well. At that point, there had been no official deaths recorded in the United States and there were less than a hundred recorded cases on file. In spite of that fact that northern Italy had been locked down, people were refusing to draw the obvious conclusion – that it was coming our way. So what was naked capitalism doing way back then? It was putting up a post saying that now would be a good time to batten down the hatches. Look at the date on this post. February 27th and NC was already on top of the developing pandemic-

    https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/02/coronavirus-to-prep-or-not-to-prep.html

    Reply
    1. William Hunter Duncan

      I’m pretty sure it was Feb 24 I went out and bought $1000 of dry and canned goods. I’m still working my way through that. If it was total lockdown collapse of supply lines I’m not sure – I am not prepared for a whole winter.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        NC was all over this in the links and comments. An offhand comment at a meeting on February 11th per my calendar clarified the situation even though I was snotty enough to know the Chinese risked another SARs like event while allowing Tet to go on, but I started prepping both personally and for my business the next day.

        Reply
      2. GM

        I did that too (and I too am still working my way through it)

        Foolishly thinking that we are going to lockdown with the same intentions as China — containing the virus. Which would have taken a very long time.

        I could not imagine we would just decide to live with a million deaths and counting…

        Reply
        1. Susan the other

          Thanks for the above GM. Fascinating stuff. Wish I’d been a virologist. Cheers, if you can find any. I’m off to stock up on my new favorite bourbon.

          Reply
    2. Mantid

      Good call. I started a word doc with daily counts on Sat. 3-7-2020. I was watching the counts because I deal with young students and we had field trips planned to big cities. Didn’t want to expose them to Corona. On 3-7, the highest death count was China with 3,070, Italy 233, Iran 144 on down. The US was at 19. These stats are from Roy Labs Stats, a very reliable source. My, how time flies.

      Reply
    3. Susan the other

      Italy had more reason to freak out that the rest of Europe at the time, as we now know. Covid had been circulating in northern Italy earlier than any other place. Neighbor to neighbor they would have sensed a new dangerous illness. And the EU certainly didn’t help by shunning Italy, as if it were Italy’s fault just like their profligate sovereign spending. I still can’t believe the EU had the nerve to say, Oh gosh! We are really sorry we didn’t help you…

      I also recall February and early March – I had a nasty case of something. My doctor had it too, it ran straight through her family. When we talked she agreed with me that it probably was Covid because it was such a nasty intestinal bug. But I haven’t heard much on the early cases. (And I fully recovered but got another round of it when Delta hit – just not as bad). We do know from the Italian health authorities that they found Covid in very early 2019 in sewage samples. I do wish that our health authorities would go back and check our sewage samples. It could tell us a lot about the pandemic. And I’d also like to see some answers on just why intestinal Covid immunity is not traceable – not in blood serology tests at least.

      Reply
  2. Samuel Conner

    Picked up components for a Corsi-Rosenthal box last evening at a ‘big box’ home improvement store.

    (aside: there was a 25% discount on a major brand 20x20x1 MERV 13 filter, IF you purchased 4. Perhaps a coincidence, or perhaps clever merchandising, or maybe a public-spirited person at Corporate tinkering with the pricing schedule. Or maybe they’re overstocked.)

    Staff all masked, but about half were below the chin. Almost no masked patrons.

    Similar in grocery store that AM.

    (And the masks all look to be cloth or paper procedure masks; very few N95s.)

    These may be anti-vaxx-/anti-NPI-ers, but I suspect from conversations with family and friends that many are vaxxed and think they no longer need to mask.

    I think I need to increase my inventory of non-perishable staples so that I won’t need to venture into these spaces later in the Autumn.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, I’m hearing far fewer people braying that they’re FULLY vaccinated.

      Matter of fact, one of my most ardent pro-vaxx acquaintances took a trip to Chicago in late August and early September. She told me that whenever she went out in public, she was double masking.

      Hmmmm. Wasn’t too long ago when FULLY vaccinated people were being told that they could take the masks off and resume normal life.

      Looks like that one didn’t work out the way they hoped.

      And here comes that troublemaker, Chris Martenson, with another video full of inconvenient truths. Among other things, he notes that all-cause mortality is actually higher in 2021 than in 2020. Link:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqwPWPJJk1E&t=8s

      Reply
      1. GM

        Chris Martenson unfortunately went totally of the rails with his COVID coverage already by mid-2020.

        It was very sad to watch.

        Reply
          1. GM

            HCQ, COVID is mild and it will burn itself through, etc. etc.

            He also stopped talking about the wealth redistribution problem that will exist in any realistic containment scheme and framed it as “the elites are using COVID to engineer wealth redistribution”. Which they did do, but the conclusion to come from that was not “let it rip”, yet that is the direction he went into.

            Reply
      2. ProudWappie

        There are clear signs that this has been happening throughout Europe as well. In The Netherlands, we’ve seen this occur for quite a number of weeks already. The CBS (Dutch Institute for Statistics) has published a number of articles on this.
        August

        September
        And this seems to be increasing in October/November. Yikes.

        And those are not Covid-19 deaths. I really really hope this is not vaccine related, but further research is needed. Just continuing with pushing vaccines doesn’t seem to be a smart move, given these developments.

        Reply
  3. Eustachedesaintpierre

    So no definite sign of a song from the fat lady although elements such as the media are trying to fill in for her, while we are left with one approved tool in the form of a hammer designed for Alpha that has something of a rubber handle, when it comes to Delta, never mind anything else – while on top of this we are all governed by a bunch of long corrupted always open wallets – we live in hope I suppose.

    Covid ….. your move ( again ).

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      It seems pretty clear that right across the west the unofficial policy is to allow for endemicity – which they define as Covid becoming a gradually declining annual infection. But of course this is based on the very questionable assumption that the virus will lose its potency over time. They are quite literally rolling the dice with all our futures, simply because they can’t think of what else is to do. And of course many scientists and doctors, no doubt mindful of their careers, are buying into it. They seem confident of their ability to gaslight us if it turns out they were wrong.

      The only good news I’ve seen recently is that it does appear, from initial studies, that the booster doses seem to be very effective. But again, key public health decisions are being made on the basis of a few months data. I’m old enough to remember those long ago days when that would have been laughable. Oh, like 2 years ago.

      Reply
      1. saywhat?

        that the booster doses seem to be very effective. PlutoniumKun

        But at what cost in terms of severe non-Covid side-effects since injury/death is still injury/death whether from Covid or vaccine-induced side effects.

        And from what I’m seeing on Youtube, doctors are loathe to consider post-vaccine deaths and injuries except for Covid breakthroughs.

        And remember that in Pfzer’s trial at 6 months, the deaths from all causes in the control group WAS LESS (14 vs 15) than the experimental group.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          With the emphasis on “all cause”? Berenson made this the subject of one of his blasts but not sure what he was proving.

          At any rate there’s also the suggestion that as long as the disease mostly targets the old it’s going to run out of likely victims.If you look at Worldometer NJ is having a large number of cases but proportionally far fewer deaths than say SC. Is this because of more vaxxed or because NJ’s big initial surge took away the likeliest targets? Or perhaps both?

          I do know that in Europe the mortality differences between countries are sometimes chalked up to which had a big flu season the previous years. The above talks about the media suppressing information but seems to us amateurs that there may be many variables that don’t get talked about.

          Reply
          1. saywhat?

            With the emphasis on “all cause”? Berenson made this the subject of one of his blasts but not sure what he was proving. Carolinian

            Death is not subject (almost always) to misdiagnosis and so it cuts through BS most effectively. It is also the most extreme form of injury given that For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. Ecclesiastes 9:4

            Reply
        2. Dwight

          Those death numbers have been updated:

          “From Dose 1 through the March 13, 2021 data cutoff date, there were a total of 38
          deaths, 21 in the COMIRNATY group and 17 in the placebo group. None of the deaths
          were considered related to vaccination.”

          https://www.fda.gov/media/151733/download

          (p. 23)

          Berenson reported on it. All-cause mortality is one metric. It’s gone now with vaccination of the control group.

          Reply
      2. GM

        But of course this is based on the very questionable assumption that the virus will lose its potency over time.

        “Highly questionable” is putting it mildly to say the least.

        First, every single known nasty feature of this thing is under strong purifying selection

        Second, the big mystery is why the hell is it so mild given that all its close relatives we know anything about are much nastier.

        We only see obvious ways for it to get closer to them, not to become a common cold…

        Reply
          1. GM

            They want it to be over with and to not think about it.

            The former they have no control over, but the latter they do, and have done so a long time ago.

            Reply
      3. tegnost

        They are quite literally rolling the dice with all our futures, simply because they can’t think of what else is to do. And of course many scientists and doctors, no doubt mindful of their careers, are buying into it.

        … and they’re making giant piles of money so nothing bad about that…
        I’ll take this opportunity to implore anyone on the fence about donating to NC, this level of information is not available anywhere else. I try to give a dollar a day, although this year wasn’t a good moneymaker for one or two of the usual reasons, age and the medical industry, my donation was a little lighter than usual but I couldn’t in good conscience not donate and can only hope to make it up when the water cooler fundraiser rolls around. That said, many hands makes light work so give what you can.

        Reply
      4. Basil Pesto

        I’ve taken the ‘endemicity’ line to be a bit of semantic fuckery, a PR ritual to allow the authorities to claim, on a technicality, that the pandemic is over: “Covid is endemic now, therefore the ‘pandemic’ (bad, scary, negative approval ratings) is over; we’re now dealing with an endemic disease (in their minds: neutral-to-benign, known quantity, normal and under control) JuSt LiKe ThE fLu” – it’s gutless and stupid but the desperately sad thing is, I think a distressingly large amount of people in the west will buy into it, unless and until a blatantly disastrous new variant that can’t be hidden takes the reins.

        Reply
      5. Mantid

        In regards to “the booster doses seem to be very effective”, the booster has the exact same formulation of the initial vaccines. It is no more, and hopefully no less effective. Ivermectin on the other hand kills that bad boy.

        Reply
        1. GM

          It does seem to generate higher nAb titers in more recent studies (not in the initial ones that were put out). But that will wane too

          Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      Think of all the political-economy and public-health-policy PhD dissertations that will be written in the future about this period!

      It’s a very narrow growth industry, but I suppose we should be thankful for what we can get.

      Reply
    2. petal

      lambert, that’s all I could think about whilst reading this piece. A sense of impending doom settled over me. What could possibly go wrong?
      Thank you, though, GM & Yves.

      Reply
  4. Tom Stone

    Clearly it’s time for vaccine mandates and vaccine passports,especially for anyone getting federal benefits like WIC or SSI disability.
    Doubling down on failure, it’s the American Way!
    It’s seven months since my last Moderna Jab and both elbows still feel badly sprained and my other hot spots are still noticeably worse.
    A lot of feedback loops are surfacing due to Covid’s effects with so many complex systems interacting it’s
    “Slowly,then all at once”.
    I’m just hoping the all at once of Societal collapse holds off long enough for my Daughter and her Fiancee’ to graduate and emigrate.

    Reply
    1. Brian Beijer

      Trust me, it’s not much better anywhere else… unless you’re daughter and fiancee plan to emigrate to China. Every other country in the world seems to have been taken over by incompetent neo-liberals, or they are under sanctions or threat of war because their citizens refuse to elect their own incompetent neo-liberals. Almost everyone is eating the same sh*t sandwich as Americans. Well, those lucky enough to have sandwiches…

      Reply
      1. Louis Fyne

        taiwan, singapore, korea.

        high-trust societies, competent institutions, no identity politics that fuel divisions among the populace. All 3 are not perfect in different ways obviously, but compared to the Atlantic-sphere, they are utopias.

        but neoliberalism is nibbling at the corners of those societies too.

        Reply
        1. GM

          Singapore is letting it rip.

          We will see about Korea, but they are leaning towards that too.

          Singapore had no choice, they do have a bit of an excuse — their existence is dependent on trade and travel and they cannot sustain themselves in isolation.

          South Korea is also not a really sovereign country (you can’t be one when you have many thousands of foreign troops stationed on your territory).

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If South Korea were to request America keep its troops confined to base while South Korea worked on eradication behind a wall of containment, would America comply with such stated wishes, if such wishes were to be stated?

            Reply
    2. Tomfoolery

      I’m starting to think that Churchill’s comment that “the US will do the right thing, after we’ve tried everything else” was overly optimistic.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        He was probably right in his day. After the near total abolition of the New Deal followed by decades of neo-liberalismic rule and possible Paperclip Nazi deep-state contamination from within, it isn’t the country that Churchill knew.

        Reply
      1. Vicki H

        Hilarious. All we have left is black humor, if any of us in the US can get it if not totally anesthetized by all things American including but not limited to disgusting fast food, joyfully stuffing our giant rear ends in SUVs people actually think are stylish and our pride in the bloat of our useless military might. Why can’t we just nuke the virus? Or we can just shoot each other while reciting the 2nd amendment and get it over with. There is not much hope for America, Covid or no Covid. We refuse to provide basic medical care for children and the elderly. What’s Covid got to do with it?

        Reply
  5. cocomaan

    But what is disturbing is the failure of the press, even the scientifically-oriented press, to say much about variants. The charitable interpretation is that like so much other Covid-related messaging, no one want to spook the horses until they are sure some new potentially bad development really is bad

    This is how the government has treated the pandemic from the start. The failure to respond was blamed on a lack of pandemic response team in the WH, not acknowledging that we have intel agencies, CDC surveillance, etc.

    Delta was ignored until it was fully inundating the population.

    I knew about Covid in late December 2019. By January I was buying N95s.

    Government response really resembles something Soviet, a sort of plodding stubbornness that hurts everyone.

    Reply
    1. Basil Pesto

      This is how the government has treated the pandemic from the start. The failure to respond was blamed on a lack of pandemic response team in the WH, not acknowledging that we have intel agencies, CDC surveillance, etc.

      That’s what struck me reading this article; we know evil orange hitler is on the hook for ignoring the Obama *genuflects* administration’s pandemic response brochure. So who’s going to be on the hook for mangling the pandemic virus mutation response?

      Reply
      1. Louis Fyne

        Trump losing 2020 was the best thing that happened to the GOP, conversely the worst thing that happened to Democrats and those left-of-center.

        Naturally under a competent administration, Democrats had a chance to banish the GOP to the political wilderness had they been hit the ground running on inauguration day—instead of constantly screaming, “remember january 6!”

        Reply
    2. GM

      This is how the government has treated the pandemic from the start. The failure to respond was blamed on a lack of pandemic response team in the WH, not acknowledging that we have intel agencies, CDC surveillance, etc.

      Nobody dares say it in polite company, but COVID has revealed the US to be a failed state with nukes more starkly than anything could have.

      If someone decides to launch a biological attack, there is clearly nothing that can stop it.

      How do we know that?

      Well, COVID could have been a biological attack, but it was allowed to infect everyone instead of being properly dealt with. Because it was “too hard” to do anything else.

      And now everyone knows that this will be the reaction to whatever comes next. Natural or not natural in its origin…

      Same applies to most countries other than China of course.

      Again, nobody dares mention that.

      All those countless trillions spent over the last 20 years for “national security” and you get this reaction and this many dead bodies?

      Reply
      1. Michaelmas

        GM wrote: ‘The big mystery is why the hell is it so mild given that all its close relatives we know anything about are much nastier.’

        Thanks for saying this outright. Most of us who know anything know we’re getting off light and were expecting something a lot worse — and may still get it.

        GM wrote: ‘If someone decides to launch a biological attack, there is clearly nothing that can stop it.’

        That was always true — though the US has managed to turn it into a slow-motion Chernobyl — and is true of everywhere, including China.

        Reply
        1. Louis Fyne

          not Taiwan. Korea, Singapore (and Japan to a slightly lesser extent )

          the media won’t dwell on those success stories cuz that would only make it well-known how much the US federal government and bureaucracy = failed state.

          Reply
          1. Objective Ace

            I’d also add Uddar Pradesh in India. Not a country, but at 250 million people I’d consider it even more impressive

            Reply
        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Are we getting off lightly? How many seemingly-cured covid ex-patients have stealth tissue and organ damage randomly scattered within their bodies, waiting to shorten their lifespans by several decades when the inevitable degenerative chronic diseases of upper-middle-age take hold of them?

          And we are not getting off lightly in terms of social discohesion. The hairline fractures remain throughout the society and the next uncontained pandemic will wedge them all open much faster.

          Reply
      2. Soredemos

        ‘US as failed state’ is an increasingly hard thesis to deny.

        The US is almost entirely non-functional in practical terms at the federal level, and frequently, and increasingly, at more local levels. It seems to keep going out of a combination of lingering infrastructure and institutions left behind from previous generations that could actually build things, and because the sheer amount of money sloshing around means that some of it eventually trickles down to actually do something useful to keep things together. Occasionally there are little reservoirs of competence.

        The USSR really is an apt comparison. It seemed to have just sort of slowly ground down until breaking catastrophically. Increasingly no one really believed in the project as a whole.

        Reply
        1. GM

          The USSR was actually in a much much better shape in the late 1980s in terms of competence.

          You have to look at something like Chernobyl by distancing yourself from the propaganda you have been subject to. Which is not easy, but if you do that, what you will see is actually an example of how you handle such a crisis.

          You also need to separate why it happened from the reaction to it — it did happen because of the ongoing decay and degeneration of the system.

          But once it happened they mobilized all resources and let the scientists make the decisions. And they eventually poured concrete on it and contained the problem.

          It was an infinitely better reaction than what the US (and modern Russia) did with COVID.

          Reply
          1. Michaelmas

            GM: You have to look at something like Chernobyl by distancing yourself from the propaganda you have been subject to. Which is not easy, but if you do that, what you will see is actually an example of how you handle such a crisis.

            I’m not influenced by the propaganda. Yes, the USSR still had a functioning society and the response was totally heroic with some 31 human individuals (that we officially know of) consciously sacrificing their lives while working in teams to contain the disaster. But ….

            GM: it did happen because of the ongoing decay and degeneration of the system.

            Did it ever. While the US has a PMC that’s essentially a self-serving priesthood that’s incompetent at anything but mouthing neoliberal ideology, the USSR’s PMC was a self-serving priesthood incompetent at anything but mouthing Soviet ideology.

            In particular, the poor design of the Chernobyl reactor and then the incredibly stupid chain of mismanagement and mindless incompetence leading up to the blow-up would be staggeringly implausible — because they had to do everything wrong at every step of the way — were it not that they managed to achieve it.

            Reply
          2. Jason Boxman

            Although if you watch the excellent HBO mini-series on Chernobyl, the lead nuclear scientist did ultimately commit suicide before the party was willing to fix the design flaw that caused the meltdown in the other reactors of that class. And the flaw was known years before Chernobyl and swept under the rug.

            Reply
            1. Michaelmas

              the flaw was known years before Chernobyl and swept under the rug.

              Quite.

              I haven’t seen the HBO series. Though it sounds like it’s good and I like Jared Harris.

              Reply
          3. AlexS

            So I lived there. During the Chernobyl affair. We were asked to go participate in the May parade while it was entirely unsafe to be outside for more than an hour. Oh and the whole thing about scientists making decisions? You watched too many HBO specials. It was all ultimately decided on/driven by the local party dumbf..cks who really only wanted to contain the panic.

            Human societies are just not built to deal with them high R0 viruses effectively. I get it that the readership here thinks that “a totally indefinite quarantine plus quadruple masking in perpetuity is the way to go, but please don’t ruin my ability to get same day delivery from Amazon and I also would rather not starve”. So – as a Russian saying goes, if a {certain sexual thing} is inevitable, it’s a good idea to relax and attempt to derive some enjoyment from it. Same applies to this virus.

            Reply
    3. Mantid

      It’s true we do have “intel agencies, CDC surveillance, etc.”. However, I think they were caught with their pants down. Then with early investigative reporters it became evident that it was likely made made so “intel agencies” began backing away from each other, hiding information, and soon they realized if we just ignore it (CDC not counting cases and delegating to states for example) it will go away.

      Remember, the CDC does not have surveillance as their primary goal. It’s goal is the promotion of vaccines. 60% of their funds come from big pharma.

      Reply
  6. ambrit

    I hesitate to go all Doom and Gloom. (Er, (asks self) what have you been doing this last year then?)
    The outright “Magical Thinking” on display in our society today is really well into ‘delusional’ mental health territory.
    The “Official Narrative” about vaccines being the saviors of us all has gone epidemic itself. When that ‘promise’ collapses, the Officials who formulated and propounded this “Official Narrtive” will have thrown their last shreds of public authority away. Since one of the primary tasks of any State is to protect it’s citizens from harm, America, having failed in that, will have slipped fully into Third World status.
    I have stopped arguing with strangers about the Covid. Dealing with Denialism among family members and “close” friends has become a drain on my psyche.
    Medical workers are quitting in record numbers. My “new” cardiologist now has to do regular rounds in the hospital he works in a day a week. General rounds, not his specialty. The old guard nurse I have spoken with several times over the last two years is now visibly “worn around the edges.” She mentioned to me last week that they were having a bit of a rest since the Autumn coronavirus ‘wave’ had peaked last month and was on the wane, for now. When I asked her about this Winter, she said: “I don’t even want to think about it.”
    From this I make the observation that America is entering a period of emotional ‘burnout.’
    Time to dig out my copy of Defoe’s “A Journal of the Plague Year” and give it a reread.
    See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Journal_of_the_Plague_Year
    Stay safe. Hull down.

    Reply
    1. cocomaan

      I was telling my wife it reminds me of the situation years into a war. At first there’s elation at the coordinated response to the conflict. Then there’s dismay that not everyone is on the same page. Then there’s the crackdown and rationing. Malcontents get persecuted.

      There’s just no population that can be in a wartime stance forever. Wars can really only last about 4 or 5 years before it all falls apart. We’re almost two years into this and I think we have about another year before there’s a reactionary backlash.

      Reply
    2. Pat

      The collapse may be nearer than we think. This holiday season will be a large rasp against the magical thinking. The “unclean” are being banned from the get togethers, so what happens when they are three or four degrees from everyone who develops Covid. The cognitive dissonance is going to become too great for a lot of people. Admittedly I am unusually optimistic about people having the lightbulb goes off WTF moment earlier rather than later, but more and more people are becoming fallout from the magical thinking.

      I worry about what that is going to look like, especially since this has already devastated so much of society’s backstops. But the idiots are stuck with this as the train no longer has brakes.

      Reply
      1. flora

        Fear drives out reason. The MSM (brought to you by advertisers) spent a good part of last year and this scaring the poo out of everyone. At what point does a noble lie become destructive?

        Reply
    3. jwillie

      Report from a major Atlanta healthcare institution:
      – 1300 open nursing positions; pay rate for “traveling nurses” is $250/hr
      – similar staffing vacancies across all functions from doctors to cleaning crews
      – ICU slammed, but only 2 Covid cases
      – other major ATL healthcare institutions are similarly situated

      Reply
      1. Louis Fyne

        have a friend wjo is a part-time nurse/stay-at-home mom.

        No amount of money will make her work full-time in this environment as she doesn’t want to be a disease vector, but the money is good enough for her to risk it part-time.

        Reply
      2. Objective Ace

        >$250/hr

        Thats over half a million a year for a standard 40 hour work week. As terrible as things have become, I’m glad to see some normal non-capitalists/CEOs finally benefitting financially

        Reply
      3. Rod

        But 20 dollars an hour for cna’s like my wife in this small rural Northern California town. Someone please remember the non-r.n. staff that work daily under the risk of covid for very little pay and also other injury’s as well.

        Reply
        1. Rod

          Also right as the first surge was hitting here the hospital eliminated one of the cna’s positions and since there is only 2 cna’s working a 12 hour night shift left her alone many times trying to handle heavy patients. The administration said the nurses could help and do cna work but that went over like a lead brick. She came home at that time and when fully vaccinated returned to the workforce but not at the same work place.

          Reply
  7. HH

    Although normally a stronghold of rationality, NC seems to be veering into COVID alarmism these days. Recall the posts here about under-reporting of vaccine-related deaths. Where is this concern now? Take a look at the numbers coming out of Israel. With widespread administration of boosters, COVID is well under control there. The anti-viral oral medication soon to be available will drive down transmission and mortality even among the unvaccinated. It would be better for NC not to engage in anticipatory dread of possible dangers and stick to responsible discussion of the many known present evils.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      best to go shopping and admit that we do actually live in the best of all possible worlds, heck, look at wall st…if things were actually bad how could one justify those valuations?

      Reply
    2. cocomaan

      Israel famously has extremely strict customs and border enforcement. I wonder if that helps at all, because the US has a very strange, herky-jerky, corrupt border enforcement.

      Reply
      1. Louis Fyne

        see countries with strict border controls and natural barriers to travel…NZ, AU, Japan, Taiwan, Korea. compare contrast to Gibraltar or Malta or Eire.

        Reply
    3. ambrit

      Unfortunately, we have been lied to by the ‘Officials’ one time too many. Trust in “Official Institutions” is now pretty much gone among the more discerning.
      Even if wrong, “Covid Alarmism” is a rational response to a chaotic and dangerous situation.
      The promised anti-viral oral medication is still in the testing phase, and, if proper, time tested methods were still being used by the medical community, would be a year or two away. The presently being used “vaccines” were rushed into use before proper teating was carried out. That’s why the EUAs were promulgated, as if by Divine Decree. These vaccines are imperfect at best, and maybe more damaging than helpful for a large segment of the population. The quite alarming side effects seen with the use of these “vaccines” would have been discovered and worked on before general public use under the old rules.
      If the above does not fit your definition of “responsible discussion,” then, I have a bridge for sale you might be interested in. I can let you have it on a payment schedule. Just 10% down and you can start collecting tolls tomorrow.

      Reply
    4. Pat

      Israel has a functioning public health system. It is also a small regionally contained area. It is roughly the size of NJ. They control their borders and all indications are they contact trace. None of which can be said about America.That antiviral you speak of must be administered in very early days and is expensive. So not really going to be a factor in say NM, where poverty is rampant and hospitals can be hours and a hundred+ miles away.

      And not for nothing, but we might want to give any area a minimum of six months of “well under control” before declaring some form of victory. If they have found a system that works, good for them, I am sure everyone here will be happy for them and hopeful our idiot leaders may be able to replicate it. But even our brief history of this pandemic has shown victory can be short lived.

      Reply
    5. Basil Pesto

      Although normally a stronghold of rationality

      Where, in the above post, is the irrationality? Can you point out even one example of irrationality in what is written? I’d be curious to see it because I quite like to know whether I have the blinkers on or not, on any given topic.

      Reply
    6. PlutoniumKun

      You really need to take a close look at the Israeli figures. Infection rates are 10 times what they were back in May – and this is at the trough of the cycle – and there is still a significant death rate (albeit much lower than most countries in the region). And the August peak was higher than the previous peak (the one that wasn’t supposed to happen), before the vaccinations. There is nothing in the Israeli figures to indicate that it is ‘under control’, the only good news from Israel is that its possible to get the hospitalisation and death rate down.

      Reply
    7. GM

      Take a look at the numbers coming out of Israel. With widespread administration of boosters, COVID is well under control there.

      The problem is that it was even more “under control” after the second shots.

      Until it wasn’t.

      And that the Israeli government itself does not expect it to stay “under control” with these three shots either.

      The anti-viral oral medication soon to be available will drive down transmission and mortality even among the unvaccinated.

      At $700 and having to take it within 3 days of onset of symptoms for it to be effective, this is not a solution at all. Especially in “well functioning” rationally designed with the health of people in mind systems such as the one the US has. Good luck getting your insurance, if you have it, to agree to pay for it on time.

      Reply
    8. Mantid

      Well, one “present evil” is that breakthrough cases are now in the low 30% in my state in the US. That’s not alarmist, it is fact. That fact, for example is not “anticipatory dread of possible dangers”, it is reflective of a true “dread of possible dangers”. This 30% of cases being breakthroughs, a few months ago was ~ 10%. Not being alarmist, just being aware. Is it alarmist that breakthrough cases will eventually become 40, 50 60%? I think it’s logical to anticipate that fact, not alarmist.

      Reply
    9. flora

      It would be better for NC not to engage in anticipatory dread of possible dangers and stick to responsible discussion of the many known present evils.

      Oh. If NC did that I wouldn’t have learned early on last year from NC posts about the seriousness of C19 and its likely effect in the US. Anticipatory reporting at NC about horizon issues likely to become important is one reason I read NC.

      Reply
    10. TMR

      I won’t deny that I see a strange sense of satisfaction in the confirmation of the most bearish opinions around here, and a rush to downplay any sort of news that deviates from dire predictions. “Anti-triumphalism” can sometimes look like personal triumphalism.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Psychologically, that is to be expected. The underlying fear I sense is that the “bearish” expectations were borne out, so, what else is lurking at the threshold, Lovecraft, (actually, Derleth) style, waiting to unleash an unholy reign of terror upon the supine masses?
        I, for one, take any “official” pronouncements now with a metric ton of salt.

        Reply
        1. TMR

          Yeah, my position on this has always been “it’s not going to be as bad as you fear, but not as good as you hope”.

          Of course, the officials are lying; that’s what they do. It’s up to us to filter that through the lenses of how, why, and to what end. It’s easy to see malice where laziness or self-preservation are much more explanatory.

          Reply
      2. GM

        I want this to be over with as much as anyone else.

        The problem is that I know with very high certainty that it will never be over with under current wishful thinking policies.

        I also know that the longer things look “good”, the more difficult it will be to turn them around when they inevitable become bad again. Thus it is better for them to become bad more quickly than more slowly — they will either way, but you don’t want to normalize it and you want people to be aware of it as much as possible.

        This is the source of any “satisfaction” you might be sensing.

        Reply
    11. Yves Smith Post author

      In Lambert’s and my experience of moderating over 1.6 million comments, concern trolling is never done is good faith. Your comment provides yet more confirmation.

      You cannot cite a single thing that is wrong with this post, or any of our Covid posts to date, save for your false claim about Israel, which had Covid cases at the same rate among the vaccinated and unvaccinated roughly 5 months after the first round of vaccines. The had a spike in August, which led to them adopting boosters far earlier than anyone had anticipated. They are now onto the fourth booster.

      You are also straw manning us. Please point to a post, or even a long aside, about Covid death undercounts. We’ve included MSM coverage on noteworthy cases, such as Cuomo and more recently the UK government lying. We have banged on about morbidity risk.

      Even so, under-reporting of Covid deaths remains an issue. No less than the Economist has recently started putting out data that it updates regularly on what it believes the actual Covid death rate to be. And there remain strong incentives to under-report Covid deaths in nursing homes. Similarly, if someone dies at home, there’s no incentive to have an autopsy to determine if the death was due to Covid.

      Instead you whinge because you want happy talk and boosting of boosters, when high cases counts in countries with high vaccination rates show that the vaccines don’t do much to stop the spread of Delta, and other interventions, which the authorities have been reluctant to push, are necessary.

      Reply
  8. XXYY

    One of the striking things about the covid pandemic so far is this: Everyone who has predicted that the pandemic is over during the last two years has been wrong. Everyone who predicted that it is not over has been right.

    This seems kind of obvious and self-evident, but it’s also a striking reality. People who predict the pandemic is over are overwhelmingly likely to be incorrect, just based on the observable track record so far and nothing else.

    Of course, we all hope things are going to return to 2019-normal someday, but seems like these predictions should be selling at a deep discount at this point.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous2

      I remember a story of two doctors in the green room of a chat show just as the pandemic was starting. They were discussing how long the crisis would last and agreed that 3 to 5 years was a reasonable assumption. They were of course instructed not to mention such ideas in front of the cameras.

      But to look on the bright side, that could mean we will be better placed in another 3 years time?

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well we would be, if there were ever an honest intention and attempt to contain it and even hopefully kill it. But there wasn’t, and there won’t be. So whether we are better placed 3 years from now is entirely up to the Coronavid virus itself and no one else.

        Reply
    1. Pat

      My evil side is of the opinion that they are for essential members of the government and their families. We all know that the vaccines are a mitigating factor at best, and that indications are that they figure everyone is going to get, probably multiple times. Well presidents and Congress cannot be expected to have to fight for monoclonal antibodies and Ivermectin if something better is out there. And they have first dibs. That it boosts their stock prices as well, winning!!

      Average folks getting it for nothing… not likely.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      If we say America has 300 million people, to make thinking it out real easy, then ten million pills is enough for 3.3% of the American population, if a whole course of treatment is only one pill.

      If a course of treatment is 3 pills, its enough for just over !% of the population. If a course is 4 pills, its enough for just under 1% of the population.

      So yes. 10 million pills would be enough for their own self-designated precious selves alone and only.

      But maybe the pill will have terrible side effects and after effects. For their own self-designated precious selves alone and only.

      Reply
  9. Copeland

    Hi GM, I’ve seen Yves mention you by your initials several times before today in her introductory paragraphs, but only today did I realize that you are commenting here. If there was an introduction to who you are, I missed it. Are you a physician, epidemiologist, something else?

    Thanks from one who struggles to keep up here, probably not the only one.

    Reply
  10. lance ringquist

    my wife and i watched a press conference with trump in march 2020. trump offered to pay all of our bills, and cover our medical expenses and close down the country.
    he was immediately shouted down by the legacy media ghouls who knew full well trump was about to educate all on what MMT was.
    anyone else remember that, or saw it?

    Reply
      1. Noone from Nowheresville.

        Here’s a starting point. I did clink the white house link within the first article but it’s a dead link which I didn’t search any further for. I also have to be honest and say that I don’t remember the details on any of this so I think perhaps it might deserve a deeper dive on what Trump was saying while the pandemic was starting vs. what ended up happening, etc. It kind of got buried for me with the constant media drum roll of Trump is lying, changing his position day-to-day, combined with the Democratic primary and the show which got put on, then the Cares Act and the federal legislature going essentially on recess for months.

        https://khn.org/news/trump-wrongly-said-health-insurers-will-pay-for-all-coronavirus-treatment/

        Here’s another link which talks about H.R. 6201: Families First CoronaVirus Response Act .

        https://abcnews.go.com/US/coronavirus-live-updates-trump-europe-travel-ban-begins/story?id=69575114

        https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/18/politics/coronavirus-congress-relief-senate-house/index.html

        Reply
        1. Noone from Nowheresville.

          And maybe this one from March 3rd, a couple of weeks prior to the bill’s passage. Again only a starting point to remember what was happening and what and how it was being talked about.

          https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-covid-plan-uninsured-hospitals_n_5e87d29dc5b6cc1e477566e7

          The money for Trump’s initiative, first reported by Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal, will come from a $100 billion allotment for health care providers that was part of the economic rescue package Congress passed and Trump signed a week ago. The funds will go directly to the hospitals that serve the uninsured, covering each patient’s coronavirus-related charges.

          In theory, those uninsured Americans won’t have to pay a penny for that care. That’s a big deal, given the potential of hospital charges from COVID-19 care to wallop the average American’s finances ― and to discourage the uninsured from getting care in the first place.

          Reply
  11. Noone from Nowheresville.

    I remember reading about Covid at NC mid-January. I started slowly buying supplies for the next two months. I wish Trump had closed the airports. I vaguely remember him promising other things but I fell victim to the Sanders defeat followed by the CARES Act pre and post game show.

    I remember the Chinatown meal. I also remember being told to go out for St. Patrick’s Day. To vote in person during the Primaries and so much more.

    But it is nice to know that the conservatives are about to become the follow the science party. I learned that from Bila, or rather had it confirmed since I’d already been hearing it out in the wilds of Nowheresville. That and the utter hypocrisy of liberals. The talking points they numb the brain because they didn’t even need to take a breath. But if you throw them a bone like the 17 city paramilitary dismantling of Occupy, you can distract them because it’s not on the list. Or it wasn’t.

    Reply
  12. Any Cause Will Do

    Mass vaccination during a pandemic with a very narowly defined immunogen has been described as a disaster in waiting by Geert vanden Bossche and others. Applying specific immunological pressure with a non-sterilizing vaccine has been predicted to give rise to troubling escape variants.

    Neutralizing antibody assay technology is old technology, easily automatable, but resulting in a GIGO readout. No information about the T cell immune response is derived, nor even the quality of the antibody response beyond the simplistic neutralization readout.

    Perhaps the broader immune response elicited by older technology inactivated whole virus vaccines, like that in development by Valneva, will be more effective at keeping the crafty pathogen in check. Good health in general, exercise and a sensible diet, is also good medicine.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This comment is not on point. The post, consistent with its headline, focuses almost entirely on a new variant from Africa which has spread to the US and Europe. The vaccination rate in Africa ex South Africa is about 6%. Vaccination played no role in the development of this variant.

      On top of that, Delta has shown very little antigenic drift, apparently because it overwhelms the vaccines in breakthrough cases with brute force of replication. Recall that observed nasal viral loads in Delta patients are >1000x higher than for wild type.

      Your enthusiasm for T cells is also misplaced. With Delta, one study found that average time for patients to become symptomatic is four days. Memory B cells and T cells are secondary lines of defense. By the time those bone marrow cells have woken up to the danger and multiplied you are already having problems in the respiratory tract. And it remains to be seen in cases of brain damage if the damage is due to infection that goes directly to your brain from the nasal mucosa via the olfactory nerves (extremely bad — current vaccines are not doing anything to stop that, and neither are those cells in your bone marrow) or you have to get the systemic infection first.

      Reply
    2. Skip Intro

      The good news is that the current batch of vaccines seem to exert very little selection pressure on the virus. Delta is like “Escape variant? WTF? There’s little to escape from? I don’t need to break through nothing ya see! Look at me ma, top of the world!”

      Reply
  13. drumlin woodchuckles

    If media and officials believe what they are saying/writing, then they are complacent.

    If media and officials have a quietly unstated agenda of helping Newest Covid spread as far and wide as possible, then they are complicit.

    Reply
  14. Hank George

    I write about COVID-19 for life insurance underwriters. One issue I’m focused on now is the adverse effects on morbidity and mortality due to the (oft-draconian) lockdowns.

    Douglas W. Allen, an economist at Simon Fraser University in
    Burnaby, British Columbia, did an analysis of Years of Life Lost (YLL) due to the pandemic virus vs. YLL provoked by the effects of pervasive lockdowns.

    When he did his analysis based on a model that assumed Canada would have 200,000 excess deaths without their lockdown (an assumption widely held to be fancifully inflated!), his math concluded that the excess deaths would result in 1,735,580 Years of Life Lost (YLL)

    Then he did the same for deaths from the the lockdown and that result was over three-fold greater at 6,300,000 YLL.

    Being congenitally innumerate I cannot confirm the accuracy of his math; that said, I suspect it is accurate.

    Remember, COVID-19 deaths are overwhelming at ages 65 and older whereas lockdown effects are spread across all ages. which is a huge factor here.

    Allen opined that initially lockdowns made at least theoretical sense. But by August 2020 there was abundant evidence to contradict that notion.
    Nevertheless, despite their lethality, lockdowns continue to this day…

    …a tragedy based on the “convenient” lie that unvaccinated individuals pose a significantly greater risk of spreading the virus than those who have had the requisite jabs!

    Lastly, check out what appeared in a leading Rome newspaper re:
    a COVID-19 cause-of-death investigation by their NIH equivalent:

    https://www-iltempo-it.translate.goog/attualita/2021/10/21/news/rapporto-iss-morti-covid-malattie-patologie-come-influenza-pandemia-disastro-mortalita-bechis-29134543/?_x_tr_sl=it&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=it&_x_tr_pto=nui

    Haven’t heard about this on CNN, you say?

    Such a study here would eye-opening on steroids

    Shall we suggest it to Fauci?

    Reply
    1. GM

      These are absurd numbers that are contradicted by basic logic and by the fact that excess mortality was sharply negative everywhere where lockdowns were imposed on time and prevented the waves before they even started, while excess mortality when up nearly 10-fold in New York at the peak in April 2020.

      They are also based on the blatantly false assumptions that once you have COVID you are immune for life and you suffer no damage, when the reality is that if you are in your teens today and are having COVID, that is just the first of many infections you will go through until you die either from one of them or from the long-term damage to your internal organs and immune system you accumulate. Without vaccines we were probably looking at a halving of life expectancy, with vaccines we might get that back up to the 60s.

      This is just another case of economists doing their never openly formulated real job of building “models” based on false assumptions with the goal of pushing a predetermined policy that is so harmful to society that it should never be openly stated. It has to be masked and justified with “science”.

      This is a particularly monstrous such case because the policy pushed is deliberate mass murder on a scale never seen before in human history. And it was successfully pushed so I am not even sure why you are bringing this up as somehow being an alternative view — that is current policy.

      Normally the people complicit in committing such a monstrous crime would be either in jail, given death penalties (where the death penalty has not been abolished), or hanging from trees and lampposts (if regular people ever understood what has been done to them and the judicial system is too slow to react).

      In our society they are “respected academics”, business leaders and politicians who will never suffer any consequences for their actions

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the articles you write for life insurance underwriters neglect to mention the as-yet-unknown impacts of covid afterdamage to organs and organ systems and the possibility of widespread premature death among the covid “recovered” patients with silent organ damage when upper-middle-age and old age chronic disease conditions ( or bronchitis or emphysema or pneumonia) attack these organs as per normal, the life insurance underwriters may feel they were deprived of a warning they should have had about something to look out for.

      They may feel betrayed.

      They may seek revenge.

      In twenty-to-thirty years, we and they and you should know if it turns out this way or not.

      Reply
  15. Scott1

    In retrospect there were about 2 weeks post vaccinations when we could get away with going out and living as we had, unmasked.
    As a measure of the times my wife and I went out to a memorial for a young man, probably 29, who had died of an overdose.

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  16. sawdust

    I’m late to the party here but it’s worth making the point that the politicization of COVID and science/epidemiology really hurts. Many of the most informed epidemiologists are strongly discouraged indirectly and directly from sharing information (press, social media, etc.) for fear it gets politicized and that hurts funding as retribution.

    For a recent example, my wife is a researcher and epidemiologist at a large cancer center and was on a group call with the director of the National Cancer Center earlier this week. He directly told everyone on the call (researchers who received certain NCI grants) to not ‘post’ or give interviews in their research area. He was (somewhat understandably) concerned there would again be a situation where a politician’s ‘beliefs’ were challenged. Science and research in the US is publicly funded and there is a recent history of retributory cuts to orgs like the NCI & NIH.

    For the record, my wife called the situation ‘insulting’ but also a ‘sad reality’. I’ve met many epidemiologists and researchers, and most are very hesitant to be canaries both from a mindset (scientific method) and also structural standpoint (e.g. retribution, misquote, reputation). There is a lot ‘known but not yet published’

    Last but not least, we just need a lot more funding.

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