2:00PM Water Cooler 4/1/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

El Cedral (Pueblo), Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

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Patient readers, happy April Fool’s Day to those who celebrate. I loathe “pranks,” so I don’t.

This is an open thread because I need to finish up a post connecting Boeing and Monarch Lathe (I bet we have at least one owner in the commentariat). However, I thought I’d post this one link because good news — or even news that may appear to be good — is in such short supply. –lambert

“A Huge Boost for Mucosal Covid Vax Development (Next Generation Update 15) [Hilda Bastian, Absolutely Maybe].

Mucosal vaccines go directly into the mucosal tissue where infection begins – for example, intranasally or via tablets. If they could induce strong enough mucosal immunity, such vaccines could reduce the risk of infection and transmission. That’s often called “sterilizing” immunity.

Development of these vaccines has just received a massive boost. A global consortium is being funded to develop and then run human challenge trials of intranasal or inhaled vaccines in a program called MusiCC. A human challenge trial – where participants are quarantined and deliberately infected in that controlled environment – could find out quickly and definitively establish whether or not particular vaccines can prevent infection and transmission. If very effective vaccines are tested in this program, it would vault them rapidly through development stages that could otherwise take years….

This is a new 5-year program led by Imperial College London to speed development and access to mucosal coronavirus vaccines by running placebo-controlled human challenge trials. That involves trying to infect volunteers under controlled conditions, which means trials that can establish whether infection is blocked can be completed quickly, with fewer volunteers than a standard trial.

MusiCC is supported with $57 million from the European Union and CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations). A global consortium of more than a dozen teams and organizations specializing in human challenge studies will be involved. They are interested in inhaled and intranasal vaccines that could block transmission of betacoronaviruses (the virus group including Covid and MERS). The program “includes a commitment that any vaccines developed are made available first and at an affordable price to the most vulnerable populations.”

MusiCC = “Mucosal Immunity in Human Coronavirus Challenge.” $57 million is nothing; and nasal vaccines should have been part of Operation Warp Speed (easy to see in retrospect). But here we are. I can’t find a list of the participants; search results are pretty sparse. It would be interesting to know if NIH — or any major American institutions — are part of the consortium.

Here is a link on the ethics of challenge trials.*

NOTE * The article thought $6,200 was high (so high as to make the challenge not really voluntary. I suppose for “mild” case an optimist might agree. For neurological and vascular damage, that seems low. For Long Covid, absurdly low. I wish I knew what provisions there were for long-term medical care for the volunteers. At the same time, I do think that volunteering is a wonderful, civic-minded thing to do, and we should encourage it.

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi, lichen, and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From DL:


DL writes: “Big Basin: Redwood Sprouts Plantidote.”

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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. flora

            When a general humor results in a particularized, generalized and individual complaint I’m not sure what to do.

            The old philosophical dilemma of ‘the one and the many’ , the individual vs a wider polity, what is the way forward? Individual rights or group demands?

            1. ambrit

              If your individual humour does not threaten the generality in any concrete, material fashion, then I endorse RBJB’s suggestion.
              I have found that, to engage in reciprocal comment on the Internet, one needs a thick skin. The coarser formulation of this theory is; “F… them if they can’t take a joke.” To which someone on another venue once replied; “And the keyboard you typed in on.”
              Besides, I detect a bit of sarcasm in digi-owl’s reply. A sly dig at the formulaic pseudo-mathematical language of “modern” economics?
              In that vein, I will suggest that today the old formula of “assume a can opener” no longer refers to a physical tool, but to a properly credentialed PMC who carries out the ‘can opening’ task in the theoretical realm.
              Stay safe.

    1. Brian Beijer

      I think his middle name is Hugh, not Huge. But I’m sure he appreciates the new nickname you gave him ;)

  1. Tom Stone

    Here in California it is both April Fool’s Day and Cesar Chavez Day, a State Holiday, which is appropriate considering how our Farmworker’s are treated.

  2. sleeplessintokyo

    $57 million? what a joke. WE spent what, a $billion on failed Long Covid research. This is gaslighting

  3. anon

    I have a friend and an acquaintance, both of whom I thought would never give up masking. The friend is about 80 y.o. and had breast cancer a couple of years ago. She has been very careful to wear an N95, except in very small family holiday gatherings. But back in January she developed vertigo, and it was bad enough that she had loads of tests and scans done. Nothing was found, and the vertigo has improved a bit. But now she is telling me that she is thinking of giving up masking; that it would be better to “catch a little bit of everything out there.” I think she may have caught covid in December, and it affected the risk assessment area of her brain.

    My acquaintance is a co-religionist; she is in her late 70s and she had serious cancer about a decade ago. She has also been extraordinarily careful. But I just saw her at church (she was in person, I was on zoom) without a mask, for the first time. She is the only person who actually reads the studies that I on rare occasions send around. She “knows better.” But maybe she doesn’t know better anymore.

    I hate crowds and I hate parties but I do feel wistful to have missed an extremely rare family gathering last week on the other coast. I would ordinarily just feel relief that I’d not gone. I don’t know if that means I now have covid brain via an asymptomatic case, or if I’m just getting worn down.

      1. anon

        Thank you very much for the encouragement. My greatest motivation is my dogs. The dog study was terrible. I can’t justify risking infecting them. Of course I can’t justify risk infecting anyone but myself, but I have a particular duty to them. And if a person has cats, I can say that I have seen a lot of anecdotes of people whose cat died of covid; it is very bad for cats as well.

      1. What? No!

        Yes, my brother, in retail, age 62, vertigo out of nowhere, getting a coffee, at the gas station. It sounded just awful.

    1. Nikkikat

      I think we are all worn down by the solitary lives we’ve been forced into living. My husband and I have given up concerts, movies and family gatherings. We still wear N95 masks and while we are not as cautious as before, still cautious. I used to do my groceries at 6:00 am.
      Never went into other stores like Target and even wore mask outdoors if near people, I’ve let some of that go now. Still wear mask inside all stores, businesses but occasionally go in a target during less busy hours. When I start to waver, I think of all I’ve given up and want it to not be for nothing. I have preexisting conditions. My brother and family got Covid in very beginning and still eat out, travel and go to concerts, church etc. They don’t even think about it. I wish I could be so carefree but cannot. I never see anyone with a mask on. Was in hospital recently and no one wore even a baggy blue. None of my doctors offices bother either. I still wear my N95, they offer to put on mask, but I don’t bother to insist anymore.
      No one any where wears one so I don’t see insisting putting on that useless thing makes much sense They tell me they test once a week, for whatever that’s worth. Hope this new
      Vaccine is successful, would be great to join life again. Staying alive is hard work.

      1. kareninca

        I don’t wear a mask when I chat with someone outside, but I do take a claritin on that day (not medical advice, I guess) and use Xlear nasal spray and if I know in advance I will wear an AirTamer.

  4. Randall Flagg

    >. I loathe “pranks,” so I don’t.
    Then you must certainly be annoyed with Biden’s campaign rhetoric today…
    Inflation is low.
    Lowest unemployment rate in history
    Strongest economy evah
    Gas prices coming down
    Unifying the country.
    Bringing medicine costs down
    Going to win in Ukraine
    We are not encouraging Israel
    Add your own NC readers, it is as mentioned April Fools Day…
    Feel free to chime in on Trump as well…

    1. Wukchumni

      A tome for your sins…

      If at All Possible, Involve a Cow: The Book of College Pranks, by Neil Steinberg

    2. griffen

      Washington, Lincoln, Joe Biden and FDR…the line of great Presidents of US history are being updated as we speak…\Sarc

      Make this stop anytime in 2024…

  5. Jason Boxman

    More good news.

    Person Infected With Bird Flu in Texas After Contact With Cattle

    At least with all mitigations actively discredited by experts, we can proceed directly to the mass infection and death stage, should this ultimately have legs. Won’t that be a relief?

    At least one person in Texas has been diagnosed with bird flu following contact with dairy cows presumed to be infected, state officials said on Monday.
    The announcement adds a worrying dimension to an outbreak that has affected millions of birds and sea mammals worldwide and, most recently, cows in the United States.

    I have no doubt capitalists will find some way to sell this milk to unsuspecting Americans…

    The disease is primarily affecting older cows, which have developed symptoms that include a loss of appetite, a low-grade fever and a significant drop in milk production. The milk that the cows do produce is often “thick and discolored,” according to Texas officials. The virus has also been found in unpasteurized milk samples collected from sick cows.

      1. Lambert Strether

        On bird flu (“avian influenza”). From the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:

        Avian influenza viruses are spread through local or regional wild bird movements as well as via bird migration over longer distances. Introduction of the avian influenza viruses can happen through wild birds, but also through illegal trade of birds and bird products.

        Avian influenza viruses can be transmitted directly from wild birds to domestic poultry or indirectly e.g. through contaminated material. The virus spreads directly from bird to bird via airborne transmission or indirectly, through faecal contamination of material, feathers or feed. Large amounts of virus are secreted in bird droppings, contaminating the soil and water supply. Large gatherings of various wild bird species on lakes create an environment where reassortment of different avian influenza viruses can occur. Viruses can also spread between the animals and then further on through migratory routes to new areas.

        Contaminated equipment, vehicles, feed, cages or clothing – especially shoes – can spread the virus in between farms. Furthermore, there is a possibility of contaminated dust particles spreading via wind from one farm to another, in close proximity. The virus can also be mechanically carried by other animals, such as rodents. In Asia, so called ‘wet’ markets or live bird markets, where live birds are sold, can be another source of spread and mixing of different viruses between bird species.

        Of course, for any particular strain, if it’s bad for birds, that doesn’t mean it’s bad for humans. What has worriers like me worried is that it seems to be showing up in different places rapidly. And of course zoonotic transmission (bird->cattle->human).

  6. notabanker

    So in between cashing checks from Ukraine and authorizing more ‘loans’ to Israel to kill more brown people, Joe and the Team found time to celebrate Transgender Visibility Day. On Easter Sunday. Because, of course.

    I don’t care how hard you try, you just cannot make this stuff up.

      1. ambrit

        The Pritzkers have revived the Reagan method of “Trickle Down Economics.”
        If the Pritzkers had their way, they would be standing on the White House portico roof pissing on the proletarians passing below.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > If the Pritzkers had their way, they would be standing on the White House portico roof pissing on the proletarians passing below.

          Unlike… Unlike….

    1. Lee

      The Middle East on the brink again after attack on Iranian consulate CNN

      Maybe I’m getting a little foily here, but given Israel’s recent display of overkill, it occurs to me that they might be bloody minded enough to attempt goading their rightfully hostile neighbors into an escalation that the Israelis could then use as an excuse for nuking Iran and possibly others. Does Israel have the conventional warfare capability to prevail over Iran and other possible co-combatants should such escalation occur?

      1. Ben Panga

        I had the same thought Lee. A fully fledged conflict with Iran serves multiple goals for the Israeli hawks:

        1. Distracts from the genocide in Palestine that is causing so much international fuss

        2. Neutralises (if successful) the perceived long term enemy Iran

        3. Forces (or allows!) the US into an active role in the wider war

        4. Makes real the apocalyptic fantasies of the many deranged rapture-heads in Israel and the USA

        Israel (and US hawks) have been trying to get traction for a joint Israel/US attack on Iran for years. The final piece in the neocon “remaking the middle-east” strategy that started in 2003.

        It would need a suitable Iranian action first though. My foily brain is primed for (real or false flag) Iranian escalatory strikes in the next few weeks. Maybe they will send Kamala out to the ME in a vulnerable little plane!

        I am hugely ignorant but do not believe Israel (with it without the US) has anything like the conventional capacity to really hurt Iran. Nukes may be hard to resist?

    2. skippy

      As connoisseur of fine absurdity I have to say the proclamation “Transgender Visibility Day on Easter Sunday” to be the wafer thin mint that was Mr. Creosote’s ultimate demise …

  7. tegnost

    Amazon plans to spend tens of billions more in those states, but it’s getting harder to secure electricity there. Data centers require lots of power, and their growing ubiquity is putting pressure on utilities. For a few months in 2022, Dominion Energy, which powers Virginia’s data center alley, couldn’t keep up, pausing connections to facilities that were otherwise ready to come online. The utility expects demand to nearly double over the next 15 years, with the growth driven primarily by data centers.

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      Which suits Amazon customers just fine, of course. They should be happy to endure the coming brownouts, blackouts and further accelerated carbon skyflooding as the tradeoff they choose to make for supporting Amazon’s continued existence through buying things from it.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > growth driven primarily by data centers

      A fine example of the adage that data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom….

    1. mrsyk

      Now now, I’m sure there’s some simple explanation for what appears to be an alarming level of reoccurring hypocrisy.

  8. John Beech

    For the math ‘challenged’, with a USA population on the order of 330M, then $1,000,000 to each amounts to USD$330T . . . and our national debt would increase about 10X from the present USD$32T, so as jokes go, it’s an especially poor one. Very sorry for anyone fooled.

  9. thousand points of green

    I left a comment about the ” Are vegetables losing their nutrition” article which ran several posts ago. Here is the link to that thread in case anyone is interested.

  10. Tom Stone

    The Biden administration has taught me that there are good Nazi’s and defensive Genocides, that Palestinians are not Semites and that letting Covid 19 run wild is wise policy.
    If I could afford airplane glue this might make more sense….

    1. caucus99percenter

      Israel, Zionism, Zionists, and all supportive Western governments and elites are engaged in a great, genocidal evil. There should no longer be any doubt. Anyone obfuscating or contesting this is not arguing in good faith and is in fact demonstrating their judgment cannot be trusted.


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