My Predictions – 2022

  1. Trump and his company will continue to file cases in court and lose every single one of them. The first loss will happen at the very end of January when the Supreme Court will reject the request by Trump to review the Jan 6 committee subpoena for documents from the National Archives and the documents will be in the hands of the committee by February.
  2. In the most recent lawsuit against Attorney General Letica James, it will be dismissed with harsh words, such as the lawsuit is frivolous and politically motivated.
  3. Devin Nunes is the CEO of Trump’s new social media company. Trump will fire him before the end of the year.
  4. Many countries in Europe will have higher percentage of their population vaccinated than in the US. This is a fairly easy prediction, and it is a sad fact that many Americans have doubts about the vaccines or believe popular but untrue conspiracy theories. Eastern Europe and Russia will catch up to the US.
  5. A new Iran nuclear deal will be agreed upon. Republicans will do everything they can to defeat it.
  6. Climate change will be very much present, as the northwest of the US will suffer from extreme heat and our hurricanes will be wetter, creating more flooding,

I think 6 predictions are enough for now. I’ll check back at the end of 2022 and see how I did. I did not make any predictions on the mid-term elections, but it’s certainly possible for both the House and the Senate to be controlled by Republicans.

Stay tuned,

Dave

It is not done with us

Omicron is here. A virus mutates. The breeding of variants is made more likely when 57% of us are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Health experts predicted other variants were likely last year. Our best defense is to get as close to 100% vaccinated as possible. We are at war. We don’t hear bombs dropping, but it is war. What emerged in South Africa, is now present in Europe and Canada. It most likely came by plane in passengers without symptoms.

It is a world health crisis. WHO Director Tedros Ghebreyesus got it right. Omicron is another reminder that although many might “think we are done with Covid-19, it is not done with us,” Tedros said.

The vaccine is not perfect, but it is the best armor in this war we have. What I mean by “we” is the population of the world. So the way out of the pandemic is for developed countries to support vaccine availability in less developed countries.

Tedros said that while the agency understands that every government has a “responsibility to protect its own people,” ending the uneven distribution of vaccines is “in every country’s best interest.”

These comments came in a recent interview in Forbes, as provided below.

I and my wife have gotten our shots and booster shots. In the US, it is free and widely available. Other preventative measures don’t offer the same protection. I was in and out of CVS Pharmacy in less than 30 minutes.

A lot of other measures are being taken with mixed results. It is epidemiology 101 that any measure to limit long distance disease transmission (local containment) is good. However, cancelation of flights from African countries, have caused stranded passengers and congestion at multiple airports. Americans can return home from South Africa so this can lead to more opportunities to spread the new variant.

I’m not counting on any magic pill being ready. Yes, if the Pfizer or Bristol Myers pills are approved and I’m infected with Covid-19, I’m all in. But, long-haul Covid is possible, with a long list of symptoms. (for long haul Covid, I recommend Sanjay Gupta’s book World War C, see links below).

I’ll end with one simple conclusion that our planet is much smaller than people think. In my lifetime, I visited China, India, and countries in South America, the Middle East, Africa and SE Asia. I was a tourist, and I want to remain that way. Not a disease transmitter.

It depends on Covid vaccine availability and acceptance, if we are to make the planet healthier.

GET VACCINATED. IF ELGIBLE, GET YOUR BOOSTER. SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS TO INCREASE VACCINE AVAILABILITY WORLDWIDE.

OK, I said my peace, and I’ll sit down.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links,

Forbes Interview with WHO Director

Sanjay Gupta, World War C

Recommended reading. I use Kindle on my PC to read it.

How Portugal is winning the war against Covid

In my last blog, I discussed the how the US stacks up against other developed nations. We are #37 in the world. We could be doing a lot better. So, I wanted to take a closer look at those who are doing better and why.

Of all developed and populous nations, Portugal is #1 in terms of vaccinations. at 85.2% of the country vaccinated. Covid is not gone from Portugal. It exists and new cases are discovered every day. As shown in the graph above, there were 637 new cases as of October 18, 2021 according to the 7-day average. This is the appropriate statistic to judge the trend as it smooths out the noise in the daily data. So, with a population of 10.8 million people, there are about 60 new cases per 1 million residents. In

In Portugal, Covid-19 new cases plunged from around 13,000 (7 day average) in February 2021 to just 637 cases in October. The July upsurge in Covid-19 is clear as the Delta variant spread like wildfire. The big story is that from August to October, the vaccinations and other measures has countered Delta attack, with a 500% decline in new cases.

I was in Portugal in September of this year, and saw the other measures being employed. I was asked for proof of full vaccination when checking into a hotel. One person in our group had not taken a second shot, so within 10 minutes in the hotel, she was tested for Covid-19 with the rapid antigen test. So there is still a choice. Get vaccinated or get tested. Of course, testing is good only for 72 hours. Some restaurants asked for proof of vaccination.

The war against Covid-19 is far from over in any country. In Portugal, tourists crowd into bars and restaurants in the beach resorts along the Algarve from all over the world. So, the presence of Covid-19 will likely be around for a very long time. What is more satisfying is that since May, the death toll due to Covid has been very low, even during the Delta attack.

This is consistent with what the medical professionals are saying. With the vaccines, you may get a break-through infection, but the other dire consequences (hospitalization and death) are likely to be avoided.

The October 1, 2021 New York Times had a picture of a vaccination clinic in Lisbon, with just empty chairs., with the headline,”In Portugal, There Is Virtually No One Left to Vaccinate.” I believe there are more to come, particularly as they are showing that vaccines are safe for children.

The Time’s article goes on to say, “Vice Adm. Henrique Gouveia e Melo, who led the campaign, said there was a key to his success: Keep politics out of it.”

“The first thing is to make this thing a war,” Admiral Gouveia e Melo said in an interview, recalling how he approached the job. “I use not only the language of war, but military language.” The country had a national vaccination program already in place. But, Portugal’s decision to bring in the military to help administer vaccines gave additional emphasis to how critical the fight against Covid-19 was. Admiral Melo would make public appearances in his combat uniform.

Prior to leading the vaccination task force, Admiral Melo was a submarine squadron commander, which might seem odd to some. However, vaccinations require clear communication and a great distribution plan, and by all accounts he excelled in these areas.

The US is unlikely to duplicate Portugal’s success. We are at 57% fully vaccinated, and each month, there are about 3% more people vaccinated. So, if we keep up at the same rate, in another 5 to 6 months, we could be at the same level as Portugal is now. We might go a bit higher than 3% per month with the mandates, or lower as people dig in on the anti-vaxxer rhetoric, and makes it some big rights issue. My prediction is about 64% fully vaccinated by years end. We could also be under 1,000 deaths per day by year’s end. These are pretty grim statistics.

It is still the pandemic of the unvaccinated. It doesn’t matter if it is China, Russia, Portugal or the US. We need more shots in the arm.

Stay tuned,

Dave

NYT: : In Portugal, There Is Virtually No One Left to Vaccinate

Covid-19 Vaccinations: The US and the rest of the world

We are at 56% vaccinated. Progress in getting the other 44% of our population vaccinated is difficult. Also, we are doing worse than many other developed countries. We are a long distance from the getting to the “herd immunity” target of 70 to 85% fully vaccinated. The country has spent billions of dollars buying up a large supply of vaccines. There has been a huge effort put into an effective distribution system. Free transportation has been offered to the elderly. So, the US has not excuse.

Time for the numbers. I just report the percent fully vaccinated in other countries, with sizeable populations, who have administered at least 5 million doses. There are 14 countries who have between 70 to 85% of their population vaccinated: There are in order of highest to lowest, Portugal (85%), Singapore, Spain, UAE, France, Denmark, China, Italy, Ireland, Chile, Belgium, Uruguay, Canada and Cambodia (70%).

Next up is the 60 to 70% vaccinated group and 12 countries are included. The countries are, listed from highest to lowest are: Norway, UK, Netherlands, Malaysia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Japan, Israel, Austria, Panama and Switzerland.

The European Union is 65.8% vaccinated with 575 million vaccines administered. Now, the 18 developed nations, with 50 to 60% vaccinated are: South Korea, Greece, Hungary, Ecuador, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Czech Republic, US (56.4%), Turkey, Turkmenistan, Oman, Cuba, Argentina, Poland and Slovenia.

I note that even though the European Union has a higher rate of vaccinations, their citizens are not yet permitted to travel as tourists to the US. It is highly likely that this will change in early November.

As I rank the developed countries from high to low in terms of being fully vaccinated, the US is ranked #37. We were getting our vaccines ahead of many countries. How did we fall so far behind?

There are certainly worse countries, who haven’t achieved 50%. Large countries with low vaccination rates are: Brazil (47%), Mexico (38%), Thailand (33%), Russia (31%), India (20%) and Pakistan (17%). Africa and the Middle East are in terrible shape. After Morroco (56%), South Africa has just 17% vaccinated, and the other 49 countries in Africa are all lower!

This is being correctly called the pandemic of the unvaccinated. Epidemiologists knows, “What goes around, comes around.” For those who have had Covid, a negative Covid test, doesn’t mean your back to normal. It just means that you will not be spreading the disease. I know of one case of “Long Covid” and it is really sad. After being release from the hospital, he has to be hooked up to an oxygen tank to breath. Long Covid is a grouping of common and long lasting post-Covid symptoms, which include:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness
  • Problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
  • Changes to taste and smell
  • Joint pain

It is not known if these symptoms will be permanent. I want to enjoy life, and that includes travel, eating out and visiting with friends. The news on long Covid is real, and it should be a strong incentive for everyone to get vaccinated. It is far better to strengthen your immune system to keep Covid from reproducing, instead of doing battle with it once it begins the infection process and overwhelms your defenses. It is a war, and you want to keep your enemy out of the trenches. I don’t know how else to explain it. It is a choice of being pro-active, instead of re-active.

As far as mandatory vaccination policies, I certainly can see the rationale for it, particularly for people in close contact with many people during the day. Companies have tried to make the office environment safe, but you can go around disinfecting every surface that someone has touched. A lot of work can not be effectively done over Zoom. I’m not going into to the legal aspects.

We can and have to be doing better. It took me less than an hour to get each of my shots, and that includes the drive to the clinic, paperwork, and the shot. I am looking forward to getting a booster soon. I think it was truly a miracle to have highly effective vaccines available in under a year.

Today, we are 56% vaccinated. Can we catch up to Portugal? China? The EU? I never think of a goal to achieve herd immunity, The goal should be 100% vaccinated. This is the point of unconditionally surrender for this terrible disease.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

BBC: Long Covid

GOP gubernatorial candidate Allen West released from hospital after Covid-19 diagnosis

Bloomberg: Vaccine Tracker

Covid-19 and Understanding its spread

The diagram above is called the disease triangle. For Covid-19, the pathogen is the virus, and the host is humans or the body’s organs susceptible to the disease. We know now it is not strictly a respiratory problem. Environment can be considered the conditions by which transmission is possible or likely. When Covid began, there was an immediate need to know how Covid invades the body and replicates. Thus, the Host – Pathogen axis was critical. Equally important was knowledge of under what conditions the disease could spread, thus Pathogen – Environment axis became important. Large gatherings of people in airports, bus and train stations, and for events, such as sporting or musical events were obvious venues for disease dispersion.

Many would include a fourth element, which would be “Human Response.” I think the fourth vertex is critical in Covid. The medical response is to find ways to interfere with a disease’s growth and spread, through effective treatments and vaccines. The Covid susceptibility is much lower in countries where there is a high level of vaccination. I believe easy access to testing and rapid results allows individuals to self quarantine and seek medical assistance.

The pathogen is not constant. The delta variant spread globally with lightening speed, and the downward trend in new cases has been reversed, with increases in many countries including the US. The understanding of the infection process is still evolving with the long term damage, termed “long Covid.”

There is a commonality in the global deadly viruses, which is asymptomatic characteristic of the disease and ease of transmission. A healthy person can be a carrier of the Covid even though there are no obvious symptoms. They are unlikely to be tested in this early phase of the disease. Covid can be transmitted either directly from someone else or from touching surfaces.

The human response has a sociality aspect as mass vaccinations need cooperation. The negative aspect is clear: vaccination hesitancy, resistance and ignorance. Misinformation via social media and politics are playing negative roles. The Trump and Biden administrations are to be commended for an incredibly rapid and effective roll out of vaccines. See former Secretary of HHS, Alex Azar comments on vaccines in links.

The human response should mean we act together in accepting restrictions, including indoor mask wearing, as it is now both a necessity and temporary. Further, we need to recognize this as a pandemic and help countries which can not afford vaccines for their populations. Otherwise, the disease will continue to re-appear in the US. We don’t know how long the immunizations will last for or what new variants might appear in the future. So, we can’t accept just reducing the new cases to a low level in the US.

We have to accept the new medical information, which is the Delta variant is spreading and new cases are on the rise. It is not as dramatic, but the cases of people in the US dying of Covid have also been rising in the last 30 days.

Stay tuned,

Dave

I Was the Architect of Operation Warp Speed. I Have a Message for All Americans. by Alex Azar

Why You Should Get Vaccinated

Covid-19 is a worldwide killer and vaccines are the answer, if everyone does their part. Let me tell you why.

The Covid-19 vaccination program began in December 2020 with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The supply was very scarce and the demand was very great. There are a lot of people in great health who have died of Covid-19. They ate well, took care of themselves and have no idea where they got the virus. Frontline medical professionals have died from Covid-19. In some cases, their immune system went into overdrive, and they didn’t pull through.

I’ve heard plenty of people feeling the after effects of Covid-19, including weeks without being able to taste food and respiratory problems.

Worldwide we just past the 1 billion doses of vaccines being administered. We still have a long ways to go. In the US and other countries, health professionals are monitoring the effectiveness of the vaccine. They don’t work for the drug companies. They have found that the vaccines are working, even against the various new strains. However, for the 2 shot vaccines, the second shot is really necessary to get the full benefit of the vaccine.

I’ve heard now, a few reasons why not to get vaccinated. The first is that it might actually cause you to get coronavirus, as they are injecting a weaken virus into your system. This is totally false. They are injecting strands of DNA which generate anti-body cells to defend the body against Covid. Second, the vaccines are not 100% effective. This one is true, but I’d say, 95% effective is pretty good to me. There will never be a perfect vaccine.

I heard a commentator state that the elderly are dying from Covid and the youth are spreading it. Well, yes and no. A third of the elderly population is unvaccinated, and they certainly can be spreading it. And within the US, there are 2,300 young adults (under age of 30) who died of Covid-19. It is sad, but now it is also preventable.

Covid-19 is a worldwide killer and vaccines are the answer, if everyone does their part. End of sermon.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Press Briefing with Dr. Fauci

Covid-19, Brazil and the World

In Brazil, the daily deaths due to Covid-19 made an all time record, of 2,286 on March 10, 2021.  These are people who did not make it out of the hospital.  This is four times as many people as four month ago.  This is real and it is scary.      Brazilian hospitals are overrun with new cases.  When hospitals run short of equipment such as ventilators,  more people die.

Deaths from Covid-19 in the world are trending down.  Only  about 1%  of the world is fully vaccinated.   The US is far head with 10% fully vaccinated.  Brazil has fully vaccinated only 1.4%. of its 211 million residents.   Note that reports of a 4% level of vaccination for Brazil is based on “one or more” vaccinations rather than the required two shots.

The progress in the world is likely a combination of vaccines plus stricter restrictions on travel and social gatherings in clubs, bars, restaurants, weddings, church sermons and  family re-unions.  Enforcement of mask wearing rules and social distancing I am certain helped reduce Covid-19 worldwide.

Brazil is going the wrong way in general, with the new record high.  I predict by May, they will be averaging 2500 daily deaths, with fewer than 5% of the population fully vaccinated.  Brazil accounts for 18% of all deaths from Covid-19 worldwide and may climb to 40% by May, 2021 (2500 in Brazil verses 6000 worldwide).

There is competition in the purchase of vaccines.  Brazil is now looking at ways to increase the supply of vaccines from China (see links below), while three months ago, it was hostile to the idea of testing of Chinese vaccines in Brazil in return for additional supplies. The efficacy of Sinovac vaccine (Coronavac) was reported to be only 50%, but it was 70% in preventing moderate to severe cases, which is very good.   The severe cases can result in death, particularly among my group (older males).    From everything I’ve read, Brazilians are ready to take the vaccine, but the supply is extremely limited.

Because vaccines are never 100% effective, the wearing of masks and social distancing are still required.  As long as there is a high rate of new infections, restrictions must stay in effect.   Biden last night delivered a powerful speech, in asking the American public to take precautionary measures to prevent a new surge in new infections.  Brazil needs to look on how it can best reverse course.

We will get rid of Covid-19 only by everyone’s action in every country in the world.  There is no magic pill.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-brazil-vaccine-idUSKBN2B21Y8

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/biweekly-covid-deaths

(The bi-weekly data chart helps smooth out the data noise).

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-56342303