Covid-19 Update

Ok. Putting a little star after a sentence is pretty bad idea. The fine print to the right, refers to “25 US jurisdictions, in December 2021” and there’s a internet link right below the man’s arm.

Article by MMWR Definitely not light reading.

I will attempt a bit of scientific translation. Let’s say 100 people have Covid-19. This 5x higher risk comes from a ratio of unvaccinated to vaccinated patients infected with Covid-19. Let’s say we have a group of 100 with Covid. For a ratio of 5, we have 83 unvaccinated people and 17 vaccinated ones (83/17 = ~ 5). Actually, it is a bit more complicated, because the ratios are “age standardized.”

It is very good news, in that the vaccines work against the Omicron variant. Even better, it works if you have taken Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson. Taking the vaccine and boosters didn’t really make people “bullet proof” against Covid-19, but I’ll take the 5:1 odds any day of the week, as proof that vaccines plus boosters work, even with the new variant. Also note that these data were from December 2021, before 2 boosters were recommended for older people.

Now, the really grim stuff, on people who go to the hospital and don’t come out. At my age, the chance of the one-way trip is a real biggie. If you have had both your vaccines and booster, then the chances of making the one-way trip to the hospital are really small by CDC statistics, with odds of 400:1. This isn’t the odds of dying from Covid, but an indication how much higher the chance of death is without the vaccination and boosters. And it mirrors the antidotal stuff, that ICU’s very rarely admit a fully vaccinated patient.

Ok, the CDC attempt at a simple statement is a mess. I guess they knew going for the grim stuff would be a big turn off. But the data makes a excellent case for being fully vaccinated with boosters. If I happen to end up in the hospital, I want everything on my side, pushing for recovery. I’ve taken my second booster, and I’ll go for another if CDC recommends it.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Covid-19 Personal Experiences

I thought 2 doses and a booster would protect me from getting Covid. I haven’t gotten Covid but I’ve recently had a very close calls. Four good friends of mine were vaccinated and all got Covid-19 in January. Three of them were at a family reunion with me. The good news is all of my friends recovered quickly and did not need to go to the hospital.

But, it was scary. Trump commented that Covid vaccines work because they keep you out of the hospital. Well, in general. One of my friends said she was having trouble breathing. She has two young children to take care which were unvaccinated. I tried to help her by preparing food for her and her kids. She improved greatly after 3 days of bed rest.

Lots of health related issues can make a mild case go to a severe one. Respiratory diseases like emphysema and asthma are obvious issues. Diabetes and obesity also put people in the high risk category. The list of risk factors is long.

Tests are free in the US, but not in many countries. So, I believe the current level of Covid cases outside the US is very under reported.

People want to travel to visit with family and friends. I think when staying in someone’s house, it is not an impolite question to ask if they have been vaccinated. Also, it is very understandable why we need Covid tests for international flights in and out of the US.

Your first line of defense is to be vaccinate. You are much more protected if everyone you contact is also vaccinated. Still, nothing is full proof with this disease.

Stay safe,

Dave

It’s too late for you now

I think you know the question. Moderna, Pfizer or J&J shots can’t help someone who has Covid-19. It was tweeted by an ER nurse. The first line of defense against Covid-19 is vaccination. In the US, it is free and widely available. Yes, there is great progress being made on Covid-19 treatments, but I rather not get Covid-19 to begin with and a hospital bed is a lousy place to be trying to see what’s available.

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

Brazil firm to produce Covid-19 vaccine for export

Hospitals in Brazil and India are filled to capacity. In Brazil, the number of new cases is about 61,000 (7-day rolling average). It is the last place you would expect vaccines to be produced for export to other countries. So, I would say the Covid-19 crisis in Brazil is terrible and a bit bizarre.

Brazil’s Anvisa agency rejected the Sputnik V vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute. Anvisa in Brazil is like the FDA in the US, as it must approve all vaccines. Brazil was expected to receive 30 million doses.

Yahoo news reports, “União Quimica’s facility in São Paulo has been certified by Anvisa for good production practices and the Gamaleya vaccine will be made for export to countries that have approved it, said CEO and founder Fernando Marques.” I suspect the vaccine will be shipped to Mexico and Argentina. It is approved in India, and I’m sure they can’t wait to receive additional shipments.

The vaccine is claimed to be 91% effective. The Russian vaccine has been approved in 62 countries. The vaccine was really the first one to be approved, in August 2020, beating out Moderna and Pfizer. Russia was criticized for giving approval without sufficient Phase III trials, where the effectiveness could be reviewed by scientists around the world.

The European Medicines Agency is currently inspecting the manufacture of the Russian vaccine in Europe. I believe the Agency will give approval shortly, and this will make it easy for all European countries to approve.

The Russian vaccine is an Adenovirus vector vaccine, as are other approved vaccines: J&J, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Cansino. In the manufacture of the vaccine, the DNA of another virus (not Covid) so it can not replicate, but is capable of eliciting an immune response. The link below describes the vaccine as containing viral particles, which invades the cells and passes on specific instructions to the cells to build spike proteins. So these cells have enough in common with Covid, to get the immune system to defend against Covid. Very clever these scientists.

Anvisa rejection seems based more on the manufacturing of the vaccine, rather the science behind it. They claim that the batches of vaccine they examined contained replication-competent adenovirus. I’m stopping right here, because the scientists can battle this one out. It may be that some people getting the vaccine will have a mild cold, but they will nevertheless be protected from Covid.

The proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes. In Latin America, Mexico and Argentina have administered about 7 million doses, while over 12 million people in Russia have received the shot (see link from Wall Street Journal).

Anvisa was forced by a Supreme Court decision to rule on the requests of 10 states in Brazil for the vaccine. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the right wing politics of President Bolsonaro is a real element with this regulatory agency. They have no problem with approving toxic agricultural chemicals, which are banned in Europe.

Bolsonaro claims to be doing everything in his power to combat Covid-19. The solution is not with hydroxychloroquine or even worse ivermectin, but effective vaccines.

It is an appalling contradiction when millions of doses of Gameleya’s vaccine are made in the populous city of São Paulo (11 million residents) and shipped to other countries, when there is a dire need for more vaccines at home. The question remains- has Anvisa dug themselves a hole too deep for themselves get out of? I hope not.

This is a continuing story and I’ll update it as information is available.

Stay tuned,

Dave

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Links:

Yahoo News: European Medicines Agency experts beginning Sputnik V manufacturing inspections: Official

Science Magazine Blog: Brazil Rejects the Gamaleya Vaccine

Wall Street Journal: Brazil Defends Decision to Reject Russia’s Covid-19 Vaccine, Citing Safety and Efficacy

Brasilwire: With 400,000 Dead, Brazil Regulator Slammed For “Political” Veto Of Russian Vaccine

Bolsonaro advocates freedom (forget lockdowns and social distancing- and still promotes hydroxychloroquine!)

Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19 from US FDA.

Tucker Suckers

Tucker Carlson, Fox News Commentator

We are in a global war against the Covid-19 Pandemic. The safety and effectiveness of the vaccines at this point has been clearly been proven. It is a fact that those countries who have be able to acquire and distribute the vaccines to a high percentage of their populations are seeing the new incidences go dramatically down. It is also a fact that there have been extremely few severe reactions, on the order of one in a million. Over a billion vaccines have been administered worldwide. Medical workers and doctors got first in line with when the shots were available. Every living current and past president have been vaccinated.

Tucker Carlson. with Fox News, is not a journalist. He is a showman. Tucker Carlson promotes doubt rather than fact. This lets Fox News make more money. When he raises a long series of questions, it’s like a cliff hanger- tune in tomorrow as only Tucker can dig down and finally uncover the truth. It’s show biz!

He went way too far with several broadcasts on the vaccines in support those hesitant to be vaccinate. He claimed many more people are have severe reactions or die after taking the vaccine than reported in the mainstream media. Actually, as pointed out by the excellent reporting in the Washington Post, his statistics are just plain wrong because he is using a database, where anyone can report adverse reactions, and the connection to the vaccine is not verified.

This should not be political. Operation Warp Speed was responsible for the rapid development and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines under the Trump administration. Two Covid-19 vaccines were approved for Emergency Use by the FDA under the Trump administration. Trump and his family were vaccinated in January 2021, soon after the vaccines were approved.

Carlson speaks with great conviction. His facts are wrong. And those who watch and believe him, and don’t get vaccinated, may help in the continued spread of the disease. This followers should know better. I call them Tucker suckers, but perhaps Tucker victims is a better term, as some will get Covid-19, end up in the hospital, with very dire consequences, including death.

I know commentators want to impress their audience with “Breaking News,” not heard on other cable news stations. Well there is a reason in this case. Tucker facts are misleading or wrong. Others including commentators on Fox News, have recognized how extreme and reckless his broadcasts have become.

See further support in the links below. I know links from Washington Post may require a subscription, but they frequently allow some free views. CNN response is excellent.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Washington Post More than 3,283,000 people have died from the coronavirus worldwide

Washington Post, Tucker Carlson’s worst vaccine segment yet

CNN, Tucker Carlson’s Fox News colleagues call out his dangerous anti-vaccination rhetoric

John Oliver on HBO, Humorous as always, but I think he’s right on the mark May 3, 2021, but didn’t stop Tucker Carlson, with more broadcasts.

May 3 broadcast

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

Covid-19 Vaccinations in Florida – January 16

I got my first dose of the vaccination on January 14, 2021. I live in Miami, Florida. The big challenge was getting an appointment. It means one has to type very fast the moment appointments open up. Every second counts. I used the portal set up by Miami-Dade County.  I knew when the appointment portal was going to be open based on my online subscription to the Miami Herald.

The appointment went very well. There were just 10 people waiting in front of the clinic when it open. I was asked if I had any allergies. I filled out the consent sheet, and soon after, a nurse gave me the Moderna vaccine. Very importantly, I was told to wait at least 15 minutes after the injection, before leaving the clinic in case there were any side effects. I felt some slight side effects including dryness in my mouth. This is standard operating procedure at all vaccination sites based on CDC guidelines.

Now, I am concerned about my second dose. I was given a card that stated I needed to take the second dose on February 11, exactly 28 days after this first dose. They said they will contact me by email and tell me at what time to return.

Although they already had my email address through the first reservation, they asked me to write it down again. This isn’t good because transcription errors (from handwriting to the computer) can result. When I I made the first appointment, the email address is typed in and  then repeated back in the confirmation notice. Most likely, the first appointment scheduling system makes some quick checks on the address validity. It appears that the scheduling system for the first and second appointments are not well linked together.

The Washington Post reported last night there was no reserved stockpiles for second doses. It looks bad. Data from the Florida Department of Health, based on the entire state are not encouraging:

So, right now 66% of all first dose people made it back to their second dose on time and 34% so far have not.   The 61,151 vacinees (those who got vaccinated)  who were on time for their final shot on Jan 12, would have been injected on December 22, 2020, with the Pfizer vaccine with a 3 week interval.  Unlikely, it was Moderna, because the EUA approval for this vaccine came on December 18.   

I believe the overdue percent is rising, because people aren’t receiving timely appointments to return to the clinics.  If the supply isn’t enough to cover both new and returning residents, who do you chose to vaccinate?  It looks right now, it’s about 9:1 on the new rather than returning, in rough numbers. so, around 50,000 to 70,00 new doses, and to the 7,000 to 9,000 second doses.   In terms of who is getting the second doses right now, it’s mostly in the age group between 16 to 64 years old (around 25% complete), rather than the 64 years old plus group (1 to 2% complete).  I think this is due to the fact that when the Pfizer vaccine first came out, it went to many medical professionals and first responders.   

Supply is the problem, and deciding who to give priority to is a very vexing question.   Our governor pitched a “Seniors First” program, and the Food and Drug Administration decided not to stockpile additional vaccines for the second doses.  There are approximately 500,000 people over 65 years of age, who in the next four weeks or less, will need their second shot, based on the latest DOH statistics.  Adding a lot of locations where one can be receive injections, doesn’t help when the supply is the limiting factor.  We need to add new refrain to the old song, “Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today” which goes, “Yes, we have no bananas, and yes, we have many more fruit stands today.”

How much risk is there if they don’t get the second shot?   Without a second dose, people do not have maximum protection from the vaccine.  The second shot is added insurance that there is s sufficient immune response.    I suspect there is a tendency for people to engage in more risky activities – like travel, get social events and go out to eat once they have the first shot.  And that can worsen the spread. 

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Vaccine reserve was exhausted when Trump administration vowed to release it, dashing hopes of expanded access

Washington Post article of January 15 – I hope non-subscribers can open it although the title pretty much summaries the article.

FL DOH  Covid-19 Vaccine Report

This link will only provide the most recent link.    Everyday, the DOH overwrites the prior report with a new one.  We will maintain copies of all reports. I will be adding a new page with all Florida reports. 

 

Going Forward

Thirteen days to go. Time to fix windows and doors and get the Capital ready for January 20, 2021 inauguration day. I want no impeachment inquiry or silly talk of removing Trump by the 25th Amendment. The future of our country is with good leaders from both the Republican and Democrat parties, and this kind of talk is divisive and unproductive.

Some fine Republicans made excellent speeches of how it was high time to acknowledge the winner of the 2020 election because the people had chosen. Mitt Romney rose to the occasion with the simple words of “Let’s tell the people the truth.”

The first three priorities of 2021 must be Covid vaccine, Covid vaccine and Covid vaccine – in that order. Vaccines are the only way out of the health crisis. I live in Florida, and a new virulent strain of Covid-19 is gaining strength. I’ve spend every day searching a place I can make an appointment for a Covid-19 vaccine.

In Florida, I should have priority as I am over 70 years old. But I’m finding it impossible to make an appointment for a vaccination.

Miami-Dade County: Registration is currently closed. Please check back periodically as additional vaccines become available.

Jackson Hospital: We have booked more than 12,000 vaccine appointments. Currently all of our COVID-19 vaccination appointment slots have been filled, and we are not taking any new appointments at this time. Please return to this page routinely for ongoing updates as we receive additional vaccines.

I’ve read the same message for over a week. No Appointments!

Remember how we were promised that 20 million doses by the end of December would be administered in the US. The latest numbers from CDC are that of the 17.3 million doses shipped, only 5.3 million doses have received their first shot. I’m really afraid it is about to get worse, as availability of appointments could drop in half as the returnees for the second shots are given priority.

This should be treated as a national emergency. Donald Trump leaves in 13 days, with a disastrous vaccine rollout program. I am glad that Operation Warp Speed contributed 1.3 billion dollars to AstraZeneca, to produce the best vaccine available. We should be moving heaven and earth to get at least some of their vaccine in the US.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Truth matters

Each year, Politifact singles out a lie or false narrative as its lie of the year. The “award” goes to a statement, or a collection of claims, that prove to be of substantive consequence in undermining reality. Truth does matter.

“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassinations from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.” Robert Maynard

I think this country, the undernourishment is closer to ignorance. Real news and facts are out there in abundance. Nobody has to look far to get the facts. Democracy depends on an informed population.

Donald Trump record of lies far exceeds any past president. In the last 4 years, our president has averaged approximately 50 lies per day. By July 2020, the Washington Post had counted over 20,000 lies from Trump. It was like he was incapable of stating known facts. I am very glad our Liar in Chief will be gone on January 20, 2021.

The 2020 Lie of the Year, as awarded by Politifact, is really a long series of false narratives which Trump has promoted from the January 2020 until today. Trump has downplayed, denied and deceive the public on basic facts of Covid-19. The world has suffered 1.6 million deaths and the US has the highest death toll of 330,000.

Fox News commentary and Facebook posting are part of the problem. Facebook bloggers can target their audience. Trump tried to politicize the epidemic as much as possible, calling it the “China virus” and pulling out of the World Health Organization because he considered this organization to be pro-China.

Hopefully we have elected a new president which will see the real issue is world health. I am so hoping that 2021 is the year the world gets vaccinated.

Truth matters. There is outstanding solid reporting of real problems from the New York Times, Washington Post and others. Politifact and other fact checking websites provide a very valuable service in validating statements of officials.

See links below.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Lie of the Year 2020: Coronavirus downplay and denial

People can suggest their favorite lie of 2020 to Politifact

Lie of the Year 2019: Donald Trump’s claim whistleblower got Ukraine call ‘almost completely wrong’

Readers’ poll #1 in 2019: There has never been, ever before, an administration that’s been so open and transparent.” Donald Trump

Getting poked

I may post this a few times. Count your blessings – a Covid-19 vaccine is coming. Just stay safe until then.

It’s day 1 in the UK. Pfizer vaccine is approved on an emergency basis in the UK. Don’t expect anything drastic to happen in the next couple of months. A few million UK citizens vaccinated out of 67 million isn’t going to change much. People can get poked and still get the virus. It was never considered to be 100% effective. Some vaccines are only 50% effective. This one appears to be in the range of 90 to 95% effective, which as vaccines go, is excellent.

I’ll be first in line when the Covid-19 vaccine is available. I love to travel. I love to get a bit of my routine back, going to the gym, eating out, and getting together with friends and family. I am doing all of the above in 2021, as soon as I get poked. First trip I take will be to visit close relatives.

When available, don’t delay! The scientists have pulled off a freaking miracle in getting this vaccine this quickly. I congratulate every single organization involved, including Trump’s Operation Warp Speed headed by General Perna, with Scientific Advisor Moncel Slaoui. I’ve been extremely impressed on how they are getting down to the details of a massive vaccine program. In today’s news, ex-Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama have volunteered to encourage Americans to get poked. Many more on all levels will be rolling up their sleeves.

Personally, when it’s my turn, I planning to post my injection on my Facebook page and of course, on this website.

If you don’t care about getting Covid-19, then just look around you. Do you want to pass it on to your friends and family? Just as I wear a mask to protect others, I’m getting poked so I’m not the one spreading Covid. So it’s that simple: Protect yourself and at the same time, protect others who haven’t been vaccinated.

To those who love conspiracies as they connect the dots that don’t exist, I’ve seen it all before. As Archie Bunker used to say to Edith, “Just stow it!” because the vaccine is the real thing, and we as Americans ought to taking full advantage of a way out of the Covid-19 pandemic. Too many people have passed before their time, and I want this nightmare to end.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel. We have to all go in the right direction for this to work. At least for the very short time it takes to get poked. Or it more likely poked twice, if a booster is needed.

And as we get vaccinated, so will the rest of the world. I am so hoping that 2021 will be the year the world defeats Covid-19 with billions of people getting vaccinated.

Stay safe and take preventative measures until then. Please.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Operation Warp Speed

Former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton volunteer to get coronavirus vaccine publicly to prove it’s safe

Why was the UK first to authorize a coronavirus vaccine?