Thursday, February 25, 2021

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID vaccine ‘highly effective’

Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine is on track for emergency authorisation due to its efficacy in preventing severe cases of COVID-19 as the EU promises a renewed jab push.

The US Food and Drug Administration has endorsed Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, a critical step in bringing a third shot to the US marketplace.

According to new documents released by the FDA on Wednesday (local time), the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19, including the South African and Brazil variants, new documents released by the US Food and Drug Administration showed on Wednesday (local time).

In large clinical trials, the vaccine efficacy against severe disease was 85.9 per cent in the United States, 81.7 per cent in South Africa, and 87.6 per cent in Brazil.

An independent panel of the Food and Drug Administration will meet to discuss its merits on Friday and an emergency use authorisation is likely to follow soon after.

That would bring a third vaccine into the fight against the outbreak in the United States, the world’s hardest-hit country where more than 500,000 people have lost their lives.

Experts see the J & J vaccine as a vital tool, even though its efficacy against moderate COVID-19 is lower than that demonstrated by the Pfizer and Moderna shots that have already received authorisation.

“The vaccine was effective in preventing COVID-19 using a less restrictive definition of the disease and for more severe disease, including COVID-19 requiring medical intervention, considering all cases starting 14 days after vaccination,” the new FDA summary said.

“Although a lower efficacy overall was observed in South Africa, where there was a predominance of B.1.3.5 lineage during the time period of this study, vaccine efficacy against severe/critical COVID-19 was similarly high across the United States, South Africa, and Brazil,” it added.

The J & J vaccine uses a common-cold causing adenovirus, which has been modified so that it can’t replicate, to carry the gene for a key protein of the coronavirus into human cells.

This makes those cells produce that protein, which in turn trains the human immune system.

The fact that it requires only one dose, and that it can be stored at fridge temperature rather than in freezers like the Pfizer and Moderna shots, gives it an operational advantage.


Oxford starts work on potential COVID-19 vaccine pill

The team behind the Oxford jab have launched research on whether the vaccine could be taken as a pill - a medical breakthrough that could make annual coronavirus inoculation programs faster, cheaper and more widespread.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, the lead developer behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being rolled out around the world including in Australia, said a product delivered via nasal spray could also be a game changer in the race for “second generation” vaccine products.

“As you know all the vaccines have been given at the moment as intramuscular injections,” Gilbert said on Wednesday local-time.

“That is not necessarily the best way to provide protection against a respiratory virus infection, where we want the immune system to be active in the upper respiratory tract and then in the lower respiratory tract, which is where the virus is causing the infection.

“And we have flu vaccines that are given by nasal spray. This could be a very good approach in the future to use vaccines against coronaviruses.

“It’s also possible to consider oral vaccination where you take a tablet that will give you the immunisation, and that would have a lot of benefits for vaccine rollout if you didn’t have to use the needles and syringes for people.”

Gilbert told British MPs on Wednesday that her team had started to assess both approaches.

Avoiding labour-intensive COVID-19 vaccination programs could be a crucial factor in the world learning to live with the virus, which experts have repeatedly warned could become a seasonal disease similar to the flu.

“But they will take time to develop,” Gilbert said of the pill or nasal spray.

“They will have to be tested for safety and then for efficacy as well because the immune responses that will be generated by both of those approaches will be a little bit different to what we get from an intramuscular injection.

“But they have potentially large advantages, and so that’s where we’re going to be focusing our attention on working out if we could use different delivery rates in the future for these vaccines.”

Any new product would likely take more than a year to eventuate because it would have to be developed and then go through pre-clinical and clinical trials. Regulators would also have to review it for approval.

Small British biotech company IosBio partnered last year with United States-based ImmunityBio to develop oral coronavirus vaccines after promising tests in monkeys. Clinical trials are underway in South Africa and the US.

IosBio had been trying to develop an oral vaccine for the Zika virus - partly through UK government funding - before the pandemic began last year.

The company’s chairman, Wayne Channon, said pills or nasal sprays had the potential to overcome the global challenges of traditional vaccines, including storage temperatures.

“Oral vaccines are more cost effective to produce and can be easily stored and transported around the world,” he said last month. “They also have the potential to be self-administered, reducing health systems’ dependency on trained health professionals to run immunisation programmes and present a future where people could have vaccines delivered straight to their door.”

The former head of the UK’s vaccine taskforce, Kate Bingham, last month said the world would have to develop more efficient ways of making and distributing COVID-19 vaccines.

“Frankly, two injections delivered by health care professionals is not a good way of delivering vaccines,” she told the BBC. “We need to get vaccine formats which are much more scalable and distributable, so whether they are pills or patches or nose sprays.”

Gilbert also told Wednesday’s parliamentary hearing that clinical trials would start over the coming months on a vaccine tweaked to respond to emerging variants. The UK government has flagged a potential autumn ‘booster’ shot program.


The Return of Operation Choke Point

Nice bank ya got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it. That’s essentially the message our nation’s worst attorney general began sending back in 2013 to certain banks that had the wrong kinds of customers. He even came up with a fittingly descriptive name for his unconstitutional anti-business program: Operation Choke Point.

As we wrote yesterday, the Biden administration is planning to revive Barack Obama and Eric Holder’s infamous initiative, a 2013 scheme by which the Obama Justice Department’s banking industry regulators forced certain banks to investigate the business they did with firearm and ammunition dealers and other disfavored businesses — such as pawn shops, coin dealers, and short-term loan providers — ostensibly because they were believed to be at a high risk for fraud and money laundering. Thus, through Operation Choke Point, the Obama administration was trying to deny several perfectly legal industries even basic access to the banking system.

This orchestrated denial of goods and services is the very definition of redlining, a system that was originally used to keep blacks out of certain neighborhoods in certain U.S. cities through the denial of mortgages or home improvement loans. Rather than redlining “undesirable” people, the Obama administration was redlining undesirable businesses.

And it worked. Just ask Brian Bookman, a former police officer and Army veteran. As The Daily Signal reported back in 2014, “After researching his case on the Internet, Brookman says he concluded that his banker, JP Morgan Chase, closed the account because two of his business activities — dealing in vintage coins and selling firearms — were labeled ‘high risk’ by federal bureaucrats as part of an Obama administration initiative called Operation Choke Point.”

So selling firearms and thereby facilitating access to our Constitution’s Second Amendment is now considered “high risk”?

Under President Donald Trump, however, Choke Point was rightly considered an unconstitutional infringement on these legal businesses and ended by the Justice Department in 2017. “And by the end of the former president’s term,” writes Jon Dougherty in BizPac Review, “the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency [OCC] issued a ‘Fair Access’ rule instructing large banks to provide financial services to businesses and individuals irrespective of political considerations.”

But like nearly every other good policy work from the Trump administration, Joe Biden and his hard-left handlers are undoing it. Rather than attempt to enact legitimate legislation through Congress, the Biden administration is, as our Nate Jackson put it, carpet-bombing us with executive orders. And so, eight days after taking office, Biden’s OCC announced that it was suspending the Trump administration’s Fair Access rule.

And why might it do that, except to revive Operation Choke Point, even if by another less suspicious name?

All this is part of a larger strategy: the Left’s politicization of the economy. As Kelsey Bolar writes in The Federalist, “For all intents and purposes, Operation Choke Point is happening every day on a massive scale, [including] a stranglehold on information, speech, and the broader marketplace of ideas. Concerningly, the government is now playing an active role. As exemplified by Parler and the recent Twitter purge, Big Tech is choking conservatives off their social media platforms while Democrats cheer it on.”

So much for the promise our 46th president made in his inaugural speech to “work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as those who did.” But that’s Joe Biden. Promises made, promises broken.



Senate Republican leader unloads on "radical and underqualified" HHS nominee Xavier Becerra (Daily Wire)

Senate confirms Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador, despite her calling Chinese intervention in Africa a "win-win-win situation" in 2019 (Fox)

Senate confirms former Tom Vilsack for return engagement as agriculture secretary (Des Moines Register)

Good move: Federal judge indefinitely blocks 100-day deportation moratorium (Forbes)

$1 billion class-action lawsuit filed against Texas electric company after "catastrophic" bills (Forbes)

Five ERCOT board members who live outside of the state are resigning (Texas Tribune)

Virginia lawmakers vote to abolish the death penalty (AP)

Grand jury votes not to indict Rochester officers in Daniel Prude case (NPR)

Democrats write a bill to start a racism racist center at the CDC (National Pulse)

Americans identifying as LGBTQ more than ever thanks to indoctrination of our youth (NBC)

Identity wars: Campground for homosexuals takes heat for prohibiting women who identify as men (Disrn)

Washington Football Team to spend one more year fumbling for a new name (Disrn)

Nearly 100 Confederate monuments removed in 2020 (NPR)

Biden to visit Texas on Friday following deadly winter storm (CNBC)

Trump appeals Facebook's decision to indefinitely suspend him (

MSNBC contributor who encouraged ISIS to bomb Trump Tower will testify on domestic terrorism (Federalist)

Policy: The Cotton-Romney plan to raise the minimum wage without killing jobs (National Review)

Policy: The tax benefits of parenthood: A history and analysis of current proposals (AEI)




Wednesday, February 24, 2021

As Trump Predicted, Under Biden China Owns the United States
What that means for America’s patriotic movement

On February 11, Joe Biden announced sanctions on Burma for a recent coup in that nation, also known as Myanmar. “The military must relinquish power they’ve seized and demonstrate respect for the will of the people of Burma as expressed in their November 8 election,” Biden said. For the current occupant of the White House, first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, that was something of a departure.

During a political career of nearly 50 years, it’s hard to find the Delaware Democrat urging China’s ruling Communist Party to respect the will of the people and hold free elections. As they made clear at Tiananmen square in 1989, the people of China want freedom, democracy, and human rights. The Communist regime deployed massive military force against the people, but for Joe Biden that proved no object to China’s admission to the World Trade Organization.

As the Black Book of Communism and other studies confirm, China’s Communist regime has murdered scores of millions, but American politicians demanded no accounting, or punishment of those responsible, as a condition of WTO admission and trade privileges. Neither did they require free multi-party elections, or self-determination for Tibet, as a condition of joining the WTO.

Access to the American market was supposed to make China more peaceful, but the regime became more repressive and expansionist. On the other hand, American politicians made plenty of money. Prominent among them is Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a regular guest of the PRC since the 1970s and a staunch advocate for China’s most favored nation status.

As Glenn Bunting of the Los Angeles Times reported in 1997, Feinstein’s husband Richard Blum “has expanded his private business interests in China – to the point that his firm is now a prominent investor inside the communist nation.” In 1995, Dianne Feinstein became a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “giving her a prominent platform for her efforts to support China’s trade privileges.”

As Ben Weingarten noted in the Federalist in 2018, Feinstein’s husband has “profited handsomely from the greatly expanded China trade she supported.” The senator also “served as a key intermediary between China and the U.S. government, while serving on committees whose work would be of keen interest to the PRC.”

For 20 years, through three election cycles, Feinstein maintained on her staff a Chinese spy who would even attend consular functions for the California Democrat. One wonders what the FBI knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it, if anything.

Other politicians with China business connections include Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi, whose husband has conducted a series of deals in the Communist nation. Recall that Speaker Pelosi kept Eric Swalwell on the House Intelligence Committee even after his “PoonFang” liaisons with a Chinese spy.

The PRC’s biggest American asset is surely Joe Biden. He acquired the China beat in 2012 on the recommendation of National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, a failed Fannie Mae lobbyist and behind-the-scenes operator for the “composite character” David Garrow described in Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama.

Biden routed the China trade through son Hunter, a frequent flyer on Air Force Two. Hunter’s laptop was the equivalent of Hillary Clinton’s private server, enabling the vice president to avoid scrutiny. The FBI had Hunter’s laptop but by all indications FBI bosses believed that, as Comey said of Hillary Clinton, no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges against Joe Biden’s son, especially with the “Big Guy” running for president. The New York Post broke the story, but the Democrat-media-tech axis promptly banned the October surprise.

Joe Biden is also on record that the Chinese Communists are “not bad folks,” and “not competition for us.” So no surprise that Biden turns a blind eye to China’s repressions and beats up on Burma, a nation that poses no threat to the United States. In effect, Joe Biden serves as governor general of Americachukuo, China’s North American economic zone.

With Biden in the White House, President Trump predicted, China would “own the United States.” There’s also something to Trump’s charge that the Bidens are an “organized crime family.”

In December, Joe Biden claimed nobody in his family would be involved in any business that even appears in conflict with the presidency and the government. As Miranda Devine of the New York Post reports, it turns out that Hunter Biden still holds a 10 percent share of the Chinese firm BHR partners and is thus “still in business with the Chinese Communist Party.”

The performance of Joe “America Last” Biden and China-compliant Democrats brings clarity to the patriotic movement now in place and growing. At least 74 million patriots are part of an independence movement that seeks to preserve rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Those rights are now at risk, as the Democrat demolition squad seeks to erase the nation’s history. To adapt Milan Kundera, the struggle of the patriotic movement against the America-Last regime is the struggle of memory against forgetting.


Supreme Court’s Decision Not to Hear Elections Cases Could Have Serious Repercussions

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s “baffling” refusal on Monday to grant review of the Pennsylvania election cases that had been appealed to the justices, the majority of the court is—to quote Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissent—“leav[ing] election law hidden beneath a shroud of doubt” and “invit[ing] further confusion and erosion of public confidence” in our elections.

Who can forget the chaos of this past election season? Attempts to change election rules and procedures began before any ballots had even been cast.

In some cases, state executive branch officials changed the rules; in others, judges made the changes. But under the U.S. Constitution, neither had the authority to do so.

As Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote late last year, “[t]he Constitution provides that state legislatures—not federal judges, not state judges, not state governors, not other state officials—bear primary responsibility for setting election rules … [a]nd the Constitution provides a second layer of protection, too. If state rules need revision, Congress is free to alter them.”

Notable instances during and after the 2020 election where this procedure wasn’t followed occurred in Pennsylvania. There, the state’s Supreme Court ordered election officials to accept late-arriving mail-in ballots up to three days after Election Day and to count them even if they didn’t have a postmark showing they had been mailed by Election Day.

What’s particularly problematic about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision is that the Pennsylvania Legislature had explicitly decided not to extend the ballot-receipt deadline past Election Day.

The authority the Pennsylvania court cited for overriding state law was what Thomas called a “vague clause” in the state’s constitution providing that elections “shall be free and equal.”

Apparently, requiring absentee ballots to be received by Election Day is somehow not a “free and equal” election, but allowing ballots to come in three days after Election Day is a “free and equal” election.

That was the ludicrous justification used by the state court.

The U.S. Supreme Court was asked to enjoin (or stop) the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling from taking effect, but the justices deadlocked 4-4 because Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and Justice Amy Coney Barrett had not yet joined the court. Thus, the decision remained in place.

Later, the state Republican Party and others asked the high court to hear the cases on the merits, but to do so on an expedited basis. Again, the court declined—meaning, the cases proceeded according to the court’s normal procedures, which has now led to it declining to review the case at all.

That prompted blistering dissents from Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito, with Gorsuch joining Alito’s dissent.

Disappointingly, neither Justice Brett Kavanaugh nor Barrett joined them in getting the court to accept a very important case on a fundamental issue, as described by Alito, that could affect all future federal elections and has divided the lower courts; namely, “whether the Elections or Electors Clause of the United States Constitution … are violated when a state court holds that a state constitutional provision overrides a state statute governing the manner in which a federal election is to be conducted.”

They did not, of course, explain why. Should the issue arise again, as seems likely, perhaps Kavanaugh and Barrett will be less reticent to take up the issue then. One can only hope.

The election may be over, but Thomas pointed out that the court now had even more reason to hear this case because the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had reached the opposite result from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and had enjoined the Minnesota secretary of state from extending the ballot-receipt deadline that state’s Legislature had set.

Thomas made the commonsense point: “Unclear rules threaten to undermine [the electoral system]. They sow confusion and ultimately dampen confidence in the integrity and fairness of elections.”

That shouldn’t be controversial, but apparently it is.

Thomas went on to say:

An election system lacks clear rules when, as here, different officials dispute who has authority to set or change those rules. This kind of dispute brews confusion because voters may not know which rules to follow.

Even worse, with more than one system of rules in place, competing candidates might each declare victory under different sets of rules.

According to Thomas, the country was “fortunate that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to change the receipt deadline for mail-in ballots does not appear to have changed the outcome in any federal election. … But we may not be so lucky next time.”

In fact, he pointed out that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to change another rule did make a difference in a state election.

The state Supreme Court “nullified” a state law requiring a voter to write the date on his mail-in ballot. One candidate for a state Senate seat was the winner under the applicable state law, but her opponent was declared the winner under the “contrary rule—that violated state law—announced by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.”

As Thomas said in his spirited dissent, “If state officials have the authority they have claimed, we need to make it clear. If not, we need to put an end to this practice now before the consequences become catastrophic.”

We agree.

We also agree with Thomas that “[b]ecause the judicial system is not well suited to address these kinds of questions in the short time period available immediately after an election, [the court] ought to use available cases outside that truncated context to address these admittedly important questions.”

Alito agreed, saying that now that “the election is over,” there was “no reason for refusing to decide the important questions that these cases pose.”

These cases seemed to provide the perfect opportunity for the court to do so. Yet, it inexplicably declined the opportunity.

Thomas ended with a sharp rejoinder to his colleagues:

One wonders what this Court waits for. We failed to settle this dispute before the election, and thus provide clear rules. Now we again fail to provide clear rules for future elections.

The decision to leave election law hidden beneath a shroud of doubt is baffling. By doing nothing, we invite further confusion and erosion of voter confidence.

Our fellow citizens deserve better and expect more of us. I respectfully dissent.

While we all hope Thomas’ words don’t prove to be prophetic, they may well be. By refusing to take these cases, the Supreme Court is—for the time being anyway—giving state government officials free rein to make unauthorized changes in election rules and to override election laws set by state legislatures.

Even if states set clear rules well in advance of their next elections by enacting commonsense reforms to protect the integrity of their electoral processes, those rules may be voided by partisan officials with no respect for the Constitution and the rule of law.




Tuesday, February 23, 2021

UK Covid vaccination programme ‘cutting risk of hospital admissions by up to 94%’

The Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were shown to reduce the risk by up to 85% and 94% respectively

Experts hailed the “brilliant” first findings of the effect of a single dose of either the Pfizer or Oxford jabs, from a study of more than 1.1 million people in Scotland.

Today’s results are the first to show how the vaccines are working in the “real world” by preventing serious illness across an entire UK nation – raising hopes about the lockdown lifting.

The effectiveness of vaccines in reducing hospitalisations and deaths is one of Boris Johnson’s four key measures for easing restrictions.

Dr Josie Murray, Public Health Scotland lead for the EAVE-II project, said: “The brilliant news is that the vaccine delivery programme in its current format… is working. The other fantastic news is that we are potentially protecting our NHS hospitals.”

The results, which have yet to be peer-reviewed, found that four weeks after receiving the first dose the Pfizer/BNionTech jab reduced the risk of ending up in hospital with Covid by up to 85 per cent.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, which was given to more people over 65, reduced the risk by 94 per cent.

The results were based on the 1.14m first doses given in Scotland between December 8 and February 15, covering 21 per cent of the country’s population. The Pfizer vaccine was received by 650,000 people and the Oxford jab by 490,000.

Lead researcher Professor Aziz Sheikh, of Edinburgh university, said: “These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future. “Roll-out of the first vaccine dose now needs to be accelerated globally to help overcome this terrible disease.”

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said: “This research provides encouraging early data on the impact of vaccination on reducing hospitalisations.”

Across the UK, more than 17.5m have received a first jab. In London, 1,727,781 first doses have been given, including a further 40,000 on Saturday. The capital has given the second lowest number of jabs of all seven NHS regions in England.

Today one of the capital’s most senior council leaders warned that black and Asian Londoners were up to three times more likely to refuse or be hesitant about having a Covid jab.


Israel is giving the world a glimpse into a post-vaccine future. But not everyone is happy

As Israel's vaccine campaign inches closer to completion, the world is watching closely for a glimpse into what life could be like after the coronavirus pandemic.

So far the data from the world's fastest vaccination program is promising, but questions remain, chief among them: What will a post-vaccine society look like?

Israel has now eased restrictions across the country, but additional perks are being made available to those who have been vaccinated and can prove it using a government app known as "green badge".

The result is Israel is becoming a sort of global experiment, one in which the rules of post-vaccine society and the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine under real-world conditions are being put to the test.

"We are now finally in the moment where we need to think how we return to the new normal," Nadav Davidovitch, a public health physician from Ben Gurion University, said.

It is estimated about half of Israelis have received the first dose of Pfizer's two-shot regime. A third of people have received both shots.

Those who have been given the two doses are allowed back into gyms, movie theatres and swimming pools, while their non-vaccinated counterparts will have to wait.

On the streets of Jerusalem, Israel's biggest city, the mood was palpable as restrictions were eased.


'Cancel Trump' Culture Is Toxic, Juvenile, and Dangerous

I wrote a post yesterday about Bill de Blasio gleefully shutting down ice rinks in New York a month early simply because the Trump Organization runs them and Hizzoner wants to score some political points while employing the familiar Democratic tactic of using kids as pawns. Never forget that Democrats hate your kids. They probably hate their own kids, too.

The pettiness shown by de Blasio and the way he handled it were beyond embarrassing:

At a time when Americans have been cooped up for a year and in desperate need of any kind of outdoor activity with fresh air, Bill de Blasio and his administration have decided that it’s more important to fill their diapers, stomp their feet, and have a loud ORANGE MAN BAD fit.

Worse yet, they announced it like a drunk college kid trying to dunk on someone on social media. A de Blasio spokesman said, “Trump has been impeached from operating the ice rink,” and he no doubt felt like the most clever boy in kindergarten after that.

The kids who are getting to spend time outdoors to keep from going crazy while not being in school are completely screwed now but, hey, Mayor Bill got to cheat Trump out of a few bucks for a month.

When President Biden signed his executive order for a review and update to ICE enforcement procedures, he also put Operation Talon on hold. Operation Talon is a nationwide ICE operation that arrests and removes convicted sex offenders illegally in the United States. The effects of this order have been immediate, with the cancellation of a joint operation to arrest at-large sex offenders:

All this is being done to appease the woke open borders lobby that’s been working in tandem with Big Green to control Grandpa Gropes’ brain during his first four weeks in office. “ICE” is a trigger word for the already unstable Left and the mere mention of the agency plunges them further into madness. Sometimes the madness makes them do stupid things. As Stacey notes, this time it’s making them do dangerous things:

As Biden has essentially thrown open the border to migrant caravans and the cartels that traffic human beings over the border, reducing the enforcement in this area is appalling. His executive order halted most immigration enforcement, with “aggravated felons” being the notable exceptions—but only if their aggravated felony occurred in the last ten years

The Democrats are in control of the federal government right now and they have no clear vision for the United States of America other than hating Donald Trump. That would be myopic and stupid in the best of times. With the pandemic still upon us and the economy in dire need of a comeback, it’s a recipe for long-term disaster.

And they don’t care. The tantrum is the priority and it shows no signs of letting up.



Supreme Court declines to shield President Trump's tax returns from Manhattan DA's witch hunt (The Hill)

Senator Joe Manchin rightly announces he will oppose provocateur Neera Tanden, likely defeating her Office of Management and Budget nomination (Disrn)

"It doesn't always have to be a yes or no answer": Press Secretary Jen Psaki dodges questions about Governor Cuomo's nursing home failures (Post Millennial)

Friendly fire: AOC calls for "full investigation" into nursing home scandal (Daily Caller)

Biden admin urges passage of "Equality Act" to conflate gender identity with sexual orientation (Post Millennial)

Democrats planning revival of congressional earmarks following GOP's 10-year ban (Just the News)

Prominent Democrat fundraiser sentenced to 12 years in prison for foreign money campaign schemes (Disrn)

Donald Trump will speak at CPAC in first post-White House appearance (Fox News)

Support for Biden's handling of the pandemic falls by 5% (Blaze Media)

Making "a bad situation worse": Study finds Andrew Cuomo's reckless nursing home directive may have led to 1,000 more COVID deaths (Washington Times)

Lockdown upshot: Flu activity is "unusually low" this year (Disrn)

An epidemic of loneliness is overspreading America — and lockdowns sure haven't helped (FEE)

Six more Oath Keepers associates charged in Capitol riots conspiracy case (USA Today)

Iran refuses to change "terms" of nuclear deal as U.S. says "the ball is in their court" (Examiner)

President Biden approves Texas disaster declaration (

Texas storm may cost insurers record first-quarter losses (Reuters)

Some Texans now face huge variable-rate electricity bills to the tune of thousands of dollars (NPR)

Biden administration announces reforms to PPP to assist small businesses (Fox Business)

Bronx teacher fired for refusing to make "Black Panther" salute (Examiner)

Amazon drops Ryan T. Anderson's When Harry Became Sally book without explanation (Disrn)

Coca-Cola holds "anti-racist" training that instructs employees to "be less white" (Not the Bee)

Planned Parenthood committed 354,871 abortions in the past year and was given $618 million in taxpayer money (Not the Bee)

Racism at Smith College: Whistleblower reveals institution's psychological abuse of white employees (Disrn)

"We want to acknowledge its harmful impact": Disney slaps ridiculous "offensive content" label on "The Muppet Show" (Daily Wire)

The celebs who say you're killing the planet with minivans are using private jets at record pace (Not the Bee)

A gas leak led this Tennessee family to discover a family of bears living under their house (Not the Bee)

Apollo 16 lunar rover footage upscaled to a mesmerizing 4k 60fps (Not the Bee)

Policy: The Biden-made border crisis (Daily Signal)

Policy: How Congress can prevent Big Tech from becoming the speech police (The Hill)




Monday, February 22, 2021

COVID Cases Drop by 77 Percent. Politicians and Public Health Bureaucrats Hardest Hit

Over the last six weeks, new cases of infection of the coronavirus have dropped an astonishing 77 percent. Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at Johns Hopkins, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and observes: “If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we’d call it a miracle pill.”

Has the number of infections really dropped by 77 percent in 6 weeks?

According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, there were 283,640 new cases on January 2, 2021. As of February 17, there were 69,165 cases. That represents a drop of 75.05 percent in six weeks — for all you fact-checkers out there.

But Makary points out that the vaccine hasn’t been totally responsible for the drop. He makes a strong case that “natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing.”

Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.

Now add people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and the figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March.

Makary is predicting “herd immunity” by April. He realizes that herd immunity is a loaded political phrase, but he’s got the evidence to back it up.

Many experts, along with politicians and journalists, are afraid to talk about herd immunity. The term has political overtones because some suggested the U.S. simply let Covid rip to achieve herd immunity. That was a reckless idea. But herd immunity is the inevitable result of viral spread and vaccination. When the chain of virus transmission has been broken in multiple places, it’s harder for it to spread—and that includes the new strains.

Herd immunity has been well-documented in the Brazilian city of Manaus, where researchers in the Lancet reported the prevalence of prior Covid-19 infection to be 76%, resulting in a significant slowing of the infection. Doctors are watching a new strain that threatens to evade prior immunity. But countries where new variants have emerged, such as the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, are also seeing significant declines in daily new cases.

Herd immunity was an impractical idea, both morally and politically. But when lockdowns proved not to be the answer to controlling the pandemic, they should have been abandoned for some other, less damaging solution. With 20 million Americans still unemployed and the fallout from the lockdowns yet to work its way through the economy, certainly, there could have been less catastrophic solutions.

More good news on the vaccine front as it appears that the Pfizer vaccine is 93 percent effective after only one dose. Not only that, but both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be stored in ordinary refrigerators with no loss in potency.


"Meanwhile, studies of both the Pfizer and Moderna jabs are saying the vaccines are working significantly better than expected, so much so that they’re suggesting ditching the two-dose regimen in order to get more people vaccinated faster. Pfizer, for instance, says the vaccine is 93 percent effective in one dose but only 94 percent effective if taken twice. If this holds up, it’s a massive game-changer that effectively doubles vaccine availability. Also, the J&J vaccine is expected to be approved shortly after a February 26 FDA meeting to discuss the data it has generated."

All this good news and politicians are still acting as if this is a crisis that demands immediate action and compliance with all restrictions. Is Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill still necessary? Should schools still be closed? Should restaurants and bars be allowed to open without limits?

Politicians and bureaucrats love crises because people get scared enough to hand them the keys to the kingdom. And if we leave it to them to determine when the crisis is over, they will find some excuse to keep the hammer down.

It’s time we start demanding an end to lockdowns, restrictions, and the thousands of rules and regulations issued for our “guidance” during the crisis. It seems a little peaceful civil disobedience is in order.


Biden's Made in America order – here's what part of America he's talking about

It's another way to hit conservative business owners

On those rare occasions in 2020 when candidate Joe Biden emerged from his basement to stumble through a campaign stump speech, a common theme was that his administration would do more to use the vast spending powers of the federal government to help American businesses.

The political advantages of Biden’s "Made in America" commitments were obvious. No president in modern U.S. history has done more than Donald Trump to make "America First" the standard upon which all policies should be judged.

By emphasizing "Made in America," Biden attempted to out-MAGA the man who captured the White House in 2016 by focusing on the forgotten blue-collar men and women of economically depressed parts of America’s Heartland.

In an effort to expand support among that key demographic, Biden recently issued a "Made in America" executive order that will require federal agencies to spend a greater proportion of their budgets on goods and services offered by U.S. companies.

At first glance, the order seems relatively uncontroversial to many on the ideological left and right. According to the White House, the federal government spends more than $600 billion on federal contracts alone. It is more than reasonable to expect that those taxpayer dollars be paid to American businesses rather than sent overseas, whenever possible.

A closer look at Biden’s executive order, however, reveals there is much more to the White House’s Made in America policy than meets the eye.

Biden’s plan requires the creation of a Made in America Office, the apparent acronym of which is, quite incredibly, "MAO." MAO, which will be housed in the Office of Management and Budget, will work as the Biden administration’s Made in America hall monitor, ensuring that the behemoth federal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., spends its vast resources on American products and services and issuing exemptions to the policy, when appropriate.

But MAO will not merely require other federal agencies to buy from American businesses. The Biden administration has signaled it will also mandate that the federal government buy from U.S. businesses that pursue certain left-wing goals.

According to an official statement of the White House, Biden’s Made in America executive order "is deeply intertwined with the President’s commitment to invest in American manufacturing, including clean energy and critical supply chains, grow good-paying, union jobs, and advance racial equity."

And there is no telling what other criteria might be fabricated in the months and years ahead by the Biden administration to help push left-wing goals.

Additionally, the wording of the executive order is so vague, MAO could interpret its directive as a justification to exclude just about any business it wants from gaining a federal contract, presumably even if that business is offering the government the best service at the lowest cost.

The order’s "policy" section states, "The United States Government should, whenever possible, procure goods, products, materials, and services from sources that will help American businesses compete in strategic industries and help America’s workers thrive."

Thanks to the White House’s statement, we now know that at the very least, the "strategic industries" mentioned in the executive order include costly, inefficient "green" companies linked to wind and solar energy, and it seems apparent the mandate to "help America’s workers thrive" includes union jobs and promoting "racial equity."

When applied to the everyday workings of the gargantuan federal government, these policies could have a large effect on how countless businesses and industries in the United States operate.

Under Biden’s Made in America order, it appears, for example, a paper company seeking a federal contract to supply its products to a government agency might have its offer rejected because the business employs "too few" workers of one or more racial groups. And, of course, the formula for making such a determination would almost certainly be placed in the hands of MAO, or some other federal office.

Similarly, a business with poorer-quality products or services but a greater proportion of union workers or a greater reliance on electric cars might have an edge over a more efficient business that has not been unionized or that utilizes gasoline-powered vehicles.

And there is no telling what other criteria might be fabricated in the months and years ahead by the Biden administration to help push left-wing goals. After all, nearly any social justice cause could fit into Biden’s "help workers thrive" box.

Requiring the federal government to "buy American" is arguably a noble cause, but forcing businesses to adopt leftist principles and still-unclear social justice mandates is, at best, an extremely worrisome expansion of the federal government’s power over the marketplace.

And the problem is only likely to get worse as the national government spends increasingly more money in the years ahead – a promise the Biden administration seems intent on keeping.



Unity! Democrats introduce "No Glory for Hate Act" to deprive Trump of post-death memorials (PJ Media)

Democrats debut sweeping immigration reform bill featuring eight-year path to citizenship (Examiner). Color us skeptical that it represents an "earned roadmap," as it's being advertised.

Incredibly, the Wuhan Institute of Virology is still eligible to receive U.S. taxpayer funding through 2024, NIH confirms (Daily Caller)

U.S. will erroneously pay $200 million in overdue and current dues to WHO (Roll Call)

White House says Biden supports study of slavery reparations (Reuters)

For the record, every Patriot Post staff member now identifies as black. And you can too!

Entertainment as indoctrination: TV shows push gun control myths (RCP)

FDA: Thankfully, no evidence COVID spreads through food or food packaging (UPI)

White House announces $4 billion in funding for global vaccine effort (Washington Post)

CDC classroom guidance would wrongly keep 90% of schools at least partially closed (CNBC)

NASA Mars rover survives "seven minutes of terror," successfully lands on Red Planet (U.S. News)

Biden marginalizes ICE: New rules limit who agents target for arrest (NPR)

Capitol Police suspends six officers with pay, investigating 29 others over January 6 riot (Fox News)

Biden ready to restore disastrous Iran nuclear deal (Examiner)

Regression: In 2021, U.S. will import more oil than it exports under Biden (

Weekly jobless claims rise to 861,000 as layoffs stay high (AP)

Red states trounce blue states economically (Power Line)

Total amount of global debt reached $281 trillion by the end of 2020 (Newsweek)

Chicago to review 41 statues for potential demolition, including ones of Washington, Lincoln, and Grant (Disrn)

South Carolina governor signs "heartbeat" abortion ban into law as legal challenge looms (The State)

Massachusetts high school football coach fired for privately questioning BLM curricula (Daily Wire)

Cartoon Network pushes "anti-racism," lecturing kids to "see color" in new PSA (Disrn)




Sunday, February 21, 2021

The False and Exaggerated Claims Still Being Spread About the Capitol Riot

What took place at the Capitol on January 6 was undoubtedly a politically motivated riot. As such, it should not be controversial to regard it as a dangerous episode. Any time force or violence is introduced into what ought to be the peaceful resolution of political conflicts, it should be lamented and condemned.

But none of that justifies lying about what happened that day, especially by the news media. Condemning that riot does not allow, let alone require, echoing false claims in order to render the event more menacing and serious than it actually was. There is no circumstance or motive that justifies the dissemination of false claims by journalists. The more consequential the event, the less justified, and more harmful, serial journalistic falsehoods are.

Yet this is exactly what has happened, and continues to happen, since that riot almost seven weeks ago. And anyone who tries to correct these falsehoods is instantly attacked with the cynical accusation that if you want only truthful reporting about what happened, then you’re trying to “minimize” what happened and are likely an apologist for if not a full-fledged supporter of the protesters themselves.

One of the most significant of these falsehoods was the tale — endorsed over and over without any caveats by the media for more than a month — that Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was murdered by the pro-Trump mob when they beat him to death with a fire extinguisher. That claim was first published by The New York Times on January 8 in an article headlined “Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage.” It cited “two [anonymous] law enforcement officials” to claim that Sicknick died “with the mob rampaging through the halls of Congress” and after he “was struck with a fire extinguisher.”

A second New York Times article from later that day — bearing the more dramatic headline: “He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then Was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob” — elaborated on that story

The problem with this story is that it is false in all respects. From the start, there was almost no evidence to substantiate it. The only basis were the two original New York Times articles asserting that this happened based on the claim of anonymous law enforcement officials.

Despite this alleged brutal murder taking place in one of the most surveilled buildings on the planet, filled that day with hundreds of cellphones taping the events, nobody saw video of it. No photographs depicted it. To this day, no autopsy report has been released. No details from any official source have been provided.

Not only was there no reason to believe this happened from the start, the little that was known should have caused doubt. On the same day the Times published its two articles with the “fire extinguisher” story, ProPublica published one that should have raised serious doubts about it.

The outlet interviewed Sicknick’s brother, who said that “Sicknick had texted [the family] Wednesday night to say that while he had been pepper-sprayed, he was in good spirits.” That obviously conflicted with the Times’ story that the mob “overpowered Sicknick” and “struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher,” after which, “with a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support.”

But no matter. The fire extinguisher story was now a matter of lore. Nobody could question it. And nobody did: until after a February 2 CNN article that asked why nobody has been arrested for what clearly was the most serious crime committed that day: the brutal murder of Officer Sicknick with a fire extinguisher. Though the headline gave no hint of this, the middle of the article provided evidence which essentially declared the original New York Times story false:

In Sicknick's case, it's still not known publicly what caused him to collapse the night of the insurrection. Findings from a medical examiner's review have not yet been released and authorities have not made any announcements about that ongoing process.

According to one law enforcement official, medical examiners did not find signs that the officer sustained any blunt force trauma, so investigators believe that early reports that he was fatally struck by a fire extinguisher are not true.

The CNN story speculates that perhaps Sicknick inhaled “bear spray,” but like the ProPublica interview with his brother who said he inhaled pepper spray, does not say whether it came from the police or protesters. It is also just a theory. CNN noted that investigators are “vexed by a lack of evidence that could prove someone caused his death as he defended the Capitol during last month's insurrection.” Beyond that, “to date, little information has been shared publicly about the circumstances of the death of the 13-year veteran of the police force, including any findings from an autopsy that was conducted by DC's medical examiner.”

Few noticed this remarkable admission buried in this article. None of this was seriously questioned until a relatively new outlet called Revolver News on February 9 compiled and analyzed all the contradictions and lack of evidence in the prevailing story, after which Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, citing that article, devoted the first eight minutes of his February 10 program to examining these massive evidentiary holes.

That caused right-wing media outlets to begin questioning what happened, but mainstream liberal outlets — those who spread the story aggressively in the first place — largely and predictably ignored it all.

This week, the paper that first published the false story — in lieu of a retraction or an explanation of how and why it got the story wrong — simply went back to the first two articles, more than five weeks later, and quietly posted what it called an “update” at the top of both five-week-old articles:

They did not expressly retract or even “correct” the story. Worse, there is at least one article of theirs, the January 11 one that purports to describe how the five people died that day, which continues to include the false “fire extinguisher” story with no correction or update.

The fire extinguisher tale was far from the only false or dubious claim that the media caused to circulate about the events that day. In some cases, they continue to circulate them.

In the days after the protest, numerous viral tweets pointed to a photograph of Eric Munchel with zip-ties. The photo was used continually to suggest that he took those zip-ties into the Capitol because of a premeditated plot to detain lawmakers and hold them hostage. Politico described Munchel as “the man who allegedly entered the Senate chamber during the Capitol riot while carrying a taser and zip-tie handcuffs.”

The Washington Post used the images to refer to “chatters in far-right forums explicitly discussing how to storm the building, handcuff lawmakers with zip ties.” That the zip-tie photo of Munchel made the Capitol riot far more than a mere riot carried out by a band of disorganized misfits, but rather a nefarious and well-coordinated plot to kidnap members of Congress, became almost as widespread as the fire extinguisher story. Yet again, it was The New York Times that led the way in consecrating maximalist claims. “FBI Arrests Man Who Carried Zip Ties Into Capitol,” blared the paper’s headline on January 10, featuring the now-iconic photo of Munchel at the top.

But on January 21, the “zip-tie man’s” own prosecutors admitted none of that was true. He did not take zip-ties with him from home or carry them into the Capitol. Instead, he found them on a table, and took them to prevent their use by the police:

Eric Munchel, a pro-Trump rioter who stormed the Capitol building while holding plastic handcuffs, took the restraints from a table inside the Capitol building, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.

Munchel, who broke into the building with his mom, was labeled "zip-tie guy" after he was photographed barreling down the Senate chamber holding the restraints. His appearance raised questions about whether the insurrectionists who sought to stop Congress from counting Electoral College votes on January 6 also intended to take lawmakers hostage.

But according to the new filing, Munchel and his mother took the handcuffs from within the Capitol building - apparently to ensure the Capitol Police couldn't use them on the insurrectionists - rather than bring them in when they initially breached the building.

(A second man whose photo with zip-ties later surfaced similarly told Ronan Farrow that he found them on the floor, and the FBI has acknowledged it has no evidence to the contrary).

Why does this matter? For the same reason media outlets so excitedly seized on this claim. If Munchel had brought zip-ties with him, that would be suggestive of a premeditated plot to detain people: quite terrorizing, as it suggests malicious and well-planned intent. But he instead just found them on a table by happenstance and, according to his own prosecutors, grabbed them with benign intent.

Then, perhaps most importantly, is the ongoing insistence on calling the Capitol riot an armed insurrection. Under the law, an insurrection is one of the most serious crises that can arise. It allows virtually unlimited presidential powers — which is why there was so much angst when Tom Cotton proposed it in his New York Times op-ed over the summer, publication of which resulted in the departure of two editors. Insurrection even allows for the suspension by the president of habeas corpus: the right to be heard in court if you are detained.

So it matters a great deal legally, but also politically, if the U.S. really did suffer an armed insurrection and continues to face one. Though there is no controlling, clear definition, that term usually connotes not a three-hour riot but an ongoing, serious plot by a faction of the citizenry to overthrow or otherwise subvert the government.

Just today, PolitiFact purported to “fact-check” a statement from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) made on Monday. Sen. Johnson told a local radio station:

"The fact of the matter is this didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me. I mean armed, when you hear armed, don’t you think of firearms? Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask. How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired? I’m only aware of one, and I’ll defend that law enforcement officer for taking that shot.

The fact-checking site assigned the Senator its “Pants on Fire” designation for that statement, calling it “ridiculous revisionist history.” But the “fact-checkers” cannot refute a single claim he made. At least from what is known publicly, there is no evidence of a single protester wielding let alone using a firearm inside the Capitol on that day. As indicated, the only person to have been shot was a pro-Trump protester killed by a Capitol police officer, and the only person said to have been killed by the protesters, Officer Sicknick, died under circumstances that are still completely unclear.

That protesters were found before and after the riot with weapons does not mean they intended to use them as part of the protest. For better or worse, the U.S. is a country where firearm possession is common and legal. And what we know for certain is that there is no evidence of anyone brandishing a gun in that building. That fact makes a pretty large dent in the attempt to characterize this as an “armed insurrection” rather than a riot.

Indeed, the most dramatic claims spread by the media to raise fear levels as high as possible and depict this as a violent insurrection have turned out to be unfounded or were affirmatively disproven.

On January 15, Reuters published an article about the arrest of the “Q-Shaman,” Jacob Chansley, headlined “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to 'capture and assassinate' officials.” It claimed that “federal prosecutors offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters on Thursday, saying in a court filing that rioters intended ‘to capture and assassinate elected officials.’” Predictably, that caused viral social media postings from mainstream reporters and prominent pundits, such as Harvard Law’s Laurence Tribe, manifesting in the most ominous tones possible:

Some of the individuals who breached the Capitol intended to "capture and assassinate elected officials," federal prosecutors wrote in this new court filing

Shortly thereafter, however, a DOJ “official walked back a federal claim that Capitol rioters ‘intended capture and assassinate elected officials.’" Specifically, “Washington's acting U.S. Attorney, Michael Sherwin, said in a telephone briefing, ‘There is no direct evidence at this point of kill-capture teams and assassination.’"

Over and over, no evidence has emerged for the most melodramatic media claims — torn out Panic Buttons and plots to kill Vice President Mike Pence or Mitt Romney. What we know for certain, as The Washington Post noted this week, is that “Despite warnings of violent plots around Inauguration Day, only a smattering of right-wing protesters appeared at the nation’s statehouses.” That does not sound like an ongoing insurrection, to put it mildly.

One can — and should — condemn the January 6 riot without inflating the threat it posed. And one can — and should — insist on both factual accuracy and sober restraint without standing accused of sympathy for the rioters.



Double standards: WaPo and CNN "fact-checkers" silent as Kamala Harris falsely claims Biden is "starting from scratch" on vaccine rollout (Fox News)

Parler finally resumes social media app after being jettisoned by Big Tech (Just the News)

Israeli study finds 94% drop in symptomatic cases with Pfizer vaccine (Reuters)

WHO approves AstraZeneca's vaccine for emergency use (AP)

Thirty-two million government-provided rapid tests have gone unused, with some close to expiration (Examiner)

Antifa cowards piled snow in front of a Seattle police precinct to keep them from responding to emergency calls (Not the Bee)

Healing! Trump impeachment lawyer's home vandalized (ABC News)

Max Lucado shamefully kowtows, apologizes for hurting LGBT community amid outrage following sermon at National Cathedral (Daily Wire)

"Family-friendly" Hallmark Channel promises more LGBT bunk (Disrn)
Bluefield College suspends entire team for kneeling during anthem, forcing them to forfeit (Disrn)

Policy: The WHO's probe into Wuhan needs a dose of common sense (AEI)

Policy: Biden is set to revive Obama's devastating Middle East foreign policy (The Federalist)




Saturday, February 20, 2021

A Doctor’s View About the New mRNA Vaccines

By Thomas Siler

I’ve practiced for 35 years. I am always honest with my patients, even if conversations are difficult or confrontational. I will also be honest about saying “I don’t know.” This happens when a diagnosis is not readily apparent or when there are limits to the help I can give. With the passage of time, I’ve learned that what we don’t know about medicine outweighs what we do know.

I’ve always been a proponent of older, more established vaccines. However, they are imperfect and, like all medical treatments, can have side effects. Unfortunately, in the conversation about the new COVID-19 vaccines, the tenets of honesty and a willingness to admit ignorance are being compromised.

Operation Warp Speed was remarkable, but it leaves an uncomfortable question: Is it a good thing to rush a vaccine (or medicine) to the public without the usual safeguards? Operation Warp Speed might be a great business objective or military goal, but is it great for a medical treatment?

The pharmaceutical industry, government health authorities, and the media insist the new vaccines are safe and effective. While the initial results are promising, this is not the whole truth. Both honesty and acknowledging ignorance require answering a few questions.

What do we know about the new TYPE of vaccine being given?

Pfizer and Moderna were the first COVID-19 vaccines to be approved. Both use a new technology called mRNA vaccine, which has never been broadly given to a human population to prevent any disease.

Let that sink in for a moment.

All previous vaccines take a weakened virus or a piece of the virus and inject it into humans to induce an immune response sufficient to prevent a disease. Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines inject mRNA, which is a protein code that instructs the body to make a part of COVID-19’s spike protein that will then induce an immune response.

Our bodies daily use our own mRNA to carry instructions from DNA to make various proteins the body uses. While this new vaccine science sounds intriguing, it has never been tried in humans in this scope. It may be a breathtaking scientific advancement heralding a new path for all vaccines. It may also be less effective or have currently unknown side effects.

Is the mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 safe?

So far, the limited study of the vaccines approved for emergency use (one major study for each vaccine approved) has shown some short-term side effects. The vaccine is a two-shot series and side effects were prominent after the second shot. Side effects were more common if the recipient was younger than 65 years old.

Pain at the injection site has usually gone away in 4-5 days. The other side effects resolve, on average, in 2-3 days.

Early reports after giving the vaccine have also included allergic reactions ranging from mild to a few cases of anaphylaxis (serious allergic reaction). Allergy may be to mRNA itself or the lipid nanoparticles/PEG vehicle it is housed in. The long-term side effects are not currently known, as the main study length and follow up have only been four months.

Is the mRNA vaccine effective?

In the main study from Pfizer’s vaccine, 8/17,000 patients got symptomatic COVID-19 in the treatment group during the short follow up. In the placebo group, 162/17,000 patients got symptomatic COVID-19 during the study time. There was also a trend towards those getting the vaccine having a less severe disease and needing less hospitalization.

The Moderna study had 30,000 patients split into treatment and placebo arms. In the vaccine group, 11/15,000 patients came down with COVID-19. In the placebo group, 185/15,000 patients came down with COVID-19.

It was hard to ascertain death avoidance in these small studies. However, the two initial studies are favorable and show a 95% efficacy. Now that more information about the studies is known, Peter Doshi, associate editor of the British Medical Journal, wrote an editorial that the true efficacy may be much lower because the study excluded people with COVID-19 symptoms but a negative test and other factors.

How long does immunity last?

This is unknown. Injected mRNA goes away in days, but it is thought that the immune response will be long lasting. Whether patients will need boosters at some point is not known.

What about mutations in the COVID-19 virus? Will the vaccine still work?

Viruses always mutate and scientists following COVID-19 estimate it mutates, on average, twice a month. Most of these mutations are minor and will likely not change the vaccine effectiveness. These mutations also usually do not make the virus more deadly.

What is antibody dependent enhancement?

COVID-19 is in the family of Coronavirus that causes the common cold. The pharmaceutical industry has been trying without success for the last two decades to make a vaccine against the common cold. A safe vaccine against the common cold would make some company a lot of money!

One problem in the animal studies on coronavirus family vaccines was “antibody dependent enhancement.” When animals were inoculated, they developed a robust immune response, which is a good result.

However, when the animals were later exposed to the coronavirus against which they were vaccinated, their immune system went into overdrive, and they developed an overwhelming, fatal immune response called a “cytokine storm.” Fatal cytokine storms also happened to some COVID-19 patients when their infection was severe.

Human responses do not always correlate to animal responses. So far, there have been no signs that humans have a cytokine storm when exposed to COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine. Obviously, this would be catastrophic for any vaccine.

Should we be concerned about other long term side effects from mRNA vaccines?

A concern that deserves mention is the possibility that a cross-reaction and immunity to other parts of the spike protein could cause auto-immune disease or other problems.

A former Pfizer VP, Dr. Michael Yeadon, who has over 30 years of experience in immunology and drug research, filed a Stay of Action petition with the European Medicine Agency (like our FDA) to halt the trials of mRNA vaccines over concerns it might affect sterility in women.

Yeadon is worried that the mRNA vaccine was coded for a region of the spike protein that was similar to Syncytin-1, which is a protein that is essential for the development of the placenta. If a woman’s body makes antibodies to this protein, she could become sterile when vaccinated for COVID-19. This is a theory, not a proven fact, and no one has studied it. Yeadon’s insistence on more studies to make sure this will not happen seems reasonable.

What to make of all these concerns?

Medicine is always about a risk/benefit analysis, subject to the first maxim of “do no harm.” Usually, new medicines or new vaccines are used only after multiple studies show over long periods of time (for vaccines, at least five years) prove they’re safe and better than the older treatments.

While the new mRNA vaccines have good initial results and may be a breakthrough, they should be viewed as experimental and would best be used in high-risk patients (older patients or those with health conditions raising COVID-19 mortality) until we know more. Patients should receive extensive informed consent to understand the risks and benefits. Patients also need to know that if they have a serious complication, Congress already protected the pharmaceutical companies from litigation around emergency vaccines.

The mantra of “safe and effective” is not only incomplete, but it also ignores other pathways out of the pandemic. For healthy people, early outpatient treatments are being developed to treat COVID-19. These would be a safer option than taking an experimental vaccine. Young people (<60 years old) who have very low mortality from COVID-19 should approach getting the new vaccine as if they were consenting to be in an experimental trial of a new vaccine.

Our history shows there are good reasons why new medicines and vaccines are not rushed into widespread use until we have multiple studies and time to assess the safety and efficacy of the new treatments. If the death rate from COVID-19 were much higher, it might make the risks acceptable to try an experimental vaccine. Given that the COVID-19 death rate is a little higher than a bad flu, my opinion is that younger and healthier people need a more rigorous risk/benefit analysis before taking the mRNA vaccines.


Furious Leftist hatred of Trump still burning

These are seriously disturbed people

Democrat lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced a new bill on Thursday that would ban only former President Donald Trump from being buried in Arlington National Cemetery or having federal funds going to buildings bearing his names.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), applies all its prohibitions to “any former President that has been twice impeached by the House of Representatives on or before the date of enactment of this Act.” The bill would specifically target Trump, who is the only U.S. president to have been impeached twice by the House of Representatives.

The bill states its ban on property named after a twice impeached president includes “any highway, park, subway, Federal building, military installation, street, or other Federal property.”

In a statement announcing the bill, Sanchez said the bill, barring federal funds to any other building bearing Trump’s name, could also prevent public schools from being named after him.

“I can’t imagine sending students in Southern California — or anywhere in America — to a school named in honor of a traitorous president,” she said.

Sanchez said federal funding would not go to a single thing bearing Trump’s name, “Not a building, statue, or even a park bench.”

By targetting only presidents impeached twice before the bill’s enactment, the bill would allow Democratic President Bill Clinton to retain typical burial and honors given to U.S. presidents despite having also been impeached. Clinton was impeached in 1998 on one charge of perjury and one charge of obstruction of justice.

The bill could also affect the management of a Trump presidential library. According to the National Archives, while presidential libraries are constructed with non-federal funds, the libraries are typically transferred to the National Archives, which then staffs and operates them. The National Archives is a federal agency.

Additionally, the bill would also aim to strip Trump of other benefits of his presidency.

The Former President’s Act of 1958 describes a number of lifetime benefits for former presidents who have not been removed from office. The act provides retirement, clerical assistants and free mailing privileges to former presidents. Referring to the 1958 act, Sanchez’ bill states, “Notwithstanding any provision of the Act . . . any former President that has been twice impeached by the House of Representatives on or before the date of enactment of this Act or has been convicted of a State or Federal crime relating to actions taken in an official capacity as President of the United States is not entitled to receive any benefit, other than Secret Service protection, under such Act.”


German phyicist says he is '99.9 per cent sure' that coronavirus leaked from Wuhan lab

Dr Roland Wiesendanger, a physicist from the University of Hamburg, has published a 100-page paper laying out what he claims is evidence pointing to a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in the city where the pandemic began.

The professor says the fact that no animal host has been found, safety concerns about the lab, and the fact that researchers were involved in controversial 'gain-of-function' research to make viruses more infectious to humans all confirm his view.

But others have slammed his 'research' - saying it is unscientific, relies on newspaper reports and YouTube videos as sources, and point out that he is not a virus expert.

His paper was published just 10 days after WHO scientists probing the origins of Covid in Wuhan urged scientists to dismiss lab leak theories, saying the possibility is 'extremely unlikely'.

Dr Wiesendanger openly admitted to German media that he has no 'scientific basis' for believing the virus escaped from the Wuhan lab. But he insisted that there is plenty of 'circumstantial evidence' that suggests a lab leak is the most likely explanation.

'I am 99.9 percent certain that the coronavirus came from the laboratory,' he told German newspaper ZDF.

Among the evidence that Dr Wiesendanger puts forward is the fact that, despite China's insistence that thorough searches have been carried out, no natural host for the virus has yet been found.

The closest relative of Covid to be found in nature is a coronavirus found in bats living in a mine in Mojiang in 2012 - labelled RaTG13 by researchers.

Dr Wiesendanger points out that these bats live some 1,200 miles from Wuhan, meaning it is unlikely they carried the virus to the city.

WHO scientists also pointed out in their own report that contact between citizens of Wuhan and bats is uncommon.




Friday, February 19, 2021

World watches as Israel’s fast-tracked vaccination program delivers promising results

It paid a sky-high price to access one of the best coronavirus vaccines in the world and also agreed to share data on the accelerated rollout – but Israel’s expensive gamble seems to have paid off.

The small country in the Middle East was late joining the line for the Pfizer vaccine behind the US, Canada and Japan, according to The Times of Israel, but it still managed to gain fast-tracked access to millions of doses.

This was partly due to Israel paying a lot more for the vaccine – as much as double what the United States and United Kingdom signed up for per dose – but also because it agreed to share data on the results of the rollout with Pfizer.

“We didn’t quibble about the price,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters in January.

Mr Netanyahu also acknowledged that one of the selling points for Pfizer was that Israel “could serve as a world laboratory for herd immunity or something approaching herd immunity very quickly”.

Israel “can serve as a global test case” on the coronavirus vaccine and on reopening the economy, he said.

Two months since the vaccine began to be rolled out, experts are now watching closely to understand its effectiveness in the real world.

The program has been so successful that on Monday Mr Netanyahu’s government announced the reopening of some businesses.

“We’ll be the first in the world to get out [of COVID],” Mr Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 12.

He encouraged 570,000 people aged over 50 who had not yet been vaccinated to get the jab, saying they would decide whether the current lockdown will be Israel’s last.

Israel has already provided the first of two jabs to more than four million people in just two months.

This has provided coverage to more than 40 per cent of its population of nine million. Of these, more than 2.6 million have also received their second jab.

Although the number of vaccinations is not as high as other countries, Israel’s smaller population makes it easier to assess the impact of widespread vaccination because a higher proportion of the population is potentially protected.

So what is the data saying?

So far there isn’t a clear answer on whether vaccinated people can still infect others but there is promising data suggesting vaccinations reduce viral load and this means people are less likely to infect others.

Analysis from DNA scientist Yaniv Erlich, who is MyHeritage’s chief science officer, and his colleague Ella Petter, found vaccinated people who still got sick with coronavirus had a viral load 1.5 times to 20 times lower than those who weren’t vaccinated.

This means they are less likely to pass on the virus to others even if they do get infected and provides some hope that herd immunity can be achieved.

“Whoever gets vaccinated not only protects himself but also his family, his neighbours, and his community. Therefore, it is important to get vaccinated,” Dr Erlich wrote in a Facebook post on February 8.

Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to US President Joe Biden, also spruiked the vaccine’s ability to reduce people’s viral load, seen in studies from Israel and Spain.

“The vaccine is important not only for the health of the individual to protect them against infection and disease, including the variants … but it also has very important implications from a public health standpoint, for interfering and diminishing the dynamics of the outbreak,” he said on Wednesday.

With any new vaccine there’s a risk that results seen in the trials won’t be replicated in the real world. This can happen for many reasons including the fact that people who sign up for trials tend to be healthier, more educated and open to new technology.

But so far the Pfizer’s results appear to be mirroring those experienced in the trial and it is protecting people from getting sick.

Israel has now announced a “green badge” system to re-open certain venues to those who have received both of their jabs.

From Sunday, those who have the badge, which will also be given to those who have recovered from the virus, will be allowed into gyms, cultural events, houses of worship and hotels.

“We are moving ahead with the responsible reopening on the principle of ‘you’re vaccinated – you’re in’,” Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday.

Other facilities, like malls and museums, will open to all citizens, with or without a green badge, under a so-called “purple code”, with crowd size limits and other restrictions that have applied through much of the pandemic.

Hagai Levine, a public health professor and researcher at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, stressed Israel’s vaccination-dependent reopening plan required a “delicate balance” between public health needs and individual freedoms.

There is also “a right not to be vaccinated,” he told AFP.

“I think people should do it, but you cannot force them,” he added, noting that those who opt out inevitably risk being denied certain services.


UK: No, patriotism doesn’t alienate ethnic minorities

The battle for the Labour Party’s soul is now in full flow. This once great party has been on the opposition benches for over a decade, and is now on the verge of being plunged into an internal culture war over matters of patriotism and tradition.

According to progressive activists, taking pride in the Union flag, respecting those who have served in the armed forces and being smartly dressed is pandering to extreme right-wing nativism.

But what is an especially questionable charge, made by the likes of Aditya Chakrabortty in the Guardian, is that embracing expressions of British patriotism would alienate ethnic minorities. According to this view, the imagined ‘BAME community’ has little to no sense of national pride or appreciation of British life. This assumption is both misguided and divisive.

The 2010 Ethnic Minority British Election Study, which remains the only full-scale survey on British ethnic-minority attitudes to date, showed that non-white people are far more likely to express satisfaction with the British democratic system than white Brits. This should come as no surprise. A notable section of Britain’s non-white population moved directly to the UK from unstable parts of the world with dysfunctional political systems and substandard public infrastructure.

Part of the reason my Bangladeshi-origin parents decided to set up their stall in Britain was because of the stable nature of British democratic society and the great educational opportunities on offer for their children. This feeds into a naturally positive orientation towards Britain – a country that provided them with an opportunity to start afresh and prosper.

The progressive-activist brigade, which lectures Labour on how to engage with Britain’s ethnic-minority people, fails to understand that patriotic sentiments and culturally traditional values run deep in many British non-white communities. Arguing that Labour should steer clear of expressions of patriotism and national civic pride, on the baseless grounds that it would alienate swathes of ‘BAME’ people, is nonsense-on-stilts.

It also amounts to the crass exploitation of non-white people, who are being used to stop Labour embracing patriotism and tradition. This is an attempt to ensure the party continues to indulge racial identity politics, and continues to support the kind of cultural liberalism that runs counter to traditional family-oriented values – values which often characterise South Asian and black communities across the home nations.

Britain’s progressive activists – who span various spheres of British life, from politics to academia to the media and entertainment – are far from ideologically in-sync with mainstream ethnic-minority public opinion.

While these progressive activists squirm at the mildest expressions of patriotism, a comfortable majority of non-white people attach importance to their British national identity. Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and the Conservative Party’s handsome victory in the 2019 UK General Election, some Labourites have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the outcomes produced by the UK’s recent democratic exercises. But many of Britain’s non-white people – who can trace their ancestral origins back to countries with autocratic regimes and rampant political oppression – simply do not share in this domestic progressive-liberal discontent. And while progressive activists look to ‘protect’ an imaginary BAME community from the forces of oppression, they fail to acknowledge that non-white people tend to be more satisfied with their life in the UK.

Progressive activists are either unaware of the culturally conservative attitudes in non-white communities or, worse still, they are fully aware of them but would still rather exploit ethnic minorities to promote their identitarian agenda. This tribe of left-wingers – instinctively hostile to expressions of patriotism, dissatisfied with the democratic system, and always keen to interpret a range of social issues through the prism of race – threatens to lock Labour in a position of neverending electoral misery.

If such people continue to wield considerable influence on the British left, Labour will only be left with offering a miserable form of grievance politics, which is likely to prove very costly at the ballot box. The lessons of the 2019 UK General Election are clearly still not being learned.



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