Friday, July 24, 2020

How Sweden Faced COVID-19 Without Lockdowns

Coronavirus deaths have slowed to a crawl in Sweden. With the exception of a single death on July 13, no deaths in this nation of 10 million have been reported since July 10.

But the debate over Sweden’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, which relied on individual responsibility instead of government coercion to maintain social distancing, is far from over.

Last week, The New York Times labeled Sweden’s approach to the pandemic a “cautionary tale” for the rest of the world, claiming it “yielded a surge of deaths without sparing its economy from damage.”

To be accurate, Sweden has outperformed many nations around the world with its “lighter touch” approach and was one of the few nations in Europe to see its economy grow in the first quarter of 2020.

Meanwhile, Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s top infectious disease expert, continues to defend his nation’s approach to the pandemic.

“I’m looking forward to a more serious evaluation of our work than has been made so far,” Tegnell said in a recent podcast published by Swedish public radio before taking a scheduled vacation. “There is no way of knowing how this ends.”

Sweden’s Actual Pandemic Performance

Sweden has become a global lightning rod, but this has less to do with the results of its policies than the nature of its policies.

While Sweden’s death toll is indeed substantially higher than neighbors such as Finland, Norway, and Denmark, it’s also much lower than several other European neighbors such as Belgium, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain.

Indeed, a simple comparison between Belgium and Sweden —nations with rather similar populations— reveals that Belgium suffered far worse than Sweden from the coronavirus.

The reason Sweden is a “cautionary tale” and Belgium is not is because Belgium followed the script. Early in the pandemic, Belgian officials closed all non-essential business and enforced strict social distancing rules.

All non-emergency workers were told to stay home. Shopping was limited to a single family member. Individuals could leave for medical reasons or to walk a pet or get a brief bit of exercise—so long as social distancing was maintained.

These lockdown protocols, the BBC reported, were strictly enforced by Belgian police using “drones in parks and fines for anyone breaking social distancing rules.”

A More Suitable ‘Cautionary Tale’

Sweden clearly endured the pandemic better than Belgium, which had nearly twice as many COVID-19 deaths despite its economic lockdown.

Yet the Times chose Sweden as its “cautionary tale” because Sweden chose not to institute an economic lockdown. Sweden took such an approach for two reasons. First, as Tegnell has publicly stated, there is little to no scientific evidence that lockdowns work. Second, as evidence today shows, lockdowns come with widespread unintended consequences: mass unemployment, recession, social unrest, psychological deterioration, suicides, and drug overdoses.

Even if Sweden has seen its death toll rise more sharply than Scandinavian neighbors such as Finland and Norway, it’s strange that the Times would go thousands of miles across an ocean and continent to find a “cautionary tale.” A far better cautionary tale can be found right under the Grey Lady’s nose.

A simple comparison between New York and Sweden shows the Empire State has suffered far worse from COVID-19 than the Swedes. Yinon Weiss, an entrepreneur and founder of Rally Point, recently compared Sweden and New York using data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The first thing one notices about the comparison is that Sweden was able to “flatten the curve,” so to speak. Though the phrase is largely forgotten today, flattening the curve was originally the entire purpose of the lockdowns. To the extent that there was a scientific basis for lockdowns, it was in the idea that they were a temporary measure designed to help hospitals avoid being overwhelmed by sick patients.

Dr Robert Katz, founding director of the Yale‐Griffin Prevention Research Center, observed that by flattening the curve “you don’t prevent deaths, you just change the dates.” But a temporary lockdown could at least prevent everyone from getting sick at once, which would be catastrophic.

If flattening the curve was the primary goal of policymakers, Sweden was largely a success. New York, on the other hand, was not, despite widespread closures and strict enforcement of social distancing policies.

The reason New York failed and Sweden succeeded probably has relatively little to do with the fact that bars and restaurants were open in Sweden. Or that New York’s schools were closed while Sweden’s were open. As Weiss explains, the difference probably isn’t related to lockdowns at all. It probably has much more to do with the fact that New York failed to protect the most at-risk populations: the elderly and infirm.

“Here’s the good news: You can shut down businesses or keep them open. Close schools or stay in session. Wear masks or not,” says Weiss, a graduate of Harvard Business School. “The virus will make its way through in either case, and if we protect the elderly then deaths will be spared.”

This is precisely the prescription Dr. John Ioannidis, a Stanford University epidemiologist and one of the most cited scientists in the world, has advocated since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like Tegnell, Ioannidis early on expressed doubts about the effectiveness of lockdowns and warned they could produce wide-ranging unintended outcomes.

“One of the bottom lines is that we don’t know how long social distancing measures and lockdowns can be maintained without major consequences to the economy, society, and mental health,” Ioannidis wrote in a STAT article in March. “Unpredictable evolutions may ensue, including financial crisis, unrest, civil strife, war, and a meltdown of the social fabric.”

Sadly, many of the adverse consequences Ioannidis predicted have since come to pass, as he has acknowledged.

Is Sweden Truly a ‘Cautionary Tale’?

Tegnell and Swedish leaders have mostly stood by their lighter touch approach, although there is a recognition that they, too, could have more effectively protected at-risk populations.

“We must admit that the part that deals with elderly care, in terms of the spread of infection, has not worked. It is obvious. We have too many elderly people who have passed away,” Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said in June.

Yet it’s a mistake to label Sweden’s approach a failure. As noted above, Sweden is being criticized less because of the results of their public health policies and more because of the nature of them.

By embracing a much more market-based approach to the pandemic in lieu of a centrally planned one, Sweden is undermining the narrative that millions and millions of people would have died without lockdowns, as modelers predicted.

Without Sweden and a few similar outliers, it would be far easier for central planners to say, Sure, lockdowns were harsh and destructive. But we had no choice.

In the wake of the most destructive pandemic in a century, there will be considerable discussion as to whether the lockdowns, which stand to trigger a global depression in addition to other psychological and social costs, were truly necessary.

In a sense, the disagreement over the pandemic largely resembles a much larger friction in society: should individuals be left free to pursue their own interests and weigh risks themselves or should they be guided, coerced, and protected by planners who want to do all this for them.

As Ludwig Von Mises noted long ago, modern social conflict is largely a struggle over who gets to design the world, individuals or authorities. Mises saw few things more dangerous than central planners seeking to supplant the plans of individuals with plans of their own, which they see as a preeminent good.

When Mises speaks of the “pre-eminence of his own plan,” it’s hard not to think of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who in March sounded downright indignant when a reporter asked about nursing homes objecting to his plan of prohibiting them from screening for COVID-19.

“They don’t have the right to object,” Cuomo answered. “That is the rule, and that is the regulation, and they have to comply with it.”

Cuomo clearly saw his central plan as superior to that of individuals acting within the marketplace.

The policy of forcing nursing homes to take COVID carrying patients, which was adopted by numerous US states with high virus death tolls, is a stark contrast to Sweden’s market-based approach that trusted individuals to plan for themselves.

“Our measures are all based on individuals taking responsibility, and that is … an important part of the Swedish model,” Hakan Samuelsson, the CEO of Volvo Cars, observed in April.

Sweden’s approach of encouraging social distancing by giving responsibility to individuals may very well explain why the Swedes fared so much better than New York, where authorities disempowered individual actors and prevented nursing homes from taking sensible precautions.



Were the lockdowns effective at all?

With a lot of the country either locking down again or getting close to the brink, worth noting a study published yesterday in The Lancet. I know, The Lancet has been badly politicized and unreliable in recent years (and months), but it does still pull great weight with the establishment, so our public health Faucists should know about it at least.

The study bears the typically dense academic-style title, “A country level analysis measuring the impact of government actions, country preparedness and socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes.” Here’s the beginning of the long abstract describing what the researchers did:

A country level exploratory analysis was conducted to assess the impact of timing and type of national health policy/actions undertaken towards COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes. . . We built a country-level model, incorporating data from 50 different countries, to assess country-specific socioeconomic factors and healthcare capabilities on COVID-19-related outcomes such as new case burden, critical cases, and mortality. . .

To our knowledge, no published articles have used a country-level analysis, pooling data across multiple countries, to report the impact of population health interventions, country-specific socioeconomic factors, and healthcare capacity on overall COVID-19 cases (recovered or critical), and associated mortality.

Now there’s a bombshell hidden in the dry prose typical of such studies about their findings—see the boldface sentence below:

Increasing COVID-19 caseloads were associated with countries with higher obesity, median population age and longer time to border closures from the first reported case. Increased mortality per million was significantly associated with higher obesity prevalence and per capita gross domestic product (GDP). Reduced income dispersion reduced mortality and the number of critical cases . Rapid border closures, full lockdowns, and wide-spread testing were not associated with COVID-19 mortality per million people. However, full lockdowns and reduced country vulnerability to biological threats (i.e. high scores on the global health security scale for risk environment) were significantly associated with increased patient recovery rates.

Translation: Lockdowns had little effect on the course of severe COVID-19 cases, with the exception of helping with recovery rates, which ratifies the “flatten the curve” logic so as not to overwhelm hospitals. More important were social distancing practices, and bans on foreign travel. (Or as the authors put it in the main body of the study, “government actions such as border closures, full lockdowns, and a high rate of COVID-19 testing were not associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.” My emphasis.) This means that if what we care about most is mortality risk rather than mere infection rate, total lockdowns should be viewed skeptically.

But as the full study makes clear, much more important in the outcomes were underlying demographics and health co-morbidities, and the general economic profile of the country—essentially another ratification of Aaron Wildavsky’s shorthand axiom that “wealthier is healthier.” (Hard to believe such a common sense idea needs empirical demonstration.) Although richer countries experienced a higher rate of infection for reasons the study explains, they tended to have better recovery rates, as one would expect of wealthier countries that have more robust health care resources.




Trump signs legally contentious memo preventing illegal immigrants from being counted in congressional redistricting (Washington Examiner)

Jews back Biden even as anti-Semitism rears its head on the Left (Washington Examiner)

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others arrested in $60 million nuclear power plant bribery case (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Defense secretary says U.S. is considering "adjustments" to troops in South Korea as the Pentagon strategizes against China (AP)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seeks U.S.-UK coalition against "disgraceful" Chinese Communist Party (Washington Examiner)

Biden stays silent as Catholic churches and statues are burned and vandalized in string of targeted attacks (The Federalist)

More than a dozen people shot near Chicago funeral home, yet the mayor ironically says: "Under no circumstances will I allow Donald Trump's troops to come to Chicago and terrorize our residents" (The Daily Wire)

As crime and murders skyrocket in New York City, mayor has 27 officers a day guarding Black Lives Matter "mural" (Law Enforcement Today)

Finally getting the message on Margaret Sanger: Planned Parenthood of Greater New York to remove founder's name from flagship office over support for eugenics (National Review)

The awokening comes for American classical music: The New York Times's chief critic has launched a campaign to end the merit-based "blind audition" hiring process for orchestras (National Review)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Coronavirus drug hailed as game-changer after trial finds it cuts chances of severe illness

Treatment from biotech firm Synairgen uses interferon beta protein, which body produces when it gets a viral infection

A "game-changing" treatment for coronavirus could cut the chance of serious illness by 80 per cent, research suggests.

Trials using an inhaled protein, commonly used to treat multiple sclerosis, found patients who were given it were more than twice as likely to recover during the treatment period than those given a placebo.

Stays in hospital were cut by one third, according to the study of Southampton hospital patients.

The treatment, from biotech firm Synairgen, uses a protein called interferon beta, which the body produces when it gets a viral infection. The drug, known as SNG001, is inhaled using a nebuliser in order to stimulate an immune response.

Richard Marsden, the chief executive of the company, said: "We couldn't have expected much better results than these."...



Socialism: The Way It Was — And Never Should Be Again

As a young Army lieutenant, I looked at the East German and Russian soldiers through my binoculars and quickly figured out they were not 10 feet tall as I had learned through the American press as a college kid. Indeed, they were hardly as tall as I was; most were shorter. They appeared to be a bleak lot. As I “glassed” the town they occupied up against the East-West German border, the whole place looked sad, uninviting, and lackluster. The soldiers had guns, so indeed they were the enemy, but they sure didn’t look motivated. I remember very clearly that my first thought was, “This communist and socialist stuff is not all it’s cracked up to be. We can beat these guys.”

Twenty-plus years later as an Army colonel and right after the fall of the “Iron Curtain” — the reunification of Germany and liberation of Eastern Bloc countries — I visited that very village and some larger formerly East German towns and cities nearby. The communists had just departed. The drab of 20 years earlier had given way to disrepair and the citizens seemed numb. Yet in talking with them they displayed hope that the new democratic and free society of Germany into which they had just reunited would somehow give them renewed opportunity and turn around a dispirited communist existence. Every one of them had a glint in their eyes that spoke of a yearning for freedom and future opportunity.

Now retired from the Army after a 39-year career of helping defend my nation from, among other challenges, the false hope and promises of communism and socialism, I am near tears as I watch the proven failed socialist dogma infiltrate America and dominate the thoughts of many of our citizens. Democrats have turned into progressives who are increasingly turning into full-blown state-sponsored Marxist socialists. They believe that the promise of a utopian collective rule will provide America with a quality of life and happiness that is otherwise unachievable in Western democratic and capitalist countries. They’ve been taught this false promise in school.

Well, I’ve seen socialism up close around the globe, and here’s what I know to be true:

Socialism destroys the individual work ethic, dispirits the human dimension, and kills innovation — always. Under socialism, human productivity plummets and the state is faced with distributing fewer and fewer resources until the pie is too small to sustain the population, much less motivate it to achieve.

Socialism terminates and destroys, by design, all belief in any sort of supernatural God-like Heavenly entity in deference to the supremacy of the state. For Christians like myself, that means for Marxist socialism to succeed, Jesus Christ must be stricken from public belief and discourse. In all fully socialist states, Jesus Christ and God our Father are among the first enemies of the state and thus become brutalized victims of the state’s control apparatus.

Finally, socialism requires the destruction of the nuclear family. Indeed, it sees the family as a competitor that must be terminated. After all, the state assumes responsibility for all citizens’ health and welfare and thus any pushback or desired redirection by the family is fair game for the state’s wrath. That yields collective work groups and youth educational camps, etc.

So, if you’re interested in a socialist United States, then be ready for a dismal and marginally productive work environment, a state cap on your ability to achieve, worshiping at the altar of the state instead of God, and having the state tell you explicitly how to raise, educate, and discipline your family and children. Be ready to have your family separated to venture forth to collective state-run work groups. My sense is that we are near a tipping point of no return toward a society buying into the utopian dream and the follow-on guaranteed broken promises of a socialist/Marxist state. Buy into socialism if you will, but you’ll condemn our next generations to a Venezuelan-like existence — guaranteed.

On the other hand, if you, like me, cherish individual freedom, economic opportunity, the guarantees of our Bill of Rights, being the master of your own destiny, having the freedom to worship the God of your choice, and loving the age-old concept of a values-driven nuclear family, then it’s time for you — indeed all of us — to stand up and fight for America!

Don’t surrender to the false promises of a utopian socialist state. Fight right now for the same dream our Founders fought for and won — freedom, democracy, liberty, private-property ownership, and the right to dream amazing yet achievable dreams in an environment where you set your own course with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. That’s the America I fought for!



De-Unionize Police and All Other Public-Sector Employees

Such unions inherently put public employees at odds with the people they ostensibly serve.

In light of the furor surrounding George Floyd’s death, it’s time to examine the one entity in every big city that incentivizes mediocrity at best and outright failure, sometimes criminal failure, at worst: Public-service employee unions.

Let’s begin with a reality check. Broad-brushing entire police forces in a given area, or law-enforcement officers in general, as trigger-happy bigots is a monstrous lie that anyone with an ounce of integrity would thoroughly denounce. Unfortunately for the Democrat Party and its equally repugnant progressive cheerleaders — for whom the acquisition and maintenance of power by any means necessary is all that matters — integrity left the building a long time ago. Their capitulation to the worst elements of our society, from allowing their own cities to be burned and looted to the establishment of a de facto country in the midst of American city, epitomizes sheer cowardice inspired by ideological bankruptcy.

Cowardice that makes one thing abundantly clear: A vote for the Democrat Party is a vote for anarchy presented as “social justice.”

Ironically, it is those same Democrat-controlled cities and states where public-service unions, including police unions, flourish most. So much so that states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and California are facing catastrophic funding shortages for the simplest of reasons — no one represents the public’s interest at the bargaining table. On one side there is the union representative. On the other is the politician more than willing to serve that union’s interests in return for the votes of its members and union campaign contributions.

This budget-busting dynamic has been the status quo for decades.

More important, public unions are anathema to the public interest by definition. A union exists solely to serve the interests of its members. Thus, even under the best of circumstances, what the public wants comes second, if it comes at all.

And it’s not just police unions where the status quo is a serious problem. As Walter Williams explains, “Democratic-controlled cities have the poorest-quality public education despite their large, and growing, school budgets.”

How poor? Williams cites the devastation in cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Detroit, where the overwhelming majority of students are incapable of reading or doing math at grade levels. “It’s the same story of academic disaster in other cities run by Democrats,” he adds.

It isn’t hard to understand why. The two largest teachers’ unions, National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), have given Democrats at least 94% of the funds they’ve contributed to candidates and parties since at least 1990.

That the same kids who are shortchanged are the ones likely to view society with the kind of contempt that could precipitate anti-social behavior or rank criminality? Democrats and teachers’ unions apparently view this tragedy as a reasonable tradeoff for maintaining their unholy alliance.

The same dynamic applies to police unions. In a paper for the Stanford Law Review, scholar Katherine Bies explains that the increasing political power of police unions beginning in the 1970s has engendered a lack of public unaccountability. “Police unions have established highly developed political machinery that exerts significant political and financial pressure on all three branches of government,” Bies writes. “The power of police unions over policymakers in the criminal justice context distorts the political process and generates political outcomes that undermine the democratic values of transparency and accountability.”

As a result, punishment of excessive force is rare. A 2017 report by the American Constitution Society reveals that 54 officers nationwide “were criminally charged after they shot and killed someone in the line of duty” from 2005 to 2017. Of those 54, only 13 officers were “convicted of murder or manslaughter for a fatal, on-duty shooting.” As of April 2015, 21 of those officers had been acquitted, 11 were convicted, and the other 22 cases were pending or filed as “other.”

The report added that the “high acquittal rate is perhaps even more troubling given that in 80 percent of these cases, one of the following occurred: there was a video recording of the incident, the victim was shot in the back, other officers testified against the shooter, or a cover-up was alleged.”

Video recordings, usually by cellphone, “are game changers,” according to Andy Skoogman, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police. “They weed out the bad apples. Video is definitely the key in this case as it is in so many other cases in this day and age.”

Yet as columnist John Fund reveals, “Jim Pasco, the 73-year-old executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, with 342,000 members, is a clear obstacle to transparency. Pasco believes that it should be illegal for someone to record cops with their cellphones.”

Pasco’s rationale? “At some point, we have to put some faith and trust in our authority figures,” he told Reason magazine in 2010.

Which authority figures would those be? As Americans have learned in the last three years alone, corruption extends to the highest levels of federal law enforcement and the judiciary. And until the public sees accountability for what is arguably the biggest scandal in our nation’s history, Americans’ cynicism with regard to “faith and trust in our authority figures” will remain unchecked — among all ethnicities on both sides of the political divide.

How do we fix the problem of rogue cops? “The first big step toward individual accountability is to break the power of police unions over the investigation and discipline of individual officers,” columnist Dan MacLaughlin asserts. “Conservatives have long argued that unions in general tend to hamstring employers in distinguishing between good and bad employees, and ultimately lead to collective rather than individual responsibility.”

Jody Armour, a law professor at the University of Southern California, echoes that sentiment. “There are so many terms and conditions in the collective bargaining agreements that insulate police from accountability and transparency,” she explains. “Can we know who the bad police are? Are there public records? A lot of times, that is squelched in collective bargaining.”

There are some conservatives who believe defunding or eliminating police unions would cede the last supposed bastion of conservatism to the Left. Yet as this graph from reveals, more Democrats than Republicans received campaign contributions from police officers, police unions, and law-enforcement PACs. Moreover, other public-sector unions overwhelmingly support Democrats.

Getting rid of all public-sector unions would go a long way toward restoring sanity and balance in a nation besieged by leftist propaganda. Even better, it poses a serious conundrum for a Democrat Party that wants to defund police forces, even as it would be decimated without those unions’ campaign contributions.

Merit and competence matter. Public unions are the antithesis of both




The New York Times joins the AP in capitalizing "Black," adding it to the "euphemism treadmill" (Washington Examiner)

"Incitement to violence against my family": Tucker Carlson blasts The New York Times for plans to write story about location of his new home (The Daily Caller)

Never forget? Joe "Trump Is Islamophobic" Biden: "I wish we taught more in our schools about the Islamic faith" (Fox News)

Joe Biden unveils $775 billion plan to fund universal child care and in-home elder care (CNBC)

ChiComs use Uyghur forced labor to produce masks (The Washington Free Beacon)

Trump administration adds 11 companies to sanctions list over Uighur oppression (Fox News)

UK suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong (BBC)

Trump to send more federal law enforcement to cities like Chicago and New York (White House Dossier)

Trump pushes mask wearing and says he'll resume White House briefings amid spike in cases (USA Today)

Wave of promising study results raises hopes for vaccines (Reuters)

Vast majority of patients have antibodies for at least three months, though the study has yet to be peer-reviewed (Fox News)

Major League Baseball strikes out by defending anthem kneeling (Breitbart)

Fear of infection keeps patients away from emergency rooms, augmenting hospital bankruptcies (Washington Examiner)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Coronavirus: Oxford University researchers claim positive results from COVID-19 vaccine trials

Research published in the journal Lancet claims an experimental vaccine — labelled ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 — was tested on more than 1000 people and prompted a protective immune response in those aged 18 to 55. “The vaccine was safe and tolerated,” researchers wrote.

“Preliminary results from a phase 1/2 trial involving 1077 healthy adults found that vaccine induced strong antibody & T cell immune responses up to day 56 of the ongoing trial,” the Lancet wrote when announcing the breakthrough on social media on Monday night.

“These responses may be even greater after a 2nd dose, according to a sub-group study of 10 participants.”

The director of the Jenner Institute Oxford University, Dr Adrian Hill, said the results were hugely promising.

“What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system,” Dr Hill said.

He claimed the vaccine causes a reaction in the body’s T-cells which help to fight off the coronavirus and that a partnership was already underway with a drug manufacturer to produce millions of doses.

The trial took place between April 23 and May 21. Half of the 1077 participants were given the experimental vaccine.

The scientists wrote that “preliminary findings show that the candidate vaccine given as a single dose was safe and tolerated”.

“No serious adverse reactions ... occurred. The majority of adverse events reported were mild or moderate in severity, and all were self-limiting.

“We show that a single dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 elicits an increase in spike-specific Antibodies by day 28 and neutralising antibody in all participants after a booster dose.

“Further studies are required to assess the vaccine in various population groups including older age groups, those with comorbidities, and in ethnically and geographically diverse populations.

“We will also evaluate the vaccine in children, once sufficient safety data have been accumulated in adult studies. Phase 3 trials are now underway in Brazil, South Africa, and the UK and will evaluate vaccine efficacy in diverse populations.”

The BBC reports that the vaccine is made from a genetically-engineered virus found in chimpanzees that was altered to resemble the coronavirus.

The research is based on the theory that the immune system can learn how to attack the coronavirus when presented with a virus that resembles it.



Bankruptcies have already reached 2008 levels, and leftists want another shutdown

Americans are getting a trial run of socialism right now.

Businesses have been told whether they can or cannot open and at what capacity they may operate by governments. Trillions of dollars have been spent, put into the hands of workers, business owners, and those who fell victim to the destruction of jobs from the COVID-19 shutdowns. With enhanced unemployment, the Paycheck Protection Program, and other “pandemic supplements,” the reality is setting in.

When capitalism is shelved and state-run economies prevail, Americans don’t thrive and businesses close — permanently.

Bankruptcies are up to the same level of the 2008 financial crisis, with almost 3,500 in Chapter 11 protection already this year. Worse, there are almost certainly more to come, especially if leftists achieve their desired second shutdown.

A survey published by the National Federation of Independent Businesses reveals that 46% of small businesses that received government assistance anticipate a continued need over the next year in the current environment of uncertainty. Restaurants and small businesses are particularly impacted with not only forced shutdowns and slow reopenings but with a reduced capacity despite much of the overhead and expenses remaining fixed. These statistics and trials will only grow and worsen with a deliberately socialist agenda, global pandemic or not.

Our small foray into socialism is exactly what Marxist Democrats want for our nation. They understand that this election cycle is about capturing power to make policies, controlling the very principles that govern our key institutions, education, the family, entertainment, mass media, and the various sectors of our economy. The current crises are serving as a springboard for what could, with a Democrat-led government, become the fulfillment of their desires — the death of capitalism entirely.

The socialist Left would have Americans choose between Liberty and safety — the ability to earn a living and dependence. Patriots are being asked to sacrifice life, liberty, and pursuits of happiness along with private property and wealth.

As November approaches, observe the contrast between those invested in dread, dismay, and destruction and those encouraging renewal, rebuilding, and results. Democrats are invested in failure, economic collapse, and government dependence. Republicans aim to quickly return to the economic expansion that marked the three years preceding COVID-19. What will voters choose?



Democrats: Make Illegal Immigration Great Again

Despite the economic devastation borne by Americans, Dems are pushing for illegals.

The United States Department of Labor revealed last Thursday that more than 1.3 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims the previous week, marking the 17th consecutive week such claims have topped one million. Since the pandemic began, approximately 51 million people have filed for unemployment benefits. One might think such numbers would engender an all-hands-on-deck response to help those Americans. Unfortunately, one would be totally wrong as far as Democrats are concerned. The party that has long prioritized the needs of immigrants, refugees, and “migrants” remains wedded to that agenda — this time on steroids.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden leads the way, and the recently released Biden-Sanders unity policy recommendations are indicative. They promise Democrats will “rescind President Trump’s fabricated ‘National Emergency’” that allocated $3.6 billion from military construction projects toward the construction of the wall on our Southwest border. Democrats will put an end to building the wall because it is “unnecessary.”

The Biden-Sanders plan also embraces catch-and-release for illegals, promoting such efforts as “community-based alternatives to detention.” That even The Washington Post admits 44% of illegals never show up for their immigration court appointment — the same courts it characterizes as “under a mountain of backlogged cases” because “hundreds of thousands of Central Americans continue to arrive at the border each year”? That the same plan would further enhance catch-and-release by rescinding the Trump administration’s Supreme Court-approved Migrant Protection Protocols that required some asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims were being processed? That the plan would expand ObamaCare to cover DACA illegal aliens? That all of these efforts incentivize illegal immigration and would undoubtedly swell the ranks of what might be as many as 22 million illegals already here?

The real agenda is laid bare, with the plan stating, “Democrats believe it is long past time to provide a roadmap to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers.”

Not undocumented workers. Illegal aliens. Illegal aliens Democrats are more than willing to exploit in their pursuit of unassailable power, even when that pursuit hurts millions of Americans forced to compete with illegals for jobs. Jobs that have become exponentially harder to secure during the pandemic.

And just like Democrat politicians who sit idly by while their cities are looted and burned by “protesters,” party leaders wish to reward the wholesale lawbreaking that mass amnesty represents. Biden himself will also sit idly by, as the plan promises to halt all deportations during his first 100 days in office. And while such a halt is occurring, Democrats intend to reward employers who hire illegal aliens. The plan promises to “end workplace and community raids.”

Merit-based immigration is also on the chopping block as the plan promises to “immediately halt enforcement of and rescind the Trump Administration’s un-American immigrant wealth test.” Wealth test is Demo-speak for self sufficiency — as in the party has no problem whatsoever with immigrants coming to America and immediately accessing our welfare state. Moreover, Democrats also remain committed to chain migration policies that vastly expand the number of family members who can come here.

That chain migration has quadrupled the 250,000 immigrants coming to America per year in the 1950s and 1960s to more than one million annually since 1990? The more the merrier, self-sufficient or not, and the millions of Americans forced to deal with the consequences — even when their own backs are against the wall — be damned.

Refugees are part of the agenda as well. The Biden-Sanders plans would raise the current cap from the 18,000 that Trump approved for fiscal 2020 to a whopping 125,000 per year.

When one looks at those who lead Biden’s immigration task force, such policies should come as no surprise. One member is Javier Valdes, an executive director of Make the Road, an open-borders group that supports abolishing ICE — and letting illegal aliens vote in state elections. Another is Marisa Franco, who ran the organization Not1More Deportation. It advocated a complete moratorium on deportations, and it currently wants to abolish ICE. The immigration task force’s cochair is Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, which also champions amnesty. It is partially funded by open-borders champion George Soros.

House Democrats are also hard at work promoting the causes of immigrants, even as the pandemic rages and Congress is forced to consider another round of relief checks necessitated by the lockdowns and wholly arbitrary definitions of what constitutes an “essential job.” Thus, the party is demanding another round of funding cuts for ICE, while aiming to undo key Trump policies that helped mitigate last year’s border surge. In short, the aforementioned new standards for asylum-seekers and deals made with Mexico and Central American nations that slowed down the massive flow of people toward our border are on the chopping block.

North Carolina Democrat Congressman David Price insisted such efforts were necessary to push back on the administration’s “cruel and arbitrary immigration policies.” He added, “We haven’t seen anything like this before.”

Oh yes we have. When the initial $3 trillion coronavirus relief package was being negotiated, Democrats demanded job protections for “essential” illegal-alien workers and the employers that hire them. They also insisted that the next round of stimulus checks should include those who file taxes via an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) rather than just a Social Security number, because that would enable illegal aliens excluded from round one to receive one in the second round.

How any of this helps Americans, who are enduring one of the most trying times in our nation’s history, is anyone’s guess. But as one of the final provisions in the plan reveals, to question Democrat motives is to embrace “systemic racism.” It states, “Democrats believe that our fight to end systemic racism in our country extends to our immigration system, including the policies at our borders and ports of entry, detention centers, and within immigration law enforcement agencies and their policies and operations.”

“These proposals would break the back of American workers and reduce much of the population to welfare status,” warns columnist Daniel Greenfield. “They represent the worst attack on the American working class in history.”




"I am tolerating chemotherapy well": 87-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg battling cancer again (USA Today)

Lawmakers are far apart on a new coronavirus relief bill. The sticking points are direct payments, liability reform, aid for state and local governments, school reopenings, and small-business relief. (NPR)

Trump expediently demands payroll tax cut while GOP eyes benefit cuts for unemployed (The Washington Post)

Pentagon bans Confederate flag in a sly way to avoid Trump's wrath (AP)

China expands its amphibious forces in challenge to U.S. supremacy beyond Asia (Reuters)

CDC test kits generate 30% false positive and 20% false negative results, peer-reviewed findings confirm (Business Wire)

"Strike for Black Lives": Tens of thousands to walk off job today to protest nonexistent "systemic racism" (AP)

Federal Trade Commission is considering deposing top Facebook executives in antitrust probe (Reuters)

Lawlessness-enabling Portland mayor accuses Trump of "absolute abuse" of federal law enforcement, demands officers leave as city's nightly violence continues (National Review)

Seattle rioters damage and loot stores while injuring 12 police officers (Fox News)

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) implicated in massive bribery scandal (The Blaze)

Bubba Wallace booed at NASCAR race as Confederate flags fly (Washington Examiner)

Less than 30% of Americans say Redskins should change their name (The Federalist)

The family that owns The New York Times were slaveholders (New York Post)

Nearly 50% of Americans believe mail-in voting is vulnerable to significant levels of fraud. The other 50% is delusional. (The Daily Caller)

GOP gallery of nightmares: 10 policies Biden and Democrats would ram through after axing filibuster (Washington Examiner)

Vandalizing American history: A list of 64 toppled, defaced, or removed statues (The Daily Signal)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Radiation emerges as an intriguing — and divisive — treatment for Covid-19

Back in 2013, toxicologist Edward Calabrese and a colleague at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, were combing over a cache of century-old data on low-dose radiation therapy, hunting for evidence on the scientific idea that small doses of certain poisons might actually be beneficial. They found small amounts of radiation were surprisingly successful in combating pneumonia. Again and again, doctors reported symptoms subsided within hours of a single X-ray.

Hardly anyone took notice. Calabrese’s ideas had sometimes been brushed off by his peers as too out-there, and the idea of low-dose radiation as therapy had long been dismissed in favor of more modern treatments. The paper only gained a smattering of citations.

That all changed when Covid-19 snowballed into a crisis, fueling fresh interest in anything that might ease the devastating cases of pneumonia in some patients. At least 52,000 of the more than 135,000 deaths due to Covid-19 in the U.S. have involved pneumonia, according to federal health data.

“Back in February, I started getting just dozens and dozens and dozens of emails from radiation oncologists —people who treat cancer patients with targeted radiation. And they had come across our paper and they thought that this might be a vehicle by which they could help suffering and dying Covid patients perhaps survive,” he said. “Clinical trials are now going on across the country.”

There are at least a dozen trials worldwide testing low-dose radiation therapy, or LDRT, as a treatment for pneumonia related to Covid-19, some spurred by the same historical data Calabrese and colleagues scoured years ago. The theory: Targeted radiation to the lungs will halt the out-of-control inflammation responsible for the devastating pneumonia that bookends the course of some Covid-19 patients.

But the revived interest in radiotherapy has sparked a debate among physicians and researchers, who are divided on whether the idea is even ready for test-driving in clinical trials. With little known about the way LDRT works on inflamed lungs, some experts say it might exacerbate respiratory damage, while introducing the additional risk of cancer. Others say patients participating in the trials may suffer by missing out on more promising treatments.

On the other side, though, are experts who say there’s a clear and urgent need for Covid-19 treatments that work, particularly for cases that become severe. Antibiotics can help treat cases of pneumonia from bacterial infections, but not those caused by viruses. Those experts argue compelling historical data gives LDRT a promising head start.

“It seems to be such an almost emotional topic,” said Dörthe Schaue, a radiation oncologist at UCLA, on the debate raging over LDRT. “You get two extremes on the spectrum and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, where you have to consider all the pluses and minuses.”

The new wave of low-dose radiation trials are registered at academic centers and hospitals around the world, including in Italy, Spain, Iran, India, and the U.S. The studies are recruiting anywhere from five to 106 Covid-19 patients with pneumonia, and half require participants to be at least 40 years of age.

Arnab Chakravarti, chair of Ohio State’s radiation and oncology department, is spearheading two of the four LDRT trials in the U.S. The first trial, PREVENT, will enroll around 100 oxygen-dependent Covid-19 patients at up to 20 hospitals around the country. The second trial, VENTED, is limited to Ohio State, where it will recruit 24 critically-ill patients who require ventilator support. Unlike PREVENT, VENTED is open to participants as young as 18.

Chakravarti hypothesizes that LDRT will tamp down the unchecked inflammation that ultimately overwhelms the lungs of some Covid-19 patients. In these individuals, immune cells overreact to the virus and secrete a dangerous excess of proinflammatory cytokines, known as a “cytokine storm.”

“The severe illness and death that we see from Covid-19 pneumonia appear to be mostly due to the inflammatory response to the infection in the lung tissues,” said radiation oncologist David Kozono, who is launching a LDRT trial at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “The idea is that low-dose lung radiation has the potential to reduce this inflammatory response.”

Some experts have theorized that small amounts of radiation might flip a switch on these immune cells so that they release soothing, anti-inflammatory cytokines instead, though this is just one among many proposed mechanisms.

“The history of the utilization of ultra-low-dose radiation for viral pneumonia actually dates back to the 1920s and ’30s and ’40s — just post the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918,” Chakravarti noted. He said literature from that era indicates that LDRT was effective in 75 to 90% of influenza-induced viral pneumonia cases, though the therapy “fell out of favor” after the development of antiviral therapies and vaccines.

Beyond historical data, Chakravarti said that his hypothesis is staked in recent evidence from an interim analysis of a clinical trial at Emory testing low-dose radiation in ten patients with Covid-19. All of the first five patients, averaging 90 years of age, were alive two weeks after treatment, and researchers reported three patients were weaned off oxygen within 24 hours of receiving radiation.



Why many medicines are so costly

Question:  How much do drug companies spend on research and development to bring a new medicine to market?

Findings:  In this study, which included 63 of 355 new therapeutic drugs and biologic agents approved by the US Food and Drug Administration between 2009 and 2018, the estimated median capitalized research and development cost per product was $985 million, counting expenditures on failed trials. Data were mainly accessible for smaller firms, products in certain therapeutic areas, orphan drugs, first-in-class drugs, therapeutic agents that received accelerated approval, and products approved between 2014 and 2018.

Meaning:  This study provides an estimate of research and development costs for new therapeutic agents based on publicly available data; differences from previous studies may reflect the spectrum of products analyzed and the restricted availability of data in the public domain.


Importance:  The mean cost of developing a new drug has been the subject of debate, with recent estimates ranging from $314 million to $2.8 billion.

Objective:  To estimate the research and development investment required to bring a new therapeutic agent to market, using publicly available data.

Design and Setting:  Data were analyzed on new therapeutic agents approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 2009 and 2018 to estimate the research and development expenditure required to bring a new medicine to market. Data were accessed from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Drugs@FDA database, and, alongside published data on clinical trial success rates.

Exposures:  Conduct of preclinical and clinical studies of new therapeutic agents.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Median and mean research and development spending on new therapeutic agents approved by the FDA, capitalized at a real cost of capital rate (the required rate of return for an investor) of 10.5% per year, with bootstrapped CIs. All amounts were reported in 2018 US dollars.

Results:  The FDA approved 355 new drugs and biologics over the study period. Research and development expenditures were available for 63 (18%) products, developed by 47 different companies. After accounting for the costs of failed trials, the median capitalized research and development investment to bring a new drug to market was estimated at $985.3 million (95% CI, $683.6 million-$1228.9 million), and the mean investment was estimated at $1335.9 million (95% CI, $1042.5 million-$1637.5 million) in the base case analysis. Median estimates by therapeutic area (for areas with ≥5 drugs) ranged from $765.9 million (95% CI, $323.0 million-$1473.5 million) for nervous system agents to $2771.6 million (95% CI, $2051.8 million-$5366.2 million) for antineoplastic and immunomodulating agents. Data were mainly accessible for smaller firms, orphan drugs, products in certain therapeutic areas, first-in-class drugs, therapeutic agents that received accelerated approval, and products approved between 2014 and 2018. Results varied in sensitivity analyses using different estimates of clinical trial success rates, preclinical expenditures, and cost of capital.

Conclusions and Relevance:  This study provides an estimate of research and development costs for new therapeutic agents based on publicly available data. Differences from previous studies may reflect the spectrum of products analyzed, the restricted availability of data in the public domain, and differences in underlying assumptions in the cost calculations.



If there is a second wave of Covid, the Swedish approach will have been right all along

Not going into lockdown was described as “a mad experiment” at the time, but Sweden can look to the winter with less trepidation than most

There have been times during this pandemic that I’ve felt as if my memory is playing tricks on me. I’m sure I remember scientists telling us that a second wave was inevitable. I could have sworn I saw a graph at the press briefings showing a scary bell curve of infections in the spring and an even scarier one in the winter. I’m sure I heard experts explaining that the only way COVID-19 would disappear would be when herd immunity was achieved, either through natural antibodies or vaccination.

Official documents reassure me that I am not going mad. The minutes from a Sage meeting in March say: “Sage was unanimous that measures seeking to completely suppress the spread of Covid-19 will cause a second peak.” As far as I can tell, this is still their view. Suppressing a wintry virus during the sunniest spring on record could turn out to be no great achievement. The worst may be yet to come.

One country can look to the winter with less trepidation than most. Last week, a study suggested that 30 per cent of Swedes have built up immunity to the virus. It would help explain why Covid-19 has been fizzling out in Sweden. If a measure of herd immunity also helps them avoid the second wave, Sweden’s take-it-on-the-chin approach will be vindicated.

Not going into lockdown was described as “a mad experiment” by Marcus Carlsson of Lund University in March. Dr Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute accused the government of “leading us to catastrophe”, and predicted that the healthcare system would collapse unless a lockdown was introduced. Every model predicted an exponential rise in infections.

With half of humanity living under lockdown, photos of Swedes socialising in bars and restaurants seemed like communiqués from another dimension. Aside from a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, life carried on as normal. Children aged under 16 went to school. No one wore a mask. This, surely, was the calm before a terrible storm.

The catastrophe never arrived. As in most other European countries, Sweden saw a peak in Covid-19 deaths in the first half of April followed by a steady decline. Shown on a graph, the pattern of mortality is indistinguishable from that of many countries that locked down. Its daily death toll rarely exceeded double figures and has been below 30 since mid-June. As in Britain, half the deaths were in care homes and two-thirds of those who died were aged 80 or over.

Once it became clear that their apocalyptic prophecy had failed, critics of the Swedish approach turned to post hoc rationalisation. They cited low population density and a high rate of single person households as the explanation for Sweden’s lucky escape. Some claimed that social distancing was a natural part of Swedish culture or that Swedes did not talk enough for virus droplets to be transmitted. Some of this was true and much of it was nonsense, but none of it had been mentioned in March when Sweden was said to be doomed.

It is now considered gauche to compare Sweden to Britain, Italy, Spain or any other country that had a higher death rate. You are only allowed to compare it to its immediate neighbours where the death rate is lower. Mention the UK or, heaven forbid, Belgium (which locked down a week before the UK and has the highest COVID-19 death rate in the world) and you will be told that they should have locked down sooner. The proposition becomes unfalsifiable. Heads they win, tails you lose.

The goalposts have shifted. The purpose of lockdowns is no longer to protect health systems, but to prevent death at any cost. New Zealand has managed to eradicate the virus for the time being, but only by kissing goodbye to its biggest export industry – tourism – which sustains ten per cent of its economy and fourteen per cent of its workforce. Isolated from the rest of the world, it is a prisoner to a vaccine that may never be found.

Australia thought it had beaten the virus, but parts of Victoria are back under lockdown after new cases were found. There have been resurgences in the United States, Israel and South Africa, to name but three. Winning the battle against the first wave may prove to be like the invasion of Iraq, merely a prelude to a long war of attrition that wastes more money and lives.

 If there is hope of avoiding a second wave, it lies in contact tracing, but the NHS Test and Trace remains unproven in summer, let alone winter, and businesses will still be faced with crippling social distancing rules and – worst of all – the public’s fear of going out. For all the talk of ‘Super Saturday’, only five per cent of us went to the pub last weekend. A recent survey found that only 21 per cent of us would be comfortable eating in a restaurant.

And what of the costs? Sweden will not be unscathed by the global recession. Its GDP is expected to decline by 5.3 per cent this year. But GDP is expected to fall by 8.7 per cent in the Eurozone, by 9.7 per cent in Britain and by more than 10 per cent in Italy, France and Spain. Sweden has not put its children’s education on hold. It has not put its citizens under soul-sapping house arrest. If a vaccine goes into production by autumn, the Swedes will look reckless. But that is not going to happen - and winter is coming.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Monday, July 20, 2020

Left-Wingers Are Hysterical About Federal Agents Policing Protests in Portland

The New York Times headline is scary: “Federal Agents Unleash Militarized Crackdown on Portland.” They’re “unleashing” a “crackdown”? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Naturally, the hysterical left is having a cow. While a decent argument could be made that even if Portland authorities aren’t doing their jobs, the feds should keep their noses out of local police matters, this is too much.

Fox News: One protester, Mark Pettibone, told The Washington Post men in green military fatigues and generic “police” patches jumped out of an unmarked minivan early Wednesday and arrested him as he walked home from what he characterized as a peaceful protest. He told the Post he was scared because he did not know who detained him. Reports of similar incidents have drawn condemnation from civil rights groups.

Some Democratic officials accused the Trump administration of sending unidentifiable agents.

“Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., on Twitter, along with a video of a protester being arrested and placed into an unmarked van. “These Trump/Barr tactics designed to eliminate any accountability are absolutely unacceptable in America, and must end.”

DHS says that’s nonsense, that their agents were uniformed and identified themselves. The spokesman said they weren’t wearing name badges because of fears for the agents’ personal safety. The same reasoning justifies an unmarked van. In a city where cop cars are being lit up like 4th of July fireworks, it’s a wise move to use an unmarked van.

The situation in Portland was bad — is bad. Federal property has been vandalized and destroyed. And since the local authorities appear powerless to stop the mayhem, someone in the federal government — presumably the president of the United States — decided that order had to be restored.

But is that really his job to do? Portland is not a federal city. It’s a city in the sovereign state of Oregon. The governor, the mayor, or the chief of police could put a stop to the demonstrations all by themselves. They are not powerless. But they have chosen not to.

It’s not for the president to say if it’s a wise choice or a good choice. That’s for the people of Oregon to decide. The local and state authorities have not requested federal assistance. They have, in fact, asked all federal law enforcement personnel to leave. They claim that the presence of federal law enforcement is not helping “to contain or de-escalate the situation, it’s obviously having exactly the opposite impact,” according to Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Well, that may or may not be true. Wheeler doesn’t acknowledge the counter-argument that is equally valid: that doing nothing encourages the violence. Be that as it may, it’s still troubling that any federal law enforcement personnel are assigned to do anything more than protect federal property. These CBP agents appear to be ranging far afield to protect federal structures.

CBP agents were sent to Portland to protect federal property. Federal officers have charged at least 13 people with crimes related to the protests so far, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Thursday. Some have been detained by the federal courthouse, which has been the scene of protests. But others were reportedly grabbed blocks away.

On Thursday night, federal officers reportedly deployed tear gas and fired non-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters hours after Wolf’s visit.

Wheeler and local officials are deluding themselves if they think playing nice with anarchists and barbarians will do anything except encourage more violence and destruction. The proof is in 50 nights of lawless behavior, including the destruction of property, which Wheeler and his cohorts might not look at as important. But people’s lives are being ruined because the mayor isn’t doing his job.

But enough people in Portland are apparently satisfied with what Wheeler is doing. There are no clarion calls for his resignation from his fellow politicians. So the question becomes: if the people of Portland are OK with what’s going on, why should the federal government care?



Florida Health Officer Labels Motorcycle Crash Victim a Coronavirus Death

An individual who was killed in a fatal motorcycle crash in Florida was recently listed as a COVID-19 death for the Sunshine State, according to a state health official.

The truth about the death was brought to light after FOX 35 News asked Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino whether the two individuals in their 20s who were listed as coronavirus deaths had any underlying conditions.

“The first one didn’t have any,” Pino said. “He died in a motorcycle accident.”

Pino was then questioned on whether the data from the individual who passed away in the motorcycle crash had been removed from the system, to which Pino said, “I don’t think so. I have to double-check.”



Trump's Outstanding Deregulation Record

Deregulation has been one of President Donald Trump’s best calling cards over the last three-plus years, especially given how much he has done to undo the work of his predecessor. Trump’s reelection pitch is that we need to move forward, not backward. In remarks Thursday on the South Lawn of the White House, he declared, “For every one new regulation added, nearly eight federal regulations have been terminated” by his administration. He insisted, “We must never return to the days of soul-crushing regulation that ravaged our cities, devastated our workers, drained our vitality right out of our people, and thoroughly crippled our nation’s prized competitive edge.”

Ever the showman, Trump recited a long list of his deregulatory accomplishments while flanked by blue and red pickup trucks, symbolizing the two parties. Both were heavily laden with stacks of weights, though a crane labeled “Trump administration” lifted the burden from the red truck to deftly illustrate the massive weight of regulation.

Trucks were an appropriate metaphor given that, earlier this year, Trump rolled back Barack Obama’s onerous fuel-economy standards. Arguably more significantly, Trump’s biggest move this week was to cut environmental red tape for infrastructure projects. “Environmental review” would routinely bog down infrastructure building for an average of 4.5 years and in many cases far longer. Trump has now reduced that to no more than two years for environmental impact statements, and just one for environmental assessments. It’s hard to overstate the positive impact this change will have on building highways, gas pipelines, and other needed projects.

In general, Obama’s heavy-handed regulation stagnated the economy for eight long years, whereas Trump’s red-tape cutting unshackled businesses and led to a solid economic expansion — an expansion that put our nation in position to withstand the dual assault of a pandemic and the resulting shutdowns.

Remember, regulation is a form of taxation. The president claimed, “Our historic regulatory relief is providing the average American household an extra $3,100 every single year.” By contrast, according to The Washington Times, “The Trump campaign said Thursday that the federal government during the Obama administration’s eight years imposed $872 billion in new regulations on the U.S. economy, creating 583 million hours’ worth of paperwork to comply with.” Trump said that “cost the average American an additional $2,300 per year.”

Joe Biden wants to turn back the clock and restore his former boss’s punishing regulatory regime … and then some. His newly proposed Green New Deal alone would hamstring the economy in disastrous ways, all while costing future generations big time.

“Our entire economy and our very way of life are threatened by Biden’s plans to transform our nation and subjugate our communities through the blunt force instrument of federal regulation at a level that you haven’t even seen yet,” Trump warned. He added that if Biden and a Democrat Senate are elected, “The American Dream would be sniffed out so quickly and replaced with a socialist disaster.”

Indeed, that kind of tyrannical economic devastation is on the ballot this November. Unless voters reject it.



Lying is what Leftists do

White House press secretary says science matters. Leftmedia reports the opposite

It isn’t news that the mainstream media is pulling for Clueless Joe Biden, or that it reflexively assumes the worst in every bit of reporting on the Trump administration. What’s news, though, is just how brazen it’s become in its willingness to lie.

A White House press briefing yesterday provided just such an example. Indeed, it was the confluence of two opportunities — a chance to attack Donald Trump’s press secretary and a chance to help the Left keep our kids out of the classroom this fall — which made the media’s urge to lie irresistible. As The Daily Wire reports, “Several left-wing reporters misleadingly quoted White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday, falsely asserting that McEnany indicated that the administration’s position on opening schools was that science regarding the COVID-19 pandemic should not be taken into consideration.”

Now, before you dismiss this as a complicated case of she-said, that-Trump-hating-army-of-anti-American-scoundrels-said, let’s spend a minute — just a minute — looking at the videotape evidence from The Washington Post itself.

What part of a statement that includes “The science is very clear on this” and “The science is on our side here” and “We encourage localities and states to just simply follow the science” would cause an honest human being — much less a group of them — to instead run with a headline reading, “The science should not stand in the way of this”?

Yet that’s exactly what the Post did. And what The New York Times did. And what USA Today did. And what NBC News did. And what Yahoo! News did. And what PBS News Hour did. And what C-SPAN did. And what CNN’s Jim Acosta did. And, well, you get the idea.

Hey, media: Collude much?

It got so bad, though, that even CNN’s Trump-deranged Jake Tapper felt compelled to call out his colleagues. “Folks,” he tweeted, “read the ENTIRE McEnany comment about ‘the science should not stand in the way’ of opening schools. She’s arguing that the science is on the side of those who want to open them, she cites a JAMA study. I’m not taking a position on the matter but be fair.”

Two cheers for Jake.

It’d be encouraging if those in the media were sufficiently ashamed of this episode to do some soul searching, but the scorpion can’t not sting the frog. It’s what they do.

Power Line’s John Hinderaker summed it up best: “It is impossible to overstate how low ‘journalism’ has fallen in the United States,” he began. And he ended with this: “A sound adage holds that you should never assume malice when stupidity is a sufficient explanation. Here, the only explanation is malice. No one is as stupid as America’s reporters and editors pretend to be. The sooner their companies go out of business, the better.”




Donald Trump's list of 42 disastrous things Joe Biden would do as president (Breitbart)

Republican National Committee restricts convention attendance over virus concerns (AP)

Attorney General William Barr deservedly slams Hollywood and Big Tech for "kowtowing" to the Chinese Communist Party (The Federalist)

U.S. drug overdose deaths resurge to a record 72,000 in 2019 (The New York Times)

Who'd a thunk it? Vaping rate among naturally rebellious youth increased with anti-vaping campaigns (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

Florida and Texas both set coronavirus death records Thursday — but both are still far short of New York and New Jersey (Forbes)

Even mild obesity linked to severe coronavirus infection and death (Newsweek)

U.S. workers filed 1.3 million jobless claims last week as pandemic intensifies (National Review)

Fixed 30-year mortgage rates fall below 3% for the first time ever (UK Daily Mail)

Retail sales pop 7.5% — more than expected in June (CNBC)

Additional hospitals face bankruptcy due to moratorium on elective surgeries and ER volume drop (Washington Examiner)

"Does not have the legal authority": Georgia Governor Brian Kemp sues Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over defiant face-mask order (NPR)

But by all means, let's concentrate on a harmless nickname! More than a dozen women allege sexual harassment and verbal abuse by former Washington Redskins team employees (The Washington Post)

Three churches sue Governor Newsom after California bans singing in places of worship (Fox News)

What could possibly go wrong? Prison populations down 8% amid coronavirus outbreak (AP)

ViacomCBS fires rapper Nick Cannon for "hateful speech" and spreading "anti-Semitic conspiracy theories" (CNS News)

Doh! Iranian spies accidentally leaked videos of themselves hacking (Wired)

United Kingdom ISIS bride can return to country to challenge citizenship annulment after leaving for Syria in 2015, court rules (American Military News)

New York City eliminated its anti-crime unit. Violent crime has surged. (The Daily Signal)

Lockdowns and protests causing big spike in child trafficking (The Federalist)

Policy: The State Department's human-rights report marks a turning point (National Review)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Sunday, July 19, 2020

BRITAIN may already have enough herd immunity to prevent a second wave of coronavirus, scientists have claimed

Experts suggest a sizeable number of people may have immunity because of Covid-19's similarity to the common cold.  This confirms the theory of Swiss researcher Beda M Stadler, covered on this blog on July 8

While super-spreaders infect many, it appears some people are effectively super-blockers and enjoy natural resistance to the killer bug, say Oxford University boffins.

The scientists have written about "host resistance" to the new virus and a possibly lower threshold of herd immunity needed to fend off further devastating Covid-19 outbreaks.

Their paper, published on Medrxiv, says that it is widely believed the threshold needed to enjoy herd immunity against the new disease is more than 50 per cent.

But, its research suggests that if just 20 per cent of the UK's population has in-built resistance to Covid-19, a second wave is not inevitable.

Herd immunity refers to where enough people in a population have immunity to an infection to be able to effectively stop that disease from spreading.

For herd immunity, it doesn’t matter whether the protection comes from vaccination, or from people having had the disease. The crucial thing is that they are immune.

The Oxford Uni study suggests the epidemiological limit to reach herd immunity "may be greatly reduced if a fraction of the population is unable to transmit the virus".

This is feasible, they add, if people have inbuilt "resistance or cross-protection from exposure to seasonal coronaviruses".

The report says: "Significant reductions in expected mortality can also be seen in settings where a fraction of the population is resistant to infection."

Results "suggest that sufficient herd-immunity may already be in place to substantially mitigate a potential second wave", the researchers add.

"It has been evident from the outset that the risk of severe disease and death from Covid-19 is not uniformly distributed across all age classes.

"The bulk of deaths among the over 12 million cases reported worldwide are occurring among older age classes and those with [pre-existing conditions].

“It is further becoming clear that risk of infection is also not uniformly distributed across the population," the reports says.

Scientists at Oxford point to those managing to fend off the virus as having "high functioning immunity".

And, if antibodies to the disease are built up in "10-20 per cent" of the population, "this is entirely compatible with local levels of immunity having approached or even exceeded the herd immunity threshold.

"In which case the risk and scale of resurgence is lower than currently perceived," say the researchers.


The journal article behind the story above:

The impact of host resistance on cumulative mortality and the threshold of herd immunity for SARS-CoV-2

Jose Lourenco et al.


It is widely believed that the herd immunity threshold (HIT) required to prevent a resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 is in excess of 50% for any epidemiological setting. Here, we demonstrate that HIT may be greatly reduced if a fraction of the population is unable to transmit the virus due to innate resistance or cross-protection from exposure to seasonal coronaviruses. The drop in HIT is proportional to the fraction of the population resistant only when that fraction is effectively segregated from the general population; however, when mixing is random, the drop in HIT is more precipitous. Significant reductions in expected mortality can also be observed in settings where a fraction of the population is resistant to infection. These results help to explain the large degree of regional variation observed in seroprevalence and cumulative deaths and suggest that sufficient herd-immunity may already be in place to substantially mitigate a potential second wave.



Media Should Do a Mea Culpa as French Analysis Offers a Stunning Observation About Hydroxychloroquine Use

We have been told repeatedly by health experts to demonstrate the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and the other meds prescribed with it we need strict clinical trials. These are studies where some patients receive medication, and some do not. For many healthcare providers, this is a noxious thought if there is evidence to believe a treatment may work.

How do you ethically deny a potential treatment to an eligible patient to conduct a study? So-called double-blind studies described above are the preferred method advocated by Dr. Fauci. These double-blind studies allow people to die in the name of “science” if a drug is effective. They are in the “control group.”

There are ethical issues with this approach that researches at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center addressed with a new concurrent trial based on machine learning developed following the H1N1 pandemic. This method has been ignored by the NIH and FDA approval processes.

Such was the fate of the hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc combination. Scientifically there was every reason to believe it would work. Clinically, doctors saw results when directly treating patients. Several recommended that the drug be produced in sufficient amounts and given early and outpatient.

President Trump expressed optimism based on studies in France and China, and the media freaked out. The president’s political opposition would go on to cling to any proof the drug would not work and suppress any information that it would. This politicization culminated in the horrific study published by Lancet that the publication quietly retracted.

However, the damage was already done. The World Health Organization suspended trials immediately after the study published in Lancet. Switzerland, which had been using the treatment, prohibited the use of the drug in COVID-19 shortly after that on May 27th. The retraction was so stealth that the ban was not lifted in Switzerland until June 11th.

This window allowed French researchers to analyze what happened in the entire population of COVID-19 patients during the ban. They used the case fatality rate (CFR) as the measure observed. The graph is stunning.


It also the only period where the Swiss CFR approached or exceeded that in France where there has been no use of hydroxychloroquine outside a few isolated trials.

The CFR returned to the highest level it had been since early in the pandemic at over 15%. Upon resumption of treatment with hydroxychloroquine, it returned to below 5%.

For those who are not convinced of the observational result, we conducted a statistical difference test by comparing the three periods: May 28th – June 8th, June 9th – 22nd, June 23rd – July 6th . The period from June 9th till the 22nd is that in which the index increased some 13 days after the suspension of hydroxychloroquine. There is of course an effect of delay between stopping the prescription of the drug and possible deaths, which explains the delay of 13 days.

We therefore observe that for the period from the 28th of May till the 8th of June, the index is 2.39% and then drops to 11.52% or 4.8 times more and then drops to 3%.

When testing for statistical significance between the various observations, the difference is significant at 99% with a p <0.0001. 13 days after the HCQ prescription was resumed, the index dropped to 3% and this was again a significant effect.

For those who have forgotten statistics, a p-value of 0.05 or less indicates statistical significance. If the graph is not convincing, a confidence interval of 99% in a statistical analysis based on full population data should be.

Between this information and a study published by researchers in India, it is time for the media to do a mea culpa. Their hysteria convinced politicians in the United States to ban or restrict the drug. As Dr. David Samadi said on The Larry O’Connor Show, the decision to use this treatment needs to be left between a doctor and a patient. He has been disturbed by the interference by the government into the doctor-patient relationship.

Dr. Samadi re-emphasized the use of hydroxychloroquine cocktail is effective in early COVID-19 according to clinical experience and multiple studies. The FDA and NIH need to tell governors and other officials who have banned its use to lift their bans ASAP and tell pharmacists to stop questioning doctors who prescribe it.

It is far preferable to keep people out of the hospital using an old, inexpensive, and demonstrably safe and effective medication combination. There is no reason other than profit to wait until patients are hospitalized to get a new medication IV. If the media or the public health agencies cared about public health, this would be broadcast loudly and often. It is becoming increasingly clear they care more about politics.




Trump shakes up campaign leadership, demotes manager Brad Parscale and promotes Chris Christie campaign veteran Bill Stepien (The Hill)

Liberty University slaps New York Times with $10 million suit for "made up" coronavirus story (Washington Examiner)

U.S. weighs sweeping and deserved travel ban on Chinese Communist Party members (The New York Times)

"Disrupt and destroy MS-13": DOJ announces first-ever terrorism charges in nationwide gang crackdown (Fox News)

The Trump administration said it would no longer require foreign students to attend in-person classes during the coronavirus pandemic in order to remain in the country (The New York Times)

Florida department of health exposed for massively overreporting positive cases (The Blaze)

"I feel fine": Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt tests positive (The Daily Wire)

Can you get infected twice? Researchers say possibility is "certainly real" (USA Today)

China economy expands 3.2% after 6.8% contraction in previous quarter (Time)

August surprise: Tsunami of bankruptcies forecast as government aid runs dry (The Washington Times)

As frivolous lawsuits surge, liability reform remains top GOP priority (Washington Examiner)

Walmart will require shoppers to wear masks; other retailers urged to follow (NPR)

Atlanta police charge suspect in the perverse death of eight-year-old black girl Secoriea Turner (Fox News)

National Museum of African American History and Culture publishes multi-racist graphic linking "rational linear thinking" and "nuclear family" to white culture (National Review)

Court renders unconstitutional part of major Virginia gun control measure that would have virtually outlawed private handgun purchases for people under 21 (The Washington Free Beacon)

Policy: Joe Biden bends the knee to AOC on climate (Washington Examiner)

California rejected 100,000 mail-in ballots because of mistakes (AP)

Banks stand to make $18 billion in PPP processing fees (The Intercept)

NBA bans custom jerseys with "FreeHongKong," but allows "Burn Jews" and "KillCops" (The Federalist)

Local governments weigh major tax hikes to plug coronavirus-induced shortfalls (Fox News)

Policy: The two-party system isn't the problem. It's nationalization. (Washington Examiner)

Mainstream media mocks rise in crime, victims (Boston Herald)

Los Angeles County's black DA blasts Black Lives Matter for targeting her, showing up at her home, and speaks out against abolishing police (The Blaze)

Wisconsin's vote-by-mail looked bad. It was actually worse. (Hot Air)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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