Tuesday, May 04, 2021



4 May, 2021

What we know about the Indian B.1.617 variant of coronavirus

India has recorded the world's sharpest spike in coronavirus infections this month, with political and financial capitals New Delhi and Mumbai running out of hospital beds, oxygen and medicines.

Scientists are studying what led to an unexpected surge, and particularly whether a variant of the novel coronavirus first detected in India is to blame.

The variant, named B.1.617, has raised global concern after being reported in some 17 countries including Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the United States, Singapore and Fiji.

Here's what we know about it:

How does the B.1.617 variant differ from regular COVID-19?

The B.1.617 variant contains two key mutations to the outer spike portion of the virus, referred to as E484Q and L452R.

Both are separately found in many other coronavirus variants, but this is the first time they have been reported together.

Virologist Shahid Jameel explained that a "double mutation in key areas of the virus's spike protein may increase these risks and allow the virus to escape the immune system".

The spike protein is the part of the virus that it uses to penetrate human cells.

The WHO has described it as a "variant of interest", along with other strains with known risks, such as those first detected in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa, signifying a higher threat level.

Why India's crisis might be much worse than you imagined

Are variants driving the surge in cases? It's hard to say.

The WHO says more study is urgently needed. Laboratory-based studies of limited sample size suggested potential increased transmissibility, it concluded.

The picture is complicated because the highly transmissible B.117 variant first detected in the UK is behind spikes in some parts of India. In New Delhi, UK variant cases almost doubled during the second half of March.

The Indian variant, though, is widely present in Maharashtra, the country's hardest-hit state.

Prominent US disease modeller Chris Murray, from the University of Washington, said the sheer magnitude of infections in India in a short period of time suggested an "escape variant" may be overpowering any prior immunity from natural infections in those populations.

"That makes it most likely it's B.1.617," he said.

But gene sequencing data in India is sparse, and many cases are also being driven by the UK and South African variants.

Are vaccines effective against it?

White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said earlier this week that preliminary evidence from lab studies suggested Covaxin, a vaccine developed in India, appeared capable of neutralizing the variant.

Public Health England said it was working with international partners but that there was currently no evidence that the Indian variant and two related variants caused more severe disease or rendered the vaccines currently deployed less effective.

***********************************

China's bid to woo the world with vaccines is backfiring: surge of Covid cases in Chile etc

Chile used a Chinese vaccine in one of the world's fastest vaccination drives, but then saw a strange surge in Covid cases. In the UAE, some recipients had to be given a third injection after two were found to deliver insufficient immunity.

Other nations have been left infuriated by supply failures. Turkey's president rebuked China's foreign minister over shortfalls that forced the closure of vaccination sites, and now cases have exploded.

In Mexico, delays have forced the postponement of second doses.

This weekend, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is weighing up available data to decide whether to give emergency use listing to two key Chinese vaccines, a safety endorsement that guides regulatory agencies around the world.

The move comes amid concerns over the lack of peer-reviewed studies and published data on clinical trials of the vaccines, unlike those developed by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson that have received a WHO listing.

'We don't have a lot of clarity about them, which is very unusual,' says Peter English, a British expert on vaccines and communicable diseases, who is concerned about the wide range of results from countries using Chinese vaccines.

Chong Ja Ian, professor of political science at the National University of Singapore, told the Washington Post his government had accepted a Chinese vaccine to avoid giving offence to Beijing but could not approve use given its limited data. 'Singapore has options, unlike some of the countries which have received [the Chinese vaccine] Sinovac,' he added.

There are two main Chinese vaccines being sent around the world. The first to be reviewed by WHO is made by Sinopharm, a huge state-owned firm that claimed 79 per cent efficacy – impressive but significantly lower than jabs made by Western or Russian rivals.

Another by Sinovac, which has distributed more than 260 million doses worldwide, varied in trials from 50.7 per cent efficacy in Brazil – marginally above the 50 per cent threshold deemed acceptable for use – to more than 83 per cent in Turkey. The results of an earlier trial were even worse: the jab was estimated to be just 49.6 per cent effective against symptomatic cases, a figure that dropped to 35 per cent when asymptomatic Covid infections were included.

Studies in Chile found alarmingly low levels of protection after the first shot, with one reporting a single dose to be only three per cent effective, while a second found it was 16 per cent effective, rising to 67 per cent after the second shot.

These figures, along with the arrival of more virulent strains and a relaxation of rules, might help to explain why Chile's hospitals were overwhelmed with patients as cases rose to record levels last month, despite an impressively fast vaccine rollout. Chile has vaccinated more than four in ten citizens, not far behind British and Israeli rates – yet its confirmed fatality rate from Covid is 16 times higher than the UK, with ten times more cases.

Such figures are a shattering blow to China's efforts to promote its pharmaceutical industry, which has been plagued by scandals and low trust within its own borders, as well as setting back global efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

'This suggests Chinese vaccine science is not as advanced as in other areas,' said Nikolai Petrovsky, a vaccine developer and professor of medicine at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.

Prof Petrovsky said China was relying largely on older technologies that use inactivated viruses mixed with aluminium-based compounds, called adjuvants, that stimulate human immune systems. This well-established process is similar to how vaccines have been made for a century, but it is harder to ensure quality control and eliminate variability when inactivated viruses are rushed into mass production, compared with modern genetic techniques being harnessed by the West.

'Unless Chinese firms can improve standards and provide data to show consistent effectiveness, their vaccines are likely to be used only by desperate countries where any vaccine may be attractive, particularly if provided for free,' said Prof Petrovsky.

Last week, the EU warned that China's vaccine diplomacy is backed by 'disinformation and manipulation efforts to undermine trust in Western-made vaccines'. 'Russia and China are using state-controlled media, networks of proxy media outlets and social media to achieve these goals.'

******************************************

Welcome to the promised land

by Jeff Jacoby

FOR IMMIGRANTS who come to America from a dictatorship or a theocracy, writes Roya Hakakian, "the hardest task of all" is figuring out "how to go about the business of living." A question that never even occurs to native-born Americans — "How do free people live?" — is one that immigrants from all but the most privileged backgrounds must grapple with.

Having entered the United States as a refugee from Iran in 1985, Hakakian knows firsthand how disorienting freedom can be to those who grew up without it.

"What is the shape of a day," she asks in A Beginner's Guide to America, her compelling and insightful portrait of the immigrant experience, "that is not fitted between the hours of official curfew or electricity outage? What is a night without fear? What is one that does not end at sundown because bars, discos, music, dancing, and gambling are not banned?" In the old country, it took all of one's mental and emotional energy to resist the government's oppression. In America, she tells newcomers who are going through what she once went through, the challenges are of a very different sort — not the least of which is getting used to a society in which freedom is taken for granted and the pursuit of happiness is a national ambition.

There is no shortage of books about immigration policy, immigration's history, or the economic and social effects of immigration. But "A Beginner's Guide to America" is something different. Written in the form of a manual for new immigrants, it is intended as a window for US-born natives on what the process of Americanization feels like to those going through it.

Hakakian, who came to the United States speaking no English, is today an accomplished essayist, poet, journalist, and human rights activist. She doesn't sugar-coat America's failings and imperfections, and her book notes candidly the strain of anti-immigrant hostility that has always existed here. Yet love and gratitude for her adopted country far outweigh the disappointments. However mean or obnoxious the nativists, she writes, "America remains the pioneer, however imperfectly, in accepting immigrants."

From the moment a newcomer arrives in America, signs of that acceptance are everywhere. At the airport, for example, "pinned on the ... chest pockets of the officers guiding everyone are name tags — 'Sanchez,' 'McWilliams,' 'Cho,' 'Al-Hamed' — and, by God, all of them are Americans!" This ethnic diversity is "the surest sign of America," Hakakian exults. "In the monochrome life you just left behind, such a motley human landscape would have been unthinkable."

Again and again, Hakakian calls attention to such seemingly unremarkable details, infusing them with insight into the American character.

Streets, she observes, are named for trees, birds, or natural features — not, as is common elsewhere, for "old wars and bygone enmities." There may be the occasional Washington Boulevard or Franklin Street, but no avenue or public square proclaims the glory of glowering ayatollahs or all-powerful despots.

Meaningful, too, is something else that to Americans is perfectly humdrum: Purchases can be returned for a refund.

This evokes disbelief in many immigrants, Hakakian says, since it would have been unthinkable in their native land. Yet it should evoke their joy and even patriotism as well, for "the exercise of returning goods is the surest sign of America's greatness to them." The right to get a refund demonstrates that the ordinary consumer is "formidable" here. More than that, she writes, it is evidence that in America, "anything is possible because a one-time decision need not be destiny."

Like foreign-born observers going back to Alexis de Tocqueville, Hakakian marvels at America's extraordinary culture of charity and volunteerism. "Americans do not help because you are one of them," she writes. "They help because that is what they do." They clean up beaches and register voters, coach Little League and support unknown artists, raise funds in a walkathon and serve meals at the homeless shelter. Hakakian describes America as a "land of strangers" who "bond through shared love."

Above all, perhaps, America is the "great equalizer," the land where "you can get to know the bogeyman of your past." Here, the detested or feared "other" of one's homeland — the Jew, the Pakistani, the Hutu, the Arab — is simply a fellow citizen. In America, someone an immigrant would once have shunned is the doctor who treats her illness or the mechanic who fixes her car. As foreigners become American, old bigotries fade away.

Lyrical and perceptive, A Beginner's Guide to America is an immigrant's love letter to the nation that took her in, and a timely reminder of what millions of human beings endure when they uproot their lives to become Americans by choice.

*****************************************

Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)

*************************************

Sunday, May 02, 2021


The risks of getting a J&J shot: What you need to know

In weighing all their options on Friday, federal regulators made the decision to lift their suspension of the use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for a simple reason: It might just save your life.

That’s true even for women aged 18-49. So far, 13 of 15 reported cases of rare blood clotting and low platelets among J&J shot recipients have occurred among that demographic, and regulators believe that it is likely that the vaccine is associated with the condition. Three have died and seven have been hospitalized, with four in intensive care. The remaining five have been discharged.

Connecticut has resumed offering J&J to residents in addition to the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines that have been available to residents since the beginning of the year. With 136,000 J&J doses in reserve and a number of walk-up clinics opening in coming days, residents will have more ways to get the single-shot option.

But will they? Or will the “pause” have scared away people that could benefit from it the most?

“Oftentimes people kind of overread the relative risks,” said Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer, at a press conference on Monday. “So there was a little bit of initial apprehension. I think it will take some time to see how that plays out.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration “have full confidence that this vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older,” FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock said during a press conference Friday night. The agencies chose not to limit the use of the vaccine by age or gender but to add a warning label for young women.

Here’s a walkthrough of the numbers behind the FDA’s decision — and what they mean. There are two parts to determining whether to take the J&J vaccine: Understanding the implications of making a decision, and understanding the implications of inaction in the face of the morbidity and mortality dangers posed by COVID-19.

What are the risks of getting the J&J vaccine?

Based on available data, the risk varies based on demographic characteristics. Reported cases have largely clustered by gender, although one man developed the condition in a Johnson & Johnson clinical trial. Among the 15 women, “the age ranged from 18 to 59, with a median age of 37,” said Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC during a press conference Friday night. These cases include the six that were initially reported; in addition, the CDC “broadened our case definition to make sure we were capturing all of the possible cases,” she said.

Part of the rationale behind the pause was also to help physicians understand how to treat the condition; the CDC specifically discouraged the use of heparin, a common blood thinner, when it put the pause into effect. “Of the additional cases that were reported to the CDC, none of them received heparin, likely improving their outcome and demonstrating that our systems worked,” Walensky said.

On Friday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices discussed additional updates on the management of the condition, including recommending other anti-coagulants and cautioning against platelet infusion. Current guidance also recommends a course of treatment with immunoglobulins “that appears to reverse this process in, at least, a number of people who received it,” said Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, during a press conference Friday night.

What are the benefits of getting the J&J vaccine for you?

While the risk of complications may vary by age and gender, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has shown to be effective at preventing illness across demographic groups, FDA data show. In the J&J trials, efficacy was measured in the relative reduction of the risk of contracting COVID-19 and was found to be 72%.

The efficacy rate is widely misunderstood to mean that people still have a 30% chance of contracting COVID after vaccination with J&J. This would only be true if infection rates were so high that everyone without protection was guaranteed to get sick with COVID-19, which isn’t the case. The true risk of contracting the virus after vaccination is much lower, depending on present rates of community transmission. Whatever the present risk of getting infected, it would reduce by 72% on average post-J&J vaccination.

But these rates don’t take into account the most serious outcome of contracting COVID-19: death. In the clinical trial, none of the J&J recipients died; 16 in the placebo group did.

The data also show that 28 days after vaccination, none of the J&J recipients required medical intervention, which was defined separately from severe COVID. Five people in the placebo group did, however.

What are the consequences for you of not getting vaccinated at all?

If vaccination carries risks, the decision not to get vaccinated carries greater risks.

The CDC’s Advisory Panel on Immunization Practices considered the chances of being hospitalized and dying of COVID against any risk posed by the vaccine and concluded that the vaccine was beneficial on balance for individuals of all demographics under consideration.

What are your other options?

Connecticut continues to receive the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, both of which use different biotechnology — based on mRNA — than the J&J, which is an adenovirus vaccine. The CDC has not identified any cases of these rare blood clots and low platelet counts among recipients of either; 5.2 million doses have been administered in the United States so far, per the CDC. Five potential cases of the rare clotting were identified but without the low platelet count observed in the case of the J&J vaccine.

“Individuals with questions about which vaccine is right for them should discuss their options with a medical provider,” Woodcock said.

Why are the CDC and FDA making this your decision?

Unlike some European regulators in the case of another adenovirus vaccine, the CDC and FDA did not limit the use of the J&J but chose instead to add a warning label.

Modeling shows that limiting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to individuals above 50 would have severely reduced the vaccine’s ability to prevent hospitalizations and deaths nationally in all transmission scenarios. Vaccination is as much about a community as it is about an individual; vaccines have been proven to be effective at reducing transmission of the disease in addition to conferring immunity upon their recipients. The estimates look at direct and indirect benefits of vaccination with J&J over a six-month period in the United States.

Population-level modeling aside, the CDC also wanted to be sensitive to the fact that “some people want a one-and-done. Some people will not have access to another vaccine in the near future, and I think that this risk trade-off is one that people have to individually measure for themselves,” Walensky said.

The public should take heart in the fact that the CDC was able to identify rare clots, act on the knowledge quickly and conduct “rational risk-benefit analysis, which was done in the open,” said Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health. “This should be reassuring to people.”

*************************************

The best vaccination strategy is simple: Focus on Americans 65 and older

Now that covid-19 vaccines are increasingly becoming available to people beyond health-care workers and those in long-term care, the question turns to who should be immunized next. For many people, the answer is essential workers. But while many workers face an elevated risk and should receive a vaccine soon, we believe the most ethically justified path forward is to focus on individuals 65 and older.

The primary reason to prioritize people in this age group is simple: They account for more than 80 percent of covid-19 deaths, even though they are only about 16 percent of the population. This disproportionate toll is why the Biden administration’s vaccine plan encourages states to expand vaccine eligibility to those who are 65 and older.

But while many places — such as D.C., New York and Florida — are converging on a 65-and-older strategy, whether seniors qualify for vaccination largely depends on where they live. In New Mexico and Connecticut, you need to be at least 75 years old. In Colorado and Nevada, 70 is old enough. And in Hawaii and Virginia, older adults must compete with many other people for the same limited vaccine supply, including essential workers.

******************************

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Gets Mugged by Reality

Antifa, that figment of right-wing fever dreams, may have finally found a believer in hard-left Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

You remember antifa. It’s the black-clad, Portland-based anarchist mob that New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler famously dismissed as “a myth that’s being spread only in Washington, DC.”

A “myth,” Jerry? Try telling that to Ted Wheeler.

As The Wall Street Journal editorial board reports, “A well-known politician on Friday denounced ‘self-described anarchists who engage in regular criminal destruction’ and want to ‘burn,’ ‘bash’ and ‘intimidate.’ He called for ‘higher bail’ and ‘tougher pretrial restrictions’ on rioters. And he pleaded with the public to cooperate with police and identify miscreants: ‘Our job is to unmask them, arrest them, and prosecute them.’ Donald Trump? Sheriff Arpaio? Nope. That was Portland, Ore., Mayor Ted Wheeler, the ├╝ber-progressive, who made a national reputation last year by apologizing for vandals and rioters he said were merely exercising their right to protest against an unjust America.”

All this is a humiliating flip-flop for the guy who enabled antifa to engage in a nearly year-long orgy of nonstop rioting, and the guy who last June vowed to defund his city’s police force. As The Oregonian’s Everton Bailey Jr. reported at the time, “Wheeler pledged the city will divert $12 million from the police bureau and other city departments to directly support communities of color, defund three police units including the gun violence reduction team and ban officers from using chokeholds as part of plans to reform the Portland Police Bureau.”

Wheeler, who’s also — get this — the city’s police commissioner, said, “My privilege as a white man, my privilege as the mayor and the leader of the institutions of power in this community I believe shielded me from time to time from the many difficult and uncomfortable truths about our history and about our society.”

Clearly, that mea culpa wasn’t good enough for antifa. Nor, we think, was it properly directed. Wheeler seemed to be trying to atone to the city’s black residents for his white privilege, but last time we checked, antifa was as lily-white as Wheeler.

In any case, as the Journal reports, unbridled antifa rioters “shot fireworks at law enforcement, firebombed government buildings, and set fire to cop cars and a police union hall” — all while the milquetoast mayor carried on like a modern-day Neville Chamberlain.

And now, he’s crying uncle. Yep, the guy who slashed $27 million from the city’s 2021 police funding, the guy who called Donald Trump’s decision to send in federal forces to quell the rioting last July “an attack on our democracy,” has finally been mugged by reality. He’s now begging for the citizens of Portland to start ratting out that mob he’s been trying to appease these many months.

As The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti reports, “Wheeler extended a city-wide state of emergency and begged for Portland residents to assist law enforcement in ‘unmasking’ and identifying members of the ‘self-described anarchist mob’ that have rioted through the city nearly every night since last May.”

Wheeler, it seems, has learned a valuable lesson in human nature: Weakness is provocative. Better late than never.

And who knows? Maybe Wheeler’s wisdom will wind its way north to Seattle, where the people clearly want law and order, and where feckless Mayor Jenny Durkan seems to be holding out hope for that Summer of Love.

*****************************************

Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)

*************************************

Saturday, May 01, 2021



Lawyer for Ashli Babbitt’s family announces major lawsuit

Shooter was an African-American

It has been months since the tragic death of Ashlu Babbitt and still, no one is being held accountable for her death in the so-called Capitol riots. After the Justice Department decided that there was no case and dropped all charges against the police officer involved in the shooting the Babbitt family has been understandably upset. Now, they are taking matters into their own hands and suing the Capitol Police Force.

“The family and I were disappointed in the Department of Justice’s decision on this, but my role is really to bring a civil action and in that way, vindicate her rights,” attorney Terry Roberts told Newsmax.

Roberts said the “clearly, the officer a required willfullness … he could clearly see that she was not armed” and thus the shooting was not justified, contending that the officer did not give Babbitt warning despite ample time to do so.

“This is a situation in which the officer could have easily arrested her if he had grounds to arrest her without using deadly force,” Roberts said. “This was an egregious act of excessive force.”

Of course, it was excessive force, and to make matters even worse was that the other officers in the vicinity stood by watching know that Babbitt was in mortal danger.

As mentioned earlier, the Biden Department of Justice dropped all charges related to an unidentified Capitol police officer’s shooting of Ashli Babbitt. The attorney for Ashli Babbitt spoke out against the decision in a statement.

“The shooting of Ashli Babbitt on January 6, 2021, by an unidentified U.S. Capitol Police Officer was an unjustified use of deadly force which violated her constitutional rights,” attorney Terrell N. Roberts III said.

“It is clear from video footage that Ashli did not pose a danger to the officer, or any other person when she was shot. Ashli was unarmed. She did not assault anyone. She did not threaten to harm anyone. There was no excuse for taking her life,” he added.

“It is a universal law enforcement standard that a police officer should use no more force than necessary to accomplish a lawful purpose,” Roberts continued. “At 5′ 2″ tall and 110 pounds, an arrest of Ashli could have been accomplished by a single trained officer with a set of handcuffs. At the time of the shooting, there were over a half-dozen police officers in close proximity to the Speaker’s door where Ashli was standing.”

“Some of those officers had just allowed protesters access to the door by stepping aside,” he added. “Other officers, dressed in full tactical gear, stood among the protesters just a few feet behind the door. Still, others stood casually at the opposite end of the Speaker’s Lobby, unconcerned with the activities of Ashli and the protesters around her.”

Here is more from Trending Politics:

Babbitt’s lawyer presents an essential question that needs to be answered to fully grasp the circumstances surrounding her death. The officers allowed agitators to orchestrate a breach of the inner chamber, and let Babbitt crawl through a window, without actively intervening. Along with the Capitol Police effectively issuing a “stand down” order, and the National Guard’s unjustifiably low profile, the police’s behavior only adds to the mysterious circumstances of the January 6th event.

“All of these officers were in a position to have aided in the apprehension of Ashli if it was necessary,” Roberts said. “Given her background as a 14-year veteran of the Air Force, it is likely that Ashli would have complied with simple verbal commands, thereby making the use of any force unnecessary.”

“However, the officer who shot Ashli never attempted to arrest her,” the attorney continued. “Nor did he call on his fellow officers to arrest her. Instead, he fired a shot into her chest.”

“Witnesses confirm that the officer did not give Ashli a single verbal warning prior to firing,” Roberts added. “In fact, Ashli was not even aware that the officer was present, as he was located in the doorway of a room off to the side of her field of vision.”

Ashli Babbitt was captured on video being shot by an unknown Capitol Police officer on January 6th.

In the video, an agitator named Zachary Alam backs the crowd up and smashes the window with a black helmet he is given by an accomplice. Babbitt crawls through the window, unarmed, but is shot by an unidentified police officer.

The unnamed capitol officer held aloft .40-caliber Glock handgun and pointed it at Babbitt, while Sullivan shouts repeatedly that “there is a gun.” The officer shoots her after about 15 seconds, while police officers look on without intervening.

The New York Times reported more information about the unidentified shooter in January, who called him a “lieutenant” and a “veteran officer.” He was not charged for excessive force or for negligence after shooting the unarmed woman.

In an interview with the Epoch Times, Masako Ganaha performs as “analysis of the Ashli Babbitt shooting.” If you haven’t watched the analysis yet, it raises even more questions about the death of Ashli Babbitt.

As far as the unidentified police officer is concerned, he is reportedly in hiding due to alleged threats made against his life.

“More than six weeks after Babbitt succumbed to a single gunshot wound to the upper chest, authorities are keeping secret the identity of the officer who fired the fatal round,” Real Clear Investigations’ Paul Sperry noted. “They won’t release his name, and the major news media aren’t clamoring for it, in stark contrast to other high-profile police shootings of unarmed civilians.”

“The officer who opened fire on Babbitt holds the rank of lieutenant and is a longtime veteran of the force who worked protective detail in the Speaker’s Lobby, a highly restricted area behind the House chamber, sources say,” Sperry notes. “An African-American, he was put on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation led by the Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia, which shares jurisdiction with the Capitol Police. The Justice Department is also involved in the inquiry.”

Ashli Babbitt’s attorney commented on the police officer at the heart of the closed case.

“To date, the officer who shot Ashli has not been identified,” Roberts said. “Neither the Capitol Police nor any other governmental authority has given an account of the facts surrounding the shooting. There has been no official explanation or justification for the use of lethal force in this matter.”

“This lack of transparency impedes the public scrutiny which is necessary to hold government officials accountable in a free society,” the statement added. “It also interferes with the ability of Ashli’s family to obtain justice for their loss.”

The family’s lawyer closed the statement with a plea for justice and transparency.

“My law firm and I represent Ashli’s husband and family members,” Roberts said. “We will continue to investigate this matter. We intend to take appropriate legal action when our investigation has been completed. We call upon the Capitol Police as well as the United States Congress to make public the facts and circumstances of Ashli’s shooting.”

**************************************

Why do people experience side effects from COVID-19 vaccines?

When we get vaccinated for COVID-19, we often experience some side effects. The reason that we get side effects is that our immune system is revving up and reacting. When you get sick, the same thing happens. Actually, a lot of the symptoms from illnesses that we get, like influenza and COVID-19, are actually not caused by the direct action of the virus, but rather by our immune system. Our bodies react, and that gives us these general symptoms like fever, achiness and headache.

Why are some people more likely to experience side effects after the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine?

When you take two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, the first dose is the first time for your body to see the spike protein that the COVID-19 vaccines produce, and your body begins to develop an immune response. But that happens slowly. Then when you come back with a second dose, your body is ready to attack it. Your body is primed by that first dose of vaccine. The second vaccine dose goes into your body, starts to make that spike protein, and your antibodies jump on it and rev up your immune system response. It's kind of like they've studied for the test. And it's acing the test.

How long could symptoms or side effects of COVID-19 vaccination last?

The vaccine side effects that we've seen in these large phase three trials resolve within about 72 hours of taking a COVID-19 vaccine. At most, those side effects can last up to a week. We really have not seen long-term side effects from COVID-19 vaccines beyond that, and that makes sense when you look at other vaccines. And we have a lot of experience with different vaccines. Long-term side effects are just basically unheard of in the vaccine world.

So with two months of follow-up data in people undergoing those clinical trials, and now even longer follow-up from the trials and our experience giving vaccines to the public, we really are not seeing any trend toward any long-term side effects.

**********************************

Single dose of Covid vaccine can nearly halve transmission of virus, study finds

A single dose of a Covid-19 vaccine can slash transmission of the virus by up to half, according to a Public Health England study.

The PHE finding offers further hope that the pandemic can be brought under control as it indicates that vaccinated people are far less likely to pass the virus on to others.

The study found that people given a single dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines – and who became infected at least three weeks later – were between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus on to people living in their homes, compared with those who were unvaccinated.

Protection was seen from about 14 days after vaccination, with similar levels regardless of a person’s age. Other studies have already shown that both vaccines are highly effective at stopping people getting sick and ending up in hospital.

Experts will now assess whether two doses of vaccine can cut transmission of the virus even further, and more work is being carried out on transmission in the general population.

******************************

Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)

*************************************

Wednesday, April 28, 2021



The mystery that could explain why COVID vaccines work so well

There’s something a bit odd about COVID-19 vaccines. Good, but odd.

In clinical trials, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson’s jabs all offer almost exactly the same level of protection against serious illness and death: between 95 and 100 per cent.

Now consider the huge range of different efficacy levels the vaccines have for preventing illness: from 61 to 95 per cent.

Different vaccines. Different efficacy levels. But the same protection against serious illness and death. What’s going on?

The answer might be found in a powerful part of your immune system that rarely gets much press coverage: the T cell.

Professor David Tscharke is a T cell researcher based at the Australian National University. He also has multiple sclerosis; his particular treatment means his body does not make many new antibodies, even when vaccinated.

He’s just received his first dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. “It all depends on T cells for me,” he says.

Antibodies hog the anti-virus limelight. That’s partially because they are much easier to measure and study than the other components of the immune system. Scientists are starting to get a pretty good idea of how many you need to be immune.

For T cells, “we’re still trying to understand what’s happening at the viral infection stage”, says Professor Stephanie Gras, a T cell researcher at La Trobe University. “I’m not even talking about what happens when we get vaccinated.”

That means if they are important, we may have missed it.

Let’s go back to the vaccines. They stop people getting seriously ill. But some people still get mildly unwell. Why?

Vaccine-induced antibodies offer instant defence against the virus the moment it enters your body. They sit in your throat and float through your blood. If they come across the virus, they stick to it, gumming up the machinery it uses to infect cells.

T cells are your immune system’s cavalry. They wait in your lymph nodes (under your arm, at the base of your neck). Vaccine arms these troops, but when they spot an invader, they still take a few days to grow into a huge army before launching their attack.

That delay is our clue.

It may be that, in some cases, the virus gets through antibody defences and we get sick. And then, bang, in comes the T cell-cavalry, wiping out the virus before it can make us seriously ill – or kill us.

That’s one theory, but it’s hard to prove.

Conversely, it may be the antibodies are preventing serious infection and death themselves.

It could even be that COVID-19 vaccines, which are designed to stimulate antibodies, aren’t doing a very good job at all of firing up our T cells, says Professor Gras.

“You have to imagine an immune system like a classical orchestra,” she says. “If you are missing one thing, you won’t hear it – but it won’t be as good.”

If T cells are playing a big role in vaccines, that’s exciting, because they offer us a very powerful defence against the new variants COVID-19 increasingly throws up.

Antibodies generally work by gumming up the spike SARS-CoV-2 uses to infect cells. To do that, the antibody has to be exactly the right shape to fit onto the spike. If the spike changes shape, even slightly, the antibodies cannot stick.

That’s what the South African and Brazilian variants appear to have done. Very preliminary – but troubling – evidence suggests the South African variant seems to have changed shape in such a way that AstraZeneca’s vaccine is not effective against it at all.

If T cells play a key role in the vaccine’s success, says Professor Tscharke, it’s likely they don’t give much of a stuff about the variants.

When a virus infects a human cell, it captures the cell’s factories and turns them to churning out copies of itself.

But the cell is secretly fighting back. A special mechanism kicks into action, taking lots of random pieces of the virus and sticking them outside the cell, waving them around like a flag. That’s what the T cells spot.

Those flags can be just about any part of the virus, including vital parts the virus cannot easily mutate.

(Quick sidenote: about 4 per cent of people express a gene which means that, when infected with one of the seasonal coronaviruses that cause the common cold, their cells flag up a piece of cold virus that is similar to a piece of SARS-CoV-2. In a small study published last week, Professor Gras’ team showed 90 per cent of these people had T cells that could spot and attack CoV-2, despite never having seen the virus before!)

That potentially explains why T cells generated by patients who have been vaccinated are capable of recognising the British variant, the South African variant, the Brazilian variant and the Californian variant.

Plus, the virus is under less evolutionary pressure to mutate to avoid T cells. It wants to avoid antibodies, get inside cells, replicate and spread, especially inside the nose and throat. T cells probably won’t stop that – but they may stop you getting seriously ill or dying.

Remember the study that found AstraZeneca’s vaccine was ineffective against the South African strain? The participants got sick – but none of them fell seriously ill or died. The study wasn’t big enough to prove AstraZeneca’s vaccine prevented serious illness or death, but it remains a tantalising hint that vaccines might protect us better than we think.

**********************************

Russia demands 1 Million Illegal Migrants Leave the Country

A good example?

Russia has told migrants from post-Soviet states living there illegally to leave the country by June 15, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Friday.

This announcement came at a meeting of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth by the deputy head of the department, Alexander Gorovoy. “These people will be punished by expulsion and closure of borders” if they don’t leave by the June 15 deadline, stated Deputy Interior Gorovoy.

According to Interior Ministry data, more than 332,000 illegal migrants from Uzbekistan currently reside in Russia, along with 247,000 from Tajikistan, 152,000 from Ukraine, 120,000 from Azerbaijan, 115,000 from Kyrgyzstan, 61,000 from Armenia, 56,000 from Moldova, and 49,000 from Kazakhstan.

In mid-December, Vladimir Putin, by decree, extended the temporary residence of migrants in Russia in connection with the coronavirus until June 15, 2021.

*************************************

Study Results: Facemasks are Ineffective to Block Transmission of COVID-19 and Actually Can Cause Health Deterioration and Premature Death

A recent study reported by the NCBI, which is under the National Institutes of Health, showed that masks do absolutely nothing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and their use is even harmful.

NOQ Report uncovered the study:

…a DuckDuckGo search reveals it [the study] was picked up by ZERO mainstream media outlets and Big Tech tyrants will suspend people who post it, as political strategist Steve Cortes learned the hard way when he posted a Tweet that went against the face mask narrative. The Tweet itself featured a quote and a link that prompted Twitter to suspend his account, potentially indefinitely.

The NCBI study begins with the following abstract:

Many countries across the globe utilized medical and non-medical facemasks as non-pharmaceutical intervention for reducing the transmission and infectivity of [the] coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). Although, scientific evidence supporting facemasks’ efficacy is lacking, adverse physiological, psychological and health effects are established. It has been hypothesized that facemasks have compromised safety and efficacy profile and should be avoided from use. The current article comprehensively summarizes scientific evidence[s] with respect to wearing facemasks in the COVID-19 era, providing proper information for public health and decision making.

The study concludes:

The existing scientific evidence[s] challenge the safety and efficacy of wearing facemask as preventive intervention for COVID-19. The data suggest that both medical and non-medical facemasks are ineffective to block human-to-human transmission of viral and infectious disease such SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, supporting against the usage of facemasks. Wearing facemasks has been demonstrated to have substantial adverse physiological and psychological effects. These include hypoxia, hypercapnia, shortness of breath, increased acidity and toxicity, activation of fear and stress response, rise in stress hormones, immunosuppression, fatigue, headaches, decline in cognitive performance, predisposition for viral and infectious illnesses, chronic stress, anxiety and depression. Long-term consequences of wearing facemask can cause health deterioration, developing and progression of chronic diseases and premature death. Governments, policy makers and health organizations should utilize [a] proper and scientific evidence-based approach with respect to wearing facemasks, when the latter is considered as preventive intervention for public health.

******************************

Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)

*************************************

Tuesday, April 27, 2021



Mask-Wearing Represents Fear and Blind Obedience, Not Science

Dennis Prager

When I see people walking outside, often alone with no one anywhere near them, wearing a mask, my primary reactions are disappointment and sadness.

I am disappointed because I expected better from my fellow Americans. I never thought most Americans would be governed by irrational fears and unquestioning obedience to authority. I have come to realize that I had a somewhat romanticized view of my countrymen.

Had you told me a year ago that nearly every American in nearly every metropolitan area would cover their faces for over a year because one man, one political party and the media told them to, I would have responded that you underestimate the strength of the American character.

But here we are, over a year later, and where I live (the Los Angeles area), I am usually the only person on the street not wearing a mask. (For the record, I wear a mask in stores and when entering the building in which I work, out of courtesy to those who think a person not wearing a mask poses a lethal threat.)

On the rare occasions I pass people not wearing a mask, I thank and praise them. They are invariably enthused by my reaction.

You do not need medical or scientific expertise to understand the foolishness of outdoor mask-wearing. Common sense, that great unused guide to life, suffices.

If you wear a mask, you do so in the belief that you are protecting yourself (and others) from COVID-19. So, then, why do you care if I don't wear a mask? Doesn't your mask protect you? If it does, my not wearing a mask may irritate you because you resent my assertion of freedom, my obvious lack of respect for government and medical authorities, and my alleged selfishness, but there would be no rational medical -- that is, "science-based" -- reason for your objecting to my not wearing a mask.

And if masks protect us and others, why have people been refused the right to visit a loved one as he or she lay dying alone? Why couldn't a person -- wearing the same mask a doctor, nurse or any health care worker wears when entering your parent's room -- enter that room? There are two possible answers: One is it's a tacit admission that masks are essentially useless. You were prevented from visiting your dying father because the hospital believes your loved one or others in the hospital might contract the virus from you, even though you were wearing a mask. Which means those running the hospital don't believe masks actually work. The other is that the medical establishment and lay authorities have abandoned elementary human decency in the name of AOC, or "Abundance of Caution." Forcing hundreds of thousands of people to die alone will go down as one of the cruelest policies ever adopted by American medical and political authorities.

The problem is most Americans who went to college learned to unquestioningly obey "experts." This is why common sense, logic and reason mean little to the well-educated -- and, increasingly, to everyone else, because everyone is taught by the well-educated. All we need to know is what the "experts" say. That plus a fanatical adherence to the rule of AOC have crushed logic and reason.

The irony, however, is that "the science" doesn't justify the fanatical commitment to mask-wearing. There are plenty of experts with evidence-based views to the contrary. Here are but a few examples:

Dr. Anthony Fauci himself told the truth about the uselessness of mask-wearing on "60 Minutes" on March 8, 2020: "Right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks. ... There's no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you're in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better, and it might even block a droplet, but it's not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences: People keep fiddling with the mask, and they keep touching their face."

Dr. Ramin Oskoui, a cardiologist in Washington at a Senate hearing in December 2020, testified under oath: "Masks do not work." (The New York Times, Dec. 8, 2020.)

The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 11, 2020: "The projected number of lives saved, and the implied case for a mask mandate, are based on a faulty statistic."

Dr. Paul E. Alexander, a Canadian epidemiologist, wrote: "Surgical and cloth masks, used as they currently are, have absolutely no impact on controlling the transmission of Covid-19 virus, and current evidence implies that face masks can be actually harmful." (American Institute for Economic Research, Feb. 11, 2021.)

Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in chemistry from the University of California, Riverside, wrote: "A 'mask,' and that term usually refers to either a SURGICAL mask or N95 mask, has no benefit in the general population and is only useful in controlled clinical settings. Further, it has been considered a greater transmission risk than a benefit in the general population. ... In the open environment, no one should be wearing face coverings." (American Institute for Economic Research, Oct. 16, 2020.)

Finally, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on May 21, 2020, concluded: "We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic."

Contrary to mainstream media misinformation, the doctors who wrote that report did not later retract anything they wrote.

People say they "follow the science." They rarely do. They follow the scientists the media tell them to follow.

*****************************************

The ‘Party Of Science’ Can’t Seem To Bring Itself To Endorse Vaccines

Fundamentally, science is a process — a means of explaining the world through observation, questioning, formulating assumptions and testing through experimentation and further observation. To quote Sagan, “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”

What is not science? Blind and unquestioning adherence to the opinions of anointed “experts.”

Yet, during the past year, obedience to politicians, their cherry-picked experts and government bureaucrats has been demanded of Americans as a patriotic duty — all in the name of science. From no corner have these calls been louder, more frequent and expressed with greater opprobrium, than from members of the Democratic Party – the self-proclaimed “Party of Science.”

Americans have been insulted, censored, shouted down and physically attacked for requesting empirical evidence before agreeing to imprison themselves in their homes, abandon interpersonal contact, shutter their businesses, sacrifice their children’s education and walk around with condensation-laden glasses – all imposed with the imprimatur of “science.” This, despite the knowledge that absent effective vaccines, there was little we could do to alter the epidemic’s ultimate course.

Alas, the data is in. States that took a balanced approach to the epidemic fared as well or better than those that imposed prolonged, stringent, economy-crushing and unemployment-inducing lockdowns.

Florida, with its large elderly population, took a targeted but liberal path and is 27th among states in its COVID-19 population death rate. Florida’s 1605 deaths per million people is much lower than that of New York (2668 deaths/million), New Jersey (2,833 deaths/million) and Michigan (1802 deaths/million), and only modestly higher than that of much younger California (1545/million). These latter 4 states employed prolonged, draconian lockdowns. Florida’s unemployment rate sits at an impressive 4.7 percent, compared with California’s 8.3%, Michigan’s 6.8%, New Jersey’s 7.7% and New York’s whopping 8.5%.

The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed confounded the experts, bringing spectacularly effective vaccines in less than a year. Over 80% of Americans 65 years and older, and more than 50 percent of adults, have received at least one shot. Deaths and hospitalizations have plummeted.

Vaccination of the elderly and vulnerable is ending the crisis. Instead of riding out the epidemic, acquiring natural immunity through infection while our at-risk relatives suffered through serious and deadly infections, we gained control. Science won.

We would expect jubilance at the supremacy of science from a science-infused party. Instead, many Democrats seem gloomy, unwilling to embrace the shining light at the end of the tunnel. Have Democrats become vaccine doubters?

Joe Biden could not bring himself to celebrate our success, largely the result of his predecessor’s policies. Biden on March 29 said, “Our work is far from over. The war against COVID-19 is far from won. This is deadly serious. … I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor, and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate.” The same day, a CDC study reported that vaccinated individuals are at low risk for infection, do not carry the virus in significant numbers and by extension are not an important source of spread.

Despite the over 200 million administered vaccine doses and the millions of people who gained immunity through infection, Americans are told it is too dangerous to go on with their lives. Why? Some people continue to get infected. New variants have been identified. Even if most of those infected are young and healthy and variants pose no immediate threat, the vaccinated must hunker down.

***************************************

The Dirty ‘Great Reset’ Secret Behind Big Corporations’ New War Against Conservatives

In recent months, hundreds of large corporations and financial institutions have rallied around liberal causes and even put policies into place directly targeting conservatives or their views.

For example, on April 14, hundreds of the largest corporations and financial institutions in the world, including Amazon, Google, Netflix, and Starbucks, signed a statement opposing “discriminatory legislation” that aims to make elections more secure—an apparent reference to commonsense reforms like the ones recently passed in Georgia, which include a requirement that voters provide a driver’s license or free state identification card to prove their identity prior to casting a ballot.

Similarly, Major League Baseball recently announced it’s moving its annual All-Star Game out of Georgia as a protest against the state’s new election requirements.

In February, Coca-Cola allegedly provided employees with radical diversity training that asked them to “try to be less white,” which, according to leaked slides from the presentation, involves being “less oppressive” and requires a “break with white solidarity.”

In February and March, the six largest banks in the United States announced that they would phase in a net-zero carbon dioxide financing requirement for all of their business operations, effectively making it impossible for fossil-fuel companies—as well as any other business that refuses to “go green”—to secure a loan or benefit from various other financial services at the country’s biggest banks. Many other, smaller banks have also signed on.

Why are so many large corporations and financial institutions embracing left-wing causes, alienating tens of millions of conservative Americans in the process? Although there are likely several important reasons, the biggest is cronyism—but not necessarily the old-fashioned kind of backroom dealing between corporate leaders and politicians that we’re all used to.

In recent years, dramatic shifts in monetary policy, coupled with greater coordination between bankers, investors, government officials, and corporations, have ushered in an entirely new era of cronyism and the centralization of economic and social decision-making, one that poses significant dangers to individual liberty.

At the foundation of the change is the recent rapid increase in money-printing that has been pursued by central banks in the United States and Europe, which have increased the money supply by trillions of dollars in just a few years.

Once government officials realized they are now able to spend nearly any amount of money they want without having to raise taxes, and banks learned that they can get a steady stream of newly printed cash from central banks on-demand, these two powerful groups came to the conclusion that they can effectively manage most economic activity without having to pass a slew of new laws, taxes, and restrictions.

Rather than resist these changes, large corporations and investors know they can benefit immensely from the arrangement. All they have to do is play ball by agreeing to adhere to the whims of central banks, governments in North America and Europe, and their political allies—most of which are left-wing activist groups and labor unions.

I know this might sound like a wild right-wing conspiracy theory, but the evidence is quite overwhelming. In June 2020, the World Economic Forum, working with CEOs and presidents from large corporations, powerful bankers, international institutions, labor union leaders, and activists, launched the “Great Reset,” a plan to overhaul the entire global economy.

“Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed,” wrote Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, in an article about the initiative. “In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.”

How, exactly, will this transformation occur? Exactly as we are seeing it play out now. Corporations and banks will impose left-wing social justice policies on society, and they will be rewarded by governments, central banks, and investors, who, in turn, will also earn large profits from new streams of government-printed cash.

We know that this is occurring not only because corporations and banks have already started to align with left-wing goals, even though they know it will frustrate large proportions of their customer base, but also because corporations have widely adopted environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards that systematize social justice goals within their businesses.

According to a report (pdf) by KPMG, thousands of companies worldwide already have ESG or sustainability reporting systems in place, including 98 percent of large companies in the United States.

Further, groups such as Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) have managed to get more than 3,000 investors and investor groups to agree to support businesses that embrace ESG systems. PRI’s signatories control more than $100 trillion in wealth, so you can bet that when they talk, big corporations are listening.

In the past, corporations used to stay out of most political and ideological debates, because alienating huge segments of society generally isn’t a good recipe for success in a market economy. But now that trillions of dollars are flowing into financial institutions and banks, it makes a lot more financial sense for corporations to move to the left than it does to stay neutral.

Tens of millions of conservative customers collectively control a substantial amount of money, to be sure, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the folks who have signed up for the PRI and who spend their winters skiing with George Soros in Davos.

Corporations are moving to the left for a reason, and it’s not because they have suddenly had a come-to-Bernie conversion. The Great Reset, like so many other movements in history, is all about money and power—and these days, there’s plenty of both available for ruling-class elites to get their fill.

******************************

Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)

*************************************

Monday, April 26, 2021


UK Scientists call for an end to ALL Covid restrictions as they hit out at 'confused and contradictory directions' and note vaccines cut deaths by 98%

Leading scientists are calling on the Government to remove all coronavirus restrictions and allow people to ‘take back control of their own lives’ when the ‘roadmap’ to freedom ends in June.

With real-world data showing vaccines reduce the risk of death by 98 per cent and hospitalisations by more than 80 per cent, the experts say Covid-19 is being turned into a ‘mild’ disease in Britain, akin to the flu.

In an open letter to The Mail on Sunday, they criticise ‘confused and contradictory’ messages from Ministers and scientific advisers about the virus, which they say are exaggerating the real threat.

The 22 signatories include Professors Carl Heneghan and Sunetra Gupta from Oxford University, Emeritus Professor Hugh Pennington from the University of Aberdeen and Professor Robert Dingwall from Nottingham Trent University.

‘We are being told, simultaneously, that we have successful vaccines and that major restrictions on everyday life must continue indefinitely. Both propositions cannot be true,’ the scientists write. ‘We need to give more weight to the data on the actual success of the vaccines.’

Official figures showed that more than half of the UK’s population has received at least one vaccine dose – with 12 million also having their second jab;

There were 32 deaths in the last recorded 24-hour period, down 11 per cent week-on-week, with hospital admissions down 21 per cent to 132 and the number of positive tests falling by almost 3 per cent to 2,061. Britain now has the lowest rate of cases in Europe, apart from Iceland, according to the European Covid-19 Forecast Hub;

Government sources suggested mask-wearing could be dropped for the summer;

Britain has again outflanked the EU by securing a huge priority order of vaccines from French manufacturer Valneva;

An AstraZeneca boss condemned critics of its vaccine as ‘inaccurate, wrong and uneducated’;

It emerged a top aide to Boris Johnson caught Covid during a trip to India to secure vaccine supplies, sparking fears he exposed Ministers and civil servants to a mutant strain of the virus;

A professor of foetal medicine called for pregnant women to be fast-tracked for vaccine jabs because Covid greatly increases health risks for mums-to-be;

In India, where experts fear the daily death toll could soon rise above 5,000 and where there have been almost a million cases in the past three days, almost 90 per cent of the nation’s oxygen supply is being diverted for medical use. In their letter, the British scientists say major studies support their view that vaccines are almost eliminating deaths and hugely reducing serious illness.

One study, presented to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, found that out of 42,788 people who needed hospital treatment for Covid since December, only 32 were admitted three weeks or more after having their first dose.

Another, led by Oxford University, found a single dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine cut the risk of suffering symptomatic infections by 74 per cent – and ‘likely reduces transmission’.

The letter’s authors added: ‘It is time to recognise that, in our substantially vaccinated population, Covid-19 will take its place among the 30 or so respiratory viral diseases with which humans have historically co-existed.

‘For most vaccinated and other low-risk people, Covid-19 is now a mild endemic infection, likely to recur in seasonal waves which renew immunity without significantly stressing the NHS.’

***************************************

NBC News Torpedos the Fear Behind This ‘Infected by COVID After Vaccination’ Narrative

There are legitimate abundances of caution, but then there’s just straight panic porn—and the media has been trolling for new ways to scare the crap out of us after SIX women suffered some blood clots after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. Nearly SEVEN million doses have been administered. But there’s been a “pause.”

Vaccine hesitancy has certainly increased. And Dr. Anthony Fauci and his COVID panic crew are probably popping off the champagne. We’re near herd immunity, two words these people don’t want to say. That means the era of government control is over. That means no COVID passports. That means freedom is restored. They’re against that. So, as vaccinations have moved along rather well, with at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines being administered to over 100 million people, the Left has had this irrational fear that you can still get infected after vaccination.

Does it happen? Sure. Is it super rare? Yes. All of this is being done to continue the narrative that we need to stay inside forever, and new studies show that vaccines offer excellent protection despite the irrational fear over variants. Well, it's more of an irrational fear by Fauci.

NBC News published a story about COVID infections post-vaccination. In short, there’s no reason to panic:

Two reports of so-called coronavirus breakthrough infections — in which fully vaccinated people get the illness anyway — suggest that the vaccines still offer strong protection against severe disease even in the face of variants.

The cases, which were detailed Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, were those of two women out of more than 400 fully vaccinated study participants who were tested for Covid-19 weekly. Both women developed mild cases and recovered quickly.

A co-author of the study, Dr. Robert Darnell, a professor and senior physician at Rockefeller University in New York City, said the two cases aren't cause for alarm.

As the number of fully vaccinated people increases in the U.S., so, too, will reports of breakthrough infections rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that it had received reportsof around 5,800 breakthrough infections out of more that 77 million fully vaccinated people.

The second report focused on a Covid-19 outbreak at a nursing home in Kentucky in March. Twenty-six residents and 20 staff members tested positive, including 18 residents and four staff members who had been fully vaccinated. Sequencing of the cases detected the same E484K mutation as in the New York cases.

However, those who had been vaccinated were still 87 percent less likely to develop symptoms than those who were unvaccinated.

Two women and a pool of folks who had a near 90 percent chance of never developing symptoms because they got the shot—and no one died. Oh my God—shut down the borders and deploy the National Guard!

Now, there is a lot of space was wasted on variants in this piece. Who cares if the worst-case scenario is a mild case or developing no symptoms in the VERY RARE instance that you get infected post-vaccination? that’s better than becoming incredibly ill or dying from this virus, right? It's hardly apocalyptic. The lack of risk assessment in all of these COVID developments is appallingly absent. There’s a reason for that of course. You all know it; keep the fear alive. We’re really going to flip out because less than 6,000 people out of 77 MILLION vaccinated got mild cases and recovered quickly. Now, did NBC NEws mean to keep the fear pot cooking with this piece? I'll let you debate that, but if that's what they were trying to do, they really gutted the panic narratives being peddled by Fauci and the CDC.

Bill Maher gets under the skin of conservatives for obvious reasons. I still like him, given that he’s right on political correctness, woke mob idiocy, and Islamic extremism. When he’s right, he’s right. And the times he does bash the Right, you have to just brush it off. He’s a comedian playing to his audience. It happens. But he also had an excellent commentary about COVID and how the Left is just as misinformed about the virus as the people they mock—because the experts have misled us on almost everything. Scared straight is the playbook. ‘You can’t handle the truth is the experts’ motto.

It hasn’t worked. It never will—and now we should ignore these people for the lying clowns that they are. This COVID infection post-vaccine nonsense is just that. there’s nothing to get too worked up about unless you ingest CNN and MSNBC’s bullcrap on a near-daily basis. NBC News decided to go all-out on this story where even the co-authors of the study say there’s nothing to worry about and the numbers are laughably small. Know that infection can happen, but also know it’s immensely rare, like getting a blood clot from the J&J vaccine. Enough. If you want the shot, get it. Either way, we’re heading towards herd immunity and this fear circus is going to come down. It will be done voluntarily, or we’ll just torch it by simply ignoring these lab coat fascists who think they can tell us when we can have Fourth of July parties again.

Right now, it would be best if everyone would stop listening to Fauci

****************************************

Trump loyalists led by Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz launch America First caucus to promote US as a 'uniquely Anglo-Saxon nation'

Hard-right House Republicans on Friday are forming an America First Caucus, which one document has described as championing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' and warning that mass immigration was putting the 'unique identity' of the U.S. at risk.

The paper, was first reported by Punchbowl News, a news outlet covering Capitol Hill.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said he was joining and indicated that fellow conservative Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., was also behind it.

The document was being circulated as the GOP is struggling to determine a clear direction as it prepares to try winning back control of the House and Senate in the 2022 elections.

Among the party's divisions are how closely to tack behind Donald Trump, and the caucus' seven-page policy platform clearly embraces the former president's world view.

'The America First Caucus (AFC) exists to promote Congressional policies that are to the long-term benefit of the American nation,' it begins. It says the group aims to 'follow in President Trump's footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.'

The group calls for limiting legal immigration 'to those that can contribute not only economically, but have demonstrated respect for this nation's culture and rule of law.' It voices support for infrastructure 'that reflects the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture.'

Democrats including Representative Peter Welch denounced the caucus on Twitter as 'nakedly racist and disgusting.' 'This supposed caucus and its members represent a dangerous nativist perspective that hurts our country, but sadly is not surprising,' Welch added.

Representative Don Beyer referred to the group as the 'White Supremacist Caucus' on Twitter.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., issued a critical tweet that an aide confirmed was aimed at the group.

'America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn't built on identity, race, or religion,' McCarthy wrote. 'The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans-not nativist dog whistles.'

Punchbowl said the group was linked to Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.

Over GOP objections, the House voted to remove Greene from her committee assignments early this year for her recycling of violent, conspiratorial ideas on social media.

Asked to provide a copy of the caucus document, Greene spokesman Nick Dyer said in an email: 'We aren´t circulating anything, Alan. This was a typical DC gossip leak.'

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told reporters he was considering joining the caucus and said, 'Yes,' when asked if Greene and Gosar were involved with it.

Gaetz tweeted: 'I´m proud to join @mtgreenee in the #AmericaFirst Caucus. We will end wars, stop illegal immigration & promote trade that is fair to American workers.' Gaetz is facing a federal investigation for sex trafficking accusations, according to people who have described the probe on condition of anonymity.

The document aims some of its toughest language at immigration. President Joe Biden's administration has struggled to handle large numbers of migrants at the Southwest border and has had little success winning legislation in Congress.

'America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions,' the paper says. 'History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country.'

It adds that 'the long-term existential future of America as a unique country with a unique culture and a unique identity being put at unnecessary risk is something our leaders' cannot ignore.

The document espouses Trump's false claims that 'recent election results demonstrate a compromised integrity of our elections.'

It proposes curbing high technology firms that are 'weaponized and deployed against conservatives' and lambasts steps against the pandemic like mandates for masks, social distancing and lockdowns for 'conditioning the culture and behavior of Americans' and destroying the economy.

It says 'better waste management' would be more helpful for the environment than Paris Climate Accord efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

******************************

Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)

*************************************

Tuesday, April 20, 2021


Trial results show abandoned University of Queensland COVID-19 vaccine would have been ‘among best in world’

Clinical trial results show the aborted University of Queensland COVID-19 vaccine would have been among the best in the world, generating an immune response in 99 per cent of patients it was tested on.

The findings of the phase one safety study, reported today in British medical journal The Lancet, underline the opportunity lost when the development program was abandoned four months ago due to a glitch with the vaccine formula.

Sixty seven of the 68 people who received two doses of the promising immuniser produced a “neutralising immune response” to the virus, the study found.

“It means the vaccine basically worked in everybody … to induce the type of immune response we were looking for,” says one of the lead scientists in the UQ team, Trent Munro. “So that is not only just to make antibodies, but to make antibodies that are effective in killing the virus.”

While the phase one human trial was designed to prove only that the vaccine was safe to give to people, Professor Munro said the result was “fantastic, as good as we could have expected”.

The federal government had ordered 51 million doses of the Australian-made jab before the program was abandoned last December after a sliver of HIV protein used to anchor the “molecular clamp” technology was found to produce false-positive readings to the AIDS virus.

This was purely a matter of “diagnostic interference”, Professor Munro said. There was no possibility of infection or health implications from the false-positive, confirmed by the phase one trial.

“Of course we are disappointed this didn’t go further but … we understand the rationale for that and the complexity around creating diagnostic interference for a disease like HIV-AIDS,” he told The Australian.

“Plus we are seeing all the issues with vaccine hesitancy at the moment, and we wouldn’t have wanted to contribute to that in any way, shape or form.”

The Lancet paper, collectively authored by 28 of the Australian scientists, including Professor Munro, involved in the effort to develop the vaccine and get it to the point of being manufactured by CSL, shows how near it was to becoming a reality. The program collapsed on the cusp of the human testing that began with the phase one study of a pool of 314 volunteers in Brisbane graduating to a phase two-three trial of tens of thousands worldwide.

Participants aged 18-55 were given either a placebo or active doses ranging between five micrograms and 45 micrograms. Those in the treatment group generally tolerated the clamp vaccine well, with the most common side effect being pain or tenderness around the injection site. There were no reports after the first dose but one volunteer reported “moderate fever” following a second shot of the five microgram formulation.

“At day 57, 67 (99 per cent) of 68 participants who received two doses of sclamp vaccine at any concentration produced a neutralising immune response, compared with six (25 per cent) of 24 who received a single 45 microgram dose and none of 22 who received placebo,” the scientists reported.

Asked how the UQ vaccine might have compared to the Pfizer and AstraZeneca versions being rolled out in Australia, Professor Munro said: “The reality is we can’t say because we didn’t get our phase two-three data … but in terms of the immune profile this looks like it could have been an effective vaccine. As much as I would like to say what might have been, we just don’t have that (information).”

******************************************

Apple will let Parler back on the App Store

Apple has approved Parler's return to the iOS app store following improvements the social media company made to better detect and moderate hate speech and incitement, according to a letter the iPhone maker sent to Congress on Monday.

The decision clears the way for Parler, an app popular with conservatives including some members of the far right, to be downloaded once again on Apple devices.

The letter — addressed to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Ken Buck and obtained by CNN — explained that since the app was removed from Apple's platform in January for violations of its policies, Parler "has proposed updates to its app and the app's content moderation practices."

On April 14, Apple's app review team told Parler that its proposed changes were sufficient, the letter continued. Now, all Parler needs to do is to flip the switch.

"Apple anticipates that the updated Parler app will become available immediately upon Parler releasing it," Apple's letter said.

Apple declined to comment. Parler didn't immediately respond to request for comment.

Parler, an alternative to Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) that bills itself as a haven for free speech, was removed from major tech platforms in early January following the US Capitol riots of Jan. 6.

Parler was kicked off of Apple and Google's app stores, as well as Amazon Web Services, which had been hosting the company's product.

All three tech giants cited the presence of violent speech on Parler as a reason for removal; Parler later said that other vendors also cut ties with the company, effectively shutting the service down and making it inaccessible on the web. For several weeks, visitors to Parler's website were greeted by a static page instead of a functioning social networking app.

The app came back online on Feb. 15, but not before Parler's CEO was terminated by its board. It took another two months for Apple to give its approval restoring Parler to its app store.

In the meantime, Parler is waging a legal battle against Amazon (AMZN), alleging in part that Big Tech companies colluded to restrict Parler's access to the market. In court filings and elsewhere, Parler has said that it had been developing an artificial intelligence-based content moderation system when the larger platforms' crackdown took place.

The tech companies have rejected Parler's accusations of anti-competitive behavior. In Monday's letter, Apple said its decision to remove Parler from its app store was "an independent decision" and that Apple "did not coordinate or otherwise consult with Google or Amazon with respect to that decision."

****************************************

Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)

*************************************

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Analysis: Scientific Survey Shows Voters Across the Political Spectrum Are Ideologically Deluded, with Trump voters least so


<i>Voters were twice as likely to believe certain progressive myths than conservative ones</i>

During the late 1800s when the renowned scientist Louis Pasteur was trying to overturn the medical community’s deadly belief that germs are not communicable, he wrote: “The greatest aberration of the mind is to believe a thing to be, because we desire it.” The results of a scientific survey conducted just after the 2020 presidential election show that voters from across the political spectrum have failed to heed that warning.

The survey, commissioned by Just Facts, reveals that the vast bulk of voters have embraced false and harmful dogmas that accord with their political views. This is a typical consequence of confirmation bias, the human tendency to reflexively accept anything that accords with one’s preexisting beliefs and ignore or twist everything that defies them.

While most polls measure public opinion, this annual scientific survey measures voters’ perceptions of issues that can have major impacts on their lives. This year’s survey used an entirely new set of questions that addressed the topics of Covid-19, income, poverty, racial disparities, global warming, drug overdoses, life expectancy, pollution, and the national debt.

Some illuminating examples of the misconceptions held by voters with differing political preferences include the following:

76% of Trump voters think that the average income of middle-income households fell during the Obama administration. In reality, their inflation-adjusted average income rose by $5,300 during this period.

88% of Biden voters think that police are more likely to use lethal force when arresting black people than white people. In reality, police are 42% less likely to use lethal force when arresting blacks than whites.

The survey also found that a considerable portion of Trump voters have adopted some progressive fallacies spread by the media. For instance, 38% of Trump voters (and 86% of Biden voters) think that the number of strong-to-violent tornadoes in the U.S. has generally increased since the 1950s. In reality, they have slightly decreased. 

That disconnect between fact and perception accords with numerous reports that link tornadoes and other extreme weather events to global warming, even though such events have occurred at a roughly level pace for as far back in time as reliable data extends. This suggests that progressive powerhouses like media titans, big tech corporations, and educational institutions have enough reach and influence to mislead large numbers of people who are ideologically opposed to falsehoods they propagate.

The survey was comprised of 21 questions posed to U.S. residents who regularly vote. It was conducted just after the 2020 presidential election by Triton Polling & Research, an academic research firm that applied scientific survey methods to optimize accuracy.

Results for All Voters

For each question, voters were offered a selection of two or more answers, one of which was true. Voters also had the opportunity to say they were unsure.

On average, voters gave the correct answer 38% of the time, gave an incorrect answer 51% of the time, and said they were unsure 10% of the time.

A majority of voters gave the correct answer to only 4 of the 21 questions.

Results by Ideology of Falsehood

Among questions in which the wrong answers accorded with partisan agendas, an average of 57% of answers were liberally misinformed, while 28% were conservatively misinformed. In other words, voters were twice as likely to believe certain progressive myths than conservative ones. 

For all 10 of the questions in which the electorate was most deluded, the wrong answers they gave concurred with progressive narratives propagated by the media. Moreover, the false answers they gave were often far removed from reality, not just slightly mistaken. For example, 66% of voters thought that doubling the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour would raise the average income of families in poverty by 25% or more. The real figure is about 1%.

Results by Politics, Age, and Gender

The survey also recorded voters’ ages, genders, and who they voted for in the presidential election. This allows the survey to pinpoint the segments of society that are most and least informed about specific issues. The sample size of third-party voters were too small to produce meaningful data.

The results show deep partisan and demographic divides, with different groups being more or less knowledgeable depending upon the questions.

On average, the rates at which voters gave false answers varied from 61% for Biden voters to 42% for Trump voters. From worst to best, the false answer rates for the various groups are as follows:

61% for Biden voters
56% for 18- to 34-year olds
53% for females
51% for 35- to 64-year olds
51% for 65+ year olds
49% for males
42% for Trump voters

https://tennesseestar.com/2021/04/17/analysis-scientific-survey-shows-voters-across-the-political-spectrum-are-ideologically-deluded/