Saturday, August 28, 2021

Could a Long-Used Cholesterol Drug Fight Severe COVID-19?

A drug that lowers cholesterol might help save hospitalized patients with COVID-19, a new, small Israeli study suggests.

Researchers at Hebrew University of Jerusalem noted that COVID causes a big buildup of cholesterol, which results in inflammation in cells.

In lab experiments, they found that the cholesterol-lowering drug fenofibrate (TriCor) effectively reduced damage to lung cells and stopped the SARS-CoV-2 virus from replicating. A study in 15 patients confirmed the lab results.

"They've shown that fenofibrate can potentially reduce the chance of a patient becoming hospitalized, it can decrease the amount of time they spend in hospital, decrease their need for oxygen, and it might even decrease the risk of dying, so I'm cautiously optimistic, but these are very small numbers of patients, so I am cautious," said Alan Richardson, a reader in pharmacology at Keele University in Staffordshire, U.K., who reviewed the findings.

He said the drug appears to work by affecting the metabolic changes that happen when the SARS-CoV-2 virus invades cells.

In his own research, Richardson found that TriCor could potentially stop the virus from getting inside the cells in the first place.

But he strongly emphasized that people should not take TriCor in hopes of preventing COVID-19 infection.

"I'd strongly advise people not to do it on their own without talking to a doctor," he said.

In this new trial, researchers gave TriCor to 15 patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19. All had pneumonia and required oxygen. They were given TriCor for 10 days.

Study leader Dr. Yaakov Nahmias said the results were "astounding."

"Progressive inflammation markers, [which] are the hallmark of deteriorative COVID-19, dropped within 48 hours of treatment," Nahmias said in a news release. "Moreover, 14 of the 15 severe patients didn't require oxygen support within a week of treatment, while historical records show that the vast majority [of] severe patients treated with the standard of care require lengthy respiratory support."

A biomedical engineer at Hebrew University, Nahmias is also a faculty member at Harvard University's Center for Engineering in Medicine in Boston.

"There are no silver bullets, but fenofibrate is far safer than other drugs proposed to date," he said, adding that the way it works makes it less likely to be effective only with specific coronavirus variants.

All 15 patients left the hospital in less than a week and had no side effects from the drug, according to the study. Few reported COVID side effects during four weeks of follow-up.

Although the results were promising, researchers said only larger trials can prove the drug's effectiveness as a COVID treatment.

Two phase 3 trials are underway in South America and the United States, according to the researchers.

Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, reacted with caution to the findings.

"This is just an observational study with 15 people, so it's way too early to be saying that this medicine should be used," he said, adding that he's not sure that in the long run TriCor will be the medication of choice for COVID patients.

"We've gotten magic bullets in the works in the lab," Siegel said. "We're going to have an antiviral for COVID-19, but I don't think it's going to be this."

He said further study is warranted, however.

"Maybe TriCor will have some impact, but we're getting much closer to true antiviral treatments that may be game-changers," he said.

Siegel emphasized that TriCor doesn't take the place of COVID-19 vaccines in fighting the virus.

"Nothing takes the place of a vaccine, nothing," he stressed.

The study was published online Aug. 23 on the preprint server Research Square, but the findings have not yet been peer-reviewed


Finally, the age of lockdowns is over

Delta has changed everything. Comment from Australia

The age of the lockdown is over. The only catch is we can’t quite celebrate yet because half the nation is in lockdown.

And there is perhaps no more fitting final act of the coronavirus saga than this tragi-comic theatre of the absurd.

After more than a year and a half of Orwellian doublespeak and Machiavellian powerplays, Australia has finally come to its senses. Unfortunately it has only done so in theory, not practice.

From the very beginning of the pandemic there were those of us who could clearly see that mass lockdowns were never going to be a long-term solution, let alone a humane one.

We pleaded the vital importance of children going to school and adults going to work and thus were naturally condemned as granny-killing capo-fascists.

It would be unbecoming to crow now that we were right but, well, we were right.

Victoria subjected its citizens to four months of lockdown across the bitter winter of 2020 in an effort to beat the bug. But the bug came back and the state went into lockdown again.

And again. And again.

Meanwhile NSW showed that with a well-managed and well-resourced contact tracing system you could beat Covid-19 without city or statewide lockdowns.

The Casula outbreak, the Northern Beaches outbreak, the Croydon outbreak, the Berala outbreak and countless other leaks from hotel quarantine were all contained and crushed.

This all changed with the Delta variant.

NSW officials clearly thought they could beat it as they had the others, first with just contact tracing, then with local lockdowns, then with a citywide “lockdown lite” and lastly with some of the harshest measures ever seen.

None of it has worked. As every health expert and Blind Freddy himself now knows, we will not be getting back to zero ever again.

The predictable Pavlovian response from the hardliners was that this was because we didn’t lock down fast or hard enough.

And sure enough when Delta went down south Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews locked down hard and fast. After a couple of weeks he announced they had reached zero overnight cases.

That very same day Melbourne went into lockdown again. For the sixth time.

On Wednesday it looked like Victoria might have again started to bend the curve, posting just 45 overnight cases. The next day that number almost doubled.

An exasperated Andrews finally admitted there were “not many more levers we can pull”.

In short, he has gone as hard and fast as possible and still the virus is circulating and still Melburnians are living under the yoke.

Maybe it was just bad luck but if so there’s an awful lot of that going around.

In Fortress New Zealand, the global poster girl for ultra-hard lockdowns, they shut down the country at one single case. On Thursday there were more than 60 new cases.

Sure, Delta might possibly be held at bay for a while in some sparser scenarios but unless these jurisdictions are planning on becoming hermit states it is difficult to see what their long-term strategy is.

It is also true that both the Victorian and New Zealand outbreaks were caused by people from NSW — sorry about that! — but NSW could equally argue that its outbreak came from somewhere else too.

Or indeed that Sydney’s big second wave scare came from Victoria. The problem with the finger of blame is that it always ends up pointing in a circular direction.

The important thing is that even the most reluctant and recalcitrant are now finally seeing the light: Hard and fast or soft and slow, lockdowns now belong in the same historical dustbin as eugenics and ether theory.

They were never truly necessary in Australia, as its most populous state proved time and again, and when it comes to the current outbreak they clearly don’t work.

The NZ and Victorian governments are now subtly suggesting what NSW has been shouting from the rooftops — that it is not possible to beat the Delta variant with such medieval measures.

It is also worth noting that as of Thursday NSW and Victoria had reached almost the exact same number of Covid cases – around 21,500.

In Victoria 820 people died, in NSW just 133.

That is the difference vaccination makes and that is why even with record high case numbers NSW is now lifting restrictions instead of tightening them.

Indeed, new Doherty Institute modelling confirms this will not increase the death toll but anyone who can count could see that with their own eyes.

Even one of the Andrews government’s key lockdown advisers, epidemiologist and former staunch eliminationist Tony Blakely, is now advocating a softening of the current lockdown.

Likewise federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has now endorsed the national pathway out of lockdowns. And NSW Labor’s Chris Minns has delivered from opposition what some of his counterparts have failed to deliver in government: Leadership.

With Labor MPs representing virtually all the Sydney Covid hotspots, Minns last week instructed every local member to ensure their communities were getting vaccinated.

And this week he threw his weight behind a strategy to get kids back to school next term, for which opposition support will be critical.

This is Labor at its best, putting people ahead of pointscoring.

Meanwhile the isolationist premiers of Queensland and WA are looking increasingly like the apocryphal last Japanese soldier on the island, fighting a solitary long lost war.

The final irony in all of this is that those who are locked down now will perhaps be the longest free, as vaccination rates surge in NSW and Victoria and stagnate in the separatist states.

Soon we will be reunited with the world while the wallflowers chew their nails in the corner.



About 1,500 American citizens still in Afghanistan, secretary of state claims (NBC News)

White House cuts off audio of Joe Biden’s appalling response to question about Americans stranded in Afghanistan (Twitchy)

Two congressmen, a Democrat and a Republican, went to Kabul because they don’t trust Biden’s Afghanistan spin (PJ Media) |

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has ludicrously commended the president’s Saigon 2.0 malfeasance, slams the “freelance” trip (Fox News)

Pentagon orders COVID vaccinations for military personnel (Washington Times)

New York governor adds 12,000 deaths to publicized COVID tally (AP)

CDC: Schools with mask mandates didn’t see statistically significant different rates of COVID transmission from schools with optional policies (FEE)

YouTube oligarchs yank over one million COVID videos it deems “dangerous” (Daily Caller)

Man gets six years in prison for Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping role (Detroit News)

Former California Democrat majority leader endorses Larry Elder (Power Line)

Osama bin Laden warned in 2010 letter that Biden would “lead US into crisis” (NY Post)

Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt to speak out in interview (Daily Wire)

Apple promotes hookup apps to children (Free Beacon)

New Mexico governor’s car gets 13 MPG as she demands state average of 52 MPG (The Federalist)

A Washington state jail is offering free Ramen noodles to inmates who get the vaccine (Not the Bee)

Policy: The roads not taken in Afghanistan (Foreign Affairs)

Policy: The results of the labor-market experiment are in: Reducing unemployment benefits reduced unemployment (City Journal)




Friday, August 27, 2021

Lockdowns don’t just save lives, they cost lives too

Robert Bezimienny writes from Australia

As a practising doctor, it has become clear to me over the past 18 months that lockdowns not only inflict a financial cost – they also cost lives. The decision to impose a lockdown is not as simple as society making sacrifices to save lives. The decision is between losing lives to COVID-19 and losing lives to lockdowns.

The lives lost to COVID-19 are highly visible. In contrast, the lives lost to lockdowns have been and remain largely invisible.

Every life has equal moral value and our aim should be to reduce as many unnecessary deaths as possible, not just reduce deaths attributed to COVID-19.When I see a patient presenting with a disease that could have been diagnosed months, or even a year, earlier, I feel sad, angry and frustrated. The patient is not going to do as well. The difference can be as stark as that between a cure and the prospect of death.

During lockdown last year, patients avoided seeing GPs and specialists. Lockdowns made them fear stepping outside. They missed screening tests for breast cancer, for bowel cancer, for heart disease. Consequently, there will be an increased number of deaths from these conditions in the years to come.

While this avoidance will cost thousands of Australian lives, that toll feels less immediate than an unwell patient today. But lockdowns and the fear they provoke have done more than cost lives in future years – they are costing lives right now.

In the first lockdown, a patient with a lump was too scared to come in and see us at our practice. He will not do as well. The constant news stories had already made him fearful, but the lockdown had made him absolutely terrified. Once lockdown eased, he presented for a consultation, was examined and diagnosed with cancer – but the delay has affected his prognosis.

Another patient was referred to a specialist but deferred his appointment as he did not want to approach a hospital during lockdown. Once lockdown ended, he continued to defer his appointment as he waited for the world to return to normal. By the time he saw a specialist, a rare cancer had spread. This year he underwent palliative treatment. Sadly, he is now dead.

During lockdowns, patients have used the telephone and internet for consultations. This is much better than no consultation but it is not as good as seeing a patient in person. When a very old woman with multiple health problems called our practice with a cough, she was convinced that it was her bronchitis and she received two courses of antibiotics over the telephone. The cough persisted and despite great resistance she was persuaded to come in and allow a doctor to examine her. She did not have bronchitis, she had a much more serious condition: multiple blood clots throughout her lung – pulmonary emboli. She was hospitalised and pulled through.

A friend of mine is an emergency department specialist. During lockdowns he has seen people die from late presentations. He has seen more people die than he has ever seen before. Patients think it is dangerous to leave their own house, so those with chest pain stay at home and when they finally call an ambulance, a treatable heart attack has become fatal. Patients with strokes are too scared to go hospital and miss out on acute treatment that would have limited the damage to their brain. Patients with bacterial infections that would be simple to treat with prompt intravenous antibiotics wait at home and become septic and die.

The incidence of anxiety and depression has not just increased during lockdowns – it has exploded. In Australia, it has more than doubled. Depression can lead to suicide and every year 3000 Australians take their own lives. Many of them are young and their deaths are not visible.

If lockdowns are justified on the basis of potential lives saved, the actual lives lost to lockdowns must also be acknowledged.


Johns Hopkins Doctor Easily Shreds the Narratives Behind Forcing Kids to Mask Up for COVID

Kids generally don't get Covid or spread it, despite the panic porn you see on CNN. And even with this Delta wave and the school year upon us, has the media noted why other nations have not mandated kids to wear masks in class? It does more harm than good. What's the science behind masking kids? There's virtually none. Yes, the "I am science" crowd led by Fauci the Clown has next to nothing devoted to this question.

Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins has been at the forefront of trying to get science-based advice to the public. He's one of the few medical guests that talks about naturally acquired immunity, noting that over 100 million Americans probably already had and recovered from the infection, which bodes well for herd immunity given the vaccination rates. Yet, on this question, he takes the forced mask-wearing for kids narrative to the woodshed by citing…the science (via WSJ):

Do masks reduce Covid transmission in children? Believe it or not, we could find only a single retrospective study on the question, and its results were inconclusive. Yet two weeks ago the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sternly decreed that 56 million U.S. children and adolescents, vaccinated or not, should cover their faces regardless of the prevalence of infection in their community. Authorities in many places took the cue to impose mandates in schools and elsewhere, on the theory that masks can’t do any harm.

That isn’t true. Some children are fine wearing a mask, but others struggle. Those who have myopia can have difficulty seeing because the mask fogs their glasses. (This has long been a problem for medical students in the operating room.) Masks can cause severe acne and other skin problems. The discomfort of a mask distracts some children from learning. By increasing airway resistance during exhalation, masks can lead to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. And masks can be vectors for pathogens if they become moist or are used for too long.

In March, Ireland’s Department of Health announced that it won’t require masks in schools because they “may exacerbate anxiety or breathing difficulties for some students.” Some children compensate for such difficulties by breathing through their mouths. Chronic and prolonged mouth breathing can alter facial development. It is well-documented that children who mouth-breathe because adenoids block their nasal airways can develop a mouth deformity and elongated face.


What about the risk of Covid, which mask mandates are intended to ameliorate? The CDC reports that for the week of July 31 the rate of hospitalization with Covid for children 5 to 17 was 0.5 per 100,000, which would amount to roughly 250 patients. The CDC acknowledges that not all of these children were in the hospital for Covid: Viral testing at admission is routine, even for patients who have no Covid symptoms. Children who do develop Covid symptoms are at minimal risk of “long Covid,” according to a Lancet study published Aug. 3: “Almost all children had symptom resolution by 8 weeks, providing reassurance about long-term outcomes.”


We have been encouraging Americans to wear masks since the beginning of the pandemic. But special attention should be paid to the many children who struggle with masks. Public-health officials claim to base their decisions and guidance on science, but there’s no science behind mask mandates for children. A new research study by one of us (Dr. Makary) and his Johns Hopkins colleagues found that of the $42 billion the National Institutes of Health spent on research last year, less than 2% went to Covid clinical research and not a single grant was dedicated to studying masks in children.

In the absence of data, mask mandates have ignited a culture war.

Well, who saw that coming, the cultural war aspects to all of this? Fauci and the CDC peddled nonsense on child masking for months. Then, when the CDC was caught colluding with teachers' unions to keep schools closed, the political element was further intensified. What's more, is that a lot of the doomsday scenarios in the spring never came true. Then, troves of Fauci's emails were revealed, with one noting that store-bought masks are ineffective at curbing the spread of COVID. Fauci also said at the outset that we shouldn't wear masks. Now, it's just cover your face. It doesn't matter what kind of mask; it could be a cloth.

So, what's the science behind that, chief? There is none. It's all about control. And now these medical fascist pigs are coming after the kids. We talk about endless wars. Fauci and bureaucrats want an endless pandemic.

"Any child who wants to wear a mask should be free to do so. But forcing them to make personal, health and developmental sacrifices for the sake of adults who refuse to get immunized is abusive," wrote Makary. "Before we order the masking of 56 million Americans who are too young to vote and don't have a lobby, let's see data showing the benefits and weigh them against the long-term harm."

That's pretty reasonable.




Thursday, August 26, 2021

Vaccine Inventor Questions Mandatory Shot Push, Biden’s Covid-19 Strategy


The Biden administration’s strategy to universally vaccinate in the middle of the pandemic is bad science and badly needs a reboot.

This strategy will likely prolong the most dangerous phase of the worst pandemic since 1918 and almost assuredly cause more harm than good—even as it undermines faith in the entire public health system.

Four flawed assumptions drive the Biden strategy. The first is that universal vaccination can eradicate the virus and secure economic recovery by achieving herd immunity throughout the country (and the world). However, the virus is now so deeply embedded in the world population that, unlike polio and smallpox, eradication is unachievable. SARS-CoV-2 and its myriad mutations will likely continually circulate, much like the common cold and influenza.

The second assumption is that the vaccines are (near) perfectly effective. However, our currently available vaccines are quite “leaky.” While good at preventing severe disease and death, they only reduce, not eliminate, the risk of infection, replication, and transmission. As a slide deck from the Centers for Disease Control has revealed, even 100% acceptance of the current leaky vaccines combined with strict mask compliance will not stop the highly contagious Delta variant from spreading.

The third assumption is that the vaccines are safe. Yet scientists, physicians, and public health officials now recognize risks that are rare but by no means trivial. Known side effects include serious cardiac and thrombotic conditions, menstrual cycle disruptions, Bell’s Palsy, Guillain Barre syndrome, and anaphylaxis.

Unknown side effects which virologists fear may emerge include existential reproductive risks, additional autoimmune conditions, and various forms of disease enhancement, i.e., the vaccines can make people more vulnerable to reinfection by SARS-CoV-2 or reactivation of latent viral infections and associated diseases such as shingles. With good reason, the FDA has yet to approve the vaccines now administered under Emergency Use Authorization.

The failure of the fourth “durability” assumption is the most alarming and perplexing. It now appears our current vaccines are likely to offer a mere 180-day window of protection—a decided lack of durability underscored by scientific evidence from Israel and confirmed by Pfizer, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other countries.

Here, we are already being warned of the need for universal “booster” shots at six-month intervals for the foreseeable future. The obvious broader point that militates for individual vaccine choice is that repeated vaccinations, each with a small risk, can add up to a big risk.

It’s an arms race with the virus.

The most important reason why a universal vaccination strategy is imprudent tracks to the collective risk associated with how the virus responds when replicating in vaccinated individuals. Here, basic virology and evolutionary genetics tell us the goal of any virus is to infect and replicate in as many people as possible. A virus can’t efficiently spread if, like with Ebola, it quickly kills its hosts.

The clear historical tendency for viruses crossing over from one species to another is to evolve in a way that makes them both more infectious and less pathogenic over time. However, a universal vaccination policy deployed in the middle of a pandemic can turn this normal Darwinian taming process into a dangerous vaccine arms race.

The essence of this arms race is this: The more people you vaccinate, the greater the number of vaccine-resistant mutations you are likely to get, the less durable the vaccines will become, ever more powerful vaccines will have to be developed, and individuals will be exposed to more and more risk.

Science tells us here that today’s vaccines, which use novel gene therapy technologies, generate powerful antigens that direct the immune system to attack specific components of the virus. Thus, when the virus infects a person with a “leaky” vaccination, the viral progeny will be selected to escape or resist the effects of the vaccine.

If the entire population has been trained via a universal vaccination strategy to have the same basic immune response, then once a viral escape mutant is selected, it will rapidly spread through the entire population—whether vaccinated or not.

A far more optimal strategy is to vaccinate only the most vulnerable. This will limit the amount of vaccine-resistant mutations and thereby slow, if not halt, the current vaccine arms race.

Fortunately, those most vulnerable represent a relatively small number; and these cohorts have already achieved high levels of vaccine acceptance. They include senior citizens, for whom the risk of serious disease or death increases exponentially with age, and those with significant comorbidities such as obesity, lung, and heart disease.

For much of the rest of the population, there’s nothing to fear but fear of the virus itself. This is particularly true if we have lawful outpatient access to a growing arsenal of scientifically proven prophylactics and therapeutics.

For example, there has been much controversy over ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Yet, with the emergence of a growing body of scientific evidence, we can be assured these two medicines are safe and effective in prophylaxis and early treatment when administered under a physician’s supervision. Numerous other useful treatments range from famotidine/celecoxib, fluvoxamine, and apixaban to various anti-inflammatory steroids, Vitamin D, and zinc.

The broader goal when administering these agents is to moderate symptoms and take death off the table, particularly for the unvaccinated. Unlike vaccines, these agents are generally not dependent on specific viral properties or mutations but instead mitigate or treat the inflammatory symptoms of the disease itself. (Pfizer is now actively marketing its own antiviral therapeutic—tacit admission Pfizer’s own vaccine is incapable of eradicating the virus.)

We are not “anti-vax.” One of us (Dr. Malone) invented the core mRNA technology being used by Pfizer and Moderna to produce their vaccines and has spent his entire professional career developing and advancing novel vaccine technologies, vaccines, and other medical countermeasures. The other (Dr. Navarro) played a key role at the Trump White House in jumpstarting Operation Warp Speed and ensuring timely delivery of the vaccines.

We are simply saying that just because you have a big vaccine hammer, it is not necessarily wise to use it for every nail. The American people deserve better than a universal vaccination strategy under the flag of bad science and enforced through authoritarian measures.


New Zealand is back in a lockdown time warp

by Jeff Jacoby

WHEN FORTUNE magazine recently published its annual ranking of the world's 50 greatest leaders, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern topped the list. The editors lavished praise on Ardern's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, hailing the way she "targeted not just suppression of the virus, but its complete elimination." Fortune deemed her strategy a success: Only 26 people had died of the disease in New Zealand, which imposed the first of several aggressive nationwide lockdowns 17 months ago and closed off the country's borders to all non-citizens and non-residents.

Ardern's leadership is no longer looking quite so brilliant. On Aug. 17, after a single COVID infection was reported in New Zealand, the prime minister again ordered the entire country to close. Under the so-called Level 4 restrictions, all Kiwis must stay at home except for food or medication, or to exercise alone. Bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, swimming pools, museums, libraries, and playgrounds are all shuttered. So are schools and daycare facilities. Weddings and funerals are banned.

"Do not congregate. Don't talk to your neighbors. Please keep to your bubbles," Ardern told the nation. "The delta variant ... can be spread by people simply walking past one another, so keep those movements outside to a bare minimum." The latest lockdown is to remain in force at least through midnight Friday, but may be extended on the prime minister's say-so. Meanwhile, as of Monday, nearly 150 infections had been reported since the appearance of that single case last week.

"Here we are back in the world's strictest lockdown," journalist Andrea Vance wrote in Stuff, a top New Zealand news site. "The rest of the world is embracing its post-pandemic future while New Zealand enters a March 2020 time warp."

It turns out that a strategy to achieve "complete elimination" of the coronavirus is a strategy for failure. During last year's heated debates in the West over the wisdom of trying to control the pandemic by bringing economic life to a near-halt, lockdown supporters praised Ardern fulsomely for having so forcefully "squashed" the virus. New Zealand's ultra-low rate of infection and death was seen as proof that strict lockdowns were indeed the best way to defeat the disease.

But they weren't. Dozens of academic studies have concluded that lockdown decrees were largely futile in preventing the virus from spreading, and accomplished little that could not have been achieved through less restrictive means. The trajectory of the pandemic since early 2020 has made it clear that, as the New York Times put it in a recent headline, "Covid Isn't Going Away." So across the United States, even as the highly contagious Delta variant causes hospitalizations to surge, governors and mayors have not reverted to last year's approach of pulling the plug on the economy.

"Most of the country remains fully open," reported the Times, "and ... most officials have so far steered away from restricting or shuttering businesses." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that Americans with compromised immune systems, those who remain unvaccinated, and some others continue to wear masks, but has not called for shutting down businesses.

The key difference this time around, of course, is that most Americans, like residents of most advanced democracies, are vaccinated. Nearly 61 percent of the US population has been given at least one dose, and 51.5 percent has been fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg's Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker. Across the European Union, the fully-vaccinated level is nearly 57 percent. In Israel, it's 60 percent. In Britain, 63 percent. In Canada, 65 percent.

The fulsome praise lavished on Prime Minister Ardern turned out to be premature.

But in New Zealand, barely 19 percent of the population — less than 1 in 5 — has been fully vaccinated. Just one-third of New Zealanders have gotten even a single dose. In no developed nation have vaccinations lagged so badly.

New Zealand is back in a "March 2020 time warp" because its focus for the past year and a half was not on getting the virus under control but on the chimera of eliminating it entirely. Bamboozled, perhaps, by all the flattery she was getting, Ardern persisted in what she called a "Stamp it Out" approach. More than once she declared that New Zealand had defeated COVID.

Only now, at long last, is the government making it a priority to get the vaccine into as many people as possible. Only now has it sunk in that the virus can't be wiped out for good — not even an island nation like New Zealand can wall itself off from the pandemic. The way out of the COVID nightmare is through vaccinations, not through nationwide closures and sealed borders. Americans and Europeans have put 2020 lockdowns behind them. It's time New Zealand followed suit.




Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Rehab progress

My rehab after my recent health problems is going well.  I now have more energy to blog.  In the last few days I have been putting something up on most of my blogs most days.  I have also revived my selective blog  


Rising number of breakthrough Delta infections among fully vaccinated

Chicago: A quarter of Los Angeles residents who caught COVID from May to July this year as the Delta variant surged were fully vaccinated.

The data, published in the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report on death and disease, shows an increase in “breakthrough” infections among those who had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

The centre is relying on data from cohorts, such as the Los Angeles County study, to determine whether Americans need a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines to increase protection. Government scientists last week laid out a strategy for booster doses beginning on September 20, pending reviews from the US Food and Drug Administration and the CDC.

While a quarter of the COVID infections in the Los Angeles study were in the fully vaccinated, fewer than one in 20 was hospitalised.
While a quarter of the COVID infections in the Los Angeles study were in the fully vaccinated, fewer than one in 20 was hospitalised. CREDIT:AP

The new data released on Tuesday involved more than 43,000 reported infections among Los Angeles County residents aged 16 and older. Of them, 10,895, or 25.3 per cent occurred in fully vaccinated persons, and 1431, or 3.3 per cent, were in partially vaccinated persons. The majority of infections, however, were among the unvaccinated: 30,801 cases, or 71.4 per cent of the cohort.

The vaccines did, however, protect individuals from more severe symptoms. According to the study, only 3.2 percent of fully vaccinated individuals who tested positive for coronavirus were hospitalised, just 0.05 per cent were admitted to an intensive care unit and 0.25 per cent were placed on a ventilator.

Among the unvaccinated who caught COVID, 7.5 per cent were hospitalised, 1.5 per cent were admitted to an intensive care unit and 0.5 per cent required breathing support with a mechanical ventilator.

In addition to the LA County data, the CDC on Tuesday released an update on a study of healthcare workers that showed a significant drop in vaccine effectiveness among vaccinated frontline workers in eight states who became infected with the coronavirus.

The effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines among healthcare workers declined to 66 per cent after the Delta variant became dominant, compared with 91 per cent before it arose, according to the report.

The vaccines are still protective, the centre said, and the finding must be interpreted with caution, as vaccine effectiveness might wane over time and the estimates of efficacy were imprecise.

“Although these interim findings suggest a moderate reduction in the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines in preventing infection, the sustained two-thirds reduction in infection risk underscores the continued importance and benefits of Covid-19 vaccination,” researchers wrote in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The findings echo earlier evidence from Israel and the UK suggesting COVID-19 vaccines lost some potency in preventing infections over time as the Delta variant spread.

The observational study tracked more than 4,000 health-care workers, first responders, and other front-line personnel in eight locations across six states from December 2020 to August 2021. They were tested weekly for COVID-19 infection, and about 83 per cent were vaccinated.

About two-thirds of those vaccinated had received the Pfizer shot, 2 per cent received Johnson & Johnson’s, and the rest received the Moderna vaccine.


Q & A on Delta

The rise of Delta, which is far more easily transmitted from person to person than previous strains of the virus, has made going out in public riskier. That’s one reason why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently changed its masking recommendations—it now advises vaccinated people in areas with high levels of virus to wear a mask indoors. Figuring out when to take risks and when not to is largely a matter of individual circumstance and preference. For instance, people with weakened immune systems should be more cautious than those with robust immune systems. Here are answers to some other common questions:

Q: How great is the risk of getting sick if you’ve gotten the vaccine?

It depends on the vaccine. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July showed that the twoshot Pfizer mRNA vaccine was 88 percent effective in preventing illness due to the Delta variant, down from 93.7 percent for the Alpha variant. The Moderna mRNA shot is thought to offer similar protection. The study found that the Astra-Zeneca vaccine was 67 percent effective against Delta, as opposed to 74.5 for Alpha.

Q: If vaccinated people can still be infected, should they worry about being able to transmit the virus to others?

Yes, but not as much as unvaccinated people should. According to internal CDC documents recently obtained by The Washington Post, vaccinated people who have been infected with the Delta variant may spread the virus as efficiently as unvaccinated people who are infected. Delta tends to concentrate in the nose and throat, which is why the C.D.C. wants everyone to mask up. However, because vaccinated people tend to have stronger immune responses to the virus, they are probably contagious for only a short time—though this scenario has not been studied rigorously.

Q: Can vaccinated people who show symptoms develop long-haul COVID-19?

Little is known about longhaul COVID. In a recent study of health care workers, 19 percent of vaccinated people who got sick still had symptoms after six weeks. Keep in mind that this is only one study with relatively few participants, so firm conclusions will have to wait for more data.

Q: When will children under the age of 12 be eligible for a shot?

Current estimates range from as little as a month or two to well into 2022. On the far side of the range: FDA officials say they expect children under 12 to be eligible for vaccination by midwinter, after another four to six months of clinical trials. Pfizer, though, is more optimistic. In June, it began a study of 4,500 kids aged 5-to-11 in the U.S., Poland, Finland and Spain and hopes to have enough data collected by September to ask officials for an emergency use authorization.

Q: How do doctors determine which variant you have?

COVID-19 tests don’t identify variants. To find out how prevalent a variant is, the CDC takes samples, identifies them by sequencing their genetic material and then estimates what proportion of infections a given variant accounts for.

Q: Are the symptoms different between the variants?

Symptoms from many variants are similar to those of the original virus—fever, dry cough, shortness of breath. However, Delta can also manifest more like a bad cold, with a runny nose, sore throat and headache. Recently, reports of loss of smell and taste have become less common, according to the Zoe Covid Symptom study.

Q: When does the immunity from the vaccine start to wane? Is it the same for mRNA vaccines and others?

Pfizer recently said that the effectiveness of its mRNA vaccine declines to 84 percent about four to six months after the second shot, based on an internal study that has not yet been peer reviewed. A study in the journal Nature suggested that the mRNA vaccines have potentially long-lasting immunity.

Q: Will everyone eventually need booster shots? Or only those who are elderly and/or immunocompromised?

It depends in part on what kind of variants arise in the future. For now, experts do not foresee a need for most healthy vaccinated people to get booster shots, but that could change. Public health officials have suggested that those with weakened immune systems may need to get boosters this winter.

Q: Is it safe to go back into an office to work?

Safe is a relative term. It depends on an individual’s health, circumstances and tolerance for risk. In an office where everybody is vaccinated and virus levels in the community are low, the risk is small. In an office where many people are unvaccinated and virus levels are high, the risk can be many times higher. The risk for an unvaccinated person is always higher than for a vaccinated person. Vaccinated people who are immunocompromised or are caring for someone who is vulnerable at home may want to keep their potential exposure to the virus as low as possible—which means avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated rooms and wearing masks when indoors with others who may not be vaccinated. Because the Delta variant is so highly transmissible, the CDC now recommends mask wearing for everyone in indoor settings in regions where virus levels are high.

Q: In light of the Delta variant, should we be rethinking resuming regular activities like going to restaurants, sporting events, concerts, flying on planes, etc.?

Most vaccines still offer excellent protection. However, the risk goes up with exposure to the virus—and the Delta variant, with its high transmissibility, has ratcheted up the risk for all activities. Risk tolerance varies from one person to the next, but in general it’s a good idea to be aware of situations that are likely to bring you into contact with high levels of virus. Crowded, stuffy bars are riskier than spacious, well ventilated restaurants. Airplanes usually have good ventilation, but you have to worry about that unmasked, unvaccinated person sitting next to you. If in doubt, wear a mask.

Q: If you’ve already had COVID-19 with mild symptoms, what are the benefits of getting the vaccine?

One big benefit of vaccination is that it reduces the overall level of virus in a population, which makes everyone safer. Some studies also suggest that vaccines provide better protection for longer than natural infection. For instance, a study in China, recently published in The Lancet, showed that only 40 percent of people who had gotten COVID-19 carried antibodies to the coronavirus months later.

Q: If you’ve already had COVID-19 and are getting the vaccine, do you need to get both shots?

Yes. A recent study in the U.K., published in Nature, found that a single shot of the Pfizer vaccine reduced illness from the Delta variant by 33 percent. Two weeks after the second shot, that protection rose to 88 percent.



Biden rejected U.S. intel predictions of rapid Afghan collapse (American Military News)

China sends bombers into Taiwan air defense zone (Washington Times)

Judge blocks Biden’s attempt to limit deportations (Washington Times)

15M votes in 2020 election unaccounted for (Daily Signal)

TX Dems return, quorum established for election integrity bill (Fox News)

FBI knew Ilhan Omar married her brother (Post Millennial)

CDC redefines “fully vaccinated” (Post Millennial)

GOP governors, school districts battle over mask mandates (Associated Press)

GA governor blocks COVID mandate on businesses (Just the News)

Home construction slumps on supply constraints (Epoch Times)

Firearms sales set new record (1945)

FTC refiles Facebook anti-trust lawsuit (CNBC)




Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Those Anti-Covid Plastic Barriers Probably Don’t Help and May Make Things Worse

Covid precautions have turned many parts of our world into a giant salad bar, with plastic barriers separating sales clerks from shoppers, dividing customers at nail salons and shielding students from their classmates.

Intuition tells us a plastic shield would be protective against germs. But scientists who study aerosols, air flow and ventilation say that much of the time, the barriers don’t help and probably give people a false sense of security. And sometimes the barriers can make things worse.

Research suggests that in some instances, a barrier protecting a clerk behind a checkout counter may redirect the germs to another worker or customer. Rows of clear plastic shields, like those you might find in a nail salon or classroom, can also impede normal air flow and ventilation.

Under normal conditions in stores, classrooms and offices, exhaled breath particles disperse, carried by air currents and, depending on the ventilation system, are replaced by fresh air roughly every 15 to 30 minutes. But erecting plastic barriers can change air flow in a room, disrupt normal ventilation and create “dead zones,” where viral aerosol particles can build up and become highly concentrated.

“If you have a forest of barriers in a classroom, it’s going to interfere with proper ventilation of that room,” said Linsey Marr, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and one of the world’s leading experts on viral transmission. “Everybody’s aerosols are going to be trapped and stuck there and building up, and they will end up spreading beyond your own desk.”

There are some situations in which the clear shields might be protective, but it depends on a number of variables. The barriers can stop big droplets ejected during coughs and sneezes from splattering on others, which is why buffets and salad bars often are equipped with transparent sneeze guards above the food.

But Covid-19 spreads largely through unseen aerosol particles. While there isn’t much real-world research on the impact of transparent barriers and the risk of disease, scientists in the United States and Britain have begun to study the issue, and the findings are not reassuring.

A study published in June and led by researchers from Johns Hopkins, for example, showed that desk screens in classrooms were associated with an increased risk of coronavirus infection. In a Massachusetts school district, researchers found that plexiglass dividers with side walls in the main office were impeding air flow. A study looking at schools in Georgia found that desk barriers had little effect on the spread of the coronavirus compared with ventilation improvements and masking.

Before the pandemic, a study published in 2014 found that office cubicle dividers were among the factors that may have contributed to disease transmission during a tuberculosis outbreak in Australia.

British researchers have conducted modeling studies simulating what happens when a person on one side of a barrier — like a customer in a store — exhales particles while speaking or coughing under various ventilation conditions. The screen is more effective when the person coughs, because the larger particles have greater momentum and hit the barrier. But when a person speaks, the screen doesn’t trap the exhaled particles — which just float around it. While the store clerk may avoid an immediate and direct hit, the particles are still in the room, posing a risk to the clerk and others who may inhale the contaminated air.

“We have shown this effect of blocking larger particles, but also that the smaller aerosols travel over the screen and become mixed in the room air within about five minutes,” said Catherine Noakes, professor of environmental engineering for buildings at the University of Leeds in England. “This means if people are interacting for more than a few minutes, they would likely be exposed to the virus regardless of the screen.”

Dr. Noakes said erecting barriers may seem like a good idea but can have unintended consequences. She conducted a study published in 2013 that looked at the effect of partitions between beds in hospitals. The study showed that while some people were protected from germs, the partitions funneled the air in the room toward others.

So while a worker behind a transparent barrier might be spared some of the customer’s germs, a worker nearby or customers in line could still be exposed. Dr. Noakes said most screens she has seen are “poorly positioned and are unlikely to be of much benefit.”

“I think this may be a particular problem in places like classrooms where people are present for longer periods of time,” Dr. Noakes said. “Large numbers of individual screens impede the airflow and create pockets of higher and lower risk that are hard to identify.”

To understand why screens often have little effect on protecting people from aerosol particles, it helps to think about exhaled breath like a plume of cigarette smoke, Dr. Marr said.

“One way to think about plastic barriers is that they are good for blocking things like spitballs but ineffective for things like cigarette smoke,” Dr. Marr said. “The smoke simply drifts around them, so they will give the person on the other side a little more time before being exposed to the smoke. Meanwhile, people on the same side with the smoker will be exposed to more smoke, since the barriers trap it on that side until it has a chance to mix throughout the space.”

Most researchers say the screens most likely help in very specific situations. A bus driver, for instance, shielded from the public by a floor-to-ceiling barrier is probably protected from inhaling much of what passengers are exhaling. A bank cashier behind a wall of glass or a clerk checking in patients in a doctor’s office may be at least partly protected by a barrier.

A study by researchers with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati tested different sized transparent barriers in an isolation room using a cough simulator. The study, which hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed, found that under the right conditions, taller shields, above “cough height,” stopped about 70 percent of the particles from reaching the particle counter on the other side, which is where the store or salon worker would be sitting or standing.

But the study’s authors noted the limitations of the research, particularly that the experiment was conducted under highly controlled conditions. The experiment took place in an isolation room with consistent ventilation rates that didn’t “accurately reflect all real-world situations,” the report said.

The study didn’t consider that workers and customers move around, that other people could be in the room breathing the redirected particles and that many stores and classrooms have several stations with acrylic barriers, not just one, that impede normal air flow.

While further research is needed to determine the effect of adding transparent shields around school or office desks, all the aerosol experts interviewed agreed that desk shields were unlikely to help and were likely to interfere with the normal ventilation of the room. Depending on the conditions, the plastic shields could cause viral particles to accumulate in the room.

“If there are aerosol particles in the classroom air, those shields around students won’t protect them,” said Richard Corsi, the incoming dean of engineering at the University of California, Davis. “Depending on the air flow conditions in the room, you can get a downdraft into those little spaces that you’re now confined in and cause particles to concentrate in your space.”

Aerosol scientists say schools and workplaces should focus on encouraging workers and eligible students to be vaccinated, improving ventilation, adding HEPA air filtering machines when needed and imposing mask requirements — all of which are proven ways to reduce virus transmission.

The problem, experts say, is that most people in charge of erecting barriers in offices, restaurants, nail salons and schools are not doing so with the assistance of engineering experts who can evaluate air flow and ventilation for each room.

People shouldn’t panic when they see transparent barriers, but they shouldn’t view them as fully protective, either. Workers and students who have transparent shields around them should continue to wear a mask to lower risk, Dr. Corsi said.

“Air flow in rooms is pretty complicated,” Dr. Corsi said. “Every room is different in terms of the arrangement of the furniture, the height of the walls and ceilings, the vents, where the book shelves are. All of these things have a huge impact on the actual flow and air distribution in a room because every classroom or office space is different.”


Covid antibody treatment lowered risk of symptomatic disease by 77% in trial

A new coronavirus antibody treatment developed by drugs giant AstraZeneca and aimed at people who cannot be vaccinated reduced the risk of developing symptomatic disease by 77%, the company said.

The results of the Provent phase III pre-exposure prophylaxis trial showed there were no cases of severe Covid or Covid-related deaths in those treated with the “antibody cocktail” AZD7442, AstraZeneca said on Friday.

The study of more than 5,000 adults found AZD7442, a combination of two long-acting antibodies, also reduced the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 by 77% compared to a placebo.

In the placebo group there were three cases of severe coronavirus which included two deaths, the company added.

The drugs company said the antibody combination, which is delivered through an injection to the muscle, could give people up to 12 months of protection from Covid-19.

It is the first non-vaccine antibody combination modified to provide potentially long-lasting protection that has demonstrated prevention of Covid-19 in a clinical trial, AstraZeneca added.

Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice-president of biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, said: “We need additional approaches for individuals who are not adequately protected by Covid-19 vaccines.

“We are very encouraged by these efficacy and safety data in high-risk people, showing our long-acting antibody combination has the potential to protect from symptomatic and severe disease, alongside vaccines.

“We look forward to sharing further data from the AZD7442 phase III clinical trial programme later this year.”

More than 75% of participants in the trial had co-morbidities and other characteristics that are associated with an increased risk of severe Covid-19 or cause a reduced immune response to vaccination, AstraZeneca said.

These include those with immunosuppressive disease or taking immunosuppressive medications, diabetes, severe obesity or cardiac disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney and chronic liver disease.

The long-acting antibodies were well tolerated and preliminary analyses showed adverse events were balanced between the placebo and AZD7442 groups, AstraZeneca added.

AZD7442 could be an important tool in our arsenal to help people who may need more than a vaccine to return to their normal lives

Myron J Levin, principal investigator on the trial

The participants will continue to be monitored for 15 months, the company said.

AstraZeneca also said that preliminary “in vitro” findings from investigators at Oxford University and Columbia University show AZD7442 neutralises recent emergent Covid strains, including the Delta variant.

Myron J Levin, professor of paediatrics and medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and principal investigator on the trial, said: “The Provent data show that one dose of AZD7442, delivered in a convenient intramuscular form, can quickly and effectively prevent symptomatic Covid-19.

“With these exciting results, AZD7442 could be an important tool in our arsenal to help people who may need more than a vaccine to return to their normal lives.”

AstraZeneca said it will prepare regulatory submissions of the data for health authorities for potential emergency use authorisation or conditional approval of AZD7442.

Professor Penny Ward, visiting professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London, said the new treatment could be a very important option for patients at high risk from Covid who have responded poorly to vaccination or who must take immune-suppressing treatment for other diseases.

It could potentially be game changing for these individuals, who are currently being advised to continue to shield despite being fully vaccinated

Professor Penny Ward, King’s College London

She added: “Indeed it could potentially be game changing for these individuals, who are currently being advised to continue to shield despite being fully vaccinated.

“Despite the success of vaccination some individuals do not respond as well and remain at higher risk of disease, hospitalisation and death. Prophylaxis with passive antibody therapy can help these folks further and reduce morbidity and mortality in this important population subset.

“They can be used to protect people while they undergo cancer treatment, for example.”

But Prof Ward said while the initial data was “encouraging” full publication of the results was need to understand the merits of the product and how to use it “most effectively” in practice.

Helen Rowntree, director for research, services and engagement for Blood Cancer UK, said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) needed to urgently assess the drug for approval for use in the UK.

If approved, the Government needs to draw up plans for giving it to people with blood cancer as quickly as possible, she added.

Ms Rowntree said: “This is great news for people with blood cancer because while their weakened immune systems mean they are less likely to respond to vaccines, this treatment does not rely on the immune system to produce antibodies to fight off the virus.

“This means that this may even be the game changer that potentially gives people with blood cancer the same kind of protection from Covid as the vaccines are already giving people who don’t have blood cancer.”




Monday, August 23, 2021

‘Centrist Chad’ Explains Vaccine Hesitancy in the Most Epic Thread You’ll Read All Year

You’re struggling to understand why some people are vaccine hesitant. The “let me help you” megathread: Imagine you’re a normal person. The year is 2016. Rightly or wrongly, you believe most of what you see in the media.

You believe polls are broadly reflective of public opinion. You believe doctors and scientists are trustworthy and independent. You’re a decent, reasonable person who follows the rules and trusts authority.

Imagine your shock then, when Brexit, which you were assured won’t happen because it’s a fringe movement led by racists for racists, happens. The polls, which widely predicted it wouldn’t happen were completely wrong.

The experts and media pundits who told you it wouldn’t happen day after day are also wrong. “Oh well” you say, “these things happen”. Imagine that soon after Donald Trump is running for President. You are told by your favourite media publications that he is going to lose.

Some experts say his opponent has a 99% chance of winning.

Survey finds Hillary Clinton has ‘more than 99% chance’ of winning election over Donald Trump
Imagine waking up on the morning after the election to discover that pollsters, media experts and politicians you still trusted were wrong again.

And now, the racist monster they told you would never get near the White House is the leader of the free world. “How did this happen?” you ask yourself? How could all the people in charge of informing me be so wrong? “It was the Russians,” they tell you.

“The Russians did Brexit and they got Trump elected too”. Imagine that for the next 3.5 years you watch as the media and the political class run with the Russia collusion narrative. They tell you the how, when and where.

The dossiers, the whistle-blowers, the peeing prostitutes. Imagine your desperation for things to make sense again. The Mueller Report is coming and it will set your world straight.

Evidence of foreign meddling in the 2016 election and Brexit is coming to save your unsettled mind. Imagine your shock then, when you discover that Brexit and Trump had little to do with foreign meddling. The screaming about Russians and Brexit dies down as well.

Imagine that bit by bit, you discover that events which the media and political class told you would not and could not happen not only happened, but happened without some sort of evil interference. Instead, millions of your fellow citizens voted for them.

Again, you ask “How could this happen?” and again the media has the answer: racism. “Your country is racist”, they tell you. If you’re white, this seems strange to you. Other than a handful of idiots, you’ve never met a racist.

If you’re an ethnic minority immigrant like me, this seems even stranger. Why would people in one of the most welcoming, tolerant countries in the world want to convince themselves their country is racist when it’s so obviously not?

But the evidence is right there on your TV screen. Imagine your horror as a gay black actor is assaulted by MAGA hat-wearing thugs who racially abuse him and put a noose around his neck. He cries while talking about it:

Imagine your outrage as you see news reports of a bunch of MAGA hat-wearing kids from a religious school contemptuously confront a native America elder. Reza Aslan tells you the kid has a “punchable face” and while you abhor violence, it’s hard to disagree.

Imagine that for days you watch coverage of these events, with expert after expert, pundit after pundit, sharing and fueling your outrage about them. With every word, your belief that you are a good person and that your country is a good country wavers.

Imagine that soon after, however, the Jussie Smollett story turns out to be an attention-seeking hoax. Imagine that you quickly discover that the native American elder was the one who confronted the kids and not the other way around.

“If this is such a racist country,” you ask yourself… “why would they need to make up stories of racism?” As you ponder this, you remember that for years now, you’ve been expected to go along with other make-believe.

You’re expected to believe that whether you’re male or female is not as simple as you once thought. Whatever you learned about biology at school is wrong. You no longer know how many genders there are and it seems dangerous to try to find out.

Imagine reading that the experts at the American Psychological Association say that traditional masculinity is “pathological and harmful”.

Psychology Has a New Approach to Building Healthier Men
Imagine that you still want to believe the media and their experts, but now that requires you to think your country is racist, men are bad and gender is a social construct, whatever that means. It is at this point that a pandemic emerges on the other side of the world.

You are initially unconcerned, but as scenes emerge from Italy and other countries, it is clear that something big is happening. You watch nervously as politicians give press conference after press conference, flanked by experts, to explain the situation.

The racist Donald Trump shuts down travel from China. In response, the mayor of Florence advises citizens to fight racism by “hugging a Chinese person”.

Shortly after, Nancy Pelosi, a respected Democrat visits Chinatown in San Francisco to explain “there’s no reason tourists or locals should be staying away from the area because of coronavirus concerns.”

“Thank God there are some sensible non-racist people who aren’t overreacting,” you say to yourself.

Imagine watching as Trump doubles down on his racism by claiming the virus may have come from a lab in Wuhan.

“Nonsense,” you think to yourself as you wonder how best to protect yourself and your family from this deadly disease. You consider getting masks – you’ve seen visitors from Asian countries wear them.

But the UK’s Chief Medical Officer tells you not to wear a mask and wash your hands instead.

As lockdowns are introduced around the world, you diligently follow all the rules. You stay at home, only go out once and live off savings or government grants.

You are proud to be doing your part. Thanks to you and millions of your fellow citizens the first wave of the pandemic does not overwhelm the healthcare system. While thousands sadly die, you’ve helped to protect the NHS.

Imagine your confusion as the same people who have spent 3 months telling you masks don’t work and you shouldn’t wear them introduce mask mandates. We’re “following the science” they tell you. This makes little sense but a pandemic is no time for questions.

As you cautiously go to the supermarket, you notice that masks have made people far less likely to socially distance.

You remember reading somewhere that bicycle helmets work similarly: they give the wearer more confidence and the result is more accidents and injuries, not fewer. “Silly people,” you say to yourself. “If only they would follow government advice”.

You turn on your TV to learn that shoppers at your local supermarket aren’t the only ones who have been ignoring the rules.

Neil Ferguson, the man whose projections were used as the basis for lockdowns, appears to have broken his own rules to get some action with his married lover.

Boris Johnson’s chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, drove half way across the country to ensure he had a better place to isolate. The journalists who berate him for this are later found to have attended a birthday party in breach of the rules.

The lockdown continues. However, a man is killed in Minneapolis while being arrested for a petty crime. The man is black. The officer is white. The arrest is captured on video and quickly goes viral around the world.

Imagine your horror as you watch an officer of the law kneel on another man’s neck until he passes out and later dies. “This is disgusting,” you say to yourself. “I hope they throw the book at him”. Overnight, a huge campaign for racial justice springs up around the world.

No one explains what racism had to do with the incident but they don’t need to. As you know by now, the West is racist and therefore any time a white person does anything bad to a black person, there can only be one explanation.

The fact that an identical incident happened to a white man called Tony Timpa is never mentioned for context. While the lockdown rules remain in place, the protests against injustice spill out onto the streets. Tens of thousands of people crowd into major cities.

Few wear masks and social distancing is non-existent. Clashes with police ensue, and in America protestors loot stores, attack residents and start fires. A retired black police officer called David Dorn is among dozens of people who are murdered in the chaos.

The media describe these events as “mostly peaceful protests” as their reporters stand in front of burning buildings. After months of harsh restrictions, the media and political class offer no criticism of protests which violate every element of lockdown.

After months of telling you to stay at home to avoid spreading COVID, doctors explain that rather than being a mass COVID spreading event, “protest is a profound public health intervention”

Big Tech companies go into overdrive to stop the spread of disinformation. All discussions of alternative points of view regarding the efficacy of masks and lockdowns, as well as the origins of the virus are censored.

Attempts to discuss the negative impact of lockdown on health and mental well-being are suppressed. As the year runs on, with a pivotal American election looming, President Trump promises a huge push to develop a vaccine.

Kamala Harris, who is later elected Vice President, says that she would not take the vaccine if Trump told her to:

On the eve of the election, a publication in America releases a damaging report about Hunter Biden, son of presidential candidate Joe Biden. The story alleges corruption which may involve his father, as well as drug taking, use of prostitutes and more.

Twitter and other social media companies prevent the story from being shared. The media lines up commentators to claim the story was “Russian disinformation”.

Once his father wins the election, it becomes clear that several key elements of the story are likely accurate and the laptop from which the information was recovered is in fact Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Meanwhile, the numbers of COVID patients and deaths turn out to have been wrong. For some time, anyone who died at any point after a positive COVID test was counted as dying of COVID, even if they were killed by a drunk driver.

This figure is later revised again. The number of people who are in hospital because of COVID also turns out to be incorrect.

Now that racist Donald Trump is no longer President, closing borders is no longer considered xenophobic and is widely advocated for in the media.

The racist conspiracy theory that the virus came from a lab is now also allowed to be discussed and appears likely to be the most credible explanation of the origins of the virus.

Imagine your horror as you learn that the reason thousands of people died in the first wave of the pandemic was that elderly patients with COVID were allowed to be released back into care homes.

This is especially true in the UK and in New York, run by Governor Andrew Cuomo, brother of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. Governor Cuomo’s publisher suspends promotion of his book about leadership during the pandemic amid the enquiry into nursing home deaths.

Meanwhile, Texas and Florida which remained open continue to thrive.

The man making the rules for you does not follow them. It is at this point that the vaccine, which you were initially told would need to be given to the vulnerable before restrictions are lifted, becomes the main drive of Government policy and media commentary.

The same people who told you Brexit would never happen, Trump would never win, that when he did win it was because of Russian collusion, then because of racism, that you must follow lockdowns while they don’t, that masks don’t work and then that they do work, that protests…

…during lockdowns are a “health intervention”, that ransacking black communities in the name of fighting racism are “mostly peaceful”, that Jussie Smollett was a victim of a hate crime, that men are toxic, that there is an infinite number of genders, that COVID didn’t come…

…from a lab and then that it probably did, that closing borders is racist and then that it’s the most important thing to do, that the Hunter Biden story is Russian disinformation and then that it’s not, that they would not take Trump’s vaccine and then that you must take the…

…vaccine, that Governor Cuomo is a great COVID leader and then that he is a granny killer, that the number of COVID deaths is one thing and then another, that hospitals are filled with COVID patients and then that many of them caught COVID in hospital…

These same people are now telling you the vaccine is safe, you must take it and if you don’t you will be a second class citizen. Understand vaccine hesitancy now?