Friday, September 10, 2021

Pfizer breakthrough as drugmaker one step closer to rolling out Covid-killing wonder pill

PFIZER has made another breakthrough in their historic fight against COVID-19 after announcing they are one step closer to rolling out a coronavirus-killing wonder pill.

The simple pill is designed to be taken at home in the early stages of COVID-19 infection and it could be another big step forward in the fight against the virus. We have seen over the last months a variety of treatments for the virus, including the Oxford-AstraZena vaccine, created by British scientists.

While vaccines are highly effective at reducing the risk of death or getting seriously ill from contracting the virus, and things like ventilators can help to save lives to people who have been hospitalised, there is also a need for effective oral treatment.

There are currently a few pills being developed that are aimed at treating Covid, but Pfizer's is the first one to reach advanced human trials.

The drugmaker plans to trial the drug on 1,140 adults infected with the virus who are not considered to be high risk and are unlikely to suffer from serious illness or death if they catch COVID-19.

The pill, which is technically called PF-07321332, is in a category of antiviral agents called protease inhibitors.

Proteases are enzymes that are used for viral replication and protease inhibitors have been developed in the past to treat deadly diseases like and hepatitis C and HIV/AIDs.

Pfizer said in a statement: "Protease inhibitors, like PF-07321332, are designed to block the activity of the main protease enzyme that the coronavirus needs to replicate.

"Co-administration with a low dose of ritonavir is expected to help slow the metabolism, or breakdown, of PF-07321332 in order for it to remain in the body for longer periods of time at higher concentrations, thereby working continuously to help combat the virus.

"Ritonavir has previously been used in combination with other antivirals to similarly inhibit metabolism."

Martin J. Blaser, director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers University, also hailed the breakthrough.

He said: "The hope is that the Pfizer drug and ritonavir together will sufficiently inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 protease to slow down the virus enough that [the] host's immune defences will overcome and eliminate it."


There Are Better Ways to Fight COVID-19 Than Mask Mandates

Even though policy should be based on accurate data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is failing to accurately justify its guidance that vaccinated people wear masks.

The data clearly show that the vaccine helps people more than previous interventions, including mask mandates, and that the risk of dying from COVID-19 for the vaccinated is extremely low.

The CDC should follow the science, be transparent, and base all guidance on the data.

Originating in India, the delta variant is now the primary strain of COVID-19 here in the United States. A number of states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas, have been experiencing surges in new cases and hospitalizations.

Given such concerns, the CDC investigated the delta variant’s spread last month. In a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released on July 30, a number of researchers examined COVID-19 spread last month during a variety of festivities in Barnstable County, Massachusetts.

The authors made a number of claims, including that 74% of those who tested positive for COVID-19 after the festivities were fully vaccinated.

Not surprisingly, this statistic made the news headlines. For example, the day the study was released, an article on reported: “CDC study shows 74% of people infected in Massachusetts Covid outbreak were fully vaccinated.”

Given how much attention the analysis had gotten, my colleague Norbert Michel and I decided to take a look at the study in critical detail. After all, public policy should be informed by credible and accurate analysis.

We found that the study failed to look at the question at hand with sufficient rigor and does not provide support for the study’s main recommendation about mask wearing among the vaccinated.

Among the 469 who tested positive, 74% indeed had been vaccinated. However, as we discussed in our report, the data that this estimate is based on are not representative of the Barnstable attendees, let alone of the entire country. Therefore, it would be a mistake to use those estimates to make inferences of the broader American population.

Second, there’s a more fundamental question the authors neglected to look at: Infection rates in the broader context of the number of people who actually attended the festivities, both vaccinated and unvaccinated.

We also examined this question, making a variety of assumptions on available data and information. Assuming an attendance of 60,000, as has been suggested by a number of people, and a vaccination rate of 90% of attendees, we found the following infection rates.

image from

Of course, as it’s difficult to know the actual vaccination rate, we reestimated the above percentages under a variety of other assumptions as well.

At the time of publication, the state of Massachusetts and Barnstable County had adult vaccination rates above 74%, and Provincetown itself had a rate of 90%.

As the festivities may have included some out-of-state visitors as well, we decided to estimate the percentage of infections under vaccination rates between 60% and 98%.

image from

So, there you have it, under all such assumptions, less than 2% of the vaccinated attendees caught COVID-19. Irresponsible reporting suggesting that 74% of those vaccinated caught the virus, however, needlessly causes panic and will only increase vaccine hesitancy.

Although some research has indicated that the vaccines may have slightly less efficacy in preventing infection against the delta variant than prior variants, the vaccines are nevertheless highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death.

Furthermore, as a result of the CDC’s “study” on Barnstable, Massachusetts, one of the policy recommendations is that the fully vaccinated continue to wear masks in areas of high disease proliferation.

However, as Michel and I have illustrated in prior work, mask mandates do not meaningfully impact case proliferation. In an earlier Heritage Foundation special report, we statistically examined the impact of an executive order signed by Kansas’ Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, allowing each of the state’s 105 counties to take part in an optional mask mandate last year.

Our analysis did find slightly less case growth at times in the cases in which masks were mandated. However, on a monthly basis, those differences were not statistically significant and, most alarmingly, per capita cases and deaths continued to grow in both groups through most of the second half of last year.

Vaccines, on the other hand, have been largely successful, as is evident by the steep drops in case counts, followed by increases in vaccination rates over the years. Bottom line: Unlike masks, the statistics on vaccine efficacy are solid and well-established.

Of course, there will continue to be breakthrough cases, but the CDC’s own data indicate that the truth is the vaccines have had over 90% efficacy against hospitalization and death.

Not surprisingly, however, among the unvaccinated, COVID-19 can still be quite deadly, especially for the elderly and those with chronic conditions. The following chart puts those odds in perspective with other causes of death.

As the chart illustrates, however, the odds of dying of COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated, although not zero, are slim to none. In fact, those under 65 have significantly higher odds of getting struck by lightning.

Bottom line: Mask mandates on the vaccinated will only increase vaccine hesitancy and thus only prevent our country from putting this pandemic behind us.

One of the best ways to encourage the vaccine hesitant to reconsider is not mandates, but rather to equip them with good statistical analysis, so they can work with their doctors to make informed decisions. The CDC would do well to fix this failure.




Thursday, September 09, 2021

Antibiotics and bowel cancer

I no longer post regularly on my Food & Health blog but I have just put up something there that should be of general interest -- An article about a link between antibiotics and bowel cancer


AstraZeneca boss says booster jabs may not be needed

Booster vaccines may not be needed for everyone in Britain, the boss of AstraZeneca has said.

Chief executive Pascal Soriot said that rolling out third doses too quickly would be an “unnecessary burden” on the NHS.

He also called for patience from the government, stressing the UK was “a few weeks away” from having a definitive answer on the effectiveness of two doses in providing long-lasting protection.

Mr Soriot said that shortly it will have been six months since the first people had their second jabs so the data would give “a clearer picture of the immune response needed to provide continued, protective immunity”.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Soriot, alongside the company’s executive vice-president of biopharmaceuticals R&D Sir Mene Pangalos, said: “Moving too quickly to boost across the entire adult population will deprive us of these insights, leaving this important decision to rest on limited data.

“A third dose for all may be needed, but it may not. Mobilising the NHS for a boosting programme that is not needed would potentially add unnecessary burden on the NHS over the long winter months.

“Because NHS staff and resources are scarce, another national mobilisation would potentially leave us with fewer resources for cancer screenings and the other care provided by doctors and nurses each day.”

Their comments come as Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Wednesday he is “very confident” there will be a booster programme for coronavirus, but is awaiting advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

He told Sky News: “In terms of who actually gets it and when, we’re waiting for final advice which could come across, certainly, in the next few days from the JCVI.”

He said the advice is expected to include information on whether people should get different vaccines to the ones they have already had or the same ones, and added: “I’m confident that we can start the booster programme this month.”

However WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last month that booster shots should be delayed in highly vaccinated countries, like the UK, and the doses prioritised for countries will low vaccination rates.

He added that there is a debate in the scientific community about whether “booster shots are effective at all”.

The UK’s chief medical officers are currently reviewing the benefits of vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds after the JCVI declined to recommend a widespread rollout to the age group on health grounds alone.

Mr Javid has said he expects to hear from the UK’s chief medical officers in the coming days on their views as to whether there should be a mass rollout of Covid-19 vaccines for young people.

He told Sky News: “I want to give them the breathing space, it’s their independent view and that’s exactly what it should be. But I would expect to hear from them in the next few days.”


Dr. Scott Atlas, Others Throttle Bangladesh Mask Study: 'Extremely Weak Tea'

I rubbished this study on 3rd.

Dr. Scott Atlas, former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, called a recent study purporting to measure the effect of masking on curbing the spread of Covid-19 in Bangladeshi villages "extremely weak tea" during a Fox News appearance earlier this month.

The randomized trial, the results of which were posted September 1 by the nonprofit organization Innovations for Poverty Action and are currently being peer reviewed, measured over 340,000 people in 600 villages. It claims to show that an increase in the usage of surgical masks can lead to a reduction in the spread of the virus in certain age groups (via NBC News).

For five months beginning last November, [study co-author Mushfiq] Mobarak and his colleagues tracked 342,126 adult Bangladeshis and randomly selected villages to roll out programs to promote their usage, which included distributing free masks to households, providing information about their importance and reinforcing their use in the community.

Among the roughly 178,000 individuals who were encouraged to wear them, the scientists found that mask-wearing increased by almost 30 percent and that the change in behavior persisted for 10 weeks or more. After the program was instituted, the researchers reported an 11.9 percent decrease in symptomatic Covid symptoms and a 9.3 percent reduction in symptomatic seroprevalence, which indicates tBangladeshhat the virus was detected in blood tests.

While the effect may seem small, the results offer a glimpse of just how much masks matter, Mobarak said.

"A 30-percent increase in mask-wearing led to a 10 percent drop in Covid, so imagine if there was a 100-percent increase — if everybody wore a mask and we saw a 100-percent change," he said.

The scientists said masks significantly reduced symptomatic infections among older adults, and found that surgical masks were more effective than cloth versions.

Appearing earlier this month on Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle," Atlas called the fact that the study was randomized "important" before citing a similarly randomized study from Denmark conducted last year that showed that "individuals wearing masks do not have a lower risk of infection testing for virus than people not wearing masks."

"This is a different type of study," said Atlas, a frequent and early lockdown critic who briefly served as a member of former President Donald Trump's White House coronavirus task force last year. "This tests to see if people in a village get symptomatic Covid if the villagers wear masks versus other villages that don’t wear masks as much."

The Hoover Institution fellow went on to describe two results from the study before explaining why he feels it's hardly the definitive evidence pro-maskers have been searching for these past 18 months.

One, in people defining Covid as symptoms plus anti-bodies, there is no evidence that cloth masks have any impact, no significant impact with cloth masks for people who have Covid as defined by Covid symptoms with antibody documentation. So cloth masks are worthless according to this study.

The second part is the surgical mask study. And the surgical mask study shows that there is from my reading here about an 11% decrease in individuals having symptomatic Covid with antibodies. 11%. And basically only older people. So what this shows you after all is said and done is it confirms that cloth masks are worthless. It shows - if you take the data at face value - a very minimal impact, 11%, decrease in symptomatic cases in mask usage by the village.

And so, you know, of all the clamoring for something desperately to show that masks work, this is what I would call extremely weak tea. In fact, it confirms the reason why we have seen all over the world and in the United States that mask usage by the population does not significantly stop the spread of the virus.

It's being oversold, but people are desperate to find some pebble somewhere that shows masks work.

Atlas, by far, wasn't the only critic. Professor Francois Balloux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute and professor of computational biology at University College London, tweeted that it's "not obvious" from the study that masks are "statistically significantly associated with reduced transmission at the level of the population."

Nick Hudson, chairman of (PANDA), tweeted a blog post by Substack writer el gato malo titled, "bangladesh mask study: do not believe the hype," calling it "sound commentary."

From el gato malo's analysis:

To claim that masks caused any given variance in outcome, you need to isolate masks as a variable. They didn’t. This was a whole panoply of interventions, signage, hectoring, nudges, payments, and psychological games. It had hundreds of known effects and who knows how many unknown ones.

We have zero idea what’s being measured and even some of those variables that were measured showed high correlation and thus pose confounds. when you’re upending village life, claiming one aspect made the difference becomes statistically impossible. the system becomes hopelessly multivariate and cross-confounded.

The authors admit it themselves (and oddly do not seem to grasp that this invalidates their own mask claims)

Gato's post has gotten lots of attention on Twitter for its thoroughness.

Harvard professor Dr. Martin Kulldorff called it "odd" that "mask advocates are excited by this study."



Texas governor signs GOP voting restrictions voting integrity into law (AP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci faces call to resign and answer for report about U.S. government-funded Wuhan research (Daily Wire)

Who’d a thunk it? Minnesota man freed by Kamala Harris-supported bail fund now charged with murder (Fox News)

Four Taliban members swapped for Bowe Bergdahl now in Afghan government (NY Post)

A trip down memory lane: Barack Obama’s prisoner swap broke the law, GAO says (NPR)

Chinese muscle in on Afghanistan’s rare earth mineral deposits, creating more headaches for Biden (Washington Times)

ICE counts 463 sanctuary jails and prisons in U.S. — and another 156 give limited cooperation (Washington Times)

House Republican demands Hunter Biden’s art dealer assist in investigating White House corruption (Breitbart)

Democrats poised for bitter September spending battle within their own ranks (Washington Examiner)

Human Rights Campaign fires its president, Alphonso David, after he advised Andrew Cuomo during sexual misconduct scandal (Daily Wire)

ACLU denounced pandemic mandates before COVID-19 (Fox News)

South Dakota governor bans telemedicine abortions (National Review)

Oregon residents outraged by video of flagrant shoplifting (National Review)

Odds of a “breakthrough” COVID infection worsen with Delta variant (Washington Times)

University of California doctors challenge its vaccine mandate as “irrational” (Just the News)

Biden’s inflation woes persist with production stoppages at “Big Three” automakers (Washington Examiner)

Catholics frustrated as increasing attacks on churches go unnoticed (Washington Times)




Wednesday, September 08, 2021

'Mu' variant has been detected in EVERY US state except Nebraska

The Mu variant of COVID-19- which scientists fear could be more transmissible than Delta - has now been detected in all U.S. states with the exception of Nebraska.

Florida and California have reported 384 variant cases- the highest numbers among the 49 infected U.S. states.

Los Angeles County reported close to half of the California cases with 167.

The new cases however only reflect 0.2 percent of total variant samples from the state of California between June and August.

Alaska previously had the highest number of Mu variant cases with 146. That represented four per cent of all cases recorded in the isolated state.

Other U.S. states have also shared their Mu numbers, with 42 in Maine, 73 in Connecticut and 39 in Hawaii, according to Newsweek.

The Mu variant- which was identified in Colombia in January - has spread to 41 different countries including the United States, and is also feared to potentially be vaccine-resistant.

The variant became of interest due its potential to become more transmissible and vaccine resistant as discovered by the World Health Organization on August 30.

The CDC, however, has not shared this analysis.

Director of LA County Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a statement: 'The identification of variants like Mu, and the spreading of variants across the globe, highlights the need for L.A. County residents to continue to take measures to protect themselves and others.

'This is what makes getting vaccinated and layering protections so important. These are actions that break the chain of transmission and limits COVID-19 proliferation that allows for the virus to mutate into something that could be more dangerous.'

Dr. Anthony Fauci also commented on the Mu variant claiming that it would not be the next dominant COVID strain. 'Even though it has not in essence taken hold to any extent here we always pay attention to at all times variants,' he said. 'We don't consider it an immediate threat right now.'

This mutant strain was first spotted in Colombia in January. It has since spread to more than 40 countries including the UK, US, France, Japan and Canada.

Is it increasing in prevalence?

There have been 4,000 cases detected to date, but this is thought to be an underestimate because many countries that have suffered outbreaks do very little surveillance for variants.

The number of cases blamed on the variant declined globally last month, amid the spread of the Delta strain.

In Colombia — where it was first detected — it is still behind around six in ten infections.

Can the strain dodge vaccine triggered immunity?

The variant carries the mutation E484K, which can help it escape antibodies.

This change is also found on the South African 'Beta' variant and Brazilian 'Gamma' variant.

A PHE study previously suggested it could make vaccines less effective. But UK health chiefs said more research was needed.

The variant has been further described by Fauci as 'a constellation of mutations that suggest that it would evade certain antibodies, not only monoclonal antibodies, but vaccine and convalescent serum- induced antibodies.'

The peak of Mu variant cases were present in mid-July and have been declining since. However, the fear is that the variant will strengthen again in the future.

The nation has eclipsed an average of 1,500 COVID-19 deaths per day, the first time the mark has been reached in six months - since the vaccination drive began in earnest.

Figures from Johns Hopkins University released early Tuesday showed that the US has recorded 40,018,318 cases of COVID since the pandemic began, with 647,072 people known to have lose their lives as a result.

When the 1,500 figure was last reached in March, though, the vaccines were not as widely available as they are now.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reports that deaths increased by 131 percent in August compared to previous months.

COVID-19 cases are also 300% higher this year when compared to last year's labor day weekend - before any vaccines were available.

Hospitalizations nationwide have spiked as well, with August having double the amount of COVID-19 patients admitted than June did.

The rise in deaths corresponds with a rise in hospitalizations.

More than 102,000 American are hospitalized with the virus, and 75 percent of hospital beds nationwide are currently in use.

Nationwide, the U.S. has recorded over 40 million COVID-19 cases and 648,000 deaths from the virus, the most of any nation in the world in both categories

Delta transmission in children low, causes mild illness, report finds -- Australian report

There has been a five-fold increase in the spread of COVID-19 in educational settings but only 2 per cent of children who caught it during the latest outbreak have been hospitalised, and most experienced mild or no symptoms, a new report from the National Centre for Immunisation and Research has found.

Transmission between children has also been low, it found.

The report looked at transmission of COVID-19 in schools and households between June 16 and July 31, and found that the NSW experience was consistent with overseas studies showing the Delta variant was more transmissible and led to more infections among children and young people.

Professor Kristine McCartney, a specialist at The Sydney’s Children’s Hospital at Westmead, said the rate of transmission between children was low, and most of the transmission was between unvaccinated adults. “The spread between children themselves was very low,” she said.

“We’re very lucky to know, and it’s consistent with data over the course of the pandemic, that COVID-19 is mild among children.

“Only around 2 per cent will require hospitalisation and, for many of those 2 per cent, it’s for monitoring and social care. Unfortunately, often their parents are unwell with COVID-19 and that’s why they’re being cared for in the hospital.”

The report found that across 19 schools and 32 early childcare services, there were 59 people - 34 students and 25 staff members - who attended while infectious. From those primary cases, 2347 people were considered close contacts.

The overall transmission rate at early childhood centres was 4.7 per cent, with 106 secondary cases involving 69 students and 37 staff members. Transmission occurred in 19 of the 51 settings. The highest transmission in early childhood settings was between staff members, and from a staff member to children.

Transmission was lower in schools, the report said, at a rate of 2.1 per cent; there were nine secondary cases in 728 close contacts. “This was likely due to the school holiday period and subsequent limited onsite attendance in term 3,” the report said.

Dr Archana Koirala, a paediatric infectious disease specialist and University of Sydney lecturer, said full participation in education services was essential for children to learn and develop socially.

“These results should give confidence to families, schools and the community that we have robust evidence on how the Delta variant behaves in children,” she said.

The study found the so-called attack rate - or the transmissibility of the strain - was highest between adults (11.2 per cent) and second highest from adults to children (seven per cent). Between children it was 1.6 per cent and from children to adults it was 1.5 per cent.


Toxic Double Standards Get More Blatant

Let’s take the shooting of Ashli Babbitt. When one compares it to some other high-profile shootings, like the Michael Brown case, for instance. Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department went through an ordeal, even though Brown had tried to take his gun, an action that warrants the use of deadly force.

Did Wilson ever get the “puff piece” interview with Lester Holt that the cop who pulled the trigger on Ashli Babbitt did? Many of the voices who condemned the clearly justified actions of Wilson also seemed to have no problems with the shooting of Babbitt. If anything, if it had been Donald Trump’s reelection that would have been confirmed by the electoral vote count, and a Capitol Police officer had fired a fatal shot in circumstances similar to those surrounding Ashli Babbitt, how would that have been covered by the biased media outlets?

The toxic double standards don’t stop there. We could also look at a tale of two lieutenant colonels. Marine Stuart Scheller called for accountability in the wake of the horrific bombing that killed 10 Marines, two soldiers, and a Navy corpsman during the dishonorable debacle caused by Joe Biden’s betrayal in Afghanistan and was immediately fired. He now expects to be court-martialed.

Contrast that to the hero treatment Alexander Vindman got for what Byron York describes as his political gamesmanship on behalf of the deep state. Never mind that Vindman was among a bunch of bureaucrats actively undermining his commander-in-chief. Just imagine the way the usual suspects at MSNBC would have reacted if Vindman had tried to mess with Barack Obama’s Iran giveaway or Iraq withdrawal the way he did with Trump’s policy vis-à-vis Ukraine.

Speaking of Trump’s Ukraine policy, remember how so many of those “news” outlets harped on that phone call with Ukraine’s president? Well, consider the lack of curiosity about Biden’s phone call this past July with the president of Afghanistan, one in which he allegedly expressed knowledge of the precarious situation preceding the dishonorable debacle the pullout became. If Biden is held to the standard Democrats demanded of Trump, he’d be impeached and removed.

When combined with the many earlier cases of double standards, not to mention the lies and hateful rhetoric, abuses, and other assaults that defy any sense of fairness or common sense, it’s clear that much of the establishment media — and other defenders of so-called “norms” — have been running on double standards for a long time. The thing is, grassroots Patriots are tired of it, and they’re increasingly losing respect for those who not only impose double standards but also those who refuse to call them out. In the long run, that will have some dire consequences for the country.



President Biden’s approval tanks; only two others have had lower ratings at this point (Fox News)

DOJ vows not to protect preborn babies in Texas (Axios)

Only off by … well, nearly 100%: AP adds embarrassing correction to article claiming 70% of calls to Mississippi poison control were about Ivermectin ingestion (Daily Wire)

The end of enhanced unemployment benefits brings hope to small businesses (Fox Business)

In wake of Andrew Cuomo scandal, entire board resigns from Time’s Up, whose top leaders aided and abetted the disgraced ex-governor (Daily Wire)

Patriotic restaurants across America honored our troops killed in Kabul by reserving a table for them and setting out 13 beers

Apple wisely delays iPhone photo-scanning plan amid fierce backlash (AP)

Policy: Social Security bailout will create another set of problems (Market Watch)




Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Promising drug a new weapon in curbing COVID’s worst effects

Comment from Australia

Yesterday 1281 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in NSW. By October many of these will be seriously ill in hospital, some in intensive care, and a few will die. Others will progress to indefinite multifaceted illness called “Long COVID”.

Can this miserable trajectory be modified, while we wait for the vaccination drive to “stop the spread”?

Clinical trials and overseas experience with a class of therapeutic drugs called monoclonal antibodies suggests that it can – but only when they are given early. COVID-19 patients treated in a trial of one such drug called Sotrovimab exhibited an 79 per cent relative reduction in hospitalisation and deaths. In March, the independent regulator halted patient recruitment because of “profound efficacy”. Even with small numbers, before the Delta outbreak, the statistics were persuasive.

The first of 7700 doses of Sotrovimab quietly slipped into Australia three weeks ago. We have waited some time. It now has Therapeutics Goods Administration provisional approval for vulnerable patients, such as the elderly and immunocompromised. It is being used in Shepparton, Victoria. What are the plans for NSW?

Sotrovimab is the latest and, possibly, best therapeutic monoclonal antibody to inhibit the COVID-19 virus attaching to human tissue. The US Federal Drug Authority authorised its emergency use in May. The headline cost is $US2100 a dose, and it’s free to vulnerable Americans.

President Trump was treated with, among other drugs, a duo of anti-COVID monoclonal antibodies labelled Regeneron, similarly authorised in America last November. The US National Institute of Health recommends either drug for vulnerable patients. Don’t mention them in the same breath as ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine.

With COVID on the march in America, antibody distribution has massively scaled up. The Texas state government has just established public antibody infusion centres.

Intravenous antibody infusions take an hour, in infectious patients. No small short-term imposition on overstretched health systems. Yet, one which could prevent a much greater hospital overload in the months which follow. Perhaps a treatment centre on an oval near a hospital should be considered. Like the precautionary Surge Centre in Canberra.

The United Arab Emirates, where Delta is prevalent, and logistics are military-grade, announced striking results, with no deaths among 6175 COVID-19 patients treated in July.

Nevertheless, and crucially, immunologists worry that indiscriminate use of a single antibody such as Sotrovimab might cause resistant variants to emerge and leak into the community. It is no substitute for vaccination. The ethical issues are obvious.

Monoclonal antibodies attack and disable unwanted targets. Think Herceptin for breast cancer, Keytruda for melanoma , Emgality for migraine and Humira for arthritis - all monoclonals, each created or modified for a very specific target. Each is a feat of structural molecular engineering.

It was Britain’s Cambridge scientist, Sir Gregory Winter, who devised and developed the generic technology that underpins monoclonal antibodies. At first, business failed to see their potential. And so, as he recounted in his 2018 Nobel address and at Sydney University in 2019, it was seed-funding from the Australian racing industry which launched monoclonal antibodies to market. The deal was done on a boat on Sydney Harbour. He overheard a whispered comment “Let’s give Greg the money. Let’s see how the boffin trots”. Annual monoclonal revenues now well exceed $100 billion, to untold human benefit.

The Australian perspective has come full circle. Professor Daniel Christ is a former PhD student of Winter’s and is now at the Garvan Institute. He sees a way around this antibody resistance problem. And he looks to the experience in treating HIV infection with three different drugs which curbed that epidemic.

Since early 2020, his team has worked flat out to create monoclonals against COVID-19. They now have three antibodies which are more potent than Sotrovimab in vitro, When used together, they should be very resistant to mutation escape.

If these ventures succeed, Australians will have good reason to be thankful for investment in science.


New study finds AstraZeneca more effective against Delta strain

Deakin University Chair of Epidemiology Professor Catherine Bennett says the AstraZeneca vaccine is more effective than others against the Delta strain of COVID-19 in certain instances.

Professor Bennett cited a new study from Bahrain, conducted in partnership with Columbia University in the United States, which found “extraordinary differences” when comparing a number of vaccines.

“They found for those over 50 … 44 times less likely to end up in ICU if you have AstraZeneca, and I think it’s 33 times less likely with Pfizer,” Professor Bennett told Sky News host chris Kenny.

“Both extraordinarily effective, but AstraZeneca actually has the edge on that.”


Suicide a bigger problem than Covid

Comment from Australia

One-in-four Australians say they know someone who died by suicide or attempted to take their own life in the past year – equivalent to five million adults – a new survey has found.

Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive officer Nieves Murray said major social and economic events had historically influenced suicide rates.

“We know social and economic isolation are the biggest drivers of suicide rates and Covid-19 has seen Australians subject to 18 months of rolling lockdowns and disruption to their personal lives, employment and businesses,” she said.

“We’ve seen how quickly Covid-19 cases can get out of hand and we need to have the same national policy focus and vigilance to stop suicide rates doing the same.”

The survey commissioned by Suicide Prevention Australia and completed by YouGov in August, found 25 per cent of adult Australians surveyed knew someone who had died by suicide or attempted to take their own life in the previous 12 months. About 15 per cent knew the person directly, while another 11 per cent knew them indirectly.

About 16 per cent said they had sought help or searched for advice from a suicide prevention service in the past 12 months, about 16 per cent said they had indirectly sought help.

Most people thought “social isolation and loneliness” was the biggest risk to suicide in the next 12 months, with 64 per cent rating it as an issue.

This was followed by unemployment and job security (58 per cent); family and relationship breakdowns (57 per cent); cost of living and personal debt (55 per cent); and drugs and alcohol (53 per cent).

While the latest data from suicide registers in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland do not show an increase in suspected suicide deaths in 2020, or since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Ms Murray said the number of deaths in 2019 had been the highest recorded in Australia, growing from 3093 in 2015, to 3318 in 2019.

“There have never been more lives lost to suicide in this country,” Ms Murray said.

Those surveyed were particularly worried about the suicide risk among young people aged 12-25 years old (42 per cent), followed by middle aged Australians aged 25-55 years old (29 per cent) and men (29 per cent).

Other people thought to be at risk were those living in regional and rural areas (24 per cent), LGBTQI Australians (21 per cent), Indigenous Australians (18 per cent) and those aged over 55 (18 per cent).

The survey also supported a stand-alone national suicide prevention act, similar to one introduced in Japan, which would require the Federal Government to consider and mitigate suicide risks when making all decisions, not just ones related to health.

About 66 per cent thought Australia should introduce similar legislation.

Ms Murray said legislation was the best prevention against suicide rates increasing.

“The heightened economic and social threat posed by Covid-19 means we cannot afford to wait to legislate,” Ms Murray said.

“Australia needs a national suicide prevention act and we need to act now. “We all have a role to play in preventing suicide. An act will legislate a whole-of-government priority to prevent suicide and focus the attention of every agency to address the risk of suicide across our community.

“Suicide prevention isn’t limited to health portfolios. Housing is suicide prevention, employment is suicide prevention, finance is suicide prevention, and education is suicide prevention.”

The organisation noted that more than three times the amount of people died from suicide in 2019 (3318 people) than have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began (1019 people as of September 2).




Monday, September 06, 2021

Worrying deaths among vaccinated service members

It seems that everyone is cheering now that the FDA has “approved” the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine which in some people’s minds deems it safe to use. There is plenty of debate if the vaccine was actually approved or if it was a different vaccine that will be made in the future but that nevertheless, there are still questions that have not been answered.

Now, the Pentagon has mandated that the injections must be given to all active-duty service members. The majority of service members have already taken the jab under extreme coercion, but there are thousands of troops have resisted the jab until this point.

However, expect more pressure than ever before for them to submit to taking the experimental jab.

Sadly, what you won’t hear on the mainstream media is that many troops that have been forced to take this medical experiment have severely been impacted healthwise.

Let us have an honest moment between us now. The men and women that sign up for the military are typically the healthiest groups of young people, right? So, why are they having these types of condition?

Now, a military doctor has come forward to shed some light on the recent developments that should send a chill down your spine.

Dr. Lee Merritt stated the experimental jabs have killed more active-duty service members than COVID-19 itself.

Dr. Merritt recently addressed the American Frontline Doctors and discussed how all through 2020 there were only 20 deaths among all active duty military personnel related to COVID. However, there are now many reports of tumors and over 80 cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), which has a 5-year mortality rate of around 66%, following the COVID-19 shots given to the military.

With the vaccine program we’ve ostensibly killed more of our young active duty people than COVID did.

This is the not the first time the military has been implicated in killing active duty military with experimental vaccines. It happened also during the Gulf War with the experimental anthrax vaccine, which some estimates claim killed 35,000 military people with what was originally termed “Gulf War Syndrome.”

There has been no long time date to suggest what the potential side effects could be down the road so that is even more concerning for anyone who is reading this.

The future of our men and women is at stake and no one can give us the answers as to if this is something everyone should be injected with. Sadly, with our current administration, we may never know.


Here’s what we know about the mu variant

A coronavirus variant known as “mu” or “B.1.621” was designated by the World Health Organization as a “variant of interest” earlier this week and will be monitored by the global health body as cases continue to emerge across parts of the world. It is the fifth variant of interest currently being monitored by the WHO.

The variant was first detected in Colombia in January 2021, where cases continue to rise. It has since been identified in more than 39 countries, according to the WHO, among them the United States, South Korea, Japan, Ecuador, Canada and parts of Europe.

About 2,000 mu cases have been identified in the United States, so far, according to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), the largest database of novel coronavirus genome sequences in the world. Most cases have been recorded in California, Florida, Texas and New York among others.

However, mu is not an “immediate threat right now” within the United States, top infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci told a press briefing on Thursday. He said that while the government was “keeping a very close eye on it,” the variant was “not at all even close to being dominant” as the delta variant remains the cause of over 99 percent of cases in the country.

It’s unclear how much protection the vaccines offer against this variant. “The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape,” the WHO said in a statement Tuesday, raising concerns that it may be more resistant to coronavirus vaccines than other variants. “But this needs to be confirmed by further studies,” it added.

Fauci said that while laboratory data had shown that the mu variant can evade certain antibodies — among them those induced by vaccine shots — there is currently a lack of clinical data and other research involving people, showing this. He underscored that in general, vaccines remain effective and the best protection against the coronavirus.

Vaccine maker Pfizer told The Post in an email that it was studying the mu variant and expected to share data soon with a peer-reviewed journal. “To date, we are encouraged by both the real-world data and laboratory studies of the vaccine and see no evidence that the virus or circulating variants of concern regularly escape protection,” said Pfizer’s spokesperson Kit Longley.

Is the mu variant more transmissible?

Paúl Cárdenas, a professor of infectious diseases and genomics at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, has studied mu and told The Post that current evidence showed that it was likely “more transmissible” than the original coronavirus strain. Mu has “been able to outcompete gamma and alpha in most parts of Ecuador and Colombia,” he said.

However, there was no sign yet that people should be more worried, Cárdenas added. “People should know that these variants emerge all the time and it is important that they are characterized in order to be tracked,” he said.

Most viruses change over time, and although some mutations have little to no impact on the virus’s properties, others can change how it spreads, its severity and the effectiveness of vaccines or other medicines.

For now, the WHO says more studies are needed to understand the characteristics of the mu variant — and that it will monitor how it may interact, in particular, with the more common delta variant.



Jobs report disappoints — only 235,000 positions added vs. expectations of 720,000 (CNBC)

President Biden rips SCOTUS, orders federal crackdown on Texas over “heartbeat” law (Daily Wire)

Nancy Pelosi: House will vote to codify Roe v. Wade (National Review)

Settled science? Senior FDA officials to step down over disagreement with White House on booster shots (Fox Business)

Twenty states sue feds over foolish transgender mandate in schools (Daily Wire)

Friendly fire: Republican Liz Cheney promoted to vice chair of select committee investigating U.S. Capitol riot (Washington Times)

Joe Manchin calls on Democrats to “pause” $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, citing inflation concerns (National Review)

Biden claims he visited Pittsburgh synagogue that was attacked. Synagogue says that's false. (Daily Wire)

House GOP demands full, unedited transcript from Biden-Ghani phone call (Daily Caller)

Republicans question number of Americans left in Afghanistan as horror stories roll in (Washington Examiner)

The Biden administration can’t reach one-in-three released migrant kids (Axios)

Non compos mentis: Biden helps secure Tajikistan’s border amid U.S. border crisis (Fox News)

Former Georgia prosecutor indicted over handling of Ahmaud Arbery’s case (CBS News)

Charges filed against “transgender” sex offender for exposing himself to women in a spa (The Federalist)

We’re shocked — shocked! Taliban announces China will be their main partner (Human Events)

Inmates running the asylum: Taliban victory parade features dozens of armored U.S. military vehicles and tons of weapons (Not the Bee)

Islamist stabs six at New Zealand supermarket; suspect dead (Fox News)

USA Today (sort of) retracts “fact-check” against Gold Star families to protect Biden after he dishonored slain soldiers (PM)

Biden administration erased Afghan weapons reports from federal websites (Forbes)

Biden to go back on vacation, even as his own people are horrified Americans were left behind (RedState)

Judge conditionally approves Purdue Pharma opioid settlement (AP)

Belly Laugh of the Week: Federal government looking into McDonald’s ice cream machines (Daily Wire)




Sunday, September 05, 2021

Lessons from the "Diamond Princess"

There are a number of articles circulating that see governmental reactions to Covid as the product of malign conspiracies. And it is true that government Covid policies are not well justified by the science.

There is however an old provrerb that says never attribute to malice what can equally be attributed to stupidity or folly. And it is my view that the lockdowns etc. are just the sort of stupidity that we expect from politicians rather than being due to anything more devious.

The conspiracy articles oftem preent a good case for a very different response to the virus but the paranoia in them makes for a tedious read. Below however I present an excerpt from one of the conspiracy articles that seems to me well reasoned

I have always argued that government responses to the virus should have been limited to particularly vulnerable groups

The outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship served as an inadvertent petri-dish to study the COVID virus. Thanks to that example, by the end of February 2020, we knew that COVID was not some monster virus like the 1918 Spanish Flu but was simply another coronavirus strain that was closely related to previous coronaviruses and that most of us already carried some level of cross-reactive immunity to protect us.

How do we know that? The virus circulated freely onboard the ship, yet age corrected lethality remained between 0.025% and 0.625% (that's on the order of a bad flu season and nothing at all like the fatality rate of the 1918 Spanish Flu, which was between 2% and 10%). Only 26% of the passengers tested positive for the virus and of those that tested positive 48% remained completely symptom free despite the advanced age of most of these passengers!

The Diamond Princess didn't turn into the floating morgue of bygone eras when ships carrying a disease were forced into quarantine. That should have been the first clue that this virus was anything but novel in the colloquial understanding of the term. Like most cold and flu viruses, only those with weak immune systems were in danger while everyone else got off with little or no symptoms. That is simply not how a truly novel virus behaves when it encounters a population without any pre-existing cross-reactive immunity. The only plausible explanation for that lack of deadliness (deadly for some, annoying for some, and asymptomatic for most others) is that most people already have sufficient pre-existing cross-reactive immunity from exposure to other coronaviruses.

Research subsequently confirmed what the Diamond Princess outbreak revealed. Cross-reactive immunity. As I mentioned before, studies like this one demonstrated that up to 90 - 99% of us already have some residual level of partial protection to COVID. And we also subsequently found out that most people who were exposed to the deadly SARS virus in 2003 have little to fear from COVID, again because of cross-reactive immunity. COVID was never a mortal threat to most of us.

The important thing to remember is that the Diamond Princess data was already publicly available since the end of February of 2020. Operation Warp Speed, the vaccine development initiative approved by President Trump, was nevertheless announced on April 29th, 2020. Thus, our health authorities knowingly and opportunistically recommended lockdowns and promoted vaccines as an exit strategy after it was already clear that the majority of us had some kind of protection through cross-reactive immunity. The Diamond Princess example provided the unequivocal proof that the only people who might benefit from a vaccine, even if it worked as advertised, were the small number of extremely vulnerable members of society with weak immune systems. Likewise, lockdowns should have been recommended only for nursing home residents (on a strictly voluntary basis to protect their human rights) while the pandemic surged through the rest of us.


How long does immunity last after COVID vaccination? And do we need booster shots?

An important factor in achieving herd immunity against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is is how long the vaccines protect you.

If a vaccine continues to work well over a long period, it becomes easier to have a significant proportion of the population optimally protected, and in turn suppress or eliminate the disease entirely.

As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines continues, public attention is increasingly turning to booster shots, which aim to top up immunity if it wanes. But is a third dose needed? And if so, when?

Let’s take a look at what the data tell us so far about how long immunity from COVID-19 vaccines might last.

Immunity after a COVID-19 infection?

The presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 is used as an indicator of immunity, with higher levels indicating greater protection.

Once antibody levels drop below a particular threshold, or vanish completely, the person is at risk of reinfection.

Initially, scientists observed people’s antibody levels rapidly decreased shortly after recovery from COVID-19.

However, more recently, we’ve seen positive signs of long-lasting immunity, with antibody-producing cells in the bone marrow identified seven to eight months following infection with COVID-19.

In addition, scientists have observed evidence of memory T cells (a type of immune cells) more than six months following infection.

A study of more than 9000 recovered COVID-19 patients in the United States up to November 2020 showed a reinfection rate of only 0.7 per cent.

These findings closely align with a slightly more recent study suggesting reinfection after COVID-19 is very uncommon, at least in the short term.

While it seems likely there’s some level of lasting protection following COVID-19 infection, if you’ve had COVID, getting vaccinated is still worthwhile.

There’s some evidence vaccination after recovery leads to a stronger level of immunity compared to “natural” immunity from infection, or immunity from vaccination alone.

People with so-called “hybrid immunity” appear to exhibit a more diverse range of antibodies.

How long does immunity from vaccines last?

The vaccines deployed against COVID-19 in Australia and most of the western world come from two classes.

Those produced by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are viral vector vaccines. They use an adenovirus (which causes the common cold) to prime the immune system to respond to SARS-CoV-2.

The vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA-based technology. The messenger RNA gives your cells temporary instructions to make the coronavirus’ spike protein, teaching your immune system to protect you if you encounter the virus.

For the viral vector vaccines, despite ongoing trials, there’s little data available on the duration of the antibody response.

The original studies showed efficacy for one to two months, however the duration of protection, and whether a booster will be needed, require further evaluation.

Notably, a vaccine similar to AstraZeneca against a related coronavirus (Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS) showed stable antibody levels over a 12-month follow-up period. This gives hope for lasting protection against similar coronaviruses.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are the first vaccines based on mRNA technology to be approved for human use. So there’s still significant research required to evaluate the nature and duration of immunity they induce.

Interestingly, “germinal centres” have been identified in the lymph nodes of people vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. These act as training sites for immune cells, teaching them to recognise SARS-CoV-2, indicating a potential for long-lasting protection.

Initial studies only evaluated short-term efficacy, however recent research has found strong antibody activity at six months.

What about Delta?

Variants such as Delta, which are more transmissible and potentially more dangerous, are likely to increase interest in booster programs.

All vaccines show modestly reduced efficacy against Delta, so any decrease in protection over time could be more problematic than with the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, or other variants.

A recent preprint (a study yet to undergo peer review) found protection against the Delta variant waned within three months with both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.

This research from the United Kingdom showed the Pfizer vaccine was 92 per cent effective at preventing people from developing a high viral load at 14 days after the second dose, but this dropped to 78 per cent at 90 days.

AstraZeneca was 69 per cent effective against the same measure at 14 days, dropping to 61 per cent after 90 days.

This study shows vaccinated people who become infected with Delta still carry high amounts of virus (viral load).

Third booster doses will be important to reduce these breakthrough infections and subsequent transmission.

Although the UK study looked at infections rather than hospitalisations or deaths, data from around the world continue to show the unvaccinated are making up the vast majority of patients who develop serious illness.

Nonetheless, scientists are continuing to investigate how waning immunity could affect protection against the more serious outcomes of COVID-19.

OK, so what now?

Pfizer has reported positive results from trials of a third dose to boost immunity, and the company is seeking formal approval for a booster from the United States Food and Drugs Administration.

The United States has announced it will begin distributing third doses next month to people who received an mRNA vaccine eight months ago or more.

Other countries, such as Israel, have already begun rolling out boosters.

The move to offer third doses in some high-income countries has raised ethical concerns, with many people around the world still unable to access a first or second dose.

A number of countries have authorised booster doses for at-risk populations in response to the rise of the Delta variant.

This includes older adults and those with compromised immune systems, to combat the increased risk of severe disease and diminished vaccine protection in these people.