Friday, October 01, 2021

UK: Astonishing charts show how Covid poses a tiny threat to children (even if they HAVEN'T had any vaccines): Official data shows risk of dying from virus is one in 300,000 for 10 to 14-year-olds

Figures published by the Department of Health highlight the tiny risk children face from coronavirus, which becomes deadlier the older a person is.

They show around one in 330,000 boys aged between 10 and 14 and one in 200,000 girls of the same age who test positive for Covid end up dying. The rates include both healthy children and those with underlying health conditions which put them at a much higher risk of death.

Separate figures also show unvaccinated children also face smaller odds of succumbing to the illness than fully-vaccinated adults in their twenties — another age-group known to be at little risk.

Britain's vaccine advisory panel, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has said that the risk of Covid death in a healthy child is around one in 2million.

For comparison, the figures suggest one in every 25 people over the age of 90 who catch Covid succumb to the disease. For people in their 80s it is about one in 90 and those in their 60s have a death rate of about one per 1,000 — rates which have been drastically slashed by vaccines.

Scientists today said the findings for children were 'reassuring'. It comes after millions of 12 to 15-year-olds were made eligible for a single dose of Pfizer's jab last week.

The JCVI said earlier this month that immunising them would only provide 'marginal' benefit to their health, which was not enough to advise a mass rollout.

But the experts recommended that ministers sought the advice of Professor Chris Whitty and the chief medical officers in the devolved nations. They came down in favour of expanding the inoculation drive after weighing up the wider benefits to children, claiming that hundreds of thousands of school absences could be prevented.

Latest official figures show that within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, 0.5 girls aged 10 to 14 will die from the virus per 100,000. The figure for boys of the same age is 0.3 per 100,000.

Covid is deadlier as people get older — but the risk among 15 to 19-year-olds is still low at 1.1 per 100,000 for girls and 1.9 per 100,000 for boys.

Meanwhile, men aged 50 to 54 face a 72.8 per 100,000 risk of dying once becoming infected, while the figure for women is 43.8.

The risk rises dramatically among the oldest groups, with 4,092 women aged over 90 who catch the virus dying per 100,000, while the figure is 6,035 for men.

Earlier this month, the JCVI said just two healthy children per million would be admitted to hospital for Covid, while those with underlying conditions were more at risk - at 100 per million.

Meanwhile, three to 17 children per million were estimated to develop rare vaccine side effect myocarditis after receiving a single dose of Pfizer. The figure rose to 12 to 34 per million after the second dose.

It found the Covid pandemic may have exacerbated the mental health crisis in young people, with two-thirds of children saying their lives were worse in lockdown.

The report estimated 17.4 per cent of children aged six to 16 had a 'probable' mental disorder now, compared to 11.6 per cent, or one in nine, in 2017.

In older teens, the prevalence of mental health issues is believed to have risen from one in 10 to one in six, according to the survey of more than 3,600 youngsters.

Two-thirds of under-16s claimed lockdowns had made their lives worse, with social isolation and school closures to blame.

Meanwhile, the proportion of youngsters with eating problems has almost doubled since 2017 to 13 per cent.

Nearly one in six older teens were suspected of having an eating disorder, which could include anorexia and bulimia in extreme cases.

Professor Dame Til Wykes, a clinical psychologist at King's College London, said the rises 'may have been accelerated by the pandemic'.

She told MailOnline: 'But it seems part of a longer term progression and recognition of mental health difficulties in the young.'

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show 23 children aged 14 and under who died this year had the virus listed on their death certificate.

This doesn't mean the virus was the underlying cause in all cases, but catching the virus may have contributed to their death.

The number of children aged five to 14 who will die from the virus is 14 per million, according to estimates from the chief medical officers, which is lower than the risk posed from seasonal flu infections.

And the proportion of children who develop Covid symptoms and require hospital care is 0.1 per cent for under-nines and 0.3 per cent for 10 to 19-year-olds.

Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in medicine at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline: 'JCVI believes that the health benefits of immunizing 12 to 16 year olds is marginal and I think they are right.

'Because younger age groups are even less likely to suffer severe consequences from Covid and possibly be more at risk of myocarditis.

'I do not think JCVI would support immunising children under 11 and I think they would be right.'

But he warned it is difficult to interpret official death data, because it includes fatalities where Covid was a 'coincidental finding' as well as people who died from the virus.

This is 'less of an issue' among older groups because the proportion of all deaths that were due to Covid was high, but could be more inaccurate among children because there was so few deaths.

He added: 'Of course death is not the only adverse outcome of Covid, so should not be all the reason why we decide whether or not to vaccinate any particular age group.

'But all the evidence points to younger age groups having less severe non-fatal disease anyway.'

Professor Helen Bedford, an expert in children's health at University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health: ‘It is reassuring that the latest figures from the Department of Health confirm children and young people to be at very low risk of dying from Covid.

'The recent decision to offer Covid vaccine to young people over the age of 12 years is based on its wider benefits such as reducing disruption to schooling.

'A recent UK study showing that most over 12-year-olds were willing to accept the vaccine suggests the programme will be successful.'

Professor David Livermore, a microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline: 'Vaccination of the elderly and vulnerable is clearly of benefit. Given that vaccine efficacy fades over time, boosters are likely to be warranted for these folks.

'The figures don't however justify vaccinating healthy children, whose death rate from Covid is tiny, at around 0.1 to 1.9 per 100,000.

'What is more, most of the few children who have died had underlying health issues. There is general agreement, and a recommendation from the JCVI, that this minority of unwell children should be vaccinated.'


AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine shows 74% efficacy against infection in US trial as the company plans to file for full FDA approval this fall

AstraZeneca Plc's COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective against infection - especially among older adults, according to new data from the company's U.S. clinical trial.

The vaccine, developed with researchers from the University of Oxford, was found to be 74 percent effective against symptomatic Covid infection.

Efficacy increased to nearly 84 percent among participants who were aged 65 and older.

This makes AstraZeneca's vaccine less protective against infection than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines at 88.8 percent and 96.3 percent, respectively, but more protective than Johnson & Johnson's vaccine at 70 percent.

It comes as AstraZeneca plans to seek full approval of the shot with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this fall after numerous setbacks delayed the firm from applying for the faster emergency use authorization (EUA) in the spring.

AstraZeneca's COVID-19 immunization is known as a viral vector vaccine, the same type of shot that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is.

Viral vector vaccines combine genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 - the virus that causes Covid - with the genes of the adenovirus, which causes the common cold.

The portion taken from SARS-CoV-2 codes for the spike protein that the coronavirus uses to enter and infect cells in order to train the body to recognize the virus and induce an immune response if infected.

For the trial, which has results published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, the team looked at 32,000 volunteers in the U.S., Chile and Peru.

Two-thirds of the volunteers received two shots of the vaccine spaced four weeks apart while the remaining one-third received two placebo shots.

There were no cases of severe or critical symptomatic COVID-19 among the participants who got the vaccine compared with eight such cases among the volunteers who got the placebo.

Additionally, there were two Covid deaths in the placebo group but none among those who received the vaccine.

Researchers determined the COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated 74 percent efficacy at preventing symptomatic disease and 83.5 percent efficacy in people aged 65 and older.

'I was pleasantly surprised,' Dr Anna Durbin, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University and one of the study's investigators, told Reuters of the overall result.

'It was also highly protective against severe disease and hospitalization.'

The most common side effects reported by the vaccine recipients were general pain, headache, injection-site pain and fatigue.

There were no cases of a rare but serious blood clotting side effect called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia that has been linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The company had originally planned to file for EUA in the U.S. in spring 2021, but suffered several setbacks starting last year.

In September 2020, the U.S. arm of AstraZeneca'a vaccine trial was paused after a British participant was rushed to the hospital following a serious reaction that triggered spinal cord inflammation.

Then the company did not turn over trial safety data to the FDA for a month, further delaying the study's resumption.

When AstraZeneca released results from an interim analysis of its clinical trial showing 79 percent efficacy in March 2021, U.S. health officials claimed the figure was based on 'outdated information.'

The British drugmaker revised the figure days later to 76 percent.

In April, the firm said it was struggling to pull together the data necessary to apply for emergency use authorization in the U.S.

AstraZeneca said in late July it planned to file for full approval with the FDA rather than seek emergency use authorization.

CEO Pascal Soriot told a media briefing at the time he hoped the vaccine could still play a role in the U.S., even though the process was taking longer than expected.

The company is exploring booster doses for people who have already been vaccinated with two doses of either its own shot or mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna.

Durbin told Reuters she does not expect the vaccine to be used much in the U.S., considering most adults have already received one and children are likely to only be allowed to take the Pfizer shot.

But, she added that securing FDA approval 'does give them gravitas.'




Thursday, September 30, 2021

Preschool Funding in $3.5 Trillion Spending Bill Is Modeled After Failed Head Start Program

Fraud, abuse, poor outcomes, and high costs. Those aren’t exactly hallmarks of successful programs, and yet, those pushing for universal preschool and child care in the $3.5 trillion spending bill currently making its way through Congress have landed on the ineffective federal Head Start program as their model.

“It is very much built around the Head Start model. We need to make sure that the Head Start model is sewn into the fabric of this new system,” Tommy Sheridan, deputy director of the National Head Start Association, told Politico.

How well has this model served families?

The Head Start program, a relic of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” was launched in 1965, enrolling 560,000 children in the new, federally funded eight-week summer program. At the time, proponents were clear that Head Start’s “sole purpose” was to “prepare [children] for elementary school.”

As the Chicago Tribune put it at the time, “the program is designed to make the pupils’ first taste of school also a taste of success.”

Unfortunately, more than half a century later, participating students have not had that taste of success.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Head Start, revealed in December 2012 that the nearly $8 billion Head Start program has little to no impact on the cognitive, social-emotional, or health outcomes of participants, or the parenting skills of their parents.

Alarmingly, participation in Head Start actually had some negative effects on enrolled children. Federal researchers reported worse peer relations and lower teacher-assessed math ability for Head Start children.

It’s no wonder then that the results of the HHS evaluation were released on a quiet Friday before Christmas in 2012, when most of the federal government and its employees had left Washington.

As Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Jay Greene commented at the time, HHS “might as well put the results on display in a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory behind the sign that says ‘Beware of the leopard.’” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

The bad outcomes don’t end there.

In 2010, the Government Accountability Office found several Head Start centers around the country actively counseling families to underreport their incomes in order to appear eligible for services. Head Start employees even assured the undercover families that no one would check to see if their information was correct, doctored forms to hide income, and told applicants to misrepresent their eligibility.

And as Heritage Foundation research fellow Jonathan Butcher has reported, the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services found “significant lapses in safety practices” in numerous states.

Among the 175 Head Start centers the inspector general investigated:

[N]one complied fully with federal Head Start or state requirements to protect children from unsafe materials and equipment, and 21 of 24 grantees did not comply fully with federal Head Start or state requirements to conduct criminal records checks, conduct recurring background checks, document criminal records checks, conduct checks of child care exclusion lists, or conduct checks of child abuse and neglect registries.

The program is also increasingly expensive.

The rate of spending on Head Start has exceeded enrollment growth over the decades, and—as David Armor, professor emeritus, and Sonia Sousa, affiliate assistant professor of public policy, at George Mason University explain—had tripled to nearly $7 billion annually by 2000, with per capita spending exceeding $8,000 per child (up from $5,000 per child in real terms throughout the 1970s and 1980s).

Head Start spending crossed the $9 billion mark in 2014 (exceeding $9,000 per child per year). Today, annual Head Start appropriations total $10.7 billion annually, or more than $10,200 per participant.

Much of that spending supports Head Start staff salaries, as the program now acts as a federal jobs program for a quarter of a million adults. More than 265,000 adults were on staff with Head Start in 2018, 22% of whom were parents of children currently or formerly enrolled in the program.

Since 1965, Head Start has been a sinkhole for taxpayer dollars and an ineffective education program for children. And yet, proponents—hand in glove with Congress—want to model hundreds of billions of dollars in the $3.5 trillion tax-and-spending package on it.

It’s yet one more indication that President Joe Biden’s plan doesn’t “Build Back Better.” It’s building back bureaucracy.


Parents, Lawmakers Sue Over New York’s School Mask Mandate

A group of New York parents and two local legislators are suing to overturn the state’s requirement for school children to wear masks.

They allege the mandate was issued illegally and wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny if the state tried to pass it through the correct procedures.

They’re asking the court to toss the mandate as “arbitrary and capricious.”

State Sen. George Borrello (R-Sunset Bay), one of the plaintiffs, said he’s hearing the majority of his constituents in the Niagara Falls area are against masking children. His gripe, however, is mainly with what he sees as the usurpation of power by the governor.

“My focus is on what I believe is the unconstitutional overreach of the executive,” he told The Epoch Times.

Since the onset of the pandemic, he said he’s seen the legislature be all too willing to abdicate its responsibilities and hand over near-absolute mandate to the administration.

“I’m not against children wearing masks in school. I’m not even necessarily against mandates in certain circumstances,” he said. “But to circumvent the laws and just absolutely shred the separation of powers in your state is a scary situation.”

The office of Gov. Kathy Hochul didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Health (DOH) told The Epoch Times via email that the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The mandate was announced by Hochul on Aug. 24, the day she assumed office after the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The DOH promulgated it three days later, saying school children and staff, from prekindergarten to 12th grade, have to wear masks at all times regardless of vaccination to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The rule is based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rule was issued under emergency powers, skipping the usual public comment period.

In such cases, the state law requires the administration to explain why the rule is “necessary for the preservation of the public health, safety or general welfare” and why the regular process would go against “public interest.” The explanation should also include the expected duration of the emergency.

The suit lists several precedents that indicate the state needs to be specific in its justification. It argues the administration was not.

“Department of Health’s Notice of Emergency Adoption is a boilerplate statement composed of a myriad of inaccuracies regarding the present situation in New York as it relates to COVID-19,” it states.

The suit goes on to allege the state didn’t go into details because it would have revealed the lack of a proper justification.

The rule notice says that since the emergence of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, New York has “become the national epicenter of the outbreak.” But the state hasn’t been the epicenter for over a year now, the lawsuit says.

The notice mentions the disaster emergency declared by the previous governor, Andrew Cuomo. But that one expired in June and the new governor, Kathy Hochul, hasn’t declared a new one.

The notice does mention that the current dominant variant of the virus is “twice as transmissible” and that detected infections had increased tenfold in the state. But two “conclusory sentences regarding the Delta variant are not specific reasons that would satisfy the issuance of an emergency regulation impacting millions of children in the State of New York,” the suit argues.

The suit goes further by claiming the DOH doesn’t have the authority to issue the rule to begin with.

“DOH has, as an administrative agency, the authority to fill in the gaps of broad legislation describing the overall policies to be implemented. It does not, however, have the authority to write legislation on a clean slate, creating its own comprehensive set of rules without the benefit of legislative guidance,” it says.

The suit also cites articles by several experts, including the opinions of two doctors and a neuropsychologist all opposing mask mandates for children. They said children do not face a significant risk from the virus and rarely spread it to others, based on their reading of the scientific literature on the subject. Masking, on the other hand, has a significant negative impact on children, they say, preventing children from reading lip movement and facial expressions, a crucial aspect of child’s development, and may have some negative health effects too.


Virginia Congressman Introduces Legislation to Prohibit Critical Race Theory at Federally-Funded Schools

Virginia Congressman Rep. Bob Good (R) is introducing legislation Wednesday that would make teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) at federally-funded schools a civil rights violation.

Good’s bill, the Protecting Students Civil Rights Act, would bar CRT and any other form of curriculum resembling it from permeating schools. He noted that his constituents have voiced concerns to him over what their children are being taught in schools, including that their children are being “divided by race.”

"We are introducing a bill that will make it a civil rights violation to teach critical race theory or anything resembling it by any other name in our schools," Good told Fox News on Tuesday.

“We have constituents reaching out to us from all across our district very concerned about what’s being taught in their schools,” Good added. “Their children are being divided by race. They are being taught, again, that they are responsible for the sins of their past. If they’re a white kid, they are undeniably an oppressor because of their race. If they’re a black kid, they’re undeniably a victim because of their race. We don’t believe that kids look at each other that way.”

CRT in public schools has been a hot-button issue across the country, especially in Virginia. Loudoun County, as we’ve covered, has made national headlines for pushing its agenda of CRT curriculum, transgender pronouns, and explosive school board meetings as a result.

Good, who assumed office in January, has been a vocal opponent of CRT, and specifically, the “1619 Project,” the New York Times’ journalism ongoing “project” on the history of racism in America. The “1619 Project” is reportedly being taught in some schools across the country, as well as other forms of “anti-racism” curriculum.

"What we hope to accomplish is to advance Martin Luther King's principles, which were to judge people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin," Bob said of the legislation to Fox News. “Our race doesn’t determine our future. Our actions, our values, and the things that we achieve as individuals determine our future.”




Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The CDC’s COVID Failures Mount

What grade does America’s premier public health agency deserve vis-à-vis the biggest public healthcare threat the country has faced in generations? The short answer would be “a failing grade.”

Throughout the course of the COVID pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has repeatedly misinterpreted data, misinformed the public, and allowed political considerations to direct its guidelines rather than holding strictly to the known science.

The result has been widespread confusion and deep distrust in an institution that should seek to avoid any whiff of political considerations in its decision-making. Fewer Americans trust the CDC today than did before the pandemic, and the lion’s share of the blame rests almost entirely on those leading the CDC.

Although he doesn’t hold a position at the CDC, Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom Donald Trump tagged as the lead medical professional to communicate with the American people regarding the novel virus, has seemingly served as role model to the CDC’s operation. Fauci was perhaps Trump’s biggest blunder, because the Beltway’s highest-paid bureaucrat arguably cost Trump a second term through his own continual display of a total lack of humility and honesty. The CDC seemed to mimic his approach.

“The CDC is supposed to be America’s frontline institution in the fight against infectious disease,” Peter Suderman pointedly observes. “Its job is to analyze viral threats, track their spread and development, and provide the public with relevant information about how to respond to outbreaks. Not only did the agency do this job poorly in the early stages of the pandemic, but it actively hindered efforts that would have greatly improved America’s response, and it made planning errors that were both predictable and avoidable. At nearly every stage of the pandemic, the CDC got things wrong and got in the way. Its failures almost certainly made America’s pandemic worse.”

From foulups of COVID testing kits to promulgating misleading information, from allowing a partisan teachers union to dictate guidance to outrageously overstepping its boundaries with things like the eviction moratorium, the CDC failed the country. Making matters worse has been the CDC’s elitist and condescending attitude toward the American public. Rather than seeing itself as primarily a public health advisory agency, those leading the CDC seemed to see the agency as primarily a means to wield governing authority over the American people.

“The root of the problem is the agency’s self-conception: It sees itself as the ultimate arbiter of what is true and what to do on all matters of infectious disease,” Suderman further notes. “In essence, the CDC believes there is no other authority besides the CDC, so it shuts out private labs from the testing process, insists that its faulty tests actually work pretty well long after problems arise, sticks with overly complicated plans that bog down processes, and resists calls to update its guidance, even when that guidance makes living ordinary life difficult or impossible.”

The CDC’s guiding concern seems to have been politics, not science, which has created greater distrust within the minds of many Americans. Of course, the CDC’s “my way or the highway” approach will not lend itself to much introspection, something that is desperately needed if those who run the agency hope to regain any trust from the public. If this is the best Americans can expect from the CDC, then who needs it?


US expert says virus strain is mutating 'so much faster than we expected'

A new highly contagious variant of Covid-19 is the fastest mutating strain yet and three doses of vaccine will be required to protect against it, a U.S. epidemiologist has warned.

Scientists say the C.1.2 strain in South Africa has a mutation rate of 41.8 mutations per year, almost double the current global mutation rate seen in any other variant of concern so far.

The strain was first identified by scientists in South Africa in May and has since been found in England, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, Portugal Switzerland and even New Zealand.

Not a lot is yet known about C.1.2, which is yet to make its way to Australia, where there have been outbreaks of the Delta strain, chiefly in Sydney and Melbourne.

But this new strain has experts on edge, including Dr Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington DC.

'It's got lots of troubling mutations and it's the most mutative of all variants,' he told the Today show on Wednesday.

'It's the most genetically distanced from the Wuhan 1.0 virus. Whether or not it's the next big thing, it's not necessarily that, it's the fact that the virus is mutating so much faster than we expected.'

Dr Feigl-Ding, who is a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers program, a Soros Fellowship recipient and a former Democratic Party candidate, advocated a Covid elimination strategy.

'We can't just keeping boosting the vaccines,' Dr Feigl-Ding said.

'We have to basically stop the transmission worldwide because the more bodies we give the virus, the more practice chances the virus will eventually adapt and become even more evasive or contagious.'

He also warned two doses of the vaccine may not be enough with Israel already introducing third booster shots.'

'Unless you're triple vaxxed, you're not considered fully vaxxed. And that approach as much as it sucks, it is the reality that with the face of these new variants,' Dr Feigl-Ding said.

'Right now vaccines do work, but obviously the work against hospitalisations and deaths really well.

'But for just casual breakthrough mild infections, with Delta it's taught us that there's a lot more breakthroughs than we know and after six months it does tend to wane a little bit.

'This is why the sooner we end it, the sooner we can stop dealing with these upgrade software upgrade patches that we have do with the vaccine.


Here's what we know about Delta now, after months spent fighting it

Delta was recognised as a SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern in May 2021 and has proved extremely difficult to control in unvaccinated populations.

Delta has managed to out-compete other variants, including Alpha. Variants are classified as "of concern" because they're either more contagious than the original, cause more hospitalisations and deaths, or are better at evading vaccines and therapies. Or all of the above.

So how does Delta fare on these measures? And what have we learnt since Delta was first listed as a variant of concern?

How contagious is Delta?

The R0 tells us how many other people, on average, one infected person will pass the virus on to.

Delta has an R0 of 5-8, meaning one infected person passes it onto five to eight others, on average. This compares with an R0 of 1.5-3 for the original strain. So Delta is twice to five times as contagious as the virus that circulated in 2020.

What happens when you're exposed to Delta?

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted through droplets an infected person releases when they breathe, cough or sneeze.

In some circumstances, transmission also occurs when a person touches a contaminated object, then touches their face.

Once SARS-CoV-2 enters your body — usually through your nose or mouth — it starts to replicate.

The period from exposure to the virus being detectable by a PCR test is called the period. For Delta, one study suggests this is an average of four days (with a range of three to five days). That's two days faster than the original strain, which took roughly six days (with a range of five to eight days).

The virus then continues to replicate. Although often there are no symptoms yet, the person has become infectious.

People with COVID-19 appear to be most infectious two days before to three days after symptoms start, though it's unclear whether this differs with Delta.

As the virus replicates, the viral load increases. For Delta, the viral load is up to roughly 1,200 times higher than the original strain.

With faster replication and higher viral loads it is easy to see why Delta is challenging contact tracers and spreading so rapidly.

What are the possible complications?

Like the original strain, the Delta variant can affect many of the body's organs including the lungs, heart and kidneys.

Complications include blood clots, which at their most severe can result in strokes or heart attacks.

Around 10-30 per cent of people with COVID-19 will experience prolonged symptoms, known as long COVID, which can last for months and cause significant impairment, including in people who were previously well.

Longer-lasting symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, headaches, brain fog, muscle aches, sleep disturbance, depression and the loss of smell and taste.

Is it more deadly?

Evidence the Delta variant makes people sicker than the original virus is growing.

Preliminary studies from Canada and Singapore found people infected with Delta were more likely to require hospitalisation and were at greater risk of dying than those with the original virus.

In the Canadian study, Delta resulted in a 6.1 per cent chance of hospitalisation and a 1.6 per cent chance of ICU admission. This compared with other variants of concern which landed 5.4 per cent of people in hospital and 1.2 per cent in intensive care.

In the Singapore study, patients with Delta had a 49 per cent chance of developing pneumonia and a 28 per cent chance of needing extra oxygen. This compared with a 38 per cent per cent chance of developing pneumonia and 11 per cent needing oxygen with the original strain.

Similarly, a published study from Scotland found Delta doubled the risk of hospitalisation compared to the Alpha variant.

How do the vaccines stack up against Delta?

So far, the data show a complete course of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccine reduces your chance of severe disease (requiring hospitalisation) by more than 85 per cent.

While protection is lower for Delta than the original strain, studies show good coverage for all vaccines after two doses.

Can you still get COVID after being vaccinated?

Yes. Breakthrough infection occurs when a vaccinated person tests positive for SARS-Cov-2, regardless of whether they have symptoms. Breakthrough infection appears more common with Delta than the original strains.

Most symptoms of breakthrough infection are mild and don't last as long.

It's also possible to get COVID twice, though this isn't common.

How likely are you to die from COVID-19?

In Australia, over the life of the pandemic, 1.4 per cent of people with COVID-19 have died from it, compared with 1.6 per cent in the United States and 1.8 per cent in the United Kingdom.

Data from the United States shows people who were vaccinated were ten times less likely than those who weren't to die from the virus.

The Delta variant is currently proving to be a challenge to control on a global scale, but with full vaccination and maintaining our social distancing practices, we reduce the spread.




Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Pfizer begins late-stage clinical trial of oral drug to prevent COVID-19 in people who have been exposed to symptomatic patients

Pfizer Inc has begun late-stage clinical trials of an oral drug that could prevent COVID-19 among those who have been exposed.

The drugmaker, which developed the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. with Germany's BioNTech SE, has previously said the antiviral candidate showed 'potent' activity against the virus in lab studies.

Pfizer's candidate, which is called PF-07321332, belongs to a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors. The pill would work by inhibiting an enzyme that the coronavirus uses to make copies of itself inside human cells.

The New York-based company and its rivals, including Merck & Co Inc in the U.S. and Swiss pharmaceutical Roche Holding AG, have been racing to develop an easy-to-administer antiviral pill for COVID-19.

Protease inhibitors have been effective at treating other viral pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C virus, both on their own and in combination with other antivirals, the company said.

Pfizer believes this class of molecules may provide well-tolerated treatments against COVID-19, as currently marketed therapeutics that work on the same lines have not reported safety concerns.

'With the continued impact of COVID-19 around the world, we believe that tackling the virus will require effective treatments for people who contract, or have been exposed to, the virus, complementing the impact that vaccines have had in helping quell infections,' said Dr Mikael Dolsten, chief scientific officer at Pfizer, in a statement.

'If successful, we believe this therapy could help stop the virus early - before it has had a chance to replicate extensively - potentially preventing symptomatic disease in those who have been exposed and inhibiting the onset of infection in others.

The Phase II/III trial is a randomized, double-blind trial in which some participants will be given the drug and others the placebo, but even researchers won't know what pill the volunteers.

The study will test Pfizer's drug in up to 2,660 healthy adult participants aged 18 and older who live in the same household as an individual with a confirmed symptomatic Covid infection.

In the trial, half of the participants will be given the pill plus a low dose of ritonavir, an older medication widely used in combination treatments for HIV infection, and the other half will be given a placebo.

Volunteers will be required to take the pills they are given twice daily for either five days or 10 days.

Scientists will assess whether the pill is effective at preventing infection and its symptoms up to 14 days after being exposed.

Pfizer has also started another study of PF-07321332 in non-hospitalized, symptomatic adult patients.

To date, Gilead Sciences' remdesivir is currently the drug fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of COVID-19.

However, the agency has granted emergency use authorization to two combination therapies, one from Eli Lilly and the other by Regeneron.

Pfizer's announcement comes as Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics also recently launched a late-stage trial of their experimental drug molnupiravir for prevention of the COVID-19 infection.

Molnupiravir is also being studied in a late-stage trial in non-hospitalized patients to see if it reduces the risk of hospitalization or death.


Alberta, Canada is counting ANY student who calls out sick as being a COVID case: Those who refuse testing will be added to the list

Students in Alberta who call out sick will be counted as COVID-19 cases as infections in the Canadian province surge - causing furious parents to accuse government officials of fear-mongering to maintain their grip on power after the new ruling by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

'If individuals choose not to get tested for COVID-19 but are home with an illness they are now counted in the list as being part of that outbreak, and so it's less dependent on needing a test to be part of identifying where there is an issue,' said Deena Hinshaw, the province's top doctor, on Thursday.

In August, Hinshaw apologized for treating the pandemic as an 'endemic' in the early stages of COVID and for the fear and uncertainty that followed in the months after.

In Alberta schools, students who come in contact with others infected with COVID-19 are not required to quarantine and a contract tracing measure is not in place.

The government has also announced that data on how many schools have COVID-19 outbreaks will not be released, prompting outrage from parents who feel they have the right to know.

Hinshaw said the current framework had been implemented based on previous evidence from other jurisdictions.

She has said it is necessary for schools to assume anyone at home is a positive case of COVID-19 because obtaining data on COVID-19 transmissions from pubic health agencies would violate the privacy of students and staff.

Hinshaw insisted that the method was in place so schools could promptly alarm public health officials of a possible outbreak, in order to add an extra layer of protection and mitigate the spread.

'In schools, we are taking the approach that an illness that fits that definition - respiratory illness- is treated the same way whether it is COVID or not, so additional measures can be put into place,' Hinshaw said.

Social media users on Twitter disapproved of the measure they deemed alarmist and panic-driven.

Ezra Levant, a reporter for Rebel News, shared a clip of Hinshaw and tweeted: 'To maintain a mass psychology of panic and fear, Alberta's corrupt public health bureaucrat now automatically counts anyone staying home from any illness as a Covid case.'

Others complained about the continued restrictions. 'These 'So Called Experts' are power hungry and will never give us back our freedoms,' said Dougle Affan.

Another user wrote: 'Broken leg, refuse covid test, counted as a Covid case. FFS, the world is careering down a very dark path. How are they getting away with this, why are journalists not taking them to task?'

Alberta, a province that aggressively advertised its 'best summer ever,' is now struggling with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

With its healthcare system strained, and anti-vaccine and anti-mask sentiments growing among residents, public health officials are urging politicians to improve the loose restrictions that are in place.

There were 1,061 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday. Of the 818 non-ICU, 75.5% were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. Of the 243 in ICU, 91.7% were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

More than 60 doctors penned a letter to premier Jason Kenney, who has fervently opposed a lockdown, warning him about the dire conditions and low-room capacity at hospitals.

'Our healthcare system is truly on the precipice of collapse. Hospitals and ICUs across the province are under enormous strain and have reached a point where it is unclear if, or for how much longer, we can provide safe care for Albertans.' The Guardian reported.

A public health emergency has now been declared and military help has been requested to transport patients to others provinces as hospitals are working on full capacity.

Kenney has retracted his triumphant approach during the summer but still refused to order a lockdown because it made 'no sense for the 80 percent of the population that is vaccinated.'

'I know that we had all hoped this summer that we could put Covid behind us once and for all, that was certainly my hope,' he said. 'It is now clear that we were wrong, and for that I apologize.'

Kenney introduced some restrictions and promised to give more resources to hospitals when cases rose exponentially, but it was too little too late, medical officials have said.

In Alberta, there are currently 22,320 COVID-19 cases and 2,622 people have died of of the illness since the pandemic started. In May, the province had the worst rate of COVID-19 in North America



Joe Biden slams horse-mounted agents who are overwhelmed because of his own policies (CNS News)

Border agents “dumbfounded” by Biden’s promise to “fry our agents”: “He just started a war with Border Patrol” (Not the Bee)

Jen Psaki: It’s not “constructive” for the president to visit the southern border (Daily Wire)

DHS secretary: We probably released around 12,000 Haitians (Hot Air)

Biden defends his social agenda bill, wrongly claiming the cost will be zero (Washington Post)

Nancy Pelosi sets Thursday vote on “infrastructure,” eyes smaller social spending bill (Reuters)

House Democrats pass bill to end nearly all restrictions on abortion (CNS News) | Abortion bill protects “transgender men” (Free Beacon)

AOC apologizes for “present” vote on Israel’s Iron Dome, explains her crocodile tears (Fox News)

Runs in the family: Chris Cuomo accused of sexually harassing former boss at 2005 party (New York Post)

Under U.S. sanctions, Iran and Venezuela strike oil export deal (Reuters)

The United States and Pakistan face each other again on Afghanistan threats (AP)

Turkey’s president defiant about acquiring Russian missile defense system despite potential risk for U.S. (CBS News)

Chairman disbands panel investigating COVID-19’s origins, saying its links to a nonprofit that worked with a Chinese lab raises bias concerns (Business Insider)

WHO relaunching probe into pandemic origins (Daily Wire)

Social Democrats narrowly beat Angela Merkel’s bloc in German vote (Fox News)

New video of January 6 depicts disorder and disrespect, not violent insurrection (Just the News)

Police academies face recruiting drought after year of relentless cop demonization (National Review)

Delta wants airlines to share no-fly lists to keep crap passengers out of the skies (Gizmodo)

Policy: Pelosi’s “abortion for all” bill is more radical than Roe (Heritage Foundation)




Monday, September 27, 2021

Is there likely to be a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Comments from Australia. Compelled medical treatment was first introduced into Australia in order to give blood transfusions to the children of Jehovah's witnesses

Since the recent round of stay-at-home orders were introduced in Sydney and Melbourne, religious messages and motifs have been popping up at loosely defined "anti lockdown" protests across Australia.  

As one widely photographed sign at a Sydney demonstration in July declared: "The blood of Christ is my vaccine."

No major religion in Australia has expressly told its followers to forgo vaccination against COVID-19. In fact, many faith leaders have played a key role in combating vaccine misinformation in their communities. 

But as the above sign — and others like it — indicate, that doesn't mean people aren't being guided by their beliefs when deciding to refuse the jab. 

It's this grey area that Dr Renae Barker, an expert in law and religion at the University of Western Australia, said will make it difficult for the legal system to rule on whether policies that bar unvaccinated people from participating in certain activities — as already in place in Victoria, NSW and some industries — warrant a religious exemption provision. 

And the question is already playing out internationally, particularly in the United States, where thousands of people have already sought exemptions from vaccine mandates on religious grounds. 

"Do I think we need to have a conversation about [religious] exemptions? Possibly," Dr Barker said, "I don't think that conversation will go very far. I think politicians will very quickly say health, in this case, trumps freedom of religion."

Australia's history of religious exemptions

Looking back through Australia's recent history, there's only been one religion that has successfully lobbied for a vaccine exemption. That is the Christian Scientists, a small sect of Christianity who believes in prayerful healing to manage their health.

According to the 2016 Census, just 974 Australians reported they were Christian Scientist, out of 12 million people identifying as Christian more broadly.

In 1998, the church was granted an exemption to the Federal Government's new "no jab, no pay" laws that meant children had to be vaccinated to receive childcare and family benefits. They were the only religion to receive such an exemption — which required parents and carers to provide a letter from a church leader — sparking unfounded fears the decision would cause a flood of new converts eager to bypass the laws.

But when it comes to COVID-19, the Christian Scientists are taking a different approach.

"As far as our practice of trusting our problems to God prayerfully, that hasn't really altered," said Edwina Aubin, a Christian Scientist practitioner from Brisbane. "We're not 'anti-vax' as such, and neither are we 'pro-vax' … if it's what's required, then that's what we'll do."

Ms Aubin explains that while the majority of the church's members feel they don't require traditional medicine, instead relying on prayer and the support of practitioners in the church, there's nothing stopping them from seeking it out — whether it's a legal requirement or not.

But even so, she said the question of whether to get the COVID-19 jab "probably has challenged many Christian Scientists". In making the decision, she pointed to another core tenet of their beliefs: "Do to another what you want done to yourself."

"I certainly know those who have chosen to be vaccinated have done so because they feel it's the more loving thing to do to allay the fears of those around them," she said.

"We're conscious that we don't want to make another fearful because of our stance, and if there's no fear in our thought to go ahead and be vaccinated then that's a more loving step to take."

It's this approach that led the government to scrap religious exemptions to immunisation completely in 2015, declaring the policy no longer necessary.

But COVID-19 has brought with it fresh debate around religious and conscientious objection to vaccination, particularly as states move towards a system of different rules for the unvaccinated. 

Dr Barker said just because a religion doesn't formally ban or mandate something doesn't mean all adherents will comply: "Each individual does often have an individual interpretation of their requirements."

But this is an area where Australian courts have "really struggled" to make a legal distinction, she said. "And it's a very important distinction".

The challenge for the courts

Dr Barker said there's been a handful of cases where Australian courts have been asked to determine whether a person really did something on the basis of their religion, which is protected under anti-discrimination legislation.

To highlight the distinction she provides this example: If someone chooses to be vegan because they believe it is good for their health and their workplace refuses to provide vegan options at a lunch event, it is not discrimination. But, if someone abstains from eating animal products because it is part of their religion and the workplace fails to accommodate this, it is.

This becomes more complicated when someone's religious belief does not align with the commonly held practices of their organisation.

"The courts struggled with this idea that even different groups within the one larger religion might have different views and I suspect the courts will struggle even more with the idea that individuals within a religion will have a different view," Dr Barker said.

"Religious practice and religious belief are very nuanced, and it's very diverse, and even if we don't think people are getting their religion 'right' they sincerely believe they are.

"And it's a very challenging thing to do for a secular lawmaker, be that a legislature or a court, to say to that person 'we think you've interpreted your religion wrong'."

This means that, in the absence of religious leaders telling their followers they shouldn't be vaccinated, any push for religious exemptions would depend on the individual being able to demonstrate why they believe their decision is tied to their religious beliefs.

How it's being handled elsewhere

International law enshrines the right of all citizens to freely practise their religion, but that doesn't mean it's without limits. 

Article 18 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) sets out that these limits include what is necessary to protect "public safety, order, health or morals".

In the United States, where COVID-19 vaccination requirements vary by state, the debate over how far religious freedom can stretch in the face of a pandemic is in full swing.

Just last week, the Associated Press reported that there had been a flood of workers in industries where the jab has been made mandatory submitting letters from faith leaders despite no major religion expressly discouraging people from the vaccine.

This includes about 2,600 Los Angeles Police Department employees and thousands of government workers in Washington.

Workers looking for a way out have also been sharing tips online about how to request a religious exemption, the New York Times reported this month, and seeking out obscure religious organisations sympathetic to their plight. 

But according to Douglas Laycock, a professor of law at the University of Virginia who specialises in religious liberties, it's unclear whether there's even a legal basis for such exemptions.

Unlike Australia, most US states allow for some form of vaccination exemption for religious reasons, although often this is only for specific groups such as school children. In some instances, these exemptions could be used in a state government context, but they would not cover national rules, such as President Joe Biden's sweeping vaccine mandate that covers about 100 million people. 

Then there's the issue of private employers who may establish their own exemption system, but, as Professor Laycock wrote in The Conversation, this is not required by federal law.

Given the sudden influx of people seeking religious exemptions, and the growing anti-vaccination movement, the question then becomes how to determine whether someone's objection to the vaccine is a legitimately religious one. 

A different vaccine problem

Another pressing question for religious institutions is how they will manage in-person services if rules are put in place barring unvaccinated people from gathering.

Under NSW's plan to reopen, only fully vaccinated people will be able to attend places of worship once the state's vaccination rate hits 70 per cent. In Victoria, religious services were notably absent from Premier Daniel Andrews's announcement last week.

If widespread and long-term rules are put in place limiting who can attend religious services, it will put faith leaders in the difficult position of having to turn people away. 

"A number of churches are expressing concern that this is theologically a problem for them," Dr Barker said. "As long as religious organisations are treated the same as other equivalent secular organisations, and the usual example given is going to the cinema or theatre, it will be very hard for them to challenge."

Just last week, Bishop Paul Barker from the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne said he feared those who were not vaccinated would be turned into "the lepers of Jesus' day".

"We're anxious about where society might end up with division lines. If it's long term, that's one of our concerns," he said.

Ms Aubin, who is a member of the Christian Scientists Committee on Publication for Northern-Eastern Australia, also expressed concern at the prospect of having to bar people from attending services. 

"It's very hard to turn someone away who's coming to a place of worship, where they feel their spiritual needs are going to be met," she said. Currently, her church in Brisbane is permitted to host in-person services subject to COVID-19 check-ins and social distancing.

"If it was mandated to only those that were vaccinated, the only thing I could think [of to do] would be to go to hybrid services where we have both in-person and virtual," she said. "We would just abide by whatever was required and do our best."

If this situation arises, Dr Barker said any challenge would likely come down to an assessment of the health risk versus the benefit of allowing people to practice their religion freely.

"We don't actually yet know what the actual effect is going to be," she said. "We could have lots of people saying 'I'm not vaccinated but I want to go to the mosque for Friday prayers', or we could have absolutely nobody.

"That's what we don't know at this point."




Sunday, September 26, 2021

Alcohol is good for you

I have just put up a post to that effect on my Food & Health blog


Australia has been a big user of AstraZeneca vaccine so has a lot of data on it and the data shows that blood-clotting is rare

The mortality rate from a rare blood-clotting disorder linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is nearly a fifth of what experts originally thought it could be.

Earlier this year, as data emerged from overseas about the disorder — called TTS for short — it was estimated that the chance of dying if you developed a clot was about 25 per cent.

In Australia, 11.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine — now called Vaxzevria — have been administered, with a total of 141 people developing a confirmed or probable case of TTS linked to the jab.

Out of those 141 cases, eight people have died of the clots, or around 5.6 per cent.

In the UK, the rate of dying from TTS was 17 per cent. However, research published in August showed in one study it was as high as 22 per cent.

So, how has Australia kept its rate so low?

The head of the national medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), John Skerritt, thinks it is a combination of a few things.

First, we were given a heads-up by what was happening in the UK and Europe. "They'd vaccinated more than 10 million people before we had started to see possible cases," Professor Skerritt said. "Our doctors were able to pick up on the signs and symptoms and treat early. "We also have been able to pick up more less mild cases."

Professor Huyen Tran, a haematologist at Monash University, agreed having information from other countries early on made a big difference.

"I think initially following what we were seeing in Europe I was expecting a higher fatality rate, but I think I'd caveat that by saying they had a much longer run-in," he said.

"So that awareness, that understanding, is difficult early on, so we had that luxury of learning from other places."

Having a national hospital system that has not been completely overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases has also been crucial, allowing people who need treatment to access it quickly.

At the time of writing, 121 people have been discharged from hospital after being treated for TTS, 12 are still currently receiving treatment, but none are in ICU.

Both professors reiterated that the likelihood of even developing a clot is extremely rare and the benefits of protection from COVID-19, and its potentially long-lasting impacts, for most people, outweigh the risk of TTS.

Media coverage raised awareness

Professor Skerritt pointed out the extensive coverage of the rare clotting disorder early on may have played a role in reducing the fatality rate too.

"We are talking about something that is still extremely rare," he said. "The chance of death after a COVID vaccine in general is still well less than one in a million and there are things like being hit by lightning which are more common than that.

"With the media [coverage], it had the negative effect of causing vaccine hesitancy, but it also had the positive effect of making sure that our doctors and people and individuals were aware of the potential side effects.

"So, they'd go and see their doctors and hospitals early if they had, say, a really bad headache after getting the vaccine."

Professor Tran also believes the heightened awareness of symptoms has played a role in the successful treatment of clots in younger people, which tend to be more severe.

"I can think of an immediate example. The youngest individual that I've been involved with is actually a 22-year-old female," he said. "She presented to the emergency room within about 18 hours of the onset of symptoms with some insistence from her family. We picked up [on signs of TTS] that day and it was critical.

"She's done remarkably well so I think early diagnosis … is really, really important."

The other piece of the puzzle is that, according to both Professor Skerritt and Professor Tran, our ability to treat the disorder has also meant fewer deaths. "It's a condition that we now know we can treat really well," Professor Tran said.

"The combination of education, early recognition, has meant early therapy [which] has led to a really good outcome."


Norway dumps all Covid restrictions to ‘live as normal’

Norway has ditched all its Covid-19 measures, even social distancing, in a radical move that as yet has unclear consequences.

On Friday, the Nordic nation’s government announced that it was time to “live as normal” with Covid-19 after 561 days of enduring some kind of restriction, whether that be venue capacity limits or stay-at-home orders.

Now, Norwegians can attend restaurants, night clubs, sporting events and anything else at full capacity, with social distancing thrown out the window.

They’ve even started encouraging travel outside of Europe, removing travel warnings.

The new rules come into effect on Saturday, 4pm local time.

“It is 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime … Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told reporters. “In short, we can now live as normal.”

That’s despite the nation of five million people having 67 per cent fully vaccinated — lower than Australia’s “magic number” of reopening, at 80 per cent.

The extreme move is part of a four-step plan to scrap all restrictions implemented on March 10 last year. Norway was up to the final step but it was postponed several times over fears of rising infections.

The country’s health Minister sent a letter to municipalities alerting them to prepare for the ending of restrictions.

Like most countries, Norway was hit hard by the delta strain of the coronavirus. In total, the country has recorded nearly 186,000 local cases of Covid-19 and has tragically had 850 deaths. For comparison, Australia has had more than 93,000 cases to date and 1,208 deaths. In the last 24 hours, Norway has recorded 705 new cases.

However, its health body, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, recommended that society be reopened.

According to Reuters, Norway has had 98 infections per 100,000 people in its population.

Globally, there have been 230 million cases of Covid-19, with 4.7 million deaths and more than 6 billion doses of vaccine administered.

The 67 per cent vaccination figure counts the entire population, including children, not just its eligible adults.

Earlier this month, the Pfizer vaccine was opened up to 12-15-year-olds.

According to the nation's health body, 90.6 per cent of adults have received their first jab, while 83.8 have received their second dose.

That puts the nation ahead of Australia, which sits at 50.9 per cent of people 16 and over fully-vaccinated, and 75.4 per cent getting their first jab, according to the Federal Government.

Last week, Norway's Covid infection levels decreased by 33 per cent compared to the week before, while hospital admissions dropped from 95 to 67 as vaccinations caught up with the virus, according to Life In Norway.

The Norwegian government said its citizens didn’t have to live a Covid-normal life if they didn’t want to.

“When the authorities‘ advice and rules essentially disappear, the individual can choose for themselves what risk they want to take and what measures they want to practice,” they said in a statement.

Norway is the second Scandinavian country to end the restrictions, following in the footsteps of Denmark who waved goodbye to lockdowns on September 10.

The UK has also adopted a largely “Covid-normal” existence although case numbers continue to flare.

Singapore adopted a similar approach in July but backflipped in less than two weeks after the plan failed miserably.

Infections went from eight to almost 200 in 10 days, prompting restrictions to be brought back for the Asian country.

In fact, on Saturday, Singapore had to tighten its restrictions even further with only groups of two allowed in restaurants and children having to switch to at-home learning, despite the nation hitting an 80 per cent double dose rate.

The news of Norway’s new-found freedom is an extra slap in the face for NSW and Victorian residents, who are both in the throes of a months-long lockdown.

The UK and Denmark are yet to backtrack on their radical move to end Covid rules entirely. It remains to be seen whether Norway will do the same.



Democrat leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi say they have a deal on tax increases (Washington Examiner) | Except several Senate Democrats undercut claims of unity (Washington Times)

FBI: Murder rate soared in 2020, highest year-over-year increase ever recorded (Daily Wire)

Joe Biden, who demands people “pay their fair share,” may owe up to $500,000 in back taxes (Daily Wire)

Hunter Biden requested more than $2 million to unfreeze Libyan assets when dad was VP (Free Beacon)

January 6 committee subpoenas four from Trump’s inner circle (Politico)

House Republicans just callously voted to draft our daughters — and GOP senators will too (The Federalist)

No joke: Biden administration stops Border Patrol from using horses in Del Rio (Fox News)

U.S. special envoy to Haiti resigns, citing “inhumane” deportation of Haitians (PBS)

Democrats feud as House approves $1 billion for Israel’s missile system (New York Times)

Dems plan to scuttle Space Force (Free Beacon)

CDC director defies advisory panel, recommends COVID booster for younger at-risk workers (Fox News)

CDC quietly removed school guidance for eliminating masks, rolling back COVID prevention efforts (Fox News)

New York health commissioner resigns after criticism over nursing home scandal (Bloomberg)

Oregon nanny state officials say you can kiss on dates — if both vaccinated (Fox News)

GOP-led Arizona election review closely matches Biden’s winning margin (Politico)

2024: Trump over Biden by 10 points, Harris by 13 (Washington Examiner)