Friday, October 15, 2021

‘Highly potent’ Covid antibody may be a new weapon in the battle against the virus

Scientists say they have discovered a “highly potent” Covid-19 antibody that “neutralises” variants of the virus, including the deadly Delta strain.

The UK‘s Health Security Agency chief executive Dr Jenny Harries this week said the dominance of the Delta variant globally has seen other coronavirus variants “become extinct”, but warned we still need to “stay alert”.

Now it looks like science may have discovered a new weapon in the battle against the virulent variant.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), who made the breakthrough, said the antibody “is one of the most powerful” identified so far against SARS-CoV-2.

“Scientists at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and EPFL have discovered a highly potent monoclonal antibody that targets the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and is effective at neutralising all variants of concern identified to date, including the delta variant,” EPFL said in a statement.

“The newly identified antibody was isolated using lymphocytes from COVID-19 patients enrolled in the ImmunoCoV study being carried out by CHUV’s Service of Immunology and Allergy.

“The antibody blocks the spike protein from binding to cells expressing the ACE2 receptor, which is the receptor the virus uses to enter and infect lung cells.

“That means the antibody halts the viral replication process, enabling a patient’s immune system to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 from the body.

The EPFL added that the new antibody is designed to have a lasting effect in humans.

“A typical unaltered antibody provides protection for up to three to four weeks,” they said. “But this new one can protect patients for four–six months,” they said.

Meanwhile, US pharmaceutical giant Merck has applied for emergency use authorisation of its oral anti-Covid drug in the United States, a major step towards finding a simple pill to treat the disease.

On Monday local time, Merck submitted the application for molnupiravir, which it said earlier this month was shown to reduce hospitalisation by 50 per cent.


Top British doctor issues horror winter Covid warning as cases sky-rocket to three-month high

BRITAIN has been warned the NHS is facing an "exceptionally difficult" winter and an equally bleak Christmas as Covid cases spike to a three-month high - with chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty admitting the idea of a virus-free end to 2021 was "an impossible dream".

Speaking to delegates at the annual conference of the Royal College of GPs in Liverpool, Prof Whitty said: "In terms of where Covid will go over the winter, well I think the winter as a whole, I regret to say, is going to be exceptionally difficult for the NHS. "That is, irrespective of whether we have a relatively low but non-trivial amount of Covid, or whether we actually have a further surge in the winter.”

Prof Whitty, who was speaking a day after the UK recorded 42,776 new infections – a three month high and seven per cent increase compared with last week - added: "I think if you asked 100 modellers you're going to get over 100 answers, exactly as to how this is going to go out.

"I think what we're confident of is the very top end, what we would have faced potentially had things gone wrong last winter is not going to happen, barring an extraordinary escape mutant variant, but let's assume we don't get something which actually can basically evade our defences completely, I think the top end risks are much lower.

"But we could certainly go up, we're only two to three doubling times away from a really quite serious pressure on the NHS and it's already serious, but one that actually will be very difficult to deal with. "So the margin of error is quite small."

He warned of tough months ahead for the health service as it battles COVID-19, flu, other viruses and the usual winter problems such as trips and falls.

However, he praised GPs - who are currently under fire over face-to-face appointments - for all their "outstanding" hard work and professionalism over the last two years.

Regarding flu, he said there was a lot of debate over whether there could be low levels as people are still not mixing as much, or whether a lack of natural immunity could lead to "a really serious spike", with the possibility the flu vaccine is not very well matched to the strain that affects the UK.


The Three Words That Could Describe the Ashli Babbitt Shooting

It wasn’t our best day as a nation. It also wasn’t the worst. We have clowns in the liberal press saying that the January 6 riot was worse than the 9/11 attacks. We have comparisons that this was worse than the American Civil War. False on all accounts, but they need to exaggerate this incident because they want to ensnare Donald Trump again.

If this was such a horrific event, why haven’t they released the hours of security camera footage? It’s possibly because it’s boring as hell—just hundreds of people walking around the US Capitol. These people didn’t murder anyone as well. No cops were killed. Officer Brian Sicknick, who the liberal media tried to weaponize against conservatives, died of natural causes. The only person who was killed inside the Capitol building was Ashli Babbitt who was shot by police.

This has been a topic of discussion for some, as people wondered if the use of force was necessary. Look, in this situation, everyone inside should have known that these situations could turn deadly. That’s not to say she deserved it, and new documents from Judicial Watch further feeds the narrative that this was a cover-up. Tom Fitton added that the documents reveal Babbitt was shot for “no good reason” (via Fox News):

More than 500 pages of internal documents from DC Metropolitan Police concerning the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt in the Capitol on Jan. 6 reveal witness accounts stating she was not holding a weapon at the time of her death and how "upset" the officer was after shooting her.

"These previously secret records show there was no good reason to shoot and kill Ashli Babbitt," stated Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, which obtained the documents through a May 2021 FOIA lawsuit. "The Biden-Garland Justice Department and the Pelosi Congress have much to answer for the over the mishandling and cover-up of this scandalous killing of an American citizen by the U.S. Capitol Police."

Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, was shot and killed during the storming of the Capitol by a bullet fired by Capitol Police officer Lt. Michael Byrd. The documents from the DC Metropolitan Police department show that witnesses did not see Babbitt holding a weapon prior to her being shot, and reveal conflicting accounts of whether Byrd verbally warned Babbitt before shooting her.

"Sergeant [redacted] never went on the other side of the barricaded east door. He also did not know that it was Lieutenant Byrd who shot his gun until he talked to him moments after it occurred. Lieutenant Byrd looked upset and stated, ‘I was the one who took the shot,’" the report continued.

Judicial Watch noted that in a written transcript of the interview with the sergeant, he detailed he was not sure "if something happened to" Byrd that "caused him to take the shot or not."

"Uh, I saw Lieutenant Byrd kinda. I don’t know if it was before or after. Cause I was trying to figure this out of, but there was at one point where I remember seeing him and he kind of went like this and then came back up again. Uh, I don’t know if that was from him taking the shot and then stepping back from that shot or if it was before that, I can’t, no matter how I tried to rack my brain, I can’t, I can’t figure out when that happened, but uh, so I don’t know if something happened to him where [sic] caused him to take the shot or not," the written transcript states.

The lawyer for the Babbitt family went so far as to allege that Capitol Police ambushed Ashli. Meanwhile, Lt. Byrd was interviewed by NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt where he said that his actions saved lives. Talk about giving the finger to the rest us, man. In an era where almost every police shooting is characterized as an assassination, we have this guy getting a pass and a hero’s welcome when all the facts have not been reviewed. But who needs to do that for this officer-involved shooting, right? A reportedly nutty conservative rioter was shot and killed. Next.



Too little, too late: President Biden steps in as delays cripple supply chain (CBS News)

“One heck of a job”: Biden incredulously lauds port czar — despite supply chain crisis (New York Post)

“High class problems”: Elitist White House chief of staff dismisses supply chain crisis and surging inflation (Fox News)

Leftmedia personified: Katie Couric covered up RBG’s dislike for taking a knee (Daily Mail)

Mark Zuckerberg spent $419 million on nonprofits ahead of 2020 election — and got out the Dem vote (New York Post)

What’s the point of checking in? Leaked Border Patrol docs show mass release of illegal immigrants into U.S. by Biden administration (Fox News)

Five people onboard flight out of Afghanistan “intended to hijack the aircraft” (Daily Wire)

Suicides in the U.S. Army’s active-duty forces jump 46% (Fox News)

Five dead in Islamist bow and arrow attack in Norway (BBC)

Inflation returns to highest level in 13 years (

Social Security benefits to increase 5.9% in 2022 amid rising inflation (National Review)

Huge Social Security cost-of-living increase could accelerate trust’s depletion (Fox Business)

Drug overdose deaths hit record high during pandemic 12-month period (Washington Examiner)

Employer vaccine mandate a step closer to reality as OSHA submits rule text to OMB for review (Fox News)

Follow the Science™: Man’s kidney transplant canceled … because DONOR wasn’t vaccinated (New York Post)

The REAL cover-up: Virginia Democrats voted to allow schools to refrain from reporting sexual battery last year (National Review)

Seattle school cancels Halloween over “equity,” says black kids don’t celebrate (KTTH)

D'oh! Virginia city that removed police from schools following “defund the police” protests reinstates officers (Washington Examiner)

State school board groups disavow School Boards Association’s parent inquisition (Daily Signal)

Trump team claims Mark Milley never told them of China worries (Washington Times)




Thursday, October 14, 2021


Another article just up on my Food & Health blog saying that wine with dinner is good for you


Joe Biden’s bizarre presidency is like The Truman Show

Joe Biden has taken to staging media events at a fake White House set across the road from the real White House. He sits in a fake Oval Office behind a tiny desk in front of an ersatz window framing an outdated digital image of the Rose Garden in full spring bloom.

Former Trump aide Stephen Miller claims the imitation White House setup is designed so the President can read a script from a special monitor without being ­detected. But the charade has led to charges that Biden is running a “Truman Show presidency”, all smoke and mirrors and no substance.

To add to the inauthentic atmosphere, Vice President Kamala Harris released a bizarre YouTube video of herself last week with a group of young teens in which she gushes with patently fake enthusiasm about space exploration. The well-behaved kids, who turned out to be child actors, watch mutely as she waves her arms around in exaggerated fashion and uses a weird baby voice in the “Get Curious with Vice President Harris” video made to celebrate World Space Week.

“You guys are gonna see, you’re gonna literally see the craters on the moon with your own eyes,” she ­enthused, pointing at her bulging eyes as if she were talking to retarded toddlers. It’s hard to describe just how cringe-worthy the performance was but it sums up the awkwardness of her vice presidency, in which she has shirked jobs assigned her by Biden in favour of low-risk humanising roles to remedy her unpopularity before she takes a run at the top job.

As Biden’s polls numbers plummet and multiple crises erupt, Americans are growing alarmed at the curious passivity of a White House which seems focused exclusively on optics.

Every weekend at college games and other sporting events, crowds now chant “F--k Joe Biden”. At the NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway a couple of weeks ago, the crowd took up that chant as winner Brandon Brown was being interviewed. NBC reporter Kelli Stavast misheard the obscenity as “Let’s go Brandon!” and a meme was born.

Now “Let’s Go Brandon” chants and banners are popping up everywhere as a euphemism to express frustration at the president.

Biden seems oblivious. He just took another three-day weekend at his Delaware mansion and isn’t ­expected to address the supply chain problem that threatens Christmas supplies until Wednesday.

Illegal migration at the southern border is exploding, inflation is on the rise, petrol prices are up, the latest jobs numbers fell well below expectations, food shortages are setting in and shop shelves are half empty, cargo ships are piling up off the coast, and truck drivers are in short supply.

Biden won a wafer-thin victory last November, with an evenly split Senate and a tight majority in the House but is governing as if he had a massive mandate, pushing multi-trillion spending bills which can’t make it past squabbling members of his own party.

He inherited a stable border, vaccines already being rolled out at the rate of 1.5 million jabs a day, and a ­recovering economy but squandered it all with a spiteful determination to undo all things Trump.

As Donald Trump said at his rally in Iowa on the weekend: “If Biden would have just gone to the beach, just take it easy, enjoy the surf, he’d have a great border today.”

Biden’s Covid-19 vaccine mandates are ­another self-created crisis, as workers quit or are fired for refusing to get vaccinated, throwing hospitals, transportation and other sectors of the economy into chaos.

On the weekend, Southwest Airlines cancelled as many as 2000 flights, using the official excuse of bad weather and staffing issues with air traffic controllers.

But the real reason reportedly was that large numbers of pilots, flight ­attendants and other staff had called in sick to protest the airline’s threat to fire them. Biden couldn’t care less about the pointless mayhem he’s ­unleashed in a country in which ­almost 70 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated and an estimated 115 million people have natural immunity to Covid, according to a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Last week in a speech in Chicago he gave a shout out to United Airlines for raising its vaccination rate for employees from 59 per cent to 99 per cent.

He didn’t mention that the miraculous figure was achieved by firing people who refused to get vaccinated in order to comply with his December 8 deadline.

“When you see headlines and reports of mass firings, and hundreds of people losing their jobs, look at the bigger story,” he prattled ­blithely. “United went from 59 per cent of their employees [vaccinated] to 99 per cent”. No wonder he’s now more unpopular than Donald Trump, despite his sycophantic media.

A recent Quinnipiac poll had his approval rating at 38 per cent and disapproval at 53 per cent. A majority of voters disapprove of his handling of the economy (55 per cent), the military (58 per cent), taxes (54 per cent), foreign policy (58 per cent), immigration (67 per cent).

Even on Covid he is under water with 50 per cent disapproval versus 48 per cent approval.

Worse still, a majority of voters have savagely marked him down on personality traits such as honesty, leadership skills and whether he cares about the average American.

More than half of Americans (55 per cent) say his administration is not competent.

“Battered on trust, doubted on leadership, and challenged on overall competency, President Biden is being hammered on all sides as his approval rating continues its downward slide to a number not seen since the tough scrutiny of the Trump administration,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy.

As well, last month, a Fox News poll found fewer than half of Americans think Biden is “mentally stable” enough to hold his job.

Disproportionately it is independents who have turned on him. Their eyes were opened by the Afghanistan debacle in which 13 young American service members were killed in the botched withdrawal from Kabul airport and American citizens and Afghan allies were abandoned a few days after Biden vowed he would leave no one behind.

Last week his attorney-general Merrick Garland sicced the FBI onto parents protesting at school board meetings about left wing propaganda in the classroom – from critical race theory and gender ideology to racial quotas excluding Asian students and pandemic scare campaigns requiring kids to be masked and vaccinated without regard to their wellbeing.


Many Cities Are Reversing Course on 'Defund the Police'

It’s been a year since local officials across the U.S. voted to defund police departments in the wake of widespread protests over George Floyd’s death, but now, many are having a change of heart.

From coast to coast, police departments that were victim to the defund movement are now getting money back, The New York Times reports. In New York, for example, local officials have voted to give $200 million to the NYPD, while the LAPD got a 3 percent budget increase.

The abrupt reversals have come in response to rising levels of crime in major cities last year, the exodus of officers from departments large and small and political pressures. After slashing police spending last year, Austin restored the department’s budget and raised it to new heights. In Burlington, Vt., the city that Senator Bernie Sanders once led as mayor went from cutting its police budget to approving $10,000 bonuses for officers to stay on the job.

But perhaps nowhere has the contrast been as stark as in Dallas, where [Mayor Eric] Johnson not only proposed to restore money to the department but moved to increase the number of officers on the street, writing over the summer that “Dallas needs more police officers.” […]

After the mayor proposed increasing funding, no protests followed. When the Council backed a budget that restored many of the cuts made last year, few came to the public hearing, and even fewer spoke against the plan, which included the hiring of 250 officers. It passed with little fanfare last month. (NYT)

Conservatives weren’t surprised to see the 180 on police funding.



All 206 House Republicans voted against raising the debt ceiling (Insider)

Nancy Pelosi signals colossal spending package will shrink to only $2 trillion (Washington Examiner)

Not Leftmedia enough: Pelosi lectures reporters, says they “could do a better job selling” Build Back Better (Fox News)

Pelosi doubles down on the powerful IRS tracking bank accounts (

Revisionist historian Kamala Harris denounces European explorers for ushering in “wave of devastation” for Native Americans (Fox News)

House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth to retire, giving GOP prime pickup opportunity (Washington Examiner)

DHS secretary orders ICE to stop worksite raids in latest limits on immigration enforcement (Fox News)

U.S. to reopen land borders in November for fully vaccinated (unless you’re an illegal immigrant) (AP)

Brave Marine who criticized military over Afghan withdrawal to plead guilty at court martial (CBS News)

Drivers wanted: U.S. supply chain can’t keep on trucking (Washington Times)

Supply chain crunch: White House admits “there will be things you can’t get” at Christmas (Breitbart)

A record 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in August, led by food and retail industries (CNBC)

Famed Art Institute of Chicago fires all docents, primarily white women. Critics charge racism. (Daily Wire)

“People don’t want to be the police:” Chicago and other cities suffering officer shortage, can’t find recruits (Daily Wire)

“I don’t know”: Ben and Jerry’s cofounder stumped when pressed about Israel boycott hypocrisy (Daily Wire)

Cancel culture failure: Professor booted from MIT lecture draws thousands for alternative online speech (Daily Wire)

Judge’s ruling strikes blow to Kentucky’s new school choice law (Louisville Courier Journal)

Second Facebook whistleblower is willing to testify before Congress (New York Post)

NBA team bans star player Kyrie Irving until he gets vaccine (Fox News)

Policy: America’s inflation problem won’t be solved by ignoring it (1945)




Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Virus of Biden’s Authoritarianism

More Americans died of COVID in 2021 than 2020. Is that Joe Biden’s fault?

“I’m not going to shut down the country. I’m not going to shut down the economy. I’m going to shut down the virus.” —Joe Biden, October 30, 2020

“I promise you if I’m elected, I won’t waste any time getting this virus under control. I’ll call Dr. Fauci and ask him to stay on. I’ll bring together top experts and leaders from both parties to chart a path forward. We’ll get it done, together.” —Joe Biden, August 11, 2020

“If the president had done his job from the beginning, all the people [who have died from coronavirus] would still be alive.” —Joe Biden, September 17, 2020, when coronavirus deaths surpassed 200,000

To a certain extent, it’s true that a president is responsible for how he handles a crisis on his watch. That ought to be less true of a novel virus than, say, a deliberate and humiliating military surrender, but still. Unfortunately, Trump became the poster child for COVID misery — because Democrats and their Leftmedia allies made him so in order to defeat him in November.

Well, if a president is to be judged by how he handles a crisis — if Joe Biden is to be judged by the standard to which Joe Biden held Donald Trump — then Joe Biden is a colossal failure.

The U.S. recently passed 700,000 COVID deaths, not 200,000 as it stood before the election. Biden called this “astonishing.” The pandemic has claimed more Americans lives in 2021 than in 2020. (Insert caveats here for the whole “died of COVID” versus “died with COVID” debate.)

To a large extent, neither president is directly responsible for deaths caused by a virus (or comorbidity factors), especially when that virus was leaked from a Chinese lab.

A president does, however, set the tone for the national response, and both presidents bear some responsibility for how the virus has been politicized. But this is not a “well both sides did it” argument. The far greater fault lies with Biden.

It was Biden who hid in his basement for most of 2020 while armchair quarterbacking the hard work Trump’s team put into responding to a new threat. Trump surely hoped his response to the virus would help him win, but he didn’t have the entire mainstream media at his disposal as Biden did to weave a political narrative.

It was Democrats, not Republicans, who politicized the vaccines last year, insisting that they couldn’t possibly take one when the Bad Orange Man had anything to do with development. And it’s Democrats who continue to politicize the vaccines now through hectoring, cajoling, passports, and constitutionally dubious federal mandates. Masks, likewise, are more often a virtue signal or badge of party identification than they are useful tools.

If you think vaccines are beneficial and effective at preventing more serious illness or deaths — and there is evidence indicating that’s true — then you should be outraged that millions of Americans are choosing not to be vaccinated in large part because Democrats are now so adamant about it after hysterically warning against it just a few short months ago. How many unvaccinated Americans have died because of Democrat politicization?

If you think vaccines are a big conspiracy by the pharmaceutical companies or you merely wonder why everyone is inexplicably ignoring factors like natural immunity — and we’ve warned against ignoring it — then you should be outraged that an entire political party has vested its electoral hopes in forcing compliance among the entire population. And not just one shot. Not just two shots, either. But continued boosters. Likewise, you should be outraged that social media giants censor even legitimate questions about the vaccines.

These questions should be settled between patients and doctors, not a presidential diktat.

The gross irony of Biden’s authoritarianism is that we’re further from herd immunity than we would have been if anyone could trust the government or the “experts.” That has cost lives, and it’s on him.

“Today,” Biden told us on July 4, “we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus.” Are we? Not if he can help it.


Let Life Resume

John Stossel

America remains bound by often extreme pandemic restrictions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying 6 feet away from others. In Oregon, everyone must wear a mask outdoors. In parts of the country, 2-year-olds must wear masks.

Are such rules necessary?

Recently, Denmark lifted all pandemic restrictions.

"Go Denmark!" cheers George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux in my latest video. "We in the United States should do the same."

"We reduced COVID, through vaccination, to a fairly mild ailment for the vast majority of people," says Boudreaux. "You don't have to worry if the bartender at your favorite bar is vaccinated or not. You are protected against suffering severe consequences. Get vaccinated, and then go about your life normally!"

Portugal and Sweden recently removed most restrictions, too. The United Kingdom ditched plans to require "vaccine passports."

"We don't have to continue to upend human life in our quest to eliminate COVID, which can't happen anyway," says Boudreaux.

"Why not?" I ask. "We eliminated smallpox."

"Smallpox resides only in human beings," explains Boudreaux. COVID-19 can live in animals -- bats, deer, dogs, cats. "We have never eliminated a disease that uses both humans and animals as reservoirs."

Still, China acted as if eliminating COVID-19 were possible.

They've kept deaths much lower (if you believe their numbers) than other countries by imposing nasty repressive measures like quarantines at gunpoint and even locking people in their homes.

"It's just awful. It's tyrannical. It's what you expect of a Communist tyrannical government," says Boudreaux.

Australia's been almost that tough. They've also imposed curfews and arrested people for not wearing masks. In some places, police proudly announced they "smashed windows of people in cars and pull them out ... because they weren't telling us where they were going."

Don't worry about losing freedom, says Daniel Andrews, premier of the state of Victoria. "They're not rules that are against you. They are rules for you."

"So say all dictators and tyrants," retorts Boudreaux.

These countries can't lock down forever. When the lockdowns stop, COVID-19 will return.

That's why Denmark ended COVID-19 restrictions.

"It's not admitting defeat; it's admitting reality," says Boudreaux. "We learn to live with COVID in the same way that we learn to live with many other pathogens. ... The bacteria that caused the Black Death is still circulating in the human population. A handful of people every year still die of it."

In the Wall Street Journal, he wrote, "Eradication of Covid is a dangerous and expensive fantasy."

"We live with countless hazards, each of which we could but sensibly choose not to eradicate. Automobile fatalities could be eradicated by outlawing motor vehicles. Drowning could be eradicated by outlawing swimming and bathing. Electrocution could be eradicated by outlawing electricity. We live with these risks not because we're indifferent to suffering but because we understand that the costs of zero-drowning or zero-electrocution would be far too great. The same is true of zero-Covid."

That's why, now that we have largely effective vaccines, he says it's time to end pointless lockdowns and do what Denmark is doing:

"Live life normally again! Travel, go to parties, weddings, sporting events. Live life and be joyous! Hopefully, humanity will come to its senses soon."

I hope he's right.


Experts Say Adults Who Contracted COVID-19 and Are Fully Vaccinated Do Not Need to Rush for a Booster Shot

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, several studies conducted by health experts and scientists show that individuals who’ve had COVID-19 and were fully vaccinated have strong protection against the virus, including variants like the Delta variant, and do not need a booster. The data, which was compiled by experts who specialize in vaccines and immunology, is preliminary and currently incomplete.

Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) advisory panel on vaccines said to the WSJ that those who were infected and now vaccinated “just won the game.”

“I wouldn’t ask them to get a booster dose. I think they just got it,” Offit explained, meaning that their COVID-19 infection “counts” as their booster. The studies suggest that exposure to COVID-19 effectively serves as a dose of the vaccine, as it prompts the immune system to generate antibodies against the virus for the future. This combination of immunity from real-world exposure and infection compounded with the protection generated from the vaccine is known as “hybrid immunity.”

As we covered, President Biden announced in August that his administration plans to move forward with a coronavirus booster shot program for adults who are fully vaccinated. So far, only the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine booster has received approval from the FDA to be administered to limited age groups. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have not received approval for their boosters.

Since Biden’s announcement, two top officials at the FDA resigned due to the administration’s interference with booster shots, as Katie reported, claiming there is not enough data to support booster shots across all demographics.

According to CNBC, [t]wo senior Food and Drug Administration officials responsible for reviewing Covid-19 vaccine applications are leaving the federal agency this fall,” and that “[t]heir announced plans to depart come as the Biden administration prepares to begin offering Covid vaccine booster shots to the general public the week of Sept. 20. Some health experts saw the move as premature and political, especially because the FDA hasn’t finished reviewing data on boosters yet.”




Tuesday, October 12, 2021

British Health secretary’s alarm at ‘huge’ and growing problem of long Covid

Long COVID now has an official WHO clinical definition
Health secretary Sajid Javid has expressed alarm at the rising numbers of people suffering long Covid symptoms, telling a private meeting of health officials that the problem was “huge” and “getting bigger”.

The meeting was given an update on long Covid treatment, with NHS England bosses revealing 10 per cent of all clinic appointments were being taken up by NHS staff in a sign of the potential longer term impact of coronavirus and the risk it could undermine already depleted staffing levels.

NHS staff are most likely to be affected by long Covid, followed by staff in social care and teachers. As many as 125,000 NHS staff may be affected by persistent symptoms.

Public Health England has faced criticism over its guidance for NHS staff which suggested most should wear only basic surgical masks instead of higher grade masks to guard against airborne spread. Some NHS trusts have ignored the rules amid concern staff were being put at increased risk.

The meeting also heard that patients getting appointments at long Covid clinics were disproportionately white, with just under a fifth coming from the most deprived communities. This is despite infection levels overall being highest in these areas.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week revealed more than 1.1 million people were now reporting lasting symptoms from a Covid-19 infection, with 405,000 suffering its effects for more than a year.

The ONS found 211,000 people had reported their ability to carry out daily activities was being significantly affected by the condition.

Concerns over the potential impact of long Covid is rising in Whitehall as some officials fear the impact on the NHS and the wider economy. Patient groups have reported long delays in being seen, with some criticising doctors for not believing their symptoms.

At a roundtable update at the end of September, Mr Javid heard details from statisticians at the ONS setting out the scale of the problem and the wider prevalence of cases.

There were also “hideous” stories from two long Covid patients who urged the health secretary to do more.

Sources who attended the meeting said the minister highlighted “the new challenge” posed by the condition and that experts were still having to learn about it and understand what exactly it is.

After being told the latest estimates of people suffering for more than a year, the secretary of state said: “That’s huge. The numbers are only getting bigger.”

He urged those on the call from the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS to listen to patient experiences as “we’re the ones that can do something”.

He described long Covid as a “hugely important topic” facing the government and said new health minister Maria Caulfield, a former nurse, would be leading the response.

Mr Javid told the meeting there was still a lack of consensus on what exactly long Covid was and how to measure it.

He also said the vaccination rollout to school children was an important step in protecting some youngsters as many would be unable to avoid being infected at some stage.

Cathy Hassell, director of clinical policy, quality and operations at NHS England, told the meeting the health service had achieved five of its 10 long Covid targets and now had every part of the country served by at least one dedicated clinic.

She said the number of appointments at clinics taken up by NHS staff was “disproportionately high” and work was going on to make sure affected NHS staff had access to specialist mental health hubs, occupational health service and rapid referral to the long Covid clinics.

The meeting was told that around 6,000 referrals were being made in each four-week period, with 4,000 specialist assessments and 5,000 follow-up appointments a month.

The meeting heard more action was needed to increase referrals as the numbers coming forward for help were much smaller than the levels of people reporting problems to the ONS. A new enhanced GP service has gone live this month which may help direct more patients to clinics.

Another concern was the demographics of those using the clinics. The meeting was told 63 per cent accessing the service were women, and 81 per cent were white. Only 17 per cent were from the most deprived areas.

This could mean ethnic minorities and people in the poorest areas, which were worst hit by the Covid pandemic, are not accessing help from the long Covid clinics.

The NHS has invested £125m in setting up clinics and providing better GP care for patients with lasting symptoms.

An NHS England spokesperson said: “The NHS is taking practical action to help patients suffering ongoing health issues as a result of coronavirus – bringing together experts and setting up 90 specialist clinics covering the whole country, as well as collecting and publishing data on the demographics of patients referred with long Covid to develop a greater understanding of this new condition.

“Anyone who is concerned about long-lasting symptoms following Covid-19 should continue to get in touch with their GP practice so they can get a referral or go online to the NHS ‘Your Covid Recovery’ website for further advice.”


The January 6 Insurrection Hoax

it is absolutely critical to the Democrat Party narrative that the incident be made to seem as violent and crazed as possible.

Notwithstanding all the hysterical rhetoric surrounding the events of January 6, 2021, two critical things stand out. The first is that what happened was much more hoax than insurrection. In fact, in my judgment, it wasn’t an insurrection at all.

An “insurrection,” as the dictionary will tell you, is a violent uprising against a government or other established authority. Unlike the violent riots that swept the country in the summer of 2020 — riots that caused some $2 billion in property damage and claimed more than 20 lives — the January 6 protest at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. lasted a few hours, caused minimal damage, and the only person directly killed was an unarmed female Trump supporter who was shot by a Capitol Police officer. It was, as Tucker Carlson said shortly after the event, a political protest that “got out of hand.”

At the rally preceding the events in question, Donald Trump had suggested that people march to the Capitol “peacefully and patriotically” — these were his exact words — in order to make their voices heard. He did not incite a riot; he stirred up a crowd. Was that, given the circumstances, imprudent? Probably. Was it an effort to overthrow the government? Hardly.

I know this is not the narrative that we have all been instructed to parrot. Indeed, to listen to the establishment media and our political masters, the January 6 protest was a dire threat to the very fabric of our nation: the worst assault on “our democracy” since 9/11, since Pearl Harbor, and even — according to Joe Biden last April — since the Civil War!

Note that phrase “our democracy”: Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and various talking heads have repeated it ad nauseam. But you do not need an advanced degree in hermeneutics to understand that what they mean by “our democracy” is their oligarchy. Similarly, when Pelosi talks about “the people’s house,” she doesn’t mean a house that welcomes riff-raff like you and me.

I just alluded to Ashli Babbitt, the unarmed supporter of Donald Trump who was shot and killed on January 6. Her fate brings me to the second critical thing to understand about the January 6 insurrection hoax. Namely, that it was not a stand-alone event.

On the contrary, what happened that afternoon, and what happened afterwards, is only intelligible when seen as a chapter in the long-running effort to discredit and, ultimately, to dispose of Donald Trump — as well as what Hillary Clinton might call the “deplorable” populist sentiment that brought Trump to power.

In other words, to understand the January 6 insurrection hoax, you also have to understand that other long-running hoax, the Russia collusion hoax. The story of that hoax begins back in 2015, when the resources of the federal government were first mobilized to spy on the Trump campaign, to frame various people close to Trump, and eventually to launch a full-throated criminal investigation of the Trump administration.

Which brings me back to Ashli Babbitt, the long-serving Air Force veteran who was shot and killed by a nervous Capitol Police officer. Babbitt was a useful prop when the media was in overdrive describing the January 6 events as an “armed insurrection” in which wild Trump supporters, supposedly at Trump’s instigation, attacked the Capitol with the intention of overturning the 2020 election.

According to that narrative, five people, including Babbitt, died in the skirmish. Moreover, it was said, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was bludgeoned to death by a raging Trump supporter wielding a fire extinguisher. That gem of a story about the fire extinguisher, reported in our former paper of record, The New York Times, was instantly picked up by other media outlets and spread like a Chinese virus.

Of course, it is absolutely critical to the Democratic Party narrative that the January 6 incident be made to seem as violent and crazed as possible. Hence the comparisons to 9/11, Pearl Harbor, and the Civil War. Only thus can pro-Trump Americans be excluded from “our democracy” by being branded as “domestic extremists” if not, indeed, “domestic terrorists.”

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution accords American citizens the right to a speedy trial. But most of the political prisoners of January 6 — many of whom have been kept in solitary confinement — are still waiting to be brought to trial. And although the media was full of predictions that they would be found guilty of criminal sedition, none has.

Indeed, the prosecution’s cases seem to be falling apart. Most of the hundreds who have been arrested are being charged with trespassing. Another charge being leveled against them is “disrupting an official proceeding.” This is a felony charge designed not for ceremonial procedures like the January 6 certification of the vote, but rather for disrupting Congressional inquiries — for example, by shredding documents relevant to a Congressional investigation. It originated during the George W. Bush administration to deal with the Enron case.

The indisputable fact about January 6 is that although five people died at or near the Capitol on that day or soon thereafter, none of these deaths was brought about by the protesters. The shot fired by Capitol Police Officer Michael Byrd that hit Ashli Babbitt in the neck and killed her was the only shot fired at the Capitol that day. No guns were recovered from the Capitol on January 6. Zero.

The liberal commentator Glenn Greenwald further diminished the “armed insurrection” narrative in an important column last February titled “The False and Exaggerated Claims Still Being Spread About the Capitol Riot.” The title says it all. Kevin Greeson, Greenwald notes, was killed not by the protesters but died of a heart attack outside the Capitol. Benjamin Philips, the founder of a pro-Trump website called Trumparoo, died of a stroke that day. Rosanne Boyland, another Trump supporter, was reported by The New York Times to have been inadvertently “killed in a crush of fellow rioters during their attempt to fight through a police line.” But later video shows that, far from that, the police pushed protesters on top of Boyland and would not allow other protesters to pull her out.

Four of the five who died, then, were pro-Trump protesters. And the fifth? Well, that was Officer Sicknick — also a Trump supporter, as it turned out — who, contrary to the false report gone viral of The New York Times, went home, told his family he felt fine, but died a day later from, as The Washington Post eventually and grudgingly reported, “natural causes.” No fire extinguishers were involved in his demise.




Monday, October 11, 2021

Do Immigrants Import Their Economic Destiny?

Large numbers of Hispanic immigrants will tend to make the USA into another failed Hispanic State

How do immigrants change the countries they move to? Immigration has become a big political issue in the U.S., the UK, Germany, and beyond, and experts and pundits alike have tried answering this question. At least among economists, almost all the debate has focused on the short run, and most of that has focused on lower-skilled immigrants. The overall answer is fairly clear: low-skilled immigrants don’t have a major effect on the rest of the economy one way or the other. That means that in the short run, the most important effect of low-skilled immigration is that it helps low-skilled migrants themselves.

But what happens in the very long run? As immigrants shape the culture of their new homelands, will they import more than just new ethnic cuisines? Will they also import attitudes and policies that wound the golden goose of first-world prosperity? Ultimately, will migrants make the countries they move to a lot like the countries they came from?

This is one of the great policy questions in our new age of mass migration, and it’s related to one of the great questions of social science: Why do some countries have relatively liberal, pro-market institutions while others are plagued by corruption, statism, and incompetence? Three lines of research point the way to a substantial answer:

The Deep Roots literature on how ancestry predicts modern economic development,

The Attitude Migration literature, which shows that migrants tend to bring a lot of their worldview with them when they move from one country to another,

The New Voters-New Policies literature, which shows that expanding the franchise to new voters really does change the nature of government.

Together, these three data-driven literatures suggest that if you want to predict how a nation’s economic rules and norms are likely to change over the next few decades, you’ll want to keep an eye on where that country’s recent immigrants hail from.

The Deep Roots of Prosperity

A glance at the map tells much of the tale: Today’s rich countries tend to be in East Asia, Northern and Western Europe, or are heavily populated by people who came from those two regions. The major exceptions are oil-rich countries. East Asia and Northwest Europe are precisely the areas of the world that made the biggest technological advances over the past few hundred years. These two regions experienced “civilization,” an ill-defined but unmistakable combination of urban living, elite prosperity, literary culture, and sophisticated technology. Civilization doesn’t mean kindness, it doesn’t mean respect for modern human rights: It means the frontier of human artistic and technological achievement. And over the extremely long run, a good predictor of your nation’s current economic behavior is your nation’s ancestors’ past behavior. Exceptions exist, but so does the rule.

Recently, a small group of economists have found more systematic evidence on how the past predicts the present. Overall, they find that where your nation’s citizens come from matters a lot. From “How deep are the roots of economic development?” published in the prestigious Journal of Economic Literature:

A growing body of new empirical work focuses on the measurement and estimation of the effects of historical variables on contemporary income by explicitly taking into account the ancestral composition of current populations. The evidence suggests that economic development is affected by traits that have been transmitted across generations over the very long run.

From “Was the Wealth of Nations determined in 1000 B.C.?” (coauthored by the legendary William Easterly):

[W]e are measuring the association of the place’s technology today with the technology in 1500 AD of the places from where the ancestors of the current population came from…[W]e strongly confirm…that history of peoples matters more than history of places.

And finally, from “Post-1500 Population Flows and the Economic Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality,” published in Harvard’s Quarterly Journal of Economics:

The positive effect of ancestry-adjusted early development on current income is robust…The most likely explanation for this finding is that people whose ancestors were living in countries that developed earlier (in the sense of implementing agriculture or creating organized states) brought with them some advantage—such as human capital, knowledge, culture, or institutions—that raises the level of income today.

To sum up some of the key findings of this new empirical literature: There are three major long-run predictors of a nation’s current prosperity, which combine to make up a nation’s SAT score:

S: How long ago the nation’s ancestors lived under an organized state.

A: How long ago the nation’s ancestors began to use Neolithic agriculture techniques.

T: How much of the world’s available technology the nation’s ancestors were using in 1000 B.C., 0 B.C., or 1500 A.D.

When estimating each nation’s current SAT score, it’s important to adjust for migration: Indeed, all three of these papers do some version of that. For instance, without adjusting for migration, Australia has quite a low ancestral technology score: Aboriginal Australians used little of the world’s cutting edge technology in 1500 A.D. But since Australia is now overwhelmingly populated by the descendants of British migrants, Australia’s migration-adjusted technology score is currently quite high.

On average, nations with high migration-adjusted SAT scores are vastly richer than nations with lower SAT scores: Countries in the top 10% of migration-adjusted technology (T) in 1500 are typically at least 10 times richer than countries in the bottom 10%. If instead you mistakenly tried to predict a country’s income today based on who lived there in 1500, the relationship would only be about one-third that size. The migration adjustment matters crucially: Whether in the New World, across Southeast Asia, or in Southern Africa, one can do a better job predicting today’s prosperity when you keep track of who moved where. It looks like at least in the distant past, migrants shaped today’s prosperity.

Do migrants bring their institutions with them?

So migration from high-SAT countries bring the seeds of prosperity: But what exactly are they bringing? As the authors of the Quarterly Journal of Economics article speculated, did they bring along a tendency to establish good institutions—the rule of law, low corruption, and competent government?

Fortunately, an economist has already checked to see whether SAT-type scores drive good institutions. James T. Ang recently published a truly remarkable paper in the Journal of Development Economics, “Institutions and the Long-Run Impact of Early Development.” Ang ran a variety of statistical tests to see if ancestry-adjusted SAT-like scores had a strong relationship with good institutions. Overall, Ang’s findings are quite clear:

[N]ations that were more developed in the pre-modern era tend to have better institutions today.

He goes on to note:

[M]easures adjusted for the global migration effect perform significantly better than their unadjusted counterparts in explaining the variation in institutions across countries, thus highlighting the fact that migration has played a significant part in shaping current economic performance.

One wonders: If migration shaped institutions in the past, perhaps migration will shape institutions in the future. Or perhaps not: while violent European colonizers imposed their institutions and their culture on lands that had belonged to Native Americans, perhaps peaceful mass migration in the 21st century will leave today’s institutions and culture undisturbed. Perhaps, to coin a phrase, this time really is different.

Let’s consider the case of Chinese migration throughout Asia. By the standards of European colonization, Chinese migration post-1500 has been relatively (I emphasize relatively) peaceful. The non-Chinese residents of these countries tended to have lower ancestral SAT scores than Chinese residents, so we can ask: did Asian countries with a higher percentage of Chinese-descended migrants end up economically freer? Of course, since this is a question about migration from China, China itself should be left out of the analysis. The graph below tells the story. It compares Chinese ancestry data from the Putterman-Weil global migration matrix with the Fraser Economic Freedom of the World Index for Asian countries with substantial numbers of Chinese immigrants:

Overall, the relationship between a nation’s percent population of Chinese descent in 1980 and current economic freedom is strongly positive. Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, the countries with the largest percentage of post-1500 Chinese immigrants, are the freest. Hong Kong, which had only a few thousand Chinese residents before the British arrival, is now the economically freest country in the world. Malaysia (a third of whose residents are of Chinese descent) and Thailand (10 percent) are next, and Malaysia is clearly the freer of the two. The remaining countries, Laos and Myanmar, are substantially less economically free than Singapore. Of course, including China in this graph would weaken the relationship, but to repeat: we aren’t interested in ancestry per se, but in relatively peaceful migration.

Economists have long known that some of the strongest statistical predictors of long-run national prosperity have been “percent Confucian” and “percent Buddhist.” A famed paper coauthored by Xavier Sala-i-Martin demonstrated that conclusively. It’s time for scholars to investigate whether, for most countries, a pro-Confucian migration policy is a good option.

Migrating Attitudes

So, how do migrants change the governments in countries they move to? For a partial answer, we can look at the Attitude Migration literature. The simplest approach is to see if the descendants of, say, Italian migrants to America tend to have the same attitudes toward government as Italians living back in Italy. If they do have similar attitudes, then there really is such a thing as “Italian attitudes toward government,” portable and relatively durable around the globe.

Since public opinion surveys are common around the world, this is an easy topic to investigate. One study looks at attitudes toward income redistribution, finding that second-generation immigrants to the U.S. are more likely to favor income redistribution policies if they come from a country where the average citizen today also favors more redistribution. In this case, attitudes migrate, so heavy immigration from pro-redistribution cultures will tend to boost a nation’s number of pro-redistribution citizens decades later. More importantly, the same holds for trusting behavior: A study published in the American Economic Review, provocatively entitled “Inherited Trust and Growth,” finds that

…inherited trust of descendants of US-immigrants is significantly influenced by the country of origin…of their forbears…

So trusting attitudes migrate. And the link from trust to economic performance is well-accepted at this point: One famous paper, “Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff?” [Answer: Yes] is now routinely cited in economics textbooks. And why do low-trust societies generate worse economic performance? One reason is that low-trust individuals demand more government regulation. In “Regulation and Distrust” the authors report:

Using the World Values Survey, we show both in a cross-section of countries, and in a sample of individuals from around the world, that distrust fuels support for government control over the economy.

The authors suggest that this happens because in low-trust societies, people want someone checking up on untrustworthy businesses and individuals, and a strong government is one way to do just that. Together, this literature suggests that migration from low-trust societies will tend to hurt long-run economic performance, partly because low-trust individuals demand more government regulation.

One particular attitude has been well-studied in the migration literature: Strong family ties. This is often known as “amoral familism,” the view that you should help out your family, right or wrong. In comparative anthropology and sociology, it’s well known that cultures strong in amoral familism tend to be places where children live with their parents into adulthood, where corruption is common, and where identity is heavily shaped by one’s extended family. A remarkable handbook chapter by Alesina and Giuliano finds that:

…on average familistic values are associated with lower political participation and political action. They are also related to a lower level of trust, more emphasis on job security, less desire for innovation and more traditional attitudes toward working women.

It’s safe to predict that voters and politicians with these traits are unlikely to support much Schumpeterian creative destruction. And, unsurprisingly at this point, amoral familism itself tends to migrate:

…family values are quite stable over time and could be among the drivers of institutional differences and level of development across countries: family values inherited by children of immigrants whose forebears arrived in various European countries before 1940 [!] are related to a lower quality of institutions and lower level of development today.

At this point, it’s clear that attitudes migrate to a substantial degree, and at least in democracies, they’re likely to take those attitudes into the voting booth. There’s an old saying in the migration policy world, a line by Max Frisch: “We wanted workers, we got people instead.” It looks like that saying needs updating: “We wanted workers, we got voters instead.”

Attitude Convergence: A two-way street

Of course immigrants don’t just become voters: they sometimes become taste-makers, opinion-setters. As immigrants join the culture, they start to shape the culture. That means that immigrants and their descendants may shape political opinions the way they often shape people’s opinion about food: Migrants start eating some of the foods of the country they move to, but at the same time older residents start trying some foods from immigrant cultures. There’s a mutual exchange, and behavior meets somewhere in the middle. As students of migration repeatedly claim, acculturation is a two-way street: America is different because of Italian and Irish migration, and not just because of the food we eat.

To some extent, this point is obvious, but it has far-reaching implications. It means that one important way that immigrants and their descendants will shape a political system isn’t by directly bringing their own attitudes into the voting booth: It’s also by shaping the political attitudes of their fellow citizens. That’s what happens in a melting pot: We all become a little like each other. So if we really are shaped by our neighbors, then we have yet another good reason to choose our neighbors wisely.

This means that the Attitude Migration channel is perhaps only half the story, but it also means that the other part of the story will be harder to detect. If a nation of 100 million has, say, a million migrants from a particular country, it would be hard to pick out the effect of those migrants on “native” attitudes: the effect of the migrants would be diluted partly because they’re only 1% of the population, and partly because the change in “native” attitudes will occur slowly over the decades.

So while it’s important to know whether migrants assimilate completely or partially, it’s just as important to know how much do migrants change their fellow citizens. Past researchers have documented two quite separate findings:

Many migrant attitudes persist to their descendants
Migrants and their descendants seem to make their new homes quite a bit like their old homes.
The first point need not be the only cause of the second point. There’s a third point suggested by the common-sense claim that we’re all shaped at least a bit by the attitudes of those around us:

Migrants and their descendants tend to influence the attitudes of their new fellow citizens, so that all groups in society become at least a bit more like each other.
New Voters = New Policies

We’ve seen that in the extremely long run immigrants have dramatically changed the countries they’ve moved to; and in the medium run we’ve seen that immigrants and their children bring home-country attitudes along for the ride. But as I’ve already noted, some critics will argue that perhaps “this time is different”, and that even if immigrants import their cultural attitudes to their new homes, maybe they’ll leave those views just outside the voting booth. Perhaps, when it comes time to vote, migrants completely conform to their new home countries.

Here’s one way to check this “New Voters = No Change” theory: Look at times when large groups of individuals were suddenly given the vote, and then check to see if government policies changed within a few years. Even better, only look at large groups of individuals who had been living somewhat peacefully in the nation for decades. Here’s one such case: The women’s suffrage movement across Western civilization. This extension of the franchise has been heavily studied by economists: The best-known paper draws on the fact that different U.S. states extended the vote at different times to create a kind of natural experiment. It turns out that, contrary to the “New voters = No change” theory, giving the vote to women really did change government in a more progressive, expansionist direction:

Suffrage coincided with immediate increases in state government

expenditures and revenue and more liberal voting patterns
for federal representatives, and these effects continued growing

over time as more women took advantage of the franchise…On the basis

of these estimates, granting women the right to vote caused expenditures to rise immediately by 14 percent…by 21 percent after 25 years, and by 28 percent after 45 years.

Women did not quietly, meekly vote for whatever the men around them supported. They had their own minds, and those minds, when empowered by the vote, moved policy in a more progressive direction. And notice that the longer-run effect was twice the immediate effect: Expanding the franchise to a group that favored more government spending indeed increased government spending, but it took decades to see the full effect. In U.S. history, new voters have mattered.

And this is no one-off study: the policy impact of female suffrage has been studied extensively. To quote a study focused on Europe:

Using historical data from six Western European countries for the period 1869-1960, we provide evidence that social spending out of GDP increased by 0.6-1.2% in the short-run as a consequence of women’s suffrage, while the long-run effect is three to eight times larger.

Again, the long run effect matters more than the short run effect. New voters, new policies: NVNP.

Which brings us to one last test of the NVNP hypothesis: The increase in voting rights for when poll taxes were eliminated in the United States. Here again, evidence supports NVNP: the University of Chicago’s Journal of Political Economy reports that “eliminating poll taxes raised welfare spending by 11 to 20 percent” among other findings, so once again, new voters made important progressive policy change a reality.

How immigrants shape institutions

We now have the key pieces of the puzzle:

The Deep Roots literature which shows that in the long run, migration deeply shapes a nation’s level of pro-market institutions, and that a nation’s ancestry-adjusted SAT score (States, Agriculture, Technology) is a good predictor of prosperity.

The Attitude Migration literature, which shows that migrants bring a substantial portion of their attitudes toward markets, trust, and social safety nets with them from their home country.

The New Voters = New Policies literature, which shows that governments really do change when new voters show up, and that the changes start to show up in just a few years.
Government policies don’t radiate from subterranean mineral deposits: they are in large part the product of its voting citizens. And in the long run, new citizens lead to new policies.

Together, these three literatures provide a combination of big-picture and close-up evidence that if a country is choosing between high-SAT and low-SAT immigration policies, the high-SAT approach will yield big benefits in the long run. Individual countries will always be exceptions to the rule, so some countries taking the low-SAT immigration path will still look pretty good. But wise citizens don’t bet on being the exception: they bet on being the rule.




Sunday, October 10, 2021

Finland joins Sweden and Denmark in pausing use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in young people over fears the shots are causing rare heart inflammation

Finland has become the latest Nordic nation to pause use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in young people due to fears that the shots are causing rare heart inflammation.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said on Thursday that authorities won't give the vaccine to males under age 30, and they will be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech immunization instead.

The government agency said it found that young men and boys were at a slightly higher risk of developing myocarditis.

It comes after health officials in Sweden and Denmark made a similar decision earlier this week.

In Sweden, the Moderna jab will no longer be available to any one born after 1990, or those aged 30 and younger.

Denmark has restricted access to the vaccine to anyone under the age of 18.

Norway, another Nordic country, has not taken as drastic action as its neighbors, with health officials urging people under 30 to opt for the Pfizer vaccine instead.

All four countries based their decision on an unpublished study with Sweden's Public Health Agency saying that it signals 'an increased risk of side effects such as inflammation of the heart muscle or the pericardium' - the double-walled sac containing the heart and the roots of the main vessels.

It added: 'The risk of being affected is very small.'

Myocarditis and pericarditis, both types of inflammation of the heart, are known side effects of the Covid vaccines, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even warns that the condition may develop in young males after vaccination.

Heart inflammation is also a symptom of many viral infections like COVID-19, though, and the likelihood of developing the inflammation after infection is much higher than it is after vaccination.

The Swedish health agency said it would pause using the shot for people born in 1991 and later as data pointed to an increase of myocarditis and pericarditis among youths and young adults who had been vaccinated.

'The connection is especially clear when it comes to Moderna's vaccine Spikevax, especially after the second dose,' the health agency said.

A Moderna spokesperson said in an email the company was aware of the decisions by regulators in Denmark and Sweden to pause the use of its vaccine in younger individuals because of the rare risk of myocarditis and or pericarditis.

'These are typically mild cases and individuals tend to recover within a short time following standard treatment and rest,' they wrote.

'The risk of myocarditis is substantially increased for those who contract COVID-19, and vaccination is the best way to protect against this.'

According to one U.S. study that has yet to undergo peer review young males under 20 are up to six times more likely to develop myocarditis after contracting COVID-19 than those who have been vaccinated.

Denmark said that, while it used the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as its main option for people aged 12 to 17 years, it had decided to pause giving the Moderna vaccine to people below 18 according to a 'precautionary principle'.

In June, the CDC issued a warning that young males were at an increased risk of myocarditis after receiving the vaccine.

The label for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were changed in the U.S. to reflect the warning, though usage was never paused.

Cases of inflammation after vaccination are rare, though they do occur often enough to concern regulators.

A recent study from Kaiser Permanente Southern California found that around seven out of every one million people that receive a two-shot COVID-19 vaccine will develop myocarditis.

The same study found that 47.5 out of every one million Covid patients experience heart inflammation.

While myocarditis will often resolve itself, it can be dangerous. Heart inflammation can often lead to fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain for patients. People with inflamed hearts are at a higher risk for heart failure, heart attacks and strokes.

Attempting strenuous physical activity with an inflamed heart could also potentially lead to sudden cardiac arrest, or even death.


Fumento Misdiagnoses Remdesivir

Lawyer and author Michael Fumento recently argued in an AIER article that the FDA’s approval of the Covid-19 treatment remdesivir has failed patients and provides another example of the failure of the “Do something, anything” approach to combat the pandemic.

Referencing several critical studies and a condemning statement from the WHO, Mr. Fumento argues that remdesivir “doesn’t work.” However, since it remains the only fully approved Covid-19 treatment, and the FDA hesitates to retract drugs it already approved, remdesivir remains on the market. The agency’s wrongdoing in approving it also allows remdesivir’s producer Gilead to charge an alarmingly high price for treatment ($3,000 above production cost).

Frustrated but not surprised, Mr. Fumento concludes his article by stating, “At best, this can be a lesson to us all about pandemic drug approvals. But as noted we’ve had those lessons and they didn’t stick. Don’t expect this to have any impact, either.”

Having studied the FDA’s approval process for eight years and the history of remdesivir for the past two, I’m afraid I have to disagree with his assessment.

Mr. Fumento correctly notes that remdesivir previously struggled to receive FDA approval. But he neglects to mention why the drug remained off the market.

Beginning in 2014, remdesivir entered a clinical trial to help combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Reviewing data, an article published in Drugs and Context found that remdesivir, “performed well in pre-clinical studies.” However, Gilead later withdrew the drug for financial reasons, fearing it could not afford to continue with the FDA’s approval process (which often requires over $1 billion to complete) after underperforming in a small-sample efficacy test (which wouldn’t have counted in its approval application).

Remdesivir later entered clinical trials to help treat MERS during a 2016 outbreak in the Middle East. This time, the drug received financial and other support from the NIH and several medical schools. Here again, medical scientists noted the drug’s usefulness in “providing evidence to support new indications for this compound against human viruses of significant public health concern.” But the FDA’s burdensome approval process again prevented the promising experimental drug from advancing due to an inadequate number of patients in the clinical trials.

Far from being “a drug in search of a cure,” as Mr. Fumento suggests, medical literature suggests remdesivir was a promising treatment that helped patients during two previous epidemics. Its greatest challenge was regulatory, not clinical.

Mr. Fumento also fails to mention that there was a considerable demand to use remdesivir well before the FDA approved it. The first patient formally diagnosed with Covid-19 in the US received remdesivir. As cases spread, physicians and other medical establishments petitioned the FDA to grant patients access through the agency’s Compassionate Use program—giving dying patients a chance to try an experimental (unapproved) treatment to prolong their lives. Nearly two dozen US citizens tried remdesivir from January 25th—March 1st, 2020. Many more patients in 70 other countries were able to access remdesivir to treat Covid-19 despite many drug supply channels being shut down to prevent disease spread.

As patients recovered, the FDA issued its first Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the drug on May 1st, 2020, for severe cases of Covid-19. After nearly half a million doses of remdesivir reached patients, the FDA issued an EUA to treat milder cases of Covid-19. By late October, the agency fully approved remdesivir despite the drug never undergoing the full approval process.

Over the same time period, the FDA withdrew two EUAs for other drugs to treat Covid-19 (chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine), and several Covid-19 tests passed with EUA. If remdesivir is ineffective, why wasn’t it also withdrawn?

I have been critical of Mr. Fumento’s analysis of remdesivir. But I take the message of his article seriously. Policy changes enacted out of desperation to address a crisis can be wasteful, counterproductive, and harmful. His concerns are justified.

But remdesivir provides no such cautionary tale. Instead, it gives a story of the triumph of innovation during a difficult period. The lesson we should take away is not “Do something, anything,” it is to get government out of the way so we can find solutions.


Don’t freak out: Catching Covid after you are vaccinated improves immunity

For 20 months we’ve cowered behind masks, scrubbed ourselves with hand sanitiser and socially distanced to avoid Covid — now most people are vaccinated, experts are telling us we need to prepare to catch the virus.

It sounds counterintuitive but the argument is if you are vaccinated and catch Covid, you are unlikely to get seriously ill or go to hospital and getting the virus will further boost your immunity.

The new message comes as infections in the US and worldwide appear to have peaked and some scientists are noticing the virus has a wave pattern — two months of high infections followed by a decline then two months of high infections.

With lockdowns in three states due to ease in coming weeks Australian National University’s infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon and University of Newcastle’s Professor Nathan Bartlett said fully vaccinated people needed to change their attitude to the virus.

Prepare yourself to be infected and don’t “freak out” if you do catch it when lockdowns end, they said.

“You might want to get it, you definitely want to get it. You definitely want to be vaccinated before you get it, because if you’re vaccinated your risk of death goes down,” said Prof. Collignon.

Prof. Bartlett said: “It’s immunity you want supported by the vaccine but then sort of topped up, by circulation and that’s really is what’s going to ultimately lead to make this turn this virus into basically an endemic, common cold causing virus, and that’s what you want it to be”.

The head of the Australian Society of Infectious diseases (ASID) Allen Cheng said he expected “everyone will probably be exposed, eventually.”

“We want to be vaccinated, so we have the best defences against it when it happens that we meet the virus,” he said.

A study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and another by one of Israel’s largest health providers found people who’d recovered from Covid and were later vaccinated had half the risk of reinfection compared with unvaccinated people who’d previously had Covid.

The Kaolinska Institute’s Charlotte Thalin told The Conversation combining natural infection with protection from a vaccine may work better because natural infection exposes our immune system to several viral proteins while vaccines introduce a single antigen: the spike protein.

But, like the other experts, she cautions you want to be vaccinated before getting infected because getting a natural infection first exposes you to the risks of death, blood clots and long Covid.

Many vaccinated people are likely to get infected because vaccines are less effective at preventing infection with the Delta variant.

Pfizer’s protection plunges from 93 per cent to 53 per cent after four months, a study published in The Lancet this week found.

However, the vaccines are still good at preventing 80-90 per cent of infected people from needing a hospital bed and are almost 100 per cent protective against death.