Friday, November 05, 2021

UK approves Merck's antiviral COVID pill molnupiravir in world first

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Thursday recommended the drug, molnupiravir, be used as soon as possible following a positive COVID-19 test and within five days of the onset of symptoms.

The pill was licensed for adults 18 and older who have at least one risk factor for developing severe disease, such as obesity or heart disease.

It is the first oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 to get approved, with the green light coming ahead of potential US regulatory clearance.

US advisers will meet this month to vote on whether molnupiravir should be authorised.

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration has not yet approved the drug but the federal government announced last month it had ordered 300,000 courses.

The drug, to be branded Lagevrio in Britain, has been closely watched since data last month showed it could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for those most at risk of developing severe COVID-19 when given early in the illness.

Merck's COVID treatment drug, molnupiravir, has only passed the first hurdle towards approval in Australia but the federal government has bought 300,000 doses after some promising preliminary results.

"Today is a historic day for our country, as the UK is now the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home for COVID-19," said Britain's health secretary, Sajid Javid.

"We are working at pace across the government and with the NHS to set out plans to deploy molnupiravir to patients through a national study as soon as possible."

The British government and the country's National Health Service have not yet confirmed how the treatment will be deployed to patients.

Last month, Britain agreed to a deal with Merck to secure 480,000 courses of molnupiravir.

In a separate statement, Merck said it was expecting to produce 10 million courses of the treatment by the end of this year, with at least 20 million set to be manufactured in 2022.

Then antiviral pill could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised from COVID-19, but experts warn vaccines are still necessary.

The company and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutic have requested clearance for the drug with regulators around the world to treat adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at risk for severe disease or hospitalisation.

Merck's preliminary results last month have not yet been peer reviewed or published in a scientific journal.

The company also did not disclose details on molnupiravir's side effects, except to say that rates of those problems were similar between people who got the drug and those who received dummy pills.

The drug targets an enzyme the coronavirus uses to reproduce itself, inserting errors into its genetic code that slow its ability to spread and take over human cells.


The 1.5m myth: alarming distance Covid can travel and stay in the air

As Lidia Morawska stirred awake, her resolve from the night before to act, to shake things up, escaped her momentarily.

Her plan? To marshal eminent scientists from around the globe to pressure one of the world’s most influential groups, the World Health Organisation, to admit that it was wrong. Deadly wrong.

It was late March last year and the virus that causes Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, was roving across the world and deaths were rising.

Concerned colleagues in China and Italy had been calling Morawska – a physicist and distinguished professor in atmospheric and earth sciences at QUT and one of the world’s foremost authorities on airborne particles and their effects on health – pleading for her help. They couldn’t get authorities in those badly affected countries to listen to the science.

She knew, they knew, that a virus such as SARS-CoV-2 was airborne, capable of hanging in the air for hours and travelling significant distance. They’d done the studies, seen the evidence.

But WHO and national health authorities everywhere were caught in what Morawska, 68, calls “medical dogma”; the long-held belief that viral particles could not travel further than arm’s length. Their advice for such a coronavirus remained as it had for decades; keep a distance of about 1.5m from others, wash your hands and sanitise surfaces.

It infuriated Morawska. “A complete misconception,” she says. But now, her frustration had turned to desperation. That weekend in March, WHO issued a communique, disseminated on Twitter, headlined: “Fact Check: Covid-19 is NOT airborne.”

“Well, this was something,” says Morawska. “It wasn’t disbelief, because I knew the medical community had this view but it was that alarm bells were rung. If WHO was spreading this kind of misinformation; this is wrong, this will lead to more cases.”

That Sunday, she wrote a letter to the WHO. That evening, she contacted colleagues.

Come Wednesday, March 31, she hit send on an email, signed by 36 scientists in fields such as physics, virology, engineering and medicine, urging change in WHO’s thinking – and directives. The virus, they said, could drift and survive in the air, especially in poorly ventilated and crowded indoor spaces.

Within an hour, Morawska had a reply from leaders at WHO headquarters in Geneva, setting up a Zoom meeting a couple of days later.

It didn’t go well. “When you know a group is against you – that was the feeling,” says Morawska.

It would take more than three months of lobbying and writing and badgering and advocacy by Morawska and her colleagues before WHO changed its advice.

Morawska’s dogged work led her to be named by TIME magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people for 2021.

It’s an honour for all involved, she says, but clouded by the fact that the delay in WHO altering its advice, meant “we lost people. That’s the tragedy”. And there is still work to be done.


Republicans Crush in Numerous Races Across America, Prove the Red Wave Is Here

It appears, in an ironic twist, President Joe Biden has succeeded in the goal he stated during his inaugural address in January to unify the country.

Unfortunately for him and the Democratic Party, the unity is in opposition to their radical agenda.

Everywhere up and down-ballot from New York and New Jersey to Virginia and Texas, the GOP made improbable gains.

Of course, at the very top of the red wave is the governor’s race in Virginia where Republican Glenn Youngkin upset former Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Keep in mind Biden won the Old Dominion State over former President Donald Trump by 10 percent just a year ago.

Youngkin wasn’t the only Republican to win statewide in Virginia for the first time in over a decade

U.S. Marine veteran Winsome Sears took the lieutenant governor’s race, becoming the first African-American woman elected to statewide office in the commonwealth’s history.

Additionally, GOP candidate Jason Miyares, who is Hispanic, is currently in the lead in the attorney general’s contest.

Republicans are also on track to take back control of Virginia’s House of Delegates, where the Democrats held a 55 to 45 majority.

The news keeps getting worse for Dems in VA, where the correction of a reporting error appears to have flipped another House of Delegates seat to the GOP. Republicans now on track for 52R-48D, pending provisionals/recounts.

Moving north, the GOP also had an impressive night in deep-blue New Jersey, which Biden carried by nearly 16 points.

The race between incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy and Republican Jack Ciattarelli is, as of Wednesday afternoon, too close to call.

Murphy had been well ahead in the polls, so Ciattarelli surging into a Tuesday night lead shocked political poll watchers.

Still votes to be counted in NJ but it appears the GOP’s Jack Ciattarelli could flip Morris, Atlantic, Gloucester and Cumberland counties after Biden carried them last fall.

Still, looks like Murphy is in the driver’s seat for a victory

Meanwhile, the GOP picked up multiple seats in the state General Assembly and Senate with others, including Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney’s race, too close to call, according to

In neighboring New York, Republicans won four contested city council races in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island with the potential of picking up a fifth, the New York Post reported.

One winner was Inna Vernikov, an unabashed Trump supporter, who trounced her Democratic opponent Steve Saperstein by nearly 30 points for an open seat in Brooklyn’s 48th Council District.

Former New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind tweeted on Monday ahead of the election, “For the first time in a century, a Republican has a good chance to win a seat for office in ultra liberal Brooklyn. Electing @InnaVForNYC would send a strong message to Democrats that their destructive reign in major American cities will not go unchallenged!”

Next door in Pennsylvania, The Philadelphia Tribune reported that Republicans are poised for a clean sweep in statewide judicial elections, including picking up a seat on the Keystone State’s Supreme Court.

You’ll recall that’s the same Democrat-controlled Supreme Court that kept rubber-stamping all the changes to Pennsylvania’s election laws and procedures Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration made during the 2020 election cycle, contrary to the state’s constitution, which vests that power in the legislature.

Republicans also received good news coming out of the Lone Star State, where John Lujan won his special election, flipping a state House seat located in San Antonio from blue to red.

Our story: Republican John Lujan wins special election runoff to flip Texas House seat in San Antonio

Biden carried the district by 14 points last November, The Texas Tribune reported.

Overall, it was a very bad night for Democrats, and at least part of the blame undoubtedly falls on Biden.

Americans, by a wide margin, are dissatisfied with the current direction of the country with seven in 10 respondents (71 percent), including nearly half of Democrats polled (48 percent), saying the U.S. is “off on the wrong track,” according to an NBC News poll released over the weekend.

Just 42 percent approve of Biden’s job performance and 54 percent disapprove.

Biden’s approval number is down 7 percentage points, and his disapproval is up 6 percentage points since August.

The change comes after the chaotic and deadly pullout in Afghanistan, rising inflation, slowing economic growth and disappointing September jobs numbers.

Gallup reported last week that the 46th president’s approval rating dropped from 56 percent in the first quarter of this year to 44.7 percent in the third quarter, an 11.3 percent drop — the largest registered by any president since World War II.

Based on Tuesday’s election results, Biden has succeeded in unifying the country in the belief that he is leading it in the wrong direction.

Short of a major course correction, Democrats better prepare to run smack into a mighty red wave in next year’s midterms.




Thursday, November 04, 2021

Immunity from Vaccines and Infection Lasts at Least Six Months

Immunity against covid from the vaccine and previous infections both lasts six months, according to a brief released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday.

In the brief, the agency said that current data shows that individuals who are fully vaccinated and those who had a previous COVID-19 infection each have a low risk of contracting another COVID infection for six months.

“Available evidence shows that fully vaccinated individuals and those previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 each have a low risk of subsequent infection for at least 6 months,” the brief reads. “Data are presently insufficient to determine an antibody titer threshold that indicates when an individual is protected from infection. At this time, there is no FDA-authorized or approved test that providers or the public can use to reliably determine whether a person is protected from infection.”

The brief also claims that evidence indicates that “vaccination after infection significantly enhances protection and further reduces risk of reinfection.” The CDC currently recommends the COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible persons, including those who’ve previously had the virus.

“[T]here is a wide range in antibody titers in response to infection with SARS-CoV-2, completion of a primary vaccine series, especially with mRNA vaccines, typically leads to a more consistent, and higher-titer initial antibody response,” the brief reads. “[A]ntibody test results (particularly when not standardized nor quantitative) provide only a partial picture of an individual’s immune response. At this time there is no specific antibody test or antibody threshold that can determine an individual’s risk of subsequent infection.”

A separate study released by the CDC on Friday showed that the COVID-19 vaccine provides better protection against hospitalization than a previous infection with the virus.

“We now have additional evidence that reaffirms the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, even if you have had prior infection,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement on the study. “This study adds more to the body of knowledge demonstrating the protection of vaccines against severe disease from COVID-19.”


Top Doctor Says New CDC Study on Natural Immunity Is 'Highly Flawed'

Last week the Centers for Disease Control published a study claiming vaccination for the coronvirus was superior to immunity obtained through natural infection.

Given the CDC's record of issuing "science" based on political motives and leanings, the study was met with skepticism.

Further, a number of other studies have shown natural immunity is far superior to vaccination in terms of protection against infection. The Brownstone Institute has a solid analysis of the CDC study compared to a recent Israeli study, which shows natural immunity offers better protection.

Concerning the Covid recovered, there are two key public health issues. 1. Would the Covid recovered benefit from also being vaccinated? 2. Should there be vaccine passports and mandates that require them to be vaccinated in order to work and participate in society?

The CDC study did not address the first question, while the Israeli study showed a small but not statistically significant benefit in reducing symptomatic Covid disease. Future studies will hopefully shed more light on this issue.

Based on the solid evidence from the Israeli study, the Covid recovered have stronger and longer-lasting immunity against Covid disease than the vaccinated.

Many of the Covid recovered were exposed to the virus as essential workers during the height of the pandemic before vaccines were available. They kept the rest of society afloat, processing food, delivering goods, unloading ships, picking up garbage, policing the streets, maintaining the electricity network, putting out fires, and caring for the old and sick, to name a few.

They are now being fired and excluded despite having stronger immunity than the vaccinated work-from-home administrators that are firing them.

Johns Hopkins Doctor Marty MaKary is calling the CDC study "highly flawed."


New Vaccine Science Shows Mandates Are Unwise

New scientific findings in the prestigious Lancet Infectious Diseases journal blow a hole in the argument that workers need to get vaccinated to protect those around them. The findings prove the foolishness of forcing police and other public employees to get jabbed or lose their pay. And President Joe Biden should retract his order to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to compel large employers to mandate vaccines.

The journal reported Thursday that COVID-19 vaccines have “minimal” impact on preventing transmission of the delta strain. Delta is the COVID strain currently causing over 99% of U.S. cases.

Vaccines protect the people getting the shots from serious illness, but they don’t stop the delta variant from spreading to others.

Don’t get me wrong. Americans should choose to get vaccinated. The key word is “choose.” Though shots are no guarantee against getting infected and spreading it to others, they provide significant protection (90% or more) against hospitalization and death. I’m triple jabbed.

Choosing not to get vaccinated is choosing to risk your own life. The health risk to others is minimal.

Most vaccines — against polio, smallpox, measles and other diseases — prevent infection and spread. But not COVID-19 vaccines. Now that the battle is against the delta variant, they’ve become disease-tamers rather than infection preventers.

Tell that to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who gave New York City employees until Monday to get at least one shot or be sent home without pay. As of Monday, 9,000 are on unpaid leave because they have refused the shots. Twenty FDNY companies were shuttered because many of New York’s bravest refuse the vaccine. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea claims the mandate will not further diminish the number of New York’s finest on the street. That remains to be seen.

Governors and mayors from Maine to Los Angeles are demanding that public employees, and even nurses and doctors, hailed just months ago as heroes, get vaxxed or go without a job.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills says, “just as vaccination defeated smallpox and vaccination defeated polio, vaccination is the way to defeat COVID-19.” Sorry, Governor, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Just as politicians don’t read the bills before voting on them, they don’t keep up with science but still want to tell the rest of us what to do.

The groundbreaking findings in Lancet show that fully vaccinated people who came down with COVID [i.e. "breakthrough infections] infected others in their household at the same rate (about 25%) as unvaccinated people did (about 23%). The vaccinated had just as much viral load in their upper respiratory tract, making them just as contagious. “Our findings show that vaccination alone is not enough to prevent people from being infected with the delta variant and spreading it,” study co-author Ajit Lalvani said.

The British researchers also found that vaccinated people were only somewhat less likely to contract the virus (25%) compared with the unvaccinated (38%). [Wrong. Those percentages reflect the SECONDARY attack rate only] That conflicts with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showing the vaccinated are far less likely to contract COVID.

One thing is for sure: The science is uncertain on this. So, government should not be using a heavy hand to impose mandates claiming to make workplaces safer.

Meanwhile, the White House is pressing large companies to mandate vaccinations and calling on OSHA to enforce that policy with hefty penalties. The Build Back Better bill increases the penalties tenfold to as much as $700,000 per incident for hazardous conditions, threatening bankruptcy for all but the largest enterprises. The Biden administration expects to publish the rules in the Federal Register in the coming days, affecting about two-thirds of the private sector workforce.

Yet the new science undercuts OSHA’s claim that unvaccinated people are a workplace hazard. So far, workplace mandates have been challenged at least 39 times in federal courts with little success, but the new scientific evidence may change that.

Lancet Infectious Diseases stressed the urgency of improving current vaccines or developing new ones to actually “protect against asymptomatic infections and onward transmission.”

Foolishly, the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress vilify the vaccine developer Moderna for making a profit and threaten to seize its patents. It’s possible COVID will continue morphing into new variants, requiring new vaccines from companies like Moderna.

When you’re fighting a war — in this case, against a killer disease — attacking your own ammunitions maker is no way to win it.


Biden Agenda Suffers Another Loss as Senate GOP Kills Federal Election Takeover

Less than 24 hours after arriving back in the United States, President Biden's legislative agenda suffered another loss at the hands of Republicans in Congress on Wednesday.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act, yet another Democrat attempt to hand the federal government control of America's elections, failed to secure the support necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the latest loss for the Biden-Harris legislative agenda that came out 50 to 49, short of the 60 vote threshold necessary to move the bill forward.

Jason Snead, executive director of the Honest Elections Project which opposed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, explained in a thread on Twitter before Wednesday's vote how this bill was just another zombified version of the previously defeated For the People Act.

Even though Democrats were able to bring Republican Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski over to their side ahead of the vote, other Senate Republicans held fast and prevented the bill from moving forward.




Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Vaccinated people are still highly likely to give covid to others

A new Lancet study about the transmission of Covid-19 among the vaccinated vs. unvaccinated is raising questions for some about vaccine mandates.

The study on “Community transmission and viral load kinetics” of the Delta variant in both the vaccinated and unvaccinated in the UK found the former were just as likely as the latter to spread Covid-19 among those in their household.

The vaccinated also had a similar viral load as the unvaccinated.

“Although vaccines remain highly effective at preventing severe disease and deaths from COVID-19, our findings suggest that vaccination is not sufficient to prevent transmission of the delta variant in household settings with prolonged exposures,” noted the paper, which studied 621 symptomatic participants over a year.

Significantly, the research found the vaccine was much more effective at reducing transmission of the alpha variant in a household, rather than the delta variant.

For some, the findings raise serious questions about vaccine mandates and lockdown efforts that governments around the world have pursued in an effort to contain the pandemic.

The researchers also noted booster shots and increasing the rate of vaccination among younger populations will help but the focus ought to remain on those most vulnerable.

“Increasing population immunity via booster programmes and vaccination of teenagers will help to increase the currently limited effect of vaccination on transmission, but our analysis suggests that direct protection of individuals at risk of severe outcomes, via vaccination and non-pharmacological interventions, will remain central to containing the burden of disease caused by the delta variant,” the researchers wrote.


Greece Covid cases: Country records highest daily infections to date

After opening its borders during the summer tourism season, Greece has just recorded the highest daily increase of Covid-19 cases, since the start of the pandemic.

The European country reported 5400 cases on Monday, which pushes its daily average to 3900 new infections a day.

The country also recorded 52 deaths from Covid-19, which takes their pandemic death toll to 15,990 out of 747,595 cases.

Despite ballooning cases and rising deaths, a nationwide lockdown seems unlikely, reports local Athens-based newspaper, Kathimerini.

Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis said the government wasn’t looking at imposing a lockdown in winter, with the country shifting its Covid-recovery plan to focus on increasing vaccinations.

“We are now dealing with the pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he told local TV channel, Skai TV. “Our national right to lock people up has disappeared.”

Currently, 60.5 per cent of Greece’s population is fully-inoculated, with figures lagging behind the European average of 75 per cent.

Just four weeks ago Greece’s Health Miniser Thanos Plevris announced the removal of all indoor Covid-19 restrictions for fully vaccinated people. This meant business-as-usual activity was able to resume in restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs, with customers allowed to stand while drinking, play music and dance.

“A key prerequisite to regain our freedom is the increase in vaccination. We want to send the message that where the risk is lower, freedoms will reach the norm,” said Mr Plevris.

In order to encourage citizens to get the jab, unvaccinated public and private employees have been forced to pay for weekly tests in order to gain entry into their place of work and sports stadiums, museums, archaeological sites, cinemas and restaurants. The government has also mandated vaccines for healthcare workers.

The sudden uptick in cases is a dire sign for Greece’s already struggling economy. Just four years after the country emerged from a six-year depression between 2010 to 2016, Greece was plunged into another recession in 2020.

Writing for Vox EU, Professor of Economics, Athens University of Economics and Business and the former Greek Minister of Economy and Finance, George Alogoskoufis expects it will take years for Greece’s economy to recover.

“Greece appears to have experienced a very deep recession in 2020 and even under optimistic assumptions, a full recovery will take some time beyond 2021,” he wrote.

“In addition, the recession and the cost of the measures to mitigate it have already led to a further sharp rise of Greece’s already exorbitantly high public debt.”


CDC Says Young Kids Can Receive COVID Vaccine

A whole new frontier has opened up in the battle over COVID-19 vaccines, and it’s one that is going to invoke a great deal of emotion and anger. That’s thanks to the latest recommendations from the CDC, which were released on Tuesday.

Vaccine advisors for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted Tuesday that children ages 5-11 should get COVID-19 vaccines.

The vote comes after a special federal advisory committee met to debate the issue. A final say on the matter is expected from CDC Director Dro. Rochelle Walensky.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized emergency use for kid doses, which are about one-third of the dose given to adolescents and adults. The vaccine is already approved for emergency use in children 12-15 years old.

Tuesday’s move means that as many as 28 million more children could be eligible for vaccinations as soon as this week.

Of course, this also means that the federal government could hide behind CDC approval in mandating that all school-aged children be vaccinated to attend public school, which is the very issue that the anti-vax movement has been fighting for decades.

Despite what is sure to be a mighty pushback, the Biden administration is already full-steam ahead on the plan.

The Biden administration, awaiting a green light, has been assembling and shipping millions of COVID-19 shots for children.

“We are not waiting on the operations and logistics,” White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said Tuesday, assuring that the administration is “in great shape on supply.”

We can only imagine what school board meetings would begin to look like should vaccine mandates for children be considered.


Professor of Medicine on Suing School Over Vaccine Mandate

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic like many other medical experts. He worked long hours as the United States tried to grapple with the new disease. He had too many conversations with family members whose loved ones were dying from it.

But as time wore on, he started noticing a pattern in public health decisions that seemed to diverge from traditional medical ethics, including an insistence that people at little risk from COVID-19 get a vaccine.

Kheriaty is now on suspension from the University of California, Irvine, (UCI) and challenging the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in court.

“I had to stand up and try to do something about it,” the professor of psychiatry and director of the UCI Health’s Medical Ethics Program said on The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders.”

Kheriaty contracted COVID-19 in mid-2020. His infection was confirmed by two different tests from two independent labs. His five children and wife also contracted the disease. They all recovered, with none requiring hospital care.

“It was, for me, actually a very liberating experience afterward, because I didn’t have to worry about the illness anymore. I knew the science on natural immunity,” Kheriaty said.

Natural immunity refers to when people contract COVID-19 and recover. Dozens of studies have documented that these individuals enjoy strong immunity against CCP virus re-infection. Some of the studies suggest the immunity is superior to that provided by COVID-19 vaccines, particularly the Johnson & Johnson one.

“I knew that at that point, I was among the safest people to be around, I didn’t have to worry about transmitting the infection to my patients,” Kheriaty said.

He continued taking precautions, wearing personal protective equipment like masks as required at the hospital. But he was confident he didn’t pose a risk to others, which served as a relief.

That relief turned into disbelief when, around a year later, the University of California system, which includes UCI, imposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The mandate (pdf) included a natural immunity opt-out, but only temporarily. People who recovered from COVID-19 were told they would only be exempt from the mandate for up to 90 days after their diagnosis.

University officials cited the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which alleges that the antibody tests it has authorized “are not validated to evaluate specific immunity or protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

“For this reason, individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or had an antibody test are not permanently exempt from vaccination,” officials said.

The mandate violated rights outlined in the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, including equal protection and substantive due process, Kheriaty’s lawsuit asserts.

“Plaintiff is naturally immune to SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, plaintiff is at least as equally situated as those who are fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine, yet defendants deny plaintiff equal treatment and seek to burden Plaintiff with an unnecessary violation of bodily integrity to which plaintiff does not consent in order to be allowed to continue to work at UCI,” it states.

The situation creates two classes, vaccinated and unvaccinated, when a more reasonable division would be those who are immune and those who are not, Kheriaty believes.

“What kind of discriminatory policies do we have in place that are excluding someone like me from the workplace when I’m 99.8 percent protected against reinfection whereas someone who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, by the company’s own data that they submitted to the FDA, is 67 percent protective against COVID infection?” he said.

Most mandates across the country don’t have alternatives for people who had COVID-19 and recovered.

Kheriaty proposes putting the burden of proof on people who want to opt out.

“Just have them go get the testing on their own time. You don’t have to administer the T-cell test or the antibody test. You don’t have to go dig up their old medical record establishing that they’ve already had COVID,” he said.

“Just ask them to bring that in and sign off on that as a kind of immunity passport.”




Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Unvaccinated people are up to 32 times more likely to die if they catch Covid than the double-jabbed, ONS report finds

This is all very well if you believe official British statistics. It is now well known that Covid deaths have been heavily overstated in Britain. A man can die in a mororbike crash and still be counted as a Covid death if he has a cold or some such at the time. The statistics below sound to me like propaganda -- like the percentage of the vote that dictators get in an election

Unvaccinated people are up to 32 times more likely to die if they catch Covid than the double-vaccinated, official figures suggested today.

An Office for National Statistics (ONS) report found the mortality rate for deaths involving Covid in England among unjabbed adults was 849.7 per 100,000. For comparison, the rate stood at just 26.2 for fully vaccinated people and 105.3 for adults who had only had their first dose.

Death figures were for between January 2 to September 24 this year, which includes the brunt of the second wave when millions of adults weren't yet eligible for vaccines.

People were counted as being single- or double-vaccinated from 21 days after each dose because of the length of time taken for immunity to kick in and protect against the virus.

Experts today heralded the results as clear evidence that everyone should get the vaccine. But some warned that the figures may have 'overstated' the power of jabs.

In the report mortality rates were age-standardised, to account for the fact different age groups were vaccinated at separate times.

Older people who are most likely to die if they catch the virus were prioritised in the roll out, with the over-80s invited to get their first dose in December. But those in their early 20s had to wait until June to be called.

There was also a gap of 12 weeks between the first and second dose towards the beginning of the drive to ensure the maximum number of people could be jabbed in the shortest time possible. But in June this was cut to eight weeks.

A report by the UK Health Security Agency — which replaced the now-defunct Public Health England — published on Friday found being jabbed slashed the risk of someone infected with AY.4.2 developing symptoms by 81 per cent.

For comparison, two doses are thought to block around 83 per cent of all people falling ill with the ancestor strain.

The UKHSA said the preliminary results do 'not suggest a significant reduction in vaccine effectiveness for AY.4.2 compared to Delta' and admitted the slight drop may be down to chance.

Almost 24,000 cases of the strain have now been spotted in Britain. But the true count could be 10 times higher because laboratories are only sequencing a fraction of all confirmed samples.

Separate surveillance data shows the variant has now been found in all but a dozen parts of England and makes up one in ten new cases — with its proportion having doubled in the space of a month.

Despite statistics showing it's still outcompeting its ancestor, some experts are now questioning how much more transmissible than Delta the subtype really is. Scientists initially estimated the strain was around 10 to 15 per cent more infectious.

Figures show while cases of the mutant strain are continuing to increase, its curve is flattening off. It is increasing slower than its predecessor did at this point after it was first sequenced.

The ONS used figures from the Public Health Data Asset database, which contains people in England linked to the census in 2011 and GP records in 2019, to establish who had received the vaccine. It covers just under 80 per cent of the country's population.

The report also included data on deaths from all causes — such as heart disease and cancer, not just Covid.

It showed the un-vaccinated were still three times more likely to have died between January to December (2,187 per 100,000) than those who got two doses of the vaccine (783.6).

Commenting on the data John Roberts, from the Covid actuaries response group, said on Twitter: 'The difference in total mortality between the two groups (1,403.5) is more than the difference in Covid deaths (823.5).

'That's almost certainly due to the fact the demographic profile of the unvaccinated experiences higher mortality normally.

'We know that uptake has been lower in ethnic minority groups and more deprived areas, so in fact I would have been surprised if we didn't see this difference. So the 32 times might overstate the vaccine effect, but it is still going to be considerable.'

Chris Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute for Economic Affairs, warned the statistics may have 'gilded the lily' slightly because of the time period used.

He tweeted: 'This is a dodgy statistic when very few people were fully vaccinated until March. The evidence is good without having to gild the lily like this.'

Almost 50million Britons — or 86.9 per cent of over-12s — have got at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, and 45.7million have received both doses.

The NHS started rolling out vaccines to over-80s, the vulnerable and health and social care workers in December.

It is now also offering them to 12 to 15-year-olds following a recommendation from No10's vaccine advisers back in September, although uptake has been sluggish.

And booster shots are being offered for the over-50s from six months after their second dose to top-up their immunity ahead of what is expected to be a very hard winter for the NHS.

The report builds on evidence that Covid vaccines slash the risk of hospitalisation and death among people who catch the virus, and its variants.

A report by the UK Health Security Agency — which replaced the now-defunct Public Health England — found last week that jabs work just as well against the more transmissible Delta offshoot as they do on its ancestor.

Scientists said the vaccines slashed the risk of someone infected with AY.4.2 of developing symptoms by 81 per cent.

For comparison, two doses are thought to block around 83 per cent of all people falling ill with the ancestor strain.

The UKHSA said the preliminary results do 'not suggest a significant reduction in vaccine effectiveness for AY.4.2 compared to Delta' and admitted the slight drop may be down to chance.

Almost 24,000 cases of the strain have now been spotted in Britain. But the true count could be 10 times higher because laboratories are only sequencing a fraction of all confirmed samples.

Separate surveillance data shows the variant has now been found in all but a dozen parts of England and makes up one in ten new cases — with its proportion having doubled in the space of a month.

Despite statistics showing it's still outcompeting its ancestor, some experts are now questioning how much more transmissible than Delta the subtype really is. Scientists initially estimated the strain was around 10 to 15 per cent more infectious.

Figures show while cases of the mutant strain are continuing to increase, its curve is flattening off. It is increasing slower than its predecessor did at this point after it was first sequenced.


Virus vaccine trials had even gender split

Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines were largely gender balanced, although researchers have warned a failure to report on whether different side effects were experienced by men and women may limit future work in an emerging field.

A group of Australian researchers analysed more than 300 published papers on COVID-19 vaccines and found women and men were equally recruited and represented in randomised controlled trials. This is a departure from usual trends where male participants dominate medical research.

However, only a third of the randomised control trials reported efficacy data on a gender basis, and none reported whether any particular side effects of the vaccine were more common in men or women.

While historically medical trials would often exclusively use male participants, recent research has still been affected by an under-representation of women, said lead author Dr Amy Vassallo, from Sydney’s George Institute for Global Health.

Dr Vassallo said it was great to see researchers prioritise an equal gender split, but there was “a level of detail we’re missing out on”.

“We were all comforted when we knew getting AstraZeneca that we were expected to have a slightly worse reaction with the first dose, and Pfizer with the second dose, so after your vaccine if that happened it was normal and expected,” she said.

“But there were also possible sex and gender differences in responses to vaccines which we did not have knowledge about.”

While all available COVID-19 vaccines were found to be equally safe for men and women in trials, Dr Vassallo said better knowledge about side effects can be an effective tool in combating hesitancy.

Anecdotal reports of COVID-19 vaccine side effects in women, including menstrual changes, have since been investigated through survey data. A UK analysis published in September found the low prevalence of reports meant it was unlikely there was a link, although acknowledged the reporting method was not ideal




Monday, November 01, 2021

Booster vaccination reduces risk of COVID hospital stint by 93 per cent

Getting a Pfizer booster jab five months after a second dose reduces a person’s risk of hospitalisation with COVID by 93 per cent, according to research published in The Lancet.

The study from the Clalit Research Institute in Tel Aviv and Harvard University in the US is the first nationwide analysis of booster jab effectiveness and involved 1.5 million Israelis.

Half of these people got a booster, while the other half had not yet received one. Israel was a pioneer in the distribution of vaccines at the start of 2021, getting a jab in the arm of half of its population by the end of February. But by the time a fourth wave hit the nation in summer, there was some waning of vaccine-induced immunity.

Data from the study show that a person’s risk from COVID in the week after getting a booster is much lower than someone who is only double-jabbed.

“Vaccine effectiveness... was estimated to be 93 per cent for admission to hospital, 92 per cent for severe disease, and 81 per cent for Covid-related death,” the researchers write in their paper.

The protection from the fresh inoculation was found to be unaltered by the recipient’s age, overall health or age. But while a booster did drastically reduce the threat of COVID relative to someone who does not get their booster, the absolute risk from COVID is still tiny for the double-jabbed.

For example, of the three-quarters of a million people who did get a booster, there were just 44 COVID deaths among the double-jabbed, compared to seven for the booster group. Only 29 people who got a booster went on to be admitted to hospital due to COVID.

Prof Ran Balicer, senior author of the study, from Clalit, said: “These results show convincingly that the third dose of the vaccine is highly effective against severe Covid-related outcomes one week after the third dose.”

Speaking about booster jabs, Boris Johnson called for all Britons to get their booster “as soon as you’re offered it”.

“It’s a very important message. I think people don’t quite realise that the first two jabs do start to wane.

“There is a waning effect on the first two, so people who are double vaccinated can experience a waning effect in their immunity. “How sad, how tragic it would be if people who had other complications other compromises in their health got seriously ill because they were overconfident about their level of immunity and didn’t get their booster when they needed it. “So please, please, please can everybody get their boosters.”

Israel will offer a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine to over 60s who received their second dose at least five months ago in order to fight the Delta variant.

A paper prepared by the Effectiveness Expert Panel shows that between three and six months, a double-vaccinated person who received the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is still 85 per cent protected against hospitalisation compared to an unvaccinated individual. For death, the reduction in risk is 90 per cent.

Pfizer performed slightly better, with two doses giving 95 per cent protection against both death and hospitalisation.

“These results show convincingly that the third dose of the vaccine is highly effective against severe Covid-19-related outcomes in different age groups and population subgroups, one week after the third dose,” said Prof Ran Balicer, the senior author of the study.


Here's what we know about COVID-19 vaccines for kids

American families who are eagerly awaiting the ability to vaccinate their young children against COVID-19 may finally get their wish in the coming weeks.

On Friday, October 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer-BioNTech shots for kids ages 5 to 11. The move comes just days after an advisory committee reviewed the safety and effectiveness of the low-dose vaccine and voted unanimously in favor of it. If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention follows suit in the coming days, the 28 million children in this age group will be able to join their older siblings and parents in getting the jab.

Documents sent to the FDA and released by Pfizer on October 22 provide results from their clinical trial with children in this age bracket. The data show that the vaccine offers strong protection for this age group, with a 90.7 percent efficacy rate in preventing symptomatic disease even against the Delta variant now in circulation.

The devastation COVID-19 has wreaked on adults has largely obscured how much children have suffered, says Ofer Levy, director of the Precision Vaccines Program at Boston’s Children Hospital, who is a member of the FDA committee that voted on the Pfizer vaccine. According to the CDC, nearly 2 million kids 5 to 11 have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and more than 150 have died.

Had COVID-19 struck as many children as it has without touching a single adult, it would still be a serious public health emergency, Levy says. The question now is how quickly parents will move to vaccinate their young children after shots become available.

When parents were asked last month in a Kaiser Family Foundation survey whether they want their 5 to 11 year old immunized against the coronavirus, 34 percent said they would do it right away. Thirty-two percent want to wait and see, and 7 percent said they will if it’s required, such as by school mandates. Twenty-four percent say they are completely opposed.

“It’s understandable that at this stage parents have a lot of questions,” says Kelly Moore, president and CEO of the nonprofit Immunization Action Coalition, of the group of parents planning to hang back. “People will always be cautious when it comes to their children, and we have not had safety and side effect information for this group before this point,” she says.

Similar dynamics occurred with adults, she notes, but “once people saw how it was working, many were eager to get vaccinated.”

Why kids need vaccines

Given the mass mortality among older adults, it’s easy to lose sight of how children in this younger age group have been impacted by the disease.

In addition to mild or moderate illnesses, more than 5,000 children have developed the serious, full-body reaction to the coronavirus known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), the vast majority under age 11. The syndrome can cause fever, vomiting, and diarrhea and may lead to heart dysfunction, kidney injury, and, in rare cases, death.

“When you compare COVID’s effects on children to influenza and other diseases that affect them, COVID is much more devastating,” Moore says.

Of course, children suffer even when others develop the disease. Some 140,000 children have lost a primary or secondary caregiver from COVID-19 to date. And the numerous school shut downs and curtailing of social activities have had such a profound psychological effect that the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical groups have declared children’s mental health to be in a national state of emergency.

What’s more, protecting children with the shots adds to the defenses for all members of their family, especially those younger than 5 who would still not yet be eligible, or any adults at risk of severe disease.

Moore has a friend whose husband is on immunosuppressing drugs to protect his kidney transplant. “Their 8-year-old daughter can’t even go into an ice-cream store because her father is vulnerable if she were to catch and transmit COVID,” she says.

A recent Swedish study confirmed the value of this ring of protection: Families where one member is immunized have up to a 61 percent lower risk that others in the home will get COVID-19, while three or four immunized members gives more than a 90 percent reduction.

Inoculating children in an effort to protect others already happens in the U.S., Levy says. “Some say it’s not ethical to vaccinate kids for a disease that doesn’t affect them as much,” he says, but children are currently immunized against rubella when the main risk is to pregnant mothers, he points out.

A smaller dose

Tens of thousands of adults were tested in Pfizer-BioNTech’s original clinical trials, and with 105,000 Americans over age 12 having completed the two-dose series, the FDA already has extensive information on the effectiveness of the shots. To test the vaccine for children 5 to 11, a different type of trial was conducted, largely focused on safety and dosage.

In the first phase of the trial, Pfizer gave a small group of children either the same 30 microgram dose used for those 12 and older, or they administered 20 or 10 microgram doses. This is a process known as a dose de-escalation trial, says Onyema Ogbuagu, an infectious diseases specialist at Yale Medicine and a principal investigator of the Pfizer trials.

“You want to find the dose that gives a strong immune response while trying to limit adverse events,” he says. The two-dose regimen of 10 micrograms each eventually won out. Pfizer is presenting the test results from some 2,268 participants to the FDA.

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will comb through every bit of Pfizer’s data before deciding whether to recommend its authorization for 5 to 11s. Pfizer is also currently studying even smaller doses for children between 2 and 5 years old and for those between 6 months and less than 2 years. And more good news for parents of young children: Moderna announced on October 25 that its clinical trial in 6 to 11 year olds also produced a robust immune response.

Side effects seen in the Pfizer trial were similar to those for older children, including short-term injection site pain, fatigue, headache, and chills. There were no serious adverse events linked to the vaccine. “You can never say never in medicine, but we feel pretty confident that nothing untoward is expected when even more children get the vaccines,” Ogbuagu says.

Rare events that happen in 1-in-10,000 or 1-in-100,000 people will not emerge until that many children have been vaccinated. The rare cases of the heart inflammation known as myocarditis, which has primarily impacted male adolescents and young men after their mRNA vaccine series, is estimated to occur in roughly 1 in 26,000 males, and nearly all have since recovered.

Addressing parents’ concerns

When weighing any potential risks, parents must compare a vaccine with the disease it aims to protect their child against, Moore says. Even mild cases of COVID-19 can make children feel awful and keep them from attending school. Plus, an unknown number of children continue to suffer for months after their acute illness, a condition that’s come to be known as long COVID.

Among parents who worry, some are concerned about stimulating their child’s immune system with a vaccine, Ogbuagu says, but he counters that “the stimulation it gets when a person gets COVID is much more intense.”

Other resisters focus on the vaccine’s delivery system—the mRNA that instructs the body to create spike proteins for the immune system’s response. But vaccines routinely given to children for other diseases use many different technologies and most parents haven’t much cared, says Robert Jacobson, medical director of the Primary Care Immunization Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

For example, he says, the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) jabs and the chicken pox shots use a weakened form of a live virus. The vaccine for diphtheria employs an altered form of the bacteria. And hepatitis B’s vaccine involves tricking yeast through recombinant technology to produce a protein they don’t naturally make.

What’s more, Ogbuagu says, RNA-based viruses like influenza or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) routinely infect kids, so it’s not as if their bodies haven’t seen the structure before. “If people knew the host of RNA viruses that enter their child’s cells all the time, they would worry less about the vaccine,” he says.

Pfizer-BioNTech’s shots are already proving valuable for children ages 12 to 17. Some 11 million Americans in this age group, or 57 percent of the total, have gotten at least one shot, while 47 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the AAP. The vaccines have been 93 percent effective in protecting kids this age from going to the hospital, the CDC announced last week.

If the CDC ultimately authorizes the vaccine for kids 5 to 11, Levy wants the shots to be mandated for school, as others currently are. In a recent medical journal editorial, he writes that decreasing virus circulation in children may be our best hope for controlling the spread of COVID-19.




Sunday, October 31, 2021

Covid vaccines are JUST as effective against more transmissible Delta offshoot, early tests show

Covid vaccines appear to work just as well against the more transmissible Delta variant offshoot as they do on its ancestor, health chiefs claimed today.

A report by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which replaced the now-defunct Public Health England (PHE), showed jabs are around 81 per cent effective at stopping people infected with AY.4.2 getting symptoms.

For comparison, two doses are thought to block around 83 per cent of all people falling ill with the original strain.

The UKHSA said the preliminary results do 'not suggest a significant reduction in vaccine effectiveness for AY.4.2 compared to Delta' and admitted the slight drop may be down to chance.

Almost 24,000 cases of the strain have now been spotted in Britain. But the true count could be 10 times higher because laboratories are only sequencing a fraction of all confirmed samples.

Separate surveillance data shows the variant has now been found in all but a dozen parts of England and makes up one in ten new cases — with its proportion having doubled in the space of a month.

Despite statistics showing it's still outcompeting its ancestor, some experts are now questioning how much more transmissible than Delta the subtype really is. Scientists initially estimated the strain was around 10 to 15 per cent more infectious.

Figures show while cases of the mutant strain are continuing to increase, its curve is flattening off. It is increasing slower than its predecessor did at this point after it was first sequenced.

Where did AY.4.2 come from?

This sub-variant of Delta was first detected in the UK on June 26, according to UK-based tracking.

Scientists say it is likely that AY.4.2 evolved here because the UK has much higher case numbers than other countries.

But it is possible that the variant was imported from abroad and then started to spread in the country.

Why is it only in a few countries?

AY.4.2 has been spotted in more than 40 countries including the UK, Germany, Denmark and the US to date.

It may not have been spotted in other places due to a lack of Covid surveillance, which would lead to new sub-variant not being spotted.

But travel restrictions may also be behind the slow spread, which have made it less likely that the virus will be passed between countries.

How infectious is the sub-variant?

Experts estimate that AY.4.2 is around 10 per cent more infectious than the Delta variant.

They say this may lead to a marginally higher number of cases, but that it will not trigger a spike similar to that seen when Delta arrived in the UK.

Should I be concerned about AY.4.2?

Scientists say there is no reason to be too concerned about AY.4.2.

There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines are less effective against the sub-variant, or that it increases the risk of hospitalisation and death.

But laboratory tests are underway at labs in the UK and Denmark to assess this.

Professor Lawrence Young from Warwick University said: 'There is no reason to suggest vaccines won't be as effective.'

And Professor Anders Fomsgaard from Denmark's Covid surveillance centre said: 'We are not concerned by this. We see nothing in this point of time that indicates it is more contagious, resistant or pathogenic.'

The UKHSA suggested there was little reason to worry that the variant was more effective at evading vaccines than Delta.

The agency said: 'After adjustment for the potential confounding variables there was no evidence AY4.2 differed significantly compared to non-AY4.2 Delta cases, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, across the three vaccines in circulation.'

Analysis suggested all the vaccines currently deployed in Britain were equally effective against the variant.

It comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) this week admitted it was now keeping tabs on the variant.

Experts have started to raise questions over whether the new strain is in fact more transmissible, as had previously been suggested by the data.

Northumbria University scientists involved in variant surveillance say it is still 'unclear' if AY.4.2 is actually more transmissible because too little is known about its mutations.

They pointed to the 'founder effect' as an alternative explanation, when a strain spreads rapidly because it is the only one in a specific cluster of cases, like a school.

But Professor Francois Balloux, a geneticist and Covid commentator at University College London who was among the first to raise concerns about the variant last week, said the slower rise was 'still compatible' with a 10 per cent transmission advantage.

And Professor Jeffrey Barrett, head of Covid surveillance at the Sanger Institute, said the data was 'consistent with a small, but real, growth advantage vs other Delta'.

This sub-variant of Delta was first detected in the UK on June 26, according to UK-based tracking.

Scientists say it is likely AY.4.2 evolved here because the UK has much higher case numbers than other countries.

But it is possible that the variant was imported from abroad because other countries have worse variant surveillance than the UK.

It carries two key mutations, A222V and Y145H, which both slightly alter the shape of the spike protein which the virus uses to invade cells.

Scientists claim A222V was previously seen on another variant (B.1.177) first spotted in Spain before spreading to other countries.

But studies suggest it did not make the strain more transmissible, and that it was only spread by holidaymakers returning home.

There is more concern about the mutation Y145H, which slightly changes the shape of the site antibodies bind to making it harder for them to stop an infection from happening.

Scientists say this builds on mutations in Delta, and could make the subtype even more resistant to vaccines than its parent.

AY.4.2 has been recorded in about 40 countries to date, but the UK is the only one seeing a sustained outbreak of the subtype, other than Poland.

It did rise to around one in 50 Covid cases in Denmark in early September, but it has now fallen again to below one in 100. Experts in the country say they are not concerned about AY.4.2.

UK health officials labelled it a 'variant under investigation' last week. This category is reserved for variants which are spreading in the UK that may be more transmissible or better able to evade vaccines than other mutant strains, but is a step below 'variant of concern' which includes Delta and Alpha.


Shock result in country ravaged by Covid-19

The number of people testing positive for Covid in the UK has plummeted by almost a quarter in just a week. Another 39,842 people were newly-diagnosed with the deadly bug on Thursday, local time – a huge drop from the same time last week, when 52,009 people were told they had the virus.

Deaths, however, are up on last Thursday, when 115 fatalities were reported. A further 165 people were recorded to have lost their lives yesterday.

Last Thursday’s case rate was the highest reported in the country since July 17.

And the fall today may be connected to schools being closed for the half-term holiday.

Despite that, the figures suggest the UK is moving in the right direction – and may avoid horrifying predictions of 100,000 new infections every day.

It’s been suggested that the country would be at risk of Plan B restrictions if cases had continued to rise. But top scientists say we could avoid a return to social distancing and masks if all those suitable for the jab sign up.

And Prof Neil Ferguson – dubbed “Professor Lockdown” after his warnings on the UK’s potential death toll led to the first restrictions last March – said the virus could be in retreat already.

“Herd immunity is having an enormous effect right now on damping transmission due to the huge amount of vaccination and the large number of people who have been infected already,” he said. “We may reach a stage in the next few weeks where immunity stops transmission. If the epidemic peaks and then starts declining, we have by definition reached herd immunity.

“We will start getting data from the booster program in the coming few weeks and I suspect it will show the boosters are highly effective at protecting individuals.”

Prof Tim Spector, lead scientist of the ZOE Covid Symptom Study App — a UK Government-funded initiative that collects reports from users about their Covid symptoms — said he believed 100,000 new infections a day is still possible.

‘We’re reaching herd immunity’

According to new data, cases increased by 14 per cent week-on-week. “The ZOE data shows the UK could hit 100,000 new cases sooner than expected and with no sign of a Plan B or Plan C,” Prof Spector said.

“The ZOE figures are consistently higher than the official confirmed daily cases because we get results from various sources, including self-reported lateral flow tests that are under-reported officially.

“With the confirmation of our estimates from the ONS’s (Office for National Statistics) fortnightly survey, it’s clear the government figures are a big underestimate, and with the highest rates in Western Europe, there’s no room for complacency.

“With the UK government delaying any decision while hospitals fill up, it’s time to take matters into our own hands to address the worsening situation.”

The Government says it’s not currently considering a ‘plan B’, which would see working from home return and vaccine passports mandated.