Friday, November 12, 2021

Dying of COVID or with it? Pathologists take on conspiracy theorists

This is all very well but relies on all involved medical personnel as acting with complete propriety. Where an autopsy or a CT scan has been conducted there can be no doubt of the diagnosis.

But how often are autopsy or CT scan results available? In a busy emergency ward such procedures can easily be omitted. The cases of people dying in accidents who are said to be covid victims cast a particularly troublesome light upon the rigor of covid diagnoses. Are such diagnoses invariably accompanied by an autopsy or scan? It seems unlikely.

The authors below are talking about best practice but the issue is how often best practice is followed. There are good reasons to believe that it often is not

Conspiracy theorists claim doctors are inflating the pandemic’s death toll by putting COVID-19 on the death certificate of everyone who died with the virus. But – the theory goes – they didn’t die from COVID, they died with COVID.

But the head of pathology at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine has autopsied dozens of patients with COVID-19.

And on her table, she says, the signs of the virus are clear. “Absolutely, it is very obvious. The post-mortem CT [scan] changes are striking. The appearances of their lungs in the autopsy rooms are striking.”

The claim that COVID-19 death counts are over-inflated has been a regular go-to for conspiracy theorists and lockdown opponents throughout the pandemic.

A diverse group has promoted the idea, including former US president Donald Trump.

The claims are standard boiler-plate for conspiracy theorists, who often rally around the belief that powerful people in society are trying to deceive the public for their own benefit, says Mathew Marques, who lectures in social psychology at La Trobe University.

“Rarely is there a new conspiracy theory that is surprising, when they all follow the same structure or pattern – lay beliefs about a secretive group of often powerful actors engaging in a malevolent plot against a society,” he says.

In hospitals, it is easy to work out if a person has died from COVID-19 – they wouldn’t be in an ICU ward on a ventilator otherwise. The Institute of Forensic Medicine handles harder cases: people who died suddenly in the community while they had COVID-19.

In many cases, like car accidents, the cause of death is obvious. In others, it requires a lot more work. The team runs a computerised tomography (CT) scan, and then if needed conducts an autopsy.

The most obvious signs a person has died from COVID-19 – not with it – are seen in the lungs, says forensic radiologist Dr Chris O’Donnell.

On a CT scan, the lungs are typically a dark black void – the scanner’s representation of space filled with oxygen.

In people who die of COVID-19, “that air is completely replaced by inflammatory tissue that fills up the air sacs and stops the exchange of oxygen,” says Dr O’Donnell.

“They struggle to breathe and even when they do get a breath in, none of the air they breathe can get into their blood because their lungs are blocked full of this inflammatory tissue. They die of lack of oxygen.”

In the disease’s early stages, the CT scan shows the lungs clouding over with inflammatory tissue. Radiologists refer to this as “ground glass”.

In late-stage disease, the virus has completely filled the lungs with inflammatory tissue. “We call that a white-out, when there’s no air in the lung,” Dr O’Donnell says.

These cases are clear-cut and are added to the pandemic’s official death toll. But when it is clear after autopsy that COVID-19 did not contribute to death, they are not added, Dr O’Donnell says.

“That’s our role: to look into these cases more thoroughly. We’re working to find the real truth, whether people have died of COVID or whether it’s something else.”


Duke, UNC scientists identify new antibody for COVID-19 and variants

Only in mice so far but very hopeful

A research collaboration between scientists at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has identified and tested an antibody that limits the severity of infections from a variety of coronaviruses, including those that cause COVID-19 as well as the original SARS illness.

The antibody was identified by a team at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI) and tested in animal models at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Researchers published their findings Nov. 2 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“This antibody has the potential to be a therapeutic for the current epidemic,” said co-senior author Barton Haynes, M.D., director of DHVI. “It could also be available for future outbreaks, if or when other coronaviruses jump from their natural animal hosts to humans.”

Haynes and colleagues at DHVI isolated the antibody by analyzing the blood from a patient who had been infected with the original SARS-CoV-1 virus, which caused the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, and from a current COVID-19 patient.

They identified more than 1,700 antibodies, which the immune system produces to bind at specific sites on specific viruses to block the pathogen from infecting cells. When viruses mutate, many binding cites are altered or eliminated, leaving antibodies ineffectual. But there are often sites on the virus that remain unchanged despite mutations. The researchers focused on antibodies that target these sites because of their potential to be highly effective across different lineages of a virus.

Of the 1,700 antibodies from the two individuals, the Duke researchers found 50 antibodies that had the ability to bind to both the SARS-CoV-1 virus as well as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

Further analysis found that one of those cross-binding antibodies was especially potent – able to bind to a multitude of animal coronaviruses in addition to the two human-infecting pathogens.

“This antibody binds to the coronavirus at a location that is conserved across numerous mutations and variations,” Haynes said. “As a result, it can neutralize a wide range of coronaviruses.”

With the antibody isolated, the DHVI team turned to researchers at UNC who have expertise in animal coronaviruses. The UNC team, led by co-senior author Ralph S. Baric, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and microbiology and immunology at UNC-Chapel Hill, tested it in mice to determine whether it could effectively block infections, or minimize the infections that occurred.

They found that it did both. When given before the animals were infected, the antibody protected mice against developing SARS, COVID-19 and its variants such as Delta, and many animal coronaviruses that have the potential to cause human pandemics.

“The findings provide a template for the rational design of universal vaccine strategies that are variant-proof and provide broad protection from known and emerging coronaviruses,” Baric said.

When given after infections, the antibody reduced severe lung symptoms compared to animals that were not treated with the antibody.

“The therapeutic activity even after mice were infected suggests that this could be a treatment deployed in the current pandemic, but also stockpiled to prevent the spread of a future outbreak or epidemic with a SARS-related virus,” said David Martinez, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Epidemiology at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

“This antibody could be harnessed to prevent maybe SARS-CoV-3 or SARS-CoV-4,” Martinez said.

Journal article:


AstraZeneca’s new Covid treatment: what is it and how does it work?

Australia’s drugs regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has granted “provisional determination” to pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for a long-acting antibody cocktail which has shown promise in preventing Covid-19 in adults.

Provisional determination is an early step in the drugs approval process and means AstraZeneca can now submit further data to the TGA from human trials about how the treatment works and its safety. Once the TGA has scrutinised the data, and if it is satisfied with it, it may grant Evusheld “provisional approval” for use in Australia in limited circumstances. Further data must be collected and given to the TGA even if this occurs.

This treatment consists of two laboratory-made antibodies, tixagevimab and cilgavimab. These antibodies bind to the spike protein of the virus, stopping the virus from entering the body’s cells and causing an infection.

Because each of the antibodies attach to different parts of the protein, using them in combination may be more effective than using either alone. It is also hoped this will offer good protection against variants, since the virus would have to mutate in multiple ways to escape both antibodies’ actions.

Evusheld is being considered for use as a Covid-19 preventive in Australians aged 18 years and older. In August, AstraZeneca released the results of a trial of the treatment involving 5,197 participants from the US, UK, Spain, France and Belgium who did not have Covid-19. Seventy-five per cent of participants had comorbidities, including medical conditions that often mean vaccination is weak or ineffective. Two-thirds of participants received Evusheld, and the rest were given a placebo.

The trial found Evusheld reduced the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 by 77% compared to the placebo. There were no cases of severe Covid-19 or related deaths in those given Evusheld. In the placebo group, there were three cases of severe Covid-19, which included two deaths.

The results now need to be replicated more widely in further trials, which is why regulators such as the TGA require AstraZeneca to submit ongoing data.

Is it a vaccine?

No. A vaccine trains the body’s immune system to respond to the virus if a person becomes infected in the future. Evusheld provides antibodies directly to the body via two intra-muscular injections administered consecutively. It immediately targets and neutralises the virus, preventing the virus from entering cells and causing an infection in the first place.

If approved, Evusheld will be the first long-acting antibody available for Covid-19 prevention in vulnerable populations who are unable to mount an adequate immune response to the virus from vaccination alone, for example people with cancer, and some elderly people.

Associate Prof Nada Hamad, a haematologist in Sydney, said Evusheld and similar treatments under development are designed to fill a gap left by vaccines, and by antibody treatments like Sotrovimab.

Sotrovimab is given to people already diagnosed with Covid-19 who are at high risk of developing severe disease. Sotrovimab needs to be administered early after someone is diagnosed to be effective.

“But Sotrovimab is very short-acting,” Hamad said. “It just lasts as we wait for the virus to dissipate. Once you get over the virus, the treatment doesn’t hang around in your body.

“Evusheld is a longer-acting antibody, and the hope is it will prevent the infection.”

Clinical trials to date show Evusheld may provide six to 12 months of protection from the virus. This is significantly shorter than vaccines. Even though the protection offered by vaccines does slowly wane over time, they are still effective at preventing severe disease, death and hospitalisation months down the track.

“Evusheld and similar treatments being examined should be seen as a major advancement in protecting the very vulnerable, but not a vaccine alternative,” Hamad said.

Evusheld also takes longer to administer, is more expensive, needs to be given by a trained doctor or nurse, and patients may need longer monitoring afterwards than the 15 minutes required for a vaccine. It is not something that can be quickly given in a pharmacy or hub, so it is not ideal for widespread, fast rollout, Hamad said.

Plus, further data from ongoing trials is still needed, while the efficacy and safety of the vaccines are now well known.

Evusheld has also shown promise in preventing severe disease when given early as a treatment to those infected with Covid-19, similar to Sotrovimab.




Thursday, November 11, 2021


I have just put up on my Food & Health blog a claim that says a McDonald's cheeseburger is actually healthy

New Data Shows California's COVID Rates DOUBLE Florida's Numbers

Severe CA restrictions are not working

According to new reports, the COVID-19 numbers in California are TWICE what they are in Florida, yet the mainstream media is silent. Could it be because California is tyrannically pushing the coronavirus vaccine and forcing people to wear face diapers, meanwhile Florida is free and open!

Once again, the data proves that the jabs and face masks don't work. Tampa Bay Times reports:

“There are early indications that the decline in the delta surge at the national level in the U.S. has ended,” said Ali H. Mokdad, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington, which runs a widely followed model projecting the course of the pandemic. Currently, 19 states have increasing transmission, including several such as California “that had previously appeared to have been declining.”

So why aren’t Golden Staters reaping more reward for their adherence to health guidance while the virus gives freewheeling Dixie a break?

“You’re paying for your success, which is weird,” Mokdad said. “You succeed in controlling the virus, and now you’re having infections.”

Yet, hospitals in Florida are reporting that they have 0 patients with COVID-19.

“This is great news! For two weeks and counting, Florida has had the lowest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the entire country – with no mandates, vaccine passports, or lockdowns. Overall, COVID hospitalizations have been declining for more than 70 days straight, and we’re at an all-time low in terms of the number of COVID patients hospitalized statewide,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, on Monday.

Maybe the rest of the country should take a page out of DeSantis' playbook!


Biden doesn’t stand a chance in 2024 and neither does the epically unpopular and useless Kamala so unless Joe finds a new VP to succeed him soon the Dems can kiss goodbye to the White House

Piers Morgan

Barely a day goes by when one of them isn’t doing something worthy of abject mockery – from Biden falling asleep at the COP26 climate change summit, to Harris appearing in a World Space Day video with hired child actors who she pretended were wide-eyed real kids enthralled by her exultation of space exploration.

(The video was made by a firm named ‘Sinking Ship Entertainment’ – a metaphor for the Biden administration if ever there was one.)

And it’s not just me that thinks this.

A truly shocking new USA Today-Suffolk University poll reveals crushingly bad approval ratings for Biden with just 38% of Americans approving of his presidency and 59% disapproving.

But the President is basking in approval sunshine compared to his deputy. Staggeringly, less than 3 in 10 Americans (27.8%) approve of the job Kamala Harris is doing, with 51.2% disapproving. This makes her the least popular vice-president at this stage of an administration for half a century.

Her predecessor Mike Pence was above 40% approval after the same period in office, despite the tsunami of anti-Trump rage that followed his election.

Even Dick Cheney, the most loathed VP in history, polled better (30%) despite driving the US into two bitterly controversial wars and accidentally shooting a friend while quail-hunting.

Yet it was never supposed to be like this. Biden chose Harris as his No. 2 because she was a historic candidate (the first female to be VP, and first African American and Asian to hold the position) that would thrill and energize the progressive arm of his party.

And the unspoken plan was that he would serve a first time, sort out all the mess after the chaos of Trump, and then, in his 80s, hand the torch to this far younger, legal eagle deputy so she could become America’s first woman president.

Right now, that seems about as likely as me becoming the first British president.

But the only real surprise is that anyone’s really surprised. Harris’s own presidential campaign in 2019 was so bad that it didn’t even last into election year. She blamed lack of finances, and subliminal voter racism and sexism, but it was lack of charisma, good policies and political acumen that turned off voters. (If her skin colour was a problem, why did Barack Obama win two terms as president?).

Her performance as VP has been equally lackluster and unimpressive.

Harris was put in charge of combatting America’s immigration issues but has been M.I.A. as the Southern border descended into a dangerous new crisis.

She boasted of being the last one in the room when Biden made his decision to leave Afghanistan but wasn’t quite so keen to co-own the decision when America’s sudden withdrawal turned into a deadly fiasco.

She’s also been dubbed the ‘Invisible Woman’ – declining to hold a single press conference as VP and not doing a major interview for over 150 days since her disastrous encounter with NBC’s Lester Holt in which she said she’d been down to the border, only for Holt to remind her that she hadn’t.

‘And I haven’t been to Europe!’ she replied, excruciatingly.

Little wonder that only 23% of Americans approve of the way the border situation’s being handled.

The most damning of many awful numbers in this new poll is that when asked to name the one thing Americans most want President Biden to do in the next year, the biggest answer by far (20%) was ‘resign/retire/quit.’ That got twice as big a response as fixing the economy.

President Biden’s presidency is not yet a year old but is already in deep trouble thanks to surging inflation, chaotic supply chains, the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, the ongoing COVID crisis, and an insanely woke agenda that’s led to parents who dare to complain about their kids being taught critical race theory being dubbed domestic terrorists.

The US public showed their disgust in last week’s election results like the Virginia governor race where an established Democrat was unceremoniously unseated by a new-boy Republican who seized on the PC education nonsense to win a shock victory.

Since Biden and his party show no sign of having learned lessons from Virginia or the polls, there will be plenty more where that came from in next year’s midterms, when I strongly suspect the Democrats will get a shellacking and lose the House.

But the Democrats have got an even bigger nightmare to worry about and that’s the 2024 Election.

As things stand, Biden hasn’t got a prayer of re-election unless he starts to show the kind of dynamic leadership that’s so far proved woefully beyond him.

All the upbeat rhetoric he spewed so confidently about healing the nation from the turbulent Trump years has turned out to be a load of hot air.

On top of that, how credible will the already-doddery president with clear cognitive issues, who will be almost 82 years old on election day, be as a candidate?

No wonder the USA Today/Suffolk University poll, two thirds of Americans say they don’t want him running again including 28% of Democrats and many of the independents who helped elect him in 2020.

On the other hand, any succession plan that involves Kamala Harris is now a total non-starter.

As Joe Concha put it on Fox News: ‘If you’re the Democratic Party how could you possibly put her up as the nominee right now when not even three in 10 Americans approve of the job she’s doing and it’s impossible to find her?’

So, if the Democrats want to retain the White House in 2024, they need to find someone who can win it for them. And they need to start looking now.

That doesn’t look like being Joe Biden, and it definitely won’t be Kamala Harris.

Theoretically they could both stay in office until 2024 while a new field of Democrat candidates fought it out for the nomination. But what would stop Kamala running too?

The Constitution doesn’t allow Biden to fire Harris personally, but he and the Democrat leadership can engineer the removal of a vice-president who has proven to be completely out of her depth and a perilous threat to the Party’s electoral chances.

He could then appoint a new voter-friendly moderate VP who could use the platform to not only have a better chance of beating the GOP candidate next time round but lend some excitement and luster to this already-exhausted looking administration as well.

Whether the current woke-crazed Democratic party is capable of navigating its internal sexual and racial politics to land on such a happy candidate is, to be honest, a pretty big question.

But if Biden doesn’t, and the pair of them stubbornly insist on either fighting the 2024 presidential race together, or having Harris as the presidential nominee, then we may see a repeat of the scene from Dumb and Dumber where Lloyd Christmas opens a champagne bottle at a fundraising event to save endangered Snowy Owls, only for the flying cork to kill one of two Snowy Owls in a display cage - horrifying guests, and further endangering the species.

‘Boy,’ he observes, ‘this party really died.’




Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Promising new covid test

A Breathalyzer-type test that can detect COVID-19 within seconds is currently being tested and could become a noninvasive, rapid alternative to nasal swab tests, according to researchers.

COVID-19 infection causes a distinct breath print from the interaction of oxygen, nitric oxide, and ammonia in the body. An initial study of the breath test found that it gave accurate results for COVID-19 infections in almost 90% of critically ill patients with the disease.

The breathalyzer test can detect COVID-19 in exhaled breath within 15 seconds, according to researchers who have applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization.

The study included 46 intensive care patients with acute respiratory failure who required mechanical ventilation. All of the patients had a PCR COVID-19 (nasal swab) test upon admission to the ICU, half were found to have COVID-19.

The researchers collected exhaled breath bags from all of the patients on days 1, 3, 7, and 10 of their hospitalization, the samples were tested within four hours after collection.

The testing proved to be 88% accurate in detecting the breath print of COVID-19, according to the study published Oct. 28 in the journal PLOS ONE.

"The gold standard for diagnosis of COVID-19 is a PCR test that requires an uncomfortable nasal swab and time in a lab to process the sample and obtain the results," said lead researcher Dr. Matthew Exline, director of critical care at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

"This novel [Breathalyzer-type] technology uses nanosensors to identify and measure specific biomarkers in the breath," said test co-developer Pelagia-Irene Gouma, a professor in Ohio State's Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

"This is the first study to demonstrate the use of a nanosensor [Breathalyzer-type] system to detect a viral infection from exhaled breath prints," Gouma said in an Ohio State news release.

"PCR tests often miss early COVID-19 infections and results can be positive after the infection has resolved," Exline said in the release. "However, this noninvasive breath test technology can pick up early COVID-19 infection within 72 hours of the onset of respiratory failure, allowing us to rapidly screen patients in a single step and exclude those without COVID-19 on mechanical ventilation."

The researchers plan to further assess the use of the technology to detect less severe COVID-19, as well as other infections and diseases.


Fauci Orders Parents to Vaccinate Kids, Regardless of Concerns on Safety and Efficacy

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci told parents on Wednesday that they can ask questions about the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine, but that they need to get their kids vaccinated regardless.

Doesn't that defeat the purpose of asking questions? We reserve the right to decide what is injected into our bodies.

"Children statistically, when they get infected they do not get the incidence of severe disease to the level of adults, particularly elderly do," Fauci said on CNN. "There have been about 700 deaths in the younger age group. But children are vulnerable. They can get infected. They also can spread the infection once they get infected within the family unit. So there are a lot of reasons to get the children vaccinated."

"There's no indication whatsoever, even any feasibility that would affect fertility at all," he continued. "In fact, in the millions and millions of doses and billions of doses that have been given worldwide of the vaccine, there is no indication whatsoever that it has anything to do with fertility. Giving it to a child, you have to look for a plausible mechanism of what that would be, and there is none."

Fauci said, "We will hit the ground running. Probably by the beginning of next week, we will be at full speed. So parents should consult with their pediatricians, family physicians, pharmacists and they will be able to know exactly where to get this particular vaccine for their children, from 5 to 11."

"We want to get out of the pandemic phase and into a good, controlled phase," he added. "There are different levels of approach and control of a particular outbreak...I don't think we're going to get to eradication. We only eradicated one viral disease and that's smallpox. But you can get it down to a very low level if you get enough people vaccinated, and a low level is one that doesn't interfere with how we function in society."

Despite what Fauci preaches, vaccines are not the answer to everything.


Australian regulator requests information from Pfizer after British medical journal alleges contractor ‘falsified’ safety data

Australia’s medicines regulator has sought additional information from Pfizer after an investigation by the British Medical Journal alleged serious issues with a small number of its vaccine safety trials, including claims of “falsified data” and slowness following up on adverse reactions.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has stressed that Pfizer’s vaccine is “highly safe and effective”, and that Australians “should not be concerned about the issues raised in the article”.

The BMJ’s report, published last week, centred on a former employee of Ventavia Research Group, a Texas-based contractor involved in the phase-three trials for Pfizer’s Covid vaccine last year.

According to Brook Jackson, a former regional director at Ventavia, the company “falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinators, and was slow to follow up on adverse events”, the BMJ reported.

The whistleblower, who provided the BMJ with “dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings and emails”, recounted that she repeatedly notified the company of the problems before finally emailing a complaint to the US Food and Drug Administration on September 25, 2020.

She was sacked the same day, with the company saying in her separation letter she was “not a good fit”.

In a statement to The Conversation, Ventavia said Ms Jackson was employed for “approximately two weeks” in September of 2020 and “no part of her job responsibilities concerned the clinical trials at issue”.

Ventavia said the “same accusations” were investigated and “determined to be unsubstantiated” last year.

Pfizer’s full phase-three trial involved about 44,000 participants across 153 sites. Ventavia enrolled more than 1000 participants at three sites – or only around 2 per cent of the total.

The drug company made no mention of the alleged problems at the Ventavia sites in a briefing document submitted to an FDA advisory committee meeting on December 10, 2020.

The FDA, which never audited Ventavia after receiving the complaint, issued its emergency use authorisation for the vaccine the next day.

A Pfizer Australia spokeswoman declined to comment on the BMJ report. understands the TGA has contacted Pfizer to further clarify the issues raised, although given the allegations only pertain to 2 per cent of the trial population, the overall results are not expected to be impacted.

“The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is highly safe and effective and has been approved for use in nearly 100 countries and also approved by the World Health Organisation,” a TGA spokeswoman said.

“Australians who have received the Pfizer vaccine should not be concerned about the issues raised in the BMJ article.”

She noted that “the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine demonstrated in clinical trials has been thoroughly substantiated by real-world use in many millions of people worldwide”.

“The benefits of vaccination are clear and not in dispute,” she said.



Gloomy landscape for Democrats in midterms as Joe Biden’s approval drops to 38% (USA Today) | “I didn’t run because of the polls”: Scranton Joe brushes off lagging poll numbers (Fox News)

Pete Buttigieg says administration will use “infrastructure” bill to address “racist” highway design (Daily Wire)

“Stay angry”: Barack Obama scolds us on climate from Glasgow (Reuters) | Obama’s climate speech is a reminder of how badly he governed (The Federalist)

House January 6 committee inquisition issues subpoenas to six top Trump advisers (Washington Post)

Authoritarian White House encourages businesses to prepare for vaccine mandate despite court injunction (National Review)

Woke U.S. Navy names ship after accused pedophile Harvey Milk (PM)

Illegal alien who allegedly murdered father of four “was on one of Biden's flights” (Daily Wire)

China’s navy is now world’s largest with 460 warships by 2030 (Washington Times)

That’s ominous: China builds mockups of U.S. Navy ships in area used for missile target practice (Reuters)

Justice Department seizes $6 million as part of crackdown on hackers linked to Kaseya attack (The Hill)

You know those cargo ships and trains waiting to be unloaded in California? Yeah, now homeless people are breaking in and stealing things from the stopped trains. (Not the Bee)

Consumer group attacks BlackRock for hypocrisy by investing in Chinese companies (Washington Times)

Nineteen-year-old wins New Jersey school board election after his senior year was ruined by COVID policies (Not the Bee)




Tuesday, November 09, 2021


I have received a couple of notices from saying that some of my posts have been depublished on the grounds that I was spreading misinformation. My post of 22 August was particularly mentioned. It was a rather extreme post so I am not too bothered by its loss.

What is not clear is whether today's post is visible to readers. It starts with a media report about Sweden. I would be obliged if people would let me know if they can see it. My email is

The second post today was about an alternative way to medicate covid so maybe that was the problem. I have deleted it but will keep a record of it

UPDATE: Many readers have confirmed that they have seen the post below about Sweden. I will post the expunged post somewhere else in due course. Its claims that a certain treatment could be a useful palliative for people infected by covid seemed well supported by scientific studies but it was a bit unorthodox.


How Sweden's lockdown gamble paid off: Nation has suffered fewer coronavirus deaths than most of Europe and has a lower infection rate

Sweden has suffered fewer Covid deaths than most of Europe and is still recording lower infection rates, according to figures that suggest its lockdown gamble has paid off.

The Scandinavian nation became an international outlier last year when it defied scientific advice and refused to follow the rest of the world in shutting down society to curb the virus' spread.

Not only has Sweden's economy bounced back faster than any other country in the EU, latest data shows that it has also fared better than most in terms of lives lost during the pandemic.

Sweden has suffered almost 1,500 confirmed Covid deaths per million people, according to Oxford University-based research platform Our World in Data, which is lower than the European average (1,800).

The UK — which has endured three national lockdowns and several regional fire-breakers — has recorded 2,100 per million, for comparison, while Belgium and Italy both have rates above 2,000.

When looking at excess mortality during the pandemic, Sweden ranks just 21st out of 31 European countries with 5 per cent more deaths since March last year than would be expected. Britain, Italy and Spain, on the other hand, have each suffered around 10 per cent more deaths than average during Covid.

Statisticians say excess mortality is the most accurate way to measure the toll of the pandemic on health because it accounts for testing disparities between countries and includes knock-on fatalities.

Sweden also has a lower infection rate currently than most EU nations, with just 100 per million people testing positive daily compared to 800 in Austria, nearly 700 in Belgium and Ireland, and 500 in the UK.

Although Sweden chose not to lock down completely early in the pandemic, it did introduce stricter legally-binding curbs last winter as cases and deaths rose.

These included a ban on groups of eight or more people, limits on numbers in gyms and shops and an 8pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.

While Sweden appears to fared done better than continental Europe during the pandemic, it has performed significantly worse when compared to its closest neighbours.

Norway and Finland, for example, have suffered about 200 Covid deaths per million people since the virus was first seeded on the continent — seven times lower than Sweden's toll.

In Denmark the rate is around 400. All three nations have had tougher restrictions during much of the pandemic, which are likely to have played a role.

When looking at excess mortality, Norway and Denmark have recorded fewer deaths than normal during Covid and Finland has seen little over 1 per cent more fatalities than average.

Cambridge University epidemiologist Raghib Ali told MailOnline: 'Whether you think Sweden's strategy was a success story comes down to which countries you compare it to.

'If you think it should have a similar rate [of Covid deaths] to its neighbours Finland, Norway and Denmark or other countries like Germany and the Netherlands?

'Whichever side you come down on decides whether it did better or worse.'

Dr Ali said that one takeaway from Sweden's voluntary lockdown system was that it shows the power of people's small behavioural changes.

'Although Sweden didn't have a Government-enforced lockdown, it did have a type of voluntary lockdown that was well-adhered to.

'What we've learned from Sweden - and the UK - is that people's voluntary behaviour can get countries over a peak without mandated restrictions, even though they alone cannot prevent big outbreaks.'

It comes as daily Covid infections in the UK continued to plummet today, bolstering hopes that the third wave may have already peaked.


Monday, November 08, 2021


I have just put up on my Food & Health blog details of another study showing that alcohol is good for you


Scientists say 'suctioning'' vaccines generates more antibodies

A 'suctioning' technique for COVID-19 vaccines may be able to provide more protection than traditional needles, a new study suggests.

Researchers tested a new type of immunization for the virus based on the ancient form of medicine known as cupping, in which heated special cups are placed on the skin for a few minutes to create suction, immediately follow a Covid shot.

They found rodents that were given the vaccine via the suction method generated antibody levels millions of times higher than a traditional injection.

The team, from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, says a suctioning vaccine is faster and cheaper to manufacture, and can be more widely distributed than the vaccines currently in use.

'This suction-based technique is implemented by applying a moderate negative pressure to the skin after nucleic acid injection in a totally non-invasive manner,' said senior author Dr Hao Lin, a professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Rutgers, in a statement.

'This method enables an easy-to-use, cost-effective and highly-scalable platform for both laboratory and clinical applications for nucleic-acid-based therapeutics and vaccines.'

The team noted that with traditional vaccines, when they are injected into the arm, they are not automatically absorbed by cells.

In fact, some of it degrades before it even gets to the cells so the body can mount an immune response.

But by providing suction on the skin immediately after the shot, researchers theorized this would create strain on the skin, forcing cells to automatically absorb the vaccine.

For the study, published in the journal Science Advances, they decided to test this theory using the ancient practice of cupping.

Cupping uses special cups, which are often heated, to create suction and pull blood into the skin.

Proponents say it helps increase blood flow, relieves pain, cure headaches and treat other ailments.

A COVID-19 vaccine candidate was provided by GeneOne Life Science, a biopharmaceutical company based in Seoul, South Korea.

One group of rats received two injections of the vaccine, another group received a single injection followed by a single suction and a final group received two injections followed by two suctions.

Antibody levels were between two million and five million times higher among the two suction groups than the group that received injections alone, results showed.

'We have demonstrated an alternative, safe and effective transfection platform that yields high levels of transgene expression,' Lin said.

'The advantages also include device cost-effectiveness and manufacturing scalability and minimal requirements for user training.

'Because of the inherent advantages of DNA, not least of which is avoiding cold-chain requirements of other vaccines, this technology facilitates vaccination programs into remote regions of the world where resources are limited.'


Pfizer linked to 18 new cases of heart inflammation in Australia

The number of cases of heart inflammation in Australia linked to the Pfizer vaccine has risen to 253 from about 21.9 million doses.

There were 18 new likely cases of myocarditis in the past week, a condition that sees patients experience chest pain, abnormal heartbeat and shortness of breath.

One new blood clots case linked to the AstraZeneca jab was also recorded, taking the total to 158 cases and nine deaths in Australia from about 13.1 million doses. The confirmed case involved a 40-year-old man from NSW.

The figure was released in the Therapeutic Goods Administration Covid-19 vaccine weekly safety report on Thursday afternoon.

The youngest case classified as ‘likely myocarditis’ to date was 12 years old.

Of the cases classified as likely to be myocarditis, most of the patients experienced symptoms within three days of vaccination.

Around half of the patients were admitted to hospital with eight treated in intensive care. Most patients treated in hospital were discharged within four days.

The TGA says “the estimated reporting rates in Australia appear similar to overseas rates.”

“As we have received limited adverse event reports for Spikevax (Moderna), our analysis of likely myocarditis cases focuses on data for the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine,” the medicines regulator said.

In Australia, myocarditis is reported in nearly one out of every 100,000 people after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. While it is more commonly reported in young men and teenage boys after the second dose (6.7 cases in 100,000 people) it remains rare.

Cases usually occur within 10 days and resolve after a few days following treatment and rest.

The TGA advises people to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms that could suggest myocarditis or pericarditis.

This includes: chest pain, palpitations (irregular heartbeat), fainting or shortness of breath, particularly if they occur within one to five days of vaccination.

“ATAGI advises that people who develop myocarditis or pericarditis attributed to their first dose of Comirnaty (Pfizer) should defer further doses of an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine and discuss this with their treating doctor,” the TGA says.


U.S. federal appeals court freezes Biden's vaccine rule for companies

A U.S. federal appeals court issued a stay Saturday freezing the Biden administration's efforts to require workers at U.S. companies with at least 100 employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly, citing "grave statutory and constitutional" issues with the rule.

The ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit comes after numerous Republican-led states filed legal challenges against the new rule, which is set to take effect on Jan 4.

The White House declined to comment on the ruling, and referred questions to the Labor Department, where spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The stay comes two days after the Biden administration unveiled the rule, which was immediately met with vows of legal action from Republican governors and others, who argued it overstepped the administration's legal authority.

The action on the private-sector vaccinations was taken under the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) emergency authority over workplace safety, officials said. The rule applies to 84.2 million workers at 1.9 million private-sector employers, according to OSHA.

Saturday's court order came in response to a joint petition from several businesses, advocacy groups, and the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah. The rule is also facing separate legal challenges before other courts.

The two-page order directs the Biden administration to respond to the request for a permanent injunction against the rule by 5pm Monday.


Gov. Stitt Sticks it to Biden: 'There Will Be No Government Vaccine Mandates In Oklahoma'

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt stuck it to President Joe Biden and his unconstitutional vaccine mandates, declaring that it is a "complete disregard for individual freedoms and states’ rights." Stitt added that he intends to fight the order.

“It is not the government’s role to dictate to private businesses what to do. Once again President Biden is demonstrating his complete disregard for individual freedoms and states’ rights. As long as I am governor, there will be no government vaccine mandates in Oklahoma. My administration will continue to defend Oklahoma values and fight back against the Biden administration’s federal overreach," he said.

News on 6 reports:

It's too early for a lot of companies to know what this means and how it'll be enforced, but Oklahoma Representative Kevin Hern was quick to point out the problems with what he calls a huge federal overstep.

"This looks like Putin or Xi Jinping, how they operate. He's trying to push this out there and that's what dictators do," Hern said.....

The Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor and the Republican National Committee both said, separately, that they are pursuing litigation against Biden's mandate, claiming it is unconstitutional and an overreach of federal government.

According to Oklahoma Commerce Department, 1,962 companies employ over 100 people in Oklahoma meaning that the federal requirements will impact 678,122 Oklahomans. Oklahoma Senator James Lankford and Representative Kevin Hern issued similar rebukes of the President.

“My family and I chose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and I am grateful for it. Every Oklahoman and American should have that same choice and option. Federal employees and contractors, members of our military, health care workers, and everyone else in our nation should be able to choose whether to get vaccinated. Period. The Biden proposal ignores the natural immunity millions of Americans have because they have recovered from COVID and the millions of other Americans that do not want to be forced to take a vaccine for a multitude of personal, religious, and medical reasons,” Lankford explained.

“The federal government has once again overstepped into the lives and livelihoods of American citizens,” Hern added. “Private companies, especially small businesses, are already suffocating under the oppressive restrictions put in place at the start of the public health emergency last year. My colleagues and I have warned of the slow march to socialism for years, and we were called liars for it. Turns out it’s not so much a slow march as it is a sprint. More restrictions, more mandates, more socialist policies are never the answer.”

Oklahoma AG O'Connor declared, "We respect the right of Oklahoma businesses and individuals to make healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. My office will vigorously oppose any attempt by the federal government to mandate vaccines. We are preparing litigation to stand up for our rights and defend the rule of law against the overreach of the federal government."

The RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel stated, “Joe Biden told Americans when he was elected that he would not impose vaccine mandates. He lied. Now small businesses, workers, and families across the country will pay the price. Like many Americans, I am pro-vaccine and anti-mandate. Many small businesses and workers do not have the money or legal resources to fight Biden’s unconstitutional actions and authoritarian decrees, but when his decree goes into effect, the RNC will sue the administration to protect Americans and their liberties.”

Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall added, “The Oklahoma Legislature acted aggressively this session to stop unconstitutional federal overreach like President Biden proposed today. We saw this coming and are already prepared to block it in Oklahoma. This type of unilateral overreach is precisely why House Bill 1236 and the additional litigation funds for the attorney general were such big priorities this session. I applaud the attorney general for utilizing the tools the Legislature provided to defend Oklahoma’s rights as a state. President Biden is about to see the U.S. Constitution still matters in Oklahoma. This isn't the only unconstitutional Biden administration action Oklahoma needs to challenge. Our country is a republic of states, not a monarchy, and the president does not have the constitutional authority to issue these type of edicts.”

In other words, Oklahoma isn't playing this communist, tyranny bull crap.




Sunday, November 07, 2021

Effectiveness of vaccines against infection less than 50% on average

But good at preventing death

The protection that fully vaccinated Americans have against COVID-19 infection severely drops over time, a new study suggests.

A team led by the Public Health Institute in Oakland, California, found that the overall effectiveness of the three Covid vaccines available in the U.S fell from 87 percent in March to 48 percent by September.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients are especially at risk with just 13 percent efficacy against contracting the virus.

However researchers found that the shots are still highly protective against death from Covid.

Researchers, who published their findings on Thursday in the journal Science, gathered data from the Veterans Health Administration from February to October 2021.

In total, nearly 800,000 veterans' data was included in the massive study.

The team analyzed vaccine records among people who tested positive for the virus, and determined, on average, how effective each individual jab was at preventing infection.

In February, when the vaccines were still relatively new, they all had an effectiveness of more than 85 percent at preventing infection.

J&J's vaccine saw its protection wane the most, dropping from 86 percent in March to below 50 percent by September, and down to only 13 percent last month.

The Pfizer-BioNTech jab - which is far and away the most commonly used in the U.S. - saw its effectiveness drop from 87 percent in March to 43 percent in September.

September was the first month during which the effectiveness of Pfizer's vaccine dropped below 50 percent.

Moderna's shot held up the best, and is the only one of the three to still be more than 50 percent effective.

The shot's effectiveness has still fallen greatly, though, from 89 percent in March to 58 percent in September.

Overall, the three vaccines' effectiveness was 87.9 percent in March, and dropped to 48.1 percent in September.

'By July 2021, the U.S. experienced a surge in cases of COVID-19, dominated by the [Delta] variant,' the researchers wrote.

'Initial reports, including follow-up of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna trials, suggested sustained vaccine protection, but three reports of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in August 2021 demonstrated protection against infection had declined in mid-summer as the Delta variant rose to dominance.

'Protection against hospitalization and death remained high. Breakthrough infections, illness, hospitalizations, and deaths have since continued to emerge in vaccine recipients.'

This waning immunity is the source behind the federal goverment's push for Covid vaccine boosters for all Americans.

Last month, additional shots of the vaccines became available to Americans over the age of 65 with severe comorbidities or who have a job that puts them at risk of virus exposure.

The goal behind the booster rollout is to shore up immunity from the virus and prevent breakthrough infections.

Many opposed the booster rollout, though, because the shots are still effective at preventing death from the virus.

The new study found that an unvaccinated person under the age of 65 is 2.6 percent likely to die from the virus, while that risk drops to 1.6 percent with vaccination.

Those who received the Pfizer shot had their risk of death slashed by 84 percent, the most effective of the three.

The Moderna shot reduced risk of death by 82 percent and the J&J by 73 percent. The numbers are even more drastic for people over the age of 65.

For the elderly, risk of death from Covid if unvaccinated is over 20 percent. Fully vaccinated people over the age of 65 only died from the virus nine percent of times, the researchers found.

The Moderna shot was most effective at preventing death among people 65 and older, reducing risk by 75 percent.

The Pfizer shot reduced the elderly's risk of death by 70 percent and the J&J did by 52 percent.

The death rate among fully vaccinated people over 65 is still high, though, underscoring why health officials are targeting boosters at that group in particular.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 21 million Americans have received a COVID-19 booster shot, with a majority opting for the Pfizer shot.


Pfizer's at-home Covid pill 'cuts risk of dying by nearly 90%'

First Merck and now Pfizer

Pfizer today claimed its at-home Covid pill cuts the risk of severe illness by nearly 90 per cent, potentially providing the UK with another weapon in its arsenal to combat the pandemic.

Its twice-a-day antiviral was shown in clinical trials to slash the risk of hospitalisation or deaths by 87 per cent in vulnerable and elderly patients.

The pharmaceutical giant stopped its study of the drug — known as Paxlovid — early due to the 'overwhelming efficacy'.

The findings appear to surpass those seen with Merck's rival pill molnupiravir, which data showed halved the risk of death or hospitalisation.

Paxlovid can be taken at home and is a combination of an experimental drug with an older antiviral called ritonavir, already used to treat HIV/AIDS.

Pfizer described its findings as a 'game-changer' and now plans to apply for approval from American medical regulators in the coming days. The firm will likely also seek approval in the UK, where the Government has already purchased 250,000 courses.

It comes after Britain yesterday became the first country in the world to give Merck's antiviral the green light, paving the way for it to be rolled out on the NHS within the next few weeks.

Announcing the findings, Pfizer's chief executive Albert Bourla said: 'Today's news is a real game-changer in the global efforts to halt the devastation of this pandemic.

'These data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate, if approved or authorized by regulatory authorities, has the potential to save patients' lives, reduce the severity of Covid infections, and eliminate up to nine out of ten hospitalizations.'

Pfizer's drug, part of a class known as protease inhibitors, is designed to block an enzyme the coronavirus needs in order to multiply.

It is given with ritonavir to make sure it stays active in the body for a longer period of time.

Merck's molnupiravir has a different mechanism of action designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus.

It's hoped that the drug will be bulletproof against new variants because it targets an enzyme produce in the body.

Pfizer's drug is part of a class known as protease inhibitors. It is designed to block an enzyme the coronavirus needs in order to multiply. Like protease inhibitors used to treat HIV, it is given in combination with other antivirals.

How effective is it?

A recent trial of the pill in more than 1,200 found that it cut hospitalisation and death rates by 87 per cent in people at high risk of a severe illness from Covid.

It should be given as soon as possible after catching Covid, ideally within three to five days.

Vaccines, which are being made slightly weaker by new strains of the virus, work by targeting the spike protein and were designed to tackle the original virus.

Because a lot of evolution happens on the spike protein, the immune systems of vaccinated people sometimes find it more difficult to recognise new variants.

Pfizer said Paxlovid works best when given to a patient within three days of testing positive.

The study of the pill included around 1,200 patients who were mostly vaccinated and had recently tested positive.

It looked at patients with at least one risk factor for developing severe disease, such as obesity or older age.

It found that 0.8 per cent of those given Pfizer's drug were hospitalised and none had died by 28 days after treatment.

For comparison, the hospitalisation rate stood at 7 per cent for the patients given a placebo. There were also seven deaths in the placebo group.

Annaliesa Anderson, head of the Pfizer programme, said: 'We saw that we did have high efficacy, even if it was five days after a patient has been treated.

'People might wait a couple of days before getting a test... and this means we have time to treat people and really provide a benefit from a public health perspective.'

The company did not detail side effects of the treatment, but said adverse events happened in about a fifth of both treatment and placebo patients.

Pfizer is also studying whether its pill could be used by people without risk factors for serious Covid as well as to prevent coronavirus infection in people exposed to the virus.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: 'Incredible results from Pfizer showing their antiviral medicine cuts the risk of hospitalisation or death from COVID-19 by almost 90 per cent.

'We have procured 250,000 doses of this promising treatment on behalf of the whole UK and our independent medicines regulator, the MHRA, will now assess its safety, quality and effectiveness.

'If approved, this could be another significant weapon in our armoury to fight the virus alongside our vaccines and other treatments, including molnupiravir, which the UK was the first country in the world to approve this week.'