Friday, April 08, 2022

A doctor explains why you haven’t caught Covid yet

I haven't had it yet. I have been double vaxxed but that was relatively recently and I had plenty of exposure before that. So I think I am not going to get it in the future. I am not bothering about a booster. I do seem to have an unusually good immune system. It has even defeated some cancers -- JR

By now, it’s likely you’ve either had Covid or you’ve been a close contact of somebody who did. If you’re in the latter group and you haven’t caught it yourself, chances are you’re feeling very smug right now — but scientists are trying to work out why.

Australian National University lecturer and epidemiologist Dr Katrina Roper suggests there are three main factors that could be helping you avoid Covid.

Your immunity

Yes, of course, your immunity may just be better suited to avoiding Covid, or if you’re vaccinated and have been exposed, your vaccine may have been working more strongly at the time.

“Immunity to infection varies between people,” Dr Roper explained to “For example, compare the immune level of a younger person versus an elderly person.

“Immunity can also vary according to a person’s health status at any point in time. If a person is stressed — be that emotionally or physically — this can lead to reduced immunity and increased susceptibility to illness”.

While many scientists are talking about underlying health conditions, obesity and old age being the main factors that make a person more susceptible, Roper says that even the healthiest among us could be suffering from a weakened immune system.

“Even elite athletes, if they start over training, can stress their body and result in reduced immunity — despite being very fit for their sport”.

The circumstances of your exposure

I caught Covid at the start of this year from my boyfriend, when we were isolating in a studio apartment, but I know lots of people who avoided the virus despite being in close proximity with infected people.

We’ve all heard of boyfriends who never caught it from their girlfriend even though they live together. Or six-year-old boys who never passed it on to their sister or parents, despite them catching nearly every other cold under the sun from him.

So why are some people so lucky? Roper suggests it can have a lot to do with factors other than immunity.

“In households, there would also be other factors,” she explained, “such as how much time one person spends in close proximity to an infected person in comparison with another.

“The size of the household would also have an impact on why there is more transmission in some homes compared with another. Two people living in a one-bedroom apartment is not the same as two people living in a three-bedroom house, and their opportunities for exposure will be different”.

Prior infections

As it turns out, previous infections of any kind may have helped you escape Covid, according to research.

“Having a prior infection to another cold virus can confer some protection to Covid, or other respiratory viruses,” said Roper.

”Exposure to other respiratory viruses can prime parts of the immune system, leading to better defence against infection by the SARS CoV-2 infection”.

It’s not a foolproof system, however. Roper notes that some virus can live in your body together — like influenza and SARS CoV-2.

Of course, there’s also a good chance you did have Covid and just didn’t realise it, according to Immunologist, Professor Stuart Tangye.

“When we first started doing PCR testing, it was really done on symptomatic people … so we were obviously missing a lot of those asymptomatic people,” Tangye told the ABC.

“I’m sure we missed a lot of positive cases over December and January too, where there was a supply and demand problem in terms of getting tests”.

Or, it could just be your genetics

Earlier in 2022, UK researchers performed the first human-challenge trial of its kind for Covid.

The study found 36 young and healthy people who had no evidence of previous Covid infection or vaccination. It exposed all 36 of these people to the virus, and only about half of them actually caught it — which was defined by two positive PCR tests in a row.

Of those who didn’t catch Covid, about half of them did briefly show low levels of the virus. This suggests their immune systems shut it down pretty quickly.

“There’s probably a few people … who would have a really strong innate immune response [that] just quells the infection, without enabling the virus to get too far ahead,” said Tangye.

“There are going to be people who are less susceptible to viral infection because they have differences in their genes, such as genes that are important for viral entry into your cells”.

Although that group would be very small, Tangye also suggested this wasn’t the first time some people have been found to have a genetic resistance to diseases.

“With HIV, for example, there is a very, very small number of people who are genetically resistant to infection,” he said.

“That’s because they have naturally occurring genetic mutations in a certain gene so the virus can’t physically infect their T cells.”

So maybe you’re genetically lucky, but more likely you were just lucky at the time of your exposure to Covid — or never realised when you had it.


New Verdict in Capitol Riot Case Throws a Wrench Into Political Narrative

A federal defense contractor who had been charged with four misdemeanors for walking into the Capitol on Jan. 6, fought the charges and was acquitted on all counts today by Judge Trevor McFadden. Matthew Martin was charged with: entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, as well as parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.

But Martin didn’t commit any violence or break into the building. He argued that he believed that the Capitol Police had allowed him into the building, and he just walked in.

From Politico:

McFadden said that, based on video of the scene, that assertion was at least “plausible” and that prosecutors failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“People were streaming by and the officers made no attempt to stop the people,” said the judge [….]

“I do think the defendant reasonably believed the officers allowed him into the Capitol,” the judge said.

McFadden said that the government did not show any evidence of Martin crossing police lines, and that Martin’s “conduct was about as minimal….as I can imagine.”

This is a significant verdict. While some are charged with more serious offenses, many of the people charged for Jan. 6 offenses are in a similar position to Martin — they didn’t do much beyond walk into the building. Some have argued — as Martin did — that the police let them in.

McFadden has pointed out disparities in the way Jan. 6 defendants have been treated in the past. He said that he thinks there is a difference in the way that the prosecutors are handling the Jan. 6 cases versus cases in the past (that may have involved leftist protesters).

“It does feel like the government has had two standards here, and I can’t abide by that,” McFadden said. The judge added that before Jan. 6, 2021, he could not remember seeing a nonviolent, first-time misdemeanant “sentenced to serious jail time … regardless of their race, gender or political affiliation.”

But in the case of Jenny Cudd, McFadden said the prosecution had asked for 75 days in jail for misdemeanor trespassing on Jan. 6. But meanwhile, the judge noted the same prosecutors’ office asked for 10 days in jail in the case of a repeat offender activist Tighe Barry connected to the left-wing group Code Pink.

The judge said that the same prosecutor’s office in 2019 sought 10 days behind bars for Barry, who stood on a chair, held up a poster, and shouted at senators from the back row in one of Kavanaugh’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in September 2018, and returned to protest three weeks later in violation of a stay-away order.

“The government’s sentencing recommendation here is just so disproportionate to other sentences for people who have engaged in similar conduct,” said McFadden, who added that Barry, a frequent demonstrator with 14 prior arrests, had accidentally knocked a chair into a bystander when Capitol Police arrested him. “I don’t believe in some sort of aggregate justice.”

We’ve seen another judge question the treatment of Jan. 6 defendants in the past.

McFadden’s decision, in this case, is likely to throw a wrench into the political narrative about the riot — and it’s already causing some on the left to melt down.




Thursday, April 07, 2022

The State and Local Leaders Who Aren’t Ready to Give Up Pandemic Power

While many government leaders sound the all clear message on COVID-19, dropping vaccine restrictions and mask mandates, some states and municipalities are clinging to the emergency powers that allowed them to govern people's behavior in unprecedented ways.

Citing the need to direct emergency funding and oversee hospitals, they have held on to their emergency orders even as many restaurants, shopping centers, and sports arenas are once again packed and lingering pandemic concerns have faded into the background of a more normal life.

Emergency orders at the state level are usually issued in response to temporary threats, especially weather disasters, and are wrapped up in a few days or weeks. Soon after the new coronavirus exploded in March 2020, most governors issued broad executive orders. Under these powers, governors banned crowds, closed businesses, and imposed mask and vaccination mandates. They have also deferred to unelected public health officials in imposing restrictions.

Critical lawmakers are now challenging the power to take such sweeping actions – and keep the measures in place indefinitely – saying pandemic lockdowns exposed leaders’ unduly stringent authoritarian impulses.  

Ruling by decree over an extended period during the pandemic “is part of a broader move to condense power to the executive branch,” said Nick Murray, policy analyst at the conservative Maine Policy Institute, who has studied emergency policies. “You see these things come into play during a crisis and then [remain in place] to give more executive power,” Murray said. “It’s a theme that has devolved into bureaucracy.”

In Nevada, the state of emergency has been declared in perpetuity, even as state lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to pass measures limiting the authority of Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.

In Kansas, the emergency authority of Gov. Laura Kelly, also a Democrat, extends to January 2023. She has clung to the order even as the state’s director of public health – a now-estranged former political ally – questioned the need for a continued state of emergency.

And in North Carolina, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in November vetoed legislation that would require wider input from elected leaders if he wished to continue his ability to issue restrictions under a declared emergency. The Republican-controlled legislature got around the veto by attaching provisions to the state’s budget bill, which prevent Cooper from again declaring a state emergency and exercising singular authority for longer than 30 days. Yet Cooper last week extended the emergency due to expire in April even as cases waned. 

Lawmakers in most states have either passed laws or introduced legislation aimed at curtailing governors’ emergency authority. These laws include prohibiting mask mandates and business closures and set time limits on emergency orders.

Twelve states, seven of them with a Democratic governor and legislature, have emergency orders still in place. The remaining states have either ended their emergency or have announced a date to terminate it.  

Supporters of an extended emergency, which include many in the health care field, argue that the effort to limit the ability of governors and health care officials to respond to future crises is dangerous.

“You can’t have this sweeping legislation based on a single event,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, which represents workers in 2,800 municipal public health offices and which issued a report last year criticizing legislative moves to rein in the authority of public health officials and governors. “There is a balance that can be found, but some of these have gone to the opposite end of the spectrum that allows them to prohibit [health officials] from doing anything.”

Jason Mercier, director of the right-leaning Center for Government Reform in Washington State, largely agrees with Freeman. “We’re not as worried about emergency orders; it’s the restrictions that need to be subject to legislative oversight,” he said.

States have varying laws regarding the ending of emergency power; in some states, only the governor can end an emergency. In others, legislators can. Mercier noted that in his state, where the party of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee also controls the statehouse, a state of emergency can be extended indefinitely and has been, with Inslee insisting he can rule without agreement from any other officials.

“What we have here is one person behind closed doors enacting policy,” Mercier said.

The struggle over emergency powers is also happening within states. Some cities and counties also declared emergencies in early 2020, using them to enact local restrictions, often in political clashes with state leadership they did not agree with.

In Texas, leaders in mostly urban cities and counties have ignored Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 rules, insisting they have the right under a local state of emergency to impose masking and other measures. Abbott contends he has full authority to issue emergency orders, which void local mandates declared under the same state emergency statute. Legal battles have moved through the court system since summer 2021.

Some municipalities, like the city of Phoenix, have refused to set a date to lift the declaration. City Council spokeswoman Stephanie Barnes did not respond to an email seeking comment.

“Most existing emergency management statutes, with some exceptions, are blunt instruments,” said Luke Wake, an attorney with the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation. The conservative group represented several businesses in legal battles to remain open.

“The orders are either on or off, but as long as they remain in place the governor has all of the power,” Wake said. “This experience has taught us that we need to rethink how broad the powers we give these people are. Most people had never looked at this, and [COVID-19] gave us all a good reason to do so.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom locked down people and closed businesses under the state’s emergency powers act, which remains in place despite persistent calls by mostly Republican forces for it to be removed.

Dozens of lawsuits challenging emergency authority have been filed against governors of both political stripes. The plaintiffs run from business owners and open meetings advocates to regular citizens who insist emergency powers used in some places are unconstitutional. Many of these cases have been settled as restrictions ended or agreements were struck.

Wake and the Pacific Legal Foundation are handling the case of Ghost Golf, an indoor recreation center in Fresno that challenged Newsom’s order to close. Several other businesses also sued the state to remain open, but dropped their cases when Newsom allowed businesses to open in June 2021. The Ghost Golf case continues, however.

“The governor lifted the restrictions, but he could reimpose those at any point as long as the emergency exists,” Wake said. “With every variant, people have to worry that the reason the governor hasn’t allowed it to lapse is to make it possible for him to take the same action again.”

In Michigan, it took a 4-3 state Supreme Court ruling to remove the vast emergency powers invoked by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which she used to issue sweeping and detailed restrictions in the first year of the pandemic. At one point, her orders prohibited residents from purchasing specific “nonessential” items, including house paint, while the state’s recreational marijuana dispensaries were allowed to remain open.

Whitmer sidestepped the court ruling by handing over those same powers to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, where a political appointee and public health official enforced her orders. A group calling itself Unlock Michigan has battled Whitmer and her administration, filing petitions challenging the authority of her and her health department.

“To upend society and destroy people’s business, you should get some elected officials involved,” Fred Wszolek, a spokesman for the group, said. “We want whoever takes control in an emergency to have checks and balances.”

The authoritarian impulses of governors are not limited to Democrats. When legislatures in three GOP-controlled states passed bills curbing the emergency powers of chief executives, the Republican governors of Ohio, North Dakota, and Indiana vetoed the bills. Those vetoes were successfully overridden, however, and enacted into state law.

Proponents of strong emergency powers also claim that because legislatures in most states are not full time, a prompt response to a crisis requires that a single individual be able to designate a situation as a lethal health crisis.

Yet, four of the states with the most extensive restrictions during the pandemic all have full-time legislatures. All four (Michigan, California, New York, and Pennsylvania) are led by Democratic governors, although two of them – Michigan and Pennsylvania – have Republican-controlled legislatures.

Andy Baker-White, senior director for state health policy for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, noted in a recent legislative briefing to association members that maintaining legal authority to impose mask-wearing and other restrictions is “crucial” to preparing for outbreaks.

Baker-White said in an interview with RCI that some of the proposals to limit emergency authority “are like tying a hand behind your back before getting into the boxing ring.”

“These powers and authorities are part of the toolbox to prevent the spread of infectious disease,” he added. “These often need to be flexible and swift when dealing with these diseases. Limiting these powers can have an impact on the ability to respond, and without an adequate response, a disease can cause more harm.”

The flexibility to govern in an authoritarian fashion, though, is exactly what is being targeted by state lawmakers around the U.S.

“It’s so bonkers that any legislature did not put an expire time on these emergency orders,” said Wszolek of Unlock Michigan. “When you consider what these powers allow, we really need to think about that. This is a muscle that really got used.”


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

<a href=""></a> (EDUCATION WATCH)

<a href=""></a> (GREENIE WATCH)


<a href=""></a> (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

<a href=""></a> (TONGUE-TIED)


Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Russia Threatens to Limit Vital Exports of Agriculture Products to ‘Friendly’ Countries Only

A senior Russian government official has threatened to limit exports of agriculture products to “friendly” countries only amid sanctions from Western nations in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

Dmitry Medvedev, who previously served as Russia’s president from 2008 to 2012 and is now deputy secretary of the country’s security council, took to Telegram on April 1 where he warned of the potential move.

Medvedev said that many counties depend on supplies of food from Russia, a major global wheat exporter, writing: “It turns out that our food is our quiet weapon. Quiet but ominous,” according to Breitbart.

“The priority in food supplies is our domestic market. And price control,” he continued. “We will supply food and crops only to our friends (fortunately, we have a lot of them, and they are not at all in Europe and not in North America). We will sell both for rubles and for their national currency in agreed proportions.”

He then explained that Russia would not supply products and agricultural products to those countries it deems as “enemies.”

“And we won’t buy anything from them (although we haven’t bought anything since 2014, but the list of products prohibited for import can be further expanded),” he continued. Russia previously imposed a ban on imports of certain agricultural products from the EU and other Western countries in 2014 after its annexation of Crimea.

Russia serves as a major global exporter of several commodities, including sunflower oil, barley, and wheat; the latter of which it mainly supplies to Africa and the Middle East.

It is the world’s largest exporter of wheat, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, having exported $10.1B in wheat in 2020 alone, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic and various supply chain issues.

The European Union and Ukraine are its main competitors in the wheat trade, which manifests as items such as pasta, bread, cereal, and fried foods for consumers.

A ban on exports of certain agriculture products to so-called “unfriendly” countries could put further pressure on those nations that are already bracing for potential food shortages resulting from the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent western sanctions.

Speaking of possible shortages, U.S. President Joe Biden said during a press conference at the White House on March 24 that “it’s going to be real,” noting that “the price of these sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia, it’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well.”

Biden said the United States and Canada may need to boost their food production to avoid shortages in Europe and other places.

However, it is unlikely that the United States would likely experience any significant shortages, whereas European countries that are more dependent on Russia for imports, as well as less economically developed nations, could see fewer products on supermarket shelves.

Medvedev’s remark comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin set a deadline for customers from “unfriendly” countries, which includes all member states of the European Union, to start paying for Russian gas deliveries in roubles or face being cut off.

Multiple European buyers of Russian energy have so far refused to comply with the demand. However, Slovakia’s minister of the economy on Sunday said his country is willing to do so.


The personal effects of inflation and how it creates recessions

By David Potter

Historically speaking, high inflation—greater than 5 percent—has always preceded many of the recessions in the United States. The causality follows a simple chain of events. Household budgets for items such as housing, food, and energy are fixed — or at least rigid — for most Americans. When these costs rise, income must be reallocated to these three categories from different areas of one’s budget such as entertainment, travel, and other non-essentials.

Unfortunately, with overall inflation up 7.9 percent the last twelve months — the worst since 1982 — it is reasonable to expect Americans will begin to restrict their spending and enter survival mode.

Housing costs have been on the rise for years after falling during the financial crisis. 2021 was exceptionally expensive for renters and homebuyers. The national average cost of rent was 10.1 percent higher in 2021 than in 2020. Additionally, rent costs grew 5 times faster in 2021 than 2020. Even more shocking, the national average of home prices increased 19 percent in 2021. In the 50 years since this metric has been tracked, a yearly increase like this has never happened before. Combine this with the fact that the dollar lost 4.7 percent purchasing power last year and you have a recipe for impending economic and financial trouble.

Personally, my rent has increased 7.7 percent from last year. Witnessing one’s salary become less useful is demoralizing. During the last major recession in 2008, I was 18, in college, and very poor even for a college student’s standards. Living off campus, I vividly remember not being able to socialize as much as I’d like outside of class as my beater Chevrolet costed too much to fill the tank. Ramen noodles became an even larger staple of my diet.

Now, in my early 30s, the 2021 inflation hits different. The inflation from the 2008 financial crisis most substantially affected my day-to-day living. Today, the major impact of the 2021 inflation is on my future. As with most Americans my age, my current ability to invest, save for retirement, save for a home down payment, and pay off student loan debt has been decreased. It’s not that I can no longer do these things, but the speed at which I can achieve financial milestones has been diminished.

While housing is typically the most expensive item in a person’s or family’s budget, the 2021 increase in food costs was substantial. Prices for at home food increased 7.4 percent and prices for food away from home increased 6.4 percent. Even more expensive, the price of meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 12.2 percent.

While inflation greatly impacts the prices of gas and housing, it also makes groceries more expensive. For American families, this can be a serious problem, as food is often in the top 5 expenses in the household budget. During times of economic recession, inflation can be a major contributing factor to rising poverty rates. This is because families must spend more of their income on basic necessities like food, leaving less money for other essentials like healthcare and education.

For me, I’ve still been able to buy all the foods I regularly consumed in 2020 and 2021, but I have had to trim my budget in other areas to continue to do this. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts is one of my favorite simple, healthy meats to eat. In my area, the cost of 3 pieces (1.5 pounds) increased from $7 to $9.50. My favorite caffeinated beverages such as cold brew coffee (privileged, I know) increased as much as 20 percent. Even though I am unhappy about the increased prices, economic downturns and inflation force me to remember that life is easier in America (for most people) during the bad times than it is during the best of times in some poor, less fortunate countries.

Perhaps one of the most apparent signs of inflation is the 40 percent price increase of gas. Historically, it’s common for inflation and the cost of crude oil to be positively correlated. One contributing factor is the increased transportation costs of fuel and energy during inflation. Natural gas costs rose 23.9 percent in 2021. Electricity prices rose 10.7 percent. As a result, people will travel less and reconsider their thermostat settings at home. Less travel in general equates to brick-and-mortar businesses receiving less traffic and income.

Thankfully, the cost of my lease covers electricity, so I haven’t had to make any drastic changes there. Gas, however, is a different story. I am now less likely to go explore new places within my region of the state and within my city. I am also more hesitant to plan long-distance trips to visit family and friends. I miss the gas prices of the Trump days. I could go exploring with less guilt and not thinking about it as much.

In summary, inflation is the gradual loss of purchasing power of a currency. Inflationary effects can be seen in the prices of goods and services, which rise over time as the currency loses value. The financial pressure created by inflation forces average Americans to decrease their spending.

It’s happening right now. Less spending means less money re-entering the economy. Before we know it, as consumer spending takes a hit prices stayed too high for too long, soon businesses will be laying people off and some even closing their doors — leading to the next recession.


The Moron's gun control call out of touch with reality

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in response to President Joe Biden's call for federal gun control after a shooting in Sacramento, California left six dead:

"President Joe Biden's predictable call for gun control in the wake of the murder of six people in Sacramento, California demonstrates that the President does not have any actual functioning tools in his anti-crime toolbox. California has amongst the most restrictive requirements regulating the individual ownership of firearms in the nation, and to try to mirror those laws on a national level in response to their failure in the Golden State is beyond absurd. Perhaps the President should reevaluate the turnkey criminal justice system advocated by himself and his political allies that puts police on trial rather than criminals in order to get to the root of the dramatic increase in homicides and gang activity since he took office and to reestablish the rule of law in America."




Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Covid-19 first-of-its-kind study saw volunteers infected for science

The first “controlled investigation” of Covid-19 has been carried out and it has allowed researchers to dispel a widespread myth about the way people become infected.

The human challenge study involved people being deliberately infected with a virus — in this case it was SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

The study, published last week in the journal Nature Medicine, found that only the most minuscule amount of the virus is needed to infect a person — as much as a single airborne droplet from a person sneezing, coughing or talking.

It also found that, despite what most people have been told, viral shedding and transmissibility occur at high levels when a person is infected regardless of whether they have severe or mild symptoms.

Researchers from University College London Hospital, Imperial College London and the University of Oxford, among others, were also able to bust another myth, one pushed mostly by anti-maskers.

They found the virus is “present at significantly higher (levels) in the nose than the throat”, a finding they said provides “clear evidence that emphasises the critical importance of wearing face coverings over the nose as well as the mouth”.

“Deliberate human infection of low-risk volunteers enables the exact longitudinal measurement of viral kinetics, immunological responses, transmission dynamics and duration of infectious shedding after a fixed dose of a well-characterised virus,” authors wrote.

“Experimental challenge with human pathogens requires careful ethical scrutiny and regulation but can deliver unparalleled information that may inform clinical policy and refinement of infection control measures.”

Those “unparalleled findings” were made possible thanks to 36 volunteers aged between 18-30 years.

The participants were each given a dose of the virus via a small tube into their nose, then housed in a high-containment quarantine unit at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust with 24-hour close medical monitoring and full access to clinical care.

Researchers found that 18 participants — equating to 53 per cent — became infected with a viral load “rising steeply and peaking five days after inoculation”.

They said the virus was “first detected in the throat but rose to significantly higher levels in the nose”.

“Viable virus was recoverable from the nose up to 10 days after inoculation, on average.”

The researchers found that most of those who became infected recovered quickly. There were no serious adverse events and “mild-to-moderate symptoms were reported by 16 (of the 18) infected participants”.

The other two who were infected remained asymptomatic.

The researchers also looked at how Covid-19 impacts a person’s sense of smell.

They used smell identification tests with help from the University of Pennsylvania and found that 15 of the 18 participants who were infected reported “some degree of smell disturbance”.

Nine participants experienced complete smell loss, known as anosmia, but researchers said they “improved noticeably before day 28”.

Six months after the study ended, one of the participants has still not regained their full smell.


Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Results Not Strong Enough to Warrant Authorization for Children: Experts

Regulators in the United States and elsewhere should not clear Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for children based on a clinical trial that found the shot under 50 percent effective in preventing infection, experts say.

Moderna is pushing for emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its jab for kids as young as 6 months of age, based on the results of the trial.

The decision to authorize would mean some 20 million of the youngest children in America could get a COVID-19 vaccine for the first time since the pandemic started.

Some parents and experts want that to happen sooner rather than later and are willing to accept less than ideal results. But others aren’t convinced that most of the age group needs a vaccine, especially a shot that doesn’t perform well against emerging variants.

While some children have died or gotten seriously ill from COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus, their vulnerability is much smaller compared with older people, and most youth experience mild or no symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A recently published study found T-cells, a form of protection, worked better against the virus in infant mice than in adult mice; while another concluded infants and toddlers who contract the virus have a superior immune response when compared to adults.

The very low risk of severe COVID-19 for children presents a much different risk-benefit calculus, experts say.

Particularly for children, “you’ve really got to show the benefits markedly outweigh any risks,” Dr. Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician at Canberra Hospital, told The Epoch Times over Zoom.

In 5- to 11-year-olds, for instance, a British government panel determined that 2 million vaccine doses would prevent as few as 17 hospitalizations due to acute COVID-19. Amid a less severe future variant, some 4 million doses would be needed to prevent a single intensive care unit admission.

“No prospective clinical or epidemiological data that I am aware of has been provided to show that younger age groups [tested] in the Moderna study would fare any differently,” Dr. David Gortler, an FDA policy oversight fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center who used to work for the FDA, told The Epoch Times in an email.

Does the Trial Meet Regulatory Standards?

The trial from which Moderna announced interim results is called KidCOVE. It involves two groups: children 6 months of age to under 2 years, and children 2 years of age to 5 years.

The U.S.-based company, on March 23, released a summary of interim data, announcing the trial met its endpoint, which was a certain threshold of neutralizing antibody response in both age groups after receiving a two-dose series of the vaccine.

The results were so positive that “we are working with the U.S. FDA and regulators globally to submit these data as soon as possible,” Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO, said in a statement.

But the actual clinical impact was substandard.

During the wave driven by the Omicron virus variant, the vaccine was just 43.7 percent effective in the youngest group, and 37.5 percent effective in the other children.

Both measures are lower than the 50 percent bars established by the FDA and the World Health Organization for emergency authorization.

“That’s not acceptable by the FDA’s own standards,” Dr. Steven Hatfill, a virologist who advised the Trump administration, told The Epoch Times.

“Our approach has always been to conduct a regulatory review that’s responsive to the urgent public health needs created by the pandemic, while adhering to our rigorous standards for safety and effectiveness. While we cannot comment on any submissions pending before the agency, we remain committed to conducting a timely and thorough evaluation of the available data and information on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in the youngest children,” Alison Hunt, an FDA spokeswoman, told The Epoch Times in an email.

Moderna did not respond to requests for comment.


Long Covid a serious problem

By the end of the year, modelling suggests tens of thousands of Australians will have experienced lingering symptoms of the virus.

Health economist Professor Martin Hensher warns that long COVID poses a serious public health threat and critical data is missing.

“At the moment we really have no idea of the extent of long COVID in Australia,” he said. “We are flying pretty blind.

Professor Hensher, who worked alongside a team modelling long COVID at Deakin University, estimates that at 12 weeks post infection, anywhere between 80,000 and 325,000 of the more than two million Australians infected during the first Omicron wave alone will have ongoing symptoms.

And, while a large proportion are predicted to recover within six months, thousands are expected to experience persistent symptoms.

He is part of a growing chorus of experts calling for the urgent rollout of a national survey to measure the scale of long COVID in Australia and a database to track symptoms.

In Australia, up to 30 per cent of seriously ill COVID-19 patients have reported at least one symptom persisting after six months. The most common symptom was shortness of breath, but others included fatigue, headaches and a loss of taste or smell.

Ms Costello, who was double vaccinated six months before contracting the virus, and before boosters were approved, is one of an estimated more than 90,000 Australians who have a smell or taste disorder after six months.

The figure in Australia is far below other parts of the world where Delta was the prevalent variant.

Studies have found up to 60 per cent of people who had Delta lost their sense of smell and/or taste, compared to one in five with Omicron, the most common variant in Australia. About two per cent of those people will have impaired senses long term.

People’s experiences range from complete or partial loss to distorted and imagined senses. Some people complain certain foods taste like garbage or rotting meat, while others can smell faeces or smoke when neither are nearby. Ms Costello often gets phantom garbage smells.

Exactly why this occurs is still unknown, but there is an emerging consensus, including by a team studying the phenomena at Harvard Medical School, that smell loss occurs when the coronavirus infects cells that support neurons in the nose.

To the frustration of sufferers, there is no easy cure for olfactory dysfunction.




Monday, April 04, 2022

Covid-19 outbreak: New XE variant possibly 10 per cent more transmissible than Omicron

The World Health Organisation is keeping an eye on a new strain of the Covid-19 Omicron variant which appears to be 10 per cent more transmissible than the Omicron variant.

XE was first detected in the United Kingdom on January 19 and over 600 cases have been reported and confirmed since.

The United Kingdom‘s Health Security Agency has said it is monitoring XE along with two other recombinants, XD and XF, which are made up of the Delta and BA.1 strains.

Meanwhile, China reported 13,000 Covid cases on Sunday, the most since the peak of the first pandemic wave over two years ago, as health officials said they have detected the new strain in the Shanghai area.

Officials in Suzhou, a city 30 minutes west of Shanghai, have detected a mutation of the Omicron variant not found in local or international databases, state media reported on Sunday.

“This means a new variant of Omicron has been discovered locally,” Xinhua said, citing health official Zhang Jun, deputy director of the Suzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here is what we know so far about the new variant.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSCA) said it was studying XE – a mutation of the BA. 1 and BA. 2 Omicron strains, referred to as a “recombinant”.

The new strain was first detected in the UK as of January 19 this year and is the most dominant strain at present, accounting for about 86 per cent of all the recent Covid cases.

The prevalence of Covid-19 in the UK has reached record levels, with about 1 in 13 people estimated to be infected with the virus in the past week, according to the latest figures.

Professor Susan Hopkins, the UKHSA’s chief medical Adviser transition lead, said that recombinant variants are not uncommon and usually die off “relatively quickly”.

“This particular recombinant, XE, has shown a variable growth rate and we cannot yet confirm whether it has a true growth advantage,“ Ms Hopkins said.

“So far there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about transmissibility, severity or vaccine effectiveness.”


Despite UK experts saying it is too soon to determine its transmissibility than previous strains, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned XE may be the he most transmissible variant of SARS-CoV2 yet.

A recombinant variant occurs when an individual becomes infected with two or more variants at the same time, resulting in a mixing of their genetic material within a patient’s body.

This is not an unusual occurrence and several recombinant SARS-CoV-2 variants have been identified over the course of the pandemic, the UK scientists say.

However, it is important to monitor such variants closely to identify recombinants that may have immune-escape properties, meaning they can cause Covid-19 infection even in those who have been infected previously or those who have been vaccinated.

The global health body noted that until they can detect “significant” differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, XE will remain categorised as part of the Omicron variant.

The newest variant of coronavirus does not lead to any severe symptoms, but it spreads rapidly.

Fatigue and dizziness are some of the initial symptoms, followed by headaches, sore throat, muscle soreness and fever.

But the most common symptoms of coronavirus such as the loss of smell and taste are rarely reported in people affected with the new Omicron variant.

Some other possible gastrointestinal signs like diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stomach ache and others are quite common.


The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has identified two other new strains besides from the XE variant.

These two new recombinant strains have been given the names of XD and XF, with XD being a hybrid of Delta and BA. 1 variants of Omicron and XF being a combination of the UK Delta virus and the BA. 1 virus.

XD has been mostly detected in France, Denmark and Belgium and XF has been predominantly detected in Britain.


An interesting email just in

Welcome to Year 3 of the Chinese Virus. Here are some thoughts as we begin a new year under the Biden Build Back Broke Disintegration Plan:

* According to the American Petroleum Institute, we have enough oil in North America to fuel every single passenger car and long-haul truck for the next 430 years. We have enough natural gas to provide electricity for every business and household for the next 535 years and enough coal to provide electricity for about 500 years. So, don’t you think that in 430 years we will have developed alternative fuel sources? Why then did Joe Biden sacrifice America’s energy independence, cease all exploration for oil and gas, abandon pipeline development and drive up prices of gasoline, heating oil, and jet fuel and make us once again dependent on foreign oil?

* Isn’t it curious that in some states like California, Washington, Illinois, and New York, shoplifting of items less than $950 is not a crime but the Biden Build Back Better Spendalooza calls for hiring 87,000 IRS agents to monitor individual banking transactions of $600 or more? Fascinating.

* Someone needs to educate me as to how we are going to produce all the batteries needed to facilitate a transition away from fossil fuels to battery-driven vehicles when the basic ingredients for batteries are all found in rare minerals such as lithium, cobalt, and zinc and others, all of which must be mined in countries not exactly friendly to us. Also, if you have ever driven on the Cross Bronx Expressway or the 405 in Southern California and were stuck in traffic, how exactly will the repair truck reach a disabled vehicle before their battery dies…along with the batteries of all the other vehicles in traffic?

* When will construction start to build the 500,000 battery charging stations Joe Biden told us about? Where will they be situated? Won’t they be powered by burning fossil fuels?

* If you ever feel like you haven’t accomplished anything, try to remember that it took 20 years, thousands of dead American soldiers, trillions of dollars and four Presidents to replace the Taliban in Afghanistan with………. the Taliban.

* If you feel your job is hard and you are unappreciated, think about the poor slob who serves as the sign language interpreter for Joe Biden.

* Let me try to understand this: we can’t seem to find illegals to deport, but we can sure find them to give them money! How does that work?

* If there was a barnyard election, the pigs would always vote for the person that feeds them and gives them treats, even though that same person is going to slaughter them someday. That same philosophy is the very definition of socialism.

* Memo to Generation Z and the Woke Generation: The Stars and Stripes that fly over our Nation’s Capital and are wrapped around the coffins of our honored dead who sacrificed their lives to keep us free, is my Flag. I will never apologize for it. The Flag does not stand for skin color, race, or religion. It stands for freedom. Never forget that!

If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools. -- Plato


Don’t Cancel All Russians for Putin’s Crimes

Not even the famed Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who was a Soviet stooge, and the equally fabled German conductor Herbert von Karajan, who was a Nazi fellow traveller, were “canceled” in the West the way Russian artists, athletes, performers, and cultural icons are being censored, bullied, and shamed in the United States and Europe due to Vladimir Putin’s criminal actions in Ukraine.

Did we learn nothing about the immorality of attributing collective guilt from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order setting up internment camps for American residents and citizens of Japanese descent in the U.S. during World War II?

The current “cancel” onslaught is indiscriminately hurting both Russians who openly oppose Putin’s immoral war and those whose political views aren’t known: people who likely have kept quiet out of fear. And fear they probably should, based on Putin’s recent tirade calling those who oppose his war “scum and traitors” and calling for the “cleansing” (or “self-detoxification”) of Russian society.

But some in the West are acting irrationally as well. Betraying a collectivist, almost totalitarian mentality, many in the West have decided that Putin incarnates the entire Russian people and that anyone of Russian origin should be held accountable for the cruelty of a tyrant whose actions they cannot stop.

The European Union, for example, has canceled all official sports and cultural events involving Russians and told cultural associations and sports federations that they are not to take measures against any private entity that bans an event involving Russian players or artists.

Anna Netrebko, perhaps the greatest living operatic soprano, has been forced to give up performances at La Scala in Italy, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and at various other venues due to her personal relationship with Putin—despite her public statements opposing the war. Referring to the fact that many of her colleagues have been canceled because they didn’t condemn Russia immediately and forcefully enough, she has protested that “forcing artists and any public figure to publicly express their political views and condemn their homeland is unacceptable.”

Although some, such as Kirill Petrenko, director of the Berlin Philharmonic, have attacked Putin (he has been able to keep his job), others have not. One wishes they all had, since a tragedy of the magnitude befalling Ukraine should entail a moral obligation to take a stance no matter the risk.

But not every artist and athlete is a hero, and we don’t know whether some of those who have been silent, and whom we are holding responsible for Putin’s actions, may have relatives who are being forced to fight in Ukraine and justifiably might fear that attacking Putin or the Russian government could cause them harm—not from Ukrainian resistance fighters but from Putin subordinates.

So the canceling continues.

Young athletes from Russian sports clubs now banned from all international competitions may themselves face the horrific prospect of having to fight in a war they do not even understand. How do we justify placing on their shoulders the blame for Putin’s genocidal bombardment of Ukrainian cities?

Alexander Malofeev, the 20-year-old piano virtuoso, was not allowed to perform in Canada. The Cannes film festival has announced it will not be showing Russian movies. London’s Royal Opera House has canceled a season of performances by the Bolshoi Ballet. A lecture on Dostoevsky was suspended in Milan, even though the professor, Paolo Nori, is ... Italian!

The “canceling” goes beyond culture and sports: Representatives Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) have urged the Biden administration to expel all Russian students attending U.S. colleges, and not a day goes by without someone boycotting Russian vodka (although, ironically, several popular brands aren’t Russian at all—such as Smirnoff, which is made by a British company and distilled in the United States). Are we really supposed to believe that the cause of freedom, civilization, and humanity will be advanced by taking revenge on the fewer than 5,000 Russian students attending U.S. colleges and universities?

Russia’s contribution to the arts, and therefore to civilization in the 19th and 20th centuries, was nothing short of phenomenal. We do not hurt Russia as much as we hurt ourselves by demonizing Russian artists, athletes, and culture out of frustration with the fact that Putin is now doing on a grand scale what he’s been doing for two decades: terrorizing the Russian people, including those living in exile, and Russia’s neighbors, while Western governments tut-tutted, looked the other way, or sucked up to him and made themselves ever more dependent on Russian commodities.




Sunday, April 03, 2022

Australian doctors are now being warned they “are obliged to” follow public health messages

Australia’s march toward medical authoritarianism continues.

Doctors are now being told they could face discipline for saying anything that contradicts “public health messaging,” even if what they are saying is “evidence-based.”

They may even face investigations for “authoring papers” that health authorities do not like.

Unfortunately, I am not exaggerating.

Like all physicians, Australian doctors can face disciplinary investigations for medical errors or other problems. In Australia, those investigations are called “notifications,” a nicely Orwellian euphemism. Ahpra, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency, oversees them.

On Feb. 28, a big Australian medical insurer warned physicians that to avoid Aphra notifications, they needed to “be very careful” not to contradict “public health messaging” in social media comments.

But the warning - although first mentioning social media - went even further. It also warned against “authoring papers” that contradicted the authorities’ favored views.

Further, even “views… consistent with evidence-based material” could lead to problems if they contradicted “public health messaging.”

The warning came from the Medical Indemnity Protection Society, which provides professional insurance coverage for doctors. Although these insurers do not speak officially for government agencies, doctors effectively cannot practice without professional insurance, so their pronouncements are powerful.

In other words, only a very brave physician in Australia would consider offering advice that’s not “consistent with public health messaging” anytime soon.


How the media covered up the Hunter Biden laptop story

The New York Post is one of a tiny (yes, tiny) number of conservative newspapers in the United States. It also has something of a grand history. It was founded in 1801, making it the oldest continuously published paper in America. It was established by none other than Alexander Hamilton – the founding father killed in a duel by Aaron Burr and subject of the recent hit musical – as an outlet for federalist views. Oh, and the Post today has the fourth-largest circulation of US newspapers. So despite the fact many on the left will sneer (as they do) because it is these days owned by Voldemort, sorry by Rupert Murdoch, this is no Johnny-come-lately internet publication.

I bring up the NY Post because it was the newspaper that broke the Hunter Biden laptop story not long before – let me emphasise before – the 2020 US presidential election. The material on that laptop was damning to Joe Biden, for various reasons including because it contained one email showing what the Post characterised as a meeting between Joe Biden and the Ukrainian gas company Burisma which paid a fortune to Hunter Biden to be on its board despite his having no obvious skills at all (not the Ukrainian language, no knowledge of the oil business, nothing really other than a certain chromosomal set of advantages) and another email with Hunter complaining to his daughter about how Joe takes half his income from him. Let’s just say that if the laptop were authentic the material could have ruined Mr Biden’s presidential run. Or put differently, had the laptop been the property of one of Donald Trump’s children, and contained the exact same contents, it would have received 24- hour coverage every day up to the election by all the usual suspects including the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, ABC news, CBS news, the woke, lefty sports network ESPN, and let’s be honest by ‘our’ ABC here in Australia most of all.

Instead, these usual suspects, along with the entirety of Big Tech, kicked into gear and acted as the protection arm of the Democratic party. And no, that is not an unfair description of what happened. To start, Big Tech blocked the NY Post, so it could not circulate this story online. Then they pulled out the big guns. They claimed this laptop story was Russian disinformation and even got dozens and dozens of US intelligence and ex-intelligence officials to sign a letter declaring that this looked to them like a Russian disinformation campaign. Anyone broaching the story was ridiculed, attacked and preferably silenced.

But just last week the NY Times conceded the laptop was real and it was Hunter’s laptop. The NY Post has been scathing about its cross-town rival which as we all know is beloved by all the wokerati chattering classes. One Post headline read ‘All the news that’s fit to print… once Biden is elected’ (a play on the NY Times’ sanctimonious motto).The questions this raises are myriad and most of us can guess most of the answers. When did the NY Times realise this was a real story and not disinformation? Before or after the election? How could some 50-odd US intelligence officers claim this was Russian disinformation? Is the deep state really that much in the back pocket of the Democrats? And note that Miranda Devine, now with the Post, has contacted all the senior ex-intelligence officers who signed the ‘nothing to see here folks’ letter before the election. Not one apologised. Most refused to comment.

So can we now expect these organs of the Democrat party (oops, I mean the wholly impartial mainstream media outlets above) to look into the truth of what the Hunter Biden laptop contained? Will they check out the email where Hunter’s business partner writes that he moves money between Hunter’s and Joe’s chequing accounts? Or the one above where Hunter complains to his daughter that his dad is creaming fifty per cent of his Ukraine monies off the top? Well, to ask is to know isn’t it? Joe will be protected as long as that is in the best interests of the Left. This is why so many average Americans have next to no trust in the media and in journalists generally. This is why Donald Trump’s brutal description of the fourth estate as ‘fake news’ was and is far more right than wrong. And this is why any conservative politician who wants actually to do something – to achieve real change in a conservative direction be it with respect to the schools and universities, the economy, the culture wars, taking on the lawyerly and doctorly castes, free speech, anything really – has to be prepared to take on the press and its feral left-leaning bias. That willingness to fight is what drove some, not all, of its hatred of Trump. That is what drives the legacy media crazy about Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida. These rare sort of conservative politicians call out the bias of the journalists. And they hate it.

Which leaves me a few words tangentially related to the above. I refer to last weekend’s election in South Australia. There are two strategies for right-of-centre political parties. One is to stand and fight and differentiate themselves on matters of principle from the Left. The second is to become a pale imitation of the Left, but promise to remain a fraction of a smidgen of a soup├žon to the right of the other guys. This was the view that prevailed inside the Libs’ party room when it opted to defenestrate Tony Abbott in favour of Turnbull. This is how Team Marshall governed in South Australia. This describes the NSW Liberal government to a tee. And let’s all be brutally honest. This is how Scott Morrison has governed. I have long said it’s a loser strategy if you have any goal other than winning a couple of elections. If you want to bring about outcomes you purport to care about this doesn’t work.

Take the pandemic. If you fall in line behind policies that amount to the worst erosions of our civil liberties ever, and you empower a public health clerisy, later on trying to argue ‘we were an eensy-weensy bit less despotic than they would be’ won’t help you. Some voters will opt for the Labor real thing. And some will abandon you for your abandoning all principle. You lose.

This my friends is the tragedy of every state Liberal operation. And this is why I’ve been predicting a Morrison loss ever since he sold us out on the moronic ‘net zero’ pledge in Glasgow. Nine years of Coalition government and other than stopping the boats they have delivered what any fair observer would call across-the-board Labor outcomes. Now they’re having to pretend we really have four per cent unemployment (see Terry McCrann for a stinging rejoinder) and that they’ve done a splendid job, really splendid. A NY Post headline might read ‘All for conservative stuff… until we’re elected.’


Authoritarianism gets women hot…

To understand why the rise of authoritarianism in once-liberal Western democracies is greeted – not by resistance, but rapturous applause – we must first understand why half the population seem predisposed to embracing authority.

In surveys that ask about government power, whether for pandemic management, social policy, or law and order, women routinely outdo men in the belief that greater intervention is a good thing and that governments are responsible for just about everything.

Academic research backs this up: consistently, women are more likely than men to approve of measures that expand the reach of the State. Even political preferences fall along these lines. Parties that zealously advocate for an increasingly authoritarian society and ever-dwindling freedom – for our own good, of course! – have a higher proportion of female supporters than parties that lean towards libertarianism and individual responsibility.

Any enquiry about why this occurs is obscured by fuzzy rhetoric like ‘the greater good’ and ‘thinking of others’. The common view, pushed ardently by players who stand to gain power, is that ‘the woman’s perspective’ is less selfish and more conscious of public wellbeing than men’s. What a massive lie this is. Whether because of biology, socialisation – or both – women support the exercise of power because the State has become what men, and especially husbands, have been to women throughout history.

With so many men painfully feminised and socially castrated, it is no wonder that women have turned elsewhere for a source of authority and strength.

Over fifty years ago, Germaine Greer wrote in The Female Eunuch that women who fail to seize emancipation do so because they not only still need, but actively crave, the command of men. She argued that even though the suffragettes threw open the door to the cage, the canary refused to fly out. The housewives of the 1950s shrugged their shoulders at the opportunities that their forebears had fought to bring about, and happily remained in a State of dependence by insisting that somebody else should exercise responsibility for them.

The only thing that has changed since then is the colour of the cage, because the patterns of behaviour are the same. Just as obeying one’s husband was once a virtue, obeying the State now is – while a challenge to the State is viewed as darkly as emasculating menfolk once was. Just as turning hard decisions over to a man was once seen to lift a burden from women, allowing the State to do the thinking now provides that soothing security blanket. And just as many women once secretly feared the power of men even as they clutched it desperately to themselves, now they secretly fear the power of the State even while they cheer it.

Oddly, it is often the women who most promote themselves as models of liberated thinking who are the loudest to demand that the State must take responsibility for all and be involved in every aspect of human existence. Show me one of these paragons of progressiveness and I will show you a woman harbouring a deep-down Mills and Boon-esque fantasy about a dominating alpha male who takes complete charge, making her feel delicate, special, and sheltered. This is so shameful that she cannot even admit it to herself, so it becomes sublimated into a cry that anything even hinting of such appealingly untamed masculinity must be destroyed.

Smash the patriarchy, sisters! And while we’re at it, lobby for more government control over the lives of the people because, oh, how we hunger to submit.

Political parties who resist authoritarianism do not have a woman problem. Rather, the women who sneeringly denounce those parties have a problem with the possibility of liberation. Women’s liberation necessarily requires libertarianism. Yet still women refuse to see past their own intense yearning to sit like canaries in gilded cages, gazing smugly at bars bearing the insignia of the State and being too foolish to realise that they remain well and truly trapped.

Turning the very idea of libertarian values into something ugly and terrifying from which only the State can offer protection, is exactly how men once convinced women that the world outside the home was too rough and nasty a place to expose their pretty little heads to, and that they needed a man to look after them. Those who champion the erosion of libertarianism are doing nothing more than validating feminised inability or unwillingness to move beyond a State of dependence on something bigger and stronger than oneself.

If this is what ‘the future is female’ means, then we should all be terrified.