Friday, April 30, 2021

German gov't grabs lockdown powers from states

Germans confront new Covid lockdown rules that could last until June | CNBC - Holly Ellyatt:

April 26, 2021 - "Germany has implemented tough lockdown rules in a bid to curb a third wave of [Covid-19] infections, issuing a set of new measures expected to last until June. Protests have been seen in several German cities after the restrictions were introduced this weekend on coronavirus hot spots. A curfew, limits on customers in shops, leisure center closures and limits on household contacts are part of the measures....

"Enacting a 'nationwide emergency brake,' cities or districts that exceed a seven-day incidence rate of 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over three consecutive days must now implement the lockdowns. Schools are to close if incidence rates are above 165 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants for three days in a row. Data from the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health body, shows that all but one of Germany’s 16 states are above the threshold for the emergency brake to kick in.... 

"The measures, set out in the Infection Protection Act, effectively expand the federal government’s authority to control the pandemic. Germany’s states have been largely able to set their own rules....

"[T]he measures — and, particularly, the curfew, which will run from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and allows people to leave their homes only if they must go to or from work, seek medical assistance or take a dog for a walk — have provoked fury among some members of the public, with small demonstrations taking place in several cities at the weekend, notably Frankfurt and Hanover.

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the new rules, urging compliance. 'If we succeed now in reducing infections significantly and quickly, step-by-step relaxations will be possible in the foreseeable future,' she said in her weekly video podcast.... Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he didn’t think the measures would be eased before the end of May."

Read more: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/26/german-coronavirus-new-lockdown-rules-could-last-until-june.html

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Covid antibody treatment going unused in Canada

Canadian-made COVID-19 antibody treatment sitting on shelves due to lack of administration plan | CTV News - Avis Favaro, Elizabeth St. Philip, Brooklyn Neustaeter, Solarina Ho:

April 24, 2021 - "A Canadian-made COVID-19 antibody treatment is sitting on hospital and pharmacy shelves amid the country’s third wave of the pandemic because doctors say a plan on how to administer the drug was never made.... 

"Bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The drug mimics the immune system’s ability to fight off the virus and was developed by AbCellera Biologics Inc. in Vancouver with the support of the federal government, which had committed up to $175.6 million to the company in May 2020 to develop antibody therapies.... The one-dose treatment, which is sold by Eli Lilly Canada, Inc., can be used in health-care facilities such as hospitals, as it is given by infusion into the veins of patients. As an antibody therapy, it is part of a major class of drugs normally used to treat diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, Sachdev Sidhu, a professor of molecular genetics at the University of Toronto, said in an interview....

"Health Canada authorized the drug in November 2020 under the interim order respecting the importation, sale and advertising of drugs for use in relation to COVID-19. According to Health Canada, 26,000 doses of the treatment were purchased for $40 million and distributed amongst the provinces. However, almost none of those doses have been used.

"Countries around the world have been using bamlanivimab to help keep COVID-19 patients out of hospital and reduce deaths for months. More than 400,000 COVID-19 patients worldwide have benefited from the drug, according to Michael McDougall, a spokesperson for Eli Lilly.... According to AbCellera Biologics, studies have shown the treatment is effective against SARS-CoV-2, and the variant first identified in the United Kingdom. Despite this, provincial health authorities have not yet made the treatment available to Canadians.

"AbCellera Biologics CEO Carl Hansen told CTV National News ... that provincial government[s] did not issue a plan on how to administer the treatment, causing doctors to leave it on shelves.... CTV News has reached out to provincial health units for comment, but did not hear back before this story was published....

"[T]he U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent revocation of bamlanivimab’s Emergency Use authorization could cause some confusion with the public. A Health Canada spokesperson told CTVNews.ca via email that ... 'There is no change to bamlanivimab authorization in Canada and Eli Lilly has not requested that Health Canada revoke its authorization. Bamlanivimab used by itself is effective against the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant, which is the main variant circulating in Canada at this time.'" 

Read more: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/canadian-made-covid-19-antibody-treatment-sitting-on-shelves-due-to-lack-of-administration-plan-1.5396804

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

No return to normal in UK

Why June 21 won't be as much of a return to normal as we thought | The Telegraph - Gordon Raymer: 

April 27, 2021 "June 21 is burned into the public consciousness as the day when life will finally return to normal.... But there are growing signs that Covid-19 restrictions will remain in place long after the summer solstice. The Government’s scientific advisers want 'baseline measures', including social distancing, to continue for another year, councils are hiring Covid Marshals to start work in July, and vaccine passports are already being trialled. Meanwhile, legal powers to impose domestic Covid-19 restrictions have been extended by Parliament until September.... The Prime Minister insists 'the end really is in sight', but it increasingly seems that may only apply to those who own a telescope....

"Ministers are conducting a review of the 'one metre-plus rule', which allows restaurant customers, office workers and others to sit one metre apart if mitigations such as screens and extra ventilation are in place. Pubs have warned that if the one metre-plus rule stays in place, it will be a disaster for them, because they need to be full to make a profit.... Theatres, cinemas, nightclubs and other venues that rely on full houses to turn a profit are also anxiously awaiting the results of the government review....

"The first major sporting event to take place after June 21 will be the Wimbledon tennis tournament, which starts on June 28, but its organisers have warned the public that ... crowds could be restricted to just 25 per cent of capacity, while players will have to stay in bio-secure hotels and will face fines of £14,000 if they breach Covid-19 security rules.... Football’s FA Cup final on May 15 will take place in front of just 20,000 fans, instead of Wembley’s 90,000 capacity, meaning trials of outdoor sporting events will still be at an early stage by June 21.

"If all legal restrictions are lifted on June 21, the one thing the country surely will not need from then on is Covid Marshals. Yet, councils around the country are advertising jobs for Covid Marshals that do not start until July and will continue until next year.... Their job will be to 'aid and encourage compliance' and to help the public and businesses 'understand regulations and guidance'.... The marshals do not have enforcement powers, and how the public reacts to being challenged by them after legal restrictions have lapsed remains to be seen.

"The Government’s pilots of indoor and outdoor events rely on Covid-19 status certification to allow crowds to return to sport and customers to return to restaurants, theatres and nightclubs. Early pilots of the so-called Events Research Programme are relying on pre-entry testing alone, while later pilots, starting at the end of next month, will attempt to incorporate data on vaccination and acquired immunity, so in other words, vaccine passports.

"The Government has also said it is 'committed to explore whether and how Covid-status certification might be used to reopen our economy', which 'could allow some freedoms to be restored more safely'.... Ministers are reluctant to ban businesses from requiring customers to demonstrate their Covid-19 status, meaning vaccine passports and test for entry are likely to be a feature of everyday life for some time to come.

"The most visible proof that restrictions are over will come when face coverings are finally consigned to history, but that is unlikely to happen on June 21. Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, has stated publicly that he expects face coverings to be necessary next winter, and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) believes 'baseline measures' such as mask wearing and social distancing might be necessary 'throughout winter 2021/22'.

"The use of face coverings is also the subject of a review. Regardless of whether it recommends that masks should be worn in crowded spaces such as train carriages, it seems likely that the public will either be advised to wear them, or will choose to do so, as the gradual return to normality leads to an increase in commuting, shopping and tightly-packed audiences."

Read more: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/04/27/june-21-wont-much-return-normal-thought/

Monday, April 26, 2021

Media report 10,000 at UK lockdown protest

Six arrested amid massive anti-lockdown protests in London | Euronews - Hannah Somerville:

April 25, 2021 - "At least six people have been arrested following a massive protest march against COVID-19 safety measures in London. The Metropolitan Police confirmed that two arrests came during the march itself and four during scuffles between protesters and police officers in London's Hyde Park.

"Up to 10,000 people are thought to have gathered in central London on Saturday for the so-called 'Unite for Freedom' event. Protesters marched through the streets chanting 'Freedom' and 'Take off your mask,' while some carried placards saying 'No to vaccine passports' and 'Lockdowns kill'.

"The demonstration took place amid the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions in England. After months of nationwide lockdown, pubs and restaurants resumed outdoor service on Monday, April 12 together with the re-opening of non-essential shops. Despite the progress, the process is not expected to fully conclude until mid-June at the earliest....  More than 45 million people in the UK have received their first dose of vaccine and 12 million are now fully inoculated.

"The event on Saturday drew crowds from all walks of life, many of whom had travelled to the capital from elsewhere in the UK to take part. Protesters danced and heckled shoppers wearing masks in Oxford Street, while a handful were involved in violent clashes with police. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said Saturday that no-one was thought to have been arrested, even though some participants had attacked police officers in Hyde Park and according to the force, eight officers were injured.

"In the aftermath, thousands of Britons took to the internet to castigate those who had taken part using the hashtag #IstandwithNHSstaff. Participants called the protests 'despicable' and 'shameful' in a country in which at least 130,000 people are known to have died from COVID-19.

"The divisive incident took place a week and a half before London’s Mayoral election. At least two of the candidates, political commentator Lawrence Fox and Piers Corbyn, the brother of former opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, are known lockdown sceptics.

"Despite the mass flouting of official restrictions and the injuries sustained by police, none of Britain’s most prominent politicians have so far commented on Saturday’s events."

Read more: https://www.euronews.com/2021/04/25/six-arrests-after-massive-anti-lockdown-protests-in-london

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Questioning the Long Covid narrative

We need to start thinking more critically – and speaking more cautiously – about long Covid | Stat - Adam W. Gaffney: 

March 22, 2021 - "What media stories about long Covid ... describe is frightening. Ed Yong, a writer for The Atlantic, has been particularly influential in sculpting this narrative. In 'Long-Haulers Are Redefining Covid-19,' he describes a mysterious syndrome that strikes even those with mild Covid-19, people who never required hospitalization, oxygen, or ventilators, but who never seem to recover. One such individual, he noted, described some five months of 'extreme fatigue, bulging veins, excessive bruising, an erratic heartbeat, short-term memory loss, gynecological problems, sensitivity to light and sounds, and brain fog.' For some of these people, Yong noted, 'months of illness could turn into years of disability'....

"Almost everyone who dies of Covid-19 develops a condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a form of pneumonia.... ARDS can have myriad long-term effects, including physical and cognitive impairments, reduced lung function, mental health problems, and poorer quality of life.... Still, even if these ailments are sometimes acknowledged in media reports of long Covid, most narratives evoke something entirely different: a debilitating syndrome seemingly affecting multiple organ systems for months on end – and perhaps indefinitely – but without any specific diagnosis.... It is also notable that reports often suggest that even those with only mild acute symptoms – or no acute symptoms at all – are at risk....  

"Other reports describe something even more frightening. In October, a New York Times article described a dementia-like illness following a mild infection like this: 'It’s becoming known as Covid brain fog: troubling cognitive symptoms that can include memory loss, confusion, difficulty focusing, dizziness and grasping for everyday words.' Another Times story asserted that an entirely resolved mild infection could cause severe psychosis months later, even leading to thoughts of committing murder. 

"Reporting on long Covid needs to be more cautious for several reasons.

"First, consider that at least some people who identify themselves as having long Covid appear never to have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus....Yong ... cites a survey of Covid long-haulers in which some two-thirds of them had negative coronavirus antibody tests – blood tests that reveal prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. Meanwhile, a survey organized by a group of self-identified long Covid patients that recruited participants from online support groups reported in late December 2020 that around two-thirds of those surveyed who had undergone blood testing reported negative results.... But ... study after study has found that antibodies remain positive in a majority of people with confirmed infections for many months. So it’s highly probable that some or many long-haulers who were never diagnosed using PCR testing in the acute phase and who also have negative antibody tests are 'true negatives'....

"[I]f some proportion of long Covid patients were never infected with SARS-COV-2, it shows that it’s possible for anyone to misattribute chronic symptoms to this virus.... But what’s more notable is that the late-December survey also found virtually no difference in the long-haul symptom burden between those with and without antibody evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (or any positive test), which undercuts the likelihood of a causative role for SARS-CoV-2 as the predominant driver of chronic symptoms in that cohort. After all, the symptoms reported as consistent with long Covid are associated with many conditions.... 

"Add to that the fact that the past year has produced skyrocketing levels of social anguish and mental emotional distress.... [T]here’s no question that mental suffering can produce physical suffering. A New England Journal of Medicine report showed that, across multiple continents, about half of people with depression also had unexplained physical symptoms, which often predominated over their mental ones. Sleeping problems, physical and mental slowing, persistent fatigue, and concentration problems (aka 'brain fog') are among the actual criteria for major depression in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

"The sad truth is that we are living through a time of incredible trauma, sorrow, and hardship. The loved ones of more than 500,000 Americans who have died of Covid-19 are in mourning. Tens of millions have lost their jobs. This has been a period of prolonged social isolation with no obvious parallel in history. We should expect a surge in both mental anguish and physical suffering that, while connected to the once-in-a-century pandemic, will not always be directly connected to SARS-COV-2 itself....

"[T]he suffering described by long Covid patients is debilitating and real ... [and] every such patient deserves careful, empathetic evaluation and appropriate treatment and referrals.... And rigorous research into the long-term effects of Covid-19 must continue. But at the same time we need to start thinking more critically — and speaking a bit more cautiously — about long Covid."

Read more: https://www.statnews.com/2021/03/22/we-need-to-start-thinking-more-critically-speaking-cautiously-long-covid/ 

Adam Gaffney is a pulmonary and critical care physician at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Mass., and an assistant professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The Free World Died of Covid-19

The Free World Died of Covid-19 | The Dossier, Substack - Jordan Schachtel:

April 13, 2021 - "The Free World is a term that was originally used to describe the Allied powers during WWII, but it is most applicable here when discussing what united the anti-Soviet bloc to the United States during the Cold War. It was ... 'Western world' values of free speech, free media, the freedom of assembly, and freedom of association that united our sovereign states against the evils of Communism.

"Covid Mania has turned the world’s sovereign states into one tyranny after another. And the authoritarian forces of the world won this second 'Cold War' against its citizens without firing a shot. Some appear to be under the impression that the ruling class, which just finished the fastest rollup of power in human history, will simply return these stolen liberties when the 'national emergency' comes to an end. I’m not particularly convinced that this is the case. As John Adams once said, 'But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.

"In the United States, our federalist system allows for pockets of freedom in places like Florida, Texas, South Dakota and the like. But dare to protest in the Nation’s Capital today and you’ll quickly find yourself on an FBI watchlist, and almost certainly, with a future date in our nation’s kangaroo court system.... Our nation is no longer united behind these “Free World” concepts, and they are now only considered virtuous ideas in the aforementioned pockets of freedom in America. In the rest of the country, it has been made crystal clear that your rights do not supersede a disease with a 99.8% recovery rate....

"The United Kingdom has placed its citizens under indefinite confinement. Their “Covid restrictions” have lasted well over a year, and there is no end in sight.

"Canada, which has also been under a strict lockdown for over a year, has mutilated the free press while simultaneously transforming into a Chinese state colony. Under the 'leadership' of Justin Trudeau, Canada has essentially outlawed freedom of movement, free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly in the name of a virus.

"New Zealand, another nation that is cozying up to Beijing, is committed to a 'Zero Covid' self-siege that has blockaded the island nation from the world for over a year. Citizens who test positive for Covid-19 are forcibly sent to quarantine camps. The government has recently considered legislation punishing people for the act of acquiring Covid-19.

"States in Australia have implemented some of the most intrusive lockdowns in the world. In Victoria, lockdowns meant citizens were only allowed to leave their homes for one hour a day, and they were not allowed to travel outside of a certain radius from their homes. The act of protesting is illegal, and it will be met by riot police.... 

"Germany, France, and Italy just entered another round of rights-restricting lockdowns, and countless more “Free World” nations continue chipping away at personal freedoms....

"The Free World, as a united force, was indeed very sick for the better part of the 21st century, but it has finally died from Covid-19. The concept only lives on in our imaginations and memories. The Covid era has exposed that these values that supposedly united the West are nothing more than a facade."

Read more: https://dossier.substack.com/p/the-free-world-died-of-covid-19

Friday, April 23, 2021

NY patients win court battles to use ivermectin

Ivermectin Wins in Court Again: For Human Rights | Deseret News - Justus R. Hope, MD:

Apr 19, 2021 - "One dose of Ivermectin was all it took to get 81-year-old John Swanson off the ventilator. John’s wife Sandra could not believe it. His story is remarkably similar to other cases.... 

"Ralph Lorigo is the lawyer who now has won three court orders forcing New York hospitals to administer Ivermectin to dying patients. Incredibly, these three hospitals and their lawyers fought against the patients, arguing they did not have the right to receive the drug despite a valid prescription written by their doctors. In essence, the argument was that they did not have the right to try a potentially life-saving medication.

"In each of the three cases, the New York State Supreme Court Justices sided with the patient, and in each of the three cases, the patients made near-miraculous recoveries after the Ivermectin was given. In each case, these patients were in the Intensive Care Unit on ventilators, unable to breathe on their own, and universally, after the drug was given, they rapidly improved and were able to breathe on their own.

"Judith Smentkiewicz made national news in January when her family hired Lorigo after the hospital refused a fourth dose of Ivermectin..... Attorney Lorigo and his associate Jon F. Minear reported, 'This lady was on a ventilator, literally on her deathbed, before she was given this drug. As far as we’re concerned, the judge’s order saved this woman’s life.'

"The family of Glenna "Sue" Dickinson happened to see a newspaper article of Judith's remarkable story, and they decided to try Ivermectin as well. Sue Dickinson, 65, contracted COVID-19 on January 7, 2021 ...  and was placed on a ventilator on January 17. The hospital staff advised that her chances of survival were about 40 percent [but] refused to give Sue the Ivermectin. Lorigo and Minear  sought an injunction. State Supreme Court Justice Frank Caruso ordered the hospital to provide the Ivermectin. Dickinson, like Swanson, and Smentkiewicz, came off the ventilator and improved as well.... 

"Ivermectin is widely used by physicians, as there are now 51 studies from around the world, with 50 showing clear benefit and one showing neutral.... Experts worldwide have called for the global and systematic use of Ivermectin to prevent and treat COVID-19. Physicians have recently written about a profit motive by regulatory agencies and Big Pharma to block cheap, safe, and effective treatments like Ivermectin and HCQ [hydroxychloroquine] in favor of ... vaccines and medicines like Remdesivir.... Remdesivir cost[s] $3,100 per dose [while] Ivermectin costs about $2 per dose. It is safer than Tylenol or most vitamins, says Dr. Pierre Kory of the FLCCC Alliance, a group of expert physicians promoting access and information through a nonprofit organization. Dr. Kory and Mr. Lorigo have teamed up to help other hospitalized patients gain access to the life-saving drug....

"The big problem is that information promoting Ivermectin is often censored or silenced as quickly as it is provided. Facebook, Reddit, Change.org, YouTube, and others have recently taken down posts on Ivermectin citing violation of 'community standards.'  Physicians who employ good judgment and scientific studies are considered violators, as well as those who publish factual accounts of Ivermectin-based recovery stories. A recent article exposed the link between large pharmaceutical corporations and government regulatory agencies who have financial entanglements and massive conflicts of interest.

"The disinformation campaign is evident with the publication of articles attempting to cast Ivermectin in a false light, referring to it as an 'animal dewormer' that might be a 'bad idea' for humans to use. In reality, many drugs are common to both humans and animals for treatment, including antibiotics, antifungals, and antiparasitic agents....

"Satoshi Omura won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discoveries leading to the development of Ivermectin. In his praise for Ivermectin and its potential to help in the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Omura recently compared Ivermectin to Penicillin, 'one of the greatest discoveries of the twentieth century'.... Ivermectin has already been adopted by 25 percent of the world’s countries to prevent and treat COVID-19.... However, censorship, corruption, hospital lawyers, and disinformation campaigns have continued to stand in the way of its widespread acceptance in the United States. Many have never even heard of it.

"Ivermectin recently won in court in South Africa after a protracted legal battle. Ralph Lorigo has now won his third State Supreme Court Injunction in New York. Will legal strategies also be required in the US to gain FDA approval for Ivermectin to treat COVID-19?"

Read more: https://www.thedesertreview.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/ivermectin-wins-in-court-again-for-human-rights/article_98d26958-a13a-11eb-a698-37c06f632875.html

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Can you catch Covid from an empty washroom?

by George J. Dance

Can you actually catch Covid from being alone in a public washroom? It could happen; at least, that is the newest scare story making the rounds in Canada. Here is a sample, which made it onto our national news: 

Don't linger after you flush: Public toilets may spread COVID-19 aerosols, study finds | CTV News - Nicole Bogart:

April 20, 2021 - "Though a public washroom isn’t typically the kind of place you want to spend a lot of time in, new research exploring COVID-19 transmission suggests you may not want to linger after flushing a public toilet. A team of scientists from Florida Atlantic University's College of Engineering and Computer Science conducted a series of tests investigating the spread of microbe-containing aerosol droplets generated from flushing a toilet or a urinal in a public restroom. Using a particle counter to measure the size and number of droplets generated upon flushing, researchers found that the droplets were detected at heights of up to five feet (1.5 metres) for 20 seconds or longer after flushing. Worse yet, researchers detected a smaller number of droplets in the air even when the toilet was flushed with a closed lid, suggesting that aerosol droplets can escape through small gaps between the cover and the seat.

"After about three hours of tests involving more than 100 flushes, we found a substantial increase in the measured aerosol levels in the ambient environment with the total number of droplets generated in each flushing test ranging up to the tens of thousands," study co-author Siddhartha Verma said in a press release issued Tuesday. Both the toilet and urinal generated large quantities of droplets smaller than three micrometers in size, posing a significant transmission risk if they contain infectious microorganisms. Due to their small size, these droplets can remain suspended for a long time."

Read more: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/don-t-linger-after-you-flush-public-toilets-may-spread-covid-19-aerosols-study-finds-1.5395358

That is scary, especially for senior citizens such as myself. Not only are we more vulnerable to severe disease or even death from Covid, but we are also more likely, when we go to the mall, to have to use the public washroom. I cannot remember the last time that I went to the local mall and did not have to, What do I need to do to to protect myself from this new threat? Should I simply stop going (in either sense)? Should I start wearing adult diapers? Or is it enough to just never flush? 

Or is it even a risk worth worrying about? How likely is there to be Covid in the toilet? I am no virologist, so I can only try to estimate the risk; but I cannot see much of one. 

First, there is no risk to me of catching Covid if I already have it; and there is no way I could be depositing Covid in the toilet unless I already had it. Therefore the only danger to me is if an infected person had previously flushed. How long previously? We are told that the aerosols can be present for "a long time," but the only time actually given is "20 seconds or more." How much more? I actually doubt that it is more than a minute; if the aerosols persisted for at least 60 seconds, I suspect that the researchers would have used that higher figure instead.

But assuming the little devils last long enough in water to infect the next user: how could they get into it in the first place? They would have to be in feces and urine. They certainly couldn't reproduce). Before that, they had to have passed through someone's stomach; not the most hospitable environment for living things. Even if a few made it through, they could not have been reproducing at the same time; so the number out would always be smaller than the number going in. 

And how would they get in someone's stomach in the first place? Sars-Cov-2, remember, is a respiratory virus; and respiratory viruses do not live and reproduce in the stomach. There could be stray virus on some food that one ate, but normal sanitary procedures should eliminate that possibility. Without evidence to the contrary, I doubt that the coronavirus survives being cooked. 

Of course, I am simply using reason here; and reason is a weak tool, in the lack of sufficient data to form true premises. So let us look for more facts. 

The article does say that scientists have discovered "small numbers of viruses in urine and stool samples." That is good to learn; a small amount of virus may survive a trip in feces as well as in water (though it may not actually be live virus; not enough information is given). But, again, it cannot reproduce there. So we are talking about a small number of viruses in urine or feces, of which a smaller number transfer to the toilet water, of which an even smaller number are ejected into the air in the form of aerosols. The all-important question, is: are these small amounts enough to infect someone in the few minutes it takes to use a washroom? Just how much of the virus is there in those aerosols? Surprisingly, the study does not say; because, it turns out, the scientists did not look for coronavirus:       

However, researchers did not analyze the aerosol droplets found in the restroom. Therefore, it is unclear whether COVID-19 aerosols were found in the sampling.

Wait, what? The researchers did not look for Covid aerosols. Therefore they did not find any. It is unclear whether there were any; but it is certainly clear enough that none were found. 

And that is enough to form an opinion on the article. The study on which it was based seems sound enough, but that study proved only that there are aerosols in washrooms; which may be a problem in public schools, where the children have to use the washroom en masse at recess. But the idea behind the news report, that anyone whomsoever is at risk of contacting Covid and possibly dying just from using an otherwise empty washroom, sounds full of – well, of whatever toilets get full of. 

Read study here: https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/5.0040310

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

7 U.S. governors say no to vaccine passports

Governor Kristi Noem bans “vaccine passports” in South Dakota | KCRG - Austin Goss"

Apr. 21, 2021 - "In an executive order issued Tuesday evening, Governor Kristi Noem banned government entities in South Dakota from requiring 'vaccine passports'.... In the executive order, Noem bans any government entity, to include local governments, within the state from requiring vaccine passports. Noem says that requiring vaccine passports could ultimately lead to 'improper disclosure of private health information.'

"'I’m going to do everything I can to protect people from getting mandates like this out of governments,' Noem [earlier in April].... 'This kind of provision is a fundamental threat to our freedoms.'"

Read more: https://www.kcrg.com/2021/04/21/governor-kristi-noem-bans-vaccine-passports-in-south-dakota/


Ducey bans ‘vaccine passport’ use by Arizona governments | Arizona Mirror - Jerod MacDonald-Evoy:

April 19, 2021 - "Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday banned state and local governments from requiring a 'vaccine passport' to receive service or enter an area.Ducey’s executive order also applies to any business that has a government contract, and bars them from requiring any customer to provide information on their vaccination status to receive any government services they provide. The executive order does allow for hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities to ask about documentation of a visitor’s, patient’s, employee’s or resident’s vaccination status. Universities, child care centers, home schools and other schools are also exempt. The executive order does not apply to private businesses. 

"'The residents of our state should not be required by the government to share their private medical information,' said Governor Ducey in a press release about the executive order. 'While we strongly recommend all Arizonans get the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not mandated in our state — and it never will be. Vaccination is up to each individual, not the government.'"

Read more: https://www.azmirror.com/2021/04/19/ducey-bans-vaccine-passport-use-by-arizona-governments/


Arizona Becomes Sixth State To Ban Coronavirus Vaccine Passports — See The Full List Here | Forbes - Carlie Porterfield:

Apr 19, 2021 - "Ducey['s] ... executive order ... mak[es] Arizona the sixth state to denounce the passes that allow holders to prove they’ve been vaccinated against coronavirus....

"Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus, signed an executive order April 14 that will ban both the state government and businesses from requiring proof of vaccination to protect 'individual liberty and personal privacy,' though he added he still encourages constituents to receive a vaccine. It’s a sentiment he shares with Idaho Gov. Gov. Brad Little (R) who issued an order April 9 banning state government entities from requiring proof of coronavirus vaccination to receive public services, in which he noted vaccines are the 'best shot at protecting jobs and saving lives.'

"On Tuesday, April 6, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a similar executive order to block Texas state departments and groups that use public funds from issuing vaccine passports or mandating proof of immunization to receive services. On Friday, April 2, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order with an even further reach — under the order, the state government will punish private businesses that opt to require proof of vaccination by barring them from state grants or contracts.

"In February, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill into law that bans the Utah state government from requiring or issuing vaccine passports, though private businesses remain free to mandate them for patrons if they wish. Other Republican governors have not issued executive orders regarding vaccine passports, but have indicated they do not support their use, like Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R), Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R).... 

"The White House has pledged it will not pursue a vaccine passport sponsored by the federal government.... The majority of vaccine passports in development are being spearheaded by private companies in hopes it will embolden customers to feel safe traveling and pursuing in-person entertainment again at places like sports arenas, restaurants and live music venues. So far, New York is the only state to launch its own vaccine passport."

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlieporterfield/2021/04/19/arizona-becomes-sixth-state-to-ban-coronavirus-vaccine-passports---see-the-full-list-here/

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Ontario drops plan for random police stops

Ford walks back police powers, playground closures | Brockville Recorder and Times - Canadian Press: 

April 18, 2021 - "Ontario reversed course on sweeping new police powers Saturday, just one day after Premier Doug Ford announced the measures that triggered a swift and furious backlash.

"Officers will no longer have the right to stop any pedestrian or driver to ask why they’re out or request their home address, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a written statement on Saturday evening. Instead, she said, police will only be able to stop people who they have reason to believe are participating in an 'organized public event or social gathering'....

"Ford tweeted that another of the measures would also be reversed. 'Ontario’s enhanced restrictions were always intended to stop large gatherings where spread can happen,' Ford said. 'Our regulations will be amended to allow playgrounds'.... In a message to The Recorder and Times, Brockville Mayor Jason Baker said the city called in a crew Saturday to close the playgrounds, and he assumed it will reassign crews on Monday to reopen them.

"Civil libertarians and pundits attacked new anti-pandemic restrictions announced Friday by Ford as misguided, saying the added police powers aimed at enforcing stay-at-home orders were overkill....

"Ahead of the reversal, large and small police forces across the province said they had no intention of exercising their newfound powers. Brockville Police Chief Scott Fraser, shortly after a conference call with provincial officials following Ford’s initial announcement Friday, said the city police force would develop a 'common sense approach' and officers clearly wouldn’t be stopping every car they see. And on Saturday, the Gananoque Police Service said it ... 'will not be doing random stops of people or vehicles'.

"Andrew Fletcher, chief of South Simcoe police, said officers would only act on complaints. Police forces from Thunder Bay to Ottawa to Toronto to London and Woodstock expressed similar positions.... 'The HRPS will NOT be randomly stopping vehicles for no reason during the pandemic or afterwards (RIDE being an exception),' Halton police Chief Steve Tanner tweeted before the province walked back the regulations.

"The closing of outdoor spaces, meanwhile, puzzled many public health experts who said the measures didn’t make sense. 'Outdoor activities are vital for mental and physical health, especially with stay-at-home orders,' Dr. Isaac Bogoch, who sits on the province’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, said in a tweet. 'Science is clear: Outdoor COVID transmission is extremely rare.'"

"The new restrictions, including a two-week extension to the province’s stay-at-home order until May 20, were announced amid dire warnings from government scientific advisers that the pandemic was only set to worsen. Other measures include further restrictions on outdoor gatherings and indoor religious services, while recreational facilities such as golf courses are now closed. Ontario intends to shut its borders with Quebec and Manitoba to non-essential travel effective Monday."

Read more: https://www.recorder.ca/news/ford-walks-back-police-powers-playground-closures

Monday, April 19, 2021

Human infection trials for Covid approved in UK

Covid-19 ‘Challenge Trial’ Will Purposely Reinfect Adults | Wall Street Journal - Jenny Strasburg:

April 18, 2021 - "University of Oxford scientists plan to reinfect dozens of adult volunteers with the coronavirus in the second U.K. clinical trial to study deliberate Covid-19 infection ... among people who have already recovered from the virus. Such 'human challenge' trials are controversial because they involve intentionally infecting healthy humans, and the U.K. is the only country so far conducting them with Covid-19.... The new trial is focused on probing the boundaries of human immunity and the effects of the virus on the body from the moment of reinfection.... 

"The first Covid-19 challenge study, led by Imperial College London infectious-disease researchers, started in March.... That study received a pledge of more than $45 million from the U.K. government.

"Oxford’s trial is funded by the London-based Wellcome Trust, a healthcare-focused charitable foundation. As many as 64 people aged 18 to 30 years will be quarantined in staggered phases inside Oxford University Hospitals at roughly 17-day intervals, starting as soon as next month, according to Helen McShane, an Oxford vaccinologist who is leading the trial.

"Debates about inoculating humans with live, potent viruses have gone on for centuries. In the late 1700s, British doctor Edward Jenner applied material from cowpox and smallpox lesions to children and adults and recorded the reactions. The now-famous experiments paved the way for modern vaccines.

"But in the pandemic, the U.S. and other countries have steered clear of purposely infecting healthy people with the coronavirus. Critics argue the risks aren’t justified, given the broad presence of naturally circulating virus and the success of vaccines already available. What’s more, some say newer variants of the virus make the older strain used in the U.K. challenge trials less relevant....

"Challenge-trial proponents argue there is no substitute for the precision of controlled studies. They have been used for decades to study diseases including typhoid, malaria and tuberculosis and to develop vaccines. With Covid-19, Prof. McShane told journalists in a briefing last week, 'We don’t know whether someone has not been infected because they haven’t been exposed or [because] they have protective immunity.' Controlling exposure will help with those questions, she said.

"The first phase of the Oxford-led trials will test virus dosages required for reinfection.... Phase two will chart immune response, including protection via prior infection. No vaccines will be used in either phase. Volunteers will be tracked for a year."

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-19-challenge-trial-will-purposely-reinfect-adults-11618786860

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Is disinfectant mania finally ending?

Has the Era of Overzealous Cleaning Finally Come to an End? New York Times - Emily Anthes: 

April 8, 2021 - "When the coronavirus began to spread in the United States last spring, many experts warned of the danger posed by surfaces. Researchers reported that the virus could survive for days on plastic or stainless steel, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [C.D.C.] advised that if someone touched one of these contaminated surfaces — and then touched their eyes, nose or mouth — they could become infected. Americans responded in kind, wiping down groceries, quarantining mail and clearing drugstore shelves of Clorox wipes. Facebook closed two of its offices for a 'deep cleaning.' New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority began disinfecting subway cars every night.

"But the era of 'hygiene theater' may have come to an unofficial end this week, when the C.D.C. updated its surface cleaning guidelines and noted that the risk of contracting the virus from touching a contaminated surface was less than 1 in 10,000. 'People can be affected with the virus that causes Covid-19 through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects,' Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the C.D.C., said at a White House briefing on Monday. 'However, evidence has demonstrated that the risk by this route of infection of transmission is actually low.'

"'Finally,' said Linsey Marr, an expert on airborne viruses at Virginia Tech. 'We’ve known this for a long time and yet people are still focusing so much on surface cleaning.' She added, 'There’s really no evidence that anyone has ever gotten Covid-19 by touching a contaminated surface'....

"'The scientific basis for all this concern about surfaces is very slim — slim to none,' said Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers University, who wrote last summer that the risk of surface transmission had been overblown. 'This is a virus you get by breathing. It’s not a virus you get by touching'....

"'The most important part of this update is that they’re clearly communicating to the public the correct, low risk from surfaces, which is not a message that has been clearly communicated for the past year,' said Joseph Allen, a building safety expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Catching the virus from surfaces ... requires many things to go wrong: a lot of fresh, infectious viral particles to be deposited on a surface, and then for a relatively large quantity of them to be quickly transferred to someone’s hand and then to their face. 'Presence on a surface does not equal risk,' Dr. Allen said.

"In most cases, cleaning with simple soap and water — in addition to hand-washing and mask-wearing — is enough to keep the odds of surface transmission low, the C.D.C.’s updated cleaning guidelines say. In most everyday scenarios and environments, people do not need to use chemical disinfectants, the agency notes.... 'Disinfection is only recommended in indoor settings — schools and homes — where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19 within the last 24 hours,' Dr. Walensky said during the White House briefing. 'Also, in most cases, fogging, fumigation and wide-area or electrostatic spraying is not recommended as a primary method of disinfection and has several safety risks to consider'... [T]he new cleaning guidelines do not apply to health care facilities, which may require more intensive cleaning and disinfection....

"'This should be the end of deep cleaning,” Dr. Allen said, noting that the misplaced focus on surfaces has had real costs. 'It has led to closed playgrounds, it has led to taking nets off basketball courts, it has led to quarantining books in the library. It has led to entire missed school days for deep cleaning. It has led to not being able to share a pencil. So that’s all that hygiene theater, and it’s a direct result of not properly classifying surface transmission as low risk.'"

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/08/health/coronavirus-hygiene-cleaning-surfaces.html

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Modelling the effect of lockdowns

Covid and the lockdown effect: a look at the evidence | The Spectator - Simon Wood: 

April 14, 2021 - "What forces Covid into reverse? To many, the obvious answer is lockdown.... It’s often said that all else failed. The Prime Minister said on Tuesday that lockdown, far more than vaccines, explains the fall in hospitalisations, deaths and infections. But how sure are we that only lockdown caused these falls — in the first, second and third wave? Or were other interventions, plus people’s spontaneous reactions to rising cases, enough to get R below one?...

"Let’s start with the events of last March. Imperial’s Neil Ferguson, whose modelling inspired the government’s decision to go into lockdown in March, told MPs in June that ‘had we introduced lockdown measures a week earlier, we would have reduced the final death toll by at least a half’. Last December, a paper called Report 41 was published by Imperial College along these lines. It said: 'Among control measures implemented, only national lockdown brought the reproduction number [the "R number"] below 1 consistently. Introduced one week earlier, it could have reduced first wave deaths from 36,700 to 15,700'....

"Ferguson’s Imperial team had developed a simple model of the spread of Covid-19 and fitted it to data on the daily deaths ... to tell them how, when and by how much the R number changed.... [T]he Imperial team’s model assumed that they knew when and how R was changing. They only needed the data to tell them by how much it changed. I repeated Imperial’s analysis, but with one important difference: the data were used to also determine when and how R changed. The Imperial model then gives a very different result. It suggests that R was already below 1 before lockdown. If that is the case then, rather than surging, new infections were already in decline.... I also used a different approach, bypassing the Imperial model altogether, to directly estimate the daily number of new fatal infections from the data on daily deaths and fatal disease duration. This direct approach also strongly suggests that infections were in substantial decline before lockdown, and that R was already below one. The graph below shows what this second approach found around the time of the first lockdown.

"The same approach can be used again at the second and third lockdowns. Before the second lockdown it was argued that the tier system was ineffective and that cases were surging. But the reconstructions suggest that fatal infections — and by implication Covid infections generally — were not surging. They were in decline having peaked earlier. The third peak is between Christmas and New Year.... It is possibly worth noting that although the estimated fatal infections were in retreat before each lockdown, the daily deaths were surging each time that a lockdown was called. The psychological pressure that this puts on the decision makers is obvious....

"This brings us back to Imperial’s Report 41.... With professor Ernst Wit of Universit√† della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland, I repeated the Report 41 analysis as reported in a pre-print (a not yet peer-reviewed study) on medRxiv. The Report 41 assumptions around the first lockdown are even more restrictive than in Imperial’s earlier study, and we again replaced them with an approach that allows the data to tell us when and how R changed, as well as by how much. Because far more data are involved this time, the scope for our own assumptions to bias our results is lessened, but we nonetheless took an approach designed to minimise such problems.

"As we went through Report 41 we also noticed some unusual things: Imperial’s model was using key input measures that were shorter than the times given in the published papers cited as sources.

  • The time Imperial used from infection to symptoms (the ‘incubation period’). It’s stated as 4.6 days, citing Lauer et al. But that study says ‘the estimated mean incubation period was 5.5 days.’ A careful subsequent analysis by McAloon et al combining several studies, including Lauer et al, gives 5.8 days.
  • The time Imperial gave from symptoms to hospitalisation. Imperial give a mean of 4 days, citing Docherty et al. But that paper gives 4 days as the median time. For the model they use, the corresponding mean days from onset to hospital is 6, not 4.

These two changes subtract three days from the model time between Covid infection and hospitalisation, compared to the values given in the cited literature. This is not a small issue if so much is to be made about every day mattering. Two other points from Imperial’s Report 41 were troubling:

  • The model structure forced the average time from infection to infection to be quite a bit longer than the times reported in the literature.
  • The model-fitting appeared to be set up in a way that attributed unusually low weight to the actual data, relative to assumptions built into the model.

"We tried to correct each of these four issues. The resulting model and analysis are very far from perfect, but we think that the results can give a somewhat more accurate picture of what the data imply than the original. Below is the picture we got for infections, by region and in total, around the time of first lockdown. Again the results imply that infections were in retreat before lockdown was called....

"So even taking the most negative view of our work, and the most positive view of the Imperial study, it is hard to see the latter as providing robust evidence for lockdown having caused R to drop below 1. Let alone as providing a reasonable basis on which to compute the number of lives that an earlier lockdown might have saved.  Even if our study’s assumptions are no better than Imperial’s, just different (which we would dispute), we have clearly shown that the Report 41 results are too strongly dependent on the model assumptions to provide reasonable evidence for the life-saving potential of earlier lockdowns claimed in the press."

Read more: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/covid-and-the-lockdown-effect-a-look-at-the-evidence

Read study here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/biom.13462

Friday, April 16, 2021

Study debunks "UK variant" Covid fears

U.K. Coronavirus Strain Does Not Lead To More Severe Illness And Death, Study Finds | NPR:

April 13, 2021 - "People infected with the U.K. variant of the coronavirus didn't experience more severe symptoms and weren't more likely to die from this particular strain, according to a new study of hospitalized patients published Monday. The strain, called the B.1.1.7 variant [later renamed the "Alpha variant" - gd], remains more contagious than original strains of the virus however, according to the study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases

"The U.K. strain is believed to have first emerged in England in September 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is now the most common strain in the U.S.

"Researchers for The Lancet study collected samples from patients at the University College London Hospital and the North Middlesex University Hospital between Nov. 9 to Dec 20, 2020. The samples were collected just prior to a surge in hospitalizations in England and Ireland due to the rapid spread of this particular strain of the coronavirus.

"Scientists sequenced samples from 341 patients and found 58 percent were positive for the B.1.1.7 variant. The other 42 percent were infected with a different strain, according to the study. Researchers compared the severity of symptoms between the two groups and found those with the B.1.1.7 strain were not particularly worse off than those with other virus variants.

"Patients who tested positive for the the B.1.1.7 variant also reportedly had higher 'viral loads,' or greater amounts of the virus in their bodies."

Read more: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/04/13/986647390/u-k-coronavirus-strain-does-not-lead-to-more-severe-illness-and-death-study-find

Read study here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(21)00170-5/fulltext

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Vaccine passports are instruments of control

Vaccine Passports Prolong Lockdowns | Wall Street Journal - Martin Kulldorff & Jay Bhattacharya:

April 6, 2021 - "As tens of millions are inoculated against Covid-19, officials in places as diverse as New York state, Israel and China have introduced 'vaccine passports,' and there’s talk of making them universal. The idea is simple: Once you’ve received your shots, you get a document or phone app, which you flash to gain entry to previously locked-down venues—restaurants, theaters, sports arenas, offices, schools.

"It sounds like a way of easing coercive lockdown restrictions, but it’s the opposite. To see why, consider dining. Restaurants in most parts of the U.S. have already reopened, at limited capacity in some places. A vaccine passport would prohibit entry by potential customers who haven’t received their shots. It would restrict the freedom even of those who have: If you’re vaccinated but your spouse isn’t, forget about dining out as a couple.

"Planes and trains, which have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, would suddenly be off-limits to the unvaccinated. The only places where restrictions would be relatively eased would be those still fully locked down, such as many live-event venues and schools. Yet even there, the passport idea depends on keeping the underlying restrictions in place — giving officials an incentive to do so for much longer as leverage to overcome vaccine resistance.

"The vaccine passport should therefore be understood not as an easing of restrictions but as a coercive scheme to encourage vaccination. Such measures can be legitimate: Many schools require immunization against common childhood illnesses, and visitors to some African countries must be vaccinated against yellow fever. But Covid vaccine passports would harm, not benefit, public health. The idea that everybody needs to be vaccinated is as scientifically baseless as the idea that nobody does. 

"Covid vaccines are essential for older, high-risk people and their caretakers and advisable for many others. But those who’ve been infected are already immune. The young are at low risk, and children — for whom no vaccine has been approved anyway — are at far less risk of death than from the flu. If authorities mandate vaccination of those who don’t need it, the public will start questioning vaccines in general.

"Effective public health relies on trust. The public has lost trust in officials in part because they’ve performed poorly — relying on lockdowns to disastrous effect — and in part because they’ve made clear their distrust of the public. Trust, after all, is a two-way street. Coercive vaccination policies would erode trust even further. Even well-informed people may legitimately wonder: Why are they forcing me to take this shot if it’s so good for me?

"Vaccine passports are unjust and discriminatory. Most of those endorsing the idea belong to the laptop class — privileged professionals who worked safely and comfortably at home during the epidemic. Millions of Americans did essential jobs at their usual workplaces and became immune the hard way. Now they would be forced to risk adverse reactions from a vaccine they don’t need.... 

"The widespread use of vaccines against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, rabies and other pathogens has saved millions of lives. Vaccines are one of the most important inventions in human history — the reason that before last year many in the West had forgotten that infectious disease could pose a populationwide threat. Those pushing for coercive Covid vaccination threaten all this progress by undermining public trust in vaccines. In this sense, they are more dangerous than the small group of so-called anti-vaxxers have ever been."

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/vaccine-passports-prolong-lockdowns-11617726629

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

New York's vaccine pass fails

New York's vaccine passport program is already failing | The Dossier - Jordan Schachtel:

April 5, 2021 - "The New York State 'Excelsior Pass'  vaccine passport system, which was created by IBM, has so many issues that I wouldn’t be surprised if the program was scrapped altogether before the end of the calendar year. It has massive security flaws, a shrinking customer base by design, it remains incredibly impractical, and it’s incredibly easy to manipulate.... Excelsior Pass sucks, thanks to the idiocracy 

"Say you want to attend a Knicks game this evening at Madison Square Garden, a partner to the Excelsior Pass program. It’s 9 a.m. and your event is at 7:30 p.m. If you don’t have the vaccine yet, that means you will need to obtain a negative COVID-19 test to receive your pass. Want to take that test this morning? Not so fast! The antigen test needs to have been administered within the last 6 hours, so you better plan your entire day around navigating that short window between your COVID test and the event this evening.

"Just received your second dose and you’re ready to hit the town? Not so fast! You must wait at least two weeks before your green check mark appears on your vaccine passport. Has it been more than 90 days since your last dose? Rejected! You only have a 76 day window (more than 14 days, under 90 days) to acquire a vax pass, which has to be renewed every 30 days.

"Received a vaccine or COVID test from out of state? Took a private at home test kit or a test from a provider that is not registered in the New York State central database? Looks like you’re out of luck. You will not be able to receive your prized Excelsior Pass, because your information never made it into the system.

"Are you an out of state resident looking to attend an event or enter an Excelsior Pass participating store? You’re out of luck! The New York system does not communicate with other databases, and other states plan on rewarding vaccine passport contracts to other companies.

"In order to download Excelsior Pass on your phone, you need the latest version of Android or iOS. For users of phones that are more than 4-5 years, this means you will not be able to access the application. If you have an iPhone 6 or earlier, you can’t download Excelsior Pass because it only runs on the latest operating system, which doesn’t work on these older phones.

"Users of the app are absolutely hammering it for its dysfunction. Of the 240 reviews for the application on iOS, over 100 reviews received 1 star out of 5....

"The IBM-New York vaccine passport system has incredibly lax security protocols, making it easy for a random individual to steal your identity and obtain Gov. Cuomo’s vaunted Excelsior Pass. In order to see if someone is eligible for an Excelsior Pass (and acquire their COVID-19 health records), all you need is a first and last name, a date of birth, and a zip code (yes, not even their address, just their zip code). If you’re eligible for the pass, you then get taken to a second screen where you have to enter more relatively easily obtained information to 'verify your identity.' Even if you get some questions wrong, it appears that you can go back in and answer an unlimited amount of times until you get the right combination. 

"Vaccine passports are inhumane, discriminatory, and will lead America on a direct path to a China-like social credit score system that restricts our unalienable rights. The good news for you New Yorkers is that the Cuomo Administration and IBM are the dream team of incompetence. Excelsior Pass will almost certainly fail, because a legacy governor and a legacy tech outfit are not sophisticated enough to produce a working totalitarian product for their COVID Safety Regime."

Read more: https://dossier.substack.com/p/new-yorks-vaccine-passport-program

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Children left behind in USA's return to normal

Will COVID hysterics ever let our children live normal lives? | New York Post - Karol Markowicz

April 11, 2021 - "The end of the pandemic is nigh. Americans continue to get vaccinated at a rapid clip. Life will be moving on. Except, it seems, for children. For more than a year, they have suffered from irrational, unscientific and downright superstitious policies inflicted upon them by adults — and there is no end in sight.

"In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ­issued new guidance that three-foot social distancing suffices in schools, instead of the usual six. Yet in many localities where teachers unions wield power, schools still didn’t fully reopen. In New York City, schools have ­reopened on a (very) part-time basis in large part owing to the ­debunked six-foot rule. United Federation of Teachers boss Michael Mulgrew immediately balked at the guidance, calling it 'strange' and saying the union would consult with its own experts. But the real question is: Why do kids even need to socially distance at all?

"Many places in Europe, including Britain, as well as some schools across America, long ago scrapped social-distancing ­requirements for kids. They opened their schools and kept them open. That’s ­because ­research has repeatedly showed that children are at minuscule risk from the disease and also transmit it a much lower rate than do adults.

"We also need to cut it out with the masking of kids. Let’s notice that every video of a 2-year-old being escorted off an airplane for not wearing a mask is set in America. On European flights, masks are required for ages 6 and up.... And while masking 6-year-olds still seems unnecessary and should hopefully end soon, it’s saner than sticking one on a toddler. 

"In November, Maria van Kerkhove, head of the World Health Organization’s emerging-diseases unit, clarified that 'for children under 6 years old, we don’t recommend the use of masks.' This, she said, was 'for many reasons — because of the way children are developing' and because enforcing adherence is a fool’s errand. She added: 'Between 6 [and] 11, we recommend taking a risk-based approach depending on where the children are, the types of activities they are doing.'

"Yet last week, YouTube removed a video of scientists from places like Stanford saying much the same to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Google-owned video service called it 'medical misinformation.' This, even though last April, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcocki said her site would interdict 'anything that would go against World Health ­Organization recommendations.' In this case, it’s YouTube itself that was contradicting WHO....

"There is a specific reason ­other developed nations treat children differently than adults, and it seems hard for the coronavirus hysterics to accept: Again, COVID-19 largely doesn’t affect children. 

"Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), caused a stir when he said last August that 'seasonal flu is actually, in many cases, a deadlier virus if [kids] contract that' — a claim that Politifact was forced to rate 'mostly true.' It’s actually completely true, and if this is surprising news, it’s because the CDC, virus guru Dr. Anthony Fauci and the media at large have failed to tell the truth about COVID’s risks to children and the risks of children spreading it to adults."

Read more: https://nypost.com/2021/04/11/will-covid-hysterics-ever-let-our-children-live-normal-lives/ 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Lockdowns return to India & South America

Fresh COVID lockdowns worldwide as vaccine efforts stumble | Al Jazeera

April 10, 2021 - "Fresh lockdowns and curfews have been imposed on tens of millions of people from India to Argentina as COVID-19 infections surged again and vaccine rollouts were hampered by shortages and fears of side effects. 

"In India, the worst-hit state of Maharashtra was running out of vaccines as the health system buckled under the weight of the contagion ... [India] the world’s second-most populous nation has added more than a million new infections since late March. Every weekend, from Saturday until the end of April, Maharashtra’s 125 million people will be confined to their homes unless travelling or shopping for food or medicine.

"Stay-at-home orders were also set to come into force for the eight million inhabitants of Bogota, as the Colombian capital battled a third wave of infections, adding to curfews already covering seven million across four other big cities. Argentina entered a night-time curfew on Friday, running from midnight to 6am every day until April 30. It will be in force in the country’s highest-risk areas, mainly urban centres, where bars and restaurants will close at 11pm. Argentina and Colombia have recorded about 2.5 million coronavirus cases, numbers surpassed only by Brazil in the region.

"All of France is subject to restrictions of some form, while the German government’s attempts to curb movement and commerce have been stymied by several states refusing to go along with the proposals. Now Berlin is changing the rules to centralise power, adjustments likely to usher in night-time curfews.... 

"But some countries were in the process of opening up. Italy was set to end lockdowns from next week for Lombardy, the epicentre of its coronavirus pandemic, and several other regions with improving contagion statistics. Neighbouring Slovenia announced it would ease coronavirus restrictions and suspend a six-month-long curfew starting on Monday....

"In Brazil, the Senate said it would open an inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic, as President Jair Bolsonaro continued to resist lockdown measures even with COVID-19 deaths at new records. Yet, on Friday, Rio de Janeiro was reversing restrictions in place for two weeks, reopening restaurants and bars, though the city’s famed beaches remained closed."

Read more: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/10/fresh-virus-lockdowns-around-the-world-as-vaccine-efforts-stumble

Sunday, April 11, 2021

A fat chance of dying with Covid

Lockdowns Worsen the Health Crisis | American Institute of Economic Research - Kiley Holliday & Jenin Younes: 

March 27, 2021 - "A recent global study found that obesity is a 'driving factor in COVID-19 deaths,' and that Covid-19 death rates are an astonishing ten times higher in countries where most adults are overweight.  Although advanced age is the strongest indicator of a severe outcome from a coronavirus infection, 'being overweight comes a close second,' the report determined.  The CEO of the World Obesity Federation went so far as to blame the 'failure to address the root causes of obesity over many decades ... for hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths.'  While the study makes evident the degree to which poor underlying health is a driving force in coronavirus deaths, we have known almost since the beginning that being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk of a severe outcome.

"Given this information, the Anthony Faucis and Eric Feigl-Dings of the world should focus on alerting people to the dangers of being overweight and obese, and expending significant efforts to encourage exercise and healthy diet.  Instead, they have spent the past twelve months urging people to 'stay home, save lives' and to wear two masks, if not three or four, a measure not shown to have mitigated coronavirus deaths at all.

"In a similar vein, governors around the country have ordered gyms closed, along with countless other businesses.  In New York, gyms have been open since this past summer, but patrons must wear a mask at all times ... despite the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) advised against wearing a mask while exercising, pointing to research demonstrating that wearing them even during mild to moderate physical activity can 'lead to significant negative cardiovascular and pulmonary effects in both healthy people and those with underlying respiratory diseases'.... Likewise, especially at the beginning of the crisis, governors around the nation closed playgrounds, national parks, and hiking trails, another policy choice that simply deprived people of the opportunity to engage in healthy outdoor activities.... 

"The exhortations of the 'stay home' crowd, as well as the implementation of measures such as gym and park closures have had the expected impact, which is that 42 percent of adults in the United States reported undesired weight gain during the past year, with an average of twenty-nine pounds.  Millennials as a group fared the absolute worst, with 48 percent reporting unwanted weight gain, at an average of forty-one pounds.  Suffice it to say, a significant portion of adults who in March of 2020 were not at substantial risk of a severe outcome from coronavirus now can be categorized as in an elevated risk group.

"The cause of this national belt-loosening is not merely staying home and moving around less, but anxiety and depression caused by social isolation, both of which have been demonstrated to cause weight gain and obesity.  Society has now organized itself around the principle of depriving people of meaningful social contact with family, friends, and coworkers for the better part of a year.  One need not have a degree in psychology to recognize that such an approach is bound to aggravate the obesity crisis, as indeed it has. In fact, our newly confirmed Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy has written an entire book on health effects of loneliness, arguing that it is associated with increased risk of heart disease, dementia, obesity, and sleep disorders.

"Yet despite these circumstances, publications such as the New York Times have been running grossly irresponsible pieces with headlines such as Should You Worry About Your Kid’s Pandemic Weight Gain?  (the answer of the author, Virginia Sole-Smith is, generally speaking, ‘no’).... Sole-Smith ascribes the rising incidence of childhood obesity to the pandemic itself, rather than the decision to shutter classrooms for many months. She contends that because childhood dieting can lead to adult eating disorders, parents should avoid treating their children’s weight gain as a 'problem to be solved'.... 

"A more recent Times article, by Sandra E. Garcia, dodged the issue of underlying health, and instead argued that people whose body mass index (BMI) qualified them for early vaccination should take advantage of that status.... Apparently, Garcia’s ideological commitment to the narrative of identity politics precludes any admission that being overweight, and particularly obese, is a significant predictor of a severe outcome from a coronavirus infection, and that many people can take steps to lose weight and thereby become healthier and even remove themselves from at-risk categories.  Getting vaccinated will not solve the larger problem, as it can only protect one from the coronavirus and does not cure the various comorbidities resulting from poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle....  

"We suspect that one day, the quarantining of entire societies that was carried out in response to the coronavirus pandemic, leading to vast swaths of the population becoming unhealthier overall and ironically more susceptible to severe outcomes from the virus, will be seen as the 21st century version of bloodletting.  As the epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff has observed, public health is not just about one disease, but all health outcomes.  Apparently, in 2020, the authorities forgot this obvious truth."

Read more: https://www.aier.org/article/lockdowns-worsen-the-health-crisis/