Saturday, July 31, 2021

Sunetra Gupta explains how viruses work

A Framework for Understanding Pathogens, Explained by Sunetra Gupta | Brownstone Institute - Jeffrey A. Tucker: 

June 19, 2021 - "Early last year, ... the lockdown lobby relied on argument by intimidation. They know about viruses. You do not. They know about public health. You do not. They have precise and complex models. You do not. They have university appointments and positions of power. You do not. People who would normally favor the primacy of liberty, property, and law fell silent, as if intellectually outgunned. The public, lacking knowledge too, acquiesced to lockdowns. The politicians panicked, throwing out everything they thought they knew about good governance.... 

"Thus did I embark on a long journey to learn about the history of pandemics, the cell biology of viruses and their interaction with the human population, the relationship between pandemics and the eventual endemic equilibrium, herd immunity and vaccinations, and all of the other features of infectious disease that have become so heavily debated this year.... I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve read, including even medical school textbooks on viruses (what a slog!) as well as countless papers, in addition to probably one hundred hours of lectures online.... 

"I just finished one book that stands out, and that I wish I had read a year and a half ago. It’s brilliant, erudite, precise, evocative to the point of being visionary, and capable of completely shifting one’s view toward pathogens and the social order. It is a work of genius.... The author is the legendary Oxford University theoretical epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta, one of the signers of the Great Barrington Declaration. The title of the book I find rather regrettable because it sounds coldly clinical rather than literary: Pandemics: Our Fears and the Facts.... Dr. Gupta, I suspect, wrote this book to familiarize readers with the normalcy of pathogens, and to explain why it is not likely that an entirely new and deadly disease will arrive to wipe out large swaths of the human race.... 

"With computer viruses, the way to deal with them is to block them.... One exposure could mean data loss, identity theft, and even machine death. Despite what Bill Gates seems to believe, our bodies are not the same. Exposure to milder forms of germs works to protect us against more severe forms. The cell memory of our body is trained through experience, not by blocking all bugs but by incorporating the capacity to fight them off into our biology. This is the essence of how vaccines work, but more than that, it is how our whole immune system works. Pursuing an agenda of zero-pathogenic exposure is the road to disaster and death. We did not evolve that way and we cannot live this way. Indeed we will die if we take the route. 

"I hesitate to put any words in Professor Gupta’s mouth but I will try to summarize the one major lesson of this book. Pathogens will always be with us, their forms always changing, and thus the best protection we have against severe outcomes from those that threaten us is immunities built by exposure to milder forms of them. She explores this idea in great depth, applies it to past pandemics, and examines the implications for the future....

"The applications of this general principle are wide. Why was the Spanish flu so virulent against young people while mainly sparing old people? She speculates that there had been a whole generation of young people who had lacked exposure to influenzas. The records indicate that for the 20 years prior, there had been no major flu outbreaks, so when this one hit following the Great War, it was particularly cruel against those with naive immune systems, most of whom were between 20 and 40 years old. By contrast, the elderly had been exposed to a flu earlier in their lives that imbued them with natural immunity from this more deadly one.

"Does this mean that with every new pathogen we can and must expect widespread death before its harms are minimized? Not at all. With most pathogens, there is a negative correlation between severity and prevalence. Viruses with unimpressive performance kill their host quickly and thereby do not spread – Ebola is the classic case here.... 

"However, widespread death isn’t necessary before the pathogen population collapses and dies — there will come a point in the natural course of every epidemic when a non-immune host will become very hard to find, and most infections will have been cleared before they’ve had a chance to transmit. This is because the density of susceptible hosts will have fallen, either because they are now immune or dead. And so the epidemic will start to diminish and will eventually burn itself out. Once the disease has run its course, the host population can start to recover and attempt to return to its original density. In time, the proportion of susceptible individuals in a population becomes high enough for the disease to make a comeback, but — unless a disease does not revisit a population for a very long time — the second epidemic will always be smaller, and the third time, smaller still. This is because much of the population will still be immune each time another epidemic occurs. Eventually, an equilibrium is reached where the infectious agent kills a constant number of individuals every year, which is a very small proportion of what it could achieve in ‘virgin soil’. At this stage, the disease is said to be ‘endemic’ rather than epidemic.

"To be sure, the reaching of this endemic equilibrium does not mean that the virus is no longer a threat. When a virus encounters a generation or a tribe or a territory where immune memory is unprepared, it can indeed be wicked once again. The struggle between us and the bugs is unending but our bodies have well equipped us with huge advantages, so long as we are wise about its biological management."

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Pandemics: Our Fears and the Facts on Amazon

Friday, July 30, 2021

The rising costs of Canada's lockdowns

 What 16 months of COVID lockdowns have cost us | National Post - Tristin Hopper:

July 28, 2021 -"Canada’s pandemic response, particularly in Ontario, has been defined by strict lockdowns — often at a level of severity well beyond anything seen in the rest of the developed world. It will take years to fully assess the societal costs of social distancing, from learning loss in schools to a rise in famine conditions caused by disruptions to global trade. Below is a rough accounting of the price Canada has paid thus far.

"In March 2020 ... the country’s federal debt stood at $721.4 billion. Only one year later, the Department of Finance was pegging the debt load at $1.2 trillion.... And that’s just federal spending. COVID-19 has also blown out the debt of every other conceivable public institution in the country. In the three post-pandemic years, Ontario is set to run up as much debt as the prior 10 years combined.... Dozens of Canadian post-secondary institutions are posting multi-million dollar deficits, often for the first time. Newfoundland and Labrador’s already-shaky financial situation has been thrust onto the brink of bankruptcy.... For now, all this unprecedented borrowing has not overly compromised Canada’s federal credit rating, but the consequences will begin to show in future budgets as the cost of servicing debt becomes our single greatest public expense....

"It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the number of businesses wiped out by COVID-19, but a running list of retail closures includes everything from the shuttering of 300 Canadian Starbucks locations to the mass-closure of Canadian Disney stores. In November, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business was estimating that 225,000 firms would not survive the pandemic. 

"And the worst wave of business closures may be yet to come. Last month, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce projected that a disproportionately high rate of bankruptcies and business closures could extend well into 2022. Many businesses that were critically wounded by COVID-19 remain open by taking on debt or relying on government supports such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy....

"As of this writing, Canadian COVID-19 deaths stood at 26,550. Second only to the Spanish Flu, the toll makes COVID-19 our deadliest natural disaster. However, Canada’s average death rate (70.53 per 100,000) is roughly in league with Israel, which has often received praise for its handling of the pandemic....However, COVID-19 deaths have overshadowed a dramatic rise in fatalities in other areas, often as as a direct result of pandemic measures.

"Most notably, the opioid crisis has never been worse. Between April and December of 2020, 5,148 Canadians died of an overdose, a rise of 89 per cent over the same period in 2019. As Health Canada has theorized, border closures made the illicit drug supply more toxic, and social distance caused the curbing of medical services that had previously been instrumental in keeping many addicts alive.

"The months-long suspension of routine medical services is also expected to yield a rise in preventable cancer deaths that will be playing out for years after the official end of lockdowns. Modelling by Statistics Canada has estimated ... an extra 440 Canadians will die of colorectal cancer as a result of the more than 540,000 screenings missed during the pandemic. A November paper in the Journal of Medical Screening similarly estimated that just six months of missed mammograms could yield up to 250 additional breast cancer deaths in Canada. In Quebec, the province’s health ministry has estimated that up to 4,000 people have gone undiagnosed with cancer as a result of a sharp dropoff in mammograms, pap smears and colorectal cancer screens.

"One spot of good news, however, is that lockdowns haven’t inspired a spike in deaths in the one category where everybody assumed they would: suicides. Although the pandemic has played havoc with people’s mental health, the number of Canadians taking their own lives under lockdown has either remained stable or gone into decline." 

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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Mask mandates return to America

Local officials across U.S. are starting to reimpose Covid mask rules as delta variant takes hold | CNBC - Robert Towey:

July 21, 2021 - "From Los Angeles to Massachusetts, local officials across the country are pleading with Americans to once again wear masks inside as the delta variant rips through the U.S. Several counties across California and Nevada are now advising all residents to wear masks in public indoor settings — whether they are vaccinated or not. Local leaders in at least three more states have reinstated mask mandates, issued facial covering recommendations or threatened the return of strict public health limits for all residents....

"On Friday, seven counties in California’s Bay Area recommended using masks indoors, stopping short of a full mandate. The city of Berkeley, California, similarly called for the continued use of masks. Further south, Los Angeles County restored its mask mandate for public indoor places on Saturday. The county initially eliminated the mandate on Thursday.... 

"In Massachusetts, officials in Provincetown advised all individuals Monday to resume wearing masks indoors.... New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell authorized an indoor mask advisory on Wednesday.... And New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Tuesday that he wanted to avoid reinstating a mask mandate.... 'For the time being, I hope we don’t have to do that,' Murphy said. 'If we have to, we will.'"

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The Mask-Mandate Debate Is Back. Here’s What to Know | The Intelligencer, New York magazine - Chas Danner:

July 29, 2021 - "The CDC on Tuesday advised all Americans, including people who are fully vaccinated, to mask up indoors in public places again, anywhere in the country that is seeing significant spread of COVID-19. In addition, the agency also wound back its guidance on face masks in schools, and is now advising all students and staff to wear masks during in-person learning, regardless of their vaccination status....

"Following the CDC announcement on Tuesday, Nevada quickly announced that it would once again require everyone in the state to wear face masks indoors in public. The House, too, announced that masks would be required for any work indoors on their side of the Capitol. And Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, D.C., announced Thursday that masks will be required indoors for everyone over the age of 2 by the start of the weekend....

"Boston, Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wisconsin, have all announced that they will require public-school students and staff to wear masks regardless of vaccination status. California is requiring face masks in schools, but deferring enforcement to local school officials. And in light of the CDC’s new guidelines, it’s now likely that many more state and local officials will follow suit, if they haven’t already."

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The story behind the Long Covid story

The Dubious Origins of Long Covid | Wall Street Journal - Jeremy Devine:

March 22, 2021 - "‘Long Covid,” or post-Covid syndrome, is an emerging condition that has attracted great media attention — and now [U.S.] federal funding. The National Institutes of Health [NIH] last month announced a $1.15 billion initiative to research the 'prolonged health consequences' of Covid-19 infection. The topic deserves serious study. Some patients, particularly older ones with co-morbidities, do experience symptoms that outlast a coronavirus infection. But such symptoms can also be psychologically generated or caused by a physical illness unrelated to the prior infection. Long Covid is largely an invention of vocal patient activist groups....

"The concept of long Covid has a highly unorthodox origin: online surveys produced by Body Politic, which launched in 2018 and describes itself atop its website’s homepage as 'a queer feminist wellness collective merging the personal and the political.' In March 2020, the group’s co-founders created the Body Politic Covid-19 Support Group, and as part of their mission of 'cultivating patient led research,' the organization coordinated a series of online surveys on persistent symptoms. Based on the results of these, Body Politic produced the first report on long Covid in May.

"But many of the survey respondents who attributed their symptoms to the aftermath of a Covid-19 infection likely never had the virus in the first place. Of those who self-identified as having persistent symptoms attributed to Covid and responded to the first survey, not even a quarter had tested positive for the virus. Nearly half (47.8%) never had testing and 27.5% tested negative for Covid-19. Body Politic publicized the results of a larger, second survey in December 2020. Of the 3,762 respondents, a mere 600, or 15.9%, had tested positive for the virus at any time....

"This didn’t perturb NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, who has repeatedly supported the Body Politic Covid-19 Support Group’s patient-led research initiatives, promoting the surveys in a series of official blog posts. In the announcement of the NIH’s decision to commit $1.15 billion to long Covid research, Dr. Collins explicitly referred to the Body Politic research surveys.

This subjugation of scientific rigor to preconceived belief reflects a common dynamic encountered in clinical practice. Patients who struggle with chronic and vague symptoms often vehemently reject a physician’s diagnosis that suggests an underlying mental-health issue, in part because of the stigma around mental illness and the false belief that psychologically generated symptoms aren’t 'real.' By relinquishing the need for objective serological confirmation, and by claiming that long Covid can manifest in a mind-boggling 205 different symptoms, the Body Politic Covid-19 Support Group offered its readership exactly this attractive alternative, leading patients away from treatments that could actually ease their symptoms.

"Body Politic wasn’t the only patient advocacy group that drove the NIH funding commitment. Solve ME/CFS (which stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) was founded in 1987 by patients who felt their chronic and numerous medical complaints — including fatigue, “brain fog,” and an inability to exert themselves physically or mentally — were being dismissed by their physicians and neglected by the medical community.... In 2017, frustrated by the lack of mainstream recognition of their condition, Solve ME/CFS hired a lobbyist to pressure federal agencies to commit more funds to research. Then, in December 2020, likely sensing an intuitive link with the emerging idea of long Covid syndrome, this same organization spearheaded a letter — also signed by Body Politic — to congressional leaders urging more federal funding be dedicated to investigating long Covid....

"A central feature underlying many psychosomatic-symptom disorders is a fixed belief that one is ill and unlikely to recover. By drawing attention to and legitimizing the ever-present threat of long Covid, medical authorities will lead a large group of impressionable patients to believe that their Covid-19 symptoms have not resolved and that they are helpless victims of an unrelenting sickness. 

"In the past century, the media has played a critical role in perpetuating psychogenic illnesses —  chronic brucellosis in the 1940s, chronic Epstein Barr virus in the 1980s, and today (although scientifically debunked) chronic Lyme disease. It is therefore alarming to witness the recent proliferation of uncritical and sensational media stories about long Covid. The NIH’s decision is a victory for pseudoscience and will do more to harm than help patients."

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Dr. Devine is a resident psychiatrist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Covid unvaccinated face anger and blaming

As Virus Cases Rise, Another Contagion Spreads Among the Vaccinated: Anger | New York Times - Roni Caryn Rabin:

July 27, 2021 - "As coronavirus cases resurge across the country, many inoculated Americans are losing patience with vaccine holdouts who, they say, are neglecting a civic duty or clinging to conspiracy theories and misinformation even as new patients arrive in emergency rooms and the nation renews mask advisories.

"The country seemed to be exiting the pandemic; barely a month ago, a sense of celebration was palpable. Now many of the vaccinated fear for their unvaccinated children and worry that they are at risk themselves for breakthrough infections. Rising case rates are upending plans for school and workplace reopenings, and threatening another wave of infections that may overwhelm hospitals in many communities....

"The rising sentiment is contributing to support for more coercive measures. Scientists, business leaders and government officials are calling for vaccine mandates — if not by the federal government, then by local jurisdictions, schools, employers and businesses.

"On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City ordered that all municipal workers be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the time schools reopen in mid-September or face weekly testing. Officials in California followed suit hours later with a similar mandate covering all state employees and health care workers. 

"The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday required that 115,000 on-site health care workers be vaccinated in the next two months, the first federal agency to order a mandate. Nearly 60 major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, on Monday called for mandatory vaccination of all health care workers.

"'It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks,' a frustrated Gov. Kay Ivey, Republican of Alabama, told reporters last week....

"As a result of lagging vaccination and lifted restrictions, infections are rising. As of Sunday, the country was seeing 52,000 new cases daily, on average, a 170 percent increase over the previous two weeks. Hospitalization and death rates are increasing, too, although not as quickly.

"Communities from San Francisco to Austin, Texas, are recommending that vaccinated people wear masks again in public indoor settings. Citing the spread of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus, the counties of Los Angeles and St. Louis, Mo., have ordered indoor mask mandates. For many Americans who were vaccinated months ago, the future is beginning to look grim."

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Monday, July 26, 2021

Tens of thousands protest vaccine pass in France

Tens of thousands protest against health pass in France | Euronews - with AFP:

July 25, 2021 - "Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in the streets of France on Saturday afternoon against the extension of the health pass and compulsory vaccination for certain professions. It was the second weekend in a row to see thousands rally on the streets against the government’s decision to make it compulsory to have a health pass in order to access restaurants, bars and other cultural establishments. The pass attests that the holder has either been fully vaccinated, has tested negative over the previous 24 hours or has recovered from COVID during the previous six months. The new measure was announced last week by President Emmanuel Macron in a bid to boost vaccinations....

"Several thousand people, divided into at least three rallies, began demonstrating in the early afternoon in Paris. Mostly made up of ‘yellow vest’ protesters, a first procession set off shortly after 2pm from the Place de la Bastille, bound for the Porte de Champerret. In the Trocadero square several thousand people, rarely masked, gathered at the call of Florian Philippot. 'You are thousands,' said the President of the Patriots and former RN No. 2, between two 'Marseillaise'.... Finally, a third procession, made up of several hundred people, left the area around the Conseil d'Etat, bound for the Place des Invalides.

"These demonstrations come as a very large majority of French people (76%) approve of President Emmanuel Macron's decision to make vaccination compulsory for health care workers and other professions, with penalties attached, according to an Elabe poll for BFMTV on 13 July.... 

"Outside Paris, rallies are taking place in dozens of cities and towns in France. In Marseilles, thousands of people of all generations marched in a good-natured atmosphere to cries of 'Freedom, Freedom' or 'Macron, your pass, we don't want it', AFP noted.... At least a dozen rallies are taking place in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Demonstrations are taking place in Valence where there are several thousand people, in Lyon, in Auxerre where several hundred people are marching, in Bourg-en-Bresse, in Grenoble. In the Grand Est region, some 4,000 people are demonstrating, according to the police.

"Last Saturday, more than 110,000 people demonstrated throughout France against vaccination, "dictatorship" or the health pass, including 18,000 in Paris divided into several processions and 96,000 in the rest of the country, according to the Interior Ministry.

"A source of debate and the subject of numerous amendments in the National Assembly, the presentation of a health pass came partially into force on Wednesday. Already applied in cultural and leisure venues, its extension to cafés, restaurants and trains is planned for the beginning of August....

"A provision of the new text, currently being examined by the Senate after a first reading in the National Assembly, opens the way to dismissal for workers in establishments receiving the public who refuse to obtain a health pass. The bill also provides for compulsory vaccination for health care workers, firefighters and those working with the elderly."

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Sunday, July 25, 2021

US Dems blame Facebook for own vaccine failure

Biden Wants To Punish Facebook for the Government's Own Vaccine Failures | Reason - Robby Soave:

July 20, 2021 - "The federal government is stepping up its war on Facebook: President Joe Biden has accused Mark Zuckerberg's social media platform of failing to purge anti-vaccine content, thus contributing to vaccine hesitancy and 'killing people,' said the president. 

"Now the White House is considering methods of tinkering with Section 230, the federal statute that immunizes internet platforms from legal liability, in order to punish Facebook for failing to do everything the government wants. 'We're reviewing that, and certainly they should be held accountable,' said Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director, in response to a question about Section 230 posed by Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski.

"Biden has long supported getting rid of Section 230, though it would take an act of Congress to do so. Ironically, Section 230 is equally unpopular with many Republicans — including former President Donald Trump, who has called for its total repeal — because they consider it a sort of special perk enjoyed by tech companies that are purportedly hostile to conservative users. But the Biden administration's latest threats should disabuse Republicans of their anti-230 notions once and for all. The White House wants Facebook to proactively censor more content, and views Section 230 as an obstacle.... Democrats in the federal government want to repeal Section 230 so that tech companies have no choice but to ban more content.

"Anti-Facebook Republicans are making a tactical error; the Biden White House, on the other hand, is just plain wrong about the degree to which social media is responsible for vaccine hesitancy. By focusing on the perceived harms of too much anti-vax content on Facebook, the administration is neglecting a dozen other strategies it could pursue to boost countrywide vaccination.

"For one, it's far from clear that social media — or Facebook in particular — is predominantly responsible for vaccine hesitancy, a problem that predates the internet. Facebook users are actually more likely to be vaccinated than the average U.S. citizen, according to the company's data. 'The data shows that 85 percent of Facebook users in the U.S. have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19,' wrote Guy Rosen, Facebook's vice president of integrity. 'President Biden's goal was for 70 percent of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed.'

"Misinformation exists on every medium and in every form of communication from radio to television to word of mouth. The government itself has spread misinformation about COVID-19, from early (bad) guidance on masks to coronavirus czar Anthony Fauci's deliberate misstatements about herd immunity.... It's naive to presume that social media is the primary driver of vaccine hesitancy.... Even the focus on Facebook, as opposed to other sites like YouTube—where anti-vaccine content is probably more widespread — betrays the government's limited understanding of the scope of these issues. It seems that many Democrats still incorrectly attribute Hillary Clinton's 2016 loss to Facebook malfeasance: They have updated their grievances but retained the same target....

"If the White House wants to promote vaccination — a worthy goal! — it should stop being so obsessed with what's happening on Facebook, and social media more broadly. Instead, Biden should push the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to, you know, actually approve the vaccines, which are currently available under emergency use authorization. Despite the global pandemic, federal regulators are proceeding as if there's no reason to rush: Full authorization of the Pfizer vaccine is not expected until January. If the government wants to ease reluctant people's trepidation that the vaccines are in some sense experimental, moving faster on this front would do more good than heckling Mark Zuckerberg."

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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Aussie gov'ts to crack down on lockdown protests

Sydney anti-lockdown protesters slammed as ‘selfish’ and 'self-entitled' as police vow to make further arrests | Sky News - AAP|SBS: 

July 24, 2021 - "Thousands of protesters who marched through Sydney's CBD in objection to the city's COVID-19 lockdowns have been slammed as 'selfish' and 'self-entitled'. NSW Police Minister David Elliott has announced the formation of a strike force comprised of 22 detectives to identify and track down the estimated 3,500 protesters who marched through the city on Saturday.... 'I’m hoping we issue 3,500 infringement notices, I’m hoping we have people before the courts,' he told reporters on Saturday afternoon.... Mr Elliott described the protest as an 'absolute disgrace', saying the 'selfish and inappropriate behaviour' of protesters is 'what's going to continue this city into lockdown'....

"Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement that she was 'utterly disgusted' by the protesters who had shown 'utter contempt for their fellow citizens'.... NSW Police released a statement acknowledging the attendees were in breach of the COVID-19 rules.... Thousands of angry people, many of whom were unmasked, marched from inner Sydney's Victoria Park to Town Hall in the central business district. They broke through a police barrier to continue down George Street but were stopped at King Street. 

"There is a heavy police presence in Sydney, including mounted police and riot officers.... Greater Sydney has been locked down for the past four weeks, with residents only able to leave home with a reasonable excuse.

"NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard condemned the planned protest as 'really silly' on Saturday morning.... NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said it was not the time for a protest. He said police wanted to work with the organisers to make sure people were complying with public health orders and that it did not turn into a 'disastrous' mass spreading event....

"Meanwhile, in Melbourne, a separate anti-lockdown protest was brought to a violent end by police. An AAP photographer wearing visible press accreditation was pepper sprayed as police cleared the rally, as were other photographers.... Thousands of protesters of all ages chanted 'freedom' as they gathered outside Victoria's Parliament House. Some lit flares. They held banners, including one that read: 'This is not about a virus it's about total government control of the people.'

"In a statement released on Saturday evening, Victorian Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius described the protesters as 'selfish' and having 'blatant disregard for others'.... He said police are reviewing the evidence from the protest ... 'to identify as many protesters as possible so that appropriate action can be taken against them'. Earlier, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews labelled the idea of protesting lockdown 'ridiculous'.... 

"Hundreds also rallied in Brisbane on Saturday. A car rally was also planned for locked-down Adelaide, with police warning they would make arrests over unlawful activity."

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Friday, July 23, 2021

UK vaccine pass legislation could be defeated

Labour likely to vote against vaccine passports, threatening Johnson with humiliating Commons defeat | The Independent - Adam Forrest:

July 21, 2021 - "Boris Johnson’s plans to bring in mandatory Covid vaccine 'passports' for crowded venues this autumn have been thrown into disarray after Labour signalled its opposition..... [A]round 40 Tory MPs are believed to be ready to rebel against the plan to make full vaccination a requirement of entry into nightclubs and other large venues from the end of September. With the Lib Dems already opposed to use of mandatory vaccine passports, Labour’s opposition could spell disaster for the government when a vote comes to the Commons.

"[Labour leader] Sir Keir Starmer used PMQs on Wednesday to criticise the prime minister’s decision to focus on vaccination alone, rather than allowing people to show they recently received a negative test. A Labour spokesperson later said: 'We need to see the detail of what the government puts forward regarding vaccine passports.' But the spokesperson added: 'We oppose the use of Covid vaccination status for everyday access to venues and services. It’s costly, open to fraud and is impractical. Being double jabbed doesn’t prove you aren’t carrying the virus. Testing for access to venues would be more efficient, and would give people and businesses more certainty.'

"In a fiery clash with Mr Johnson at PMQs, Sir Keir said: 'I remember when [the prime minister] used to say he’d eat an ID card if he ever had to produce one, and now he is introducing one. Sir Keir added: 'Why is it okay to go to a nightclub for the next six weeks without proof of a vaccine or a test, and then from September it will only be okay to get into a nightclub if you’ve got a vaccine ID card?'

"At least 42 Conservative MPs have signed a cross-Big Brother Watch Declaration against Covid status certification to deny individuals 'access to general services, businesses or jobs' in the past few months."

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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Half of ZeroCovid Australia locked down

Covid: Anger as half of Australians in lockdown again - BBC News:

July 21, 2021 - "Anger is growing in Australia as 13 million people - about half the population - endure fresh lockdowns to quash Covid outbreaks. A third state went into lockdown on Tuesday. Stay-at-home orders are now in place in South Australia, Victoria and parts of New South Wales.

"Many people have expressed frustration at being back in highly policed lockdowns 18 months into the pandemic. And re-openings in the UK and the US have put pressure on the government.

Fewer than 14% of people are vaccinated - the worst rating among OECD nations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been heavily criticised over the slow vaccination rate, but has resisted calls to apologise.... 915 people have died of Covid in Australia. Mr Morrison noted that the UK had recorded more than 90 deaths in a single day on Tuesday.

"Until recently, Australia's strategy of border closures, quarantine programmes and snap lockdowns helped keep cases low. But the highly contagious Delta variant has challenged these defences in the past month. The outbreak in Sydney - Australia's largest city - has infected more than 1,500 people and officials reported more than 110 new cases on Wednesday, despite the city being in lockdown for a fourth week.... 

"Sydney's lockdown could extend into September. Australian authorities have said they intend to eliminate local cases completely until a majority of people are vaccinated, but in Sydney eliminating cases could take months.

"Victoria - which saw 22 new infections on Wednesday - will keep its lockdown until at least Tuesday. And in south Australia a seven-day lockdown has been called after five cases of the Delta variant were found. Last month, a total of seven cities were in lockdown for a brief period.

"Critics say flawed reports about the AstraZeneca vaccine's rare clotting risk have made many Australians reluctant to take it. Australia only has limited supplies of its other authorised vaccine, from Pfizer."

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

67% have Covid antibodies in India

Covid-19 antibodies detected in 67% of India’s population | The Guardian - Hannah Ellis-Petersen:

July 21, 2021 - "Covid-19 antibodies have been detected in 67% of the population of India, according to a new survey, indicating how widely the virus spread through communities during the second wave. India’s fourth national sero-survey, which examines the prevalence of Covid-19 antibodies either through infection or vaccination, found that 67.6% of the population of more than 1.3 billion has coronavirus antibodies.

"The survey also demonstrated the slow pace of India’s vaccination programme. Of those surveyed, 62.2% had not been vaccinated, 24.8% had taken one dose and 13% were fully vaccinated.

"The survey result marks a significant rise from the last such survey which was conducted in December and January and found that just 24% of the population had antibodies. This recent survey was carried out in the final weeks of June and beginning of July, just as the second wave had abated, interviewing almost 29,000 people across India....

"Balram Bhargava, director general of the Indian Council for Medical Research ... warned that the survey showed 400 million Indians still did not have antibodies, and so were vulnerable to the third wave that experts are predicting will hit India within the next few months. In states such as Kerala and Assam, there has already been a severe spike in cases in recent days.

"The high prevalence of antibodies was mainly attributed to the virulent second wave which struck India in April. The virus spread like wildfire through both urban and rural areas, overwhelming hospitals and leading to a widespread shortage of oxygen ... fuelled by the highly transmissible Delta variant which emerged in India.

India’s official death toll from Covid-19 is more than 400,000 but that is believed to be a huge undercount, particularly when taking into consideration the results of the latest serosurvey. A new report released by the Centre for Global Development this week concluded that excess deaths in India during the pandemic could be as high as 4.7 million, 10 times the official toll.

"In the latest sero-survey, the age group with the highest prevalence was the 45-60 bracket, where over 77% had Covid-19 antibodies, while 66% of those between 18 and 44 were found to have antibodies."

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Greek lockdown enforcement violated rights, Amnesty International reports

Amnesty International finds Greek authorities have used the Covid-19 pandemic to violate the right to protest | Amnesty International

July 14, 2021 - "Under the guise of the Covid-19 pandemic the Greek authorities have used arbitrary arrests, blanket bans, unjustified fines and unlawful use of force to curb peaceful protest, new research by Amnesty International has revealed.... 

"'The Greek authorities used shocking tactics to try to scare women’s rights activists, trade unionists, members of political parties, lawyers and others who were participating or called for participation in peaceful protests in November and December 2020 after the country entered its second lockdown. Many were arbitrarily arrested, criminalized and handed unjustified fines in a blatant abuse of power by authorities.' [said] Kondylia Gogou, Greece Researcher at Amnesty International

"The Greek authorities have a responsibility to facilitate peaceful protest.... Restrictions to the right to freedom of peaceful assembly to curb the pandemic are permissible but must be subject to strict criteria, meet the principles of necessity and proportionality and assessed on a case-by-case basis. Governments do not have carte blanche to restrict human rights, even during a pandemic. 

“Greek authorities justified blanket bans on protest and other rights violations by citing the threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Ironically, they then implemented these bans by detaining protestors in enclosed spaces, putting them at much higher risk of transmission. 

"Curbs on peaceful protests were also codified into law in the months after Greece exited the first lockdown. Legislative reforms regulating demonstrations were introduced in July and September 2020 which allow for counter demonstrations to be prohibited and peaceful assemblies to be dispersed if organizers do not fulfil notification requirements. Legislation on the use of surveillance systems in demonstrations and its implementation also raise concerns including about a chilling effect ... on peaceful demonstrators. These changes will have far-reaching consequences which will last long beyond the end of the pandemic.... 

"Interviewees from a number of protests described how police resorted unnecessarily to the use of water cannon and chemical irritants against peaceful protesters. Some spoke of police hitting them on their heads with batons and using stun grenades in a way that could cause considerable injury....

"Once in police custody some of the individuals interviewed by Amnesty International described being subjected to treatment that may amount to torture or other ill-treatment. Aris Papazacharoudakis, a twenty-one year old protester said that he was tortured during his questioning by police.... '…They were throwing me from my chair, they were lifting me from my handcuffs (and) I felt that my shoulders would dislocate… It (was) a process of non-stop beating'…. 

Giorgos [not their real name] ... sustained a series of injuries during a student protest in Ioannina on 17 November 2020 ... 'I had fallen on the ground… before I got up, they threw stun grenades right  at us… I gave a mighty scream because the (stun grenade) exploded before my eyes and next to my left ear… (They) threw me on the ground and got me to a spot a little further away behind all  the other students and a little bit away  the cameras and there were five to six police officers who were  beating me up'.... 

"'The Greek authorities must halt the criminalization of peaceful assembly and annul any fines given to peaceful protesters, lawyers and women’s rights activists and those other individuals who were arbitrarily arrested prior and during the November and December 2020 demonstrations. Any charges against them for allegedly breaching public health rules must be dropped and prompt and thorough investigations must also be conducted into all the cases of human rights violations Amnesty International has documented,' said Kondylia Gogou." 

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Alison Abrahams on +32 483 680 812 [or] +44 20 7413 5566

Monday, July 19, 2021

UK's Freedom Day "a threat to the world" say ZeroCovid scientists

England’s Covid unlocking is threat to world, say 1,200 scientists | The Guardian - Ben Quinn: 

July 16, 2021 - "Boris Johnson’s plan to lift virtually all of England’s pandemic restrictions on Monday is a threat to the world and provides fertile ground for the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants, international experts say. Britain’s position as a global transport hub would mean any new variant here would rapidly spread around the world, scientists and physicians warned at an emergency summit.... Government advisers in New Zealand, Israel and Italy were among those who sounded alarm bells about the policy, while more than 1,200 scientists backed a letter to the Lancet journal warning the strategy could allow vaccine-resistant variants to develop.

"An adviser to New Zealand’s government told the summit he and his colleagues were astounded at the approach being taken in England. 'In New Zealand we have always looked to the UK for leadership when it comes to scientific expertise, which is why it’s so remarkable that it is not following even basic public health principles,' said Michael Baker*, a professor of public health at the University of Otago and a member of the New Zealand ministry of health’s Covid-19 technical advisory group.

"Also participating was Prof José Martin-Moreno* of the University of Valencia, a senior adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO), who said: 'We cannot understand why this is happening in spite of the scientific knowledge that you have'....

"What I fear is that that the some of the worst impulses in many of our states will follow the UK example,” said Dr William Haseltine, a former Harvard Medical School researcher and a pioneering Aids researcher who chairs Access Health International, a New York-based thinktank. 'I am extremely dismayed to see the very rapid rate of increasing infections in a population that is vaccinated pretty much like we are.'

"Prof Christina Pagel*, the director of University College London’s clinical operational research unit, told the meeting: 'Because of our position as a global travel hub, any variant that becomes dominant in the UK will likely spread to the rest of the globe. The UK policy doesn’t just affect us. It affects everybody and everybody has a stake in what we do.'

"The letter to the Lancet said: 'We believe the government is embarking on a dangerous and unethical experiment, and we call on it to pause plans to abandon mitigations on July 19, 2021.'

"The world is watching the current avoidable crisis unfold in the UK,' said Dr Deepti Gurdasani*, a clinical epidemiologist and senior lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, who is taking part in Friday’s summit. She added on Twitter: 'Let’s be under no illusions – we are in a country where our government is taking steps to maximally expose our young to a virus that causes chronic illness in many. Our govt is ending all protections for our children." 

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* - signatories of the John Snow memorandum

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Biden wants Facebook to do more deplatforming

Facebook is caught between two political parties, both of which want to control it and tell it whom to platform; and however it responds will only increase anger at it.

The Government Should Stop Telling Facebook To Suppress COVID-19 'Misinformation' | Reason - Robby Soave:

July 15, 2021 - "The federal government is stepping up its effort to purge the internet of COVID-19 'misinformation.' On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki singled out a dozen specific anti-vaccine Facebook accounts and called on the platform to ban them....

"The federal government is not explicitly ordering tech platforms to take down content. These dictates are essentially strongly-worded suggestions. But you're forgiven if you think Psaki's summary of the report sounded like a command. 'Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful, violative posts,' she said. 'Posts that would be within their policy for removal often remain up for days, and that's too long. The information spreads too quickly.'

"Psaki was alluding to anti-vaccine content, though the report itself impugns 'medical misinformation' more broadly. Of course, the government itself has spread plenty of 'medical misinformation,' from the early bad guidance on masks to White House coronavirus czar Anthony Fauci's deliberate misstatements about the herd immunity threshold. For months, government health officials treated the lab leak theory of COVID-19's origins as a wild conspiracy theory, and Facebook followed suit: It vigorously censored content that promoted the lab leak theory. That policy was not revised until June.

"Efforts by the government and tech platforms to suppress misinformation have undeniably resulted sometimes in the suppression of information that is ... or could plausibly turn out to be factual. (This has been the case outside the realm of pandemic-related content as well.) New initiatives undertaken by the federal government that would encourage Facebook to be even more heavy-handed with potential misinformation should be met with skepticism: The track record is just not very encouraging.

"The White House's targeting of Facebook should make critics a little sympathetic to Mark Zuckerberg's position. Prominent legislators from both political parties — as well as the current and former presidents — want to aggressively regulate his company if not break it apart entirely. Facebook's CEO must feel tremendous pressure to give federal health bureacrats exactly what they're asking for, or else.

"Instead of defending the rights of private companies to set their own moderation policies independent of whatever the government would like them to do, Republicans are taking this opportunity to further erode Facebook's autonomy. Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) even suggested that the site's submission to the feds renders it an agent of the state.... Hawley is essentially saying that a private company complying with the government becomes a state actor, and thus should be bound to the same restrictions as any other public agency. But Hawley and others are also attempting to punish these same private companies for not doing what [they want]. (In Hawley's case, he wants Facebook to suppress fewer posts.) That's quite a Catch-22: Facebook is in trouble either way."

Read more:

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Severe Covid illness 'extremely rare' in children

In Children, Risk of Covid-19 Death or Serious Illness Remains Extremely Low, New Studies Find - Wall Street Journal - Denise Roland:

July 8, 2021 - "Children are at extremely slim risk of dying from Covid-19, according to some of the most comprehensive studies to date, which indicate the threat might be even lower than previously thought. 

"Some 99.995% of the 469,982 children in England who were infected during the year examined by researchers survived, one study found. In fact, there were fewer deaths among children due to the virus than initially suspected. Among the 61 child deaths linked to a positive Covid-19 test in England, 25 were actually caused by the illness, the study found.

"The three studies, by researchers in the U.K. reviewing its national health system’s medical records or pulling together data from other countries, were published on preprint servers Thursday. The studies haven’t yet been reviewed by independent experts and are preliminary. The studies provide some of the most detailed analysis yet of severe illness and death from Covid-19 in children, a closely watched subject as schools prepare for a new academic year and parents weigh whether to have their children vaccinated if shots are cleared for younger ages. One of the studies focused only on deaths, while the other two examined the risks of severe illness and death.... 

"Researchers conducting the death study analyzed several national databases to identify children under 18 across England who had died from Covid-19 in the first year of the pandemic, from March 1, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021. 'England is a large enough country and it’s had enough Covid, sadly, that we have better data than almost anywhere else in the world on the risks,' said Russell Viner, a professor of adolescent health at the University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and senior author on the death study as well as another looking at English hospital and intensive-care admissions. Researchers from the University of Bristol, University of York and University of Liverpool were also key contributors to the three papers....

"Underlying health conditions, especially serious brain or nerve-related disabilities, increased the risk of dying of Covid-19, according to the study looking at child deaths. Fifteen of the 25 children in England who died because of Covid-19 during the period examined had underlying serious illnesses, the researchers said, while four had chronic underlying conditions.... Three of the deaths were due to multisystem inflammatory syndrome.... Six of the children who died due to Covid-19 didn’t appear to have an underlying health condition.... No child with a stand-alone diagnosis of asthma, diabetes, epilepsy or Down syndrome died from Covid-19, the researchers said.

"Underlying health conditions also raised the risk of severe illness, the two other papers said.... [O]ne of the studies ... found a higher risk of admission to intensive care among children with health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease. Those with multiple conditions had the highest risk. Even so, the absolute risk was very small, the researchers said.

"The studies all related to time periods that predated the emergence of the Delta variant that is now dominant in both the U.K. and the U.S., but the authors said there was as yet no evidence that the variant causes more severe illness or death among children.

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Friday, July 16, 2021

Ivermectin reduces severity of Covid infection, Pasteur Institute finds

Ivermectin reduces 'the severity of infection' with Covid-19, according to the Pasteur Institute - RT France (Google translated):

July 14, 2020 - "The Pasteur Institute is fueling the debate on ivermectin. The research center unveiled on July 12 a study on the effects of this antiparasitic treatment against Covid-19, which concludes that 'taking this drug at standard doses makes it possible to reduce in an animal model the symptoms and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection'. The work of the scientists of the institute, published in the journal of the European Organization of Molecular Biology, thus underline that the ivermectin molecule causes 'a limitation of the inflammation of the respiratory tract and the symptoms which result from it' and 'protection against loss of smell'. 

"[T]he treatment does not seem to act on viral replication: 'The treated and untreated models had similar amounts of viral load in the nasal cavity and in the lungs. Our results show that ivermectin has an immunomodulatory and not an antiviral effect,' explained Guilherme Dias de Melo, epidemiologist and co-author of the study. Hervé Bourhy, head of unit at the Institut Pasteur who also took part in the work, nevertheless believes that these 'results provide significant progress and [...] pave the way for development axes for better treatments against Covid -19 in humans'. 

"Ivermectin is an antiparasitic commonly used against parasites such as scabies, onchocerciasis (river blindness) or lice. The drug is the subject of a promotional campaign on the networks, in particular since an Australian study published in the spring of 2020 had observed an in vitro efficacy of the ivermectin molecule on Sars-CoV-2

"But on March 31, a WHO [World Health Organization] clinical team said that the data from studies to measure their effectiveness against Covid-19 had not provided convincing results.... In addition, the manufacturer of the drug, Merck, assured on February 4 that the idea of ​​a 'potential therapeutic effect against Covid-19 has no scientific basis'.... 

"'Most often carried out in emerging countries, these clinical trials did not meet the conditions required for the testing of drugs in our country. This has led to criticism both within the World Health Organization and within the Directorate-General for Health' explained ... Jean-Pierre Changeux, famous neurobiologist co-signatory of the French study. Another factor, 'the controversy around hydroxychloroquine [another antiparasitic] has greatly affected the objective evaluation of ivermectin', argued the researcher. 

"[T]he institute's team followed a path developed over the past year by Jean-Pierre Changeux with Zahir Amoura, from Pitié-Salpêtrière. In March 2020, one of the latter's interns wondered about Chinese studies showing a low number of smokers among the sick. They then worked on the protection potential of nicotine against Covid-19. The two scientists started from the idea that the virus enters the body through the nicotinic receptor, a protein contained in neurons that Jean-Pierre Changeux himself had discovered and isolated in 1970. 'Our hypothesis is that the coronavirus would block directly or indirectly this receptor and that ivermectin could reactivate it' explained the neurobiologist.... 

"Despite the disavowal of the WHO, the drug has already met with success in several countries such as Brazil, Lebanon and South Africa. In Indonesia, AFP reports that pharmacies are facing a rush on ivermectin. Also in India, where a collective of lawyers from Bombay has announced that it is launching a lawsuit against Soumya Swaminathan, a pediatrician specializing in tuberculosis and scientific director of the WHO. Indian lawyers accuse him of dismissing evidence in favor of ivermectin, of having tweeted advising against its use (which they liken to disinformation leading to deaths), and of promoting laboratories that produce vaccines."

Read more:

Read study:

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Europeans protest Covid vaccine mandates

Protests hit Athens and Paris over new coronavirus restrictions, vaccine mandates | Washington Post - Erin Cunningham & Isabelle Khurshudyan:

July 15, 2021 - "Protests flared in France and Greece on Wednesday as residents angry over coronavirus curbs and vaccine mandates in both countries marched against new, stricter regulations that they say discriminate against people unwilling to be inoculated.

"In Paris, demonstrators clashed with police after French President Emmanuel Macron ... mandated vaccinations for all health-care workers and said new rules would require unvaccinated people to show negative coronavirus tests before entering bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues.

"Also this week, Greek authorities said all medical workers would need to be immunized or face penalties, and only vaccinated individuals would be allowed to use public indoor spaces until Aug. 31, through the height of Greece’s tourism season. The policies prompted demonstrations in Athens, where thousands gathered outside parliament Wednesday under heavy police presence."
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France protests: clashes with police on Bastille Day amid anger at tighter Covid rules | The Guardian - Agence France-Presse:

July 14, 2021 -  "Protests began in the French capital on Wednesday morning as the annual military parade for the traditional Bastille Day parade was taking place along the famous Champs-Élysées watched by president Emmanuel Macron. The demonstrators are unhappy at the decision announced on Monday to oblige health workers to get vaccinated and bring in a vaccine health pass for most public places. Unvaccinated people would require, for example, a negative test result to enter restaurants.

"In one area of the French capital police fired teargas to disperse the crowd. The declared route was not respected, the prefecture of police said in a tweet, condemning the 'throwing of projectiles' and lighting of fires by the protesters. 

"Throughout Paris some 2,250 people protested, while other demonstrations took place in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montpelier, Nantes and elsewhere. The French authorities put the total number of protesters at 19,000."
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In Athens, thousands rally against COVID-19 vaccinations | Reuters:

July 14, 2021 - "More than 5,000 anti-vaccine protesters, some them waving Greek flags and wooden crosses, rallied in Athens on Wednesday to oppose Greece’s coronavirus vaccinations programme. Shouting 'take your vaccines and get out of here!' and calling on Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to resign, the protesters gathered outside parliament under heavy police presence....

"On Monday, the government ordered the mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers and nursing home staff following a steep rise in new COVID-19 infections in the middle of the vital tourism season."
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Hundreds of people protest Government response to pandemic | Irish Times - Sarah Burns & Marie O'Halloran:

July 15, 2021 - "Hundreds of people gathered outside the Convention Centre in Dublin on Wednesday night to protest against the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Protestors, which included some anti-mask and anti-vaccination demonstrators, congregated outside the Docklands venue at 9pm and had dispersed by around 1am....

"TDs [members of the lower house of parliament] on Wednesday passed Government legislation to allow for the reopening of indoor dining. The Health (Amendment No.2) Bill 2021 will allow pubs and restaurants to resume indoor service for those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or who have recovered from the disease in the last six months....

"Waving flags and shouting various slogans including 'shame on you' the crowd crossed all age groups but included a large number of young people and those who said they had never previously attended a demonstration before but were angry at what they perceived as a division of society between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, which they said was discriminatory."
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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Covid reinfection rate under 1/10,000 in Israel

Natural infection vs vaccination: Which gives more protection? | Arutz Sheva 7 - David Rosenberg:

July 13, 2021 - "Health Ministry data on the wave of COVID outbreaks which began this May show that Israelis with immunity from natural infection were far less likely to become infected again in comparison to Israelis who only had immunity via vaccination.

"More than 7,700 new cases of the virus have been detected during the most recent wave starting in May, but just 72 of the confirmed cases were reported in people who were known to have been infected previously – that is, less than 1% of the new cases. Roughly 40% of new cases – or more than 3,000 patients – involved people who had been infected despite being vaccinated.

"With a total of 835,792 Israelis known to have recovered from the virus, the 72 instances of reinfection amount to 0.0086% of people who were already infected with COVID. By contrast, Israelis who were vaccinated were 6.72 times more likely to get infected after the shot than after natural infection, with over 3,000 of the 5,193,499, or 0.0578%, of Israelis who were vaccinated getting infected in the latest wave.

"According to a report by Channel 13, the disparity has confounded – and divided – Health Ministry experts, with some saying the data proves the higher level of immunity provided by natural infection versus vaccination, while others remained unconvinced.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Thousands march against government in Cuba

Thousands march against government in Cuba | CBC News - Associated Press: 

July 11, 2021 - "Thousands of Cubans marched on Havana's Malecon promenade and elsewhere on the island Sunday to protest food shortages and high prices amid the coronavirus crisis, in one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations in memory. Many young people took part in the afternoon protest in the capital, which disrupted traffic until police moved in after several hours and broke up the march when a few protesters threw rocks.... Cuba is going through its worst economic crisis in decades, along with a resurgence of coronavirus cases, as it suffers the consequences of U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump administration....

"The demonstration grew to a few thousand in the vicinity of Galeano Avenue and the marchers pressed on despite a few charges by police officers and tear gas barrages. People standing on many balconies along the central artery in the Centro Habana neighbourhood applauded the protesters passing by. Others joined in the march. Although many people tried to take out their cellphones and broadcast the protest live, Cuban authorities shut down internet service throughout the afternoon.

"About two-and-a-half hours into the march, some protesters pulled up cobblestones and threw them at police, at which point officers began arresting people and the marchers dispersed. A group of government supporters also arrived in the area shouting slogans in favour of the late president Fidel Castro and the revolution. Some of them assaulted a cameraman and an AP photographer.

"Demonstrations were also held elsewhere on the island, including the small town of San Antonio de los Banos, where people protested power outages and were visited by President Miguel Díaz-Canel. He entered a few homes, where he took questions from residents. Afterward, though, he accused Cuban Americans of stirring up trouble."
Read more:

Cuba protests: Arrests after thousands rally against government | BBC News:

July 13, 2021 - "Dozens of people have been arrested in Cuba after thousands joined the biggest protests for decades against the island's Communist government, media and opposition sources say. Unauthorised public gatherings are illegal in Cuba and protests are rare. Images on social media showed what appeared to be security forces detaining, beating and pepper-spraying some of the protesters.

"Cuba's president labelled those protesting 'mercenaries'. In a four-hour-long televised address President Miguel Díaz-Canel slammed protestors as 'counter-revolutionaries' while his foreign minister alleged the demonstrations had been financed and instigated by the United States.... Figures compiled by legal help centre Cubalex suggest around 100 people were arrested on Sunday.... 

"There were reports of internet blackouts across the island. Access to mobile internet was rolled out in December 2018 in Cuba but is controlled by the state-owned telecommunications company Etecsa. Internet monitoring site Netblocks said access to WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Telegram had been restricted by Etecsa's servers. Mobile internet is the main way for Cubans to access independent news and many said the blackouts had increased the sense of ominous unease following the protests. 

"There also appeared to be a heightened presence of security forces with one Havana resident reporting that 'the streets are full of police....There are police at every corner and practically all you see going past is police patrols.'"
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Monday, July 12, 2021

ZeroCovid groups launch international network

Left-wing 'zero covid' scientists plot bid for endless lockdowns | Sunday Express - David Maddox: 

July 4, 2021 - "The Sunday Express has learnt that members of Independent Sage are to be part of the launch of an international group called the World Health Network which will push for a 'zero covid' strategy of maintaining lockdowns. The revelation came at an online meeting of the Zero Covid campaign group last week where trade union officials told attendees about how covid is a means of recruiting members and how the ultimate goal has to be 'to bring down capitalism.'

"The news about the new international network was announced at the end of the meeting [by] Yaneer Bar-Yam*, an American physicist who is a member of the Covid Action Group which includes the members of Independent Sage including controversial behavioural scientist Professor Susan Michie*, who is a member of the Communist Party. It follows MPs last month questioning why three Independent Sage members including Professor Michie, her husband Professor Robert West*, and Professor Stephen Reicher*, all behavioural scientists, are also official government advisors.

"Dr Bar-Yam, a leading member of the Covid Action Group, told the meeting of leftwing Zero Covid activists that a closed conference not open to the public will be held on 14 and 15 July to launch the World Health Network. He said: 'We have a globalised team primarily of scientists called the Covid Action Group. [This is] morphing into the World Health Network [with] very enthusiastic participation from Indy Sage, ISAG (Independent Scientific Advocacy Group), Covid Germany, and reaching out to parents groups and others. The purpose of the network is to facilitate the interaction of the teams. Give it some global infrastructure thinking about opportunities'.... 

"Earlier in the meeting Kathy Jenkins from Scottish Hazards, which was set up to provide free and confidential information, advice, support and training to workers on workplace health and safety issues, discussed how she was being funded with taxpayers’ money from the Scottish government to go to non-union members and using covid to encourage them to join trade unions.... Tracy Edwards from the Public and Commercial Services Union also discussed how they were using air quality, long covid and other issues to restructure the workplace and add regulation.

"Near the end of the meeting ... Zero Covid activist Steve Ballard said that work on health and safety needed to be 'combined with transforming the nature of work.' He said: 'The rich have always said you have got to work to make us rich. That’s got to stop. Otherwise we are all going to fry'.... At a previous meeting he suggested that the Soviet Union style of Communism needed to be brought into Britain.

"Responding to his comments, Ms Edwards said: 'I agree with Steve there. Capitalism makes its own. The people who are in charge cannot be trusted to protect our health and safety. What we have got to do as a movement is not just control our working lives but society as a whole'.... Ms Jenkins added: '[Covid] hasn’t created problems, it has exposed them. Not only health and safety ones. Loads of smaller things need changing, not just capitalism [but] I completely agree we have got to get rid of it."

Read more: 

* signatories of the John Snow Memorandum

Sunday, July 11, 2021

UK rocker boycotts Covid-experiment festival

Rock legend Richard Ashcroft pulls out of vaccine-restricted festival, says he won’t take part in ‘government experiment’ | RT

July 6, 2020 - "Singer Richard Ashcroft has pulled out of an upcoming festival in Sheffield, due to its vaccination requirement and participation in government coronavirus research. Ashcroft is one of several Covid-skeptic Britpop icons. The former Verve frontman announced on Monday that he was pulling out of the Tramlines festival in Sheffield later this month, telling fans on Instagram that he 'wouldn’t be playing concerts with restrictions.' Ashcroft said that he made the decision once he learned that Tramlines would be 'part of a government testing programme.'

"Under its Events Research Programme, the British government will allow a full capacity audience to attend the festival without masks and social distancing, and will study any transmission of Covid-19 that occurs over the weekend. Attendees will still need to show either proof of full vaccination or a negative lateral flow test to gain entry....

"Stone Roses singer Ian Brown congratulated Ashcroft on pulling out of the festival, calling it a 'solid decision.' Brown stepped down in March from performing at this September’s Neighbourhood Weekender festival in Warrington, due to the likelihood that it would require proof of vaccination. Brown ... railed on Twitter ... last month that 'every singer and musician who plays an event requiring ‘vaccination’ with a gmo concoction still in experimental trials… is a wretch and a collaborator who deserves to be tarred and feathered.'"

Read more:

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Invasive ventilation

'First Choice': How China and the WHO created mass ventilator hysteria | The Dossier - Jordan Shachtel:

September 30, 2020 - "Mechanical ventilators have long been considered a last resort solution for treating patients with respiratory illness.... In treating respiratory ailments, the highly invasive, high-risk maneuver that is mechanical ventilation is usually prefaced by less invasive measures, such as positive airway pressure machines like CPAP or BiPAP devices, or simple oxygen delivering nose prongs. But when COVID-19 hit, the long established scientific guidance on proper patient care was tossed out the window, along with other established norms....

"In early March, when COVID-19 was ravaging western Europe and sounding alarm bells in the United States, the WHO [World Health Organization] released COVID-19 provider guidance documents to healthcare workers. Citing experience 'based on current knowledge of the situation in China,' the WHO recommended mechanical ventilators as an early intervention for treating COVID-19 patients. The guidance recommended escalating quickly, if not immediately, to mechanical ventilation. In doing so, they cited the guidance being presented by Chinese medical journals, which published papers in January and February claiming that 'Chinese expert consensus' called for 'invasive mechanical ventilation' as the 'first choice' for people with moderate to severe respiratory distress.

"The WHO further justified this approach by claiming that the less invasive positive air pressure machines could result in the spread of aerosols, potentially infecting healthcare workers with the virus. The aerosol spread problem, however, is more or less a very  loose hypothesis. There remains questionable evidence that COVID-19 spreads through aerosols from airway pressure or oxygen devices. And there are established protocols for protecting medical workers from potential aerosol infection when using these devices....

"Seeing the situation in Wuhan unfold, and evaluating the guidance passed on from China and the WHO, U.S. 'public health experts' became convinced that ventilators were an absolute necessity, and that we needed tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands more of these devices, to stave off the disease. Hysterical epidemiological modelers, the same ones that had just claimed millions of people were about to die from COVID-19 in the United States, took to claiming that there was a mass ventilator shortage in the United States. Governors across the country were now demanding ventilators by the boatload.

"After much bipartisan insistence from Congress, the president ordered U.S. manufacturers to build ventilators under the Defense Production Act. Based on the Wuhan experience, the United States was taking China and the WHO at its word, and reorienting some of our private industry economic engines towards building medical devices. Meanwhile, ... China was now exporting ventilators in incredible quantities. Under the guise of humanitarian behavior, China was making a fortune off of manufacturing and exporting ventilators (many of which did not work correctly and even killed patients) around the world.

"Meanwhile, as COVID-19 case growth exploded in New York City, some doctors began to notice that something was horribly wrong with the way patients were being treated for the disease. The COVID-19 guidance coming out of China, and being distributed in English by the World Health Organization, wasn’t working. In New York City, early and often ventilator use became a common theme, and it had devastating consequences for infected patients caught in the middle of the hysteria.

"On March 31, Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell, who had been caring for ICU patients at one of the hardest-hit hospitals in the city, sounded the alarm about the ventilator issue. He took to YouTube and became something of a ventilator whistleblower.... An April Reuters interview with dozens  of medical specialists made it clear that mechanical ventilator overuse had become a global issue.... By May, it was common knowledge in the medical community that early ventilator use was hurting, not helping COVID-19 patients, and that less invasive measures were in fact very effective in assisting recoveries. However, by then, the damage had already been done....

"The 'early action' ventilator guidance from China, which was distributed to the world by the WHO, very likely resulted in many lives taken from us far too soon. To my knowledge, neither WHO nor the Chinese government (which controls its medical associations) has acknowledged this catastrophic misstep."

Read more:

Friday, July 9, 2021

RSV in NZ: virus running rampant in Kiwi kids

New Zealand children falling ill in high numbers due to Covid ‘immunity debt’ | The Guardian - Tess McClure:

July 8, 2021 - "New Zealand hospitals are experiencing the payoff of 'immunity debt' created by Covid-19 lockdowns, with wards flooded by babies with a potentially-deadly respiratory virus, doctors have warned. Wellington has 46 children currently hospitalised for respiratory illnesses including respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. A number are infants, and many are on oxygen. Other hospitals are also experiencing a rise in cases that are straining their resources – with some delaying surgeries or converting playrooms into clinical space.

"RSV is a common respiratory illness. In adults, it generally only produces very mild symptoms – but it can make young children extremely ill, or even be fatal. The size and seriousness of New Zealand’s outbreak is likely being fed by what some paediatric doctors have called an 'immunity debt' – where people don’t develop immunity to other viruses suppressed by Covid lockdowns, causing cases to explode down the line....

"The 'immunity debt' phenomenon occurs because measures like lockdowns, hand-washing, social distancing and masks... also suppress the spread of other illnesses that transmit in a similar way, including the flu, common cold, and lesser-known respiratory illnesses.... In New Zealand, lockdowns last winter led to a 99.9% reduction in flu cases and a 98% reduction in RSV - and near-eliminated the spike of excess deaths New Zealand usually experiences during winter.

"'This positive collateral effect in the short term is welcome, as it prevents additional overload of the healthcare system,' a collective of French doctors wrote in a May 2021 study of immunity debt. But in the long term, it can create problems of its own: if bacterial and viral infections aren’t circulating among children, they don’t develop immunity, which leads to larger outbreaks down the line ... 'The lack of immune stimulation … induced an “immunity debt” which could have negative consequences when the pandemic is under control and [public health intervientions] are lifted,' the doctors wrote. 'The longer these periods of "viral or bacterial low-exposure" are, the greater the likelihood of future epidemics.'

"New Zealand has reported nearly 1,000 RSV cases in the past five weeks, according to the Institute of Environmental Science and Research. The usual average is 1,743 over the full 29-week winter season. Australia is also experiencing a surge, with overcrowded Victoria hospitals also hit by unusually high rates of RSV'....

"The current outbreak is already stretching New Zealand’s hospitals. At Middlemore hospital in Auckland, a playroom has been converted into a clinical space with 11 special care baby cots. Health boards in Auckland and Canterbury have postponed surgeries to divert resources into children’s wards. A number of hospitals have asked children under 12 not to visit, to try to avoid spreading the virus. John Tait, chief medical officer for the Wellington area’s district health boards said the region had 46 children hospitalised, including two in intensive care....

"Usually, people experience near-universal exposure to RSV as children, Baker said, with most exposed in their first year of life.... While RSV is a common cause of winter hospitalisation of children, elderly people and people with suppressed immune systems are also vulnerable."

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Thursday, July 8, 2021

Unethical to open UK July 19, say Snow scientists

Unlocking on July 19 is a 'dangerous and unethical experiment', warn 122 scientists and doctors including high profile SAGE members — as NHS already starts cancelling operations to cope with Covid surge | Mail Online - Connor Boyd:

July 8, 2021 - "More than 100 top scientists and doctors have accused Boris Johnson of conducting a 'dangerous and unethical experiment' by pressing on with July 19's unlocking. In a letter in The Lancet, the experts have demanded the Government reconsider its plan to abandon all restrictions in England this month, describing it as 'premature'.

"They warned that going ahead with Freedom Day despite accepting there could be hundreds of thousands of infections each day is both 'unethical and illogical'. Allowing Covid to rip through the country will leave 'hundreds of thousands with long-term illness and disability' due to the effects of the virus itself, as well as long Covid, they said.

"Among the 122 signatories are Dr Richard Horton*, editor of The Lancet, Sir David King*, a former chief scientific adviser under David Cameron's Government, and Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) Council. 

"The letter has also been signed by several of No10's own expert advisers, including Professor Susan Michie* and Professor Stephen Reicher*, highlighting the rift within SAGE over the July 19 unlocking. Many within SAGE - including Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance - are in favour of opening this month because they fear delaying any longer will only trigger a worse peak in winter.

"It comes as a small number of hospitals have had to cancel operations because of a growing number of Covid patients on wards and high numbers of staff off isolating. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS trust scrapped non-urgent procedures this week - including cancer surgery - to cope with the influx of Covid and staffing shortages.

"No10 is pressing on with Freedom Day on July 19 despite the fact cases are doubling every nine days and are expected to soar past 100,000 by August. Ministers insist vaccines will keep the disease at bay and are hopeful cases will start to fade naturally next month....

"There is roughly one death per every 1,000 cases in Britain at the moment, down from one in 100 in previous waves, but officials expect this gap to get even wider as more people get vaccinated. Hospital admissions, on the other hand, are rising again with latest figures showing there were 386 on July 3, an increase of about 45 per cent on the previous week. That's double the number in early June but officials say the vast majority of admissions are among unvaccinated people or those who've only had one jab."

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* - signatories of the John Snow Memorandum

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Twitter and LinkedIn blocking criticism of China

Make Them Pay | Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) - Edward Lucas: 

July 6, 2021 - "My friend Anne-Marie Brady is one of the world’s top China-watchers. Twitter has just made her invisible. Anyone trying to visit @anne_mariebrady this weekend was stopped by a warning screen. Some recent tweets, mocking the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary, are 'unavailable'. Searches for her draw a blank. She is also locked out of her account. She can no longer post any further tweets, message people — or complain to Twitter.

"This probably results from a concerted campaign by the Chinese Communist Party’s online agents. Enough complaints usually trigger an automated block. The user is left fuming and powerless. In effect, the Chinese Communist Party is extending its control into the heart of a free society.

"A few days earlier, I changed my profile on LinkedIn. It recently warned some prominent critics of the Beijing regime that their user profiles will not be visible in mainland China because they breach local laws.

"I decided to test this. I added some details about my weekly newsletter, the China Influence Monitor. This highlights, I explained, attempts 'to marginalize Taiwan (Republic of China)..,[and] erase Tibetan and East Turkestan identity'. I added crisp mentions of the underground church and Tiananmen Square: all the taboo terms I could think of, in fact.

"This worked beautifully. Within hours LinkedIn sent a polite, opaque email. I too was blocked....

"I want to know why LinkedIn, or its owners at Microsoft, started snooping on its users’ choice of language about China. Was it preemptive? Or was the company instructed to do it? If so, who gave the order, when, and in what terms?

"LinkedIn will not say. I passed the story to the London Times. Colleagues there could not get an answer either. Nor could British MPs who happened to be quizzing a Microsoft executive at a parliamentary committee hearing last week....

"These companies enjoy the advantages of a free political and legal system when they express their views and defend their interests. Their intellectual property and contracts are protected by laws made not by bureaucratic fiat but by elected legislators, and enforced by impartial courts. Good luck trying any of that in China or Russia. But these behemoths do not exert themselves to protect the system that enables their success. They prefer convenience, growth, and profit.

"This spells doom for democracy. We rely on emails, websites, search engines, mobile phones, and social media at all levels, from national campaigns to private messaging. But these systems are wide open to attack, be it disruption, fakery, or snooping.... Mischievous and malevolent outsiders can spy on us, distort our perception of reality, and shape our decision-making."

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