Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Collateral damage killed more under 65 than Covid in Canada

Lockdowns killed more Canadians under 65 than COVID-19: Statscan | True North - Harrison Faulkner:

July 18, 2021 - "The consequences of government-enforced lockdowns killed more Canadians under the age of 65 than the COVID-19 virus itself, according to a report by Statistics Canada. In a report titled Provisional death counts and excess mortality, the government agency reviewed the number of deaths between January 2020 to April 2021 and concluded that 5,535 Canadians under the age of 65 died because of 'indirect consequences' due to the pandemic. Over the same time period, 1380 Canadians in the same age group died because of COVID-19 itself.

"'Beyond deaths attributed to the disease itself, the pandemic could also have indirect consequences leading to an increase or decrease in the number of deaths due to various factors, including delayed medical procedures, increased substance use, or a decline in deaths attributable to other causes, such as influenza,' the report says.

"Statistics Canada acknowledged lockdowns had a significant impact on the number of deaths in Canada, particularly among younger people. 'Excess mortality is, in large part, related to other factors such as increases in the number [of] deaths attributed to causes associated with substance use and misuse, including unintentional (accidental) poisonings and diseases and conditions related to alcohol consumption,' read the report.

"As more Canadians were forced to stay at home and vital services and businesses were forced to close, an opioid crisis developed.... Statistics Canada confirmed that the increased usage of drugs had a significant impact on the mortality rate during the pandemic. 'There is evidence in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia that substance use has increased in 2020 compared with previous years, while availability and access to harm reduction programs, supervised consumption services, and in-person support services for substance use may have been disrupted during the pandemic,' the report says. 

"Earlier this month, Statistics Canada also reported that most of the people who died from COVID-19 in Canada were over the age of 85 and had dementia, Alzheimer’s, chronic heart disease or other pre-existing 'cardiovascular and respiratory conditions.' Nine in 10 deaths had a secondary cause listed on the death certificate.

"Canadians have been victims of some of the strictest public health orders in the world.... The True North Provincial Freedom Score found that Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Ontario were the most locked-down provinces in the country when taking into account business closures, school openings, in-person dining and nearly a dozen other variables."

Read more: https://tnc.news/2021/07/18/lockdowns-killed-more-canadians-under-65-than-covid-19-statscan/

Monday, August 30, 2021

1,000s protest vaccine mandates in Europe & NA

Thousands march in Montreal against mandatory vaccines for health workers, vaccination passport | CBC News - Sabrina Jones:
August 28, 2021 - "Thousands of people marched in Montreal Saturday in protest of Quebec's public health measures, including the upcoming vaccination passport and mandatory vaccines for health-care workers. Protestors gathered at Maisonneuve Park around 1 p.m. and marched along Sherbrooke Street to end in front of the Quebec Order of Nurses (OIIQ) building on Molson Street. Signs reading, 'Choice, not mandate' and 'No to mandatory vaccinations,' in French could be seen among the crowd.... 

"Organizers behind Saturday's protest, the Canadian Frontline Nurses and Réinfo Covid Québec, say this latest demonstration, called "Professionals United", is significant. According to the groups, professionals from health-care, education and policing sectors took part in it and spoke out, despite the repercussions they may face at work."
Read more: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-protest-mandatory-vaccines-vaccination-passport-1.6157031

Over 1,000 people protested against the vaccine mandate on Saturday in New York City | Daily Mail - Christopher Eberhart:
August 28, 2021 - "Over 1,000 people flooded New York City streets again to protest the COVID-19 vaccine mandate and then gathered in Columbus Circle where speakers fired up the crowd. One woman said, 'This is a war call. This is a fight. Leave here and do something ... Fight for your rights'.... The protest is in reaction to the new requirement for people ages 12 and older to show proof they've received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to get into restaurants or bars, gyms and indoor entertainment such as movies and theaters. 

"Demonstrators chanted sayings like, 'My body, my choice,' on their way to Columbus Circle Saturday afternoon. They held signs saying 'Stop the medical tyranny', 'I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery' and 'Coercion is not consent', among dozens of others.... 

"Similar protests took place across the pond in the UK, where thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of central London in protest as they continue their campaign against mandated vaccines and COVID-19 passports. Demonstrators purportedly from The Save Our Rights UK group, armed with St George's flags, placards, banners and megaphones, spent the afternoon marching through the capital.... Pictures from the scene show crowds armed with placards bearing slogans including 'my body my choice' and 'hands off our children' as they made their way through the capital on Saturday." 
Read more: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9936429/Its-war-call-Thousands-flood-New-York-City-streets-protest-vaccine-mandate.html

Seventh consecutive weekly protest against France's Covid-19 health pass | France 24:
August 29, 2021 - "A total of 160,000 people protested across France on Saturday, the interior ministry said, angered at the country's Covid-19 health pass system which they say unfairly restricts the unvaccinated. By early evening the authorities had logged 222 separate protest actions, including 14,500 people who turned out in Paris.... 

"Saturday's overall figure was slightly down on the 175,000 protesters who turned out the previous weekend. Around 200,000 people have marched on previous weekends, according to interior ministry figures. Organisers claim the real numbers were double the estimates announced by police."
Read more: https://www.france24.com/en/france/20210829-seventh-consecutive-weekly-protest-against-france-s-covid-19-health-pass

Thousands march in Berlin in second day of anti-vaccination protests | Globe & Mail - Reuters:
August 29, 2021 - "Several thousand people marched through the streets of Berlin on Sunday for a second day of unauthorized protest against coronavirus vaccinations and restrictions.... Dozens of police dressed in riot gear sought to control the march through residential streets in eastern Berlin. Berlin police said on Twitter they had detained about 80 people at the demonstration, with a focus on violent people or those calling for violations of coronavirus regulations. On Saturday, police detained more than 100 people at a similar demonstration after the marchers tried to get through barricades to the government quarter in central Berlin."
Read more: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-berlin-protest-against-covid-19-health-regulations-vaccines-attracts/

Italian teachers protest against Covid pass for schools | La Prensa Latina:
August 30, 2021 - "Italian union members demonstrated Monday in front of Italy’s ministry of education in Rome against the requirement for a Covid health passport to enter schools. According to representatives of the Italian teachers union, the health pass imposed on citizens is an 'illegal, illegitimate, discriminatory and inadmissible instrument of blackmail, control and social exclusion.' Some 300 teachers, union representatives and anti-vaccine protesters took to the streets to demand the government to annul the new rule.... that will come into effect on 1 September."
Read more: https://www.laprensalatina.com/italian-teachers-protest-against-covid-pass-for-schools/

Protest Against Mandatory Vaccination Turns Violent in Greece | Greek Reporter - Tasos Kokkinidis:
August 30, 2021 - "Thousands took part in protests against mandatory vaccination in Greece on Sunday, the largest being held in Athens and Thessaloniki. In the Greek capital, police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse a group of demonstrators who threw flares and other objects at Syntagma Square opposite the Parliament building. Many demonstrators were waving Greek flags, chanting slogans and demanding the plan to make vaccinations mandatory for all health professionals starting September 1 be reversed. Dozens of people have been detained, as tensions were running high. This was the third major demonstration against compulsory vaccination in Athens in the last couple of months."
Read more: https://greekreporter.com/2021/08/30/protest-mandatory-vaccination-turns-violent-greece/

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Immunity denial at the WHO

The World Health Organization Oversold the Vaccine and Deprecated Natural Immunity | Brownstone Institute - Jeffrey A. Tucker:

August 29, 2021 - ""Herd immunity is a fascinating observation that you can trace to biological reality or statistical probability theory, whichever you prefer. It is certainly not a 'strategy' so ignore any media source that describes it that way. When you get such a virus and fight it off, your immune system encodes that information in a way that builds immunity to it. When it happens to enough people ... the virus loses its pandemic quality and becomes endemic, which is to say predictable and manageable. Each new generation incorporates that information through more exposure. 

"This is what one would call virology/immunology 101. It’s what you read in every textbook. It’s been taught in 9th-grade cell biology for probably 80 years.... And the discovery of this fascinating dynamic in cell biology is a major reason why public health became so smart in the 20th century. We kept calm. We managed viruses with medical professionals: doctor/patient relationships. We avoided the Medieval tendency to run around with hair on fire but rather used rationality and intelligence. 

"One day, this strange institution called the World Health Organization [WHO] – once glorious because it was mainly responsible for the eradication of smallpox – suddenly decided to delete everything I just wrote from cell biology basics. It has literally changed the science in a Soviet-like way. It has removed with the delete key any mention of natural immunities from its website. It has taken the additional step of actually mischaracterizing the structure and functioning of vaccines. 

"Here is the website from June 9, 2020. You can see it here on Archive.org. You have to move down the page and click on the question about herd immunity. You see the following. 

"That’s accurate overall.... However, in a screenshot dated November 13, 2020, we read the following note that somehow pretends as if human beings do not have immune systems at all....

"[T]his note at the World Health Organization ... ignored and even wiped out 100 years of medical advances in virology, immunology, and epidemiology. What’s even more strange is the claim that a vaccine protects people from a virus rather than exposing them to it. A traditional vaccine works precisely by firing up the immune system through exposure. This has been known for centuries. There is simply no way for medical science completely to replace the human immune system.... By ruling out exposure, the WHO seems even to be rejecting the methods of J&J in favor of Moderna and Pfizer, which use mRNA strategies. Talk about picking winners and losers in technology! 

"Finally on January 4, 2021: WHO has changed it[s] definition yet again, to incorporate the obvious reality of natural immunity. 

"This claim that vaccines for the population rather than exposure is overall better is stated here as a matter of dogma when in reality this is an empirical question. If the vaccine does not deliver immunity in a way that is long lasting and broad – and cannot do so in a way that assures the population of its safety – the dogma pushed by WHO is potentially false. 

"For a year and a half, the media has been telling us that 'science' requires that we comply with their dictates that run contrary to every tenet of liberalism, every expectation we’ve developed in the modern world that we can live freely and with the certainty of rights. Then 'science' took over and our human rights were slammed. And now the “science” actually deleted its own history, airbrushing over what it used to know and replacing it with something misleading at best and patently false at worst. Let there be no mystery why public confidence in public health is at a low.... 

"The science has not changed; only the politics have. And that is precisely why it is so dangerous and deadly to subject virus management to the forces of politics. Eventually the science too bends to the duplicitous character of the political industry."

Read more: https://brownstone.org/articles/the-world-health-organization-oversold-the-vaccine-and-deprecated-natural-immunity/ 

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

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Cato fellow sues employer over vaccine mandate

Why I’m Suing Over My Employer’s Vaccine Mandate | Wall Street Journal - Todd Zywicki:

August 6, 2021 - "In a few weeks I will begin my 24th year as a law professor at George Mason University. Last year I volunteered to teach in person, even though I’m in my 50s. Teaching law is my job and I owe my students my best. I also knew I could do it safely. During the spring of 2020 I contracted and recovered from Covid-19, which I later confirmed through a positive antibody test. Multiple positive antibody tests have since confirmed that I continue to have a robust level of immune protection.

"But now my employer, a state institution, is requiring Covid vaccines. In my case, vaccination is unnecessary and potentially risky. My only other options are to teach remotely or to seek a medical exemption that would require me to wear a mask, remain socially distanced from faculty or students during, say, office hours, and submit to weekly testing. It would be impossible for me to perform my duties to the best of my ability under such conditions. 

"The administration has threatened those who don’t submit with disciplinary action, including termination of employment. This week the public-interest lawyers at the New Civil Liberties Alliance filed suit on my behalf, challenging the university’s mandatory vaccination requirement for those with naturally acquired immunity. This coercive mandate violates my constitutional right to bodily integrity for no compelling reason.

"Clinical studies from Israel, the Cleveland Clinic, England and elsewhere have demonstrated beyond a doubt that natural immunity to SARS-CoV-2 provides robust and durable protection against reinfection comparable to or better than that provided by the most effective vaccines. Examining the evidence this May, the World Health Organization concluded: 'Current evidence points to most individuals developing strong protective immune responses following natural infection with SARS-CoV-2.' Protection from natural immunity may even exceed that of the less effective Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which according to the CDC demonstrated only 66.3% effectiveness at preventing infection in clinical trials.

"But GMU’s policy is even more bizarre than that. It allows employees to comply by receiving any vaccine approved by the World Health Organization, including low-quality Chinese vaccines such as the Sinovac vaccine, which the WHO concluded was only 51% effective at preventing symptomatic disease, and the Sinopharm vaccine, which has performed so poorly that some countries are systematically revaccinating their populations with higher-quality options. Even China is considering the same. Whatever the university’s reasoning for endorsing these low-quality vaccines while slighting natural immunity, it clearly doesn’t stand up on public-health grounds.

"It isn’t merely unnecessary for me to get the shot. It’s potentially dangerous. Covid-recovered individuals have been mostly excluded from the vaccine clinical trials, rendering any claims about the purported safety for this group largely speculative. Moreover, clinical evidence has suggested that Covid survivors suffer more-frequent and more-serious side effects from vaccination than those who have never been infected....

"If I were not already naturally immune to Covid, I would have long ago gotten vaccinated at the first opportunity. But for those of us who have acquired natural immunity, vaccination provides none of the benefits of vaccination with all of the costs."

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/vaccine-mandate-natural-immunity-lawsuit-covid-19-coronavirus-11628281507

Mr. Zywicki is professor at Antonin Scalia Law School and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Natural Covid immunity stronger than vaccinated, study finds

Natural immunity is stronger than vaccination, study suggests | The Spectator - Ross Clark: 

August 26, 2021 - "The preprint of a yet-to-be-published Israeli study comparing the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine with immunity gained through natural infection suggests that the latter may be more effective and longer-lasting.

"The team, from Maccabi Healthcare Services, looked at three groups — those double-jabbed with Pfizer who have never had Covid, unvaccinated people who have been infected, and single-jabbed people who have had the virus. They then monitored how many developed symptomatic infection, how many were hospitalised and how many died. 

"Their findings were stark: double-jabbed, previously uninfected people are [from 6 to] 13 times as likely to get Covid compared with the naturally immune. Natural infection was also found to significantly reduce the risk of catching symptomatic disease and of being hospitalised with Covid — at least with the Indian or Delta variant, as the study was carried out while it was Israel’s dominant strain this summer.

"There are the usual caveats. It is a pre-published study that has not yet been peer-reviewed. And it can only tell us about the Pfizer vaccine, on which Israel’s vaccination programme is based. Nevertheless, there are important implications. It suggests that the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine — so impressive in trials — is not strong enough to bring about the kind of herd immunity we might have gained by letting the virus pass through the population. The same is probably true of other vaccines[:]... recent studies have suggested that the efficacy of AstraZeneca declines over time, too, although not at quite the rate of the Pfizer one.

"It also suggests that we might be wasting our time trying to foist jabs on the young when they may have gained better, stronger immunity to Covid through natural infection ,,, perhaps it is better to simply allow them to be infected on the grounds they're highly unlikely to come to serious harm but are more likely to gain lasting immunity from the disease that way."

Read more: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/natural-immunity-is-stronger-than-vaccination-study-suggests

Read study: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415v1

doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415

Thursday, August 26, 2021

SD governor is a libertarian on vaccine mandates

Kristi Noem Is Right About Employer Vaccine Mandates | Reason - Robby Soave: 

August 25, 2021 - "As businesses grapple with the tradeoffs of requiring employees and customers to get vaccinated, some Republican officials have decided to take this choice out of their hands. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), for instance, has prohibited both public and private entities from requiring proof of vaccination, creating conflict with several industries — including cruise lines — that would like to mandate vaccines. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has done the same in his state.

"Two Republican state legislators in South Dakota have proposed a similar ban on private vaccine mandates. The COVID-19 Vaccine Freedom of Conscious Act, authored by Reps. Jon Hansen and Scott Odenbach, would effectively stop all businesses from requiring vaccination. But unlike DeSantis and Gianforte, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is opposing the ban on private vaccine passports on grounds that the government does not and should not have the right to bully businesses.

"'I don't have the authority as governor to tell them what to do,' said Noem. 'Since the start of this pandemic, I have remained focused on what my authorities are and what they are not. Now South Dakota is in a strong position because I didn't overstep my authority. I didn't trample on the rights of our people, and I'm not going to start now.'

"Noem's stance will probably attract derision from some on the vaccine-skeptical populist right; indeed, Noem has a history of being painted as insufficiently conservative because she was unwilling to use state power to enforce a conservative cultural agenda when she thought it wouldn't hold up in court. But the governor is absolutely right to stick to her guns here — and in fact, it's the Republican officials racing to prohibit private vaccine mandates who are violating clear-cut conservative principles. Noem explained this quite aptly in a brief speech outlining her position.

"'When leaders overstep their authority, that is how we break this country, and if government starts acting unconstitutionally, even if it's doing something that we like, that's a dangerous path to walk down,' she said. 'It is not conservative to grow government and to tell businesses what to do and how to treat their employees.'

"Noem also noted that South Dakota was the only state to never order a church to close due to the pandemic. Her stance is consistent and consistently conservative: It is wrong for the government to tell individuals, private associations, and businesses what to do. If they want to require vaccination, it's really no concern of the state.

"The rise of Trump-era conservative populism (which has more disdain for economic and social libertarianism than the GOP of yesteryears), and the pandemic (which has allowed the state to claim expansive new powers for itself) have both moved the Republican and Democratic parties in a direction of increased hostility toward freedom of association.... It's increasingly rare for a political figure to loudly proclaim the principled libertarian position, which holds that such restrictions should be neither mandated nor prohibited. Good on Noem for articulating it so clearly."

Read more: https://reason.com/2021/08/25/kristi-noem-is-right-about-employer-vaccine-mandates/

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Vietnam, Australia, NZ tighten failing lockdowns

The governments of Australia, New Zealand, and Vietnam have responded to the failure of their lockdown measures to contain the Delta variant of the coronavirus with more lockdown measures.

August 23, 2021 - "Vietnam’s largest metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City, went into a tightened lockdown Monday to battle its worst outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, just a day ahead of the arrival of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.... The city has mobilized police and army troops to enforce the lockdown and to deliver food as well as necessities to each household, city authorities announced. Under the stricter measures imposed for at least two weeks, people in 'high risk' districts are not allowed to leave their homes.

"'People must absolutely stay put, isolate from each other, from house to house, from community to community,' Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said when the new restrictions were announced last week. On Sunday evening, just hours before the intensified lockdown went into effect, the ministry reported 737 virus deaths, its highest single-day total, increasing the death toll since the pandemic began to 8,277.... Hanoi, which is more than 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) north of Ho Chi Minh City ... is also under lockdown.... 

"By asking people to remain in their homes, authorities expect to flatten the current surge of cases. Ho Chi Minh City and the entire southern region of Vietnam had already been in lockdown since July when the delta variant started to spread rapidly. Public gatherings were banned, non-essential businesses closed and people were asked to leave their homes only to buy food or for urgent matters. It is hoped the new severe restrictions in Ho Chi Minh City will bring down the infection rate among its 10 million residents and ease the pressure on its overloaded hospitals....

"Harris is scheduled to attend the inauguration in Hanoi of an office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, better known as the CDC. It will also serve as the CDC’s regional office for Southeast Asia to deal with issues involving infectious diseases."
Read more: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/vietnam-tightens-virus-lockdown-ahead-harris-visit-79596430

New Zealand extended its COVID-19 lockdown until at least Friday | CP24 - Nick Perry & Rod Mcguirk, Associated Press:

August 23, 2021 - "New Zealand's government on Monday said it will extend a strict nationwide lockdown until at least Friday as it tries to extinguish a growing coronavirus outbreak.... First discovered last week, the outbreak has grown to 107 cases. But health authorities say they've found links among most of those cases, giving them hope they can quash the outbreak.... 

"Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the lockdown will continue until at least the end of the month in Auckland, where most of the cases have been found.... Ardern said modeling suggested the outbreak should peak in a few days' time, and then decline.... Ardern also announced that the government has decided to suspend regular Parliament sessions for a week, a move that drew criticism from opposition lawmakers....

"While New Zealand was maintaining its strategy of trying to wipe out the virus completely through lockdowns, neighboring Australia appeared to have conceded that lockdowns would not be able to eliminate the delta variant entirely and could only slow its spread. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said lockdowns are were 'not a sustainable way to live in this country.' He said states must open their borders once vaccination rates reach 80% of the population aged 16 years and older.

"His remarks came as an outbreak in Sydney grew by more than 800 cases, near record levels. Health authorities said an outbreak centered in Melbourne also grew by 71 cases and another in the capital, Canberra, grew by 16 cases. All three cities remained in lockdown."
Read more: https://www.cp24.com/world/new-zealand-extends-national-covid-19-lockdown-for-five-more-days-1.5557434

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Japan combats Delta Covid without a lockdown

Lockdowns or vaccines? 3 Pacific nations try diverging paths | CTV News - Nick Perry, Mari Yamaguchi & Rod Mcguirk:

August 22, 2021 - "The discovery of a single local COVID-19 case in New Zealand was enough for the government to put the entire country into strict lockdown this past week.... Elsewhere around the Pacific, though, Japan is resisting such measures in the face of a record-breaking surge, instead emphasizing its accelerating vaccine program. And Australia has fallen somewhere in the middle

"All three countries got through the first year of the pandemic in relatively good shape but are now taking diverging paths in dealing with outbreaks of the Delta variant, the highly contagious form that has contributed to a growing sense that the coronavirus cannot be stamped out, just managed.... The differing emphasis on lockdowns versus vaccines -- and how effective such strategies prove to be in beating back the Delta variant -- could have far-reaching consequences for the three countries' economies and the health of their citizens.

"Japan has never imposed lockdowns against the coronavirus. The public is wary of government overreach after the country's fascist period before and during the Second World War, and Japan's postwar constitution lays out strict protections for civil liberties.

"Before the Delta variant, the country managed to keep a lid on coronavirus outbreaks in part because many people in Japan were already used to wearing surgical masks for protection from spring allergies or when they caught colds. Now, almost everyone on public transportation wears a mask during commuting hours. But late at night, people tend to uncover in restaurants and bars, which has allowed the variant to spread. 

"Hosting the Tokyo Olympic Games didn't help either. While strict protocols kept infections inside the games to a minimum, experts such as Dr. Shigeru Omi, a key medical adviser to the government, say the Olympics created a festive air that led people in Japan to lower their guard. New cases in Japan have this month leaped to 25,000 each day, more than triple the highest previous peak. Omi considers that a disaster.

"Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday expanded and extended a state of emergency covering Tokyo and other areas until at least mid-September, though most of the restrictions aren't legally enforceable. Many governors are urging the prime minister to consider much tougher restrictions. But Suga said lockdowns have been flouted around the world, and vaccines are 'the way to go.'

"Daily vaccinations in Japan increased tenfold from May to June as thousands of worksites and colleges began offering shots, but a slow start has left the nation playing catch-up. Only about 40% of people are fully vaccinated."

Read more: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/lockdowns-or-vaccines-3-pacific-nations-try-diverging-paths-1.5556996

Monday, August 23, 2021

Violence at Melbourne, Australia lockdown protest

Police say Melbourne anti-lockdown protest ‘most violent in nearly 20 years’ | The Guardian - Australia Associated Press:

August 22, 2021 - "An anti-lockdown protest held in Melbourne on Saturday was one of the most violent the city has seen in 20 years, Victoria’s top police officer says. Chief commissioner Shane Patton said his officers had no choice but to use non-lethal weapons to defend themselves from an angry mob.... It is the first time during a lockdown protest, police have used such tactics that included rounds of pepper spray projectiles and canisters.

"At least nine officers ended up in hospital after being pelted with projectiles, punched and kicked by some members of a 4,000 strong crowd who turned out to protest the city’s Covid-19 lockdown.... More than 700 extra Victorian police officers were deployed to contain the lockdown protest. More than 200 people were arrested including some on remand for previous crimes [sic]. At least 19 will be taken to court rather than issued with fines in excess of $5,000. Two people will face assault charges....

"Eight of the nine wounded officers have since left hospital but one remains for further examination. Injuries included blows to the body, cuts, bruises, suspected broken noses, one possible incident of loss of consciousness, and one leg injury. [It was not reported whether any protesters were injured or hospitalized - gd].... 

"Patton said.... ''I just hope it doesn’t result in the mass spread of Covid-19. The risk that those people have now posed to the rest of the community, by their conduct yesterday, was disgraceful and selfish.' Patton also revealed 48 people have been fined almost $5,500 each over an illegal engagement party in Caulfield North, including the future bride and groom. That number is expected to rise....

"On Sunday, hundreds of protesters gathered at the NSW-Queensland border for an anti-lockdown protest, waving signs reading 'open the border now' and 'I was born free'. Video showed a man riding a horse encouraging people to cross the border, which Queensland has closed to all but essential workers who have received at least one vaccine dose. NSW police arrested eight people and issued 50 infringement notices to protesters, while Queensland police arrested one person for disorderly conduct....

"New South Wales police also arrested 47 people and fined more than 260 in relation to protests on Saturday. They issued 137 tickets after stopping around 38,000 cars approaching Sydney city, while a 32-year-old man who allegedly assaulted an officer was arrested.... The constable was taken to hospital for head and neck injuries.

"More than 2,000 people also gathered in Brisbane City Botanic Gardens on Saturday to rally against the lockdown and vaccine measures. Queensland police said no arrests had been made."

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/aug/22/police-say-melbourne-anti-lockdown-protest-most-violent-in-nearly-20-years

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Dogs shot in Australia to limit Covid spread

Rescue dogs shot dead by NSW council due to COVID-19 restrictions | Sydney Morning Herald - Angus Thompson:

August 22, 2021 - "Several impounded dogs due to be rescued by a shelter have instead been shot dead by a rural council in NSW under its interpretation of COVID-19 restrictions, alarming animal activists and prompting a government probe. Bourke Shire Council, in the state’s north-west, killed the dogs to prevent volunteers at a Cobar-based animal shelter from travelling to pick up the animals last week, according to council’s watchdog, the Office of Local Government [OLG]....

“'OLG has been informed that the council decided to take this course of action to protect its employees and community, including vulnerable Aboriginal populations, from the risk of COVID-19 transmission,' a spokesman from the government agency said. The spokesman said the agency was examining the circumstances of the incident to find out whether companion animal and cruelty prevention laws had been broken.

"The Herald attempted to contact the council administration multiple times, but received no response, and a member of Rural Outback Respite/Rescue – the shelter that was supposed to receive the dogs – declined to comment. A source who is familiar with the arrangement said the shelter volunteers are distressed and had COVID-safe measures in place to handle the dogs, one of which was a new mother. According to NSW Health, there have been no recent locally acquired COVID-19 cases in Cobar....

"[OLG] Minister Shelley Hancock, who has previously faced questions in Parliament over the shooting of animals in council pounds, did not comment. However, animal liberation campaigner Lisa Ryan called for an urgent investigation.... Asked ... in March whether she knew about councils shooting animals to euthanise them, Ms Hancock said she didn’t. 'If it was a practice, I would be concerned about it — if it was a cat or a dog,' she said, before agreeing to answer questions on notice regarding the practice. A later answer said councils weren’t required to tell the government how they killed animals under their care....

"The OLG spokesman said the agency issued advice to all councils about operating pounds during the COVID-19 outbreak, including changing procedures to ensure those services continued while keeping staff and volunteers safe.... On July 30, the agency said pounds and shelters could remain open to the public, and as people involved in animal welfare, their staff were authorised workers in locked-down areas."

Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/rescue-dogs-shot-dead-by-nsw-council-due-to-covid-19-restrictions-20210821-p58ksh.html

Agencia Brasilia, Dogs in animal control center, Brasilia, 2015. CC BY, Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

New Zealand trapped in a ZeroCovid fantasy

New Zealand’s Zero Covid trap | Spiked Online - James Bolt:  

August 19, 2021 - "If you are one of the 4,060 people who live in Balclutha on New Zealand’s South Island, you are forbidden from visiting friends or family, sitting down at a café, taking your child to a playground or school, or going to work (unless you are a key worker). You can’t even get vaccinated, as New Zealand has briefly suspended its vaccine rollout so it can ‘take place in a safe environment’, free of Covid. 

"All this because, over 900 miles and a 22-hour drive away in Auckland, one case of Covid was discovered. Yes: one case was all it took to send the whole of New Zealand into a snap three-day lockdown, and the entire city of Auckland into a seven-day lockdown.

"Granted, the Delta variant is extremely infectious. The new case – which is likely a Delta case – has already been linked to a number of other new cases. There will likely be more in the next few days. But to rob healthy people of their livelihoods, even when they are nearly a thousand miles away from the ‘hotspot’, is an extraordinary overreach.

"To defend this lockdown, people point to New Zealand’s pitifully low vaccination rate. Less than 35 per cent of New Zealand’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and less than 20 per cent has been fully vaccinated. In comparison, the UK has fully vaccinated around 60 per cent of the population.

"Much like in Australia, New Zealanders have been fed the false promise of ‘Zero Covid’ for so long that they are complacent about getting vaccinated. The new case that sparked the lockdown was New Zealand’s first case of transmission within the community in six months. Why get vaccinated if there is next to no risk of catching Covid? If a case emerges, the government will just lock the country down anyway.

"A popular view is that once New Zealand is vaccinated to the same level as the UK, no national lockdown will be needed. In the meantime, the vulnerable population must be protected. But in this scenario, ... When you decide that any number of Covid cases should lead to a nationwide lockdown, the level of vaccination becomes almost irrelevant to the enforcement of the Zero Covid policy.

"Widely vaccinated Britain recorded 26,852 new cases on Tuesday. For New Zealand to experience a similar infection rate, it would need to record around 1,900 cases per day. After 18 months of being told that a single case of Covid is an existential threat to New Zealand, will even a vaccinated public accept 1,900 cases per day without locking down? As evidence emerges that even fully vaccinated people can be infected with Covid and pass it on to others, it seems unlikely.

"Here is the reality of Zero Covid laid bare. There is no escape. If eliminating Covid is the goal, there is no end to lockdowns, no end to restrictions and no end to the constant fear that, at any time, your freedoms will be taken away and your life will be put on hold. Your country can be largely free of the virus for six months, but when one person in a city you have never been to tests positive, lockdown returns. New Zealand will leave this lockdown, but the fear of the next one will remain until the government and the people shake themselves out of this Zero Covid fantasy."

Read more: https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/08/19/new-zealands-zero-covid-trap/

Friday, August 20, 2021

Spain's Supreme Court rejects vaccine passes

Why has the Covid health pass for daily affairs been rejected in Spain and not elsewhere in Europe? | The Local.com - Alex Dunham:

19 August 19, 2021 - "Twenty-two European countries require hospitality green passes or similar health passports for citizens and tourists to enter restaurants, bars, museums and more public places.... Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece and Italy are among the countries in Europe which have – to a greater or lesser extent – introduced covid health pass schemes to control access to the interior of hospitality, sporting and cultural venues. 

"But in Spain, the launch of a Digital Covid Certificate to verify that customers and visitors have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid-19 hasn’t managed to take off. Regional authorities in four Spanish regions – the Canary Islands, Andalusia, Cantabria and Galicia – have all seen ... introduction of such measures ... pushed aside by local judges.

"On Wednesday August 18th, Spain’s Supreme Court ruled against the matter of using Spain’s Digital Covid Certificate to access nightlife venues. This suggests that there will be little point for any of Spain’s 17 regional governments to attempt to use Covid health passes in their territories for any purpose other than travel abroad, and if such measures were introduced, they would only be in force for a matter of days or weeks until a court shelved it.

"The reasoning of judges, both regional and national, is that having to prove Covid vaccination, testing or recovery status to enter a bar or visit a museum breaches fundamental rights without having enough of a positive impact on public health. In the case of the Supreme Court’s latest decision, there wasn’t enough 'substantial justification' for the requirement of a health pass in bars and nightclubs across the entire region of Andalusia, seeing it more as a 'preventative measure' rather than a necessary action.  

"Instead their verdict is that such a measure 'restrictively affects basic elements of freedom of movement and the right of assembly,' and that even 'a technical report from the General Directorate of Public Health' of Andalusia is just an 'opinion that does not allow us to understand the proportionality of said measure'.

"This clashes with the stance of judges in neighbouring France, where the top national court approved the government’s Covid health passports for locals and tourists to enter a variety of establishments, only tweaking the initial conditions. In Italy, the national government has been able to require Covid health passes to access certain venues without the matter having to go to the constitutional court. In Germany, restrictions vary between states but proof of Covid testing or vaccination is widely accepted for hospitality customers to be allowed inside establishments. However, the EU’s three biggest economies have seen thousands of protesters take to the streets to slam the mandatory imposition of these QR Code documents. 

"In Austria and Norway, Covid health passes are also considered legal and haven’t been met with much resistance by the public. Sweden on the other hand is among the EU countries where Covid health passes for venues haven’t been introduced, with the Scandinavian nation continuing with a more unregulated way of handling the pandemic and the matter of health passports is not even due to appear in court.

Read more: https://www.thelocal.com/20210819/why-has-the-covid-health-pass-for-daily-affairs-been-rejected-in-spain-and-not-elsewhere-in-europe/

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Another lockdown for one case in New Zealand

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern locks down Auckland for one case of Covid again, and this time includes the rest of the country.

Covid-19 community case: Nationwide level 4 lockdown | RNZ:

August 17, 2021 - "Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced an alert-level 4 lockdown starting at 11.59pm tonight for seven days in Auckland and Coromandel, and three days elsewhere. Ardern and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield briefed media after a Cabinet meeting on the Covid-19 community case identified in Auckland today. The Ministry of Health announced about 2.30pm today a new case had been found in the community in Auckland, saying a link between the case and the border or managed isolation had not been established.... 

"Bloomfield said they were assuming it is the Delta variant.... 'I want to assure New Zealand that we have planned for that eventuality and that we will now be putting in place that plan to contain and stamp out Covid-19 once again,' Ardern said.... Ardern said New Zealand was one of the last countries to experience a case of Delta. It was a 'game changer' and the country only had one chance to get on top of it, she said....

"People must stay at home in level 4, only leaving for essential services, she said. 'And if you undertake these activities, please wear a mask when you leave your house.' Stay 2m away from anyone you pass, don't congregate and don't stop to talk to your neighbours, she said. 'We know from evidence overseas, that the delta variant can spread just by walking past someone'....

"The public can drive locally to essential services, such as the supermarket, but need to stay 2m away from others and wear a mask. The public are asked to wear a mask when they go out anywhere. 'Remember to always act like you have Covid-19. Stay clear of others and don't put them in harm's way,' Ardern said. The government will provide the necessary financial support over the coming period.

"Ardern said vaccinations would be suspended for 48 hours, but vaccinated people must follow the rules like everybody else.... Health officials will be looking at what extra protocols might need to be put in place before the vaccination campaign resumes. Bloomfield says the most important thing is to stop the outbreak, which requires stopping people's movement."

Read more: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/449376/covid-19-community-case-nationwide-level-4-lockdown

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

PM Trudeau calls a pandemic election in Canada

August 15, 2021 - "Canadians will head to the polls on Sept. 20. Following a meeting with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau this morning, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon approved his request to dissolve Parliament, triggering the issuing of the election writs and formally beginning Canada's 44th federal election. The campaign will last 36 days — the minimum campaign length permitted by law.

"Opposition parties have argued against an early election call. Canada's next fixed-date election was set for October 2023. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh went so far as to urge Simon to refuse Trudeau's request. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said Monday he was concerned about holding a campaign during a fourth wave of the pandemic and accused Trudeau of pursuing an election in his own political 'self-interest.'

"From the podium outside of Rideau Hall this morning, Trudeau pushed back against his critics, saying Canadians deserve a chance to decide who should guide the country out of the pandemic. 'In this pivotal, consequential moment, who wouldn't want a say? Who wouldn't want their chance to help decide where our country goes from here?' he said. Trudeau's summer push for a majority makes sense in a time of 'urgent change,' Liberals argue....

"At dissolution, the Liberals hold 155 seats in the House of Commons, while the Conservatives have 119, the Bloc Québécois 32, the New Democrats 24 and the Green Party two. Five seats are held by independents. The federal Liberals continue to hold a lead in public polling, capturing 35.6 per cent of public support.... That level of support puts them just in range of the 170 seats needed to form a majority government."

August 14, 2021 - "A variant-fuelled fourth wave of the pandemic is pushing COVID-19 case counts to their highest levels in months. Extreme heat and wildfires are threatening the lives and homes of people in British Columbia.All of which has Canadians wondering — why exactly are we having an election right now?... The decision means the minority Liberal government will have spent less than two years in power.... Elections in Canada are supposed to be held on fixed dates every four years, but that legislation doesn't prevent a prime minister from asking for an earlier vote....

"Despite Canada's standing as one of the world leaders in vaccination, some experts warn that an election during a global pandemic is something to be avoided..... 'I don't think having an election right now is a good idea,' said Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist and professor at the University of Toronto, in an email. He said Canada appears to be on the cusp of a 'brutal' wave driven by the delta variant. 'The campaign and election will likely amplify this wave and voter turnout will probably be dampened due to fear of infection,' Kwong added.

"Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said earlier this month that voting in a pandemic climate can be done safely, although she didn't comment on the risks involved in parties conducting cross-country campaigns.... 

"According to Elections Canada, as many as five million Canadians are expected to vote by mail in the election, compared to fewer than 50,000 in the 2019 vote. Dr. Fahad Razak, a member of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said precautionary measures like mail-in voting and a more spread-out voting period could keep the election safe. He also pointed to recent provincial and territorial elections, which took place without any firm evidence that they were driving transmission rates."

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

LA County to ban unvaccinated from retail stores

Los Angeles to Create Ordinance Requiring Vaccination to Enter Restaurants, Retail Stores | Epoch Times - Micaela Ricaforte: 

August 11, 2021 -"Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted Aug. 11 to prepare an ordinance that will require people to show proof of at least partial COVID-19 vaccination to enter public indoor spaces in the city, including restaurants, bars, gyms, entertainment venues, and retail stores. The ordinance is more restrictive than a policy recently enacted in New York City, which ... excludes retail stores.

"The motion was introduced last week by Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell. 'It’s our responsibility to protect the public, that includes protecting them from the unvaccinated,' Martinez said in a statement.... 'The decision to not get vaccinated doesn’t just affect you. We have kids under the age of 12 who are not eligible for the vaccine yet, and someone’s decision to not get vaccinated affects them as well'.... During the meeting, O’Farrell called choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 'immoral,' saying some people choose to 'listen to some delusional rant on Twitter.'

"A number of Los Angeles residents called into the council meeting to oppose the ordinance. Some expressed distrust in the vaccines, while others claimed requiring proof of vaccination is a form of discrimination or segregation. Resident Elizabeth Elliott, who called into the meeting to give public comment, disagreed with O’Farrell on both the ethical and economic impact of the ordinance, saying it is 'unethical to force' people to inject a vaccine into their body. 'People should have medical freedoms to research and make their own health decisions. We as citizens have a right to privacy, especially with our health information,' Elliott said.

"'This ordinance will be detrimental to our economy as well. If 30 percent of people are unvaccinated, then that means businesses who are still struggling from the government shutdowns to stay afloat will likely lose 30 percent of their customers or worse; in some communities, people will lose 50 percent of their customers.'

"Others who called into the meeting in opposition of the mandate said the council would likely see pushback from residents as a result of the mandate. 'We have people talking about segregation because we know that the majority of people in this community refusing to get vaccinated are minorities, because they know history,' said one caller, who identified himself as Justin. 'Going down this road right now is really dangerous. We’re going to see lots of serious backlash, including lawsuits.'"

Read more: https://www.theepochtimes.com/los-angeles-county-to-require-proof-of-vaccination-to-enter-indoor-public-spaces_3944870.html

Monday, August 16, 2021

Vaccine passes and protests come to Canada

Thousands in Canada and France Protest Vaccine Passports | Voice of America:

August 14, 2021 - Thousands marched in Montreal and across France on Saturday to protest vaccine passports. Starting next month, in Canada’s Quebec province, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be needed to go to a restaurant, bar, gym or festival. The vaccination rate in Quebec is high: 84% of adults have received one dose, and 70% have received two. And yet protesters, often with their families, marched peacefully Saturday through the streets of Montreal. 

"'It should be the choice of each person whether to be vaccinated. With the passports it is a means of forcing us' to get vaccinated, said Veronique Whalen, a 31-year-old who came with her family and said she doesn't normally attend protests.

"In France, fewer people marched this Saturday, the fifth in a row, in opposition to a COVID-19 health pass that is needed to enter restaurants and travel on long-distance trains. The health pass took effect last week as new infections rose, thanks to the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus. In the past week, France has reported more than 146,000 new cases and 358 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center."
Read more: https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/thousands-canada-and-france-protest-vaccine-passports

Thousands gather in Montreal to voice displeasure at Quebec's impending COVID-19 vaccine passport CTV News - Daniel J. Rowe:

August 14, 2021 - "Organizers from Québec Debout say the 'Non a la passe sanitaire!' (No to the health pass) demonstration is to show the discriminatory aspect of the passport.....'The planned implementation of the health pass (proof of vaccination for restaurants, cinemas, sports teams, educational institutions, etc...) is an unprecedented prejudice for the population and is highly discriminatory,' the event page reads. 'We must say no together'....

"Starting at 2 p.m., marchers headed down Rene-Levesque Blvd. to the Place des Festivals, where several speakers addressed the crowd. Co-organizer Jonathan Hamelin said the protests will continue until a real debate on vaccine passports is held. 

"Quebec's opposition parties said the provincial government's refusal to hold a debate in the legislature on its plan to impose a vaccine passport system reflects a larger problem with its use of emergency powers. Premier François Legault responded by saying a debate isn't needed."
Read more: https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/thousands-gather-in-montreal-to-voice-displeasure-at-quebec-s-impending-covid-19-vaccine-passport-1.5547266

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Vaccines and variants

by George J. Dance

When in comes to Covid, a lot can change in a month. In the U.S. the UK, and Canada, the pandemic appeared to be finally over by the beginning of July: cases and deaths were dropping back to last summer's low levels, while growing levels of vaccination seemed to indicate they would stay that way. Now Covid is resurgent, with cases and deaths rebounding in all three countries, and indications that the vaccinated, too, are now spreading it

What happened? A few brave souls question whether vaccine effectiveness may be waning; but the majority consensus puts the blame on the Delta variant, now the dominant coronavirus strain throughout the world. But what caused that variant? Where did it come from? Most importantly, for some, whom do we blame for it? 

By this point it has become standard to blame the unvaccinated for the entire pandemic, and the Delta variant is no exception. “Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories,” William Schaffner (a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center) told CNN in July – a claim that CNN shortened in its headline to the punchier "Unvaccinated people are ‘variant factories". In that punchier form, the meme was headlined widely in both mainstream and social media. Some, like Canada's Global News, went so far as to claim that merely being unvaccinated makes a person "a risk" to others: "'Variant factory’: The unvaccinated pose a risk to more than just themselves.".  

Yet going beyond the headlines told a different story. The Global article, for example, quoted Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr, whose message was different:

"It’s a good, succinct term that I hope catches people’s attention: ‘variant factory,'" Cynthia Carr tells 680 CJOB.
What is that?
Carr says it could be the body of anyone who gets COVID-19.
"The virus cannot live and thrive outside of a living cell – it needs that cell to survive." 

Note that: A "variant factory" can be any living person infected with Covid. Even double-vaccinated people can be infected with Covid, since some double-vaccinated people have clearly died with it. Every living person, vaccinated or not, infected or not, is a "potential variant factory," including those who like to throw the term around so much.

If not the unvaccinated, who or what is responsible for the variants? Could it be the vaccination program itself? That theory is becoming popular in some alternative media and social media, including the expected fever swamps where bizarre conspiracy theories breed. That is no reason to reject the theory, but it is reason to dismiss those accounts and look for a more credible source. 

Back in May, GDPA found and blogged what looks like the original source of the claim, a video interview (in French) with the 2008 Nobel Prize winner (yes, in Medicine), Luc Montagnier. In the account we blogged, Montagnier was quoted as saying "that 'it is the vaccination that is creating the variants',... 'There are antibodies, created by the vaccine' that force the virus to 'find another solution' or die. This is where the variants are created. It is the variants that 'are a production and result from the vaccination.'" 

I can read French, with difficulty, but there is no way I can follow a spoken video. So I had to turn to my own limited knowledge of viruses, most of which I have picked up only this year, to try to piece out out an explanation on my own.

Because it has no DNA, a virus is not genetically stable; it reproduces by copying its own RNA, and in the process numerous 'copying errors' can happen. Those last give rise to mutations. Most mutations are suboptimal compared with the original strain, and quickly die out. Occasionally, though, a mutation can confer an advantage on the new strain: for example, it may incubate in a shorter time, meaning it can reproduce faster than antibodies can eliminate it. (The Delta variant is said to incubate in four days, versus six for the original strain.) In that case the mutation can survive and even thrive in an infected person, and may even displace the original strain (though that last is unlikely, given the original strain's head start). 

When someone infected with a new mutation (A) infects an unvaccinated person (B), then both the original strain and mutation can be passed on. Given that the original strain is more likely to be dominant, it is more likely to be the one passed on, though of course it is logically possible for an unvaccinated person B to catch both. 

If person B is vaccinated, though, there are three possibilities. Every vaccine has an efficacy of more than 0% and less than 100%; meaning that it will suppress some (in fact, most) infections, but fail to suppress others. Person B's vaccine may suppress both strains, fail to suppress both strains, or suppress only one. In that third case above, the vaccine will be suppressing the less infectious original strain, meaning that person B gets infected only by the more infectious mutation. If person B goes on to infect persons C, D, and E, they will also be infected by the new mutation. 

The result over time will be a growing number of people spreading a new, more infectious strain of the virus through the community. Since the new strain incubates faster, and more people are susceptible to it, it will spread faster than the original strain, will infect more people, and can even become dominant in the community. At that point the mutation has become a variant. Vaccination has not produced the new variant – random mutation did that – but by suppressing its less infectious competition, vaccination has selected for the new variant.

That was my theory, which I dubbed "artificial selection". However, as I have noted, I am no scientist, and my reading in the field is limited. So how to test my own assumptions? Who better than a scientist challenging Montagier's theory? Fortunately, I was able to find one of those: Peter Stoilov, PhD, an associate professor of biochemistry who leads the variant sequencing efforts in West Virginia, and who describes Montagnier’s theory as 'completely bonkers.'         

Here is Dr. Stoilov's lengthy debunking, from an interview with the website healthline.com:

"The fact on which he bases his argument is that mutations can change epitopes that the immune system has learned from the vaccination, and this gives some selective advantage to the virus. Consequently, in his mind, this would ‘create’ new, more dangerous variants," he said.
However, Stoilov pointed out that "selection does not cause new variants to emerge; it merely selects some of them."
"Mutations and variants occur randomly and independently of vaccination or any other selection process. In fact, they may precede selection by years or millennia," Stoilov said....
Stoilov said it’s a well-established fact that selection does not cause mutations.
"The facts that Dr. Montagnier ignores are that, while vaccination may select for some variants, it is still effective at suppressing them and the overall effect is a dramatic reduction of infections and a milder disease when the virus manages to break through the vaccine," he said....
If vaccines were creating new dangerous variants, then Stoilov said we would see proportionately more new variants emerging over time among vaccinated populations than with unvaccinated parts of the world.
There would also be a lot more diversity among the virus variants in countries with high vaccination rates, and increased disease spread and mortality among vaccinated people.
"We see nothing of that. In fact, we see exactly the opposite," Stoilov said. "In places with high vaccination rates, the case numbers and mortality are dropping; virus diversity is limited to few (one to three) variants; and, so far, no new variants are emerging among vaccinated populations." 

Stoilov does a good job rebutting the idea that the vaccine is causing the mutations that become variants. But his arguments do nothing to refute the theory that mass vaccination is selecting for them. Rather, he freely admits that "vaccines may select for some variants" (while pointing out that this "selection does not cause new variants to emerge; it merely selects some of them") – which is exactly what I had already concluded. 

None of the above is a reason to stop vaccination, as Montagnier is suppose to have urged. So far, vaccination has been effective at reducing cases, hospitalizations, and deaths; on these terms, mass Covid vaccination has been a success. Artificial selection is merely an unintended consequence of that success: precisely by stopping most (but not all) infections, vaccination selects for more infectious variants. If the result is less, not more, severe injury or death – and so far that is the case – then vaccination has to be seen as an unalloyed good. 

So no policy changes follow from adoption of the artificial selection hypothesis. All that follows is increased awareness that in epidemiology, as in every other field of human action, policy changes will have unintended consequences, of which the policy makers are unaware and unable to anticipate beforehand, much less adequately explain or deal with afterwards. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

'Pandemic of the unvaccinated' narrative falling flat

Don’t Panic, But Breakthrough Cases May Be a Bigger Problem Than You’ve Been Told Current public-health messaging may understate the scale and risk. | New York Magazine - David Wallace-Wells, Intelligencer:

August 12, 2021 - "''Breakthrough' sounds bad — implying an immune-escape mutation, likely rare, and therefore alarming. The vaccines were never tested to prevent transmission, only symptomatic disease, and those who knew the science expected, from the outset, that we would see some number of such cases, and that they would be, overwhelmingly, mild. But Delta appears to have changed things....

"Over the last few weeks, in the wake of an attention-getting internal CDC presentation on the severity of the current wave, we’ve heard a lot ... about how ... vaccines were working, that breakthrough cases remained rare and mild, that the pandemic was now largely a pandemic of the unvaccinated. On July 30, the Kaiser Family Foundation ... declared that the relative risk to the vaccinated of infection, hospitalization, and death was close to — or mathematically equal to — zero, and that in almost all states only about 1 percent of identified cases were breakthrough events. This reading was echoed by the later Times analysis, and itself echoed earlier, reassuring statements by Anthony Fauci, that 99.2 percent of deaths in June were in unvaccinated people, and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, that, as of July 18, '99.5 percent of COVID deaths are among the unvaccinated'....

"The current, bleak Delta wave is being driven primarily by cases in the unvaccinated, and the best tool in attacking the pandemic is more vaccination.... But nevertheless a closer look at the data reveals that some of the public health communication may be overstating the vaccine effect on transmission and understating the scale and risk of breakthrough infections, which, while far from predominant, do appear prevalent enough to be helping shape the course of the disease.

"'The message that breakthrough cases are exceedingly rare and that you don’t have to worry about them if you’re vaccinated — that this is only an epidemic of the unvaccinated — that message is falling flat,' Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina told me.... 'If this was still Alpha, sure. But with Delta, plenty of people are getting sick. Plenty of transmission is going on. And my personal opinion is that the whole notion of herd immunity from two vaccine shots is flying out the window very quickly with this new variant.'

"'We’re seeing a lot more spread in vaccinated people,' agreed Scripp’s Eric Topol, who estimated that the vaccines’ efficacy against symptomatic transmission, which he estimated to be 90 percent or above for the wild-type strain and all previous variants, had fallen to about 60 percent for Delta. 'That’s a big drop.' Later, he suggested it might have fallen to 50 percent, and that new data about to be published in the U.S. would suggest an even lower rate. On Wednesday, a large pre-print study published by the Mayo clinic suggested the efficacy against infection had fallen as far as 42%.

“'The breakthrough problem is much more concerning than what our public officials have transmitted,' Topol continued.... 'I think the problem we have is people — whether it’s the CDC or the people that are doing the briefings — their big concern is, they just want to get vaccinations up. And they don’t want to punch any holes in the story about vaccines. But we can handle the truth. And that’s what we should be getting'....

"The central distortion reflected in the Kaiser report — and echoed by communicators elsewhere, including in the Times — is the result of a basic error of comparison ... using year-to-date 2021 data, which include several months before mass vaccination (when by definition vanishingly few breakthrough cases could have occurred) during which time the vast majority of the year’s total cases and deaths took place (during the winter surge).... And because those first few, brutal months of the year were exceptional ones, do not reflect anything like the present state of vaccination or the disease, they throw off the ratios even further. Two thirds of 2021 cases and 80 percent of deaths came before April 1, when only 15 percent of the country was fully vaccinated, which means calculating year-to-date ratios means possibly underestimating the prevalence of breakthrough cases by a factor of three and breakthrough deaths by a factor of five.

"Unfortunately, more accurate month-to-month data is hard to assemble — because the CDC stopped tracking most breakthrough cases in early May, before the Delta wave had begun, and the states maintaining their own databases often update them irregularly and, in some cases, according to idiosyncratic logic — but over the last week, I’ve tried. [S]everal states show prevalence rates roughly in line with Kaiser’s ballpark 1 percent estimate (in Virginia, for instance, breakthroughs represent 2.3 percent of new cases and 5.2 percent of deaths).... In Delaware, between July 1 and July 22, 'breakthrough' cases were 13.8 percent of the total. In Michigan, between June 15 and July 30, the figure was 19.1 percent. In Utah, 8 percent of new cases were breakthroughs in early June, but by late July, as Delta grew, the share grew, too, to 20 percent (even while the total number of cases almost doubled). According to those leaked CDC documents, there were, as of late last month, 35,000 symptomatic breakthrough cases being recorded each week — about ten percent of the country’s total....

"The 125,000 known U.S. breakthrough cases through the end of July represent, according to NBC News, only 0.08 percent of the vaccinated population — meaning that less than one-tenth of one percent of all vaccinated people have gotten a confirmed breakthrough infection. That is encouraging, and impressive, and reassuring. But less than one percent of the unvaccinated got a confirmed case in July, either.... In California, for the week ending July 31, the average case rate among the unvaccinated, the state reported, was 33 per 100,000, while the average daily case rate among the vaccinated was 7 per 100,000 — a five-fold decrease, more or less. That’s still very good! But five-fold or ten-fold is not the hundred-fold reduction implied by Kaiser, Fauci, or Murthy."

Read more: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/08/breakthrough-covid-19-cases-may-be-a-bigger-problem.html

Friday, August 13, 2021

CDC not reporting most breakthrough infections

What Is the True Vaccine Breakthrough Rate? The CDC Doesn't Want You to Know | Foundation for Economic Education - Jon Miltimore:

August 13, 2021 - "Over a recent 12-day period the Milwaukee Brewers had nine players test positive for COVID-19.... [T]he team disclosed that most of the players were vaccinated for COVID-19, including former MVP Christian Yelich.... The Brewers are not an isolated example of Major League Baseball teams experiencing a rash of vaccination breakthroughs. Teams across the league have experienced similar problems, including the New York Yankees, who saw nine vaccinated players sidelined in May with COVID-19....

"[B]reakthrough cases also appear to be more common than the CDC, media, and public health officials suggest.... A recent outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for example found that the vast majority of COVID cases involved vaccinated individuals.... But that wasn’t all. The CDC’s study also found, the Washington Post noted, individuals 'carried as much virus in their noses as unvaccinated individuals.' 'High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus,' [CDC Director Rochelle] Walensky said.... [T]his data suggests two important things. First, COVID cases among vaccinated individuals appear to be higher than the 'less than 1 percent' many claim. Two, vaccinated individuals appear quite capable of transmitting the virus to others, as Walensky states. Indeed, viral loads in nasal passages suggest they could transmit the virus at rates similar to unvaccinated carriers....

"'As of May 1, 2021, CDC transitioned from monitoring all reported vaccine breakthrough cases to focus on identifying and investigating only hospitalized or fatal cases due to any cause,' a statement says.... Does this mean the CDC isn't tracking breakthrough cases anymore unless someone is hospitalized or dies? I asked the CDC for clarification. I didn’t hear back from them. But if one goes to the CDC site, you’ll find information on vaccine breakthroughs that includes only hospitalizations and deaths. The figure — as of August 2 — stands at 7,525, which is below the 9,245 breakthrough infections the CDC had documented as of April 26.... 

"[T]he media are left guessing what the breakthrough rate is. CNN points out that roughly half of US states report data on breakthroughs, and in those states official statistics put the COVID infection rate of vaccinated people at less than 1 percent, 'ranging from 0.01% in Connecticut to 0.9% in Oklahoma.' A highly cited Kaiser report similarly puts the breakthrough rate at 'well below' 1 percent. An NBC News analysis covering 38 states, meanwhile, found 125,682 breakthrough cases, which represents about 0.08 percent of the 164 million vaccinated Americans....

"A thorough review of the evidence strongly suggests breakthrough cases are far likelier than the claims in headlines. A New York Times story published Wednesday exploring the Delta variant  noted that the CDC 'does not tally national figures on breakthrough infections that don’t result in hospitalization or death,' so the precise incidence 'is unknown' even though the CDC says breakthroughs are 'extremely rare'.... But infectious disease experts hinted that breakthrough cases are more likely than the current data suggest. 'I think that if we started to test people just randomly on the street, we would find a lot more people who test positive,' Dr. Abraar Karan, an infectious diseases fellow at Stanford, told the newspaper.

"On Thursday, New York magazine published an article under the headline 'Don’t Panic, But Breakthrough Cases May Be a Bigger Problem Than You’ve Been Told.' Journalist David Wallace-Wells, who spoke to scientists at Harvard and Scripps’s, said public health officials may be 'overstating the vaccine effect on transmission and understating the scale and risk of breakthrough infections.' 'The message that breakthrough cases are exceedingly rare and that you don’t have to worry about them if you’re vaccinated — that this is only an epidemic of the unvaccinated — that message is falling flat,' Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina told Wallace-Wells. Eric Topol, an American cardiologist and author, was more blunt, saying he estimated the vaccines’ efficacy against symptomatic transmission had fallen to roughly 60 percent for the Delta variant....

"Wallace-Wells notes it’s impossible to estimate the true breakthrough rate because the CDC stopped tracking and reporting most breakthroughs in May, but the data he assembled paint a much different picture. 'In Delaware, between July 1 and July 22, ‘breakthrough’ cases were 13.8 percent of the total,' he writes. 'In Michigan, between June 15 and July 30, the figure was 19.1 percent. In this period, there were 2,369 breakthrough cases and 12,409 in total. In Utah, 8 percent of new cases were breakthroughs in early June, but by late July, as Delta grew, the share grew, too, to 20 percent (even while the total number of cases almost doubled)'.... 

"By only tracking breakthrough infections that result in hospitalization and death, the CDC is depriving the public of crucial information on the efficacy of vaccines and fueling the vaccine wars. Increasingly, these wars are a bipartisan chorus of vaccinated voices who paint the unvaccinated as either crazy people ... or filthy creatures who are prolonging the pandemic because of their selfishness.... This chorus has had its desired effect. A recent Axios-Ipsos poll found that 80 percent of Americans blame the unvaccinated for rising cases — even though the US has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world — which has fueled efforts to force Americans to get vaccinated by requiring 'vaccine passports' to travel or do business.

"Blaming the unvaccinated for the drawn out pandemic may be popular and politically convenient, but .. breakthrough transmissions appear to be more common than the CDC has let on — which is undoubtedly why they stopped tracking most breakthrough cases. The CDC’s effort to hide breakthrough cases not involving death or hospitalization from the public eye might serve its presumed goal — getting more Americans vaccinated — but it undermines the truth and further erodes public trust in government, which is already at historic lows. The silver lining in the story is that a full analysis of the science of vaccination makes an even stronger case that the decision of whether to vaccinate or not should be made by one person: the individual getting the vaccine."

Read more: https://fee.org/articles/what-is-the-true-vaccine-breakthrough-rate-the-cdc-doesnt-want-you-to-know/

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

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Pfizer vaccine efficacy drops below 40% in Israel

Israel says Pfizer Covid vaccine is just 39% effective as delta spreads, but still prevents severe illness | CNBC - Berkeley Lovelace, Jr.:

July 23, 2021 - "Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine is just 39% effective in Israel where the delta variant is the dominant strain, but still provides strong protection against severe illness and hospitalization, according to a new report from the country’s Health Ministry. The efficacy figure, which is based on an unspecified number of people between June 20 and July 17, is down from an earlier estimate of 64% two weeks ago....

"However, the two-dose vaccine still works very well in preventing people from getting seriously sick, demonstrating 88% effectiveness against hospitalization [down from 93% two weeks ago - gd] and 91% effectiveness against severe illness, according to the Israeli data published Thursday. 

"'We have to be mindful that, with time, the effectiveness of these vaccines may wane,' said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease professor at the University of Toronto. He stressed that the shots are still highly effective in preventing severe infection, helping hospital systems not get too overwhelmed heading into the colder months. That being said, 'we’re still in the Covid era and anything can happen,' he said. 'We have to be prepared and we have to be nimble that people may need a booster at some point,' he added.... 

"The delta variant, already in more than 104 countries, is concerning health officials in the U.S. as they see more breakthrough infections, which occur in fully vaccinated people, even though they are more mild."

Read more: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/23/delta-variant-pfizer-covid-vaccine-39percent-effective-in-israel-prevents-severe-illness.html

Health officials predict thousands of seriously ill COVID patients within month | Times of Israel:

August 11, 2021 - "Israeli hospitals have to prepare for an influx of nearly 5,000 coronavirus patients within weeks, half of whom will need acute care to deal with severe bouts of COVID-19, health officials have warned Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, according to reports Wednesday. The dire predictions came during a Tuesday meeting between Bennett and senior health experts ... prompting the premier to back a plan to expand hospital capacity, a signal that the government will look to absorb the crush of severe cases head-on rather than attempt to swerve out of its way.

"Senior Health Ministry officials and other experts presented Bennett with data forecasting some 4,800 coronavirus patients requiring hospitalization by September 10. The experts expect half of the patients to be seriously ill, putting a major strain on Israel’s health system, according to Hebrew-language media reports on the closed-door meeting.

"Israel has seen new case numbers skyrocket in recent weeks from a few dozen a day to over 6,000 on Monday. Another 5,755 were diagnosed on Tuesday, the Health Ministry said Wednesday morning, bringing the number of active cases to 38,942. Ministry numbers showed 694 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday morning, 400 of whom were listed in serious condition."

Read more: https://www.timesofisrael.com/health-officials-predict-thousands-of-seriously-ill-covid-patients-within-month/

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Governor Cuomovirus resigns (satire)

Cuomo Resigns To Spend More Time Sexually Harassing Family | Babylon Bee
August 10, 2021 - "In a stunning press conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced he will be resigning from his term as Governor.... 

"'It has been an honor to serve as Governor,' said Cuomo, 'But all the groping of beautiful young women and killing of senior citizens has taken my focus away from where it needs to be: on my family. Starting next month, I will retire to focus on only harassing my dear family, and killing the elderly in my own community -- something I have neglected for far too long.' 

"The speech was universally praised as 'powerful' and 'maybe even presidential' by the media, with some suggesting the disgraced governor deserves an Emmy for his powerful performance.

"To help make ends meet, Cuomo will secure a side gig running for president, now that he has harassed enough women to qualify for the position."
Read more: https://babylonbee.com/news/cuomo-resigns-to-spend-more-time-sexually-harassing-family

Cuomo Scandal A Somber Reminder That Leaders Bad At Job Can Have Dark Side Too | The Onion:
August 10, 2021 - "Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal and subsequent resignation reportedly served as a somber reminder Tuesday that leaders who are bad at their job can have a dark side too. 

"'You wouldn’t think someone who’s had accusations of corruption dog him throughout his political career would have this seedy personal side as well,' said New York resident Harold Barnes, adding that apparently even the career politician son of a prominent governor who got everything he ever wanted could end up being someone who apparently lacked a moral compass or sense of ethics.... 'It just goes to show ... he ... lets thousands of elderly people die needlessly — all while writing a self-aggrandizing book touting his ability to manage a pandemic that even at that very minute he is mismanaging — and yet you have no clue that he could be such a bastard behind the scenes.' 

"Sources added that the governor’s fall from grace ought to sound a note of caution to anyone venerating a manifestly awful and careless politician, lest they turn out to be an awful and careless person underneath."
Read more: https://www.theonion.com/cuomo-scandal-a-somber-reminder-that-leaders-bad-at-job-1847459208

After Resigning For Sexual Harassment, Cuomo Immediately Hired By CNN - Babylon Bee:
August 10, 2021 - "Cuomo has resigned in disgrace amid accusations of sexual harassment, but the sky is still the limit for his career, as CNN immediately hired him under a multi-million-dollar contract. As soon as CNN learned the man was credibly accused of sexual harassment, they scooped him up to be an on-air personality.

"'Between his ability to lie through his teeth, cover up atrocities, and sexually harass women, we think Mr. Cuomo will be a perfect fit for our company culture here at CNN,' said CNN President Jeff Zucker. 'What a find for our cable news channel! Plus, his brother already works here, and the two have intimate knowledge of each other's scandals. Mr. Cuomo will really hit the ground running here'....

"At publishing time, CNN had confirmed the Cuomo brothers will star in a new show called 'Super Cuomo Bros.' where they jump on seniors' heads to murder them."
Read more: https://babylonbee.com/news/after-resigning-for-sexual-harassment-cuomo-immediately-hired-by-cnn