Tuesday, November 30, 2021

US courts suspend Biden vaccine mandates

OSHA Suspends Enforcement of COVID 'Vaccine or Test' Mandate | MedPage Today - Joyce Frieden:

November 17, 2021 - "The Biden administration has temporarily suspended enforcement of a regulation requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to either mandate COVID-19 vaccination for all their workers or ensure that unvaccinated workers wear masks and are tested for COVID at least once a week. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) noted on its website Monday that on November 12, a U.S. appeals court 'granted a motion to stay OSHA's COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), published on November 5. The court ordered that OSHA "take no steps to implement or enforce" the ETS "until further court order."

"'While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation,' the website said. OSHA had been hit with multiple lawsuits from states and private businesses objecting to the rule.

"The suspension does not affect a separate rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which mandates that all healthcare workers whose organizations receive funding from Medicare or Medicaid be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4, 2022.... Healthcare workers will not have the option to submit to weekly testing in lieu of a vaccine. The two rules combined, in addition to previous regulations, [would] extend vaccination requirements to roughly two-thirds of all employees nationwide, including 17 million healthcare workers and 84 million employees, officials said.... 

"Even before the ETS was issued, 24 state attorneys general had threatened to file lawsuits if the Biden administration moved forward with vaccine-or-test rules for private businesses. And soon after the rules were announced, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Dhillon Law Group introduced a challenge to the Biden administration's rules on behalf of the Daily Wire, a conservative news site."

Read more: https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19vaccine/95740

Federal judge blocks vaccine rule for health workers in New Hampshire, 9 other states | WMUR News 9 - Associated Press: 

November 29, 2021 - "A federal judge on Monday blocked President Joe Biden's administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate on thousands of health care workers in 10 states, including New Hampshire, that brought the first legal challenge against the requirement. The court order said that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid had no clear authority from Congress to enact the vaccine mandate for providers participating in the two government health care programs for the elderly, disabled and poor.

"The preliminary injunction by St. Louis-based U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp applies to a coalition of suing states that includes Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Similar lawsuits also are pending in other states. The federal rule requires COVID-19 vaccinations for more than 17 million workers nationwide in about 76,000 health care facilities and home health care providers that get funding from the government health programs. Workers are to receive their first dose by Dec. 6 and their second shot by Jan. 4....

"'This is a big win for New Hampshire’s health care system,' said New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu. 'Nursing homes were at risk of closure if the Biden mandate remained in place. This helps maintain the staff New Hampshire needs to care for our loved ones'.... 

"A federal appeals court on Nov. 12 issued an order halting the Biden administration’s rule requiring private businesses with 100 or more workers to ensure that their workers are vaccinated by Jan. 4.... Earlier Monday, Sununu released a letter he had sent last week to a top official of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration seeking clarification of the Biden administration’s message to employers to move ahead with the 100-employee vaccination mandate despite the court order. Sununu wrote to Assistant Secretary of Labor Douglas Parker [and] asked for the deadline for compliance to be extended by 'at least two months after any stay is potentially lifted.'

"Biden's administration contends federal rules supersede state policies prohibiting vaccine mandates and are essential to slowing the pandemic. But the judge in the health care provider case wrote that federal officials likely overstepped their legal powers. 'CMS seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing an unprecedented demand to federally dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans. Such action challenges traditional notions of federalism,' Schelp wrote in his order. Even under an exceedingly broad interpretation of federal powers, 'Congress did not clearly authorize CMS to enact ... this politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate,' Schelp wrote."

Read more: https://www.wmur.com/article/federal-judge-vaccine-rule-health-workers-new-hampshire/38378789

Monday, November 29, 2021

First traditional Covid vaccine approved in Europe

French firm Valneva wins approval from European Commission to supply Covid-19 vaccines | France 24:

November 10, 2020 - "French vaccine company Valneva on Nov. 10, 2021, said it won EU approval to supply up to 60 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine VLA2001.... The announcement came as the EU attempts to speed up its fight against rising Covid-19 cases.  'The Valneva vaccine adds another option to our broad portfolio, once it is proven to be safe and effective by the European Medicines Agency,' EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said.... 

"Valneva is hoping its candidate, which uses more traditional technology than the mRNA vaccines, could be a more reassuring option for Europeans still reluctant to be immunised. While mRNA vaccines induce an immune response that targets just the spike protein of the coronavirus, the Valneva vaccine aims to stimulate an immune response to the entire virus, which could give it an edge in the fight.

"On October 18, Valneva said its vaccine demonstrated efficacy [performed] 'at least as good, if not better' than AstraZeneca's shot in a late-stage trial comparing the two, with significantly fewer adverse side effects. Valneva's trial was conducted while the highly-transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus was already circulating widely. The study also showed that Valneva's vaccine, given in two shots 28 days apart, prompted significantly fewer adverse reactions than the AstraZeneca vaccine, such as arm pain and fever, the company said."

Read more: https://www.france24.com/en/france/20211110-french-firm-valneva-wins-approval-from-european-commission-to-supply-covid-19-vaccines

The Valneva COVID-19 vaccine: Why it might be a game-changer | Al Jazeera - Amir Khan:

November 9, 2021 - "French pharmaceutical company Valneva ... has a vaccine with a difference.... It is different in that it uses the tried and tested method of taking the whole of the coronavirus and inactivating it so that it can no longer cause illness. It then combines with an adjuvant, a substance that helps it enter human cells effectively. A similar technique is used to make flu and polio vaccines. The idea is that by introducing a whole coronavirus into the human body, albeit one which has been inactivated and cannot cause illness, the immune system will recognise the whole virus as foreign and not just the spike proteins. This will give a much broader immune response and increase the memory cells that can recognise different parts of the virus should the vaccinated individual become infected with the real coronavirus.

"The company say[s] the advantage to this is that should any mutations arise on the spike protein that render it unrecognisable to the vaccine, the Valenva-induced immune response is broad enough to be able to recognise other parts of the virus so the immune reaction will still be effective. With the shapeshifting nature of the virus, it is worth investing in vaccines that do not rely on just one part of its structure to generate protection.

"Phase-three trials for the Valneva vaccine were carried out on more than 4,000 patients aged 18 years and older across 26 sites in the United Kingdom. The trials compared the immune response rates with those vaccinated with the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines and results showed that VLA2001 generated a stronger immune response than the AstraZeneca vaccine – with higher levels of neutralising COVID-19 antibodies in the blood. Researchers also found no severe cases of COVID-19 among participants receiving the Valneva vaccine, despite the Delta variant being in circulation during the trial....

"The UK, which initially put in an order for 100 million doses, recently cancelled that order over allegations of breach of contract, something the pharmaceutical company strongly denies. The contract Valneva has with the UK government lists a broad range of potential breaches and it is unclear which one the government is referring to, but 'supply issues' have been mentioned. Despite this, the manufacturers have applied to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for approval, and expect to receive it by the end of the year."

Read more: https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2021/11/9/valneva-covid-19-vaccine-why-it-might-be-a-game-changer

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Ex-adviser writes book on Trump and the virus

A President Betrayed by Bureaucrats: Scott Atlas’s Masterpiece on the Covid Disaster | Brownstone Institute - Jeffrey A. Tucker:

November 27, 2021 - "I’m a voracious reader of Covid books but nothing could have prepared me for Scott Atlas’s A Plague Upon Our House, a full and mind-blowing account of the famed scientist’s personal experience with the Covid era and a luridly detailed account of his time at the White House. The book is hot fire, from page one to the last, and will permanently affect your view of not only this pandemic and the policy response but also the workings of public health in general. 

"Atlas’s book has exposed a scandal for the ages. It is enormously valuable because it fully blows up what seems to be an emerging fake story involving a supposedly Covid-denying president who did nothing vs. heroic scientists in the White House who urged compulsory mitigating measures consistent with prevailing scientific opinion. Not one word of that is true. Atlas’s book, I hope, makes it impossible to tell such tall tales without embarrassment. Anyone who tells you this fictional story (including Deborah Birx) deserves to have this highly credible treatise tossed in his direction.... 

"Throughout the book, Atlas points to the enormous cost of the machinery of lockdowns, the preferred method of Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx: missed cancer screenings, missed surgeries, nearly two years of educational losses, bankrupted small business, depression and drug overdoses, overall citizen demoralization, violations of religious freedom, all while public health massively neglected the actual at-risk population in long-term care facilities. Essentially, they were willing to dismantle everything we called civilization in the name of bludgeoning one pathogen without regard to the consequences. 

"The fake science of population-wide 'models' drove policy instead of following the known information about risk profiles. 'The one unusual feature of this virus was the fact that children had an extraordinarily low risk,' writes Atlas. 'Yet this positive and reassuring news was never emphasized. Instead, with total disregard of the evidence of selective risk consistent with other respiratory viruses, public health officials recommended draconian isolation of everyone.'

"'Restrictions on liberty were also destructive by inflaming class distinctions with their differential impact,' he writes, 'exposing essential workers, sacrificing low-income families and kids, destroying single-parent homes, and eviscerating small businesses, while at the same time large companies were bailed out, elites worked from home with barely an interruption, and the ultra-rich got richer, leveraging their bully pulpit to demonize and cancel those who challenged their preferred policy options.'

"In the midst of continued chaos, in August 2020, Atlas was called by Trump to help, not as a political appointee, not as a PR man for Trump, not as a DC fixer but as the only person who in nearly a year of unfolding catastrophe had a health-policy focus. He made it clear from the outset that he would only say what he believed to be true; Trump agreed that this was precisely what he wanted and needed. Trump got an earful and gradually came around to a more rational view than that which caused him to wreck the American economy and society with his own hands and against his own instincts. 

"In Task Force meetings, Atlas was the only person who showed up with studies and on-the-ground information as opposed to mere charts of infections easily downloadable from popular websites. 'A bigger surprise was that Fauci did not present scientific research on the pandemic to the group that I witnessed. Likewise, I never heard him speak about his own critical analysis of any published research studies. This was stunning to me'.... 

"When Atlas spoke up, it was almost always to contradict Fauci/Birx but he received no backing during meetings, only to have many people in attendance later congratulate him for speaking out. Still, he did, by virtue of private meetings, have a convert in Trump himself, but by then it was too late: not even Trump could prevail against the wicked machine he had permissioned into operation.... 

"When Atlas would raise doubts about Birx, Jared Kushner would repeatedly assure him that 'she is 100% MAGA.' Yet we know for certain that this is not true. We know from a different book on the subject that she only took the position with the anticipation that Trump would lose the presidency in the November election....

"[O]n March 12, 2020 ... President Trump spoke to the nation and announced that there would be no more travel from Europe.... A day later (March 13), the HHS distributed its lockdown plans for the nation. That weekend, Trump met for many hours with Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and only a few others. He came around to the idea of shutting down the American economy for two weeks. He presided over the calamitous March 16, 2020, press conference, at which Trump promised to beat the virus through general lockdowns. Of course he had no power to do that directly but he could urge it to happen, all under the completely delusional promise that doing so would solve the virus problem. Two weeks later, the same gang persuaded him to extend the lockdowns. 

"Trump went along with the advice because it was the only advice he was fed at the time. They made it appear that the only choice that Trump had – if he wanted to beat the virus – was to wage war on his own policies that were pushing for a stronger, healthier economy.... Atlas writes: 'On this highly important criterion of presidential management — taking responsibility to fully take charge of policy coming from the White House — I believe the president made a massive error in judgment. Against his own gut feeling, he delegated authority to medical bureaucrats, and then he failed to correct that mistake.' The ... fact that both Republicans and Democrats do not want spoken about is that this whole calamity ... did indeed begin with Trump’s decision.....

"I was particularly struck by his chapter on testing, mainly because that whole racket mystified me throughout. From the outset, the CDC bungled the testing part of the pandemic story.... Once that was finally fixed, months too late, mass and indiscriminate PCR testing became the desiderata of success within the White House. The problem was not just with the testing method:

Fragments of dead virus hang around and can generate a positive test for many weeks or months, even though one is not generally contagious after two weeks. Moreover, PCR is extremely sensitive. It detects minute quantities of virus that do not transmit infection…. Even the New York Times wrote in August that 90 percent or more of positive PCR tests falsely implied that someone was contagious. Sadly, during my entire time at the White House, this crucial fact would never even be addressed by anyone other than me at the Task Force meetings, let alone because for any public recommendation, even after I distributed data proving this critical point.

"The other problem is the wide assumption that more testing (however inaccurate) of whomever, whenever was always better.... Early on, Fauci had clearly said that there was no reason to get tested if you had no symptoms. Later, that common-sense outlook was thrown out the window and replaced with an agenda to test as many people as possible regardless of risk and regardless of symptoms. The resulting data enabled Fauci/Birx to keep everyone in a constant state of alarm. More test positivity to them implied only one thing: more lockdowns.... That assumption became so entrenched that not even the president’s own wishes (which had changed from Spring to Summer) made any difference. 

"Atlas’s first job, then, was to challenge this whole indiscriminate testing agenda. To his mind, testing needed to be about more than accumulating endless amounts of data, much of it without meaning; instead, testing should be directed toward a public-health goal. The people who needed tests were the vulnerable populations, particularly those in nursing homes, with the goal of saving lives among those who were actually threatened with severe outcomes. This push to test, contact trace, and quarantine anyone and everyone regardless of known risk was a huge distraction, and also caused huge disruption in schooling and enterprise. 

"To fix it meant changing the CDC guidelines. Atlas’s story of attempting to do that is eye-opening. He wrestled with every manner of bureaucrat and managed to get new guidelines written, only to find that they had been mysteriously reverted to the old guidelines one week later. He caught the “error” and insisted that his version prevail. Once they were issued by the CDC, the national press was all over it, with the story that the White House was pressuring the scientists at the CDC in terrible ways. After a week-long media storm, the guidelines changed yet again. All of Atlas’s work was made null.... 

"It was this way throughout the lockdown period, a machinery in place to implement, encourage, and enforce endless restrictions but no one person in particular was there to take responsibility for the policies or the outcomes, even as the ostensible head of state (Trump) was on record both publicly and privately opposing the policies that no one could seem to stop. 

"As an example of this, Atlas tells the story of bringing some massively important scientists to the White House to speak with Trump: Martin Kulldorff, Jay Bhattacharya, Joseph Ladapo, and Cody Meissner. People around the president thought the idea was great. But somehow the meeting kept being delayed. Again and again. When it finally went ahead, the schedulers only allowed for 5 minutes. But once they met with Trump himself, the president had other ideas and prolonged the meeting for an hour and a half, asking the scientists all kinds of questions about viruses, policy, the initial lockdowns, the risks to individuals, and so on. The president was so impressed with their views and knowledge – what a dramatic change that must have been for him – that he invited filming to be done plus pictures to be taken. He wanted to make it a big public splash. It never happened. Literally. White House press somehow got the message that this meeting never happened. The first anyone will have known about it other than White House employees is from Atlas’s book.... 

"I can’t possibly cover the wealth of material in this book, and I expect this brief review to be one of several that I write. I do have a few disagreements. First, I think the author is too uncritical toward Operation Warp Speed and doesn’t really address how the vaccines were wildly oversold, to say nothing of growing concerns about safety, which were not addressed in the trials. Second, he seems to approve of Trump’s March 12th travel restrictions, which struck me as brutal and pointless, and the real beginning of the unfolding disaster. Third, Atlas inadvertently seems to perpetuate the distortion that Trump recommended ingesting bleach during a press conference. I know that this was all over the papers. But I’ve read the transcript of that press conference several times and find nothing like this. Trump actually makes clear that he was speaking about cleaning surfaces. This might be yet another case of outright media lies. 

"All that aside, this book reveals everything about the insanity of 2020 and 2021, years in which good sense, good science, historical precedent, human rights, and concerns for human liberty were all thrown into the trash, not just in the US but all over the world....

"Atlas experienced the slings, arrows, and worse. The media and the bureaucrats tried to shut him up, shut him down, and body bag him professionally and personally. Cancelled, meaning removed from the roster of functional, dignified human beings. Even colleagues at Stanford University joined in the lynch mob, much to their disgrace. And yet this book is that of a man who has prevailed against them. 

"In that sense, this book is easily the most crucial first-person account we have so far. It is gripping, revealing, devastating for the lockdowners and their vaccine-mandating successors, and a true classic that will stand the test of time. It’s simply not possible to write the history of this disaster without a close examination of this erudite first-hand account."

Read more: https://brownstone.org/articles/a-president-betrayed-by-bureaucrats-scott-atlass-masterpiece-on-the-covid-disaster/

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

A Plague Upon Our House at Amazon.com.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Omicron variant sets off renewed Covid hysteria

Headline courtesy CNN News, Nov. 27, 2021.

Are We Overreacting to Omicron? | Brownstone Institute - Dr. Paul Elias Alexander:

November 26, 2021 - "With natural exposure immunity and early outpatient treatment and when combined with no reports of increased lethality, the WHO’s reaction of generating panic toward 'Omicron' is causing needless fear.... So too with the Biden administration’s newly imposed travel restrictions, which will achieve nothing and will once again disrupt trade and violate human rights. 

"The WHO has said that the Omicron variant can spread more quickly than other variants. Likely true. The virus is behaving just like how viruses behave. They are mutable and mutate and via Muller’s ratchet, we expect this to be milder and milder mutations and not more lethal ones.... The virus will mutate downward so that it can use the host (us) to propagate itself via our cellular metabolic machinery. The Delta has shown us this: it is very infectious and mostly non-lethal. Especially for children and healthy people. So is the WHO panicking the globe needlessly? Is this Covid-19 February 2020 once again? 

"The problem with South Africa as is with Australia and New Zealand and even island nations like Trinidad is ... low natural immunity to SAR-Cov-2. This is because, as we witnessed over the last year and more, if you lock down your society too long and too hard, you deny the nation and population from inching closer to population-level herd immunity. And you have no economy or society [into] which to  reemerge. You devastate your society for a pathogen that is largely harmless to the vast majority of people especially children.... 

"These nations thought that they could stay locked down and wait for a vaccine. This is a reasonable view though I was against lockdowns as they would and did cause crushing harms on especially poor persons and children. The problem is there was an opportunity cost because the vaccine we were waiting on was suboptimally developed without the proper safety testing or assessment of effectiveness. 

"We have data that the Pfizer vaccine loses 40% of antibodies per month, meaning in 3 months post-shot, you have low effective vaccinal immunity.... For example, the vaccine has failed to stop infection and spread against Delta. We have research findings by Singanayagam et al. (fully vaccinated individuals with breakthrough infections have peak viral load similar to unvaccinated cases and can efficiently transmit infection in household settings, including to fully vaccinated contacts), by Chau et al. (viral loads of breakthrough Delta variant infection cases in vaccinated nurses were 251 times higher than those of cases infected with prior strains early 2020), and by Riemersma et al. (no difference in viral loads when comparing unvaccinated individuals to those who have vaccine 'breakthrough' infections and if vaccinated individuals become infected with the delta variant, they may be sources of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to others) that reveal the vaccines have very suboptimal efficacy. 

"This situation of the vaccinated being infectious and transmitting the virus has also emerged in seminal nosocomial outbreak papers by Chau et al. (HCWs in Vietnam), the Finland hospital outbreak (spread among HCWs and patients), and the Israel hospital outbreak (spread among HCWs and patients). These studies have also revealed that the PPE and masking were essentially ineffective within the healthcare setting. All of the HCWs were double-vaccinated yet there was extensive spread to themselves and their patients. 

"In addition, Nordström et al. (vaccine effectiveness of Pfizer against infection waned progressively from 92% day 15-30 to 47% day 121-180, and from day 211 and onwards no effectiveness), Suthar et al. (a substantial waning of antibody responses and T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, at 6 months following the second immunization), Yahi et al. (with Delta variant, neutralizing antibodies have a decreased affinity for the spike protein, whereas facilitating antibodies display a strikingly increased affinity), Juthani et al. (higher numbers of patients with severe or critical illness in those who received the Pfizer vaccine), Gazit et al. (SARS-CoV-2-naïve vaccinees had a 13-fold increased risk for breakthrough infection with the Delta variant, and substantially elevated risk of symptomatic Covid and hospitalization), and Acharya et al. (no significant difference in cycle threshold values between vaccinated and unvaccinated, asymptomatic and symptomatic groups infected with Delta) collectively reveal the poor efficacy and even negative efficacy of the Covid vaccines. Levine-Tiefenbrun et al. reports that the viral load reduction effectiveness declines with time after vaccination, 'significantly decreasing at 3 months after vaccination and effectively vanishing after about 6 months.'

"As an example, the Swedish study (retrospective with 842,974 pairs (N=1,684,958) is particularly alarming for it shows that while the vaccine provides temporary protection against infection, the efficacy declines below zero and then to negative efficacy territory at approximately 7 months, underscoring that the vaccinated are highly susceptible to infection and eventually become highly infected (more so than the unvaccinated). A further example emerges from Ireland whereby reporting suggests that the Waterford city district has the State’s highest rate of Covid-19 infections, while the county also boasts the highest rate of vaccination in the Republic (99.7% vaccinated). Reports are that the U.S. Covid-19 deaths for 2021 surpassed the deaths from 2020, leading some to state that 'more people have died from COVID-19 in 2021, with most adults vaccinated and nearly all seniors), than in 2020 when nobody was vaccinated.' 

"Thus these nations that locked down and stayed that way are in a quandary for they do not know what to do now. If you open you will get surges in infection. Where is the money that was to go to hospital preparation?....

"We have a lot of natural immunity in the US, e.g. near 65-70% of the population. The open states (those that did not lock down too long and too hard and opened quickly) will likely do very well with this Omicron or any new variant. This also is the power of natural immunity. And we need not forget the potency of the overlooked ‘innate’ immunity with the innate antibodies and innate natural killer cellular compartment. This innate response is particularly potent in children (our first line of defense against pathogens) and is what has spared children from Covid and how children typically stave off pathogens, especially young children still laying down immunological memory. 

"Moreover, there is no reporting of increased virulence/lethality of this new Omicron variant. As yet this will remain the case based on Delta and prior variants. There are no guarantees but we operate based on risk and all things point to the same for this new variant. Just because there is a wave in SA does not mean that there will be waves in the US or Israel or other places with greater natural immunity. This was the prize of letting people enjoy day-to-day living. The nations that have ended lockdowns are likely to move past this new variant scare.... This is more of an overreaction by the WHO and governments and much ado about nothing."

Read more: https://brownstone.org/articles/are-we-overreacting-to-omicron/ 

Dr Alexander ... PhD. ... has experience in epidemiology and in the teaching [of] clinical epidemiology, evidence-based medicine, and research methodology. Dr Alexander is a former Assistant Professor at McMaster University in evidence-based medicine and research methods; former COVID Pandemic evidence-synthesis consultant advisor to WHO-PAHO Washington, DC (2020) and former senior advisor to COVID Pandemic policy in Health and Human Services (HHS) Washington, DC (A Secretary), ... currently a COVID-19 consultant researcher in the US-C19 research group.

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

Friday, November 26, 2021

Slovakia placed under 2-week lockdown

Slovakia orders two-week lockdown as COVID-19 cases spiral upward | Politico Europe - Siegfried Mortkowitz: 

November 24, 2021 - "Slovakia will begin a two-week lockdown on Thursday as new COVID-19 cases have spiraled out of control, Economy Minister Richard Sulík said Wednesday. Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Sulík said all restaurants and shops will be closed for 14 days, except for essential stores, such as groceries and pharmacies. 

"'We all wish and hope that the situation will improve by then,' he said. 'We will evaluate the situation again in 10 days.'

"Slovakia, along with other countries in central Europe including the neighboring Czech Republic and Austria, is bearing the brunt of a record-breaking fourth wave of infection. Austria this week entered a full national lockdown, and has become the first Western democracy to make vaccination compulsory for the general public.

"The Slovak government also imposed a new state of emergency for 90 days, which empowers it to impose a curfew. From midnight on Wednesday, people will only be allowed to leave their homes to go to the shops or to work, to take a walk in the park, visit their doctor or go to the hospital.

"In addition, from next week only vaccinated employees and those who have recovered from COVID in the past six months will be able to go to their places of work. Others workers will have to be tested at the workplace every seven days.... 

"Earlier, a consortium of health experts called for a three-week lockdown and for schools to be closed, which the government rejected....

"The main reason for the high number of infections and deaths is the low rate of vaccination in the country. Only 43 percent of the Slovak population has been fully vaccinated, data shows. The EU average is 67 percent."

Read more: https://www.politico.eu/article/coronavirus-out-of-control-slovakia-two-week-lockdown/

Thursday, November 25, 2021

German gov't thwarts Merkel's planned lockdown

Germany’s new coalition government ‘thwarted Merkel plan for two-week lockdown’ | The Local.de:

November 24, 2021 -  "Germany’s new government thwarted a plan by outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel to put in place a two-week Austria-style national lockdown, German tabloid Bild reported on Wednesday.... Merkel put forth the proposal on Tuesday evening, and according to Bild the lockdown would have applied from Thursday onwards. It was however knocked back by the incoming government, who said it would have been interpreted by the public as a 'bad political trick' in tandem by the old and the new government, Bild reported on Wednesday afternoon. 

"Citing several sources close to the government, Bild said Merkel wanted to cut rising infection rates through a ‘handbrake’ style national lockdown, which would have included closures of bars, restaurants and shops. Like Austria’s lockdown, which came into effect on Monday, November 22nd, the measure would have applied not only to the unvaccinated, but also to those who have been vaccinated against Covid or who have recently recovered from the virus. 

"Germany’s new Infection Protection Act came into effect on Wednesday, which prevents such a nationwide lockdown and instead places greater responsibility on Germany’s 16 federal states. Therefore, the new act restricts the current government’s power to put in place a nationwide lockdown should it be deemed necessary and will require agreement from the states should harsher measures be adopted. 

[This new amendment restores the situation that existed in Germany prior to April 2021, when the Merkel government amended the Infection Protection Act to allow the federal government to impose  lockdowns. - gd] 

"Covid cases have been surging in Germany in recent days, hitting record heights. Several parts of the country, primarily in the heavily-hit south, have put in place restrictive measures including stay at home orders and requiring restaurants to close." 

Read more: https://www.thelocal.de/20211124/germanys-new-coalition-government-thwarted-merkel-plan-for-two-week-lockdown/

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Partial lockdown fails, Austria back in full lockdown

Covid: Austria back in lockdown despite protests | BBC News

November 22, 2021 - "Austria has returned to a full national lockdown as protests against new restrictions aimed at curbing Covid-19 infections spread across Europe.... Austrians have been asked to work from home and non-essential shops have closed.... Last week Austria became the first European country to make Covid vaccination a legal requirement, with the law due to take effect in February.... 

"This is Austria's fourth national lockdown since the pandemic began. Authorities have ordered residents to stay home for all but essential reasons, including work, exercise and shopping for food. Restaurants, bars, hairdressers, theatres and non-essential shops must all close their doors. These measures will continue until 12 December, although officials said they will be reassessed after 10 days....

Speaking on ORF TV on Sunday night, health minister Wolfgang Mueckstein said the government had to 'react now'. 'A lockdown, a relatively tough method, a sledgehammer, is the only option to reduce the numbers [of infections] here,' he told the broadcaster.

"Tens of thousands of people protested in the capital Vienna ahead of the lockdown. Brandishing national flags and banners reading 'Freedom', protesters shouted 'Resistance!' and booed the police.... Jennifer Wall, a British woman who moved to Vienna about two years ago, has ... been double-jabbed. She described the protests over the weekend as 'disruptive' and 'scary'. 'The situation here is really tense,' she said. 'There is a clear divide between vaccinated and not vaccinated.' About 65% of Austria's population is fully vaccinated - one of the lowest rates in Western Europe."

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-59369488

COVID-19: Austria coronavirus lockdown feels not just like a health crisis, but also a cultural, social and political storm | Sky News - Adam Parsons:

November 22, 2021 - "Yes, this is lockdown, but it isn't quite the eerie emptiness of 18 months ago. Instead, the Austrian capital feels like it's closed for business. The clothes shops, the ice rinks and, of course, the Christmas markets. All shut.... Austria has seen a precipitous rise in the number of coronavirus infections recently, recording far more daily cases than it did during the first wave of the pandemic. So it has now introduced a national lockdown that largely resembles the original version - people told to work from home and only to leave the house for essential purposes....

"The lockdown is in place for 10 days but can be extended for a further 10 if necessary. After that point, if rates have fallen, the ties may be removed for vaccinated people, while restrictions remain in place for those who have not been inoculated. Perhaps that's why this new lockdown feels so very different to previous incarnations. Last year, the people of disparate European towns and cities seemed to share a sense of 'in it together' camaraderie as they faced up to the hardships of lockdown. Vienna didn't feel like that [today]. 

"We meet a group of young men strolling through the town, all of them dubious about the lockdown. One of them, Matthew, tells me that he only allowed himself to be vaccinated because it was the only way he could be guaranteed access to bars and restaurants. But he insists that this latest lockdown is 'a breach of human rights'. His friend, Andrew, was vaccinated early, and is at pains to say he's not an anti-vaxxer, but is troubled by what he sees as the changing narrative. 'When we were saying that it's 95% effective at the beginning, we're seeing that it's definitely not the case now. We're saying no more lockdowns yet we're in lockdowns now. How can we really trust the information that's being given to us at the moment? I think at this point, it's very, very difficult to trust anything that's going on. And I don't necessarily think we can trust the reasons for why we're in this lockdown at the moment."

"That's why this lockdown is different. Europe saw a series of protests over the weekend, vehement in their opposition to either new restrictions, or vaccination programmes, or the spectre of mandatory vaccinations, or perhaps all of them put together. Many Europeans, rightly or wrongly, have had their faith eroded in both the political and scientific establishment. Very public promises have, in the eyes of many Austrians, been broken and now those disenchanted people feel as if they are being stigmatised. This doesn't feel simply like a health crisis anymore, but also a cultural, social and political storm. Many other nations will be watching, and waiting to see what happens in Austria, and learning lessons."

Read more: https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-austria-coronavirus-lockdown-feels-not-just-like-a-health-crisis-but-also-a-cultural-social-and-political-storm-12476017

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

German government locking down unvaccinated

November 17, 2021 - "Those who, for varying personal reasons, have chosen not to get vaccinated against Covid are facing increased, targeted restrictions around the world. The introduction of lockdowns against the unvaccinated only in Austria and, in the coming weeks, in Germany is perhaps the most extreme example of separation yet.

"The incoming Social Democrat (SDP) government today warned that those 14million Germans who have not been vaccinated will be prevented, likely with the threat of fines, from using public transport and from going to work. Meanwhile, millions of other citizens will be permitted by the state to live their lives as normal (save from working and travelling alongside their unvaccinated friends and relatives). 

"The SDP and its coalition partners will present these plans to parliament for approval on Thursday. They have been labelled a form of 'lockdown apartheid'. Dirk Wiese, the Deputy Head of the SPD parliamentary group, was very willing to admit that 'this is actually a lockdown for the unvaccinated'. 

Daily Sceptic Editor Toby Young told Express.co.uk: 'Given its history, I hoped Germany would be a bit more inhibited about curtailing the rights of a part of its population on the grounds that they’re dangerous and unclean. But apparently not.' He added: 'The really worrying thing is that it could happen here.'

In the UK, thousands of care home workers have been sacked because they failed to comply with a new Covid vaccine mandate. The Government recently expanded its mandate to cover all frontline NHS staff – last year lauded for their efforts to curtail the impact of the virus. Vaccine passports have also been put on the back-burner and could be introduced if the Government decides to implement its winter ‘Plan B’. This would also trigger the re-introduction of face mask mandates and work from home guidelines.

"Reported cases reached a high of more than 50,000 in Germany on November 10."

November 22, 2021 - The German health minister has warned citizens that they would be either 'vaccinated, cured or dead' from COVID-19 by the end of winter as several European countries impose restrictions amid surging infections.... Germany’s worst-hit regions have ordered new shutdowns, including the closure of Christmas markets.

"In regions with high hospitalisation rates, the unvaccinated will be barred from public spaces like cinemas, gyms and indoor dining. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany’s current COVID restrictions, including barring the unvaccinated from certain public spaces 'are not enough'....

"Germany added another 30,643 cases on Monday, according to the Robert Koch Institute health agency, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to just more than 5.3 million. Almost 100,000 people have died so far, including 62 during the past 24 hours." 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Lockdown protests throughout Europe

Dutch police open fire on Covid lockdown protesters as European nations reintroduce restrictions | NBC News - Chantal Da Silva & Associated Press:

November 20, 2021 - "Police opened fire on anti-lockdown protesters in the Dutch city of Rotterdam Friday ahead of demonstrations in several European cities against new Covid restrictions. Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told reporters about police officers 'felt it necessary to draw their weapons to defend themselves' more than once after protesters tore through the city's central shopping district, setting fires in their wake. Describing the scenes as 'an orgy of violence,' he added that 'people were injured,' after officers 'shot at protesters'.... At least seven people had been injured in the clashes, police said in a statement on Twitter, which added that officers had also been injured in the clashes. Several arrests had been made, police said....

"In Vienna, thousands of protesters took to the streets to rally against new Covid measures that will make Austria the first European country to enforce a full national lockdown this autumn, as well as new rules that will make vaccinations mandatory. Meanwhile in France, where case numbers are also rising, demonstrators protested against the introduction of vaccine passports." [stress added]

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/police-netherlands-open-fire-covid-lockdown-protesters-european-nation-rcna6231

Second night of anti-lockdown violence in Europe: Netherlands riots spread to the Hague while tens of thousands gather to oppose full lockdown in Austria and demonstrations kick off in Denmark, Croatia and Macedonia | Daily Mail - Lauren Lewis, Chris Jewers, and Jacob Thornburn for MailOnline:

November 20, 2021 - "Europe descended into a second night of violent carnage on Saturday amid the return of strict lockdown rules aimed at curbing rising rates of Covid infection. Thousands of people took to Amsterdam's central Dam Square and the Hague on Saturday.... Video footage from the Hague showed motorists sounding their horns in support as a trio of small explosions could be clearly seen on the main road in the background. Elsewhere, protestors were pictured ripping down street signs in chaotic scenes. Anti-riot police were forced to clear the wreckage of smouldering scooters and burnt-out bicycles that were torched ... and left to block roads in one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the country since Covid restrictions were first implemented. 

"Meanwhile, similar demonstrations against virus restrictions also took place in Switzerland, Croatia, Italy, Northern Ireland, Austria and North Macedonia on Saturday.... [I]n Vienna on Saturday ... 10,000 protesters - many from far-right groups - took to the streets to demonstrate against new Covid-19 restrictions and mandatory vaccinations. Police were pictured arresting two protesters. A spokesman said there had been fewer than 10 arrests.... Chanting 'resistance!', waving Austrian flags and blowing whistles, the crowd swelled to more than 30,000. Many held signs mocking government leaders including Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg and Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein....  

"In Italy, 3,000 turned out in the capital's Circus Maximus, a field where in ancient times Romans staged popular entertainment, to protest against 'Green Pass' certificates required at workplaces, restaurants, cinemas, theaters, sports venues and gyms, as well as for long-distance train, bus or ferry travel within Italy. In Northern Ireland, several hundred people opposed to vaccine passports protested outside the city hall in Belfast, where the city's Christmas market opened Saturday - a market where proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test was required. The Northern Ireland government voted this week to introduce vaccine certificates for admission to nightclubs, bars and restaurants starting Dec. 13.... 

"Switzerland saw 2,000 people protest an upcoming referendum on whether to approve the government's COVID-19 restrictions law, claiming it was discriminatory, public broadcaster SRF reported. In Croatia, thousands gathered at in the capital Zagreb, carrying Croatian flags, nationalist and religious symbols, along with banners against vaccination and what they describe as restrictions of people's freedoms. And in Denmark, more than one thousand gathered outside the Danish parliament in Copenhagen to push back against the reintroduction of the national health pass. 

"North Macedonia also saw hundreds of ... protesters march in downtown Skopje on Satruday evening against the country's health authority's recommendation of mandatory vaccinations. Demonstrations against virus measures are also expected in other European countries - the latest in rising anger at the re-introduction of restrictions amid soaring cases on the continent." [stress added]

Read more: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10225803/Europe-descends-chaos-second-night-protests-continue-Austria-Holland-Denmark.html

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Antidepressant cuts Covid ICU cases and deaths

Common antidepressant slashes risk of COVID death, study says | Nature - Saima May Sidik:

October 29, 2021 - "A cheap, widely available drug used to treat mental illness cuts both the risk of death from COVID-19 and the need for people with the disease to receive intensive medical care, according to clinical-trial results. The drug, called fluvoxamine, is taken for conditions including depression and obsessive–compulsive disorder. But it is also known to dampen immune responses and temper tissue damage, and researchers credit these properties with its success in the recent trial. Among study participants who took the drug as directed and did so in the early stages of the disease, COVID-19-related deaths fell by roughly 90% and the need for intensive COVID-19-related medical care fell by roughly 65%.

"'A major victory for drug repurposing!' Vikas Sukhatme at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, who studies drug repurposing, wrote in an e-mail to Nature. 'Fluvoxamine treatment should be adopted for those at high risk for deterioration who are not vaccinated or cannot receive monoclonal antibodies.'

"Study co-author Angela Reiersen, a psychiatrist at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri, [who] has long been interested in using fluvoxamine to treat a rare genetic condition ... came across a 2019 study showing that fluvoxamine reduced inflammation in mice with sepsis. When COVID-19 hit, 'I immediately thought back to that paper with the mice,' she says. Reiersen and her colleagues partnered with the organizers of the TOGETHER Trial, which aims to identify approved drugs that can be repurposed to treat COVID-19. The team’s study included 1,497 people in Brazil who had COVID-19 and were at high risk of severe disease. Roughly half received fluvoxamine, and the rest received a placebo.

"The trial’s results, published on 27 October, mean that fluvoxamine is one of a handful of therapies that show strong evidence of preventing progression from mild to severe COVID-19. The only early-stage treatments currently recommended by the US National Institutes of Health are monoclonal antibodies, which are costly and difficult to administer in an outpatient setting. Experts are excited about the results, but stress that there are caveats.... 

"Fluvoxamine’s low cost could make it accessible worldwide, says study co-author Edward Mills, a health researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. A ten-day course costs only about US$4, and the drug’s patents have expired, meaning that any company can produce it.... It’s possible that pairing fluvoxamine with a drug that interferes with viral replication, such as Merck’s upcoming antiviral molnupiravir, could be even more effective, Mills says."

Read more: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-02988-4

Read study: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(21)00448-4/fulltext

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Vaccine mandates are the new segregation

Vaccine mandates: a new form of ‘institutional segregation’ | Baltimore Sun - Peter Doshi & Aditi Bhagarva:

August 31, 2021 - "Increasingly, vaccination is no longer a matter of choice. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of workplaces and schools are instituting COVID-19 vaccine mandates.... But mandating people and their children who have consciously chosen not to get vaccinated — a group that tends to be younger, less educated, Republican, non-white and uninsured — is a recipe for creating new and deeper fractures within our society, the kind of fractures we may profoundly regret in hindsight.

"Let’s not sugarcoat it: This is a new form of institutionalized segregation. Yes, some unvaccinated adults may swallow this bitter pill and comply.... But many will see it — along with requirements that the unvaccinated wear masks or undergo regular COVID testing — as a thinly veiled attempt at public shaming....

"These practices diverge substantially from the historical norm of equal opportunity. For all other required vaccines, religious and philosophical exemptions allow unvaccinated children to enjoy the same educational experience as the vaccinated. This is because exemptions reflect a social value that in the United States, there are valid reasons for refusing treatments or vaccines, and these reasons will be respected. Once exempt, there are no sanctions experienced in everyday life. But with COVID vaccine mandates, even those with exemptions are being sanctioned, sending another clear message: We really don’t care about your reasons.

"And in schools, where a child’s experience will be shaped by their parents’ decisions and those of policymakers, the situation could become tragic. If schools invite vaccinated children to lose their masks, what was once an act of social responsibility could morph into a mark of disease. What should we anticipate? Children of different ages being barred from mingling. Children being bullied, ridiculed and mocked, with taunts using terms like 'covidiot.' Differential treatment toward unvaccinated children by some teachers... Vaccinate-or-mask policies will drive a wedge between children and parents, cause daily psychological harm, carrying long lasting consequences for future generations.

"Some might see mandate resistance as a symptom of vaccine misinformation. But considering most of these individuals have complied with mandates for routine vaccines such as mumps and measles, diseases of far less societal consequence than COVID, is it not worth listening to their objections against COVID vaccine mandates?

"For some, there’s little value in a vaccine against a disease they have already recovered from, even as new variants develop. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that by May, 120 million Americans of all ages (35% of the population) had already been infected with SARS-CoV-2. New data shows natural immunity is six to 13 times more protective against emerging variants than vaccines.

"For many, it is a product safety issue. The vaccines were developed and tested in months, not years, before rollout, and they were initially authorized by regulators in the context of an emergency. These people want greater assurances of safety and efficacy — something that requires additional time and data. Yet in response, some public commentators are calling for the FDA to speed its review process and approve all of the coronavirus vaccines.... Considering that the pivotal safety and efficacy trials were designed as two-year trials to finish in mid-2022, an approval this year can be seen as premature.

"Despite hundreds of millions of doses already in bodies, we are still in the learning phase regarding vaccine safety and efficacy, as can be witnessed in the data about “breakthrough infections” and previously unknown side effects like myocarditis and blood clots. Most people may accept this uncertainty and conclude that whatever the risks, they are outweighed by the benefits. But for the minority who desire greater scientific certainty, we should respect these reasons, not respond with mandates."

Read more: https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/op-ed/bs-ed-op-0901-no-vaccine-mandates-20210831-3f7ljoolbvg4bob76yqlnabqv4-story.html

Friday, November 19, 2021

Anti-mandate MPP launches Ontario First Party

Hillier announces run for Ontario Premier with new Ontario PPC party | Kingstonist - Cris Vilela:

November 8, 2021 - "Independent Member of Provincial Parliament for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston Randy Hillier announced on the morning of Monday, Nov. 8, 2021 that he would be running for Premier of Ontario in the next provincial election with a newly-formed Ontario PPC party. He made the announcement at a rally against vaccine mandates in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square.

"'I’ve got a little bit of announcement … you may have seen some paperwork going around the audience today. We’re gonna fight this politically as well. The purple wave is coming to Ontario,' Hillier announced to the crowd. 'We want to fight for freedom, for justice, for democracy, for fairness,' he continued. 'We have to fight this everywhere. But this is a cultural war, and how we win cultural wars is also at the ballot box … the purple wave is here, and we’ll be on the ballot box, and I’ll be leading them for the June election in 2022,' Hillier said, to cheers from the gathered crowd."

Read more: https://www.kingstonist.com/news/politics-2/hillier-announces-run-for-ontario-premier-with-new-ontario-ppc-party/

Pro-freedom, anti-mandate MPP announces run for Ontario Premier under new People’s Party - LifeSite News - Anthony Murdoch:  

November 9, 2021 - "Hillier, who has been an MPP since 2007, has been a fierce opponent to mask and COVID-19 jab mandates, having spoken at many anti-lockdown and pro-freedom rallies for well over a year. After being tossed from the Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) by Premier Doug Ford in 2019, Hillier has sat as an independent for the riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston.

"On Sunday, Hillier said that the people are in a 'war' against 'the enemy of big pharma, big corporate interests that are profiteering through these 20 months' as well as 'big government' and public health.

"'To win this battle, it only takes one thing, and for all of us, to be honest, all of us to have this courage, the conviction, to speak truthfully and honestly, we’re going to fight this politically as well,” Hillier said. 'We ... are doing this for sons, our daughters, our grandsons, our granddaughters. Let’s do it and make sure that they have just as much freedom as when I was when I was that little boy back in elementary school. And let’s have a culture that reflects our faith, our freedom, and our family'....

"Hillier is not the only independent Ontario MPP who will be running in the 2022 provincial election under a new party. Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios, who was ousted from Ford’s PC party for voting against extending lockdowns, started a new conservative Ontario party with her husband Jim called 'The New Blue Party of Ontario.' The New Blue Party of Ontario will be a 'true blue' party with 'blue values,' the couple said."

Read more: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pro-freedom-anti-covid-jab-mandate-politician-announces-he-will-run-for-premier-in-ontario/

Thursday, November 18, 2021

New Delhi government looks at smog lockdown

Schools close as smog-laden India capital considers lockdown | CTV News - Sheikh Saaliq & Shonal Ganguly, AP:

November 17, 2021 - ""Authorities closed schools indefinitely and shut down some coal-burning power plants Wednesday to reduce air pollution in India's smog-shrouded capital and neighbouring states, as the country weighs an unprecedented and more far-reaching step: a lockdown in New Delhi.... 

"The New Delhi state government said it is open to the idea of a weekend lockdown to reduce automobile traffic and potentially other air-polluting activity in the city, and it is awaiting the go-ahead from India's Supreme Court. A decision could come as early as Nov. 24. It's not clear how extensive the lockdown would be. Authorities are discussing whether to allow industries to continue operating. 

"Some experts said a lockdown would achieve very little in controlling pollution and would instead cause disruptions in the economy and harm the livelihoods of millions of people. 'This is not the solution that we are looking for, because this is hugely disruptive. And we also have to keep in mind that the economy is already under pressure, poor people are at risk,' said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director at the Center for Science and Environment, a research and advocacy organization in New Delhi....

"Besides closing schools and shutting down some power plants, the Commission for Air Quality Management ordered a stop to construction until Nov. 21 and banned trucks carrying non-essential goods. The panel also directed the affected states to encourage work from home for half of the employees in all private offices.

"Levels of dangerous particles in New Delhi's air Wednesday were as high as seven times the safe level, climbing above 300 micrograms per cubic meter in some parts of the city. The World Health Organization designates the safe level as 25. Forecasters warned air quality will worsen before the arrival of cold winds next week that will blow away the smog.

"Earlier this month, air pollution reached the 'severe' level in the capital, and residents faced bouts of heavy, multiday pollution. That prompted the Supreme Court last week to order state and federal governments to take 'imminent and emergency' action. New Delhi authorities responded by proposing a lockdown and closing schools for a week....

"Experts say such emergency measures are not helpful in the long run. 'These are done only to ensure that you don't worsen the situation, that you shave off the peak. But it is not a silver bullet that is going to just clean the air immediately,' Roychowdhury said."

Read more: https://www.ctvnews.ca/climate-and-environment/schools-close-as-smog-laden-india-capital-considers-lockdown-1.5669436

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Washington D.C. mayor clings to mask mandate

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser Will Finally Relax D.C.'s Stubborn Mask Mandate | Reason - Robby Soave: 

November 16, 2021 - "Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will finally relax the city's mask mandate, she announced on Tuesday. On Monday, November 22, many indoor spaces will once again be allowed to forgo masks for customers, visitors, employees, and residents. Notable exceptions include public schools, public transportation, and government buildings....

"Bowser previously rescinded the mask mandate, then brought it back in July when COVID-19 cases began to increase.... Unlike the actions of local officials in nearby counties, including in Montgomery County, Maryland, who linked the mandate to a certain case threshold, Bowser never gave any indication what metrics would be used to determine when to relax the mandate. And while the delta wave did cause an increase in COVID-19 cases in Washington, it had no effect whatsoever on D.C.'s death rate. The city's seven-day death average has hovered at one or below the entire time that delta has been a serious issue. (It was last above one on May 24, 2021.)

"It would be hard to argue that the mask mandate was what kept delta deaths at bay, since all those masks failed to prevent cases from increasing. Widespread vaccination — which dramatically reduces severe disease and death — is the public health initiative that's working well, not the mask mandate.

"Yet Bowser's administration leaned hard on mask mandates as a pandemic prevention tool, even prioritizing them over vaccination in some curious cases. When D.C. gyms petitioned the city government to allow them to require their customers to be vaccinated rather than masked, for example, city health officials said no.

"Bowser's decision to keep the mask mandate in place for schools is a perfect example of the government's incoherent thinking about COVID-19 risks. While many school-aged children remain unvaccinated, they are at very low risk of a negative coronavirus health outcome — whether they are vaccinated or not. Elderly Americans who are vaccinated have much more to fear from COVID-19 than kids do, so it makes little sense to link the withdrawal of mask mandates to the degree of vaccination among the kinds of people who congregate in a given location.

"It is long past time to accept that COVID-19 is endemic and that there will always be some level of risk associated with it. People can drastically reduce their risk by getting vaccinated, getting booster shots, or even practicing greater caution if they so choose. It is not the government's responsibility to assign the correct level of risk to each individual American, and local officials like Bowser should not get to reimpose mask mandates just because they feel like it."

Read more: https://reason.com/2021/11/16/muriel-bowser-mask-mandate-washington-dc-covid-19/

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

New science undercuts case for vaccine mandates

McCaughey: New vax science shows mandates unwise | Boston Herald - Betsy McCaughey:

November 8, 2021 -"New scientific findings in the prestigious Lancet Infectious Diseases journal blow a hole in the argument that workers need to get vaccinated to protect those around them. The findings prove the foolishness of forcing police and other public employees to get jabbed or lose their pay. And President Joe Biden should retract his order to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to compel large employers to mandate vaccines.

"The journal reported Thursday that COVID-19 vaccines have 'minimal' impact on preventing transmission of the delta strain ... the COVID strain currently causing over 99% of U.S. cases. Vaccines protect the people getting the shots from serious illness, but they don’t stop the delta variant from spreading to others....

"Americans should choose to get vaccinated. The key word is 'choose'.... Though shots are no guarantee against getting infected and spreading it to others, they provide significant protection (90% or more) against hospitalization and death. I’m triple jabbed. Choosing not to get vaccinated is choosing to risk your own life. The health risk to others is minimal. Most vaccines — against polio, smallpox, measles and other diseases — prevent infection and spread. But not COVID-19 vaccines....

"Governors and mayors from Maine to Los Angeles are demanding that public employees, and even nurses and doctors, hailed just months ago as heroes, get vaxxed or go without a job. Just as politicians don’t read the bills before voting on them, they don’t keep up with science but still want to tell the rest of us what to do.

"The groundbreaking findings in Lancet show that fully vaccinated people who came down with COVID infected others in their household at the same rate (about 25%) as unvaccinated people did (about 23%). The vaccinated had just as much viral load in their upper respiratory tract, making them just as contagious. The British researchers also found that vaccinated people were only somewhat less likely to contract the virus (25%) compared with the unvaccinated (38%)....

"Meanwhile, the White House is pressing large companies to mandate vaccinations and calling on OSHA to enforce that policy with hefty penalties. The Build Back Better bill increases the penalties tenfold to as much as $700,000 per incident for hazardous conditions, threatening bankruptcy for all but the largest enterprises. The Biden administration expects to publish the rules in the Federal Register in the coming days, affecting about two-thirds of the private sector workforce. Yet the new science undercuts OSHA’s claim that unvaccinated people are a workplace hazard.

"Lancet Infectious Diseases stressed the urgency of improving current vaccines or developing new ones to actually 'protect against asymptomatic infections and onward transmission.' Foolishly, the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress vilify the vaccine developer Moderna for making a profit and threaten to seize its patents. It’s possible COVID will continue morphing into new variants, requiring new vaccines from companies like Moderna. When you’re fighting a war — in this case, against a killer disease — attacking your own ammunitions maker is no way to win it."

Read more: https://www.bostonherald.com/2021/11/08/mccaughey-new-vax-sciences-shows-mandates-unwise/

Read study: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(21)00648-4/fulltext

Monday, November 15, 2021

Lockdowns, protests in Austria and Netherlands

Covid: Dutch partial Covid lockdown sparks protests | BBC News - Reuters:

November 14, 2021 - "Police in the Netherlands have used water cannon on protesters opposed to a new partial lockdown imposed amid record coronavirus infections and rising intensive care cases. Three weeks of restrictions for shops, sport and catering were announced by Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday.... The Dutch prime minister said ... the three-week partial lockdown would start on Saturday evening:

  • Non-essential shops will have to shut at 18:00 (17:00 GMT) and supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and hotels at 20:00
  • Professional and amateur sport will continue, but behind closed doors. That includes the Netherlands' football World Cup qualifier against Norway on 16 November
  • The 18:00 closure applies to casinos and saunas as well as hairdressers and sex workers
  • A maximum of four guests aged over 13 will be allowed at people's homes
  • As many people should work from home as possible
  • Cinemas and theatres will stay open. 
  • Social distancing of 1.5m (5ft) is being reintroduced where Covid passes are not in operation.

"The catering industry has reacted angrily to the news; a spokesman told public broadcaster NOS the government had 'crossed a line'. Last weekend, thousands of protesters marched through The Hague in anger at existing Covid restrictions.... Protesters took to the streets in The Hague after Mr Rutte's announcement. Police fired water cannon after some of the crowd started throwing stones and fireworks at them."

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-59258409

Austria Orders the Unvaccinated Back Into Lockdown | Reason - Christian Britschgi:

November 15, 2021 - "Austria is ordering its unvaccinated population back into lockdown in an effort to 'encourage' more people to get the jab. On Sunday, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced that those who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, but who haven't received it or haven't recently recovered from COVID-19, will have to stay in their homes unless engaged in essential business or travel, reports Politico.

"That means unvaccinated people over the age of 12 will only be allowed to leave the house in order to do things like go to the grocery store or go on a walk, says the Los Angeles Times. Those with a negative COVID-19 test will be able to go to work as well, reports The Guardian.

"The new policy affects roughly 2 million people out of the country's population of nearly 9 million. Some 63 percent of Austria's population is fully vaccinated.... Violators will be hit with fines of 500 euros ($572). Police will also be conducting random stops of citizens to enforce the new lockdown policy. Those who refuse to participate in these checks can be fined an additional 1,450 euros ($1,658), says the BBC....

"Protests erupted in the capital city of Vienna in response to the lockdown, and the right-wing Freedom Party has promised to challenge its legality.

"German politicians are also considering similar restrictions. This week, the left-wing Greens and Social Democrats alongside the classical liberal Free Democrats (the three political parties likely to form the country's next coalition government) proposed requiring unvaccinated people to show a negative COVID-19 test when traveling on public transportation. Green co-chair Robert Habeck said the proposed restrictions amounted to a 'lockdown for the unvaccinated,' reports Politico. Berlin and other German state governments have gone further by limiting access to restaurants, theaters, and other public venues to the unvaccinated beginning this week."

Read more: https://reason.com/2021/11/15/austria-orders-the-unvaccinated-back-into-lockdown/ 

Protests occurred around the world on the weekend: 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Long Covid associated with beliefs, not antibodies

Mind over matter? Long Covid study sparks controversy | MedicalXpress

November 12, 2021 - "A large-scale French study suggesting symptoms of so-called long COVID may be more due to psychological factors than to infection with the virus has sparked debate among patients and scientists. The report that appeared earlier this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association focused on nearly 27,000 participants across France who took antibody tests to screen for COVID infection. After the subjects had received the antibody test results, researchers asked them whether they believed they had been infected with COVID and to report on symptoms like fatigue, breathlessness or impaired attention.

"The vast majority of respondents — over 25,000 people — tested negative for COVID antibodies and believed they had never been sick. Of the some 1,000 who tested positive, about 450 believed they had contracted the virus. Finally, about 460 people who received negative antibody tests said they nonetheless believed they had had COVID.

"Researchers found that people who believed they had had COVID, whether or not they had had a positive test, were more likely to report long-term symptoms. A positive antibody test, meanwhile, was only consistently associated with one long-term symptom: loss of smell. They concluded that persistent physical symptoms 'may be associated more with the belief in having been infected with SARS-CoV-2 than with having laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection'.

"The study coordinated by Cedric Lemogne, head of psychiatry at the Hotel-Dieu hospital in Paris, suggested the findings were important in order to allow research into other causes of the symptoms. 'A medical evaluation of these patients may be needed to prevent symptoms due to another disease being erroneously attributed to "long COVID",' it said."

Read more: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-11-mind-covid-controversy.html

Long Covid doesn't exist, volume one zillion | Substack - Alex Berenson:

November 10, 2021 - "The Journal of the American Medical Association has another stunning paper out ... on post-Covid symptoms.... Researchers asked people to report whether they had had Covid and whether they had any of 18 lasting symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, or cough. They found that self-reported Covid was very strongly associated with nearly every symptom. 

"But the scientists ... also ... compared self-reported symptoms in people with antibodies — that is, people who had actually been infected and recovered from Covid — to the general population. And they found no difference in almost any symptom. Covid was not a risk factor for chest pain, or breathing difficulties, or trouble focusing, or stomach pain, or any of the many, many other complaints that long Covid 'patients' and interest groups say are real. There was one interesting exception; people with Covid antibodies did have a much higher rate of anosmia, losing one’s sense of smell. Because anosmia is a known and lasting side effect, it serves as a useful control of sorts.

"The researchers also found that almost 60 percent of the people with antibodies HAD NO IDEA THEY HAD EVEN HAD COVID AT ALL. Meanwhile ... more than half the people who said they had had Covid had no antibodies.... The study strongly suggests that many people are using previous Covid diagnoses — either real or imagined — to help explain away common physical symptoms such as joint pain or cough. It also suggests that actually being infected [with] Covid is far less risky than thinking you have been infected with Covid for many people..... 

"This study should slow, if not stop, the rush to medicalize long Covid. It is yet more proof that the illness is a group of squishy (if painful and difficult) symptoms looking for a name - and more importantly a billing code. But so many patients and physicians and public health experts are now invested (in some cases literally) in making long Covid real that the gravy train will likely roll on."

Read more: https://alexberenson.substack.com/p/long-covid-doesnt-exist-volume-one

Read study: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2785832

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Sweden shows futility of lockdown experiment

How Sweden swerved Covid disaster | Unherd - Johan Anderberg:

November 8, 2021 - "Until recently, prohibition remained the largest experiment in social engineering a democracy had ever undertaken. And then, in early 2020, a new virus began to spread from China. Faced with this threat, the world’s governments responded by closing schools, banning people from meeting, forcing entrepreneurs to shut their businesses and making ordinary people wear face masks. Like prohibition, this experiment provoked a debate. In all the democracies of the world, freedom was weighed against what was perceived as security; individual rights versus what was considered best for public health.

"Few now remember that for most of 2020, the word 'experiment' had negative connotations. That was what Swedes were accused of conducting when we — unlike the rest of the world — maintained some semblance of normality. The citizens of this country generally didn’t have to wear face masks; young children continued going to school; leisure activities were largely allowed to continue unhindered. This experiment was judged early on as 'a disaster' (Time magazine), 'the world’s cautionary tale' (New York Times), 'deadly folly' (the Guardian).... The hypothesis of the outside world was that ... absence of restrictions, open schools, reliance on recommendations instead of mandates and police enforcement would result in higher deaths than other countries. Meanwhile, the lack of freedom endured by the citizens of other countries would 'save lives'. At this stage, it was not unreasonable to conclude that Sweden would pay a high price for its freedom. Throughout the spring of 2020, Sweden’s death toll per capita was higher than most other countries.

"But the experiment didn’t end there. During the year that followed, the virus continued to ravage the world and, one by one, the death tolls in countries that had locked down began to surpass Sweden’s. Britain, the US, France, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Argentina, Belgium — countries that had variously shut down playgrounds, forced their children to wear facemasks, closed schools, fined citizens for hanging out on the beach and guarded parks with drones — have all been hit worse than Sweden. At the time of writing, more than 50 countries have a higher death rate.... If Sweden was a part of the US, its death rate would rank number 43 of the 50 states. 

Graph courtesy CTV News

"This fact is shockingly underreported. Consider the sheer number of articles and TV segments devoted to Sweden’s foolishly liberal attitude to the pandemic last year.... Suddenly, it is as if Sweden doesn’t exist.... 

"From a human perspective, it is easy to understand the reluctance to face these numbers. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that millions of people have been deprived of their freedom, and millions of children have had their education gravely damaged, for little demonstrable gain. Who wants to admit that they were complicit in this? But what one American judge called the 'laboratories of democracy' have conducted their experiment — and the result is increasingly clear.

"Exactly why it turned out this way is harder to explain, but perhaps the 'noble experiment' of the 1920s in the US can offer some clues. Prohibition didn’t win because the freedom argument prevailed. Nor was it because the substance itself had become any less harmful.... The reason for the eventual demise of the alcohol ban was that it simply didn’t work. No matter what the law said, Americans didn’t stop drinking alcohol.... The mistake the American authorities made was to underestimate the complexity of society. Just because they banned alcohol did not mean that alcohol disappeared. People’s drives, desires and behaviours were impossible to predict or fit into a plan. 

"A hundred years later, a new set of authorities made the same mistake. Closing schools didn’t stop children meeting in other settings; when life was extinguished in cities, many fled them, spreading the infection to new places; the authorities urged their citizens to buy food online, without thinking about who would transport the goods from home to home.

"If the politicians had been honest with themselves, they might have foreseen what would happen. For just as American politicians were constantly caught drinking alcohol during the prohibition, their successors were caught 100 years later breaking precisely the restrictions they had imposed on everyone else. The mayors of New York and Chicago, the British government’s top advisor, the Dutch Minister of Justice, the EU Trade Commissioner, the Governor of California all broke their own rules.

"It isn’t easy to control other people’s lives. It isn’t easy to dictate desirable behaviours in a population via centralised command. These are lessons that many dictators have learned. During the Covid pandemic, many democracies have learned it too. The lesson has perhaps not yet sunk in, but hopefully it will eventually. Then perhaps it will be another 100 years before we make the same mistake again."

Read more: https://unherd.com/2021/11/how-sweden-swerved-covid-disaster/

Friday, November 12, 2021

UK gov't set to fire 50,000 care home workers

Care homes in England set to lose 50,000 staff as Covid vaccine becomes mandatory | The Guardian - Robert Booth:

November 10, 2021 - "Tens of thousands of care home residents face losing vital support as unvaccinated carers clock off for the last time before double vaccinations become mandatory. About 50,000 care home staff who have not had two doses in England will not be allowed to work from Thursday. Analysis by the Guardian suggests that on current staff/resident ratios and without other measures to tackle the problem, the care of about 30,000 people could be affected.

"On Wednesday, care leaders pleaded with the health secretary for an 11th hour reprieve, urging Sajid Javid to allow unvaccinated carers to keep working at least until NHS staff face mandatory vaccines from next April.... Nadra Ahmed, executive chair of the National Care Association, which represents independent providers who are expected to be worst hit by staff shortages, said: 'There is still time to bring the deadline in line with the NHS and support the sector to have a fighting chance to get through the winter months. It may avoid the closure of essential beds when we most need them as a nation.'

"Care operators and health leaders have warned that staff shortfalls could prevent thousands of people from being discharged from hospitals this winter, limiting admissions and clogging up wards. They say it will increase pressure on remaining care staff to work longer hours, despite many being already exhausted.

"One of the largest not-for-profit operators, MHA, estimates that about 750 care homes may have already stopped taking new admissions because of the staffing crisis. Seven of its homes are closed to new entrants and it is losing up to 150 staff because of the vaccine policy this week....

"The Department of Health and Social Care has said councils will help care operators with staff shortages, that it has provided town halls with over £1bn of additional funding for social care this year, and that it is running a TV recruitment campaign.

"The National Care Forum, which represents not-for-profit care homes, said a snap survey last week showed that on average 3.5% of operators’ staff have already left as a result of resignation or dismissal, and estimate a further 4.4% might leave. Care operators fear remaining staff may be so stretched they will have no choice but to limit help with all but the most essential services, meaning trips out, games and entertainment, which create the sense of living rather than merely existing, will be reduced.

"On Wednesday, the Relatives and Residents Association warned that care home residents’ human rights continue to be breached as 'the only group still living under stringent government restrictions whilst the rest of the country gets back to normal'. Amid anger at ongoing visiting restrictions, it has told an investigation into the issue by parliament’s joint committee on human rights that it 'hears daily [on its helpline] about the devastating impact measures to manage the pandemic have had on the lives of older people'."

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/10/care-homes-in-england-set-to-lose-50000-staff-as-covid-vaccine-becomes-mandatory 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

US gov't employees file suit against vax mandate

NCLA & TPPF File Class-Action Suit for Naturally Immune Fed. Employees Against Covid Vaccine Mandate | New Civil Liberties Alliance (press Release):

November 5, 2021 – "Federal workers with naturally acquired immunity to COVID-19 filed a class-action lawsuit today against their employer, the U.S. government, as well as Dr. Anthony Fauci and other members of the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, the group designated to act as the intermediate enforcer of the executive order mandating that all federal employees get vaccinated. The lawsuit, James Joseph Rodden, et al. v. Dr. Anthony Fauci, et al., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil liberties group, contends that the Federal Employee Vaccine Mandate violates employees’ constitutional and statutory rights. The Texas Public Policy Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institution based in Austin, Texas, serves as co-counsel in the case.

"The named plaintiffs in this case are employed by government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Secret Service. All possess naturally acquired immunity as confirmed by recent SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests and a medical expert. In addition to James Rodden, they include: Isaac McLaughlin, Gabriel Escoto, Michelle Morton, Waddie Jones, Ryan Biggers, Carole Mezzacapo, Edward Surgeon, Susan Reynolds, Roy Egbert, and George Gammon.

"The Executive Order issued by the Biden administration in September proclaims that 'it is necessary to require COVID-19 vaccination for all Federal employees' to halt the spread of the disease. NCLA argues the Vaccine Mandate undermines Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to bodily integrity and to decline medical treatment, and their statutory right to withhold informed consent. It conditions their employment on their willingness to take a vaccine that is medically unnecessary for them given their existing antibody levels. Their proof of antibodies demonstrates sufficient natural immunity to protect their co-workers as well or better than approved vaccines for COVID-19.

"The federal government does not consider employees fully vaccinated until two weeks after receiving a single-shot series or the second dose of a two-shot series. They must get the vaccine by November 8 to comply with the Vaccine Mandate. Those who do not comply with the looming, aggressive deadline face potential disciplinary action, including termination of employment. As established through their declarations, several experts attest that it is medically unnecessary for these individuals to undergo vaccination at this point. Though the COVID-19 vaccines appear to be relatively safe at a population level, they still carry a risk of side effects, including severe adverse reactions and even death in rare cases. And once administered, there is no way to un-vaccinate someone.

"Given naturally acquired immunity, the Federal Defendants cannot establish a compelling governmental interest in overriding Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights and personal autonomy by making their continued employment contingent upon their receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The Federal Vaccine Mandate also violates the Emergency Use Authorization law, which allows the government to authorize drugs that have not yet received full FDA approval and make them available to people who want them, on a strictly voluntary basis. The statute specifies that patients have a right to informed consent and to refuse administration of an EUA drug. But the Task Force has turned a permissive procedure to get possibly helpful drugs on the market in a crisis into an unlawful mandate.

"Plaintiffs request temporary and permanent injunctive relief from the Federal Employee Vaccine Mandate, and a declaratory judgment that the mandate infringes upon their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights'....

"For more information visit the case page here." 

Read more: https://nclalegal.org/2021/11/ncla-tppf-file-class-action-suit-for-naturally-immune-fed-employees-against-covid-vaccine-mandate/