Closing Thought–27Jan22

Is Medicare paying for the Covid miracle cure?

Ivermictin?

That miracle of medical technology that has been pushed by idiots on the Right as a treatment for Covid.

Is Medicare on the hook for this pipe dream?

If you’re in the camp that believes ivermectin is a wonderful drug … for ailments other than COVID, a new Mother Jones article is likely to raise your ire. It flags a January study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that looked at just who is paying for the ivermectin doctors have been prescribing COVID patients despite the FDA’s warning that doing so is dangerous. The answer: well, you. A team led by Kao-Ping Chua of the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health looked at a sampling of Medicare Advantage claims (excluding ones involving patients who had a diagnosis code for a parasitic infection prior to filling the ivermectin prescription). They found that Medicare Advantage covered, on average, 74% of the cost of each ivermectin prescription, or $39 a pop.

The team added in what private insurers paid (61% of the cost) and arrived at a total of $2.5 million in insurance coverage per week, with Medicare’s portion of that being about $925,000. The researchers point out the total is an undercount because it doesn’t include Medicaid. “Findings suggest that insurers heavily subsidized the costs of ivermectin prescriptions for COVID-19, even though economic theory holds that insurers should not cover ineffective care,” they write. Mother Jones has this takeaway: “Chua’s findings are especially noteworthy when considering one of the main arguments of ivermectin proponents: The drug is cheap, often just a little more than a dollar a dose. Yet the study vividly illustrates that while individual costs can be low, on a population level, they add up fast.”

Forbes notes the researchers looked at private and Medicare plan spending during the week of Aug. 13, 2021, and “it’s not yet clear how ivermectin prescribing levels may have fluctuated after that week in August.” It adds another caveat, which is that the sample used wasn’t a random or nationally representative sample but a convenience sample, meaning a sample of the people who happened to be in the database used. The sample they ended up with had a higher proportion of people from the Midwest and a lower proportion from the South.

This needs a review.

The taxpayer does not need to be on the ook for bogus science.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

A “Constitutional Republic”

Closing Thought–01Dec21

No this is not some attempt to define or explain the silliness raging across our country…..

I seems that some small town in California has had enough on Covid mandates…..

A small city in northern California where many residents have grown weary of COVID mandates has declared itself a “constitutional republic.” The declaration passed in a 6-1 vote this month by Oroville City Council states that the city will not enforce orders issued by the state and federal governments “that are overreaching or clearly violate our constitutionally protected rights,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Vice Mayor Scott Thompson says the last straw for him was the vaccine mandate for students over 12 introduced by Gov. Gavin Newsom last month. He says he’s not anti-mask or against other people getting vaccinated, but vaccine mandates are “crossing the line.”

Thompson and other city officials describe the declaration as a way to send a message. Mayor Chuck Reynolds told the East Bay Times that in practical terms, declaring the city a republic “doesn’t change anything,” but is “simply reminding people what kind of government we live under and that they do have personal choices and freedoms.” UC Davis Law Professor Lisa Pruitt tells CBS Sacramento that the resolution probably doesn’t have any binding legal authority. Schools in Oroville remain under the state’s jurisdiction and city officials stress that they’re not actually moving toward seceding from California or the United States.

Oroville, the seat of Butte County, has a population of around 20,000, with almost equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. Vaccination rates are well below the state average and COVID infection rates are high. City officials say most business owners support the declaration. Opponents include Celia Hirschman, whose father died from COVID three months ago. “It says we’re cowboys, and we’re not going to live by your rules,” she tells the Times. “I don’t think it’s about open dialogue at all. I feel it’s a dangerous measure that they have no business adding to our charter.”

More games during the pandemic…..this does nothing to keep people safe or save lives…..it’s only purpose is to make the profit chasers happy.

Watch This Blog!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Another Variant (Oh Goody)

Just in time for the holiday season.

Here we go again…..another problem with the Covid thing….this time in South Africa

The world got an unwanted new arrival on Friday: Omicron. Here’s the latest on the worrisome new COVID variant:

  • New name: After an emergency review, the World Health Organization on Friday declared the emerging strain of COVID a “variant of concern,” reports the Washington Post. The variant, first detected in South Africa, was dubbed Omicron, named after a Greek letter in keeping with other variants such as Delta.
  • Travel restrictions: The US will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other African nations: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi. The restrictions are to start Monday, reports Politico.
  • ‘Most worrying’: Much is unknown about the strain, but researchers fear its large number of mutations will help it spread easily and perhaps better evade vaccines. For now, the variant is the “most worrying we’ve seen,” says Susan Hopkins, an adviser to Britain’s Health and Security Agency. So far, no cases have been reported in the USFound in Europe: The first case of the new variant has been detected in Europe, adding to worries about how far the strain already has spread. The Guardian reports that Belgium confirmed a case of the variant in an unvaccinated woman with no travel links to South Africa or neighboring countries. Authorities say the woman developed mild symptoms 11 days after traveling from Egypt to Belgium via Turkey. The only other known cases outside southern Africa are in Israel, where a traveler who had returned from Malawi is now in isolation, and Hong Kong, where two travelers tested positive while in hotel quarantine.
  • Seeking answers: Fauci says the variant has more than 30 mutations to its spike protein, which “are raising some concern, particularly with regard to possibly transmissibility increase, and possibly evasion of immune response.” Fauci says officials have arranged talks Friday between American scientists and their South African counterparts. “We want to find out, scientist-to-scientist, exactly what is going on,” he says.

    Restrictions elsewhere: More than a dozen countries in Europe and Asia have halted or restricted travel from countries in southern Africa, and the European Commission has urged all EU members to put an “emergency brake” on travel, the New York Times reports. Earlier Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that there is “no indication” the variant has arrived in the US, but “we’re rushing now to get that scientific data.”

And just in time for Christmas…..

Watch The Blog!

Be Well and Be safe

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Covid Side Effect

Closing Thought–28Oct21

I know….I know…..there has been TMI on the pandemic….I mean ….really?

I decider that this side effect should be reported since the government spent decades convincing the public that this ‘addiction’ was ruining our health…..

The side effect I speak of is smoking.

The pandemic wasn’t good for America’s lungs in more ways than one. CNN reports that cigarette sales ticked up for the first time in two decades, per the FTC’s annual Cigarette Report. The increase was a nominal one—just 0.4%—but it marks a reversal in the downward trend we’ve been seeing since 2000. In 2020, some 203.7 billion cigarettes were sold to wholesalers and retailers in America, up by 8 million from 2019. Smokeless tobacco sales also inched up, from 126.0 million pounds in 2019 to 126.9 million pounds in 2020.

The FTC report didn’t provide any theories on the uptick, but CNN reports the rise aligns with other changes in consumer behavior during the pandemic, such as increased consumption of alcohol. NPR flags an April 2020 report from Bloomberg that noted Q1 sales for Marlboro-maker Altria were up due in part to “bulk purchases—what the company calls ‘pantry loading,'” suggesting consumers were stocking up on more than toilet paper. But NPR reports the trajectory isn’t likely to stay upward. Nielsen data suggests that is the case, with Bloomberg reporting that for the four-week period ending Oct. 9, cigarette volumes were down 9.4% as compared to the same time last year.

Booze and smokes are a side effect that for me is understandable.

Be Well……

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Another Covid Victim

There is so much bad news around our pandemic…..the many deaths….the people that we know and love are gone……the drag on our economy in so many forms……now we are told that the nation’s inequlity has grown during our battle with the virus……

Stock ownership is more concentrated than ever, Federal Reserve data show, with the wealthiest 10% of households owning 89% of US stocks. The stocks differential is reflected in the growing wealth inequity, CNBC reports, with 1% of Americans holding 32% of wealth, also a record. “The top 1% own a lot of stock, the rest of us own a little,” said Steven Rosenthal of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. During the pandemic, the 1% added more than $6.5 trillion in corporate equities and mutual fund wealth, and while the bottom 90% picked up $1.2 trillion.

Concentration increased despite the fact that more people own stock now. Robinhood, for example, has posted more than 10 million new accounts over the past two years. But the new accounts, often held by younger investors, are small, averaging about $4,500 at Robinhood. So when the market goes up, those accounts profit much less than those of wealthy investors with many shares. “Many of the younger investors also bought in at higher prices, compared to bigger investors who have been in the market for years and see larger gains,” Rosenthal said.

The wealth inequality is clear across the board. The richest 10% also own 45% of US real estate, 54% of pension entitlements, 85% of private businesses, and 34% of consumer durable goods, per the Street. The stock market is behind most of the wealth creation and increased inequality during the pandemic; it’s risen almost 40% since January 2020. Stocks accounted for almost 70% of the gains in wealth by the nation’s richest 1% over the past year and a half, per CNBC.

Just more depressing news……more ways for this cancer of inequality  to keep the people from achieving what has been called “the American Dream”…..

Turn The Page!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Colin Powell Dead!

Covid takes the life of an American icon….Colin Powell dead from complications of Covid…..

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks by video feed during the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention as participants from across the country are hosted over video links from the originally planned site of the convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. August 18, 2020. 2020 Democratic National Convention/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON, Oct 18 (Reuters) – Colin Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants who rose to become the first Black U.S. secretary of state and top military officer but whose reputation was tainted in 2003 when he touted spurious intelligence to the United Nations to make the case for war with Iraq despite deep misgivings, died on Monday at the age of 84.

Despite being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, his family said, he died due to complication from the disease. read more

Powell was one of America’s foremost Black figures for decades. He was named to senior posts by three Republican presidents and reached the top of the U.S. military as it was regaining its vigor after the trauma of the Vietnam War.

Powell, who was wounded in Vietnam, served as U.S. national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989. As a four-star Army general, he was chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Gulf War in which U.S.-led forces expelled Iraqi troops from neighboring Kuwait.

Powell, a moderate Republican and a pragmatist, considered a bid to become the first Black president in 1996 but his wife Alma’s worries about his safety helped him decide otherwise. In 2008, he broke with his party to endorse Democrat Barack Obama, who became the first Black person elected to the White House.

Read more…..https://www.reuters.com/world/us/obituary-colin-powell-us-military-leader-first-black-secretary-state-dies-2021-10-18/

May his family find closure in their grief…..may he rest in peace.

“lego ergo scribo”

Why Would Anyone Take A Horse Pill?

That is the question that has plagued me since I heard bout those people that would prefer to take a horse laxative over being vaccinated…..those that ignore medical advice and do something stupid like a pill designed for animals.

How do I get into the head of such a person?

After trying to explain this stupidity I still had no grasp on the thinking of these people.

Then I read this piece…..

Some Americans who are reluctant to get vaccinated believe they are living through a very different pandemic — one where the approved Covid-19 vaccines are ineffective and dangerous, and where a long list of “miracle cures,” ivermectin among them, are critical to patients’ health and safety.

From the outside, these positions can seem not just dangerous but incoherent. What would lead a person to say they won’t take a vaccine approved by federal regulators, then take an off-label medication because they read about it online?

Of course, not all Americans who are reluctant to get vaccinated have embraced supposed miracle cures: The reasons that people give for not getting a Covid-19 vaccine are varied and complex. But over the past year, among some refusers, a community of intense vaccine denialism has developed and created a sort of psychological scaffolding to support their views. As a group, the most fervent vaccine deniers construct and perpetuate an alternative narrative of the pandemic. And when inconvenient facts — from a news report to a friend’s or relative’s decision to get vaccinated — challenge that narrative, they give them a place to take refuge.

This phenomenon has its origins in America’s political polarization. One of the best predictors of whether someone is resistant to getting the Covid-19 vaccine is whether they identify as a Republican, and we know those partisan bonds are powerful. But they are not sufficient to explain the intransigence. Most Republicans have gotten the vaccine by now, but about 12 percent of Americans say they will never get vaccinated under any circumstances. (Roughly six in 10 of those people are Republicans, but a small minority of Democrats also say they won’t get the vaccine.)

It’s this community of hardcore refusers that have closed ranks and created an insular world meant to perpetuate their beliefs.

https://www.vox.com/coronavirus-covid19/22686147/covid-19-vaccine-betadine-hydroxychloroquine-ivermectin-trump-conspiracy

An interesting article but it still did not help me to get my head around the ignorance that is running rampant in the country.

Any thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Another Milestone

According to the response that I get to my Covid reports the nation just does not seem to care anymore…..but there are some reports that deserve reporting…..like our latest milestone….

Hospitals in crisis mode are starting to see some relief as COVID case numbers driven by a summer surge of the delta variant start to decrease, but the US has reached its “latest heartbreaking pandemic milestone” nonetheless: more than 700,000 deaths, a number bigger than the population of Boston, reports the AP. That figure was exceeded on Friday, with the latest 100,000 deaths coming over the past three and a half months. The AP notes the frustration being felt by medical professionals and public health officials, as vaccines are now widely available to the American public and can help cut down on hospitalizations and deaths.

“Reaching 700,000 deaths is a tragic and completely avoidable milestone,” Boston Children’s Hospital epidemiologist John Brownstein tells ABC News, which notes that figure may even be a significant undercount, per some experts. “We had the knowledge and the tools to prevent this from happening, and unfortunately, politics, lack of urgency, and mistrust in science got us here.” The AP notes that about 117 million Americans have yet to be vaccinated, including 70 million who are now eligible to get the shot.

According to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, individuals who haven’t been fully vaccinated are eight times more likely to be infected, 41 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 57 times more likely to die, per ABC. The unvaccinated population also serves as a sort of “kindling” for variants, the AP notes—and could eventually lead to a variant that’s significantly resistant to the vaccines.

There is some good news: As case numbers start sliding, hospitalizations are also on the decline: In early September, there were more than 93,000 people hospitalized with COVID. Now, there are about 75,000. Meanwhile, while Johns Hopkins figures still hover around 4.8 million, a Reuters tally says the planet as a whole reached its own grim milestone on Friday: more than 5 million dead. The outlet says it took more than a year for the death toll to reach the first 2.5 million, but just eight months to reach the second.

A milestone we could have done without since this was preventable…..and it was ignored.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

More Covid News

Are you sick of the daily updates yet?

Sorry to say I have one more…..

All the hoopla around the ‘jabs’ and then the booster….well there is one more piece of news….Merck has had a breakthrough….a pill….and no it is not a horse laxative or bleach……

The makers of what could be the first antiviral pill for COVID-19 said Friday that they will request emergency use authorization in the US as soon as possible. An independent board of experts monitoring the clinical trial of molnupiravir from drug-maker Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics recommended it be halted early after the drug was found to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 by almost 50%, reports the Washington Post. The trial involved unvaccinated people with COVID-19 (including variants gamma, delta, and mu) who had at least one risk factor for severe disease.

Some 385 participants took molnupiravir within five days of symptoms while 377 took a placebo, per USA Today. Among the first group, 28 people (7.3%) were hospitalized within a month, compared to 53 people (14%) in the placebo group, eight of whom died. The safety board decided it would be unethical to enroll another 750 participants, half of whom would receive a placebo, as planned. One standout observation: The head of Merck Research Laboratories says the results suggest molnupiravir is more effective against SARS-CoV-2 than Tamiflu is against the flu.

If emergency use authorization is granted, molnupiravir would join remdesivir as one of two approved early treatments for COVID-19; as with approved monoclonal antibody therapies, remdesivir must be administered intravenously, reports the AP. With molnupiravir, a person who tests positive for COVID-19 could take two small capsules twice per day for five days. The pill works by messing with an enzyme the coronavirus uses to copy its genetic code and reproduce itself. As molnupiravir is designed to keep the virus from replicating, it may also prevent mutations.

The drug has been licensed to five Indian drug manufacturers to hasten availability to moderate- and low-income countries, with the Post noting it could be crucial in those places, where vaccination rates are low and it’s tougher to make widespread use of drugs that have to given by IV. Merck, which plans to produce 10 million courses of treatment by the year’s end, says there will be a “tiered pricing approach,” with higher-income countries paying more and lower-income countries paying less. The US government has already committed to pay $1.2 billion for 1.7 million courses, or around $700 each, if approved.

Personally I like the idea of a pill over a ‘jab’…..but that is just me.always consult your medical professional before making any decisions.  Your favorite talk show host of some rabid pastor are not qualified to dispense medical advice.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

But

One Last ‘Booster’ Thing

I have written several times about the ‘booster’ for Covid….again talk with your medical professional for what is best for you and your family.

When the news first broke about a ‘booster’ my first question was will it be free as well……then I read a story about Pharma and the booster…..

Billions more in profits are at stake for some vaccine makers as the U.S. moves toward dispensing COVID-19 booster shots to shore up Americans’ protection against the virus. How much the manufacturers stand to gain depends on how big the rollout proves to be. US health officials late on Thursday endorsed booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for all Americans 65 and older—along with tens of millions of younger people who are at higher risk from the coronavirus because of health conditions or their jobs, per the AP. Officials described the move as a first step. Boosters will likely be offered even more broadly in the coming weeks or months, including boosters of vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. That, plus continued growth in initial vaccinations, could mean a huge gain in sales and profits for Pfizer and Moderna in particular. “The opportunity quite frankly is reflective of the billions of people around the world who would need a vaccination and a boost,” Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said.

Wall Street is taking notice. The average forecast among analysts for Moderna’s 2022 revenue has jumped 35% since President Joe Biden laid out his booster plan in mid-August. Most of the vaccinations so far in the U.S. have come from Pfizer, which developed its shot with Germany’s BioNTech, and Moderna. They have inoculated about 99 million and 68 million people, respectively. Johnson & Johnson is third with about 14 million people. No one knows yet how many people will get the extra shots. But Morningstar analyst Karen Andersen expects boosters alone to bring in about $26 billion in global sales next year for Pfizer and BioNTech and around $14 billion for Moderna if they are endorsed for nearly all Americans. Those companies also may gain business from people who got other vaccines initially. In Britain, which plans to offer boosters to everyone over 50 and other vulnerable people, an expert panel has recommended that Pfizer’s shot be the primary choice, with Moderna as the alternative.

Andersen expects Moderna, which has no other products on the market, to generate a roughly $13 billion profit next year from all COVID-19 vaccine sales if boosters are broadly authorized. Potential vaccine profits are harder to estimate for Pfizer, but company executives have said they expect their pre-tax adjusted profit margin from the vaccine to be in the “high 20s” as a percentage of revenue. That would translate to a profit of around $7 billion next year just from boosters, based on Andersen’s sales prediction. J&J and Europe’s AstraZeneca have said they don’t intend to profit from their COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic. For Pfizer and Moderna, the boosters could be more profitable than the original doses because they won’t come with the research and development costs the companies incurred to get the vaccines on the market in the first place.

WBB Securities CEO Steve Brozak said the booster shots will represent “almost pure profit” compared with the initial doses. Drugmakers aren’t the only businesses that could see a windfall from delivering boosters. Drugstore chains CVS Health and Walgreens could bring in more than $800 million each in revenue, according to Jeff Jonas, a portfolio manager with Gabelli Funds. Jonas noted that the drugstores may not face competition from mass vaccination clinics this time around, and the chains are diligent about collecting customer contact information. That makes it easy to invite people back for boosters.

All the news about the boosters leads me to believe that corporate media is hawking this as a necessity….after all profit is more important than health care.

Or is the booster thing being hawked by Biden admin as some sort of payback to Pharma for their giving the ‘jabs’ for free to the population?

Any thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”