Closing Thought–29Nov21

I know that Covid has become a passe topic these days…..50 the population think it is all a government ploy and the other half worries about their friends and families……so I thought I would bring my readers up to date on the variants and the international stage……

Almost two years after the first cases were detected in Wuhan, China, the fight against the coronavirus continues—and authorities are worried that a new variant detected in South Africa could be a major setback. The variant, currently known as B.1.1.529, has mutations that could make it more infectious and reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, scientists say. CNBC reports that the World Health Organization has scheduled a meeting on the variant for Friday. It if is declared a variant of interest or a variant of concern, it will be assigned a Greek letter name. The “Mu” variant first detected in Colombia was designated a variant of interest in August, making “Nu” the next letter in line. More:

  • Why scientists are worried. While many COVID variants die out, the latest one has an unusually high number of mutations and believed to be behind a steep rise in infections in South Africa, the AP reports. Joe Phaahla, the country’s health minister, said Thursday that there has been an “exponential” rise in cases over the last four or five days. Cases have also been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, and Israel.
  • “A big jump in evolution.” The variant was detected after scientists investigated a surge in infections in the Johannesburg area, the New York Times reports. “This variant did surprise us—it has a big jump in evolution, many more mutations than we expected, especially after a very severe third wave of Delta,” said Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform.
  • New travel restrictions. European countries quickly imposed restrictions on travel from southern Africa as news of the variant emerged, the BBC reports. The UK has banned flights from six countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini.
  • “The most worrying we’ve seen.” Dr Susan Hopkins, a top medical adviser to the British government, described the variant as “the most worrying we’ve seen” due to high transmission levels, per the Guardian. South African officials are “saying that their transmission rates, the R value that they have in Gauteng around where this was first found, is now 2, which is really quite high and we’ve not seen levels of transmission like that since right back at the beginning of the pandemic, because of all of the mitigations and steps we’ve taken,” Hopkins said.
  • Stock markets sink. The Financial Times reports that stock markets in Europe and Asia dropped sharply Friday, with airline stocks among the hardest hit. Oil prices are also down and the Dow Jones is set to open down 800 points.

This pandemic is far from over…..and it seems to point to  a long range spread once again.

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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…..

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Be Well and Be safe

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–01Nov21

Have you been to the store lately for groceries?

There are plenty of empty shelves and a limited amount of products to choose from…..this began with the pandemic (so we are told) then in my area a hurricane hit making products in short supply we were told that people from Louisiana were driving over and buying up the stuff (this did not ring true to me) then we are told that there were not enjoy drivers to deliver stuff but a local chain here has little problem stocking their shelves so if this small enterprise can did it why not a national stores?

This is a problem that is not going way….especially if Sen. Hawley has anything to do with it….

Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) has a plan to address the current supply chain issues bedeviling the American economy.

He wants to make them permanent.

In an op-ed for The New York Times published Friday, Hawley uses the temporary supply chain problems as an excuse to push for a permanent expansion of federal power over the affairs of private businesses. We must “fundamentally restructure our country’s trade policy,” Hawley demands, and that means injecting both the Pentagon and Commerce Department bureaucrats into companies’ purchasing decisions. Under the terms of a bill that Hawley is proposing, any product determined to be “critical for our national security and essential for the protection of our industrial base” would have to have at least 50 percent of its value made in the United States.

Why is it necessary for the government to get significantly more involved in the system of global trade that’s allowed Americans to enjoy unparalleled prosperity in recent years? Because “the global pandemic has exposed this system for what it is—a failure,” Hawley writes.

One must assume that if the lights in his home went out due to a storm, Hawley would respond by declaring electricity to be a mistake and demanding that the government require homes to be lit with candles and gas lamps. After all, what is the electrical grid but a complicated supply chain that leaves Americans woefully dependent on production and distribution systems (power plants, substations, and lines) that they do not fully control? Better to produce your own lighting, right? If that means you have to live without television or the internet, well, those are just the trade-offs required to achieve self-sufficiency.

Josh Hawley Wants to Make the Supply Chain Crisis Permanent

I have thought that Hawley was a joke and nothing he has done in 2021 has changed my mind…..and the people of Missouri ought to be smart enough to know what an embarrassment this toad is and will continue to be.

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”

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

Do I Need That Booster?

The question is being asked….and answers are not forthcoming….

There is much being written and reported on the ‘booster thing’…….(my two posts are referenced here)…..

More On The ‘Booster’

Even with the info available the question still remains….do I need the booster?

The word from the FDA is that some may need the vaccine and others may not…..for now.

The Biden administration has been working for weeks on plans for Covid-19 booster shots, as the delta variant drives a new pandemic wave across the country. The debate recently spilled out into the open when two top officials from the Food and Drug Administration stepped down over reported concerns that the decision-making process was being driven by politics instead of science.

Israel is already pushing ahead with booster shots, with most of that country’s population currently eligible for a third shot, based on data that indicates vaccine effectiveness wanes over time. The country is even preparing for the possibility that patients will require a fourth shot. The Biden administration has reportedly been influenced by the data out of Israel and, for a time, it looked as though the US would quickly take the same path. In a speech last month, President Joe Biden laid out a plan for every vaccinated American to receive a booster shot — pending FDA approval.

But recently, there has been pushback from parts of the scientific community, who argue that the case for booster shots is not as clear-cut as it may seem at first.

https://www.vox.com/coronavirus-covid19/22675485/covid-19-vaccine-booster-shot-fda-approval

DO NOT take the social media advice….go see a medical professional and get the advice from them.

Please do not take your advice from some self-serving pastor or some overpaid talk show host….ask someone that has real knowledge not some fake promises of coverage.

Your life depends on proper information.

Not all the info is discouraging on the Covid thing…….

We’re back at gloomy levels, with Johns Hopkins University data showing more than 2,000 Americans are now dying of COVID-19 daily, reports CNN—and in its telling, health experts are fearful of what the combination of our current COVID situation and the start of flu season will bring. But NPR suggests what’s coming may be … not that bad. It reviewed an analysis prepared by researchers who are assisting the CDC, and it’s hopeful.

The COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub developed four possible scenarios for what’s coming in the next six months using nine different mathematical models and a group of assumptions (like “kids do get vaccinated” or “no new variant emerges”). If both those conditions—yes to kids, no to a highly contagious new variant—hold, the model looks good, says the Hub’s Justin Lesser: New infections would move in a steadily downward trajectory from about 140,000 a day to 9,000 a day by March, with daily deaths under the 100 mark. Under that scenario, the US would have suffered about 780,000 deaths.

One Harvard epidemiologist throws a little rain on the parade, saying that while he does suspect the pandemic will be “comparatively under control by March,” he says it’s possible we could see some surges before we get there, noting that coronaviruses “usually peak in early January.” Meanwhile, ABC News reports that just three states accounted for about a third of the COVID deaths suffered in the past week: Texas, Alabama, and Georgia

Be Well…..Be Safe….

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Covid Out Does The Spanish Flu

Closing Thought–21Sep21

Did you know that in 1918 the pandemic known as the Spanish Flu killed about 675,000 Americans…a bunch huh?

Well Covid has topped that…..

COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic did—approximately 675,000. The US population a century ago was one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a much bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time. “Big pockets of American society—and, worse, their leaders—have thrown this away,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan, the AP reports.

COVID’s Death Toll Catches 1918 Flu’s

One model shows another 100,000 people will be killed by January
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 20, 2021 7:15 PM CDT
 
COVID Has Taken as Many Lives as 1918 Flu
 
An employee moves the body of a patient who died of COVID-19 onto a gurney to take to a funeral home van last month in Shreveport, La.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
 
 

(Newser) – COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic did—approximately 675,000. The US population a century ago was one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a much bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time. “Big pockets of American society—and, worse, their leaders—have thrown this away,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan, the AP reports.

Like the Spanish flu, the coronavirus may never entirely disappear from our midst. Instead, scientists hope it becomes a mild seasonal bug as human immunity strengthens through vaccination and repeated infection. That could take time. “We hope it will be like getting a cold, but there’s no guarantee,” said Emory University biologist Rustom Antia, who suggests an optimistic scenario in which this could happen over a few years. For now, the pandemic still has the US and other parts of the world firmly in its jaws.

While the delta-fueled surge in infections may have peaked, US deaths are still averaging more than 1,900 a day on average, the highest level since early March, and the country’s overall toll topped 675,000 on Monday, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Experts believe the real number to be higher. Winter could bring a new surge, with the University of Washington’s influential model projecting an additional 100,000 or so Americans will die of COVID-19 by Jan. 1, which would bring the overall US toll to 776,000.

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic killed 50 million people globally at a time when the world had one-quarter the population it does now. Global deaths from COVID-19 now stand at more than 4.6 million. The Spanish flu’s US death toll is an estimate, given the incomplete records of the era and the poor scientific understanding of what caused the illness. The 675,000 figure comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before COVID-19, the 1918-19 flu was universally considered the worst pandemic disease in human history. No vaccine existed to slow it, and there were no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections.

The problem is we are still in the grip of the pandemic and the numbers will just keep growing…..and growing….

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”