Should we take the neighbor’s 5-year-old in for a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

From the Journal of Popular Studies: “FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization of Pfizer COVID Booster for Kids 5 to 11.” Children are facing an “emergency”, according to the scientists at the FDA. If there weren’t an emergency, by definition, the shots wouldn’t be available until completely tested and approved via normal procedures.

If a child in the neighborhood is facing an emergency, you’d be morally obligated to take him/her/zir/them to the local hospital, right? You wouldn’t let a 5-year-old bleed out on the sidewalk in front of your apartment when you could simply load the injured kid into the minivan (or Tesla if you’re a douche and/or dog lover!) and zip over to the ED.

Suppose that we suspect some of our neighbors (most of them physicians or dentists) are deplorably failing to respond to the emergency facing their young children. Are we obligated to snatch up the neglected children and rush them to to the nearest healing center for an injection? If not, why not?

If you’re at Disney World in the sexual orientation and gender identification dark ride for kindergarteners and discover that a child in the next car hasn’t received his/her/zir/their booster…

Full post, including comments

How’s the miracle drug Paxlovid doing against COVID-19?

“Paxlovid is a miracle drug,” says a primary care doc whom I know, “because it is a miracle when I can prescribe it. Anyone who is sufficiently vulnerable to serious consequences from COVID-19 is already on drugs that have interactions with Paxlovid.” The other docs with whom I’ve talked about this drug, especially cardiologists, are generally negative regarding the drug. In their view, it will interact badly with other drugs, have bad side effects, and/or result in SARS-CoV-2 attacking the patient as soon as he/she/ze/they stops taking Paxlovid.

Chinks in the miracle drug’s armor are beginning to be described in our otherwise cheerleading media. Example from the NYT, March 25:

Certain medications or supplements, including painkillers, statins and even St. John’s Wort, may have adverse interactions with Paxlovid. So you may be advised to hold off on taking them for a week while being treated, Dr. Gandhi said. But for some medications, like drugs that regulate heart rhythm, abstaining for a week may not be possible. In those cases, your doctor may recommend molnupiravir for Covid-19 instead.

From Yale, where they understand medicine if not accounting, “13 Things To Know About Paxlovid, the Latest COVID-19 Pill”:

The FDA authorized Paxlovid for people ages 12 and older who weigh at least 88 pounds. But in order to qualify for a prescription, you must also have had a positive COVID-19 test result and be at high risk for developing severe COVID-19.

That means you must either have certain underlying conditions (including cancer, diabetes, obesity, or others) or be 65 or older (more than 81% of COVID-19 deaths occur in in this group). The more underlying medical conditions a person has, the higher their risk for developing a severe case of COVID-19, according to the CDC.

Since Paxlovid is cleared by the kidneys, dose adjustments may be required for patients with mild-to-moderate kidney disease, explains Dr. Topal. “For patients with severe kidney disease—or who are on dialysis—or those with severe liver disease, Paxlovid is not recommended; the levels of the drug can become too high and could cause increased side effects,” he says.

There is a long list of medications Paxlovid may interact with, and in some cases, doctors may not prescribe Paxlovid because these interactions may cause serious complications.

The list of drugs that Paxlovid interacts with includes some organ anti-rejection drugs that transplant patients take, as well as more common drugs like some used to treat heart arrhythmias. Paxlovid also decreases the metabolism of anticoagulants, or blood thinners, that many older adults depend on, driving up levels of those medications in the body to a point where they are unsafe, Dr. Topal explains.

It also interacts with cholesterol-lowering medications like Lipitor, but that’s less challenging for patients to overcome. “If you stop taking your Lipitor for five days, nothing bad is going to happen,” he adds.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, the FDA recommends discussing your options and specific situation with your health care provider, since there is no experience using the drug in these populations. If you could become pregnant, it’s recommended that you use effective barrier contraception or do not have sexual activity while taking Paxlovid.

So the ideal Paxlovid patient is morbidly obese with the blood pressure and heart health of a 22-year-old tennis star.

Pfizer wants you to take your Paxlovid every day… “FDA rebukes Pfizer CEO’s suggestion to take more Paxlovid if COVID-19 symptoms return”:

The FDA rebuked Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla’s proposed solution to reports that some patients experienced a relapse of COVID-19 symptoms after treatment with the company’s antiviral Paxlovid.

After reports said some patients who took Paxlovid rebounded and started feeling symptoms again, the CEO told Bloomberg that patients can take another course, “like you do with antibiotics.”

“There is no evidence of benefit at this time for a longer course of treatment … or repeating a treatment course of Paxlovid in patients with recurrent COVID-19 symptoms following completion of a treatment course,” John Farley, M.D., director of the Office of Infectious Diseases, said in a post.

Science is complex!

Full post, including comments

Should the COVID-19 injections be renamed to something other than “vaccine”?

When coronapanic hit and various public health prophets went on television calling themselves “scientists,” friends who are medical school professors said that, when the predictions of these physicians and public health bureaucrats inevitably failed the public’s confidence in medicine would be reduced. They cringed every time Anthony Fauci was in the spotlight, for example.

I wonder if the same thing could be happening with the shots that are currently marketed as “vaccines”. People who’ve had 3 or 4 shots are regularly getting sick with COVID-19. Some are being hospitalized and, in the long run, nearly all of the COVID-19 deaths will be among this heavily-jabbed population. By contrast, the childhood vaccines that we desperately want people to apply to their kids, e.g., the measles vaccine, actually stop humans from getting sick with measles.

Now that we know that COVID-19 vaccines don’t work like “regular vaccines” is it time to rename them so that their ineffectiveness doesn’t tarnish the reputation of the “real vaccines”?

Ignoring any serious harm that the COVID-19 vaccines might cause, the closest analogy that I can think of to the situation is what we call “the flu shot”. Americans don’t usually say “I am vaccinated against influenza.” We say “I had all of my childhood vaccinations and this year I got a flu shot.” The flu shot is put in a “can’t hurt; might help” category. When a person who had the flu shot gets the flu anyway, that doesn’t result in him/her/zir/them or his/her/zir/their social network to lose confidence in “vaccine vaccines.”

Readers: What do you think of the idea? Half of the hardest core Mask and Vaccine Karens whom I know seem to have gotten COVID-19 within the past few months. Wouldn’t the overall image of vaccines be improved if we said “They had a COVID-19 shot, which was good prep for their COVID-19 infection” rather than “They were vaccinated against COVID-19 three times and then got COVID-19 anyway”?

Related:

Full post, including comments

Sitting at home for 18 months results in long COVID (at least for unionized schoolteachers)

Does closing schools for 18 months protect teachers from COVID-19? Apparently not. “1 in 5 Educators Say They’ve Experienced Long COVID” (EducationWeek):

Two years into the pandemic, many Americans are eager to leave COVID behind. But that won’t be so easy for as many as 1 in 5 educators who, according to a recent EdWeek survey, have experienced the emerging, mysterious illness known as long COVID.

In a workforce that tops 6 million people, that percentage suggests hundreds of thousands of people who serve the nation’s K-12 students have suffered long-lasting symptoms after contracting COVID.

Working full-time has been impossible for Kathleen Law, an elementary school teacher in Oregon, since she contracted COVID in August. She’s had foggy thinking ever since, and she gets bone-tired easily.

Chimére Smith, 39, was a middle school teacher for Baltimore City Public Schools—until March 2020, when she contracted a severe case of COVID that has hardly abated since. She experienced everything from sharp spinal pain and migraines to overwhelming exhaustion, memory lapses, gastrointestinal issues, hallucinations, and suicidal ideation.

For months, doctor after doctor told Smith that her symptoms were nothing to worry about. Smith, who is Black, says she encountered racist skepticism at every turn.

What’s the biggest challenge after racism?

The first challenge for long COVID sufferers: recognizing you’re one of them

Sarah Bilotti, superintendent of the North Warren schools in New Jersey, said numerous students and several staff members in her district have disclosed that they have long COVID—or they’ve confessed that they have concerning symptoms that won’t go away, without knowing why.

“I think people are so unaccustomed to that diagnosis and this language that people aren’t sure what’s going on,” she said.

The federal government last summer officially designated long COVID as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. That means school employees are entitled to accommodations from their employer if they can offer documentation of their condition.

If you gave me unlimited paid sick leave and union job protection so that I could go back to work whenever I wished to, I am confident that I could develop long COVID!

Full post, including comments

Twitter’s Ministry of Medical Truth fact-checked by a medical school professor

If you love Internet and love medical school, what’s not to love about this page in which a med school professor fact checks the folks at Twitter who suspended a user for posting “misinformation”:

(Note that I think the most harmful misinformation ever distributed regarding COVID-19 came from the CDC and similar enterprises, i.e., that cloth masks protected humans from an aerosol virus. I have been ridiculing that advice here since March 2020, e.g., by reference to “saliva-soaked face rag” or “use a bandana as PPE” but I never questioned whether the Covidcrats had the right to say what they said.)

Speaking of misinformation, the headline writers at Politico deserve a Pulitzer for this one:

Full post, including comments

Report on some masketology in Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, Maryland

This is a report on the coronapanic level during a late April trip to Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, Maryland (see previous post regarding the flight itself).

First, if coronapanic ever does end, the government invites you to think about all of the other bad things that could happen and “Make an Emergency Plan”:

But coronapanic hasn’t ended. In Northeast D.C., where shootings are a daily occurrence, faith in masks remains strong (nobody has read “Correlation Between Mask Compliance and COVID-19 Outcomes in Europe”?):

Here’s an establishment serving healthful beer, wine, and mixed drinks in an environment that is perfect for spreading SARS-CoV-2 variants. They explain that they enjoyed checking vaccine papers so much that they’re going to continue doing it (“Gotta give the Freedom Fighting Anti Vaxxers Something to Whine About”) even though it is no longer required by mayoral order.

Folks in DC and suburban Maryland have so many masks that they had trouble keeping track of them. Masks were some of the most common street litter in various locales.

What about in Northwest D.C.? Here are some photos from the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood (houses: $1-3 million). First, a street dining venue that is technically “outdoors” but also reminded customers that masks are required (between bites?):

The typical shop front door had signs in both English and Spanish, often referring to a government order from July 31, 2021. Here a worker cleaning the front door wears a mask in the outdoor heat (over 80 degrees):

Some miscellaneous images from the same neighborhood.

Despite the love of mask-wearing, COVID-19 seems to be raging among the Followers of Science right now. A cousin who is a clinical psychologist in D.C. restricted her practice to Zoom more than two years ago and has barely left her house. She explained that she couldn’t meet us because… she has COVID-19 right now. Her symptoms are similar in nature and severity to what unvaccinated friends suffered in 2020, but she attributes her survival to having been vaccinated. She would share the mystification of the following tweet:

https://twitter.com/SamPogono/status/1517986960786309122

My mom (nearly 88) and I attended what was supposed to be a 100-person Bat Mitzvah celebration. The hostesses put “vaccination required” prominently on the invitation. Nonetheless, multiple D.C.-area people guests failed to show up at the last minute because they were sick with COVID. Masks were not required at the gathering, but roughly half of the invulnerable teenagers attending wore masks (for four hours straight, while dancing, etc.) while only one or two of the older people, all enthusiastic Democrats (and therefore voters for politicians who order mask-wearing), wore masks. For privacy’s sake, I don’t want to show the kids, but here’s an adult with a rainbow mask:

My favorite photo from the trip is this Toyota Sienna with a “MINIVAN” vanity plate:

Related:

  • now that everyone in D.C. has COVID-19, the public health experts who live there are willing to think the unthinkable: “What Sweden Got Right About COVID” (Washington Monthly, 4/19/2022)
  • from the same date, “Correlation Between Mask Compliance and COVID-19 Outcomes in Europe”: Surprisingly, weak positive correlations were observed when mask compliance was plotted against morbidity (cases/million) or mortality (deaths/million) in each country (Figure 3). … While no cause-effect conclusions could be inferred from this observational analysis, the lack of negative correlations between mask usage and COVID-19 cases and deaths suggest that the widespread use of masks at a time when an effective intervention was most needed, i.e., during the strong 2020-2021 autumn-winter peak, was not able to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Moreover, the moderate positive correlation between mask usage and deaths in Western Europe also suggests that the universal use of masks may have had harmful unintended consequences.

D.C.’s most powerful politician says “everyone encouraged to wear a mask all the time”:

#MissionAccomplished! (at least in D.C./MD)

Full post, including comments

Karen gets COVID-19 and asks “What about the kids?”

Poking around within Twitter, I found this gem:

The text:

Rage crying this morning. Two years of isolating and keeping my toddlers safe, and I get infected with #COVID19 at a mandatory team offsite, even while wearing a KN95 mask myself. Now my toddlers are exposed. 🤬 This isn’t over. @US_FDA we need to #ImmunizeUnder5s now!

Think of the children!

His/her/zir/their fellow Karens also got sick, despite practicing the protocol that Science dictated for airline travel:

So far one other team member has tested positive, out of eight of us. Most of us were wearing masks except for when drinking coffee or eating lunch/dinner.

Where does Mx. Nelson work? His/her/zir/their profile:

Program Manager with @Microsoft Philanthropies, leading a $1.15B tech grant program for @msftnonprofits, helping nonprofits leverage technology to do more good.

He/she/ze/they is based in Seattle. In case this tweet is deleted, a screen capture:

Here’s something else fun, the U.S. Ministry of Truth:

Text from the above tweet:

You are welcome to follow us, but rest assured—we are already following you.

I’m surprised that Twitter doesn’t down-rate content from anonymous accounts like this and even more surprised that Twitter has held together given how apparently easy it is to set up an anonymous account. I think that one reason Facebook is so successful is that they authenticate most accounts.

Related:

Full post, including comments

Report from Shanghai

An American friend lives in locked-down Shanghai and I recently checked in with her. Below are some of her text messages.

We were locked in apartment for somewhere between two and three weeks (forgot exact dates) and now we are allowed to roam inside the compound courtyard area (which is actually quite nice, and now, with this lockdown, rather social outdoors).

The Western press we read about the Shanghai lockdown seems completely wrong. The lockdown (and management of it) are in some ways rather better than it says, and in some ways worse. But that’s not really the axis…the whole tone of the US and Euro press we see just seems like it is talking about some completely different planet that has nothing to do with the good and bad things we hear/see/think as lived experience here.

[in response to my question about whether you can just get food delivered] At first, no regular delivery services. Those are just starting to be allowed back in very limited ways. The first few days just some government rations (cabbage), but [husband] and I had some food around and also, it’s really not that bad to eat less for a while…the main thing is a lot of people got justifiably worried because the private businesses in the supply and delivery chain weren’t allowed to really do enough, the transport blocks made the supply chain somewhat concerning, and the government rations were completely random and quite unequal in different districts.

After a few days this huge phenomenon called “group buying” came whooshing in, and a lot of people were able to distribute the food through that and the large majority of people supplement the government food with that. Now some individual buying is happening as more business owners get permission…

We were very lucky because our compound is actually more commercial buildings than residential. The analogy in US terms seems to be “commercially zoned”. This makes it vastly more complicated and ambiguous for the building management to figure out how to manage us as residences (lockdown rules, level of lockdown, placement of the testing lines, etc.) but it did allow them to give permission for the proprietor of the office building’s cafeteria to live in the cafeteria with a few employees, and within a few days they got some supply chain and started up a meal service. They made an agreement with the management that the health volunteers (the ones who are allowed to wear hazmat suits and get tested twice a day instead of once and walk around to deliver rations and essentials), that those volunteers were allowed to drop off a hot cooked lunch or dinner outside the apartment doors. At first, the cafeteria didn’t know how much it could source and supply, so it was word of mouth but I heard of it when it was producing for about 70-ish meals and ordered one meal some of the days. They successfully ramped up and since they expose their spreadsheet every day, they now supply meals to about 400 or 500 a day which is as much as 30% of the apartments here. So that’s been really luxurious when we don’t feel like cooking the too-much rice and cabbage supplied by the gummint.

[In response to my question about censorship and suppression of dissent] The culture of China is to have vastly more local protesting than I had understood. So there is a ton of that. It helps keep local officials accountable.

Many interesting and rapid local developments happen here to try and deal with this situation. Once we were allowed to roam (courtyard and the three building lobbies, also I think people in one building can visit each other. Not visit apartments in the other buildings, although I have no interest in visiting anyone inside a building at all. I meet people outside. Government gave out some flour, and I traded a lemon (outdoors) to a colleague for a little packet of yeast she had.

[She also described an apartment building lobby swap table where people put out food that they don’t want, including government-supplied canned fish, oranges, etc.]


My gastronomic experience in Shanghai, November 2019, was a little different. Here are some examples:

Top left: a restaurant for locals, about 14 floors up in an office building. Bottom: the breakfast buffet at the Four Seasons.

Full post, including comments

A masked afternoon at the theater

My general rule is that if an activity is dangerous enough to require wearing a mask then it is dangerous enough to avoid altogether. I wouldn’t go to a Broadway show, for example, because they’re telling me that it isn’t safe (masks are required as well as vaccine paper checks) and nothing stops me from staying home to watch Hamilton over and over and over and over again.

On April 23, 2022, however, my general policy was superseded by a directive from Extremely Senior Management (Mom, almost 88 years old). Off to the Round House Theater in Bethesda, Maryland, for a vaccine-and-mask-resistant SARS-CoV-2 variant spreading event. The show was “We declare you a terrorist…” concerning the Second Chechen War and jihadi takeover of a theater in Moscow. (In the best American tradition, the playwright Tim J. Lord who tackles this complex subject seems to have no background in Russian language, Russian culture, Islamic religion, history of Chechnya, etc.)

Anyone in Bethesda can tell you that checking photo ID for voters is racist. According to the Righteous, People of Color are too stupid to obtain photo IDs. Tending to confirm this theory, the Bethesda theater experience begins with an ID and vaccine paper check and there were no People of Color in the audience (unless Asians count).

Throughout the theater, there are numerous signs demanding mask-wearing:

As with the airlines in the Science-following pre-Mizelle era, COVID-19-suppression is enhanced by filling the lobby with unmasked people who are eating and drinking.

We acknowledge that we’re on land stolen from Native Americans, but we will neither give it back nor pay them rent:

No matter a person’s gender ID, he/she/ze/they will will find bathroom to suit him/her/zir/theirself:

Remember to fight COVID-19 by washing your hands:

This was made more challenging by the fact that the theater staff were too busy checking vaccine papers, photo IDs, and mask compliance to refill the soap dispensers.

I still can’t figure out why the people who printed up all of these signs and designed these protocols didn’t ask “Wouldn’t it make more epidemiological sense if we shut down our COVID-spreading theater altogether?”

Full post, including comments

Results of a mask experiment in Germany

Germany has had strict requirements for people to use N95-style masks and… a raging coronaplague to go with those masks (but the failure of two-way N95 masking should not shake our faith in one-way N95 masking! Don’t stay home to avoid COVID-19, get on a plane with an N95 mask, eat in restaurants, stay in hotels, etc.). There was a natural experiment done recently in which Hamburg maintained its mask order while the rest of Germany dropped it. Here are the curves:

Full post, including comments