Will almost everyone have had COVID-19 by the time the vaccines are available?

“Government Model Suggests U.S. COVID-19 Cases Could Be Approaching 100 Million” (NPR):

The actual number of coronavirus infections in the U.S. reached nearly 53 million at the end of September and could be approaching 100 million now, according to a model developed by government researchers.

Since [September], the CDC’s tally of confirmed infections has increased to 12.5 million. So if the model’s ratio still holds, the estimated total would now be greater than 95 million, leaving about 71% of the population uninfected.

The model, created by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calculated that the true number of infections is about eight times the reported number, which includes only the cases confirmed by a laboratory test. … Some of these antibody studies have suggested that only about one in 10 coronavirus infections is reported.

Cases are currently “spiking” all over the U.S.:

We yearned for ventilators and, by the time they were available, realized that we didn’t need or want them (since they actually harm the typical COVID-19 patient). Currently we yearn for vaccines, but perhaps we won’t need or want them by the time they’re available in significant quantity. (Though perhaps a vaccine could be useful to boost the immunity of someone who’d had COVID-19 the natural way a year earlier.)

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Should we follow the Pope’s advice and make it illegal to drive to church?

“Pope Francis: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts” (NYT):

With some exceptions [here’s looking at you, Sweden!], governments have made great efforts to put the well-being of their people first, acting decisively to protect health and to save lives. The exceptions have been some governments that shrugged off the painful evidence of mounting deaths, with inevitable, grievous consequences. But most governments acted responsibly, imposing strict measures to contain the outbreak.

Yet some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions — as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!

(Imagine a healthy 21-year-old believing that being locked into his/her/zir/their apartment is a reduction in his/her/zir/their personal freedom! He/she/ze/they is free to sit in any room in the apartment, watch any TV show, and eat anything/everything from the fridge.)

If we take the Pope at his/her/zir/their word, after coronaplague is a distant memory shouldn’t it be illegal for people to drive to a Catholic church? When it is quite easy for people to participate via Zoom, if “protecting health and saving lives” is the #1 goal, why let anyone subject themselves and others to the risk of an accident on the roads? A person killed from a car accident is just as dead as a person killed by COVID-19 (and, in fact, the loss of life-years is likely to be much higher due to the much younger age and better health of the average car accident victim).

God is everywhere, according to the Catholic religion. If we #FollowThePope, why shouldn’t the government protect health and save lives by forbidding anyone from driving to church in order to find God?

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Why aren’t saliva tests for COVID-19 widely available?

We’re more than a year into coronaplague. Saliva-based tests were developed back in the spring of 2020. At least here in Maskachusetts, children need COVID-19 tests before they can return to school following the sniffles and/or a trip to the cousins’ house (nearly every state in the U.S. is considered hazardous, even those with lower coronavirus infection rates than Massachusetts itself). Why isn’t is possible for children and adults to go to the local strip mall, spit, and have Kary Mullis‘s magic PCR machine give a thumbs up or thumbs down answer a few hours later?

(Is it the same answer as why we can’t buy Bounty or Formula 409? The U.S. managed to ramp up production of sophisticated aircraft during World War II (partial list). Why can’t we ramp up production of the tests that our governors and school bureaucrats are demanding? (separate issue as to whether there is any medical value to these tests! Last I checked with an MGH doctor, hospital care for COVID-19 patients still consisted primarily of “monitoring” and the care would be the same regardless of test result))

From the CVS MyChart site (November 26):

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Thanksgiving in the Land of Liberty

A round-up of Thanksgiving policies in the Land of Liberty (TM), COVID-19 edition:

Feel better about paying $trillions for the military that protects us from losing our liberty to the Canadians or Mexicans!

An immigrant originally from Moscow: “I never imagined that one day people would have more freedom in Russia than in the U.S.”

If you’re a sports car enthusiast, this floor sign from the National Corvette Museum might be a good addition to your living room before the relatives show up…

(Photo taken on Monday. Hardly anyone was adhering to this rule. Just as the Swedish MD/PhDs predicted, once you tell humans that masks will protect them, they don’t worry about proximity to other humans.)

Readers: I hope that your turkey cooking goes well! Our dish towel:

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Vegas casinos implement some of my coronaplague ideas

As readers of this blog may recall, I’m a big enthusiast for reengineering our environment so as to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses such as coronaplague:

One thing that I’ve been wondering for months is that, with $trillions allocated for dealing with coronaplague, why we don’t see handwashing sinks appear in more places.

Where is my dream alive? Based on a recent visit… Las Vegas! There are now sinks in the middle of the casino. Wave don’t push to open the doors. From the ARIA:

Instead of impressing by valet parking our rented Dodge Journey, we had to self park it almost everywhere.

Supposedly casinos were limited to 50 percent occupancy during our visit (just recently cut to 25 percent), but most felt uncomfortably packed. People proved the Swedish MD/PhDs correct: told that masks will prevent coronaplague, they ignore the 6′ social distance directive (and 7′ is the new 6′, according to the overhead projections on Fremont Street; see below and note that folks who confront Covid-19 at 350 lbs. or more can eat for free at the Heart Attack Grill).

Also from Fremont Street, the Main Street casino where whatever you lose goes to Wall Street and the California casino where presumably you’re funding retired public employees…

One positive for Vegas in the Age of Coronapanic is that one’s eyeglasses tend not to fog up when wearing a mask. Dry and hot is apparently perfect!

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The wild unmasked territory of South Dakota

South Dakota’s governor Kristi Noem is infamous for failing to #FollowScience and order her subjects to wear masks (though she might argue that she was merely following World Health Organization’s science from January-June 2020 (“don’t wear a mask”)). Her “government can’t protect you from a respiratory virus” attitude is shocking to those who have faith in technocratic “leadership.”

We stopped overnight in Rapid City in mid-November, en route to Bend, Oregon. Compared to Massachusetts or Oregon, it turns out that the observed mask rituals on the ground are not that different in practice. Oregon has huge signs, for example, ordering people to wear masks when on trails. Only about 30 percent of folks out walking obey the order. South Dakota has no order, but about 30 percent of folks choose to wear masks.

Just as residents of South Dakota are free to live unmasked, businesses in South Dakota are free to require masks. Our hotel, for example, required masks in the lobby. A lot of shops had “masks required” signs out front. In a bagel shop that had no signs regarding mask use, nearly all of the customers came in wearing masks and did not remove them until seated at a table.

Just as in Maskachusetts, folks would rather use their limited budget for human interaction on adults in restaurants rather than children in schools. The Rapid City schools, for example, are on a “hybrid” schedule currently. (Contrast to Ireland, where everything is closed except schools!)

A few snapshots. Note that our Maximum Macho president Jimmy Carter is parked right in front of a bridal boutique. (Downtown Rapid City has statues of all of the legitimate presidents (i.e., everyone except Donald Trump).)

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Our governors are following a 6-year-old’s plan?

Here’s a 6-year-old’s summer-to-fall transition plan from 2015:

The text:

Summer to fall
Close the beach
Close the summer fun!
Close the camp!
Close the sleepovercamp!
Close the picknick!
Close the pool!
Close the summer!
Open School!

It occurred to me that this is precisely the plan that U.S. state governors (except South Dakota’s) have been following… except for that last step.

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#Science proves that I was right (about the need for RFID chips in humans for COVID-19 surveillance)

From a physician friend, “Government’s 14-day quarantine policy is ‘fundamentally flawed’, groundbreaking report finds” (Telegraph):

The 14-day quarantine introduced by the [UK] Government is the least effective of all strategies to prevent the spread of Covid into the community, a groundbreaking study has found.

The research showed the longer the quarantine, the higher the rates of people not complying and so the greater the risk of an infected person spreading the virus into the community,

The calculations were based on modelling, confirmed by the Government’s own SAGE advisers, that as few as 28 per cent of asymptomatic individuals comply with quarantine, and just 71 per cent of those with symptoms. By contrast, Public Health England assumed a compliance rate of 100 per cent.

What would the right strategy be, according to #Science?

It found the most effective strategy for preventing further transmission of coronavirus was testing arrivals three days into quarantine and freeing them from it if the results were negative.

But this strategy is only optimum because of human noncompliance:

“But it also shows that the current 14-day quarantine policy is fundamentally flawed in ignoring human behaviour and compliance with the rules.

Thus, #Science actually proves that RFID chips in the necks of college students is the best strategy. If the healthy are quarantined, then we’re talking about a society in which civil liberties are less important than fighting the War on COVID-19. Why do things by half measures, then? Chip the citizens, residents, and visitors in the UK and #SaveLives!

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Life on campus during the plague

From a mole inside Penn State…

Email to students from a dean:

In response to reports of large gathering of students in off-campus apartment complexes in State College during this past weekend’s Penn State football game, the University announced joint planning, enforcement, and outreach measures designed to help prevent similar gatherings in the future. Large gatherings of mostly unmasked individuals not practicing social distancing are in violation of the State College Borough ordinance, which limits gatherings to no more than 10 people.

The State College Police Department is asking for help identifying 60 individuals who attended large-scale apartment parties last weekend. The individuals in question, compiled in this online document, allegedly attended parties at State College apartment complexes during Penn State football’s season opener against Indiana on Saturday, October 24. The document includes dozens of pictures that appear to have been taken from social media clips.

Anyone with information is encouraged to reach out to the department by phone (814-234-7150), by email, or through an anonymous tip line. Police ask that you note the location, case number, and image number when identifying an individual.

The dean proceeds to quote Emerson: “In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.” Coronavirus is part of “nature”, isn’t it? Are the 99.93 percent of us who have yet to be killed by COVID-19 experiencing “wild delight” in the presence of coronavirus?

How about the gangstas whom the police are hunting?

How are they supposed to behave? Some of the dorm rules:

Department of Fat, Drunk, and Stupid IS a great way to go through life…

We write to tell you that Penn State University and the Borough of State College share a deep and growing concern about activities and allegations centered around a rental property located at 329 East Prospect Avenue in State College. This rental property served as a chapter house for Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, which was suspended by the University in April 2017 for multiple alcohol, health, and safety violations. The fraternity’s national organization subsequently revoked the chapter’s charter, and Sigma Alpha Mu no longer operates as a recognized student organization at Penn State.

Despite the fraternity’s suspension, the privately-owned house at 329 East Prospect continues to serve as a rental residence, and men living there represent themselves as a fraternity. Yet from April 2017 until this semester, residents in this facility have been accused of or found responsible for various additional violations, including hazing and sexual misconduct. In the weeks since the current semester began at Penn State, residents of this property have repeatedly hosted large gatherings in violation of the Borough’s Covid-19 ordinance. The State College Police Department has visited this property at least ten times in that period for various offenses, taking enforcement action on numerous occasions. The Borough is considering additional legal action, and the University has already suspended two students living there.

It now has been alleged that residents of this property hosted another large gathering last Halloween weekend. An underaged female Penn State student who attended this gathering was found intoxicated and unconscious on a nearby sidewalk. Residents responsible for the gathering at 329 East Prospect are accused of placing her there in the early morning hours last Saturday. Fortunately, after transport to the Mount Nittany Medical Center, where she was treated for alcohol poisoning, the student fully recovered. Most recently, there has been an allegation of a sexual assault occurring at this property over the Halloween weekend.

Neither of us has ever issued a warning of this nature, which should indicate the seriousness of the behaviors allegedly occurring at this property. We share this information out of conviction that the best protection for public safety includes individual efforts to self-guard against such threats.

In short, residents at 329 East Prospect have demonstrated a pattern of behavior that is troubling and has not stopped despite the continuing efforts of local police and University authorities. For that reason, we strongly discourage any student from affiliating with the unrecognized group living in this facility, and we urge you not to attend activities there. Anyone who has additional insight about these concerns may notify either the State College Police Department at 814-234-7150 or the Penn State Office of Student Conduct at 814-863-0342.

Sincerely,

Damon Sims
Vice President for Student Affairs
The Pennsylvania State University

Thomas Fountaine
Borough Manager
State College Borough

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Is it possible that a COVID-19 vaccine won’t be lucrative?

Just as Big Pharma’s worst enemy in D.C. is on his way out, we have “Pfizer says early analysis shows its Covid-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective”. In a world where a lot of people have no goal other than avoiding COVID-19, will Pfizer shareholders now become infinitely rich?

I’m wondering if there will be so much competition in the coronaplague vaccine market that this ends up being only moderately profitable.

First, maybe it isn’t that difficult to create immunity to coronavirus. Here’s a curve of COVID-19-tagged deaths in Sweden.

After a few months of mixing in schools, workplaces, restaurants, gyms, etc., it would appear that a lot of Swedes became immune (otherwise, how to explain the drop in deaths? The Swedes didn’t change their laws or behavior after mid-March. From the IHME prophets:

If it was that easy for Sweden to build immunity, maybe most of the current vaccine candidates from all around the world will work fairly well (WHO report on 47 currently in clinical trials, which also mentions 155 in preclinical evaluation). Except in the U.S., therefore, competition should work to drive down the price.

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