I bet Biden thought this one was a gimme…

March 8, 2021

Joe gets blowback re: moving teachers to the front of the line.
=============

Immediately after Biden announced that there would be vaccine available for all adults by the end of May … and that all teachers, school staffs and child care workers would get at least 1 vax shot by the end of May, we observed:

1. Achieving the “available supply” is not  exactly a moon-shot. It simply requires continuing to deliver vaccines (to & from the government) at current run rates, adding in the new incremental J&J supply.

If the goal had been set at getting all 250 million adults 18 and over fully vaccinated by the end of May — that would have been a moon shot

For details, see VAX: What exactly did Biden promise?

2. Getting at least 1-shot into all teachers arms by the end of this month isn’t possible without compromising some “science” and medical ethics.

You see, stores in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program already scheduled out their anticipated vaccine supply for March.

So, letting teachers cut the line would require cancelling appointments already on the books for “vulnerables” and other “essentials”.

For details, see VAX: Did Biden’s brain trust set him up to fail?

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While we were first, it didn’t take long for the piling-on to start … from science & data advocates, ethicists, “equitarians”, “zeroists” and politicos.

Read the rest of this entry »

March 8: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 8, 2021

Averaging over 2 million shots per day !
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March 8: COVID Snapshot

March 8, 2021

Cases, hospitalizations & deaths down from peaks but leveling
… case fatality ratio (CFR%) stubbornly high @ 3%.
==============

click graph to enlarge
image

Note:  At the index starting date: deaths were ~1,000 per day. hospitalizations were ~55K, cases were ~ 100K and tests were ~1.4 MM per day

March 7: COVID VAX Stats

March 7, 2021

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March 7: COVID Tracking Stats

March 7, 2021

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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image_thumb8
Source: RonaViz.com

March 6: COVID Tracking Stats

March 6, 2021

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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Source: RonaViz.com

March 6: COVID VAX Stats

March 6, 2021

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Still more: How much have students fallen behind during the school’s shutdown?

March 5, 2021

Spring 2021 plan: Federal gov’t tells states to do standardized testing to measure students’ learning levels in math & reading.
==============

In a prior post, we reported results from a survey done in Fall 2020 that indicated, for example:

  • Students in 5th & 6th grades started the 2020-2021 school year 12 or more weeks behind their expected learning levels in math.
  • Students in grades 4 to 7 started the 2020-2021 school year 4 or more weeks behind their expected learning levels in reading.

Of course, we opined: It be useful to give students standardized tests this spring, as more of them  return to school?

Well, maybe, just maybe, that will materialize.

According to USA Today

Under federal law, states must administer annual exams in key subjects including reading and math to students in third through eighth grade and once in high school.

The requirement to administer state exams was waived by in spring 2020, when most U.S. schools shut down as a result of COVID-19.

But, a recent letter from Biden’s Education Dept. advised states that they will need to administer  the annual standardized achievement exams to students this year.

There is some “wiggle room” to shorten the annual exams, administer them remotely or delay giving them until summer or fall … but, “the Biden administration will not consider blanket waivers of assessments this year.”

Of course, not all sides agree with the announcement.

Read the rest of this entry »

More: How much have students fallen behind during the school’s shutdown?

March 5, 2021

Fall 2020 EstimateThe  COVID schools’ shutdown compounded the inevitable “summer slide”.
=============

In a prior post (originally published July 30, 2020 and re-posted last week), we provided background on students’ “summer slide” in learning … and presented some research projecting how much “dislearning” will have occurred since schools closed in Spring, 2020 until Fall, 2020.

At the time, the WSJ did a study that painted a dire picture:  The Results Are In for Remote Learning: It Didn’t Work.

Preliminary research projects students nationwide will return to school in the fall with roughly 30% dis-learning in reading relative to a typical school year, and more than 50% in math.

Those were forecasts, so we asked the rhetorical question: Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew how much students’ actually regressed while schools have been closed?

And, we advised: To find out, give students a round of standardized tests at the start of the school year.

We predicted: Results would likely shock educators, parents and politicos alike.

============

Well, a  national testing service did just what we asked.

According to the WSJ

Data from Renaissance Learning — a national testing program which is used widely by U.S. public schools to assess students’ progress — shows widespread performance declines at the start of 2020-2021 academic year, particularly in math.

Read the rest of this entry »

How much have students fallen behind during the school’s shutdown?

March 5, 2021

Spring 2020 Forecast:  The  COVID schools’ shutdown compounded by the inevitable “summer slide”.
=============
Originally posted on July 20, 2020 … and relevant today!

In his 2008 bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the notion of an educational “summer slide”.

Referencing a tracking study of Baltimore City Public School students, Gladwell highlighted evidence that students’ standardized test scores in the fall were generally lower than their scores in the prior spring.

His observation: “Between school years, students’ accumulated learning is diminished”.

In other words, there is a statistically significant “forget factor” if learning isn’t reinforced and edged forward with summer enrichment activities (think: summer school, educational camps, field trips, parental tutoring).

The summer slide is most pronounced for poor students who lack summer enrichment opportunities … and for all students in math. 

The black line below illustrates the math score drop-off for typical 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. On average, the typical summer slide in math skills is about 2%.  That is, students are 2% less proficient in math after their summer vacations.

image
Source: WSJ

To make matters worse, note the red line on the chart … it illustrates the projected drop-off due to this year’s virus-induced school closings.

It’s estimated that students will be about 5% less proficient in math than they were when the schools closed … the combined effect of lesser learning during the schools’ shut-down period and an extended summer slide (with many schools declaring no mas in early June) .

More specifically…

Read the rest of this entry »

March 5: COVID VAX Stats

March 5, 2021

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March 5: COVID Tracking Stats

March 5, 2021

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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Source: RonaViz.com

VAX: Did Biden’s brain trust set him up to fail?

March 4, 2021

“At least one shot for all teachers, school staff and child-care workers by the end of March”
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Biden said that he was directing states to prioritize teachers and that he’d use the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program to get teachers at least one shot by the end of March.

That latter point got my attention since wife Kathy & I are scheduled for our second shots in mid-March at a Fed program pharmacy.

The program kicked off at our road trip CVS in mid-February.

From then until now, the store has been jabbing 1st shots and scheduling 2nd shots at the prescribed 4 weeks interval.

Said differently, the store’s 2nd shots start in mid-March.

My sense is that the store is operating at near capacity given its space constraints.

So, by my count, they’re fully booked for the rest of March (and into April), giving promised 2nd doses to their 1st dose recipients.

Hmmm.

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If our store is representative of all in the Fed retail pharmacy program, how is Team Biden going to squeeze teachers into the stores’ schedule?

Read the rest of this entry »

March 4: COVID VAX Stats

March 4, 2021

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March 4: COVID Tracking Stats

March 4, 2021

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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Source: RonaViz.com

VAX: What exactly did Biden promise?

March 3, 2021

Is “enough vaccine supply for every adult by the end of May”
a lay-up or a long-shot?

=============

I commend Biden for putting a quantitative stake in the ground.

That said, let’s parse his announcement to decode what it really means…

============

First, how many people are we talking about?

There are 250 million adults 18 & over in the U.S.

============

So, how much vaccine is required?

As of today, 26 million have been fully vaccinated (i.e. received 2 shots) … 52 million have received only the 1st of 2 shots.

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An obvious question: Is Biden talking about fully vaccinated or just “in the system” …. having received at least received one shot? More on that later.

As of today, there is over 24 million doses in the government stockpile.

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Presumably, that inventory is intended for the 2nd shots to be given to folks (like me) who have already received their first shots.

So, we can assume that we just need to consider new vaccination candidates.

That means that we need enough new supply to vaccinate just over 200 million people (250 million adults 18 & over less the 52 million already vaccinated and presumed scheduled for their 2nd shots).

The good news: J&J says that it will deliver 20 million 1-shot doses by the end of March and 100 million by summer.

That works out to about 75 million J&J doses by the end of May. (20 million in March plus 2/3s of the 80 million ‘by summer’ balance).

Since J&J is a 1-dose vaccine, that leaves 125 million adults to be vaccinated by the end of May.

So, we need about 250 million doses from Pfizer & Moderna to hit the goal (125 million adults times 2 doses).

=============

Are 250 million mRNA doses a long-shot or a lay-up?

There were 52.5 million doses delivered to (and from) the Feds in February.

Quant note: Cumulatively, there were 49.9 million doses delivered as of Feb.1 and 102.4 million delivered as of March 1 … the difference (52.5 million) was delivered in February,  Source  

So, at the February rate, we can expect at least another 150 million doses in the 3-month period March-April-May.

That leaves us about 100 million mRNA  doses short of having enough to have all adults 18 & over fully vaccinated by the end of May.

Said differently, it leaves 50 million adults partially vaccinated (i.e. having on 1 of their 2 shots).

Finishing them off will require another month’s supply (at the current delivery rate.

That pushes us out to June unless there’s a boost in vaccine manufacturing output.

Since the J&J-Merck manufacturing partnership requires a couple of months until it comes on line, it’s not clear where & how the additional supply will materialize.

So, if the goal is “fully vaccinated” , then May is aggressive … June is realistic … and, the difference is, in my opinion, rounding error.

Of course, the goal can be fudged to “at least one dose” … which may be doable by the end of May.

So, there should be enough supply to hit the available supply goal, plus or minus a couple of weeks.

============

The big “but…”

Biden’s commitment is “available supply” … which is less daunting than getting all adults 18 & over “vaccinated”.

And, achieving an available supply goal simply requires continuing to deliver vaccines (to & from the government) at current run rates (plus the new incremental J&J supply).

But, converting the supply into “shots in arms” is likely to run into at least 2 challenges: (1) the last mile under-served populations (i.e. rural, inner city), and (2) demand creation among the vaccine hesitants.

These challenges may be more of an impediment than vaccine supply.

We’ll cover them in future posts…

WSJ: Operation Warp Speed’s Triumph

March 3, 2021

In today’s editorial, the WSJ says that Trump’s vaccine bet was government’s best pandemic decision.
=============

A bold move:

American governments, federal and state, have made many mistakes in the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the great success — the saving grace — was making a financial bet in collaboration with private American industry on the development of vaccines.

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A fast track to normalcy

That effort is now letting the country see the possibility of a return to relatively normal life as early as the spring.

President Biden announced that the U.S. should have enough vaccine supply for every American adult by the end of May.

[That’s months, or years, before Dr. Fauci and other experts said to expect the first doses of a Covid vaccine to be delivered.]

=============

False claims try to diminish the achievement:

Critics scoffed when President Trump set a target of having a vaccine approved by the end of 2020.

Kamala Harris suggested she would not take a shot recommended by the Trump Administration.

The Biden-Harris Administration has now changed to full-throated encouragement — though not before continuing to trash the Trump efforts.

President Biden and White House aides have repeatedly stated that they inherited little vaccine supply and no plan for distribution.

Both claims are false.

The claim that the administration inherited no vaccine program at all, initially propagated through the ministrations of a kindly reporter, is so at odds with the evidence that even the most friendly newspapers were obliged to call it out.

The supply was ramping up fast, and while there were distribution glitches at first, the real problem has been the last mile of distribution controlled by states [at their demand].

=============

Politically-inflicted complexity:

Governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo tried to satisfy political constituencies that wanted early access to vaccines, adding complexity and bureaucracy that confused the public.

Mr. Biden is making the same mistake, asking states to give priority to educators (read: teachers unions), school staffers and child-care workers.

That is arbitrary and unfair.

A 30-year-old teacher who may still work remotely until September is at far less risk than a 50-year-old FedEx driver who interacts with customers all day.

The fairest, least political distribution standard is age.

=============

The big bet:

The Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed also contracted most of the vaccine supply for production before approval by the FDA: 200 million doses each of Pfizer and Moderna, and 100 million of J&J.

No one knew which technology would be approved first, if at all, so the Trump administration wisely bet on several [with firm advance orders and contract options to order more once the vaccines were approved and in distribution].

This was a grand strategy and the best money the feds spent in the pandemic.

Mr. Biden ought to give the vaccine credit where it is due — to U.S. drug companies and Operation Warp Speed.

==============

I couldn’t have said it better myself…

March 3: COVID VAX Stats

March 3, 2021

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March 3: COVID Tracking Stats

March 3, 2021

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

=============

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=============
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Source: RonaViz.com

More: How much have students fallen behind during the school’s shutdown?

March 2, 2021

Fall 2020 EstimateThe  COVID schools’ shutdown compounded the inevitable “summer slide”.
=============

In a prior post (originally published July 30, 2020 and re-posted last week), we provided background on students’ “summer slide” in learning … and presented some research projecting how much “dislearning” will have occurred since schools closed in Spring, 2020 until Fall, 2020.

At the time, the WSJ did a study that painted a dire picture:  The Results Are In for Remote Learning: It Didn’t Work.

Preliminary research projects students nationwide will return to school in the fall with roughly 30% dis-learning in reading relative to a typical school year, and more than 50% in math.

Those were forecasts, so we asked the rhetorical question: Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew how much students’ actually regressed while schools have been closed?

And, we advised: To find out, give students a round of standardized tests at the start of the school year.

We predicted: Results would likely shock educators, parents and politicos alike.

============

Well, a  national testing service did just what we asked.

According to the WSJ

Data from Renaissance Learning — a national testing program which is used widely by U.S. public schools to assess students’ progress — shows widespread performance declines at the start of 2020-2021 academic year, particularly in math.

Read the rest of this entry »

March 2: COVID VAX Stats

March 2, 2021

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March 2: COVID Tracking Stats

March 2, 2021

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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Source: RonaViz.com

March 1: COVID VAX Stats

March 1, 2021

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March 1: COVID Tracking Stats

March 1, 2021

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

=============

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Source: RonaViz.com

J&J is approved … so, which vaccine to choose?

February 28, 2021

Most “experts” say: “Whichever is available to you first”
============

The J&J vaccine was approved yesterday and begins distribution this week.

So, if you haven’t already been vaccinated, you might want to know how the vaccines work and how they stack up against one another.

The topline:

The 3 currently relevant brands (Pfizer, Moderna, J&J) are “well tolerated” (i.e. they exhibit few or no side effects) and provide high levels of protection …  with near total protection against hospitalization or death.

In clinal trials, Pfizer & Moderna scored higher in overall protection (roughly 95% against symptomatic infections) than the J&J vaccine (72%) in the U.S.

Most experts consider the difference in effectiveness rates to be more a function of when and where the clinical trials were done than the relative effectiveness of the vaccines.

Specifically, the J&J trial was done in a more “hostile” Covid environment: a higher prevalence of Covid and emergence of new Covid strains (especially the South African variant).

======

Regarding the variants…

“Laboratory studies and clinical-trial data suggest that all of the Covid  vaccines will provide significant protection (i.e. greater than 50% effectiveness) against emerging strains of the Covid virus.”  Source

It’s highly likely that an additional shot — either a booster or a reformulation — will eventually be required for all brands and types of vaccines to combat the variant strains.

======

It’s uncertain how effective the vaccines are preventing asymptomatic infections or how long the vaccines provide immunity against serious symptoms.

But, the consensus seems to be that there is very high protection against asymptomatic infections … and that the immunities last for at least several months, maybe longer.

That said, annual shots seem to be likely.

Again, the most compelling immediate effectiveness result to consider: all brands claim near total protection against hospitalization and death with unlikely side effects.

My take: Call it a push on effectiveness.

Convenience

The J&J vaccine is easier to distribute since it requires less demanding refrigeration.

So, once production is ramped up, it will probably be more ubiquitous in rural areas and in low volume vaccination outlets (e.g. doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics and smaller pharmacies).

As well publicized, Pfizer & Moderna are currently administered in 2 doses with the 2nd dose following 3 or 4 weeks after the 1st.

The J&J vaccine only requires a single dose, making it a good fit for, say, high volume mass vaccination sites and for people who want the convenience of one & done (e.g. workers who are schedule constrained or people with limited access to distribution sites).

The Pfizer & Moderna vaccines are likely to be concentrated in, say, public health department vaccination clinics, targeted to high vulnerability populations.

My take: Beggars can’t be choosers. Practically speaking, you may not have a choice.

=============

That’s probably all that you really need to know, but if you’re interested in the comparative science of the vaccines, keep reading…

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb. 28 COVID VAX Stats

February 28, 2021

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Feb. 28: COVID Tracking Stats

February 28, 2021

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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=============

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Source: RonaViz.com

Feb. 27: COVID VAX Stats

February 27, 2021

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Feb. 27: COVID Tracking Stats

February 27, 2021

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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=============

image_thumb8_thumb
Source: RonaViz.com

How much have students fallen behind during the school’s shutdown?

February 26, 2021

Spring 2020 Forecast:  The  COVID schools’ shutdown compounded by the inevitable “summer slide”.
=============
Originally posted on July 20, 2020 … and relevant today!

In his 2008 bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the notion of an educational “summer slide”.

Referencing a tracking study of Baltimore City Public School students, Gladwell highlighted evidence that students’ standardized test scores in the fall were generally lower than their scores in the prior spring.

His observation: “Between school years, students’ accumulated learning is diminished”.

In other words, there is a statistically significant “forget factor” if learning isn’t reinforced and edged forward with summer enrichment activities (think: summer school, educational camps, field trips, parental tutoring).

The summer slide is most pronounced for poor students who lack summer enrichment opportunities … and for all students in math. 

The black line below illustrates the math score drop-off for typical 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. On average, the typical summer slide in math skills is about 2%.  That is, students are 2% less proficient in math after their summer vacations.

image
Source: WSJ

To make matters worse, note the red line on the chart … it illustrates the projected drop-off due to this year’s virus-induced school closings.

It’s estimated that students will be about 5% less proficient in math than they were when the schools closed … the combined effect of lesser learning during the schools’ shut-down period and an extended summer slide (with many schools declaring no mas in early June) .

More specifically…

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb. 26: COVID VAX Stats

February 26, 2021

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Feb. 26: COVID Tracking Stats

February 26, 2021

image

Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

=============

image

=============

image_thumb8
Source: RonaViz.com

Herd Immunity: By the Numbers

February 25, 2021

Key: It’s not just people who get vaccinated who are in the immunized part of the “herd”
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Earlier this week, we dissected the WSJ op-ed by Hopkins Dr. Marty Makary who boldly claimed  that “We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April”.

Our basic conclusion: The claim isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. It’s unlikely, but mathematically possible.

The essence of Makary’s logic is that people develop immunity to COVID in 2 main ways: (1) by surviving a COVID infection or (2) by getting vaccinated.

So, if those 2 groups add up to 200 million (80% of the 225 million adults 18 & over), we’ve reached the promised land: herd immunity.

The catch: Achieving herd immunity in just a couple of months requires two very bold policy shifts and supportive actions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb. 25: COVID VAX Stats

February 25, 2021

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Feb. 25: COVID Tracking Stats

February 25, 2021

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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Source: RonaViz.com

Connecticut is “de-complicating” and adopting West Virginia’s vaccination model…

February 24, 2021

“Essentiality” and “equity” are hard to administer, get gamed and clog the system.
============

Earlier in the month, we asked:

So, why is West Virginia kicking other states butts?
And, why aren’t other states imitating WV’s approach?

The essence of West Virginia’s successful strategy:

  1. Be prepared … anticipate a vaccine sooner rather than later
  2. Set clear objectives … save lives, grow the herd
  3. Own the problem … act instead of complaining
  4. Keep It Simple … prioritize by age; minimize IT dependence
  5. Make bold decisions … be contrarian when necessary

=============

The WSJ reports that Connecticut is adopting the essence of the West Virginia model.

Concluding that complexity is the enemy of speed, Gov. Ned Lamont declared “We’re going to focus on the old business motto, KISS: Keep it simple, stupid.”

Specifically, Lamont recognized that the more states prioritize work “essentiality” and social “equity,” the more complicated and inequitable vaccine distribution becomes.

So, Connecticut is starting to base Covid-19 vaccine eligibility strictly on age.

See WSJ: Start sequencing vaccinations from oldest to youngest … period!

=============

Connecticut had planned to vaccinate “essential workers”, younger people with underlying health conditions like diabetes and minorities.

Immediately, definitional creep exploded.

For example, the CDC said grocery and food service workers should get priority.

“So, we started getting calls: What about convenience stores and box stores? They sell food.”

The CDC said that obesity should be a priority.

“So, people started wondering: Should I bulk up on doughnuts to meet the public-health definition of obesity?”

Lamont concluded: “A lot of complications result from trying to finely slice the salami and it got very complicated to administer.”

People of all races develop more health conditions as they age, and their immune systems weaken.

But, decisions about who is or isn’t an “essential worker” are completely arbitrary.

And, while minorities have significantly higher Covid death rates than whites, outcomes differ far more by age than race or underlying conditions.

A 58-year-old black retiree is 10 times more likely to die from the virus than a 40-year-old black worker.

The simple solution: Prioritize by age and set up more inoculation sites in low-income communities to improve vaccine access.

=============

The WSJ concludes: “Bravo to Mr. Lamont for thinking of the larger public good, and understanding that simple can be smart.”

Now, maybe more “smart” states will concede that they got outsmarted and start following West Virginia’s lead. mitigating  the current vaccine-chase folly: constantly changing eligibility rules, persistent web-checking,  link sharing,  remote venue access, fake IDs, etc.

It’s not too late and it might happen, but I’m betting the under ….

VAX: So, why is West Virginia kicking other states butts?

February 24, 2021

And, why aren’t other states imitating WV’s approach?
==============
Originally posted Oct. 10, 2021

Based on all key outcome & efficiency metrics – e.g. percentage of population vaccinated and utilization of available supply —  WV’s performance has been stellar – in absolute terms and relative to other richer and self-proclaimed “smarter” states.

See States’ Performance Ranks

Why is that?

First, let’s stipulate that being a small state has had its advantages:

> Per capita vaccine allocations (from the Feds) have tended to be higher for smaller states – probably a function of logistical rules (think: minimum shipping quantities and critical mass required to “seed” a vaccinator network).

> Smaller states are more accommodative to centralized management. The “sight lines” from the state capitals to the borders are shorter than in large states … i.e. it’s easier to see what’s going on without relying on filtered reports from layers of self-interested politicos and bureaucrats.

> There is less dependency on grandiose scheduling & information systems. Much of business can be transacted via personal relationships using very basic (often manual) legacy processes.

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OK, so the degree of difficulty for WV’s dive is lower than the dive in, say, New York, California or Maryland.

But, based on my analyses, those structural advantages don’t come close to explaining WV’s success.

Urban elites may shudder at the thought, but their states were outcoached and outplayed by a team of rural ragamuffins. (Note: I say that out of respect, not disdain!)

So, how did West Virginia do it?

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb. 24: COVID VAX Stats

February 24, 2021

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Feb. 24: COVID Tracking Stats

February 24, 2021

Cases & Deaths

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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Case Fatality Rate

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Hospitalizations

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Source: RonaViz.com

Is herd immunity by the end of April possible … or pure folly?

February 23, 2021

The math says that it’s a stretch, but a real possibility.
=============

In a WSJ op-ed, Hopkins doc Marty Makary boldly asserted the possibility that “We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April”.

Immediately, Dr. Fauci — our nation’s chief political-scientist — hit the talk shows to hose cold water: “Maybe by Christmas, or mid-2022”.

Note: Mid-2022 is right before the mid-term elections. Hmm.

To calibrate Makary’s logic, I went back to re-read the article and run the numbers…

The essence of Makary’s logic is that people develop immunity to COVID in 2 main ways: (1) by surviving a COVID infection or (2) by getting vaccinated.

And, Makary concludes that we’re already approaching herd immunity.

How can that be?

Let’s work the numbers, starting with the herd immunity threshold: How many people have to be immune to achieve herd immunity?

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb. 23: COVID VAX Stats

February 23, 2021

Vaccine Supply & Vaccinations

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Vaccinations per Day

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Vaccine Stockpile    Doses NOT Administered

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Feb. 23: COVID Tracking Stats

February 23, 2021

Cases & Deaths

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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Case Fatality Rate

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See Why are COVID deaths continuing
at a high level?

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Hospitalizations

image_thumb8
Source: RonaViz.com

VAX: Should people who have had COVID get vaccinated?

February 22, 2021

If yes, when and how many doses?
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My first reaction: They already have immunity, right?

So, c’mon man, don’t suck up any of the scarce vaccine supply that could otherwise flow to the vulnerables.

But, I can understand why a COVID survivor would want to get vaccinated … especially if their previous bout with the virus was nasty or they are experiencing lingering side-effects.

So, what does “the science” and the data say?

“The science” is unsettled as to whether the infection-generated antibodies are sufficiently potent and long-lasting to provide sufficient immunity.

Worldwide, there are few reported cases of people catching COVID a second time . Source

That makes sense since there is evidence that “important markers of immunity remain strong months after infection.” Source

But, having immunity markers does not necessarily mean that survivors can’t get sick again or spread the virus unwittingly while asymptomatic. Source

So, Tony Fauci — the nation’s Chief Political Scientist, Tony Fauci, has asserted on talk-shows that “COVID-19 survivors should still get vaccinated.”

Case closed, right?

Maybe, but let’s reframe the issue…

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb. 22: COVID VAX Stats

February 22, 2021

Vaccine Supply & Vaccinations

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Vaccinations per Day

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Vaccine Stockpile    Doses NOT Administered

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Feb. 22: COVID Tracking Stats

February 22, 2021

Cases & Deaths

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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Case Fatality Rate

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See Why are COVID deaths continuing
at a high level?

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Hospitalizations

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Source: RonaViz.com

COVID: McKinsey report says…

February 19, 2021

Progress has instilled hope that vaccines may, indeed, save the world.
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McKinsey just released a COVID update that “reviewed the initial results from clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines and explored several remaining uncertainties”, including:

  • How many doses will we have and by when?
  • How will the logistics work for distribution and administration?
  • And, critically, will consumers agree to be vaccinated?

I thought the article was concisely informative and readable.

Here are my notes from the article…

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb. 19: COVID VAX Stats

February 19, 2021

Vaccine Supply & Vaccinations

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Vaccinations per Day

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Vaccine Stockpile    Doses NOT Administered

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Why are COVID deaths continuing at a high level?

February 18, 2021

That’s the metric, not cases. that we should stay focused on.
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From the get-go I concluded that “confirmed cases” was a problematic metric (due to false positives, varying testing methods and confirmation criteria, and an uncertain mix of people being tested and their outcomes) …. and that our laser focus should be on “daily new deaths” which, while subject to some definitional variance, is a binary, countable number.

See MUST READ: How will we know when we’ve turned a COVID-19 corner?

Somewhat contrary to my own advice, a couple of weeks ago, I started including the Case Fatality Rate (CFR%) in my morning COVID stats post.

Why is that “somewhat contrary to my own advice”?

Dividing a reasonably reliable number (deaths) by a potentially flakey number (cases) usually results in a potentially flakey “synthetic number” that might be misleading.   

There was a glaring upward trend in the CSR%.

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Noting the upward trend in the CFR%, a couple of readers asked “Why? What’s going on?”

In a prior post, I took a stab at the answer:

The simple arithmetic answer to the question: The CFR% is going up because daily deaths have plateaued (i.e. stabilized at their peak level) … while confirmed cases have fallen sharply.

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While that’s true, it didn’t really answer “why?”, so I started looking at the component number that was exhibiting the greatest variance: confirmed cases.

Why did cases explode, spike and then start declining so steeply?

Were these movements real or just loud statistical noise?

Read the rest of this entry »

MUST READ: How will we know when we’ve turned a COVID-19 corner?

February 18, 2021

Stay focused on the number of Daily New Deaths!
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This is a relevant excerpt from a long ago prior post (May 2020)
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Why have I centered on Daily New Deaths (DND)  as my key metric?

First,  saving lives is our paramount objective, right?  If yes, it should be our focus metric.

Second, I think that most other metrics that are being bandied about are quite problematic.

Counting deaths — while a bit macabre — is a more reliable process than counting, say, the number of infected people.

Sure, I’d like to know the number of people infected with COVID-19.

But, unless everybody — or at lest a large statistical sample — is tested, the number of confirmed cases is subject to lots of statistical issues.

Most notably, who is being tested and who isn’t? What about the asymptomatic “hidden carriers”? What are the criteria for confirming a COVID infection? What about false positives (and false negatives)? How to standardize the reporting processes across states? How to keep governmental units from fudging the numbers?

Importantly, if testing increases, then confirmed cases goes up.

Is that an indication of more virus spread or just a reflection of more testing?

I sure can’t tell.

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Again, counting fatalities is probably the most reliable metric.

Fatalities are discrete events – so they’re countable.

Still, even deaths may have some counting imperfections.

For example, many non-hospitalized people die and are buried without autopsies.  Some may be uncounted COVID victims.

On the other hand, some people may die and be diagnosed with COVID infections. That doesn’t necessarily mean that COVID killed them.  That’s especially true with COVID since it’s  most deadly for people with other health problems.

And, as we stated above, the definition of COVID deaths has changed:

COVID-related” means “COVID present”, not necessarily “COVID caused” … and that, along the way, “present” was redefined from “confirmed” to “presumed”

Further, COVID deaths are a function of two drivers: the incidence of the virus … and, the nature, level and timing of therapeutic healthcare.

Said differently, more effective therapeutic healthcare will dampen the death toll.

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Bottom line:  “Daily New Deaths” is the number we should be watching.

If it shows a consistent downward trend, then we’ll know we’ve turned the corner.

If it stays stable (at a high level) or turns upward, we’ll know that we’re in deep yogurt.

 

Feb. 18: COVID VAX Stats

February 18, 2021

Vaccine Supply & Vaccinations

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Vaccinations per Day

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Vaccine Stockpile    Doses NOT Administered

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