Archive for July, 2021

Update: COVID Dashboard

July 29, 2021

Since Team Biden seems to have its collective hair on fire, I thought it would be good to put things in context by looking at the data …

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

From the jump, we’ve argued that the most reliable Covid metric is the death rate.

The COVID death rate is now below the average number of flu-related deaths during the flu season… and far down from past peaks.

image

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

Vaccination rates stalled at 500,000 per day, down from 4 million per day at the peak.

image

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

Over 90% of vulnerable seniors have been vaccinated; over 70% of people 18 and over have gotten at least one shot.

Over 10 million teens (42%) have been vaccinated.

image

Draw your own conclusions re: whether it’s time to hit the panic button.

 

Covid: Finally, a Biden mandate that I like…

July 29, 2021

All Federal employees to be vaccinated or regularly tested … or else … or else, what?
=============

That’s what being widely reported that Biden will prompter-read to us today,

But, I’ll believe it when I see it.

There’s already pre-announcement waffling that “the plan” is still under review.

English translation: the federal employee unions haven’t all weighed in yet … and the White House PR dept. hasn’t figured out how to erase all the videos of Biden saying that he’d never do it.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Biden implements the mandate.

Here’s why I’m on board …

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

First, it’s consistent with the position that Biden is reading off the teleprompter these days.

It sends a clear message that he believes (and remembers) what he’s reading.

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

Second, such a move is under Biden’s direct control.

Rather than forcing private businesses and organizations to do his dirty work while he ducks for cover, Biden will own this one.

Gotta be for clear ownership and accountability, right?

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

Third, I like the “target market”: government employees.

If Biden wants to move the needle towards near total vaccinations, getting all Federal employees jabbed is a statistically significant step forward.

Note: It’s estimated that there are over 2 million civilian employees on the Federal payroll … and, that only a slim majority of them have been vaccinated.

And, the bulk of Federal employees are blue-blood members of Biden’s core constituencies.

So, the mandate would demonstrate Biden’s commitment to the cause.

Bravo.

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

Fourth, the mandate might “cull the herd” a bit.

That is, if the “or else” part of the mandate has teeth.

Terminating the vaccine-resisters might be an easy way to trim the bloated bureaucracy.

*************

Going big…

Here are a couple of  embellishing ideas that would make me even more supportive of the mandate:

> Start with NIH and CDC employees.

In Congressional testimony, leaders of these organizations said that only about half of their employees have been vaccinated.

That’s always bothered me … what do they know that they’re not telling us?

Make it “put up or shut up time” for the assertive scientific community.

If they believe what they’re saying, let’s see them all roll up their sleeves.

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

> Add Federal government employees’ dependents (over 12 years old) to the target market.

Tax payers are paying for their healthcare, right?

And, the CDC says that they can transmit the virus to vaccinated people.

So, let’s minimize the the healthcare costs of them getting infected and transmitting Covid to their government employed family member(s).

Makes complete sense, doesn’t it?

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

> Require all employees of all Federal government contractor to get vaccinated.

They come in contact with government employees — some of whom will be signing up for tests instead of shots.

So, to create a virus-minimized environment, they need to be vaccinated, right?

And, there’s a forcing mechanism: If they want to keep feeding at the taxpayer trough, they have to roll up their sleeves.

Should be an easy sell given how quickly many of these companies were “fast out of the gate” to implement woke behavioral training programs for their employees.

They’ve shown that they can do it if they want to.

Just tack vaccinations onto those programs.

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

> Extend the mandate to all  public school teachers.

The teachers’ unions are already firing warning shots that they aren’t sure about in-person schooling in the fall.

Let’s cut teachers’ health risks by getting them all vaccinated.

There’s obvious mandate legitimacy since their schools are getting beaucoup de l’argent (translation: lots of money) from the Federal coffers.

Worse case, teachers formally quit (instead of de facto quitting in place)… and get replaced by teachers who want to teach

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

Geez, the more I think about a vaccination mandate for civilian government employees, the more that I like the idea.

I can’t wait to see what Biden’s handlers load on the teleprompter for him today.

But, for the record, I’m betting the under … more “please do” than “must do”.

We’ll see…

Psaki: “Why do you need to have that information?”

July 28, 2021

Ordinary people are confused … and docs say that they are flying blind.
==============

It’s hard to follow the data when there’s no data presented … just assertions from oft-wrong political-scientists who command “just trust me”.

Case in point, as reported by USA Today

Last Friday, Jen Psaki — Biden’s press secretary — was asked for data about Covid “break-through infections” — cases of people getting re-infected with Covid even though they have been fully vaccinated.

When Psaki tried to duck the question, the reporter pressed her for a specific answer.

“Why not just provide the number? Are you trying to hide something?”

Psaki shot back, “Why do you need to have that information?

Say, what?

The reported countered: “For transparency, in the interest of the public, and for a better understanding of how breakthrough cases work”.

Frustrated, Psaki simply moved on to another topic.

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

This was a stark example of what Biden-Harris might call a ”root cause” … a root cause of public distrust and, maybe even, of vaccine hesitancy.

Loosely quoting Jerry Maguire “Show me the data!”

Uh-oh:: Pessimism has hit a majority of Americans …

July 27, 2021

Buyer’s remorse is gaining steam.
=============

image

More specifically, the ABC-Ipsos poll reports:

  • Currently, 55% are pessimistic about where the country is headed over the next year, while 45% are optimistic.
  • This marks a nearly 20-point decline in optimism from late April, the last time this question was asked. At that time, 64% were optimistic about the year ahead.
  • This growing pessimism is happening across all age groups, income levels, educational attainment, and partisan affiliation.
  • Optimism among Democrats has declined 18 percentage points since late April (89% to 71%).
  • Optimism among independents has declined by 26 percentage points (now 38%, from 64%).
  • The optimism-pessimism flip comes as Americans give Biden his lowest approval rating for his handling of the pandemic yet in ABC News/Ipsos polling.
  • Overall, slightly more than a third of Americans approve of the way the president is handling crime (39%), immigration and the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border (37%), and gun violence (37%).
  • On these three issues, just over one in three independents approve of the job Biden is doing.

Looks like Old Joe’s honeymoon may be over.

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

P.S. For the record: ABC News isn’t affiliated with Fox News …

Beach Week Report: “Unprecedented demand, help wanted”…

July 26, 2021

Just back from our family’s annual summer week on the Delaware beaches.

Here’s what I observed this year:

> “Unprecedented demand”: That’s what the condo-rental agency headlined … and, it wasn’t just rate-jacking hype … full occupancy was evident … open parking spots were few and far between (and far away from destinations).

> Families galore: The beaches were crowded with frolicking families … always a pleasant sight to see … seemed remarkably normal.

> What COVID? There were very, very few masks  … and only a few tattered “keep your distance” signs that just hadn’t been taken down yet.

> “Help Wanted”: Every store, restaurant and service counter had a sign that warned customers that “due to a severe labor shortage, our service isn’t up to our standards so please be patient”

One pizza restauranteur lamented: “Kids just don’t want to work” .. young adults are just enjoying their government-funded summer vacations … the Eastern European teens & twenty-somethings  who usually staff the shops and beaches can’t get visas.

>”Demand management”: Marketing is alive and well.  To cope with the “unprecedented demand and labor shortage”, establishments are trying desperately to smooth demand across day-parts (think: early bird specials).

For example, to spread the workload for cleaning crews, our condo agency offered a partial refund if we’d accept a later than usual check-in (late Saturday evening or Sunday morning, instead of Saturday afternoon)) or a very early checkout (Friday afternoon or evening, instead of Saturday morning)

> Patience reigned: Admittedly, we stayed mostly cocooned in our condo and on its beach, but … when we got out, people seemed to be going with the flow … patiently waiting in line for service without whining or line-cutting … servers had great attitudes while hustling their butts off.

> “Thanks for working”: To the prior point, even cheapskates like me were tipping more than usual … and thanking workers for working.

I wonder if that will become a new normal…

Study: Half of soccer games determined by luck…

July 23, 2021

Researchers at the German Sport University  analyzed 7,263 goals scored in the English Premier League in seven years, starting with the 2012/13 seasons.

Here’s what they found…

> Premier League soccer games games typically have only 2 or 3 combined goals scored goals

> More than 60% of all matches ended either in a draw or with a goal difference of one goal

Accordingly, each goal scored is a very big deal

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

Further, almost half (46%) of all scored goals had some form of random influence to them.

The researchers defined “random” as unintentionally deflected shots, defensive mistakes (e.g. “own goals”), rebound shots, etc.

They observed that many of the random scores came off of corner kicks or long-range kicks, especially long distance free-kicks.

In other words, “chance” (i.e. “luck”) plays a significant role in deciding the outcome of a near-majority of matches.

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

By implication, the research results suggests that teams have a tendency to play very conservatively … trying to avoid mistakes … rather than relentlessly attacking.

And, the analysis validates some common soccer sense: free-kicks (awarded based on referees’ judgement) often determine the difference between winning and losing.

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

Yeah, luck is a factor.

But, keep in mind the famous sports quote attributed to golf-great Arnold Palmer:

image

Which party is responsible for America’s partisan divide?

July 22, 2021

Interesting analysis of Pew data by hard left-leaning blogger Kevin Drum
=============

Below is a display of political leanings by party affiliation from 1994 to 2017… roughly 25 years.

  • Dems are the blue hump; GOP is the reddish brown.
  • Scale runs from 1 (“consistently liberal”) on the left to 10 (“consistently conservative”) on the right.

A couple of takeaways…

> Back in 1994 there was a substantial overlap of the humps (the dark brown hump in the middle) … meaning that there were a lot of “moderates” (from both parties) who clustered near the non-partisan median.

> There wasn’t much change from 1994 to 2004. But, from 2004 to 2017, that overlapping hump was substantially diminished … and the overall median was pulled left.

> More specifically, blogger Drum observes that:

Back in 1994, Dems median political leaning was a 5 on the scale; GOP scored a 6 … a very narrow gap in average views.

But in 2017, Dems median political leaning was a 2 on the scale; the GOP’s median score was a 6.5 … and the partisan gap widened to 4.5 points.

What changed?

Between 1994 and 2017, the GOP’s political leaning was relatively static … the GOP median barely budged and the shape hump was similar.

Said differently, the GOP didn’t become significantly more conservative.

But, between 1994 and 2017, the Dems’ political leaning shifted left by 3 points … and the hump became became more clustered … with a noticeably more peaked shape.

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

In Drum’s words: “Democrats have moved significantly to the left on most hot button social issues while Republicans have moved only slightly right.”

And, his summary conclusion:

It is not conservatives who have turned American politics into a partisan culture war battle. It is liberals.”

Depending on your personal political views, that may be a good thing or a bad thing…

Bidenomics: Pay people to sit on the couch and…

July 21, 2021

Shocker: They sit on the couch!
==============

Team Biden denies it, but its lavish supplemental unemployment benefits are keeping many unemployeds on the sidelines.

Some analysts estimate that the stay-at-home benefits offered to many unemployed households is equivalent of $25/hour … which translates to about $50,000 annually for a full-time worker ($25 x 8 hours per day x 5 days per week x 50 weeks per year).

If that number strikes you as too high, cut it in half and the conclusions don’t change.

If that’s too high for your tastes, haircut it again and…

According to a poll reported by left-leaning Morning Consult, at least 13% of the folks still unemployed admit that they’re currently receiving enough money from unemployment benefits that they don’t need to work … and, 12% say that they’re not being offered enough money to return to work (compared to the unemployment benefits that they’re receiving).

Stats Note: There’s probably a substantial overlap in those 2 groups…. but the combining “net” number is likely higher than 13% … maybe much higher.

image

The bottom line according to Morning Consult is that an estimated 1.84 million unemployeds will return to the labor force when the federal unemployment benefits expire over the summer.

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

Think that’ll change Biden’s position?

I’m betting the under…

Inflation: More about the lumber price shock…

July 20, 2021

Yesterday, we pointed out that In June, year-over-year inflation reached a 13-year high.

Today, let’s drill down on my personal inflation benchmark: lumber prices:

Loyal readers might remember that a couple of weeks ago, I whined about sky-rocketed lumber prices.

See Ouch: I just paid $3,700 for $1,200 of lumber …

Since then, lumber prices have “corrected” somewhat … down about 60% from the peak … but still 50% higher than a year ago.

image

That doesn’t lessen the pocketbook sting from my completed project, but it gives me some hope for my next lumber-intensive project: re-planking my retirement home’s dock.

For that project, I’ll be buying lots of #2 prime pressure-treated boards measuring 2 in. x 8 in. x 8 ft.

That’s my personal inflation pain point these days.

Not that long ago, I used to pay about $5 per board.

A couple of weeks ago, Home Depot was charging a whopping $17.98.

Last week the price dropped to $12.99 … a 27% price drop.

This week, the price is down to $10.99 … another 15% price-shaving.

That’s still double what I used to pay … but the price is heading in the right direction!

That is, unless Bidenomics strikes again…

And, as many news sources are reporting, that’s not a far-fetched worry:

image

Yipes.

“In June, year-over-year inflation reached a 13-year high.”

July 19, 2021

That’s the mega-takeaway from the most recent gov’t report.
=============

June’s 5.4% follows May’s 5% and April’s 4% 

Press Secretary Psaki says, based on the administration’s arithmetic, we shouldn’t worry. She noted that  she and Biden — the ever sharp shoppers — paid 16 cents less for their July 4th BBQs.

For the rest of us, in real terms, the inflation shock means that our paychecks are in only buying about 95% of what they did a year ago … and, excluding our new contributions and  stock market gains, the “real” value of our IRA is shrinking at a 5.4% annual rate.

Ouch…

COVID: So, where do we stand now?

July 16, 2021

We haven’t  checked the numbers in awhile, so…
=============

Vaccinations

Close to Biden’s original goal of 70% of adults … almost 90% of seniors (over 65) … almost 40% of teenagers (just under 10 million).

image

Central question: What’s the upward limit in vaccine compliance?

WSJ: “With each day, as more Americans are vaccinated, an unvaccinated person’s likelihood of encountering the disease or spreading it goes down, as does his incentive to accept the risk of vaccination. ”

Especially given recent trends in Covid death rates…

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

Covid-related deaths

The covid death rate continues to hover around 250 … roughly the in-season death rate associated with the flu … and down 66% from a month ago; down 66% from 3 months ago; and down 92% from the mid-January peak.

image

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

Covid cases

The confirmed case count has turned up from its trough … roughly double what it was a month ago … worth closely watching, but not hair-on-fire time.

Keep in mind that the current rate is still down 66% from 3 months ago … and down 89% from the mid-January peak.

image

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

Bottom line: Farther along than most people imagined possible, but not out of the woods yet…

WSJ: “There are no dispensable persons”

July 15, 2021

Sometimes, mostly in my wildest dreams, I think that the WSJ is reading the HomaFIles for inspiration

For example, yesterday we posted about The unintended consequences of “non-essentiality”

This morning, the WSJ ran an opinion piece observing that no one is dispensable.

See: God’s Jigsaw Puzzle Needs Every Piece

The author claims to have had an epiphany when watching his daughter put together large jigsaw puzzles.

His prior disposition was that a jigsaw puzzle was:

A picture that consists of far more nonessential than essential pieces.

More parts of Mona Lisa’s background, for instance, than her enigmatic smile.

He admits that in his life, he saw many people (and things) the same way that he saw jigsaw puzzles … lots of uninteresting background pieces.

But, stirred by his daughter’s puzzle-making, a light bulb went off…

Life is a jigsaw puzzle, but I’ve been looking at its pieces entirely wrong.

There are no dispensable persons.

A background piece is no less essential than one completing Mona Lisa’s painted smile,.

A gap anywhere destroys integrity everywhere.

His derived principle for life:

That I cannot see everyone’s essential nature makes it no less so.

This is my challenge: to look for unique beauty in others, to trust it’s there when hardest to discern

Amen, brother.

The unintended consequences of “non-essentiality”…

July 14, 2021

Has gov’t “branding” of workers slowed the vaccination rate and the return to work?
=============

In the past, I’ve taken aim at “non-essential” government workers.

See: It’s snowing in DC … “non-essentials” need not report.

A couple of times each winter, the Federal gov’t in DC shuts down because of snow … or the mere threat of snow.

When there is a gov’t shutdown, my favorite public service message is blasted on radio, TV and social media:

Due the inclement weather, non-essential Federal government workers do not have to report for work today.

The closure announcement always raises a fundamental question: Why do non-essential Federal government workers ever have to report for work?

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

What has that got to do with a couple of our current challenges: vaccination rates and “labor force participation”?

In a prior post, we asked: Did rationing priorities induce vaccine hesitancy?

Initially, when vaccine supply was very limited, the Feds established priority recipients, mostly frontline medical personnel, first-responders and vulnerable seniors.

No problem there.

Then came a growing list of workers deemed “essential” (including, say, unionized teachers who were sitting on the sidelines)

What about the folks who were, by default, officially declared to be non-essential? Folks like grocery store clerks.

The message to them: you’re not essential … so, there’s no pressing need to get you vaccinated … just wait your turn.

Now, that vaccine supplies are plentiful, these people aren’t rushing the gates to get their shots.

After all, they either caught covid during the virus’ peak and have “natural immunity” … or they’re non-essential, so why bother?

That’s what’s known as an “unintended consequence”.

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

Might the same effect be slowing the return of some prior workers to the labor force?

It’s well publicized that the Feds are paying unemployed people at the supplemental annual rate of about $15,000 … more than many were making when they were working.

Of course, most behaviorists argue that work provides psychological benefits and bolsters self-worth.

But, the government had previously branded these people non-essential.

That’s gotta push some self-worth to rock bottom.

Ask yourself, why work for less money (than sitting home collecting unemployment benefits) … at a job that has been officially declared to be non-essential?

It’s called behavioral economics…

It’s snowing in DC … “non-essentials” need not report.

July 14, 2021

From the HomaFiles archives…
=============

Imagine that it’s snowing in DC today … err, kinda.

Not much on the ground … temp is 34 degrees … roads are clear … but those AccuWeather folks are saying more snow is coming.

Good enough for the Feds … to shut the government down.

image
Archive photo … not from today!

* * * * *
Invariably, my absolute favorite public service message gets blasted on TV, radio and social media:

Due the inclement weather, non-essential Federal government workers do not have to report for work today.

The snow closure announcement always raises a fundamental question: Why do non-essential Federal government workers ever have to report for work?

My predictable advice: On the next snow day, why not change the locks and pass out new badges to people who self-selected as “essential” and trudged through the threatened-snow to come  to work.

Which raises another question: How many “non-essential” employees does the Federal government carry on its rolls?

(more…)

Why aren’t urban gangs treated as domestic terrorists?

July 13, 2021

At least 150 people killed over July 4th weekend.
==============

According to Forbes reporting of data collated by the Gun Violence Archive :

At least 150 people across the U.S. were killed by gun violence in more than 400 shootings over the Fourth of July weekend

That puts 2021 on track to continue, and exceed, the violent surge that made 2020 the deadliest year of gun violence in decades.

The killings were spread across the country, but concentrated in major metro areas: Chicago and New York.

imageSource

I find it predictably curious that Forbes — and practically all other mass media outlets — tag the killings as “gun violence” … and not “gang violence”.

While there were certainly some domestic disputes and road rage incidents in the mix, it’s pretty reasonable to conclude that most of murders were gang-related … either direct gang retaliatory strikes or innocents killed by stray gang bullets.

So, why is the gang problem being back-burnered?

I’m going to go out on a limb and assert that gangs are the root cause.  Period.

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

How prevalent are gangs?

Well, according to the FBI:

Some 33,000 violent street gangs, motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs are criminally active in the U.S. today.

Many are sophisticated and well organized.

All use violence to control neighborhoods and boost their illegal money-making activities, which include robbery, drug and gun trafficking, prostitution and human trafficking, and fraud.

Drilling down, according to an Attorney General’s Report to Congress on the Growth of Violent Street Gangs:

More than 20,000 gangs consisting of approximately 1 million members exist in the United States.

Gangs are present in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories.

An estimated 70 to 75 gangs with more than 100,000 members reportedly operate within Chicago

Let’s call it like it is: gang violence.. declare these gangs to be   “domestic terrorists” … and target them  with aggressive law enforcement.

Strikes me as a more likely way to combat the rampage of killings.

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

P.S. What credibility does the U.S. have lecturing other countries to contain their gangs and cartels if we can’t do it in Chicago?

Is “buyer’s remorse” setting in?

July 12, 2021

Forbes: Biden’s approval eroding nationally
=============

Shortly after inauguration, Biden — basking in Trump-haters’ euphoria — was cruising with a 19 percentage point job approval rating — 55% favorable, 36% unfavorable.

That gap has narrowed to 8 points … still formidable but, as Forbes observes: “Recent polling shows cracks forming in President Joe Biden’s job approval numbers.”

Left-leaning The Hill puts it this way: “Biden’s mediocre polling could spell trouble.”

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

Let’s look at the numbers…

Here’s the most recent RCP “Poll of Polls”.

The black line is approval; the red line is disapproval.

image

Note that the 6-month “erosion” is largely driven by the disapproval numbers (up 8 percentage points) … approval numbers have slid slowly (down 3 p.p.).

Also note that 6 of the 8 disapproval points change happened between January and April.

Pundits assert that’s because Biden campaigned as a moderate unifier, but quickly started governing as a wide left partisan.

People at the margins quickly started to notice.

In April and May, the numbers flattened as vaccination rates were surging, but as COVID came increasingly under some semblance of control, peoples’ priorities started to shift:

“During the past few months, a growing number of adults have expressed disapproval of Biden’s leadership on the economy, gun violence, taxation and corruption.” Forbes

Other pundits add the border mayhem and urban crime to the list.

Biden scores poorly on those issues.

And, there’s the orange-man factor,

The Hill observes:

Just as Biden’s positive polling and election win were based mostly on dislike of former President Trump, his current polling advantages may be just as shallow

Said differently, it may not be enough to not-be-Trump … and now people are forgetting about Trump and increasingly alert to how Biden-Harris are doing their jobs.

Hmmm.

Study: Children’s risk of serious covid consequences VERY low…

July 9, 2021

UK death rate: 2 per million children
=============

According to a recap in the WSJ

Children are at extremely slim risk of dying from Covid-19, according to some of the most comprehensive studies to date, which indicate the threat might be even lower than previously thought.

The conclusion is drawn from 3 studies  by researchers who analyzed the U.K.’s national health system’s medical records.

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

Here are the numbers….

> There are approximately 12 million children under 18 in the U.K. Source

> None of the 12 million were vaccinated (since no vaccine was approved in the U.K. for children under 18)

> Of the 12 million, 469,982 got infected with covid … that’s about 4% of the children under 18 and under

> Of the 469,982 who got infected, only 25 deaths were determined to be caused by the illness.

> The 25 deaths works out to a survivability rate of 99.995% among children who get infected …. which translates to 1 death per every 19,000 children who get infected … and, 2 deaths per every million children under 18.

> Of the 25 deaths, only 6 of the children who died didn’t have an apparent underlying health condition.

> Conversely, 15 of the 25 children who died had underlying serious illnesses … and 4 had chronic underlying conditions.

> And, there appeared to be a higher risk of admission to intensive care among children with health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease

> Children with a combination of neurological and respiratory-linked conditions were at the greatest risk of death… but “no child with a stand-alone diagnosis of asthma, diabetes, epilepsy or Down syndrome died from Covid-19”.

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

The bottom line according to the WSJ:

One thorny area for policy makers is whether to recommend the shots for children of younger ages.

The decision should involve balancing the risks and benefits of vaccination.

The CDC has urged child vaccination, saying the benefits outweigh the risks.

But, there is mounting evidence of a  low risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19 among children.

And, the CDC concedes that there is a “likely association” between  Covid-19 vaccines and an inflammatory heart condition in some younger individuals.

That should give some parents pause…

Update: COVID Dashboard

July 7, 2021

COVID death rate is now below the average number of flu-related deaths during the flu season.

image

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

Vaccination rates stalled at 1 million per day, down from 4 million per day at the peak, but…

Almost 90% of vulnerable seniors have been vaccinated; over 2/3’s of people 18 and over.

9 million teens (37%) have been vaccinated.

image

On balance, it looks like we’re in pretty good shape…

Atlantic: “mRNA vaccines are extraordinary, NovaVax is better”

July 6, 2021

Let’s close a loop today.

Last week, drilled down on a warning that caught my eye in the scientific bio-pic “The Code Breaker”:

“Unexpected things happen when you start fiddling with the innards of living cells.”

Specifically, we followed “the science” to a conclusion — contrary to CDC claims —  that the current emergency-approved covid vaccines might have some significant long-term risks.

The pivotal question: How to dodge the risks of the current batch of vaccines?

One possible answer was touted in the left-leaning Atlantic : “mRNA vaccines are extraordinary, NovaVax is better”.

The author, Hilda Bastian is a scientist  and,  was formerly an editor at the National Library of Medicine.

Bastion appropriately acknowledges that:

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been extraordinary lifesavers in this pandemic, and may well be heading us into a new golden age of vaccine development.

But after reviewing a vaccine being tested by Novavax, she observes that:

The latest Novavax data confirm that it’s possible to achieve the same efficacy against COVID-19 with a more familiar technology that more people may be inclined to trust.

More specifically…

> The Novavax vaccine is based on road-tested “old school” med-technology (i.e. not mRNA or DNA based)

The protein-subunit approach used by Novavax was first implemented for the hepatitis B vaccine, which has been used in the U.S. since 1986.

The pertussis vaccine, which is required for almost all children in U.S. public schools, is also made this way.

> According to recent test data, the Novavax vaccine’s 96% efficacy rate is in line with that of the current emergency-approved mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna)

> The Novavax vaccine also has a substantially lower rate of side effects than the emergency-authorized mRNA vaccines.

 Test data shows that about 40 percent of people who receive Novavax report fatigue after the second dose, as compared with 65 percent for Moderna and more than 55 percent for Pfizer.

Based on the results of Novavax’s U.K. clinical trials, side effects (including but not limited to fatigue) aren’t just less frequent; they’re milder too.

> Novavax’s simpler technology is  easier to produce than the mRNA and DNA vaccines … and can be stored with “normal” refrigeration for a year.

So, Bastian concludes:

Among several wonderful options, the more old-school vaccine from Novavax combines ease of manufacture with high efficacy and lower side effects.

For the moment, it’s the best COVID-19 vaccine we have.

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

P.S. Bastian notes that:

The CDC has also made a point of debunking the circulating falsehood that COVID-19 vaccines can change your DNA.

As I laid out in prior posts, following the science leads me to a different conclusion.

But, if Novavax succeeds, that’s a moot issue.

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

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a medical professional or scientist — just a curious, self-interested guy.  So, don’t take anything that I say or write as medical advice. Get that from your doctor!

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: I own some NVAX stock.

Happy 4th of July

July 4, 2021

Kick back … enjoy your friends & families … be thankful for our freedoms.

image

Part 4: “Unexpected things happen when you start fiddling with the innards of living cells.”

July 2, 2021

So, what are the “unexpected things” that might happen?
=============

In prior posts, I opined that:

  • The above headlined  warning from the book Code Breaker resonated with me
  • My most trusted med-science sources told me that the warning was applicable to covid vaccines.
  • Unlike most traditional vaccines, all of the current emergency-approved covid vaccines “fiddle with cells” in one way or another.
  • The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer & Moderna) are generally presumed to be safe — both short- and long-run since their fragile RNA strands “fiddle” with cells, but do not penetrate cells’ DNA-storing nuclei … and, are “eventually destroyed by the cell, leaving no permanent trace.”
  • The CDC assures that — for the J&J viral vector DNA vaccine — “genetic material in the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way” … because “the (vaccine’s) material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.”
  • But, a senior NY Times science reporter investigated and concluded that when injected, “the vaccine’s adenovirus component … pushes its DNA into the nucleus, the chamber where the cell’s DNA is stored.
  • That’s not a trivial difference in opinion.

We left off in Part 3 with a question: If the NYT is right, what are the possible implications?

This is where my anxieties kick in.

Here’s some science that I dutifully followed …

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

A trusted med-science source linked me to a technical article on Adenoviruses & Pathogenesis.

The article had a statement re: pathogenesis (i.e. the development of diseases) that caught my eye:

Some adenovirus types are oncogenic in newborn rodents and can transform cells.

Human oncogenesis has not been found but may nevertheless occur (e.g., by a “hit-and-run” mechanism).

Translation: A possible link between adenoviruses and cancer.

More specifically…

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

Drilling down on “human oncogenesis(i.e., cancer-causing)  I found this information re: DNA Oncoviruses:

Three DNA oncoviruses have been studied extensively: Adenoviruses, Simian virus 40 (SV40), Human papillomavirus-16 (HPV-16).


All three of these DNA oncoviruses are able to integrate their DNA into the host cell, and use this to transcribe it and transform cells by bypassing the G1/S checkpoint of the cell cycle.

Which led me to Integration of Viral DNA

DNA oncoviruses transform infected cells by integrating their DNA into the host cell’s genome.


The DNA is believed to be inserted during transcription or replication, when the two annealed strands are separated.


This event is relatively rare and generally unpredictable; there seems to be no deterministic predictor of the site of integration.


After integration, the host’s cell cycle loses regulation from Rb and p53, and the cell begins cloning to form a tumor.

Which led me to a  “red flag” article: Engineering DNA vaccines against infectious diseases

6.2. Insertional mutagenesis of viral delivery methods


DNA vaccines may cause indel mutations, the risks of which depend on the mechanism of delivery.


The administration of a DNA vaccine exposes the patient to foreign DNA or its fragments that could be inserted into the host’s chromosomal DNA.


In the case of incorporation into an exon, an insertional mutation or a frameshift mutation occurs.


Such mutations can cause a gene to malfunction or inactivate (i.e., a tumor suppressor gene).

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

Bottom line: There appears to be “science” that — when followed — suggests a possible “rare and unpredictable” link between viral vector adenoviruses and cancer.

That said, the CDC (and the sometimes right Dr. Fauci) categorically claim that the “genetic material in the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way.”

That assertion, while untested over time, may be true.

But, as they say in Code Breaker:

“Unexpected things happen when you start fiddling with the innards of living cells.”

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

My advice: caveat emptor, keeping in mind my usual disclaimer that:…

I’m not a medical professional or scientist — just a curious, self-interested guy.  So, don’t take anything that I say or write as medical advice. Get that from your doctor!

Part 3: “Unexpected things happen when you start fiddling with the innards of living cells.”

July 1, 2021

So, what about the “viral vector adenovirus vaccines”?
=============

In Part 1 and Part 2, I opined that:

  • The above headlined  warning from the book Code Breaker resonated with me
  • My most trusted med-science sources told me that the warning was applicable to covid vaccines.
  • Unlike most traditional vaccines, all of the current emergency-approved covid vaccines “fiddle with cells” in one way or another.
  • The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer & Moderna) are generally presumed to be safe — both short- and long-run since their fragile RNA strands “fiddle” with cells, but do not penetrate cells’ DNA-storing nuclei … and, are “eventually destroyed by the cell, leaving no permanent trace.”

We left off in Part 2 with a question: What about the J&J vaccine?

That’s where, in my opinion, things get a bit stickier.

Let me explain….

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

The J&J vaccine is a so-called “viral vector adenovirus vaccine.”

According to a well-researched NY Times’ recap of How the J&J Vaccine Works

  • Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which store the instructions in single-stranded RNA, the J&J vaccine uses more durable double-stranded DNA.
  • When injected, the vaccine’s adenovirus component … travels to a cell’s nucleus, the chamber where the cell’s DNA is stored.
  • The adenovirus pushes its DNA into the nucleus

Two key points from the NYT explanation: (1) The J&J vaccine contains DNA, not the more fragile RNA in the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines, and (2) the DNA penetrates cells’ nuclei (where DNA is stored).

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

What’s the rub?

The CDC’s published statement regarding the J&J vaccine reads:

“The material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.

This means the genetic material in the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way.”

Working backwards…

The CDC concludes that:  “The genetic material in the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way.”

That conclusion is logically derived and dependent on the premise that: The material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.

So, the CDC’s conclusion re: the vaccine’s long-run safety hinges on whether the vaccine’s DNA penetrates cells’ nuclei … or not.

Uh oh…

The CDC says that the DNA doesn’t penetrate nuclei … the NY Times well-credentialed science reporter says that it does.

This is not a trivial difference.

Begs still another question:

What are the implications if the NY Times conclusion is correct?

After all, it might be since the NYT hasn’t been charged by the mass media or censored by social media tech gatekeepers for conveying misinformation, right?

=============
To be continued…
=============

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a medical professional or scientist — just a curious, self-interested guy.  So, don’t take anything that I say or write as medical advice. Get that from your doctor!