Archive for the ‘COVID – vaccine’ Category

April 20: COVID Dashboard

April 21, 2021

Heads-up: 1st shots decreasing as a percentage of total daily shots … so, herd immunity date slipping into June.

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Pfizer & Moderna distance themselves from J&J…

April 20, 2021

Ask  yourself: Why is that?
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Last week, the WSJ published a report that may foreshadow vaccine developments over the next couple of months.

Well-publicized, distribution of  the J&J vaccine was suspended in the U.S. due to  a handful of blood-clotting cases.  The Feds review board was expected to lift the suspension last Friday, but pushed the decision off by at least a week.

Fauci & Friends asserted that the J&J vaccine is safe, that the suspension was just an “an abundance of caution” and that the delayed decision was no big deal.

Less well-publicized: According to the WSJ’s “exclusive report”, J&J (and AstraZenaca)approached Pfizer and Moderna “to join forces to investigate the safety issues and communicate vaccine benefits and risks”.

But, Pfizer and Moderna rebuffed the invitation, confiding to WSJ reporters that “their vaccines appeared safe” and that “the safety of the Pfizer and Moderna shots could be tarnished by association”.

Hmmm.

The “experts” and the media keep down-playing (or completely ignoring) a basic fact: There are two very different vaccine modalities in play: Pfizer & Moderna are single strand mRNA vaccines; J&J and AstraZeneca are double strand “viral-vector DNA” vaccines.

Both types penetrate a body’s cells, but only the viral-vector DNA vaccines are “nuclei-invasive”, meaning that they penetrate cells’ nuclei.

For more details, see: J&J vaccine is halted … so what?

Fauci & Friends say not to worry … asserting that the vaccines’ DNA strands are rendered harmless before they are injected and, thus, are incapable of causing long-term health consequences.

My most “in-the-know” medical-science friends tell me (off the record, of course): “Not so fast”.

They point out that “messing with DNA is inherently dicey” and, since the vaccines are “novel”, that  there is no concrete evidence — either pro or con — regarding the long-term health risks of viral-vector DNA vaccines.

Note: Ebola vaccines are viral-vectors, but even they are too recent to dismiss long-term risks.

It could be that a few blood-clotting cases may be isolated flukes (less than a 1 in a million occurrence), or they may be proverbial canaries-in-coal mines.

Keep an eye on this one.

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!

April 20: COVID Dashboard

April 20, 2021

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April 19: COVID Dashboard

April 19, 2021

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COVID: How safe (or risky) to resume activities?

April 16, 2021

Here are my Covid 5-Ps of risk assessment
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Like most people who have been vaccinated, I’ve been recalibrating my Covid risk tolerance: What activities can I safely reactivate? What venues can I visit? What mix of people to beware?

Nudged by a New York Times article headlined What Can You Do Once You’re Vaccinated?, I’ve distilled down to my personal 5-Ps of Covid risk (or safety):

1. PREVALENCE

  • Community contagion?
  • Herd immunization?

2. PLACE (Venue)

  • Outdoors or indoors?
  • Ventilation? Shields?
  • Cleanliness? Sanitation?

3. PASTIME (Activity)

  • Intensity: Sweat? Spray?
  • Duration: Brief? Prolonged?

4. PEOPLE (Crowd)

  • Density: How many? How packed?
  • Familiarity: F&F? Strangers?
  • Behaviors: Known? Apparent?

5. PRECAUTIONS (Personal)

  • Healthy?
  • Vaccinated?
  • Masked?

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Some common sense hints

  1. Watch local case & vaccination rates
  2. Don’t frequent likely hot spots.
  3. Avoid crowds of strangers
  4. Don’t linger – keep moving
  5. Enjoy the outdoors
  6. Exercise at home.
  7. Distance from close talkers
  8. Wear a mask (just in case)

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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!

April 15: COVID Dashboard

April 15, 2021

Daily New Deaths metric drops below 750
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J&J vaccine halted … so what?

April 14, 2021

Here’s what you need to know.
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The J&J vaccine a “viral vector DNA” vaccine that is very different than the Pfizer and Moderna “messenger RNA vaccines” … and their long-term effects may be different.

Below is a very detailed analysis of the differences and their implications.

The J&J blood-clotting issue is a near-immediate injection side-effect that is very rare … less than a 1 in million occurrence … less likely than getting struck by lightning.

Statistically-speaking, the blood-clotting occurrence rate is so low that it raises questions as to why the vaccine has been halted.

Up until yesterday, most “experts” were saying “Take whichever vaccine is available to you first.”

Yesterday, Dr. Fauci and the other political-scientists were lock-stepping an “abundance of caution” message.  It will be interesting to see how this situation evolves, especially since…

For the record: Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved by the Trump administration; J&J was developed under the auspices of Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, but the J&J vaccine was approved by the Biden administration.
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MUST READ: Here is a detailed recap of how the vaccines work and how they compare.  It’s long, but well worth the reading time.

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).

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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.

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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.

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

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How will we know when we’re near-normal again?

April 13, 2021

Stay focused on the number of Daily New Deaths!
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Now that the country is getting vaccinated at a rapid clip, everybody is asking the same question: When can we resume “normal” life again?

The verbiage from the political-scientists and pundits ranges from ‘pretty soon’ to ‘probably never’.

Thanks guys.

Is herd immunity within reach or asymptotically impossible because of ”vaccine hesitancy”?

How many covid survivors now have “natural immunity”?

How long does natural or vaccine immunity last? Weeks? Month? Years?

Case counts spike then drop like a rock … with “scientific” explanations mimicking financial analysts’ head-scratching rationales for why the market went up (or down) each day.

My advice from the get-go has been — in the words of Nate Silver — to ignore the noise and focus on the signal … the covid-related death count.

Back in Jan.-Feb. 2020, Dr. Fauci was saying:

This not a major threat for the people of the United States, and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.

I bought in to Fauci’s read of the situation, but said that I’d start worrying when daily covid deaths surpassed those of a a bad flu year.

The were about 80,000 flu-related fatalities in worst recent flu year.  Source

Spread across the entire year, that works out to about 250 deaths per day; spread across the usual 4 month flu season, that’s about 750 deaths per day.

Of course, we blew past those numbers … and stayed at sky-high levels for most of the past year.

Now, we’re coming back down … with enough people vaccinated or naturally immune that the trend and levels are likely to stick.

So, my advice: Take case counts with a grain of salt, be encouraged by vaccination rates and stay focused on the averaged number of daily new deaths (DNDs).

Based on the flu benchmark, when the weekly average of DNDs drops below 750, we’re probably near-normal … when it drops below 250, then giddyup … we’re there!

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For more detail. see:  MUST READ: How will we know when we’ve turned a COVID-19 corner?

April 13: COVID Dashboard

April 13, 2021

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April 9: COVID Dashboard

April 9, 2021

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April 8: COVID Dashboard

April 8, 2021

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Trump: “Enough vaccine for all Americans by April”

April 7, 2021

Dateline: September 18, 2020
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Ballyhooed headline yesterday:

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To paraphrase the Biden-gushing media: “Yes, Biden has saved the country.”

Big problem with the narrative, though.

A more appropriate headline might have read: “Fortunately, Joe didn’t f-k this one up.”

See Obama: “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f–k things up.”

Why?

Well, it turns out that April was Operation Warp Speed’s timeline all along.

You know, the plan that Biden says that Trump didn’t have.”

For proof, flashback to Friday September 18, 2020 … the day that Trump boldly predicted that there would be enough vaccine available for all Americans by April (2021).

As reported by Kaiser Health News the following Monday:

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Specifically, Trump said:

“Millions of doses will be available every month, and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April.”

But, of course, the “experts” and the Trump-hostile media guffawed:

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To recap:

  • Operation Warp Speed delivered.
  • Trump was right.
  • The “experts” were wrong.

Sound familiar?

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Just in case the September, 2020 news reports gets vaporized, here’s a hard copy of the KHN recap article (with specific citations)

April 7: COVID Dashboard

April 7, 2021

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April 6: COVID Dashboard

April 6, 2021

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April 5: COVID Dashboard

April 5, 2021

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April 4: COVID Dashboard

April 4, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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April 2: COVID Dashboard

April 2, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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VAX: J&J tosses 15 million doses … failed quality control.

April 1, 2021

First, HUGE vaccine blunder comes under Biden’s watch !
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A couple of weeks ago we noted a red flag in the CDC vax numbers.

See Notice anything odd about this vaccine shots’ chart?

Specifically, we pointed out that J&J’s vaccine deliveries were far below plan (and still are).

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But, not to worry … Team Biden was on the case.

In a mid-March statement, Biden said:

“You know, when we came into office, we began working with the team at J&J to accelerate and add capacity to their manufacturing and production efforts.

I have not hesitated to use my power under the Defense Production Act to expedite critical materials in vaccine production …. to help speed up the delivery of millions of more doses.

Whew.

Fortunately, Team Biden was on the case and not Trump’s Operation Warp Speed clowns, right?

Well, not so fast, mes amies.

The original Grandma Homa used to say: “Sometimes haste makes waste.”

And, as Rev. Wright preached: “The chickens will come home to roost”.

Yesterday, reports surfaced that:

Workers at an Emergent Technologies plant in Baltimore manufacturing two coronavirus vaccines (for J&J and Astra Zeneca) accidentally conflated the ingredients several weeks ago, contaminating up to 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. Source

The good news: J&J’s quality control checks uncovered the mistake before any doses were packaged in vials or shipped.

The bad news: 15 million doses went down the drain.

According to the NY Times:

The mistake is a major embarrassment both for J&J, whose one-dose vaccine has been credited with speeding up the national immunization program, and for Emergent, its subcontractor.

Note that the Times neglected to mention that Team Biden had been working with J&J and Emergent “since they came into office … to expedite critical materials … and accelerate manufacturing”.

Probably just an oversight, right?

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Again, Team Biden says not to worry since they’re nudging “the other two approved coronavirus vaccine makers (Pfizer and Moderna) to meet President Biden’s commitment to provide enough vaccine to immunize every adult by the end of May.”

I like the America First thinking, but the spin doesn’t change the facts: subbing 2-dose vaccines for J&J’s 1-shot formulation will stretch the time it takes the U.S. to get fully vaccinated … and, it means that 15 million folks somewhere (Canada, for example, which is far behind in vaccinations) are missing out on timely vaccinations at a critical time.

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P.S. Politico is reporting that:

Senior officials working on the federal government’s Covid-19 response told POLITICO that it became clear earlier this month that there were significant problems at Emergent’s West Baltimore plant, where the company was producing the active ingredient — or drug substance — for J&J’s vaccine.

What happened to truth and  transparency?

April 1: COVID Dashboard

April 1, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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Even the MSM is debunking Biden’s claim of “no vaccine plan”…

March 31, 2021

Of course, we’ve been all over this topic for months (links at he end of this post), so it’s delightful to see the Biden-friendly press to  concede the point:

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In the words of ABC News

Biden and his top aides have repeatedly accused the Trump administration of having “no plan.”

Despite calls for national unity and bipartisanship, President Joe Biden and his top aides have declined to give the Trump administration credit on the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout while relying heavily on a system established by their predecessors.

Many of Biden’s public “wins” on the vaccine, including expanding supply and distributing doses to local pharmacies, are tied directly to efforts initiated by policy aides working under Trump before he left office.

While Biden has purchased additional vaccine supply, it was always expected that Pfizer and Moderna would ramp up their supply throughout the year.

Under Trump, the U.S. agreed to buy enough doses for 200 million adults from vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna with “options” to buy more if necessary.

It also had purchased enough J&J vaccine to buy supply for 100 million adults once authorized — enough supply to cover every U.S. adult by summer.

Also, Biden’s playbook for vaccine distribution has relied heavily on a system created by the Trump administration, including federal partnerships with state officials and agreements with local pharmacies.

In fact, the federal pharmacy program created by Trump aides is what Biden relied on  to expand eligibility to teachers.

And when Biden called for “100 million shots in 100 days” — a pace of about 1 million shots per day — former health officials noted that the U.S. had already hit that pace the week of Biden’s inauguration in mid January.

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What is new under Biden are more than a dozen mass vaccination sites managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency with special attention paid to hard-hit and vulnerable communities.

Glad the media is catching on to what we’ve been saying all along:

Biden: “Trump blundered, I’m saving the day”

So, how much vaccine did the Trump administration order?

VAX: Viva mass vaccination sites

March 31: COVID Dashboard

March 31, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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VAX: Viva mass vaccination sites…

March 30, 2021

Anybody notice that Biden put “equity” and “essentiality” on the back burner.
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Let’s connect a couple of dots …

Maryland — which had been lagging on ‘shots in arms’ —  has been in a full out sprint the past couple of weeks.

The magic sauce: state-run mass vaccination sites.

In the past couple of days , a couple of friends got shots at Maryland’s up & running mass vaccination sites … one at Six Flags and another at M&T Stadium (where the Ravens play).

Both raved about how organized and efficient the process was. No complaints.

That’s really encouraging news since max-vax has emerged as the primary vaccine distribution channel in Maryland.

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And, Maryland’s not alone.

Coincidentally, I spotted an article headlining that Texas and Georgia — which together account for 10% of the U.S. population — will be opening vaccine distribution “to all comers” in the next week or so.

That means anybody 18 or older (kids aren’t legit yet), no “employment “essentiality”, no jurisdictional boundaries.

Just “come & get it”.

How can they do it? What’s the downside?

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March 30: COVID Dashboard

March 30, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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March 29: COVID Dashboard

March 29, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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VAX: Why are there more than 40 million doses stockpiled?

March 28, 2021

Early on, Team Trump (and the states) were widely criticized for having about 20 million “unused” vaccine doses sitting in inventory.

About half of the “distributed but not administered” doses was an oversupply to long term care facilities … and, about half was being held in inventory to ensure 2nd doses were available folks who had received their 1st doses.

Team Biden is way more efficient in vaccine distribution.

That must be so, because Biden says so (repeatedly) and the mainstream media confirms it.

But, the data seems to contradict…

Over the past month, the the stockpile of unused doses has about doubled … to over 40 million doses.

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States continue to clamor for more vaccine and have substantially boosted their vaccination rates, especially at mass vaccination sites.

So, what’s going on?

Best that I can tell, the excess doses originally shipped to Walgreens & CVS for long term care facilities has been redistributed to “public” vaccination sites — mostly retail pharmacies.

But, as a matter of policy, doses are still being held in reserve, earmarked for 2nd shots.

That was understandable at the beginning of the year when the vax companies were fine-tuning their processes and ramping-up their production.

But, now the vaccine manufacturers are producing at higher rates that are steadier and more predictable.

So, why not release the stockpile for 1st shots … and, handle 2nd shots “on the come.”

That would get us closer to herd immunity faster!

C’mon man…

March 28: COVID Dashboard

March 28, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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March 27: COVID Dashboard

March 27, 2021

Daily New Covid Deaths Drop Below 1,000

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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March 26: COVID Dashboard

March 26, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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Bloomberg: Biden is just following Trump’s plan…

March 25, 2021

Hard to accuse Bloomberg of being a right-wing, pro-Trump rag.
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Biden has oft claimed that Trump didn’t have a plan to acquire enough vaccine and that he (Biden) quickly remedied that shortcoming to ensure that all of America got vaccinated fast.

We previously debunked that claim, See Biden: “Trump blundered, I’m saving the day”

Now, a Bloomberg assessment blows holes in Biden’s claim.

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The Bloomberg article concludes:

“The U.S. government, first under Donald Trump and then continuing under President Joe Biden, had already arranged to buy all of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s known U.S. production, assuring hundreds of millions of doses for American arms.”

More specifically, Bloomberg says…

> Both Biden and Trump have been unapologetic that they’ve aimed to vaccinate Americans first.

> The Trump administration wrote clauses into contracts with manufacturers and also used the Defense Production Act, … to prioritize U.S. orders, explicitly requiring domestic U.S. production, exclusivity and continuing “rights of first refusal.”

> The same tools the Trump administration used to keep domestically produced vaccines within the nation’s borders have been employed by Biden’s team.

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As one pundit put it:

Biden deserves credit for recognizing the wisdom of Trump’s plan, and for bolstering it by getting Merck licensed to produce Johnson& Johnson’s vaccine.

But the idea that Biden didn’t get a plan or a reliable supply of COVID-19 vaccines is a shabby lie, one that Bloomberg punctures.

Perhaps Biden will concede the point at today’s press conference.

But, I’m betting the under…

March 25: COVID Dashboard

March 25, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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March 24: COVID Dashboard

March 24, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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Notice anything odd about this vaccine shots’ chart?

March 23, 2021

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Note how short the J&J bar is … only 2.5 million doses have been administered since the vaccine was approved.

That’s only about 60% of the 4.25 million doses that have already been distributed to the states.

What’s going on?

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According to Politico

J&J’s single-shot Covid vaccine was supposed to be the catalyst for the country’s return to normal.

Instead, it’s sparking confusion and finger-pointing between the states and the Biden administration over why millions of doses are sitting unused.

Almost three weeks after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the shots, no one appears to be able to explain why immunizations are lagging.

Some states are thought to be intentionally holding back shots, while others say it takes time to inoculate harder-to-reach underserved communities and specific groups.

Politico’s central conclusion: The bumpy J&J rollout highlights the challenges the White House still faces ensuring a timely and steady administration of Covid-19 vaccines.

The initial J&J experience may be a proverbial “canary in the coal mine” … simply a precursor of what’s to come.

To that point…

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Studies: Fauci’s endorsement hardens net vaccine hesitancy…

March 19, 2021

Time to put him out to pasture?
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Loyal readers know that I’m not a big fan of Dr. Anthony Fauci —  Biden’s chief political-scientist — who is always certain (but often wrong), occasionally evidence-based (except when the data goes against him), straight-shooting (depending on the political winds).

For full chapter, verse and sources re: Fauci’s many mis-steps, see

Yesterday, I got a couple of more logs to throw on my Fauci fire.

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First, in the morning, I was doing a deep dive into vaccine hesitancy — why some people are reluctant to take the Covid vaccines — and how the resistance might be softened.

Note: For the moment, I’ll skip over the thornier question: Should the resistance be softened? I’ll have more on that subject in future posts.

I came across the COVID States Project Report #36: Evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine communication strategies.

Note: The 50-state COVID-19 project is “a multi-university group of researchers with expertise in computational social science, network science, public opinion polling, epidemiology, public health, communication, and political science.”

Here’s what caught my eye in the report

The researchers queried study participants on whether public endorsements (i.e. televised vaccinations or public service messaging) by an array of personalities would make the subjects more or less likely to get vaccinated.

For example, predictably, an endorsement by Trump made Democrats less likely to get vaccinated and an endorsement by Obama (or Biden) made Republicans less likely.

Less predictably, a vaccine endorsement by Dr. Fauci resulted in only small reductions in vaccine resistance among Democrats, but increased and  strengthened vaccine resistance among Republicans.

According to the researchers, the Fauci finding “contrasts with unspecified scientists and respondents’ personal physicians, whose endorsement reduce vaccine resistance across the board.”

So, the researchers conclude that Fauci has taken on a partisan association that has substantially reduced his credibility and effectiveness as a messenger.

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Later in the day, I caught an interview with Frank Luntz who presented some focus group video footage re: vaccine hesitancy among Republicans.

Disclosure: The interview was on Fox; Luntz leans right but usually exhibits anti-Trump tendencies.

The headline from the focus group:

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Click to view a worthwhile 1-minute video clip that brings the comments to life:

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Luntz’s conclusion: Fauci — “who keeps changing his mind and moving the goalposts” — has no credibility whatsoever among Republicans … if you want reluctant people to get vaccinated, the message must be delivered by their personal physicians.

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Bottom line:

Both the impartial 50 States Project and the Luntz focus group reach the same fundamental conclusions:

>  If you want to overcome vaccine hesitancy

>  And, if Republicans are, in fact, the problem (i.e. more reluctant to get vaccinated than Democrats)

> Then one of the last people you want pitching the merits of getting vaccinated is Fauci

> Especially if he’s dishing inflammatory, condescending messages like “Getting vaccinated is a no-brainer”.

To summarize more bluntly: Yes – it’s time to put Fauci out to pasture.

Amen.

March 19: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 19, 2021

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Why vax hunters are pulling their hair out…

March 18, 2021

And, how at least one retail pharmacy has “broken the code” for doing it right.
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Yesterday, we showcased a vaccine scheduling invitation that I received from the Maryland Department of Health.

See How would you respond to this vaccination invitation?

We called it well-intended, but another  “not-so-great moment in direct marketing” because…

It was an anonymous email (sender was “your vaccination provider”) with a cryptic “no reply” email address. The vaccination site address googles to a gambling casino … and the recipient is instructed to click a link.

Our conclusion:

If that doesn’t set off safe computing alarm bells in your head, you should immediately close your browser and never open it again.

All of the critical warning signs for a scam email are there!

That’s too bad, because it is a legit “invitation” via Maryland’s brand new state-central vaccine scheduling system.

Unfortunately, this auto-generated email is representative of well intentioned but shoddy work that has plagued the vaccine roll-out … causing much consumer confusion.

OK, that was yesterday.

Last night, since I hadn’t scheduled an appointment, “the system” auto-generated a follow-up email reminder.

Satisfied from yesterday’s experience, that the email was probably legit, I clicked through as directed.

Here’s what I got:

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The good news: it was well-identified as coming from the Maryland Department of Health’s new PrepMod system.

The bad news: After teasing me with the “schedule now” email, I got a message informing me that “Clinic does not have any appointment slots available”.

The obvious question: Why doesn’t the system check for availability before hitting the send button on the “get off your duff” email.

That’s simple system design logic.

Note: I checked the link as soon as the email arrived, so it wasn’t likely a matter of the appointments filling between the time of the email and my check-in.

My intention isn’t to pile on the state’s well intentioned effort to centralize vaccine scheduling.

It’s just a handy example of how and why people who are frantically trying to get vaccinated are frustrated.

My advice: Inject a modicum of quality control before going “live” with a high visibility system.

Stop treating an anxious public as beta test subjects.

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P.S. This example isn’t the worst case that I’ve encountered.

One retail pharmacy’s scheduling system has previously kept me waiting for up to an hour “in queue” …  watching an animated  stickman walk slowly across the screen …  before giving me the “no vaccine available within 30 miles of your zip code” message.

The best: CVS (where I ended up getting vaccinated).

The first CVS screen just instructed: “Click on your state” … the second screen displayed all Maryland store locations, indicating “available” or “fully booked” … third screen asked for a zip code … enter the zip for a store that had availability and BINGO … I was in the scheduling sequence with a slot held for 10 minutes while I entered insurance and consent information.

From that point, the process was a cake walk … immediate confirmation by text & email … reminder message a couple of days before the appointment (which reassured me that CVS still had me in their system)… a text message on the morning of the appointment with a link to “check in online when you get to the store” … which then pulled up all my info for the admission checker and vaccinator – saving mucho in-store processing time.

My question: Why didn’t Maryland just jack CVS’s system?

March 18: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 18, 2021

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VAX: How would you respond to this vaccination invitation?

March 17, 2021

Another not-so-great moment in direct marketing…
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Fortunately, I don’t have to decide the headlined question since I got my 2nd shot yesterday (with no after effects, thanks). Whew.

Yesterday, I received an email.

Read it carefully … what jumps out at you?

COVID-19 Registration Invitation


From: Vaccination Clinics
<no-reply@multistatep4p.com>
Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 2:19 PM

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Please contact your vaccination provider directly if you have questions.

OK, what’s your take?

Here’s mine…

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March 17: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 17, 2021

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So, how much vaccine did the Trump administration order?

March 16, 2021

Simple answer: over 800 million doses
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Biden continues to denigrate or dismiss Operation Warp Speed and  claim (or least blatantly insinuate) that he and his administration should get credit for the hugely successful vaccination program.

Malarkey!

Let’s do a deep dive, starting with the basics …

Dr. Fauci — Biden’s go-to political-scientist (and highest paid Federal employee) — told the nation repeatedly in 2020 that no vaccines would be available until mid-2021 at the earliest, more likely in 2022 … and possibly later than that.

For the record, the Pfizer vaccine got its Emergency Use Authorization on December 11, 2020 … and, we’re on a track to have the country vaccinated before Fauci — who is always certain, but often wrong —  said the first shot would be available.

In subsequent posts, I’ll be referring back to Fauci’s gross misjudgment.

Spoiler alert: I’ll be arguing that his pessimism gave states legitimacy for procrastinating their preparations for the vaccine rollout … which left many states unprepared (or underprepared) when the vaccines were approved.

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Biden even said in a CNN townhall that there was were no vaccines available when he took office. Source

Apparently, he forget that he got his first dose on December 21, 2020 … and his 2nd dose on January 11, 2021.

Senior moment or intentional fib?

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Biden has backtracked on that remark but…

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Biden keeps claiming, to this day,  that Trump’s Operation Warp Speed was negligent for not ordering enough vaccine.

C’mon, man.

For openers, the Operation Warp Speed team made pre-approval vaccine commitments in mid-2020…

That is, they placed non-cancellable vaccine orders before any of the vaccines were proven effective in clinical trials and approved for use.

Note: These pre-approval commitments mitigated drugmakers’ risks … allowing them to put manufacturing capacity in place “on spec”, instead of waiting to start after FDA approval.

Fact: As part of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration entered into contracts with multiple drugmakers … while their potential vaccines were still in clinical trials … and, with no certainty that the respective vaccines would ever be approved.

Specifically, pre-approval commitments were made to 6 vaccine manufacturers:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech: 100 million doses (two-dose regimen)
  • Moderna: 100 million doses (two-dose regimen)
  • J&J: 100 million doses (one-dose regimen)
  • AstraZeneca: 300 million doses (two-dose regimen)
  • Novavax: 100 million doses (two-dose regimen)
  • Sanofi-GSK: 100 million doses (one- or two-dose regimen)

If all 6 vaccines were to make it through clinical trials and the FDA approval process, the amounts agreed to under these pre-commitment contracts would total about 800 million vaccine doses, or enough to fully vaccinate more than 450 million people. Source

Of course, not all of the vaccines have been approved (yet) … and, some may never get approved.

So, let’s focus on the vaccines that have been approved…

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March 16: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 16, 2021

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March 15: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 15, 2021

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Biden: “Trump blundered, I’m saving the day”

March 12, 2021

In fact, Operation Warp Speed was much more than fast vaccine R&D. Biden’s claims are, at best, disingenuous.
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Biden frequently makes 2 related Covid-specific claims:

1. “There were no vaccines available when I took office and not enough to vaccinate America.”

2. “The Trump administration didn’t have a plan for getting people vaccinated.  We had to start from completely from scratch.”

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The first claim —  not enough vaccine ordered — is indisputably false

Let’s start with the pre-approval vaccine commitments made mid-2020.

As part of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration entered into contracts with multiple drugmakers … while their potential vaccines were still in clinical trials.

  • Pfizer-BioNTech: 100 million doses (two-dose regimen)
  • Moderna: 100 million doses (two-dose regimen)
  • J&J: 100 million doses (one-dose regimen)
  • AstraZeneca: 300 million doses (two-dose regimen)
  • Novavax: 100 million doses (two-dose regimen)
  • Sanofi-GSK: 100 million doses (one- or two-dose regimen)

In all, the amounts agreed to under these pre-commitment contracts totaled about 800 million vaccine doses, or enough for more than 450 million people. Source

The Pfizer vaccine was approved on December 11, 2020.

Roughly 2 weeks later, on December 23. 2020, HHS signed an agreement with Pfizer for an additional  100 million doses … with options to purchase an additional 400 Million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Source

So, Trump’s Operation Warp Speed delivered to the Biden administration orders and options for 600 million doses of just the Pfizer vaccine — enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans.

Add in just the pre-commitments to Moderna and J&J and the total swells to 800 million doses — enough to vaccinate 450 million people.

By inauguration day, almost 40 million doses had already been distributed to the states and the daily vaccination rate was passing through the 1 million shots per day mark.

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Since inauguration day, an average of about 1.6 million shots have been administered daily — a function of increased supplies (from manufacturers) and improved coverage and efficiency.

The supply flows have continued to increase.

How much of that is attributable to Team Biden’s claimed magic touch and how much of that is simply implementation ramp-up of Trump’s OWS plan?

That’s a question which naturally raises the second claim…

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So, is the second claim “no vaccination plan, starting from scratch” true?

While there may be some dispute about the depth and appropriateness of the Trump administration’s plan, there was one … and, by and large, it’s exactly the plan that Team Biden is implementing.

Let’s get specific…

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March 12: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 12, 2021

25.1% of adults 1st-shot vaxed; 62.4% over 65

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32.9 million doses stockpiled & in pipeline

Makary: “Get the Vaccine, Wait a Month, Return to Normal”

March 11, 2021

From the doc who argues that herd immunity is right around the corner.
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Hopkins’ Dr. Marty Makary seems to be the only Fauci-contrarian that doesn’t get crushed by the mass and social media for  “spreading misinformation”.

My guess: It’s because he has a JHU credential, he cites real data and his views are very commonsensical.

Recently, he made a splash by declaring “We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April”.

In today’s WSJ, Makary strikes again with some heavy optimism re: the return to normalcy.

His foundational premise:

Throughout the pandemic, authorities have missed the mark on precautions … by focusing myopically on transmission risk and demanding “complete elimination of infection risk”.

As a result, the CDC “has lost a lot of credibility during the Covid-19 pandemic by being late or wrong on testing, masks, vaccine allocation and school reopening.

And now the CDC is being “ridiculously cautious” about the implications of the vaccines “stunning success”.

Specifically, he advises that, a month after their first dose, vaccinated people should keep wearing masks in public but, otherwise, go back to normal.

Besides the well publicized clinical test results (over 90% protection against symptomatic Covid with near-total protection against hospitalization and death), Makary cites “real life” evidence from Israel (whose vaccination program is months ahead of the rest of the world):

A study conducted by the Israeli Health Ministry and Pfizer showed that vaccination reduced transmission by 89% to 94% and almost totally prevented hospitalization and death.

Immunity kicks in fully about four weeks after the first vaccine dose, and then you are essentially bulletproof.

With the added safety of wearing a mask in public places  … there is little a vaccinated person should be discouraged from doing.

Makary concludes:

It’s time to liberate vaccinated people to restore their relationships and rebuild their lives.

In the process, “that would encourage vaccination by giving hesitant people a vivid incentive to have the shots.”

Well said, Dr. Makary.

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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!

March 11 COVID VAX Snapshot

March 11, 2021

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32.1 million doses stockpiled &i in pipeline

COVID: Can vaccinated people spread the virus?

March 10, 2021

Logically, the answer is yes, but data is scarce so “the science” is unsettled.
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Yesterday, we posted re: the CDC “guidance” that vaccinated people can hang with other vaccinated people and low risk people (notably children) without masks or social distancing.

See CDC guidance for vaccinated people

That’s good news and very common-sensical and scientifically-based (at least conceptually).

But, what about people who haven’t been vaccinated?

As more people luck out and get vaccinated, the question for those who are still waiting in line for a shot is: “Can we unvaccinated people catch COVID from somebody who has been vaccinated?”

Since there isn’t much post-vaccination history, there isn’t much hard data on the question.

So, we have to think logically and infer the answer.

First, it’s important to keep in mind that the clinical trials for the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer & Moderna), concluded the vaccinations are 90% to 95% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID. The J&J viral vector (DNA) vaccine scores slightly lower at about 70% effectiveness at preventing symptomatic COVID.

Note: The J&J trials were were conducted in a more hostile Covid environment — during a spike in confirmed cases and the emergence of variant Covid strains. So, most experts claim that all 3 vaccines are roughly equivalent in protecting against symptomatic infections.

Most important: Based on their clinical trials, all 3 vaccines are near 100% effective in preventing Covid-related hospitalizations and deaths.

But, the clinical studies did not determine how effective the vaccines are in preventing asymptomatic COVID infections.

They might or might not.

Note: To determine whether the vaccines were effective against asymptomatic COVID would have required frequent periodic COVID testing … which would have been logistically overwhelming … and subject to statistical contamination from false positive (and false negative) test results.

For details on that last point, see:

NY Times: Positive Covid test results misleading: Up to 90% of people testing positive carry inconsequential amounts of the virus

If I test positive for COVID, am I infected? Bayesian math says 2/3s are false positives

Said differently, it is logically possible that vaccinated people catch the virus, but never develop symptoms.

So what?

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March 10: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 10, 2021

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60% adults over 65 have received 1st shots

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29.5 MM doses in inventory

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CDC guidance for vaccinated people…

March 9, 2021

Good news, common-sensical, scientifically-based … and, of course, politically-motivated.
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Yesterday, all media headlined CDC guidance for the steadily increasing pool of vaccinated Americans.

The political motivation: High risk seniors who are frustrated re: vaccine access and scheduling processes are asking: “Why go through the hassle of getting vaccinated if I still won’t be able to see my grandkids?”.

That vax-hesitancy is not good if the goal is to cut the Covid death rate and reach herd immunity.

Cutting to the chase: Based on the new CDC guidance, grandparents can now — without masks or socially distancing —  visit their grandchildren.

Of course, there’s plenty of fine print in the CDC guidance.

So. here’s what you need to know….

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March 9: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 9, 2021

2.2 MM shots / day (7-Day MA)

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23% adults over 18 received 1st shots

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24.3 MM doses in inventory

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I bet Biden thought this one was a gimme…

March 8, 2021

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

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