Archive for the ‘COVID – vaccine’ Category

May 16: COVID Dashboard

May 16, 2021

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May 14: COVID Dashboard.

May 14, 2021

MASKS OFF ! MASKS OFF!!  MASKS OFF!!!

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Was your home a covid petri dish?

May 13, 2021

Early on in the pandemic, it was noticeable that:

(1) covid was spreading among locked down families — especially high density, multi-generational households and

(2) workers in some open businesses  — think: grocery stores — weren’t experiencing pandemic levels of covid consequences.

Said differently, people confined to ostensibly protective “bubbles” were getting infected … but customer-facing workers weren’t.

Is this just Fauci-shunned non-projectible anecdotal evidence … or a relatively broad based truth?

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Casey Mulligan  — a University of Chicago economist — studied that question and recently published his results in a research paper:

The Backward Art of Slowing the Spread? Congregation Efficiencies during COVID-19

Conventional public health wisdom held that  lives would be saved by shutting workplaces and schools and telling people to stay home.

But, Mulligan found the opposite to be true:

Micro evidence contradicts the public-health ideal in which households would be places of solitary confinement and zero transmission.

Instead, the evidence suggests that “households show the highest transmission rates” and that “households are high-risk settings for the transmission of [COVID-19].

How can this be?

Mulligan argues that after the first months of the pandemic, organizations that adopted prevention protocols became safer places than the wider community.

Schools, businesses, and other organizations implemented a range of prevention protocols – from adjusting airflow to installing physical barriers to monitoring compliance to administering their own testing services  – that households did not, and perhaps could not

But, households were bubble-fortresses isolated from the virus, right?

Wrong.

Few households were strictly “bubbled off” completely.  The bubbles were routinely breached.

One or more members of practically all households would venture out to work or run errands — being exposed to the virus.

If the outside venturers happened to catch the virus, the other household members would be close-contact sitting ducks.

Without the business-level precautions, penetrated homes became veritable petri dishes for the virus.

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Mulligan’s conclusion:

Officials forgot that organizations are rational and look for cooperative solutions that improve the welfare of the group, such as reducing the risks of communicable disease.

Gee, who would have thought that self-interested private enterprises would be more creative, more efficient, more practical and more successful than government bureaucrats’ ivory-tower edicts..

May 13: COVID Daily Dashboard

May 13, 2021

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COVID: Daily Dashboard

May 12, 2021

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COVID: Daily Dashboard

May 11, 2021

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1st vax shots down 65% from early peak…

May 10, 2021

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Daily cases’ average drops below 40,000 … but CFR up to 1.8%

May 9, 2021

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Shots drop below 2 million … 1st shots still plummeting.

May 8, 2021

Daily new deaths sticky at ~700.
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Let’s put vax rates in context…

May 7, 2021

Less than 50% of Americans get flu shots!
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Currently, over 80% of Americans 65 and older have gotten covid vax shots; almost 60% of adults over 18 have gotten jabbed …

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How does that stack up to the take-up rate for flu shots?

According to the official CDC numbers …

> Over the past decade, annual flu vaccination rates among adults over 18 have ranged from 37% to 48% … averaging about 45%.

> Our covid vaccination rate is already about 15 percentage points over that average …. driven by the 83% vax rate among folks over 65 … which is about 20 percentage points higher than historic averages.

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Note that only about 1/3 of adults 18 to 49 get flu shots … and it’s likely that the take-up rate is lowest among the younger adults in the 18 to 49 bracket?

All of this sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?

But, geez, this is a pandemic and vax effectiveness rates are very high?

So, shouldn’t covid vax rates be much higher?

Well, they are for the most consequentially vulnerable group — those over 65.

But, for the others, vaccination rates seem to be reverting to the historic means for flu shots.

Which suggests that classical vax-hesitancy reasons — e.g. fear of needles and side effects, perception of invincibility — make be kicking in.

We’re all creatures of our past experiences, right?

Awash with vaccine … shots still plummeting.

May 7, 2021

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Did rationing priorities induce vaccine hesitancy?

May 6, 2021

A story of messaging and first impressions.
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Back in early February, Dr. Scott Gottlieb — a former FDA Commissioner — offered an observation that stuck in my mind.

In a WSJ op-ed, Gottlieb wrote:

One reason for the hesitancy may be that it was necessary to ration scarce doses at the start, causing many Americans to internalize the idea that some people may be more likely to benefit or more deserving than others.

Let’s unpack Gottlieb’s observation…

Initially, scarce vaccine supplies were aimed at the elderly in  long-term-care facilities (where the vast majority of covid deaths were accumulating) … and to covid-patient-facing healthcare professionals (especially those in direct contact with confirmed covid patients).

Made sense: Protect the most vulnerable and the most exposed.

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But, what about people further down the priority pyramid?

For example, youngsters were initially told (by no less than chief political-scientist, Dr. Fauci) their covid risk was miniscule, so they should go to the end of the line.

English translation: Party on!

Now, people scratch their heads wondering why twenty-somethings are ambivalent about the vaccine.

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Early on, vulnerable old-timers (like me) were getting bumped by an expanding list of mostly unionized “essential employees”.

The vast majority of these government-coined “essentials” were under 60 (i.e. low consequential covid vulnerability).

And, after the frontline healthcare workers, many of them were of questionable essentiality (e.g. virtual teachers who had made no near-term commitment to in person teaching).

See What do lawyers, prisoners and ‘the media” have in common?

The message to the rest: You’re not essential (and really not that vulnerable) so so don’t clog the system.

The new message: The fate of the nation depends on you getting vaccinated.

The predictable reaction: Why wasn’t I important before?

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More generally, people down the pyramid were  getting pounded with a clear message:

You’re not at risk … and, by the way, you’re not essential … so, there’s no pressing need to get you vaccinated.

Now, it’s their turn, and these people aren’t rushing the gates to their shots.

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A couple of takeaways…

> First impressions “anchor” peoples perceptions … “adjusting” those perceptions is always a challenge … especially if they’ve been given time to harden.

> Solidifying perceptions requires strong, clear, consistent messaging … don’t signal people one thing on one day and another thing on another day.

> None of should be surprising… it’s straightforward behavioral economics.

1st shots still plummeting …

May 6, 2021

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Biden sets another low bar vaccination goal…

May 5, 2021

Is he a slacker? Or, a math-denier? Or, does he know something that we don’t know?
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Yesterday, Pres. Biden chest-pounded a new vaccination goal:

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So, how ambitious is the new goal?

Here’s the back of the envelop:

There are about 250 million Americans over 18

70% of 250 million is 175 million

According to the once reliable CDC, about 145 million adults (over 18) have already gotten 1st shots

That makes the “go get” number 30 million 1st shots

We’re currently averaging just under 1 million shots per day.

So, it should take about 30 days to close the gap.

That puts us in early June… not July 4

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So, what the heck is going through Biden’s mind?

> Is he intentionally setting a low bar (like the 100 million doses in his first 100 days) to ensure another end zone celebration?

> Did he just mouth the teleprompter wrong again (ala “no one earning less than $400,000 will pay a penny of taxes”)?

> Or, has he officially jumped on the new-new math that doesn’t have right answers?

> Or, does he know something that his advisors won’t let him tell us?

Hmmm.

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P.S. I’ve adjusted the official HomaFiles’ daily dashboard calculations to reflect Biden’s new goal.

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Awash in vaccine … what to do?

May 4, 2021

Back in early February, Dr. Scott Gottlieb — a former FDA Commissioner — offered a projection that stuck in my mind.

In a WSJ op-ed, Gottlieb wrote:

After early challenges, vaccine delivery is keeping up with supply.

But by the end of March, the monthly vaccine supply may reach 100 million doses.

With improved delivery, at some point, perhaps in April, supply will start exceeding demand.

Sure enough …

For example, at a micro level…

Back in February when I was in the heat of my vax hunt, CVS “offered” covid vaccinations at about a dozen stores in Maryland.

I say “offered” because “availability” was scarce and scoring an appointment had about the same odds as winning lotto.

See VAX: I got mine … and it wasn’t easy!

Today, CVS offers shots at more than 100 locations … and the vast majority of them have vaccine available on any given day.

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Aggregating up to the macro level, the CDC reports that the stockpile of doses “distributed” but not yet “administered” is over 70 million doses … and growing.

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About 40 million doses are, in effect, being held in reserve for second shots.

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Given the large, free flow of supply from Pfizer and Moderna, It’s not evident why these 40 million need to be sequestered for future use.

And, even if there is a just reason, it still leaves a stockpile of over 30 million doses … compelling evidence that supply is now exceeding demand … by a lot!

Which validates Gottlieb’s February warning:

The challenge won’t be how to ration a scarce resource, but how to reach patients reluctant to get vaccinated.

Yep, that’s where we are … and, it should have been anticipated.

Fewer than 1 million 1st shots…

May 4, 2021

Over the past week, the average number of 1st shots has dropped below 1 million … pushing the herd date into July
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Herd date slipping as 1st shots continue to drop…

May 3, 2021

60% of shots are 2nd doses … now only 1 million 1st shots per day … half of mid-April peak.

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Why aren’t more healthcare workers getting vaccinated?

April 30, 2021

Key number that I’d like to know: percentage of doctors who have gotten vaccinated (with which brand).
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Let’s start with a basic fact: Frontline healthcare workers (very broadly defined) — along with long-term care patients — were the top priority for initial (and continuing) covid vaccinations.

But, according to a recent KFF-Washington Post survey …

Despite their first-dibs on the vaccines, only a 52% slim majority of “frontline healthcare workers” have gotten vaccinated.

That’s hardly an inspiration for folks who are still unvaccinated so let’s drill down on the numbers.

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According to the KFF-WaPo survey, the combined vaccination rate for healthcare workers varies widely by it’s component parts.

Only about 40% of administrative and “patient care” healthcare workers have gotten vaccinated.

But, about 7 in 10 “diagnosis & treatment” professionals (think: doctors & nurses) have gotten vaccinated.

The latter is an important number since doctors and nurses (a) have had ready access to the vaccine (b) are most likely to be frequently and directly exposed to covid, and (c) should be the most “in the know” re: the vaccines efficacy & safety.

So, the pivotal question: Is 70% a high number that should inspire confidence or a hard ceiling on the percentage of the broad population’s likelihood of getting vaccinated?

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Anecdotally, whenever I bump into a doc, I ask if they’ve been vaccinated, which brand, what about their staffs”?

So far, in my very small sample, all docs have been vaccinated (Pfizer or Moderna), as have the clear majority of their staffs.

Among the vax-hesitant staffers, the resistance rationales: (1) current workplace protocols have, for a year, kept them from being infected so why fret now? (b) personal health considerations prevail (e.g. immune system disorders) and (c) “wait & see” uncertainties about the vaccines.

The latter is a bit worrisome…

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For what it’s worth …

I’d like to see the numbers broken down by “doctors only” and all other “prescribers & treaters”.

In fact, expecting the doc’s number to be closer to 100%, it (along with a parade of doc testimonials) should be center-stage in an marketing program to cut vax-hesitancy.

That would be more compelling than a showcase of politicos and celebrities.

Supply > demand, herd date slipping, stockpile growing …

April 30, 2021

Cases and deaths stubbornly sticky.
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Herd date slipping as 1st shots continue to drop…

April 29, 2021

Cases and deaths stubbornly sticky.
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Did Team Biden blunder big on the J&J roll-out?

April 28, 2021

Obvious answer: yes … but it’s unlikely that the MSM will tag Biden with the loss.
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Let’s start with the basics:

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved and launched by the Trump administration.

The J&J vaccine was developed under the auspices of Trump’s Operation Warp Speed.

But, the J&J vaccine was approved by the Biden administration (on Feb. 27).

Now, let’s advance the story…

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In a mid-March statement, Biden said:

“You know, when we came into office (Jan. 20), we began working with the (manufacturing) team at J&J to accelerate and add capacity to their manufacturing and production efforts.

Got it? Team Biden was on the manufacturing case.

The outcome: In early April, 15 million doses of the J&J vaccine failed quality control and had to be tossed.

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

Nice job, boys.

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Then in mid-April, reacting to 8 reported cases of blood-clotting (out of about 8 million shots administered), Team Biden’s med-science regulators “paused“ the distribution and administration of the J&J vaccine “in an abundance of caution”.

As Paul A. Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia told the Washington Post:

If I hear the phrase ‘abundance of caution’ one more time, I’m going to jump out of my window.

After 2 weeks of review, Biden’s crack med-science team got out their calculators and concluded that, perhaps, they were panicking over an apparent one-in-a-million occurrence.

Maybe, there was the proverbial “no there there”.

So, they lifted the J&J  vaccine halt.

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No harm, no foul, right?

WRONG!

As Lawrence Gostin, a global health law professor at Georgetown University, put it politely:

In the short to medium term, at least, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has taken a reputational hit.

J&J has had major production problems at its Baltimore plant and (given the risk-induced halt)  people (might be) more hesitant to take it. Source

Or, as another med-science pundit put it more bluntly: Team Biden “all but gutted the enthusiasm for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.”

So, how bad is the “reputational hit”? The slide in enthusiasm?

According to a Washington Post poll, only 28% of unvaccinated adults now think that the J&J vaccine is “very” or “somewhat” safe.

Performing a common sense test, WaPo reframed the question and  found that 3 out of 4 unvaccinated adults would be unwilling to take the J&J

Common Sense Test: Raise your hand if you’d line up for a vaccine that you thought was somewhat safe.

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Now, that’s a problem … a big problem.

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What if?

Imagine that Team Trump had:

  • approved the J&J vaccine
  • supervised production of the vaccine
  • encountered production quality issues
  • dumped 15 million contaminated doses
  • halted administration of the vaccine due to health risks
  • lifted the ban (as daily 1st shots started dropping like a rock)

All of which combined to make 75% of unvaccinated people unwilling to take the vaccine.

I’m going to go out on a limb on this one and guess that the media would be publicizing this situation differently if Team Trump owned it.

But, it’s Biden, so …

What do you think?

VAX: First shots continuing to drop … stockpile growing

April 28, 2021

Slowing demand (aka vax hesitancy)? J&J pause?
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April 27: COVID Dashboard

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April 27: COVID Dashboard

April 27, 2021

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Is Trump blowing his “vaccine legacy”?

April 26, 2021

That’s a question that Politico is asking after chatting with former Trump aides
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For openers…

Polls consistently report that so-called “vaccine hesitancy” is highest among Republicans and Blacks.

I’m a bit baffled about the GOP numbers since practically all of my Republican friends have been vaccinated … the couple who haven’t been vaxed have very legitimate medical reasons (e.g. immune system disorders).

For now, I’ll put my personal sample aside (as I always advised students to do), and stipulate that a large number of Republicans are vax-hesitant.

Trump hasn’t been visible pitching the “get vaxed” message to his supporters.

As one pundit observes: “We have the odd spectacle of Joe Biden creating a massive PR campaign for the vaccines Trump helped develop, while Trump himself refuses to get in front for his own success. It’s a lost opportunity (for Trump and the Republican party).”

So, why might Trump be staying on the sidelines?

(more…)

April 26: COVID Dashboard

April 26, 2021

Herd immunity date slips as daily shots’ rate (total and 1st shots) declines
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April 23: COVID Dashboard

April 23, 2021

Vaccination Rate Dropping (Total & 1st Shots)
Herd Immunity Date Slipping into June
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Bueller Effect: Vax side effects will increase … guaranteed.

April 22, 2021

Biden plan laden with unintended consequences.
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On Wednesday, without acknowledging the accomplishments of the Trump administration, President Biden took a victory lap since the U.S. is blowing past the 200 million shots mark.

For the record, note that 192 million of the doses are Pfizer and Moderna – approved and launched by the Trump administration.  Only about 8 million are J&J — spurred by Operation Warp Speed, but approved, launched and stutter-stepped by the Biden administration.

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After patting himself on the back, Biden announced a new plan to boast vaccination interest among the still-to-be-vaccinated population:

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In a nutshell, companies large & small will be incentivized (i.e. “pressured”) to give employees paid time off to get vaccinated  … and paid time off to recover from any vaccination after effects.

Sounds reasonable until you ask: “Any likely unintended consequences?”

About 80% of vax recipients report minor after effects such as fatigue, headache and muscle pain that usually dissipate after a good night’s sleep.  Source

When pressed, only about 10% to 15% of vax recipients say that their side effects that were “significantly noticeable,” Source

My hunch: The prevalence of claimed  “significantly noticeable” vax after effects will sky-rocket when vax recipients are offered the prospects of a couple days of paid vacation (twice if the get Pfizer or Moderna shots)

It’s human nature … it’s Freakanomics (aka Behavioral Economics) … it’s the law of unintended consequences … it’s the Bueller Effect

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The possible ultimate irony: The likely spike in vacation-incentivized claims of “significantly noticeable” after effects may end up inducing a higher level of vaccine hesitancy among people who are already fearful of side effects. 

I guess that Biden hasn’t read Freakonomics

April 21: COVID Dashboard

April 22, 2021

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

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Studies: Fauci’s endorsement hardens net vaccine hesitancy…

April 21, 2021

Time to put him out to pasture?
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Dr. Fauci — the nation’s foremost political-scientist — continues to be ubiquitous on TV, pitching that getting vaccinated is a “no brainer” and that, to paraphrase, all Republicans are morons.

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

Here are a couple of more logs to throw on my Fauci fire.

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I’ve been doing a 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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That finding brought to mind 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.

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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