It’s official: Fauci whiffs, again!

March 19, 2021

How many times can a media-proclaimed “leading expert” miss the mark and still hold the title?
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My running tally of Fauci’s mis-steps:

  • He originally said that the COVID risk to Americans was miniscule
  • He opposed the Chinese travel ban as unnecessary or, at least, premature
  • He illogically told people not to wear masks since they won’t help and would deplete PPE stockpiles.  Only the latter was true.
  • He grossly misled Congress regarding the COVID death rate (by an order of magnitude!), conflating the conflation of the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) and Case Fatality Rate (CFR).  The CFR (of which Fauci was likely referring) is about 10 times the IFR. Source
  • He championed the “15 days to stop the spread” … using the widely discredited projection of  2 million “do nothing” deaths to seal the deal with Trump. (Note: the 15 day program is approaching day #300).
  • He lauded Cuomo’s “Gold Standard” response to COVID … despite highest death count (over 35,000), 2nd highest fatality rate (NJ is #1), wasted resources (think: a hospital ship, field hospitals and ventilators), an economic disaster in NYC and, oh yeah, a crushing 2nd wave of COVIID.
  • He admitted to boosting his estimate of the herd immunity threshold “partly based on new science and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.” Source
  • He led the charge to close the schools (but now concedes to closing the bars, but opening the schools)
  • And, back in March, 2020 he proclaimed that “it will take a year or more to develop a Coronavirus vaccine.”

Well, Dr. Leading Expert, the Pfizer vaccine was approved on December 11, 2020 and the 100 millionth dose was administered on March 12, 2021 … thanks to Trump’s Operation Warp Speed!

Perhaps, Fauci will rush to CNN today to say “Trump was right, I was wrong.”

I won’t hold my breath …

 

More: Fauci confirms “Trump was saying what we were telling him”

March 19, 2021

MUST READ: Originally posted on Sept. 13, 2020 with a timeline of who said what, when they said it … and how Trump responded at the time.

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Woodward certainly set the media’s collective hair on fire with his “bombshell” that Trump “knew” that the coronavirus was more serious than he was telling the American people.

Biden: “Clear evidence of incompetence and dereliction of duty”.

Trump: “Listening to the scientists, and didn’t want to prematurely cause a panic”.

How to settle the question?

Let’s start with what Dr. Anthony Fauci had to truth-tell on the matter:

click to view 4-minute video
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By Fauci’s own admission, Trump was “following the science” … contemporaneously channeling what Fauci and other “scientists” were telling him at the time. 

Let’s dig a little deeper on that and look hard at the timeline…

Read the rest of this entry »

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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March 18: COVID Snapshot

March 18, 2021

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

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

You are invited to register for an appointment at 7002 Arundel Mills Blvd #7777 on Thursday March 18, 2021.

To schedule your appointment using a one-time use link, click Schedule Appointment.

Please do not share this appointment link.

The link is intended for you only, and it can only be used one time. If you share the link before using it to schedule your own appointment, you will lose the ability to use it yourself.

Thank you,

Your Vaccination Provider

Please DO NOT REPLY TO OR SEND email to this address. Your message will not be returned.

Please contact your vaccination provider directly if you have questions.

OK, what’s your take?

Here’s mine…

Read the rest of this entry »

March 17: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 17, 2021

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March 17: COVID Snapshot

March 17, 2021

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

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…

Read the rest of this entry »

March 16: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 16, 2021

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March 16: COVID Snapshot

March 16, 2021

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

Update: Herd immunity forecast

March 15, 2021

We’ll reach the promised land by early June … maybe earlier!
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That’s later than Dr. Makary (“We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April”.) … but way sooner than Dr. Fauci, who’s still pitching Christmas (or just before the 2022 elections).

In prior posts, we’ve worked through the logic of our simple forecasting model.

See Herd Immunity: By the Numbers

Our foundational premise: People develop immunity to COVID in 2 main ways: (1) by surviving a COVID infection and developing “natural immunity, or (2) by getting vaccinated.

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

Statistical note: There is some overlap between the 2 groups, namely people who get vaccinated even though they have survived Covid infections and likely have natural immunity.  Our forecast adjusts for the overlap.

Based on our assumptions (which are delineated below, after the table) and our calculations, we’ll most likely get to herd immunity before summer.

Specifically, in May in our likely scenario (think: 80% likely) … early June in our highly likely scenario (think: near certainty)

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Below are our key assumptions & calculations

Read the rest of this entry »

March 15: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 15, 2021

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March 15: COVID 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…

Read the rest of this entry »

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

March 12: COVID Snapshot

March 12, 2021

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When scientists don’t follow “the science and the data”…

March 11, 2021

More studies show that schools can be re-opened safely.
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Interesting editorial in USA Today (i.e. not exactly a right wing rag)…

A team of doctors and epidemiologists conducted research on children attending school in person.

They published their findings and submitted them to the CDC.

But, they write:

The CDC cites our work but, in their guidance, does not take into account our data and analyses.

Ouch.

Specifically, the authors conclude:

The science shows that we can safely open our schools now for full-time (non-hybrid) learning and keep them open without even enforcing 6-feet socially distancing.

Here are their data-driven conclusions…

Read the rest of this entry »

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 Snapshot

March 11, 2021

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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?

Read the rest of this entry »

NY Times: Positive Covid test results misleading…

March 10, 2021

Up to 90% of people testing positive carry inconsequential amounts of the virus
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Originally posted 10/16/2020

When COVID case counts surged in July, most “experts” said that — after a time delay — fatalities would surge, too.

They didn’t, causing a lot of head-scratching.

Now the consensus explanation for a statistically significant decline in the infection-to-fatality rate (IFR)  is that (1) more asymptomatic people (i.e. minimally effected) were being tested (2) those testing positive were skewed to to younger age groups with IFR rates, and (3) more effective medical treatment and therapeutic drugs were saving more seriously effected patients.

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The New York Times has served up a scientific explanation…

Read the rest of this entry »

If I test positive for COVID, am I infected?

March 10, 2021

The answer may surprise you, and it has big implications for how individuals & organizations respond to positive Covid test results.
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Originally posted 05/27/2020

In a prior post, we reported that “Asymptomatics” are not rushing to get tested and provided some subjective reasons why that might be (e.g. no doctor referral, high hassle factor, privacy concerns).

OK, let’s up our game a notch or two and throw some math & economics at the problem.

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I’m a fan of “Freakonomics” … the popular call sign for a discipline called Behavioral Economics … the study of the rationality that underlies many seemingly irrational decisions that people sometimes make.

And, in my strategic business analytics course, I used to teach something called Bayesian Inference … a way to calculate probabilities by combining contextual information (called “base rates” or “priors”) with case-specific observations (think: testing or witnessing).

Today, we’ll connect Freakonomics and Bayesian Inference and apply them to the COVID testing situation…

Read the rest of this entry »

Pascal’s Wager … perhaps, we should be more righteous.

March 10, 2021

A classic framework suggests: Act righteously, just in case God exists
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Originally posted 11/29/2012

One of the few things I remember from Philosophy 101 is Pascal’s Wager.

In a nutshell, it says that God may or may not exist … and we all have the choice to live righteously or sinfully.

Naturally, that creates a 2 X 2 matrix …

If you choose to live on the wild side and God exists … uh oh.

If you choose to live a clean life, you score big if God exists … and don’t have much downside if she doesn’t.

I often find Pascal’s Wager to be a practical decision-making prop.

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma    >> Latest Posts

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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March 10: COVID Snapshot

March 10, 2021

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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….

Read the rest of this entry »

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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March 9: COVID Snapshot

March 9, 2021

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

March 8: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 8, 2021

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

March 8, 2021

Cases, hospitalizations & deaths down from peaks but leveling
… case fatality ratio (CFR%) stubbornly high @ 3%.
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click graph to enlarge
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Note:  At the index starting date: deaths were ~1,000 per day. hospitalizations were ~55K, cases were ~ 100K and tests were ~1.4 MM per day

March 7: COVID VAX Stats

March 7, 2021

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March 7: COVID Tracking Stats

March 7, 2021

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

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Source: RonaViz.com

March 6: COVID Tracking Stats

March 6, 2021

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

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Source: RonaViz.com

March 6: COVID VAX Stats

March 6, 2021

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

March 5, 2021

Spring 2021 plan: Federal gov’t tells states to do standardized testing to measure students’ learning levels in math & reading.
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In a prior post, we reported results from a survey done in Fall 2020 that indicated, for example:

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

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

Well, maybe, just maybe, that will materialize.

According to USA Today

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

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

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

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

Of course, not all sides agree with the announcement.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

March 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the WSJ

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

Read the rest of this entry »

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

March 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: WSJ

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

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

More specifically…

Read the rest of this entry »

March 5: COVID VAX Stats

March 5, 2021

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March 5: COVID Tracking Stats

March 5, 2021

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

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Source: RonaViz.com

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

March 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmm.

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

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March 4: COVID VAX Stats

March 4, 2021

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March 4: COVID Tracking Stats

March 4, 2021

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

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Source: RonaViz.com

VAX: What exactly did Biden promise?

March 3, 2021

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

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

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

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First, how many people are we talking about?

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

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So, how much vaccine is required?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The big “but…”

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

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

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

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

We’ll cover them in future posts…

WSJ: Operation Warp Speed’s Triumph

March 3, 2021

In today’s editorial, the WSJ says that Trump’s vaccine bet was government’s best pandemic decision.
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A bold move:

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

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

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A fast track to normalcy

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

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

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

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False claims try to diminish the achievement:

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

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

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

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

Both claims are false.

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

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

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Politically-inflicted complexity:

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

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

That is arbitrary and unfair.

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

The fairest, least political distribution standard is age.

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The big bet:

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

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

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

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

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I couldn’t have said it better myself…

March 3: COVID VAX Stats

March 3, 2021

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March 3: COVID Tracking Stats

March 3, 2021

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

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Source: RonaViz.com