Operation Warpspeed Sees Promise – EOH 9/4

Operation warp speed continues to be a bright spot in how America fights COVID-19. A recent pleasant surprise is that Dr. Fauci said current vaccine trials are going well and potentially a vaccine could be delivered later this year but still cautious about an early release from trials.. From 18 months to 12 months to around nine months now, this could be a world record.

On the other hand, some governments are going backwards and have not updated their priors. In Australia, the local police in Victoria  arrested a woman for stating on Facebook that she was going to an anti-lockdown protest (which would implement social distancing measures)! Some colleges are going into complete lockdown over a handful of positive cases and locking college students alone in their dorm room, Wuhan style. Can you believe people tens of thousands of dollars a year for such customer service? 

COVID News

The Failed Experiment of Covid Lockdowns

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-failed-experiment-of-covid-lockdowns-11599000890

Statistical analysis shows that locking down the economy did not stop COVIDand opening it back up did not spread COVID. 

“Six months into the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. has now carried out two large-scale experiments in public health—first, in March and April, the lockdown of the economy to arrest the spread of the virus, and second, since mid-April, the reopening of the economy. The results are in. Counterintuitive though it may be, statistical analysis shows that locking down the economy didn’t contain the disease’s spread and reopening it didn’t unleash a second wave of infections. Considering that lockdowns are economically costly and create well-documented long-term public-health consequences beyond Covid, imposing them appears to have been a large policy error. At the beginning, when little was known, officials acted in ways they thought prudent. But now evidence proves that lockdowns were an expensive treatment with serious side effects and no benefit to society. TrendMacro, my analytics firm, tallied the cumulative number of reported cases of Covid-19 in each state and the District of Columbia as a percentage of population, based on data from state and local health departments aggregated by the Covid Tracking Project. We then compared that with the timing and intensity of the lockdown in each jurisdiction. That is measured not by the mandates put in place by government officials, but rather by observing what people in each jurisdiction actually did, along with their baseline behavior before the lockdowns. This is captured in highly detailed anonymized cellphone tracking data provided by Google and others and tabulated by the University of Maryland’s Transportation Institute into a “Social Distancing Index.”

Tales from America’s COVID college campuses

https://jordanschachtel.substack.com/p/tales-from-americas-covid-college

University COVID-19 plans did not factor in that students would act like college kids.

“America’s college students are returning to campus for the Fall semester, and many are finding themselves in an environment that no longer resembles an academic institution, but something closer to a correctional facility for young adults. It’s not just a handful of schools that are pursuing extreme restrictions and punitive measures in the name of “stopping the spread” of the coronavirus, but something that has become a nationwide norm. College campuses have transformed into some of the most restrictive environments in America.After hearing about these conditions, I sent out a post on social media asking for testimonials from students, parents, and educators. The responses below are some of the many replies I received discussing what students are experiencing in colleges and universities that have allowed for students to return to campus. “The whole thing is a bait and switch. We’re being forced to pay to attend Zoom classes in our rooms all semester. A few of my friends didn’t even come back to town, and I don’t blame them. Why would they when they can get the same education at home? I only have two in person classes. Both meet one day a week. One is optional to go on Zoom if you prefer. The other allows five students in class at once. We’re going on shifts so Week 1 the first five go, then Week 2 the second five go, etc.” I love this university but if I knew when I was in high school that I’d be staying in my room all day, I would’ve never gone to any college.” “No gatherings over 15 people. Everyone’s mental health is crumbling. Nobody is even sick and those who quarantine follow the rules. School requires asymptomatic testing and there’s no end in sight . My guy and girl friends are all miserable . So many have been like this is prison we can’t do anything. All bars closed in Louisiana. We gather at local parks and the cops come to shut it down. No fun ever allowed and no end in sight.”

The child care industry’s plight

https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-child-care-business-crisis-035a9fe2-0f8a-4563-bc34-9016f65c6c66.html

Because of lockdowns, the entire childcare industry is in freefall. 

“The child care industry is collapsing under the strain of the pandemic. Why it matters: With parents making up a third of the U.S. workforce, the fate of schools and day care centers and the strength of the economy are inextricably linked — given that the hit to closed schools could be an estimated 3.5% of GDP. “The child care system needs a large-scale, immediate bailout. Full stop,” says Alicia Modestino, an economist at Northeastern University. By the numbers: Without financial help, 50% of day care centers will go out of business, erasing some 4.5 million slots for young kids, the Center for American Progress projects. Only 25% of child care businesses received loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Day care centers got $3.5 billion in aid under the CARES act, but economists say the industry needs around $10 billion per month to make it through the coronavirus crisis. The latest stimulus package in Congress has no money earmarked for these businesses. Case in point: Mary Grimmer, who owns Little Treasures Schoolhouse, which has a few locations north of Boston, told me she went from turning an $18,000 profit in February to losing $58,000 in July. Grimmer did get a PPP loan, which softened the blow. And even the places that are open are struggling with the additional costs and burdens of running a daycare during a pandemic. They’ve had to buy new toys because kids can’t share anymore; they’ve taken on fewer kids to abide by social distancing rules; and they’ve had to hire more people to keep everything sanitized. Grimmer said she had doubled her payroll after reopening. “What concerns me most moving forward is another shutdown,” she says. “I could not imagine how we could survive another one.”

CDC Issues Sweeping Temporary Halt On Evictions Nationwide Amid Pandemic

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/09/01/908581048/sweeping-new-eviction-ban-from-trump-administration

Halting evictions is good for tenants who are out of options, but what are the long-term implications for landlords and the housing market?

The Trump administration is ordering a halt on evictions nationwide through December for people who have lost work during the pandemic and don’t have other good housing options. The new eviction ban is being enacted through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal is to stem the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, which the agency says in its order “presents a historic threat to public health.” It’s by far the most sweeping move yet by the administration to try to head off a looming wave of evictions of people who have lost their jobs or taken a major blow to their income because of the pandemic. Housing advocates and landlord groups both have been warning that millions of people could soon be put out of their homes through eviction if Congress does not do more to help renters and landlords and reinstate expanded unemployment benefits. But this new ban, which doesn’t offer any way for landlords to recoup unpaid rent, is being met with a mixed response. First, many housing advocates are very happy to see it. “My reaction is a feeling of tremendous relief,” says Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “It’s a pretty extraordinary and bold and unprecedented measure that the White House is taking that will save lives and prevent tens of millions of people from losing their homes in the middle of a pandemic.” That said, she adds that a move like this from Congress or the White House is “long overdue.” And she says with no money behind it, it kicks the can down the road.

A New Coronavirus Adviser Roils the White House With Unorthodox Ideas

Is Dr. Atlas unorthodox, or is this a label just to discredit his ideas?

“The core of his appeal in the West Wing rests in his libertarian-style approach to disease management in which the government focuses on small populations of at-risk individuals — the elderly, the sick and the immune-compromised — and minimizes restrictions for the rest of the population, akin to an approach used to disastrous effect in Sweden. The argument: Most people infected by the coronavirus will not get seriously ill, and at some point, enough people will have antibodies from Covid-19 to deprive the virus of carriers — “herd immunity.” “Once you get to a certain number — we use the word herd — once you get to a certain number, it’s going to go away,” Mr. Trump told Laura Ingraham on Fox News on Monday night.

Dr. Atlas’s push has led to repeated private confrontations with Dr. Birx, who in recent weeks has been advocating rigorous rules on wearing masks, limiting bars and restaurants, and minimizing large public gatherings. Dr. Atlas declined a request to be interviewed, but Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, accused the news media of trying to “distort and diminish” his beliefs and record, adding that the adviser “is working to carry out the president’s No. 1 priority: protecting the health and safety of the American people.” White House officials said there had never been an attempt to shift policy to anything resembling herd immunity. “There’s never been any advocacy of a herd immunity strategy coming from me to the president, to anyone in the administration, to the task force, to anyone I’ve spoken to,” Dr. Atlas said in a radio interview Tuesday.”

Research

Overwhelmingly strong results could end COVID-19 vaccine trials early, Fauci says

https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-09-02/covid-19-vaccine-trials-could-end-early-if-results-are-overwhelming

Dr. Fauci says that  Operation Warp Speed has sped up the time table for a future vaccine.

A COVID-19 vaccine could be available earlier than expected if ongoing clinical trials produce overwhelmingly positive results, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, said this week. Although two ongoing clinical trials of 30,000 volunteers are expected to conclude by the end of the year, Fauci said an independent board has the authority to end the trials weeks early if interim results are overwhelmingly positive or negative. The Data and Safety Monitoring Board could say, “The data is so good right now that you can say it’s safe and effective,” Fauci said Tuesday. In that case, researchers would have “a moral obligation” to end the trial early and make the active vaccine available to everyone in the study, he said, including those who had been given placebos — and accelerate the process to give the vaccine to millions. Fauci’s comments come at a time of growing concern about whether political pressure from the Trump administration could influence federal regulators and scientists overseeing the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and erode shaky public confidence in vaccines. Prominent vaccine experts have said they fear that President Trump is pushing for an early vaccine approval to help win reelection.

Reopening Primary Schools during the Pandemic

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMms2024920

A reasonable paper describing several ways on how to best reopen primary schools.

For the past 6 months, policymakers and the U.S. public have weighed economic against public health considerations in debating what limits to set on individual and collective behaviors in attempting to control the Covid-19 pandemic. As fall approaches, attention has turned to a third pillar of a pandemic-resilient society: schools. Under ordinary circumstances, about 40 million children would be entering prekindergarten through 8th-grade classrooms this year, including nearly 27 million students in grades pre-K through 5.Until these children physically return to school full time, many will lose out on essential educational, social, and developmental benefits; neither the economy nor the health care system will be able to return to full strength given parents’ caretaking responsibilities; and profound racial and socioeconomic injustices will be further exacerbated. We believe that safely reopening schools full-time for all elementary school children should therefore be a top national priority. Many parents and educators are reasonably concerned, however, about whether any large-scale reopening plan can ensure safety for students, school staff, and household members, given high levels of community transmission in many U.S. regions. Contagion is a particular concern in schools that serve predominantly low-income communities of color, given that such schools are often overcrowded and understaffed and that the families whose children attend them are at especially high risk from Covid-19.  It would be best — and evidence from many countries demonstrates that it’s possible — to lower community transmission rates by means of stringent control measures this summer so that schools can reopen this fall with an acceptable level of safety.Even under conditions of moderate transmission (<10 cases per 100,000 people),however, we believe that primary schools should be recognized as essential services — and school personnel as essential workers — and that school reopening plans should be developed and financed accordingly. (We also believe that fully reopening schools for middle and high school students should be a national priority, but given the more challenging transmission dynamics at older ages, we confine ourselves here to elementary schools.)

Charts and Graphics

Estimated Relative Risk  of Death from Influenza or Pneumonia vs. COVID-19

Children and young adults are far more at risk at dying from Influenza or Pneumonia than from COVID-19. 

Weekly Total Death Registrations and non-COVID-19 Death Registrations in 2020 for England for Wales, Compared With the Five-Year Average for Equivalent Weeks up to Week 28

UK’s lockdown  also caused a spike in excess deaths that was unrelated  to COVID-19. 

Deaths Involving Heart Conditions and Conditions Which Can Become Fatal if not Treated in Time, Have Continued to Appear Above Five-Year Average LEvels During Weeks 11 to 18

The most common “underlying condition” among UK’s excess deaths excess deaths was  Dementia,Alzheimers, and Diabetes, . 

Summary of Child Mortality Data from 5/21 – 8/27

Zeynep Tufekci explains common issues with mainstream media publications when discussing  COVID-19 child mortality data. To put it in perspective, COVID-19 has killed fewer minors, including teens, than a typical seasonal flu. 

International News

François Balloux, l’art du débat sur la génétique, comme un sport de combat (François Balloux, the art of debate on genetics, as a combat sport)

https://www.letemps.ch/sciences/francois-balloux-lart-debat-genetique-un-sport-combat

A profile of François Balloux, a French geneticist who has achieved a measure of popularity due to the work he has done on COVID-19. 

On his Twitter account , François Balloux indicates that he is on vacation, and posts photos of snow-capped peaks. But the Lausanne geneticist, professor at University College London, has not given up on his many daily posts.

Monday morning August 31, he shares a scientific study involving 50,000 genetic sequences of the new coronavirus. “The SARS-CoV-2 genome has been isolated thousands of times. […] The idea that this virus does not exist is so far-fetched that in comparison the theories according to which man has never walked on the Moon seem credible, ”he comments. This touch of British irony, backed by indisputable scientific expertise, has given him great success on the social network, where the researcher has more than 56,000 subscribers. In one of the most chastised English – he has worked in Great Britain for twenty years – he expresses strong but still well-founded views on the pandemic. François Balloux is a specialist in the evolution of pathogens. In his current research, he is comparing thousands of sequences of the new coronavirus to identify its mutations. Work which in particular made it possible to show that this virus mutates little, which is encouraging for the development of the vaccine. But also to confirm certain crucial information, such as the date and place of emergence of SARS-CoV-2, last fall in China.

Woman Arrested For Facebook Post Promoting Anti-Lockdown Protest in Australia

https://gizmodo.com/woman-arrested-for-facebook-post-promoting-anti-lockdow-1844926107

Australia embraces CCP COVID style policies.

Police in Australia arrested a 28-year-old woman on Wednesday for publishing a Facebook post that promotes an anti-lockdown protest in the country’s state of Victoria. Footage of the arrest was captured by her partner and shows police officers handcuffing the woman and saying that she’s being charged with “incitement.” The woman’s phone and computers were also seized. The video, which was livestreamed on Facebook, has gone viral and shows the police eventually taking possession of the phone that was broadcasting the encounter. Over two million people have watched the video so far. “It’s in relation to a Facebook post, in relation to a lockdown protest you put on just that day,” detective Adrian Smith with the Victorian Police told the woman as she was handcuffed in her home. “I wasn’t breaking any laws by doing that,” the woman said, explaining that she had an ultrasound scheduled in an hour because she’s pregnant. “You are actually. You are breaking the law,” Smith responded. “That’s why I’m arresting you.”The woman and her partner, who reportedly live in the city of Ballarat, according to Australia’s ABC News, can be heard on the video offering to take the Facebook post down. But the detective insists that she needs to be arrested because she “already committed the offense.” The arrest appears to have involved at least four officers. “I’m happy to delete the post, this is ridiculous,” the woman said, pleading with the cops and noting that her two children are watching her get arrested.”

How bad is covid really? (A Swedish doctor’s perspective)

A Swedish doctor provides a perspective on COVID-19 based on his personal experience. 

“Ok, I want to preface this article by stating that it is entirely anecdotal and based on my experience working as a doctor in the emergency room of one of the big hospitals in Stockholm, Sweden, and of living as a citizen in Sweden. As many people know, Sweden is perhaps the country that has taken the most relaxed attitude of any towards the covid pandemic. Unlike other countries, Sweden never went in to complete lockdown. Non-essential businesses have remained open, people have continued to go to cafés and restaurants, children have remained in school, and very few people have bothered with face masks in public. Covid hit Stockholm like a storm in mid-March. One day I was seeing people with appendicitis and kidney stones, the usual things you see in the emergency room. The next day all those patients were gone and the only thing coming in to the hospital was covid. Practically everyone who was tested had covid, regardless of what the presenting symptom was. People came in with a nose bleed and they had covid. They came in with stomach pain and they had covid. Then, after a few months, all the covid patients disappeared. It is now four months since the start of the pandemic, and I haven’t seen a single covid patient in over a month. When I do test someone because they have a cough or a fever, the test invariably comes back negative. At the peak three months back, a hundred people were dying a day of covid in Sweden, a country with a population of ten million. We are now down to around five people dying per day in the whole country, and that number continues to drop. Since people generally die around three weeks after infection, that means virtually no-one is getting infected any more. If we assume around 0.5 percent of those infected die (which I think is very generous, more on that later), then that means that three weeks back 1,000 people were getting infected per day in the whole country, which works out to a daily risk per person of getting infected of 1 in 10,000, which is miniscule.” 

Corona-Pandemie: Auch Gesundheitsminister Spahn schließt zweiten Lockdown aus (Corona pandemic: Health Minister Spahn also rules out a second lockdown)

The German Health Minister rules out a second lockdown after seeing the economic damage from the  first lockdown.

“Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn has asked for understanding for the procedure in the Corona crisis and called for dialogue. “The virus is dynamic, we have to be too,” said the CDU politician on Wednesday in Berlin. You learn better every day to find the balance between infection protection and everyday life. In the retail sector or in care facilities, the situation is currently well under control with hygiene concepts and masks. A second lockdown, as in the spring, Spahn – as previously Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU) – excluded. The federal and state governments have also agreed to take regionally adapted measures in the event of local outbreaks and “certainly not across the board again”. It is important to take care that no new dynamics arise and that the situation does not slip. But a lot has already been achieved with relatively low numbers of infections. With that one can go “confidently” into the autumn and winter. At the same time, Spahn again defended the far-reaching restrictions in the spring, which were correct in the situation at the time.”

A Laugh

Get to the point.