By Megan Mansell Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been assured that community...
More media outlets are reading through Fauci’s emails and writing up criticism for his behind-the-scenes take on masks, lockdowns, and the lab-leak theory. Across the globe, the continued reaction to the pandemic crosses a spectrum: some countries are planning further lockdown measures, others (Europe) are opening up… but with a vaccine passport system in place. Good news from studies: kids are very unlikely to have extended symptoms of COVID, and some verification that there may be existing medicines helping to prevent or treat COVID.
In other news:
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Dr. Anthony Fauci brushed off an email warning of Chinese disinformation regarding the coronavirus pandemic, in an exchange from March 2020.
Erik Nilsen, the CEO of a Texas-based startup called Bio-Signal, sent an email to Fauci on March 18, 2020, writing that he suspected China had been covering up the amount of coronavirus deaths since early January. Nilsen added that his contacts in the country warned that the outbreak was not under control.
“Too long for me to read,” Fauci responded.
Dr. Anthony Fauci once argued that conducting experiments on contagious viruses to increase their potency was worth the risk, even if the work could accidentally lead to a pandemic, it was revealed Friday.
The nation’s chief medical advisor wrote in the American Society for Microbiology in October 2012 of the public health benefit to gain-of-function viral experiments — which center on manipulating viruses and making them stronger — as long as there is significant oversight.
In the article, first reported by The Australian, Fauci also noted that a pause on such studies should continue until researchers can figure out how to do them more transparently.
Gain-of-function experiments are the sort of work that was being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology when the COVID-19 pandemic first started in China in late 2019 and some experts fear a lab accident is what led to the global outbreak that killed 3.4 million.
Lockdowns are gradually being eased ahead of summer and the tourist season, and the EU’s 27 member states aim to have a digital vaccination certificate for travel in place by the end of June.
From 9 June, the night-time curfew, currently from 21:00-06:00, will start two hours later, at 23:00.
Restaurants, cafes and bars will be able to start serving customers indoors – with 50% capacity and a maximum of six people per table.
Museums, cinemas, sports venues and non-essential shops, which all reopened in May, will be able able to increase their capacity.
From 30 June, the restrictions and the curfew will end, according to the current plan.
Long Covid is highly uncommon in children, scientific studies suggest.
Children are far less at risk from Covid than adults and account for a miniscule number of cases and deaths. Just 15 children under 15 have died from the virus in the UK, according to ONS figures. NHS statistics show that 40 under-19s have died of Covid, and only eight had no underlying health conditions.
As a result of the low risk and infection rate, studying protracted disease and symptoms is difficult.
But there is very little data on the prevalence of “long Covid” in children, despite it being of increasing concern among adults. The condition sees people suffer symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue and shortness of breath several months after contracting the infection.
Emma Duncan, professor of clinical endocrinology at KCL and honorary consultant physician at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London, and Dr Michael Absoud, senior clinical lecturer in the department of woman and children’s health at King’s College London (KCL), led a study of more than 2,500 children using data from the ZOE symptom tracker app.
As recently as early 2020, most of the world had a reasonable amount of liberty to travel across oceans, international borders, exchange goods and services, pursue an education, start and maintain a small business, and for the most part be responsible for their own lives. I experienced a healthy dose of this freedom in 2018 when I made my first ever trip to Europe, and again in 2019. Watching the world function in relative liberty, reciprocal friendship, and commerce was inspiring and motivating. Things had never been better. As we now know, that all changed suddenly. Why did we backslide so easily from the enlightenment to the dark ages?
All You Need is a Catalyst
Enter a foreign or alien invader. The sudden appearance of a pathogen and threat to our very existence; long-expected, warned about and storied over decades in historical accounts, news reports, and countless fictional tellings. Bolstered by the propaganda arm of a highly dubious foreign government, images flashed hourly across our screens showing scenes of death and chaos. It was enough to frighten an entire planet into hiding.
Yesterday I visited a movie theater for the first time in more than a year. Amid the endless ads and previews, the management repeatedly begged us to see upcoming releases in a theater rather than watching them at home, touting the advantages of a big screen and superior sound. Cinemark also emphasized its COVID-19 control measures, including elaborate yet generally pointless precautions such as seat wipes and frequent swabbing of surfaces. But the most appealing thing to me was a safeguard the chain has abandoned: Face masks are now “optional for fully vaccinated guests.”
While masks are “strongly encouraged for all other guests,” they “may be removed when eating and drinking inside the auditorium.” In practice, since no one was checking vaccination cards (I brought mine just in case) and Cinemark customers commonly eat and drink while watching movies, this means face masks are optional for everyone. Now that vaccines are available to anyone 12 or older, that policy makes sense. People who are especially risk-averse might balk, but they probably are not going out to the movies anyway.
The situation for air travelers is quite different. Under a rule that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently extended through September 13, all passengers, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, must wear face masks “at all times” in airports and on airplanes. Violators are subject to a $250 fine the first time around and a $1,500 fine for repeat offenses. As you might expect from the agency that gave us “security theater,” the face mask rule is a form of “hygiene theater,” gratuitously incommoding passengers to create the illusion of added safety.
At the end of March 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he was launching the nation’s only Vaccine Passport Program. In order to gain entry to venues that host large-scale events, including sports stadiums and concert halls, people must scan proof that they have had a COVID-19 vaccine or recently tested negative for the virus. Medium-sized venues—for instance, those that host performing arts or catered events—can operate at increased capacity if they require patrons to submit such evidence. Although the Governor repeats the word “voluntary” ad nauseum when describing the program, New Yorkers should not be fooled. The Program is anything but voluntary: New Yorkers are deprived of their basic constitutional rights if they do not participate.
Initially, the Governor does not have the authority to instate the Vaccine Passport Program. Weeks before the program commenced, the New York legislature rescinded the emergency powers it had granted the Governor a year prior authorizing him to unilaterally issue directives to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Noting that the state had entered the “possibly waning days of the pandemic,” the Legislature explained that “it is time to restore the pre-pandemic balance of power of the governor and legislature.” But in typical Cuomo fashion, the Governor circumvented the constitutional separation of powers and imposed invasive directives on the people of New York with zero legislative oversight.
Numerous Western governments, with the blessing of their scientific advisers, have suspended basic civil rights and effectively placed government ministers above their own constitutions – purportedly in order to protect public health. Instead of improving and expanding hospital facilities, fast-tracking the development of promising treatments and offering focused protection to the elderly and vulnerable, governments have confined citizens to their homes, shut down businesses, heavily restricted public gatherings and attempted to regulate the internal life of households.
If the exercise of such extraordinarily intrusive and illiberal powers had successfully quelled the pandemic, we might now view them as regrettable but expedient evils. But we now know, through international comparisons, that harsh lockdown policies did little to mitigate the overall incidence of disease and mortality compared with more moderate social-distancing restrictions. We also know, by looking at data on unemployment, business closures, mental health and delayed non-Covid treatments, that forcibly isolating healthy people from each other inflicts far-reaching and sometimes irreparable harms on citizens.
Several peer-reviewed studies have been unable to find any interesting correlation between the stringency or duration of lockdowns and lives saved. Regions with extremely aggressive society-wide Covid restrictions have suffered comparable levels of excess mortality to regions with much more targeted and moderate government interventions – just compare the UK and Sweden in Europe, or California and Florida in the US.
Facebook made a quiet but dramatic reversal last week: It no longer forbids users from touting the theory that COVID-19 came from a laboratory.
“In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured from our apps,” the social media platform declared in a statement.
This change in policy comes in the midst of heated debate about how to respond to the perception that social media is amplifying the spread of false information. For the last several years, journalists and politicians have pushed to police so-called misinformation through various means. Major news organizations have hired mis- or disinformation reporters. Lawmakers such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) have urged social media sites to prohibit speech deemed wrong or dangerous—and have sometimes suggested that this should be required by law. More recently, various groups have asked President Joe Biden to establish a federal initiative to combat online misinformation.
But Facebook’s concession that the lab leak story it once viewed as demonstrably false is actually possibly true should put to rest the idea that banning or regulating misinformation should be a chief public policy goal.
Question Among residents and staff of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities with high risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure, what is the effect of bamlanivimab on the incidence of COVID-19?
Findings This randomized phase 3 clinical trial included 966 participants who were residents and staff at US skilled nursing and assisted living facilities with at least 1 confirmed SARS-CoV-2 index case and who were negative at baseline for SARS-CoV-2 infection and serology, enrolled from August to November 2020. The incidence of COVID-19 infection among those treated with bamlanivimab vs placebo was 8.5% vs 15.2%, respectively, a difference that was statistically significant.
Meaning Bamlanivimab monotherapy compared with placebo reduced the risk of COVID-19 in residents and staff of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.
Melbourne’s lockdown has been extended for a further seven days after the COVID-19 outbreak could not be contained in the initial week of restrictions.
Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino said the five reasons to leave home will remain in place during Melbourne’s seven-day lockdown extension but will be removed in regional Victoria.
“We have right now 60 cases and over 350 exposure sites and a variant of the virus that is quicker and more contagious than we have ever seen before,” Mr Merlino said.
“If we let this thing run its course, it will explode. We’ve got to run this to ground because if we don’t, people will die.”
An expanded 10km radius will be allowed for people to travel to exercise and shop.
In regional Victoria, the five reasons to leave home will be removed, and there will be no limit on the distance you can travel from home.