The First Amendment remembered, another vaccine is coming

Right before Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court blocked COVID restrictions on religious services in New York. That’s something we can be very thankful for.

On Monday, Moderna submitted an emergency use authorization application to the FDA for its coronavirus vaccine. Moderna’s newly released data further strengthens its case: it concludes the vaccine is 94% effective — and strongly protects against serious illness.

In other news:

  • The Rational Grounds team is hosting a free webinar on Thursday, December 3rd at 9:30 pm ET/6:30 PT. We will present our 10 steps to end the lockdowns. Register here.
  • The editor of the British Medical Journal warns when good science is suppressed by the medical-political complex, people die.
  • Our Megan Mansell argues why mandated mask use on pregnant women is misguided and dangerous. 
  • Cochrane published an intervention review of physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. Their conclusion: “We are uncertain whether wearing masks or N95/P2 respirators helps to slow the spread of respiratory viruses.”
  • Switzerland has managed to halve new infections without a national lockdown even as pubs and restaurants stay open.

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Additionally, we just released an update on how COVID-19 is playing out on university campuses.

Events

Register today:

https://hopin.com/events/end-the-lockdowns-webinar

An entire generation of Americans are still suffering under the stringent lockdowns implemented to supposedly solve our pandemic crisis. This webinar is designed for parents, business leaders, policy makers, and other citizens to learn about the 10 steps we can take right now to end the lockdowns and move on with life.  Join data experts and policy pros to find out what has worked elsewhere. Network with others to help form groups to take on government policies quashing your rights.

  • Hear the latest research on COVID-19, the impact of the virus and what we know now about the risks of contracting the disease. 
  • Learn about our 10-point plan to get our country back to work.
  • Hear from other activists about how YOU can approach county boards, state and federal officials with this information.
  • Get tools, tactics, strategies and downloads to help you combat proponents of lockdowns

COVID News

Moderna Applies for Emergency F.D.A. Approval for Its Coronavirus Vaccine

The drugmaker Moderna announced highly encouraging results on Monday, saying that complete data from a large study show its coronavirus vaccine to be 94.1 percent effective, a finding that confirms earlier estimates.

The company said that it applied on Monday to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the vaccine for emergency use, and that if approved, injections for Americans could begin as early as Dec. 21.

‘Absolutely remarkable’: No one who got Moderna’s vaccine in trial developed severe COVID-19

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/11/absolutely-remarkable-no-one-who-got-modernas-vaccine-trial-developed-severe-covid-19

Continuing the spate of stunning news about COVID-19 vaccines, the biotech company Moderna announced the final results of the 30,000-person efficacy trial for its candidate in a press release today: Only 11 people who received two doses of the vaccine developed COVID-19 symptoms after being infected with the pandemic coronavirus, versus 185 symptomatic cases in a placebo group. That is an efficacy of 94.1%, the company says, far above what many vaccine scientists were expecting just a few weeks ago.

More impressive still, Moderna’s candidate had 100% efficacy against severe disease. There were zero such COVID-19 cases among those vaccinated, but 30 in the placebo group. The company today plans to file a request for emergency use authorization (EUA) for its vaccine with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is also seeking a similar green light from the European Medicines Agency.

Supreme Court blocks strict COVID-19 restrictions on New York houses of worship

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/11/26/religious-freedom-supreme-court-blocks-covid-limits-n-y-churches/3767379001/

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court placed religious freedom before pandemic precautions Wednesday night, temporarily blocking rules in New York that severely restricted gatherings at houses of worship in areas hit hardest by COVID-19.

The court’s new, more conservative majority ruled 5-4 that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s limits on churches, synagogues and other houses of worship to 10 or 25 worshipers in hard-hit regions appeared to violate the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.

“Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten,” the court’s unsigned majority opinion said. “The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”

It was a reversal from earlier actions taken by the high court in response to state restrictions on organized religion during the coronavirus pandemic. The justices refused to lift restrictions on churches in California and Nevada in cases in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York v. Cuomo opinion: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/20a87_4g15.pdf

The hidden Covid-19 health crisis: Elderly people are dying from isolation

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/hidden-covid-19-health-crisis-elderly-people-are-dying-isolation-n1244853

The moment that Tammy Roberg stepped off the elevator, she could hear her father’s booming voice.

Chester Peske, 98, loved to sit in the lunchroom at Copperfield Hill and talk to the other memory care residents about everything from the weather to the history of the highway that connected his hometown to downtown Minneapolis, 6 miles away. While he had Alzheimer’s disease, Peske still recognized his children when they came to the Robbinsdale, Minnesota, facility for weekly visits.

“He would talk and talk and talk,” Roberg said with a laugh.

Then, in March, there was almost no one that Peske could talk to.

When the pandemic hit, long-term care facilities across the country, including Copperfield Hill, shut their doors to visitors and largely kept residents to their rooms, suspending most group activities and communal meals to protect residents from Covid-19. Peske was hard of hearing, so phone calls were a struggle. Roberg’s only lifeline to her father was the staff of the facility, who reassured her that he was doing well.

‘Biblical mandate.’ California churches ready to defy Newsom after Supreme Court ruling

https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article247507750.html

Greg Fairrington, pastor of a Rocklin megachurch that’s been defying California’s pandemic restrictions on indoor churchgoing, opened Sunday’s service by pulling out his cell phone and reading aloud from a fresh U.S. Supreme Court decision.

“There is no world in which the Constitution tolerates a color-coded executive edict that opens liquor stores … and bike shops but shutters churches,” Fairrington said, quoting the opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

The pastor then looked out at his congregants at Destiny Church and shouted: “The Supreme Court of the United States of America — yeah! We have a biblical mandate and First Amendment rights!” What appeared to be a large crowd of worshippers, packed closely together, roared its approval.

Commentary/Analysis

Covid-19: politicisation, “corruption,” and suppression of science

https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4425

Politicians and governments are suppressing science. They do so in the public interest, they say, to accelerate availability of diagnostics and treatments. They do so to support innovation, to bring products to market at unprecedented speed. Both of these reasons are partly plausible; the greatest deceptions are founded in a grain of truth. But the underlying behaviour is troubling.

Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health.1 Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science.

The COVID Science Wars

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-covid-science-wars1/

When Max von Pettenkofer shot himself to death in 1901, he left behind a storied career as a hygienist and bitter opponent of Robert Koch, the German physician and microbiologist who discovered the cholera bacillus, Vibrio cholerae. Von Pettenkofer, the founder of the Institute of Hygiene in Munich, disputed Koch’s germ theory of disease, which held that a germ is both necessary and sufficient to cause illness. Von Pettenkofer asserted that germs could only cause disease in the presence of a “local” or environmental factor.

The battle between the two men exploded into a bitter divide over the question of the infectivity of cholera. Koch and his fellow contagionists maintained that the bacterium was spread through the water. Von Pettenkofer and his localists believed that cholera was inhaled as a miasma, which arose from earth contaminated by sewage. Anxious to prove his theory that germs alone don’t account for disease, and in the midst of one of the deadliest cholera pandemics of the 1800s, Von Pettenkofer, asked Koch to send him live cholera germs. Koch complied with a vial swarming with cholera bacilli. Von Pettenkofer swallowed the vial’s contents before witnesses. Several days later he reported that not only did he not die, he suffered no lasting effects.

Justice is Essential

Equality is about perceived enoughness. Normally, we’re quick to claim there’s no true disparity between our social classes, but if COVID has taught us anything, it is that we now have clearly-defined castes, with the lives of many “essential workers” ranked at the bottom. These workers are controlled by mandates that expressly go against current U.S. disability and workers’ rights law, turning them into the modern-day equivalent of indentured servants. How will they know to fight for themselves if they know something is amiss but don’t know what to do about it?

One scary thing we’re seeing everywhere is required mask use on pregnant women. This is dangerously uncharted territory; it would be difficult to even get approval for a study of this practice since causing pregnant women to decrease their blood oxygen level and risk anomalies in their unborn babies (such as cerebral palsy) is an ethics violation if I ever saw one. 

One of the biggest atrocities coming into focus is the rising rate of stillbirths among industrialized nations. Oxygenation levels are closely monitored throughout pregnancy and labor to help detect fetal distress, and time is of the essence when dealing with deoxygenation of the unborn. But women in need of work are routinely being denied their ADA right to reasonable accommodation that would allow them to breathe in an unrestricted fashion while performing their duties. It is incredibly difficult to find work when with child. Who will help the voiceless mothers who do not know of this unintended harm?

Research

Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses

https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006207.pub5/full

Conclusion: 

There is uncertainty about the effects of face masks. The low‐moderate certainty of the evidence means our confidence in the effect estimate is limited, and that the true effect may be different from the observed estimate of the effect. The pooled results of randomised trials did not show a clear reduction in respiratory viral infection with the use of medical/surgical masks during seasonal influenza. There were no clear differences between the use of medical/surgical masks compared with N95/P2 respirators in healthcare workers when used in routine care to reduce respiratory viral infection. Hand hygiene is likely to modestly reduce the burden of respiratory illness. Harms associated with physical interventions were under‐investigated.

Charts and Graphics

Mobility Trends Since January 2020

Everybody is understandably concerned about COVID spikes caused by Thanksgiving but if you look at mobility data, there was really no increase vs. previous weeks.

US Midwestern States, COVID19 Cases 7 Day MA per 100k

If a politician attributes the recent Midwest decline in COVID19 cases to their policies based on draconian interventions and lockdowns, any honest journalist needs to ask them how these 8 states all peaked within 6 days of each other, and how South Dakota was the first to do so.

% Decease in Cases Since Peak

Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, which have three of the most lax COVID19 policies among this group of 8, have the largest % decrease in cases since their peak.

International News

In Europe’s Nursing Homes, a Soaring Covid-19 Death Toll and the Pain of Isolation

https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-europes-nursing-homes-a-soaring-covid-19-death-toll-and-the-pain-of-isolation-11606742116

PARIS—The coronavirus has resurged in Europe’s nursing homes, killing thousands of older people and forcing facilities to make a difficult choice: impose another period of crushing isolation or risk greater exposure to the virus.

Nursing home outbreaks have dashed hopes that their residents could be shielded from the virus when it is spreading quickly in society at large. As cases soared across Europe this fall, nursing home personnel and visitors brought the virus in with them despite strict sanitary rules, infecting tens of thousands of residents, who are most vulnerable to the pathogen because of their age and frailty.

Countries such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands that closely track nursing home deaths have recorded more than 9,000 since the beginning of October. Other nations such as Italy and Spain that don’t yet have data on nursing home deaths have reported outbreaks in hundreds of facilities in recent weeks.

In France, one of the hardest hit countries during Europe’s second wave, 71,000 residents of nursing homes and other care facilities have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of October. More than 5000 residents have died in the facilities during the second wave, and another 1,500 died after being transferred to hospitals. Around 22,000 residents have died since the start of the pandemic, rivaling the per capita nursing-home death toll in the U.S., where more than 100,000 nursing home residents have died, according to a Wall Street Journal tally.

Switzerland halves new infections without national lockdown as pubs and restaurants stay open

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/11/30/switzerland-halves-new-infections-without-national-lockdown/

Switzerland is emerging as a model for how the coronavirus can be contained without a national lockdown, after daily new infections halved since the start of November despite pubs, restaurants, gyms and sports remaining open in much of the country.

The figures were hailed as a triumph for the “Swiss special way” by Swiss government doctors last week, and will be seen as evidence that regional tiers can work in the UK.

Rather than ordering a general lockdown, Switzerland allowed regions to decide their own measures and only the worst-hit imposed tough restrictions. But critics have charged that the success came at too high a price, after the country experienced some of the highest death rates in Europe.

Switzerland has been described as the “new Sweden” after it refused to follow the UK and other countries into a second lockdown this month.

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