Covid Cup Colour Commentary

A Pandemic Blog.

Motto: "There are no safe places; only safe behaviours"

The genesis of the theme was a single-post essay The COVID Cup: America Will Finish at the Bottom of the Major League,
which posits a notional "Global Covid Cup" for the best pandemic response. It predicted America would do the worst of major nations in the metric of deaths-per-million.
It follows that metric, as the Covid Cup "score", gathered by worldometers.info/coronavirus.

(Copyright, Roy Brander, 2022. All non-commercial use is granted.)

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Archive of CCCC posts From 2020-2022 April 1.


2022 June 24: New Vaccine Technologies Coming

For vaccines, it's one good-news story after another, these days. CCCC has been on top of the three new delivery systems (June 7-9, below), and the vaccine stories of the last few days.

Today, it's a National Post story by Harry Rakowski, about other new developments. A nasal vaccine - a fourth way to vaccinate without needles. The new vaccines that should provide broad-spectrum immunity to many COVID variants, can be expected by fall - just when needed.

He ends with this, which is sweet:

It is time to reclaim the pleasures of everyday life and take comfort that we live in Canada, a democracy that, despite its strains, is the envy of the world around us.
Damn straight, Dr. Harry. Well said. On with our lives, courtesy of vaccinology.


2022 June 23: Great Article, Great Graphic, on Next Vaccine Timing

At left, a small version of a lovely chart that breaks out Canadian vaccination by which-dose, and time. I'm a sucker for a good infographic. But the article, linked from the image, is a great read.

It discusses the whole waning-immunity problem, the best timing for a dose to blunt the expected fall surge, and extensive discussion about how effective different vaccines are likely to be. There's certainly great concern at this point that the original vaccines are of lesser effectiveness against the coming Omicron variants, which are resistant even to those who've had Omicron already. (Since a good half of us have had Omicron, that's disappointing.)

The good news is that Omicron-specific vaccines are in the offing, though the article questions whether even they will beat the new variants that may come by fall; most are based on the very first Omicron.

The upshot is you should vaccinate as near to the actual infection as possible, wait until it is nearly fall. One hopes that, after the embarrassments at airports and passport offices during this sudden surge in business, they'll be ready for the fourth dose program to be a quick surge beginning around Labour Day.

Labour Day would be less than five months after my actual Omicron infection, so I'm not sure but what I'm good with waiting until October. Maybe they'll have a new round of vaccines by then.


2022 June 22: Latin America Sends Out for Chinese Take-Out (Vaccine)

Remember Sinovac? The Chinese vaccine that we figured was a lame, second-rate choice? Well, some people have had to make that choice, since we didn't share our European vaccines with the rest of the world - or even their recipe.

Wondering how China was getting along with the emergency vaccination program so they don't have to lock down in safes, I did a google, and was amazed at all the positive coverage of new Chinese vaccines. They've done their own mRNA vaccines now, with 95% efficacy at avoiding ICU.

That was a study in Chile, and across Latin America, they're Sinovac buyers, the second-rate stuff, and the new stuff, both. And the old Sinovac is credited with bringing normality back to Brazil and Colombia and Argentina; they're also through much of the Caribbean.

I hate to see China being the Hero, of course, but I'm glad somebody came to help that continent.

http://brander.ca/c19#sinovac


2022 June 21: Not Vaccinating Kids Under 5? Danger To The Elders

Going back to the CCCC statistics bible, Worldometers, they've counted another 38,000 dead in America since they hit the million-mark, basically not noticed, nor did those deaths raise any questions about the pandemic being over. Funny, really, can't we all remember when the first 38,000 deaths seemed significant?

That would be early April, 2020, when articles about the dying had titles like "The Desperate Hours". Of course, they were mostly happening in a few states, with packed ICUs. Now, the dying is widely distributed, slower.

Of those 1.04 million deaths, just 143 were between the ages of 1 and 4. Twice as many kids who were not yet 1 year, some 399 died, reminding us how fragile life is at the start - and how even this new vaccination will not be allowed for little babies.

143 dead, out of some 5% of the population (16 million), of whom at least a quarter caught the disease, is a death rate of 0.003%. In comparison to so many diseases (cholera, typhus, measels, whooping cough) that prey by preference on the very young, COVID is almost harmless to this age group.

But.

If you vaccinate kids, they are less likely to catch the disease. Not a whole lot less likely, with Omicron, one must admit. With early variants, it seemed to reduce actual infection by 2/3rds. With Omicron, it's probably more like 1/3rd - but that's not nothing, not when infection spreads exponentially. A child catching it, getting a few sniffles, and passing it on, may infect multiple others - including grandpa with the blood pressure issue.

None of the vaccine injuries analysed just yesterday (below) involved teens, or kids 5-14. There were questions about heart inflammations with young boys, but they've been pretty much dismissed as really minor and rare; no real injuries.

So, it's free, it's safe for the kid, it'll maybe save them from a miserable experience (just because they don't die, doesn't mean that some don't spend a week on their backs, hating life), and it might save somebody else.

Don't shirk.

http://brander.ca/c19#unvaxedkids


2022 June 20: Severe Vax Injuries Can Be Counted On Your Hands

When I wanted to stress how much better PVC plastic water pipes were than the iron pipes they replaced, I would show my slides of the statistics of iron water main breaks - how many dozens or hundreds per year, how the number was declining over time; then my slide of PVC breaks, in which all the breaks that had ever happened (just 21 when I started in 2006), were individuals, practically had their own names. (Most had individual reports on how they could have broken at all, and 100% of them were due to construction errors that damaged the pipe. Plastic just doesn't rust, after all.)

With most medical problems, we read about statistics - how many thousand dead per year from influenza was much-compared to early COVID losses, and even rare deaths like drowning have to be discussed as statistics, even if each drowning was a news story when it happened.

But what was noteworthy to me about the "rare vaccine reactions" story in the Vancouver Sun this morning, is how individual the stories were. There were a half-dozen stories, some quite frightening, but no deaths. The thing is, they were all unique. There was one major stroke; one Bell's Palsy/GBS; one set of lung blood-clots. The story doesn't mention the guy everybody read about, who lost two metres of intestine to a huge blood clot after Astrazenaca. There didn't seem to be multiple cases of any one thing. And the overall number suggests they were about right that your odds of a really injurious reaction were nearly a million to one (~4 in BC), or perhaps twice that. Of course, many people had minor injuries, I'm sure. But the overall claims of the vaccine doctors, as they tried to reassure the "hesitant", have been proven about right.

Fingers crossed this will mean easier vaccination programs in future.

http://brander.ca/c19#vaxinjuries


2022 June 19: The Lives That COVID Saved

Until Fall, at least, it's the lean season for COVID cases, and COVID news. (One might say that summer 2022 is "COVID Blog Winter", as well as "Crypto Winter".).

In search of a story for you, I looked up David Spiegelhalter at The Guardian, previous source of many statistical enlightenments and entertainments..

His latest interesting fact comes out in an article where he admits he was too optimistic about COVID at first. Offhandedly, almost, he mentions that 300 young lives were saved by COVID. About 300 in Britain; that's after subtracting the 100 young lives (Age: 15-30) that were lost to COVID. They were countered by 400 who didn't die in car accidents, over-drinking, fighting.

All of this causes dangerous levels of smugness, here at CCCC, where one can go back 25 months to the CCCC article for May 2, 2020, "The Lives Saved by the Pandemic". You're welcome.

http://brander.ca/c19#saved


2022 June 16: Trust

The best news I've heard all week. It's about that thing that the media have agonized so much over: societal cohesion, the trust and support we give each other.

I didn't know that, by the way they measure the population's feelings of trust, Canadians are among the most-trusting on Earth - twice as much so as Americans.

And the good news is that, on the whole, it's up a bit from the pandemic. At least if you have money. Poor people have shown a distinct drop in trust of others in general, and a fifth of the population, no change, but the majority have become more trusting of their fellow public since 2019.

Here's the March article ,about the survey going out, and discusses how vital societal trust is.

And then here's the article from yesterday, giving the (mostly) happy results.

We could have more trust from the poor. If only we deserved it.

http://brander.ca/c19#trust


2022 June 9: Painless Vaccination III: Under-The-Tongue

To complete the round-up, maybe you can vaccinate by putting this tab under your tongue. Apparently, it would stick to the bottom of your tongue, holding itself in place.

The trick was, that vaccine can't make it through the sub-lingual skin, as thin and delicate as the underside of your tongue may be: the molecules are too big, and the tab kept moving around before they could penetrate.

The self-dissolving tab that starts off very sticky, apparently threads the needle through this problem, and has been delivering useful amounts of vaccine. The tests so far are HIV vaccine in mice. (I'm wondering about the job advert that specifies a need for the skill of getting mice to put a tab under their tiny tongues.)

Better yet, the vaccine is protected by the "alginate" polymer from seaweed, so that it remains stable at room temperature for some time.

It's fun to speculate which if these three new delivery systems will win out the day - possibly all three, in different vaccination situations. What seems certain is that our young getting vaccinated (by the recently-approved for kids vaccines!) by the last "vaccine needles" that will ever be, shortly to be sent to museums.

http://brander.ca/c19#tonguevax


2022 June 7: Painless Vaccination II: Inhaled

Not just painless, but delivering the vaccination to the place in the body that needs it most: the airways. CCCC is leery of "Vancouver is Awesome" as a newspaper, but it's the one that has this story.

Even better, the article is actually by Fiona Small, the McMaster vaccinologist who is co-developing this potentially, well, um, awesome new vaccine delivery product.

Fiona gives us a whole capsule history of this long-in-progress new technology, going back 50 years to the first adenovirus research.

Except if you "catch" this adenovirus from having it inhaled straight down into your airways, it will deliver your COVID-19 vaccination in passing.

Fiona notes that they are using proteins from all around the coronavirus, not just those ever-mutating spikes; if the early trials, now under way, test out, it should be effective against multiple variants as they come along.

Here's the kicker: because the vaccination is going to the very best place, far less of it is needed: perhaps as little as one percent as much vaccine(!), which will dramatically lower odds of side effects. CCCC won't even tout the other kicker, which is that this could lead to general, innate immunity against many viruses.

It's an exciting time in vaccinology. We may look back on the pandemic as the turning point in human relations with viruses, as big as the first vaccinations were nearly 200 years ago. And there's another vaccine tech coming tomorrow!

http://brander.ca/c19#inhaledvax


2022 June 5: Painless Vaccination I: Microneedles

CCCC could have sworn this had already been covered, but multiple searches just can't find such an article: there's a whole new - and painless - way of delivering vaccines coming.

The patch at left would be like putting on a band-aid that had the plastic-hook-side of Velcro on the inside.

"There's a kind of a roughness. Some people may describe it as a kind of tingling. So there is a sensation, but it's a sensation that people don't find objectionable or painful."
...says Mark Prausnitz of Georgia Tech. That's not the only lab working on "microneedle" vaccine delivery. Silicon valley has given us was to make microstructures, like the array of almost-microscopic needles at right.

They're now looking at making them of water-soluble materials, so that the whole needle dissolves in your skin, completely releasing everything inside. The key point is, though, that the needles are "So small they don't interact with the nerves that cause pain." Perfect!

This is not new technology; another researcher, in Seattle, says he's been banging the drum for microneedles for 15 years now, and what's needed is a committment from the industry.

They've developed patch products for flu and measles so far, and affirm it would work with COVID vaccines. And here's a kicker: skin has far more immune cells in skin than in muscle. It's a far-better place to inject.

This is a great time to be in vaccines; a lot of interest. This technology still needs commercial development: it needs to be cheap, have factories that produce at scale. One would hope the pressure for it would be overwhelming.

Alas, when I gave up looking for my previous post on this, about a year ago, I'd thought, and just googled to find the original story again - year-old stories were about it. There was just one ray of hope from 2022: if not news that it's being commercially adopted, news of another improved new development in the technology: 3D printing of the applicator, at Stanford.

At least the whole research industry is all over this; surely commercialization will follow.

http://brander.ca/c19#microneedles


2022 June 4: Great, NOW We Can Prove Masks Worked in Schools

It was Alberta, home of second-dumbest pandemic moves, that provided the data. (Dumbest was Ford sealing off the outdoor playgrounds.) The second-dumbest was Alberta actually forbidding school boards to put in their own mask regulations, basically forbidding schools from requiring masks.

This is one kind of pandemic news that will go on for years, and perhaps I will keep CCCC going, one post a week or less, as the reports trickle in: the forensic reviews of what worked and did not work.

The autopsies, if you will. (Of policy.)

CBC is reporting today that court-ordered document releases finally prove that masks in schools worked.

As BA.1 hit the peak of it's wave (our fifth), the Kenney Klowns announced that masks would not only be not required, but mask-requirements were forbidden. Some school boards masked anyway. So, lots of kids went mask-free for some weeks as the wave wound down, right near kids that didn't.

The mask-mandate school boards had an average of 7.3 outbreaks, those without, 23.4 - over three times as many.

Case and hospitalization rates were lower in mask-using areas.

Reviewers also note that the government's excuses for mask opposition - that masks were harming children - were based on the weakest, most speculative "evidence".

CCCC is not one to beat on a dead horse. But Kenney is very much alive.

And culpable.

http://brander.ca/cccc#maskdamning


2022 June 3: Actually, Australia is Not Having a Good June

Just a few posts down, CCCC claimed that Australia and New Zealand were having the same Omicron as everybody else had, despite skipping all the gained immunity we got from Original, Alpha, and Delta.

It's true that the dying isn't too bad - just crested 50/day in Australia, about like Canada hitting 60-70 - and that's probably about the peak of the wave, since cases went down weeks ago.

But CCCC did not check for hospital news. They're packed, things being delayed, people waiting a week for a room. It's pretty bad.

CCCC has certainly detected a tendency to belittle pandemic news, lately, make assumptions. That would be my own desire to see the end of all this, wish it away. Now I feel a little better how that guy Matthew Walter in Michigan was able to just feel and act, like the pandemic was over. In his case, he had to ignore what was going on right in his town hospital. In mine, I just have to stop reading news from abroad.

But. It ain't over. CCCC will certainly continue for a bit; if there's no increases of anything in any part of the world for a week, I might put it on hiatus. But there's small chance of that, in 2022.

http://brander.ca/cccc#auspitals


2022 June 2: Border-Restrictions - They've Even Lost CCCC, By This Point

I'm down to every other day, and just short posts with no graphics, it looks like. Weaning myself off doing a pandemic blog!

Today, shorter than ever, because there's no need for links to the stories: they're the top story in most papers. Our border controls continue to require all kinds of COVID restrictions and tests and lineups, when those were the least-effective restrictions even back in 2020.

The way Omicron toured the world, with all border restrictions on, surely ended the fiction that you can really keep viruses out of a country like ours. Locked-down China, maybe; islands like New Zealand, it only worked until Omicron. Border restrictions should have been tossed, globally, in January.

Vaccination, to cross any border, board any transportation, hell yes! I'm in favour of vaccine mandates (with outs for those who can't) for city buses, much less airplanes. But border testing? Just give up, guys.

Why it goes on is just unexplained. Calling all journalists: make them explain in scientific detail how well these restrictions are going to work, at this point. Or admit they're pure bureaucratic inertia.

http://brander.ca/cccc#goborder


2022 May 31: Also a Pandemic, At This Point

It will never become a widespread pandemic, but technically, any disease is an epidemic if the numbers grow every month (AIDS was an epidemic that never touched 99.9% of the population), and a pandemic if it is everywhere.

And Monkeypox now qualifies. We need to both not be alarmed by it (because it is not very transmissable, and not very deadly) and alarmed by one aspect of it: so far, transmission is by far most common among gay men, at present.

That's simply not being loudly touted in most coverage of monkeypox. For obvious reasons, of course - what journalist wants to write the article "credited" with stigmatizing and marginalizing the community that so suffered forty years ago from the same during AIDS?

Well, The Atlantic has contributed the article linked above, which clarifies both the role of that community in the spread around the world so far, and the dangers inherent in not advertising it more clearly to the rest of the community.

Important reading, also for the rest of us. Monkeypox is all about close, skin-to-skin contact; with just a little caution and common sense, this little pandemic can be shut down and put away for much time to come.

http://brander.ca/cccc#monkeypox


2022 May 29: ANZAC Victory: Skipping Every Wave But Omicron, Good Call

...as long as you vaccinate, unlike China.

Worldometers graphs of cases look like all the others, with 2020 and 2021 simply amputated. In infection terms, nothing happened in either country until Omicron hit.

Particularly with the New Zealand graph, that meant it went from zero to 20,000 cases per day - in a country of 3 million, like Canada getting 250,000 cases/day(!) when Omicron did hit. It's still raging. But the death rate is not. It's about a dozen a day right now, but that's about what it was everywhere, in population terms.

The Australian death rate is 50/day, and rising; it will probably hit numbers like Canada had at our Omicron peak, say 100/day. (Canada hit 150/day, briefly, but has half-again the population.)

In short, they skipped the other waves, got vaccinated, and the vaccination alone - not the extra immunity that came from massive infection waves - made their Omicron waves just like ours.

The net result is that Canada has over 40,000 dead, Australia hasn't hit 9000 yet, and won't hit 10,000. New Zealand, which would be as bad as Canada if it hits 3,000 dead, has just passed 1100, is unlikely to hit 1500 total when Omicron winds down.

For the next pandemic, these are the countries to study and emulate.

http://brander.ca/cccc#anzac


2022 May 27: Sixth Wave was Half as High, A Third as Deadly, as Fifth

That's the big-picture summary I have from carefully reading two CTVnews stories about British Columbian stats for the last six weeks, in this story abou declining hospitalizations, and from this story about how many "deaths with COVID" were deaths of COVID.

That last fraction is just under half. We've recorded 424 deaths in just under six weeks, and about 200 of them would have actually been because of COVID-19. We're back to the pre-vaccination age distribution: average age 87; nearly all over 75. Only a dozen of that 200 would have been under 50.

So, about 30/week are actually dying of COVID, nearly all from a demographic that had just a few years (or weeks) left either way. During the fifth wave, it peaked at over 100/week for a few weeks, with an estimated 10,000 infections per day. For this wave, it was more like 5,000/day. That's 35,000/week turning into less than 35 dead bodies, so the effective mortality rate is down to under 0.1%. The mortality rate for those under 50 is probably more like 0.01%.

The vanished deaths of the under-50s means that those who didn't vaccinate, are just about all now exposed and immunized that way - at least enough to not die.

This just puts a cherry on top of yesterday's conclusion that "it's about over" (given no new variant so different it's like a whole new disease). Given variants to which we have some immunity from exposure or vaccination, the "waves of dying" that pack ICUs, and require lockdowns to save thousands of lives, should be over. This wave hit 5,000 per day, without much effect on ICUs, and no calls for lockdowns - when none of the pre-Omicron waves, the ones we did have half-decent tracking for, were over 1,000 per day. (Even then, we estimated there were 3 undetected for every one logged, but still, that's under 4,000 per day, and that for just a week; the old waves were pointy-er.)

So, that may be it for CCCC posts about the pandemic in BC, or even anywhere in Canada. The remaining stories are how the little-exposed, poorly-vaccinated nations like China will manage 2022, and how we still have to Vaccinate the World.

http://brander.ca/cccc#wave6stats


2022 May 26: For Sure This Time, It's About Over

It took another two weeks to be really sure, because this sixth "wave" is a very long wavelength, but we definitely have fewer in hospital, ICU, and the morgue this week than the last.

There's a funny thing about the "This Week's New Deaths" number on the COVID-19 Dashboard. (Worst news hook, ever...)

I'd seen it with numbers like 50, 59, 59 in previous weeks, and now 42 this week; but when you subtracted the "Total to Date" right under those numbers, the actual number was more like 70 to 100 each week - the death notices took that long to come in. Because other numbers were going down (especially the prevalence of the virus in wastewater), I figured the wave had crested; and the deaths, well, they are now "deaths with covid", not necessarily "deaths of covid", so they're almost useless. Very vulnerably, already dying people catching one last misery when in hospital, that's all.

But, this week, it's clear every number is sharply down, especially those recent deaths, so it can finally be said that we've passed the crest.

All over the nation, continent, and Europe, we're seeing similar news. Only those nations that locked down so well - China and Australia - that they have very little resistance save vaccines, are still struggling. If no ugly new variant arises from them, it may actually all be over: a wave in the fall, but not a scary one.

Not that I would skip my 4th shot, if offered; Labour Day would be perfect.

http://brander.ca/cccc#over4sure


2022 May 25: Even Nikiforuk's Byblows Are Devastating

Oh, My God, they killed Kenney! Well, at least for now. Like a Zombie Idea, Kenney may yet rise again. On his way out the door, Andrew Nikiforuk at The Tyee grabbed the door and slammed it repeatedly into Kenney's butt, after gluing on acid-tipped thumbtacks.

It's just vicious, and for those who watched Kenney for years, very cathartic.

Only a few percent of it is about pandemic performance, but even that byblow is laser-targeted:

Tyler Shandro, of course, turned the Health Ministry into a battleground against doctors. His conduct is under investigation by the Law Society of Alberta.

...

In 2021 you declared the pandemic over and promised the “best summer ever,” but then you let COVID rip across the province while you vacationed in Spain. That pretty much sums up all anyone needs to know about your “leadership.”

...

But here's the problem: you are a symptom of a greater malaise undermining democracies everywhere. Like the Trump-tinged Republican leaders in the U.S. you have fostered phoney debates about the roots of real challenges. You manufactured villains, propagated falsehoods and stoked grievances in order to stir divisions, all the while foolishly believing you could ride the tiger you fed.

For CCCC, that's like a dash of cool water on a hot day: "manufactured villains" (Fauci), "stoked grievances" (tyrannical governments), and the bit about "riding the tiger" needs to be a lecture to every cynical politician who panders to people they know are not just wrong, but dangerous.

It's only tangential to the pandemic, but a real favourite read today.

http://brander.ca/cccc#nikionkenny


2022 May 23: Uncompromising Mask Mandator Beats Up Bonnie

I want to disagree with this guy. I like Bonnie Henry, figure she's navigated between the Scylla/Charibdis limits of locking-and-opening well enough to give us one of the best Covid-Cup performances on the planet. And I was glad to drop mask use (mostly), since, with 3 vaccinations and a COVID exposure for a fourth, I figure I'm as safe a guy as you'll meet.

But, I can't get around his argument. Also, I'm pleased to provide a link to the Georgia Straight, which has a fine article by Vancouver lawyer Tim Louis, on mandatory safety measures.

The Straight has been a great Canadian institution since I was a kid, and recently lost it's owner and spirit of 50 years. Many feared it would become a clickbait rag, but it's holding up, with a "COVID-19 in Vancouver" section I'll be mining out for weeks to come.

Tim is a lawyer, and took a lawyer's view to the mask mandates. He isn't even interested in arguing about effectiveness: that is a problem for doctors, and they've weighed in. Masks do less when infection rates are low, but they never fail to reduce risks somewhat.

That done, is it OK to drop that protection because people protest? Well, Tim reminds us of the similar controveries over the "tyranny" of seatbelts, the "oppression" of anti-smoking laws.

It's hard to get around his case; it's just that everybody wants to - even Bonnie Henry.

http://brander.ca/cccc#promask


2022 May 22: We Will Never Know About North Korea

I was thinking of how to cover the North Korea story, reading this AP report on CBC today. But, as I read, I realized we would literally never know. As noted below, I'm reading "Kill Anything That Moves", by Nick Turse, about America's real conduct in Vietnam, just tens of thousands of murders of civilians. I've reached the chapter that explains why this is not widely understood. The Pentagon, of course, is one of the great whitewashing, cover-up organizations of all time; Hollywood covering up sexual assault has absolutely nothing on them. Atrocities just vanished from all records. (At one point, Turse won a court case to have the court-martial records turned over to him; he was sent "all we could find" which was an empty file folder.)

North Korea is that, times ten, with no courts or traditions of accountability at all. Whatever the deaths from COVID in North Korea, we'll learn almost nothing about them, certainly far less than we learned about the (vaguely estimated) four million deaths in India.

If North Korea is freed before a few decades have passed, we might be able to manage the kind of study that The Lancet made of Iraq: go door-to-door in many typical neighbourhoods, get samples of how many families lost a member, then do statistics from those.

Since they've refused all vaccines, refused Paxovil, have few ventilators, it'llbe like India was: desperation to find oxygen as it runs out. Since it will be Omicron for them, not Delta, the death-rate may still only be a percent or two: after all, life in malnourished North Korea is already so tough, they probably don't have as many old people as we do.

And that's probably about all the coverage you're going to get, whether you read CCCC, or Foreign Affairs.

http://brander.ca/cccc#nkneverknow


2022 May 21: South Africa Hints That New Variants Are Not Killers

A look at the "new cases" graph for South Africa shows that cases took off, again, just over a month ago. Particularly in South Africa, with a lot of poor people, a month should be enough to have the wave show up in death statistics.

They are there, clearly, but they're low. COVID deaths in South Africa have trended up, over the last week, from about 10/day to middle twenties per day, even above 30/day just recently.

That's compared to 250/day during the Omicron wave that they were the first to catch, and 300-400/day during their Delta wave.

There's pretty good coverage in "Voice of Nigeria", which confirms this wave is mostly BA.4 and BA.5, the latest Omicron sub-variants. Here's the good and bad news in one sentence:

The new versions appear to be able to infect people who have immunity from earlier COVID infections and vaccinations but they cause generally mild symptoms.
That, in a nation that still isn't past 45% adult vaccination.

CCCC has been a little smug about the accuracy of the New Year's Eve predictions for 2022: another Omicron wave, but smaller than the first, lowering fear even more. Well, the country that "gave us Omicron" (no, not really) has now treaded that ground, itself, and indeed, fear decreases.

It can still kill people; but so can a lot of things, and COVID-fear is sinking into the mass of fears we live with every day - mostly by not thinking about them too much.

http://brander.ca/cccc#zanewvariants


2022 May 17: North Korea Will Discover Omicron's Real Fatality Rate

They suffer from malnutrition, have a bad health-care system, deep denial about the virus, are unvaccinated, and now it's gotten loose.

Omicron Doom is about to befall North Korea. They may be able to lock down enough to slow it, but it's probably too late already, with 1.5M cases presenting. So far, there is no lockdown, just advice to "double mask".

North Korea may just get a surge so large that their hospitals can't provide oxygen, as happened in India. Like India, I suppose nobody else will learn the fatality rate, but North Korea will deny it all happened to a degree India could not.

The Guardian article is "North Korea on the Brink of Catastrophe, Say Experts", at The Guardian.

The population of 26 million could easily see more than 1% casualties, well over a quarter-million. And it may all happen in a month or so, with peak death rates in the tens of thousands per day.

They've already turned down vaccination; have just refused all offers of help.

The Kim family and their supporters already have so much more to answer for, that it's hard to work up a good rant; the coming COVID deaths will have to get in line.

http://brander.ca/cccc#northkorea


2022 May 16: Our First Post-Pandemic Holiday

I was surfing around the news pages, looking to see if CCCC readers needed to have something interesting pointed out to them, when I noticed, not just a lack of COVID news in general (bravo), but, specifically, a lack of COVID-vs-holiday news.

I can't think of a single holiday, anything that might bring people together, without a news story or two about the health authorities urging us to limit the gathering size, consider masks, and so forth - to limit the damage the holiday would inevitably do to the case-rate. It was just expected for two years, that every holiday would be a bump in cases. So Dr. Bonnie and all her counterparts across the world would warn us to holiday as safely as possible.

This long weekend? Crickets. Nuthin'. Not a peep.

They may have simply given up, they may honestly think that no more damage can be done, that there simply will be no "bump", whatever the gathering sizes, whether or not we get drunk and laugh right into each other's airspace.

Or, maybe, they're just tired of it, too.

Whatever: enjoy your long weekend. With 3 vaccinations and a recent encounter with Omicron, we're as smugly past it as anybody.

http://brander.ca/cccc#postpandemic


2022 May 15: Britain on Why Canada Beat the USA

It's not Canada saying this: perish forbid, that a Canadian news organ would ever say "Canada is sure better than the USA at something - way better!".

Nor, for that matter, did the BBC quite say that, in the article linked at left, just asked "Why Is Canada's COVID Death Rate So Much Lower than the US?". It's odd they didn't ask why it was so much lower than Britain.

People imagine Canada is just very dispersed, most of our population north of Edmonton, I suppose, was spared by our hearty life as loggers in forest cabins. Of course, we all live in cities, just like Australians and Britons and Americans, and we were saved from COVID by our policies and behaviours.

The ICU graph, at top, is "per million", so the sheer height of the American curve is how much worse it was down there, how many more gasping for breath. You ahave to multiply that 75/million by 334, to think of 25,000 people on ventilators, all at once, for weeks, across America, their families awaiting the call that they'd died, or come back. (Mostly, died.)

The second graph clarifies how the different the behaviours were. Once Canada got access to vaccines, we caught up with five months of American vaccination in a month flat(!) and went on past them to levels that have twice as many unprotected Americans as Canadians.

However, the article says we did everything, not just vaccination, much better. We were better at locking down and distancing, we were better at masking, we were better with schools and workplaces.

We're just better at socially coordinated action than Americans. One wonders how much better we'd be at an old-fashion, WW2-type of war, where it's needed for everybody to make sacrifices for victory. (Hasn't come up, recently: GW Bush told everybody to support the War on Terror by going shopping.)

That three-times-faster vaccination stays with me, though. A day for patriotism.

http://brander.ca/cccc#whycangood


2022 May 14: At One Million Dead, CBC and BBC Take Stock of America

...America does not...

CCCC had thought I had one journalistic discovery about the pandemic all to myself: that the "Three Times Worse" pandemic, for America vs Canada, was actually about seven to eight times as bad for those in their thirties and forties. Nobody seemed to be catching the discrepancy.

Easy mistake to make: since about 80% of the dying is done by seniors, even a big jump in deaths to the middle-aged was a small blip in the overall numbers; you had to carefully check the stats on death-rates-vs-age.

But on May 12, CBC reviewed the million deaths in America, and did that math.

It promptly showed up in the sub-head, "mortality figures in those aged 30-49 also concerning". Inside,

Just over 14 per cent of Canada's population is 30-39, a cohort that has experienced 0.7 of all COVID-19 deaths. The age cohort represents a comparable 13.5 per cent of all Americans, but 1.8 of all coronavirus deaths there.

Keep in mind, there are 3x as many coronavirus deaths per capita, so the "1.8%" vs our "0.7%" means you get to multiply 3 x 1.8/0.7 = 7.7 times as bad to be a thirty-something American.

Or, in absolute numbers, there's not even need to multiply by 9 to compare by population:

Canada, with roughly one-ninth of the U.S. population, has lost 285 people aged 30-39 to COVID-19, while the U.S. has lost more than 15,000 people in that age range.

This led to some coverage I'd missed two months ago, when the BBC did a great article on why Canada did so much better than the USA. But I'll bump that to tomorrow and just revel in the fact that somebody finally noticed those differences for the 39-49 set.

http://brander.ca/cccc#canvsusa


2022 May 13: Pandemic Over? Certainly, The Tracking Is Over

CCCC was on the brink of retracting the "BC Out of the Woods" post from May 6. The BC dashboard a week later showed rising hospitalizations, ICU patients, and death. Retraction was cancelled as I scratched my head over the CTV News article about the increase, which emphasizes that the reporting has completely changed. Not just hospitalizations, but ICU, and even death, now appear as COVID-19 stats, even if the infection is incidental to the medical case.

CTV also noted that the virus prevalance in wastewater is still going down, and may be the only really objective data on how many are infected at any given moment, these days.

Certainly, the wave is not dying off quickly, and may not be dying off at all. We could be in for a prolonged period at 10 deaths/day in BC alone.

It's funny, the wastewater tracking was just a curiousity at the start, and CCCC followed it closely because of my prior career adjacent in that business. But now, it's really all we've got; there's no clear testing, and not even clear record of COVID-caused deaths, as opposed to deaths while also positive for COVID.

One hopes that wastewater testing will prove important around the world, in countries where they had no testing to start with.

As for BC, I still really have the "feeling" that we're almost out of the woods. But, then, there's been a lot of wishful thinking about that, all around the world.

http://brander.ca/cccc#overnotover


2022 May 12: Thanks, Doc, I'll Take the Canada Prescription

Judgements about COVID performance are becoming very "graded on the curve". A UK epidemiologist just graded the UK performance in the two Omicron waves on the curve, with the opinion that Boris Johnson was right and smart to drop most restrictions as the second wave started: it wasn't that bad. It was no worse than places that kept on restrictions.

So clinical epidemiologist Raghib Ali writes in The Guardian, this morning. England did no worse than Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, most of Europe.

Well, if you skip Portugal, anyway.

Here's some very round numbers: the first Omicron wave, that started well before last Christmas, cost the UK 15,000 dead. The second wave, just ending now, another 10,000 dead.

For the Canadian population, that would be 9,000 dead and 6,000 dead, again in very round numbers.

Our actual losses were 6,000 and 2,000. About two-thirds as bad on the wave where we both had restrictions, about one-third as bad on the wave where we had restrictions and they had dropped them.

Why get into precise calculations and discussions about such a vague subject? The gross numbers are really quite convincing for me: it was good that Canada kept up most restrictions, and the results across provinces (the bad results in our restriction-hating Prairies) convince me of it even more.

I can only hope that the nutters won't make anybody reluctant to do the right thing in the next pandemic - or, perish forbid, the next wave.

http://brander.ca/cccc#canadabetter


2022 May 11: Paging Nikiforuk: Even the WHO Gave Up on Zero-COVID

CCCC was a repeat advertiser and praiser of journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, of The Tyee. His journalism is still strongly recommended, but his frequent topic of "Zero COVID" has apparently met its Waterloo with Omicron.

Basically, Omicron is so measles-grade catchy that attempts at Zero COVID are pretty much doomed. Certainly authoritarian China has found it so, and now the WHO has agreed.

The World Health Organization has, amazingly, actually come out against the "Zero COVID" strategy in China, proving that they, at least, can see when you have to throw in the towel; thousands of cases per day in Shanghai; outbreaks in Beijing, despite the most intolerable lockdowns.

Every story on it also notes the very respectable model published yesterday, that calculates 1.5M dead from 100M cases in China. The low-vaccination rate among the elderly, you see, the most-insane factoid about China, maybe the most-insane factoid of the pandemic. Those of us most-ignorant about China do know the culture reveres age; how did that reverence extend to indulging them on not getting vaccinated?

Possibly, China (speaking collectively of their top bureaucrats and politicians) thought that they'd keep a lid on COVID until it went away, that it was impossible for it to mutate into a more-infectious form like Omicron. How the hell they could think that, as Alpha, P1, and Delta all proved more and more infectious throughout 2021, I have no idea, though. It's just nuts.

Well, lockdown or no lockdown, they've sentenced themselves to the fate that the Nature Medicine-published report from Shanghai U has calculated. They can't vaccinate fast enough to outrun Omicron.

One can only wish hell and fire upon China's "leadership" of murdering dictators, of course; but I'm sorry about all the people they've as good as killed.

http://brander.ca/cccc#whovs0covid


2022 May 10: No News Is Good News

There's no news. My reliable go-to, if I didn't have a COVID-related topic in the morning, was to hit CTVnews.ca, which has covered the pandemic very well all this time. I was amazed (and kind of pleased) to see it had no pandemic stories at all this morning, even under the "Health" topic. (A story about a growing outbreak of - hepatitis, instead; imagine being relieved by that!)

Partly, it's that people don't want any more pandemic news, so, although the pandemic is still a very burning issue in mega-locked-down China, even though Hong Kong is finally breathing out after riding out their massive Omicron wave, there are no stories. It's over for us, we've got our immunity, screw those guys. (We don't like China much anyway, so there.)

I'd like to do an article on how COVID seems to be passing-by the whole Ukraine war. There's still no sign of rising cases in Poland, which still has functioning record-keeping, and most of the recent refugees. How does that work?

But, there are no articles about that, either. It's not like I have investigative reporters of my own.

To heck with it; call no news, good news, and call it a win.

http://brander.ca/cccc#goodnews


2022 May 9: We Could Have Been Portugal or Cuba


What an odd thing to say. Cuba is a third-world country; Portugal is just about the poorest in western Europe. Some smaller towns there had no cars as recently as 1970. Why would we want to be them?

Well, they are both at about 95% vaccination, down to age 5, and for Cuba, down to age 2. And, as you see, this does in fact confer something close to herd immunity. Since passing 90% by a bit, they both have had only the most modest "waves", and barely-detectable increases in death, even when we can detect a wave of cases.

Absent really surprising new variants, the pandemic is really over in both countries. Tourists, take note. It requires the heaviest degree of vaccination of any disease short of measels, and may now be even with measels itself, the ultimate gold-standard for infectiousness.

But, COVID can be beaten; these two countries are proof.

That Cuba did this with self-invented vaccines, and by using older technology, was able to approve down to age 2 many months ago, is a major achievement of public health, and good societal management.

You don't have to praise them through gritted teeth: go on, hating their leaders, who are awful; it's Cuban doctors and their medical "deep state" that get the backpat here - that deep state will be paid, and honoured long after the dictators are gone. For me, that's an article of faith.

http://brander.ca/cccc#cubaportugalOK


2022 May 6: BC Out of the Woods?

So many topics, so little time. I could take note of the "Fifteen Million Dead" headlines, courtesy of WHO. That's more like it, for an accurate estimate of the real toll. I could note that the number of people locked down in China are now greater than the population of the USA.

And every paper has at least one story out about how everybody is acting as if it's all over, but, really, infections are high and people are still dying.

But today, had the story I was waiting for. BC appears to have beaten down that sixth wave, the spring wave, the second Omicron wave.

The "beat down" is barely started, and could reverse, but it's clear. BC went down from daily reports to weekly, some months back, when they also dropped most testing, and reported everybody in hospital who tested positive, junking any comparison to previous numbers.

So, those weekly hospital admissions, ICU admissions, and graveyard admissions, all went up every week, for a month. Until yesterday, when they dropped a bit. Just a bit, but it's a drop, and in weekly-summed COVID numbers drop, it's at least a turning point.

This is great news all-around (especially for those not-dying), but a bit of smugness will be squelched by CCCC, which took a guess, on December 31, that Omicron would be a whole wave yet (check) and also have a later wave (check) that was much smaller and less-deadly again (check). The spring wave will cost BC "only" a few hundred dead, in contrast to the winter one, with several hundred.

And that means, psychologically, it really is over, or, at least, you can see the daylight from here.

http://brander.ca/cccc#BCOK


2022 May 4: A Million Dead, And That IS "Who They Are"

CCCC uses "Worldometers", so we noted a million American dead some weeks ago. The CDC was a few tens of thousands short of a million at the time, part of a growing disparity between totals from newspaper reports, and CDC verified deaths.

The CDC web page is still almost 4,000 short of a million, but whatever source NBC News Uses, Has Declared the Million Mark to be Passed.

It's the highest total in the world, the story notes, though they are, of course, ignoring the very probable 4 million dead in India, that Modi won't acknowledge. Still a staggering "negative achievement", for a nation so rich and capable; everybody marvels at them, in a bad way. Again, today, with the prospect of a 50-year rollback in a civil rights, that would be unthinkable in another industrialized nation.

I'm marvelling at them, in a bad way, over events of 50 years ago, as well. I've been reading "Kill Anything That Moves", by Nick Turse. It's a confirmation of everything you ever feared was true about Vietnam: that My Lai was one of hundreds of civilian massacres, that there were thousands of incidents where a smaller number of civilians, women, children, were shot, that "body count", applicable to your odds of some beach vacation, was allowed to include civilians. That eliminated the need for inquiry, and pushed up all-important "body count" numbers in one swoop.

On a day with a million dead from disease, the book is still just - sickening.

When they were being called out as torturers, every apologist kept repeating the phrase "This is not who we are", now made meaningless by repetition, like "Thoughts and prayers". After I'd shaken my head at watching the documentary "Taxi To The Dark Side", read Jane Mayer's "The Dark Side" (both titles riffed off a Dick Cheney remark about having to go to the Dark Side), and watched the movie "The Torture Report", with Adam Driver...and seen all that just subside below the waves, a settled issue, followed by the next President declaring his love of torture, I realized, "That is exactly who they are". Now that I've read "Kill Anything that Moves", I know that they've always been that, back to the Phillipines over a hundred years ago.

Canada's no angel, either: but at least when a few of our soldiers killed a civilian, we didn't cover it up, we tried and jailed them.

We are just different. So different, for all the similar movies and music and food and other cultural things we have so much in common.

Previously, I'd put it down to Americans vs foreigners, that they only devalued foreign lives. Now, we can see how they don't value any, not even their grandparents.

I am torn between wanting to understand them, and not wanting to understand them.

http://brander.ca/cccc#1000000atlast


2022 May 3: Vaxnuts Still Foaming

It was waving a red flag before the bull, of course, for the National Post to publish the story that Two New Variants of Omicron Evade Natural Immunity. That's the worst thing you can tell an antivaxxer; that their beloved natural immunity is second-rate to vaccines. The article is recommended, but I was taken when I went to the comments, and found just about 100% vaxnut comments. "Vaxnut", being my word for where mere "antivaxxer" goes into the deeper conspiracy theories, like "vaccine shedding", where vaccinated individuals are the ones infecting others. These screen-snaps are not cherry-picked! They're just consecutive. Give them a skim and be warned. They're out there.

I have to almost love the last guy, who not only gets into vaccine shedding, but puts periods in his words to escape algorithms that might "catch" him (nothing could be easier than filtering out that before looking for words) - and one of the words he's using is "purebloods" for the unvaccinated.

Purebloods. Paging Harry Potter.

http://brander.ca/cccc#vaxnuts2


2022 May 2: Jewish Moms Say, "Get the Shot, Bubbaleh, Get Your Fourth"

Well, at least I'm statistically certain that a number of the Israeli researchers involved in this work are "Jewish Mothers". Few nations are as likely to have Jews in medical research, and few nations are more liberal as to women's opportunities in the sciences.

And that joke is about the only Semitically-related joke that is still acceptable, or at least I think it is. (If you are a Jewish Mom who hates being associated with warm concern for other's health, please advise.)

Nobody, definitely, has beaten Israel, to my knowledge, at studying the effectiveness and safety of vaccines: they have the data, nearly every shot tracked.

Clear back last November, they had determined how vaccine effectiveness wanes over time.

By last February, they could publish, in Haaretz, their determinations of how much better the survival was for the boosted, not just vaccinated.

Culminating, at the end of March, their proof of the value of a fourth shot, for those over 60.

Well, that would be me. I've kind of had my fourth shot, the other week, in the form of an infection, which no doubt bumped up my antibodies for months to come. There's also some indications that vaccine immunity beats infection-based immunity, so I will definitely be looking at that fourth shot this fall, say, five to six months after my late-April infection.

There's a similarity to Russia, here: a feeling that it is possible to beat this thing, but we may have to keep hitting it for some time to come.

http://brander.ca/cccc#4thshot


2022 April 30: People in Quebec Don't Care for the COVID Cup

The theory of the COVID Cup, is that people would care about how likely they are to die, living in one place, rather than another. Do your leaders protect your life, or let you die. Does your life matter?

I'd thought it would be a slam-dunk. I thought that, indeed, CCCC might be swept off the Net, by major media companies competing to show, with their dashboards, who was doing a good job, who should never be re-elected - all based on the surely-important metric of how many citizens they lost to COVID-19. Not protecting citizens from crime can certainly get you fired, so why would disease be different?

Theory, meet Quebec, where 15,000 dead just doesn't matter. I'll skip the bar-chart this time. That's 15,000 dead in Quebec, out of barely 8 million people, nearly 2000 per million. Contrast with Ontario, about 12,000 dead out of 15 million, below the Canadian average of 1,000. Doug Ford's Ontario is twice as good a place to be an old person in a care-home - in Ontario, your odds sucked; but in Quebec, they lost "whole wings of the building", one nurse said.

The occasion for this observation is the National Post story, "Legault Has Become Arrogant, Because His Government Seems Almost Immune From Criticism". It specifically mentions how his COVID-19 response was so good. WHAT?!? Nope, it was rated well, because he communicated well on TV, as the bodies piled up.

I do honour that. But he bodies piling up were more important.

I will never understand Quebec.

http://brander.ca/cccc#noqbcc


2022 April 29: So Much For The Great Reset

"Everything is different now", worked a lot better for 9/11, with just 3,000 dead, than for the pandemic, with millions.

I guess I could look up a few more cases than this, it seems like there have been several lately, a few in Canada.

In Britain, it must affect some significant fraction of low-paid retail workers, that both Sainbury's and Tesco are cutting sick leave again.

Talk about "The Pandemic is So Over", this is the financial bottom line for that: not so much government ending programs, as employers going back to risky behaviour. So what if they get sick? It's easy to hire more.

http://brander.ca/cccc#noreset


2022 April 28: Journalists to Fauci: Drop Dead, We Don't Care

Why report shocking news, when you can invent lame news?

That seems to be the call that CBC journalists made about poor 'ol Tony Fauci, the American top public health bureaucrat and all-round conservative punching bag.

What CBC did pay attention to, was his "bungled messaging", as they described it, for saying that line about "The U.S. is no longer in the 'full-blown' pandemic phase". Since everybody pretty much understands the situation - dropping cases, everybody tolerating the amount of dying going on still, nobody about to restrict movement any more - there was certainly the option to say "That's how Fauci described the current situation".

But, nooooo. Everybody possible, not just conservatives scoring points, but supposedly responsible journalists just making a story, had to say this was wrong, a bad way to say it, forced Fauci to "clarify" what they already knew he meant, and then, as on CBC, criticize him for "bungled messaging".

There was a real Tony Fauci story, the same day, which was poorly covered. A The head of the Oklahoma Republicans said plainly in a speech that Fauci should go before a firing squad.

I won't express shock and dismay, it's probably the 100th time that somebody has threatened his life. He's testified that his family have received death threats. Maybe this has happened so much that journalists figure "it's not even news", perhaps? But, there's been lots of "bungled messaging" - really, I think the OK GOP just did some bungled messaging, at the very least - and it all remains news.

In any event, a search of the Washington Post, and CBC found the 'clarifying' story, but not the firing squad. The link above, you guessed it, is for Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! news site.

http://brander.ca/cccc#faucifiring


2022 April 27: That Sixth Wave (of Dying) is Rising

But how far?

Again CCCC did guess, on Dec 31, that there would be second wave of Omicron. When it was just a wave of "cases", nobody was too sure whether it was a real wave, or what, because we aren't testing, or reporting the few tests we do. The wastewater was a better hint.

Well, for the last week, the number of deaths per day has been heading unambiguously upward, and now there's enough points along that rise to call it a wave. Of dying. So far, it's just a couple of hundred extra dead, on top of the couple of hundred already dying, per week, at the bottom of the last wave.

Yes, we've hit a point where just 40 or so people dying per day is the bottom of a curve, the least-bad we can expect it to be.

The guess predicted that this wave (the dying wave) would be a "fizzle", not half the height of the first Omicron wave two months back. It has to head down again after going only a little higher, to meet that prediction.

If it doesn't, people may go back to masking and distancing again, and it will feel like Groundhog Day. The prediction continues to be that it peaks low (by our new, 2022 standards), and everybody leans into summer.

http://brander.ca/cccc#sixthwave


2022 April 25: How Can They Be So Stupid?

Russia in Ukraine, China in Shanghai, doubling down on failure. How can they be so stupid?

Alas, it's universal. While perhaps joining me in my jeering, keep in mind that allies we could name kept pounding away at "solving Iraq", and, even more comically, "solving Afghanistan", using the same strategies over, and over, for decades. Everybody was kicking the can down the road, of course, rather than admitting failure. But that's what frightened bureaucrats in a groupthink do, at least when the sheer power behind their bureaucracy allows them to continue "waiting for success", like "Waiting for Godot".

Russia pounding away, with increasing desperation, at Ukraine, their plans in ruin, seems to similar to China doubling-down on lockdown in Shanghai, in the article "Shanghai's chaotic Covid lockdown puts other Chinese cities on edge". They're into panic-buying in Guangzhou (18 million), after a handful of cases. They now have infections across 29 provinces and municipalities.

I was going to tongue-in-cheek title this "Stupid Commies", until I remembered Iraq and Afghanistan. Or any of Paul Krugman's "Zombie Ideas" about economics, the trickle-down and the austerity. Or how the Pentagon just keeps doubling down on more-expensive, heavier airplanes until you get the hapless F35. All of these were not one mistake, but basically repetition after repetition of the same mistake, with warnings coming from those who can see the mistake, the whole time.

Again, this kind of persistent blundering happens in vertical bureaucracies where everybody hates to pass up bad news, to speak uncomfortable truths to power that can hurt your bureaucratic position; but it requires the bureaucracy be insulated from its own mistakes. The expense and death in Afghanistan cost the generals nothing, as Ukraine has cost Putin's inner circle nothing, as Shanghai has cost Xi's inner circle nothing.

Well, an adjacent article at CNN notes that investors are finally abandoning China, though the Ghost Cities and Evergrande may have more to do with that, than Russia support and COVID Calamities. (Why would they have let older people skip vaccination? Blunders, indeed.)

Russia, of course, is in for years of payback, but mainly because they won't back down. Just as America paid no international prices for war and war crimes, Russia would be forgiven in a quick 20%-off deal for a year of oil, if they gave Europe half a chance. Nobody even discussed making China pay for genocidal crimes and human-rights violations.

The world is mismanaged because we allow it, because we permit ongoing blunders and folliesm, because fools and our money are parted, but we don't jail the fools afterwards. (Our financial crash was worse because they kept doubling-down on those CDO valuations, too - don't miss "The Big Short".)

The only key for it all is responsibility: if your governing system doesn't hold the decision-makers responsible for decision-results, you'll get decisions that keep them in control, and no other kind.

http://brander.ca/cccc#stupidcrooks


2022 April 23: A Thousand Dead Kids

I was idly checking the last three months of progress in Americans dying young, to see if it was still true that, in the "Under 50" age group, Americans were still dying at over seven times the rate, per capita, as Canadians.

And, yes, yes, they are. In the last three months, Americans dead of COVID, all under age 50, and unable to remember the Vietnam War, have gone up from the number lost in that war (58,000) to well over 67,000 - some 3,000 young people dying per month, about 100 per day for 95 days. Canada has lost another 150 in the same age group, about 50 per month - one-seventh as bad, per million of population.

Every time I check it, I marvel that this isn't a big story for the regular media, with Deep Think piece on what is so different about the services, lifestyle, and health of Americans under 50 vs Canadians.

But this time, another number popped up for me. The American page has an entry for ages 0-17 that I don't even count on the Canadian side; as we've only lost 25 kids under 12, and 11 more between 12-19, so far, it's round-off error.

Except that the American entry for "Age 0-17" just hit 1,001. They've lost a thousand kids who never got to vote. A thousand little graves. In most pandemics, that's so obvious; indeed, it's children who do most of they dying from infectious diseases, around the world. It's just with COVID, we hardly even think about it.

A thousand. Jesus wept.

http://brander.ca/cccc#deadkids


2022 April 22: Alberta Skips Vaccinations, Hundreds Die Pointlessly

I still have some symptoms, but the energy is back today, and I'm already pissed. (Connie, on the other hand, tested negative yesterday, despite clear symptoms, and positive first thing this morning, so we're up for another week in the COVID Cavalcade.)

As she huddles in a steamy shower, beating heat on her headache, we take heart at how minor these symptoms are, not just compared to those who wind up in hospital (up 30% in a week in BC), but compared to a friend with 'mere' double vaccination, who spent two weeks laid low and suffering, despite being decades younger.

Said friend is Albertan, and the bug hit her house just weeks before they would have been looking into a booster shot. All too few Albertans have.

Friends, Albertans, Countrymen, I can only praise Jason Kenney, whom CCCC depicted as a mad butcher just 72 days ago, for his province losing 2000 more Albertans to COVID than BC would have. It's been a long 72 days, during which time Jason has said the right things about vaccination. His foolishness with re-openings was excoriated in that last post, he's committed no new COVID blunders. He has also won over CCCC by calling out the Konvoy Kooks, with the word "Kooks", thereby authorizing CCCC to call them what they are. Anti-vaxxers, in the current context, are nothing more.

The latest installment of the sad tale of Jason's failure to get his population to vaccinate come from CTV News yesterday: Alberta is behind all the other provinces at boosters: just 37% have gotten it. They're leading in wasting vaccines, of which 1.5M have expired on us in Canada, this year.

CCCC can read you the Butcher's Bill for Omicron in Alberta. That main wave of it from the winter is well past, of course, we're currently just seeing the rise of the next one. In the 72 days since that "Jason the Butcher" post, British Columbia has waved farewell to 367 more COVID-19 victims, about five per day. Alberta, exactly 500 more dead, or 7 per day. As that post of 72 days ago calculates, of course, the much-higher number of "over 70s" in BC should me that we have 40% more dead, not Alberta. In sum, HALF of those 500 dead in Alberta would still be enjoying sunsets in BC, rather than gone into the sunset, in Alberta.

Age-adjusted, Alberta now has twice the COVID death rate of British Columbia. And you can't hang that one on Jason; you can hang it on the attitude he struck until recently, but more and more I think he was just pandering to what was demanded. The fact that he's about to lose his job, not for losing an extra 2000 Albertan lives compared to BC (or 2250, now), but for not being lax enough about COVID. Maybe, subconsciously, my oldster friends actually retired to BC, not for the weather, but out of embarrassment.

http://brander.ca/cccc#abisbcX2


2022 April 21: Obviously, COVID-19 Causes Lassitude

I had a whole thing ready, too, articles about the switch to having nothing but wastewater monitoring, my favourite topic. But, now, Connie's sick, too, and we didn't get much done today, including this.

I've done enough "inside COVID-19" research; can I get better, now?

http://brander.ca/cccc#notmuch


2022 April 20: Canadians Are Just Different, I Guess

Apparently, Canadians, mostly, actually got the message that the mask is your protection, not your useless, government-oppression-caused, burden.

Americans were all yanking off masks in airports with cheers, glad that the apparently-useless, pointless gesture was no longer required.

Canadians, in American airports, were still wearing them voluntarily. At least, that's the claim of the CBC article about spotting Canadians in US airports - they're the group wearing masks.

The article was notable to me, not only for the nice quote from one traveller, who said, "There's science. Whether you believe it or not.", but something I hadn't read about the American judge who voided the mask rules.

Apparently, she's not just a last-minute Trump appointment, but one of the many for which the American Bar Association complained that she simply didn't have the courtroom and trial experience to serve as a judge.

CCCC chooses to assume that explains a lot.

http://brander.ca/cccc#canuckmasks


2022 April 19: Vax Still Doing a Good Job

I'm weary, still have a bit of a stuffy headache, my nose is permanently filled with that ginger-ale-bubbles feeling that makes me keep sneezing. There's a cough every hour or so, though, only, and still no fever.

In particular, the cough - each one a moment for reflection on other's fates - is shallow, clearly only cleaning out fluids from the top of the bronchial tubes, just as Omicron is said to be "shallower" in the airways - mercifully.

I don't feel like much (certainly not like blogging). I'm hugely grateful, though, after my age group, (60-69), in Canada, has seen 25,000 hospitalized, 6500 in the ICU, and 4000 dead. I'm feeling very, very well indeed - by comparison.

Heck, my covid experience, unless it gets worse in coming days, is far better than that of a friend, two decades younger, who was "merely" double-vaxed. So, I'm really grateful for that booster, even.

Vaccination has basically converted a Killer into a Cold. (Yes, colds do still kill, in advanced age-groups, and those already unwell.)

Here's another vaccination win, if you ask me: Omicron is supposed to be hugely transmissable, but Mrs. CCCC is still hale and healthy, despite rarely being out of breathing distance from me the whole weekend through now.

We may just have passed Easter, but at the CCCC household, it's Thanksgiving.

http://brander.ca/cccc#vaxworking


2022 April 18: Souvenir Picked Up On Vacation

The symptoms started the next day, after the return flight. Really minor; a headache that two ibuprofen put right down, some sneezing, sinuses that tended to fill up at night. I was sure it was a cold - except that COVID is certainly far more prevalent than the cold virus right now. (I guess, techically, every "cold" is also "A COVID", but of course, I mean The COVID, number 19.)

They persisted through the night, and I had that medium-bad headache in the morning, so I headed over to the nearest drug store, with my N95 very firmly on, and picked up my free RAT, followed the directions - and a very clear result.

Aw, crap.

But, as long as this is the worst of it, I feel lucky twice over. Lucky that it's so mild, and lucky that I basically get another layer of immunological protection, just before the four-month mark after my booster shot. Pretty much perfect timing; my vaccination is still at pretty much full-power, undoubtedly why I'm having just some sneezes and headache - but now I get a few-to-several more months of protection from reinfection. No, not perfect protection, but it'll help.

If they start talking about fourth shots for my age group, I can put it off until fall, when maximum protection will likely be needed.

http://brander.ca/cccc#testpositive


2022 April 13: STILL With the Convoy? Pathetic...

A few days off coming up, next CCCC will be Sunday. Today, just a quick link to a story that most papers simply ignored, but it deserves attention, condemnation, and mockery.

I hadn't heard of "The Stranger" a Seattle-based news site that covered the Vancouver "Freedom Convoy" yesterday.

Yes, you read that correctly, there's still a Freedom Convoy that shows up at odd intervals. I knew they were still protesting in Calgary, had heard there were a few Saturday gatherings still on the coast.

But last weekend, they paraded through downtown Vancouver, mostly just in half-tons, mercifully, which have far less painful horns - but the horns were painful enough, as the writer has video proof.

It was in honour of Bill Gates' speech at TED, which was devoted to preventing the next pandemic, as he'd tried to prevent this last one, giving warnings in 2014. He can only profess bewilderment at being seen as a puppet master of dire conspiracies.

It would be funnier if we didn't now know how closely adjacent the anti-vax promotions were to anti-Ukraine, pro-corruption, pro-war promotions.

Ignoring them is the best strategy, of course, but, damn, one wants to go there and mock them mercilessly.

http://brander.ca/cccc#convoystill


2022 April 12: Endless Vaccinations? Possible!

Just ten months back, articles tended to pooh-pooh fears that we'd need a yearly booster. That was before the first "booster" shot, though they were already planned, hence the concern that endless vaccinations were the next thing.

But, way back then, many pointed out that lots of vaccinations were a three-shot protocol, but with the three shots, done. Polio is actually a four-shot series, but, done even in childhood, done for life.

This, alas, is a coronavirus. The same kind that gives you colds. And we all know how long immunity from your last cold lasts: not even months.

But now that we have fourth shots rolling, now that third shots are being recommended for all adults, the question comes up again: will this become a permanent, at least yearly, ritual?

It might, but every outcome is still possible. This CNN article lays out the various possibles:

We've hit the "nobody knows nuthin" stage of the pandemic.

http://brander.ca/cccc#endlessvax


2022 April 10: Ventilation Avoids Ventilators (II)

This is the sequel to the first "Ventilation Avoids Ventilators", several months back.

We can start looking for progress on this issue, now, though there's been very little. It takes time to improve ventilation, save by the stopgap method of opening windows and doors. And we can start talking about how that expensive, slow, serious change is needed, because it's starting to look like airborne disease is going to be an issue for years, maybe decades, to come.

There's a great introductory article on it at CNN. It talks about both the short-term methods of opening up windows, running fans. But it also goes into the need to just improve our HVAC systems, our standards.

There's been too little discussion of how all "indoor" spaces are not remotely equal in ventilation. Big arenas are almost an outdoor air; big box stores and most supermarkets, with the 6+ metre ceilings, are far less dangerous than a barbershop or a bar. We need to start grading spaces by their size, their number of air-replacements per hour.

The Irish Examiner has a nice short article on how we will keep having waves until the issue is addressed, because masks and so forth are just not going to be used in the long run.

I'm going to start looking for restaurants that "get" this.

http://brander.ca/cccc#ventilation2


2022 April 9: Nobody Even Has a Guess At Our Next Wave

After a lull of pandemic news, there was a fair bit of time devoted to it on the TV news last night. Coverage of places where things are getting bad, like hospital admissions in the UK again hitting stressful levels for their NHS, delayed surgeries in the offing. Coverage of the extreme lockdowns in China and Hong Kong. There's beginning to be some concern that you can't just declare COVID over - again.

I remain optimistic. I'm sticking by my 100-day-old prediction (in pandemic scholarship, that's one ancient prediction) that the wave after the New Year's Omicron wave, will be smaller, tolerated by the hospitals, will banish most fears.

Of course, I was refering only to BC, though I think our Maritimes, which did so well in earlier waves, will be the same. Our prairies, on the other hand, could be like the UK, they have the same vaccination levels.

But, it's certainly become too complicated for anybody to predict any more. Too many variants in simultaneous play, too many differing cultures that mask-and-distance more or less, too many variations in vaccination level from province to province, from city to country. All these factors interact, and I'm afraid one glum prediction is that we will have wave after wave, all of them smaller, but all of them at least somewhat disruptive, and hard on the vulnerable.

That's my guess. I'm brave to have even one.

http://brander.ca/cccc#nextwave


2022 April 8: Wastewater Monitoring Has Become Our Main Tool

From posting-a-link, I'm down to not even doing that. But only because I couldn't pick which one. Here's a bunch of links: whatever comes up in a web news search on "wastewater monitoring". All the stories were the same, from all over America and Europe, so far.

"Wastewater Monitoring" has gone from an interesting idea, early on, to the default measurement of the pandemic. The collapse of any interest or support for testing means we're blind, save for wastewater monitoring.

It's nice that the part of our society nobody even wants to think about, but is heroic because it saves so many lives from disease, is getting a little notice in the news for being such an easy, painless way to track the health of the population. It's cute, for an ex-employee, to see "wastewater" on every main news papge, for some story, because it's how we know a new wave is rising.

So many pandemic ideas were cranked up, but didn't get anywhere. It's great this one very humble one has become the hero.

http://brander.ca/cccc#sewagemonitoring


2022 April 7: Omicron Has Different Symptoms

With less tracking of the pandemic, the number-crunching and graphing I've enjoyed with CCCC are harder to find (and less reliable - does Canada have a new wave, and the USA, not, or is the USA just tracking the new wave poorly?)

So, many more posts may be a few words recommending a link. Today, about all the interest the pandemic has for me is An article at The Guardian about Omicron symptoms being different.

Yes, the disease is "less severe" but that includes nine new symptoms, and a great reduction in the big three: fever, cough, and that darn loss of taste and smell - all less than half as likely with Omicron; loss of smell only 17% instead of 53% with Delta.

On the downside, you can now worry about nausea and diarrhoea, on top of aches, sore throat, runny nose and headache.

I'll just tiredly add CCCC to the long list of advisors telling you that It Ain't Over and Omicron Can Still Kill You. You can unmask, but you don't have to. It'll probably peak and head down soon, I maintain some faith that this is the wave that doesn't scare us or shut us down. But that's no reason to be cavalier.

http://brander.ca/cccc#omicronsymp


2022 April 6: Welcome to the New Start

Starting afresh means all the old URL connections directly to the posts continue to work. I'll be doing up an index. I will also be setting up a system whereby posts over a week old get archived, so it's not all one file.

For the re-start, it's actually a bit early. Not that much has happened in the pandemic I couldn't have predicted a week ago! Hong Kong and China are still locked down, utterly screwed by their failure to vaccinate more than half their elderly. They'll be at it for another month or more, then immunity has to kick in. What a self-own!

Poland, happily, continues to show only declining cases. Maybe existential terror somehow protects a human body from the virus. Cuba really seems to have protected itself, still no sign of a new wave, as is happening across Europe, and, more mildly, here in Canada.

Nope, the link for today is that The Tyee is just going all Jack Reacher upon the re-opening. Two articles in two days by Andrew Nikiforuk, no less: A full-throated condemnation of the "Pandemic Denial" removal of measures, just on Monday, then a scathing review of Sweden's failed "herd immunity" strategy, just this morning. It wasn't just a bad strategy: a report by the top journal, Nature, scorched the Swedes for repeatedly lying and hiding information, to support their messages.

Surprisingly, the new Nikiforuk article was not The Tyee's top-of-page offering; that was this criticism of the BC end of restrictions, by Moira Wyton, their health reporter. I hadn't know the end of vaccine passes was this Friday.

I grant you, we're at 91% done, and the end of mandates won't de-vaccinate anybody. But I kind of join with Nikiforuk and Wyton in decrying the whole attitude being taken here, that it's over if we just will it to be over, will ourselves to be blase' about further infection and death.

The Tyee thinks we could do better, and I'm glad to have some voices sounding a counterpoint to the otherwise-dominant attitude that we should just start sucking it up.