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

(Copyright, Roy Brander, 2022, 2023. All non-commercial use is granted.)

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Archive of CCCC posts From 2020-2022 April 1.

2024 June 5: Nailing Down "Good Ventilation" to CO2

I seem to have two stories left on my pandemic blog:
  1. Actual advances in fighting the disease, like new vaccines. (happy story)

  2. People acting like the pandemic is over medically, to just make it be over, sociologically and politically. (not so much)

This post is a happy story - at least in that we now know more about protecting indoor space. Two papers have come out about carbon dioxide and COVID.

Very short version: CO2 was already a good proxy for ventilation, and was used to decide whether to hit the bar (it's at 900ppm, nope) or the diner (470ppm, very nice, even with 12 people in it, must be well-ventilated). But the papers say that it also tests how friendly the air itself is to viruses.

Turns out viruses are mostly killed in the air by rising alkalinity as they dry out. Also turns out that CO2 in the air acts as a "buffer", keeping the pH down to a neutral level. As the air gets thick up past 1000ppm, the viruses can stay alive ten times as long as in a well-ventilated room with low CO2.

Even the 800ppm level, used a lot as a dividing line between "OK" and "do something", is high enough to "significantly extend the lifespans" of virus particles.

So. The argument for buying a CO2 meter to advise your socializing just doubled or more. Prices seem to be coming down, too. The real turnabout would be if hospitality establishments had a CO2 meter in the room - and the output at the door.

So, that's it: get a CO2 meter and stay out of places that are above 600, much less 800 - stay long only if under 500. We're learning to manage the risks.

2024 May 28: As I Was Saying Yesterday...

I should have held off a day, and been able to stress my point with another story. Today, it's The Guardian telling us Lady Gaga gave "COVID Concerts" back in 2022 .

As I was saying yesterday, the worm turned in early 2022, and it became quite chic to just dismiss the pandemic as already over. Over, because either you were vaccinated, and society had done all it should for you; or you were not, and any disease was all your fault. So, let's turn up the music and dance!

What got me about the story was the quote "...shared her Covid diagnosis with everyone on her team at the time and told them they didn't have to work if it made them uncomfortable."

It doesn't say that "they could collect full salary anyway". I'm really quite sure they couldn't, or anybody sensible would stay home and collect a cheque without touring around Europe and North America. On a tour, "you're either on the bus, or off the bus", as Ken Kesey said. There's no middle ground.

It was basically a offer to remain employed by Gaga for future work, if any turned up, and for unemployment, unpaid, through 2022. This to people after two years of unemployment. It was no choice at all, no more than the people in meat-packing plants were given.

Of course, they'd be out of work if she didn't tour, as well; it's not really about them, it's about whether accepting the pandemic and staying home is normal, or if everybody who does that... is just dropping out of the race that our society is, a competition for jobs and advancement. If we don't all agree to stay home, nobody can. And devil take the immune-system hindmost.

This is back in 2022. That early, was when the "pandemic was over", in the minds of many with enough power to just make it so, where they work and live.

2024 May 27: Let's All Just Pretend It's Gone Entirely

That headline really sums it up. There are a lot of people, certainly an overwhelming majority, that have had little damage from COVID, remember their case as a cold, and are pretty dismissive of other's injuries and fears.

A guy I supervised at work once commented that a fellow employee - of decades - was a "sickie", often away with illness. The guy in question was also really valuable as a sane voice, sharp eyes, and great expertise; his time-off never bothered management. Perhaps it can be frustrating showing up every day, knowing the same paycheque is going to the guy with a dozen-odd days off every year.

But I remember the sense of dismissal, that you can't count on "sickies", just have to work around them, can't stop for them.

And that, frankly, is an underpinning ethic of our society. It showed up in the pandemic and the care-homes. Once you're a sickie, our society puts minimal effort into you, before, during and now after the pandemic. (Heard of any care-home reforms? Me, neither.)

Our society gave the old and the immunocompromised one year of consideration, and much of the next, while the vaccines were distributed. By the time we were doing boosters at the start of 2022, there was also a huge Convoy demanding we start pretending it was just gone entirely, utterly over, and why not forget it, while we're at it.

No comments, no notes. I'm just observing a fact.

2024 May 20: Vaxxer Vindication!!

When I went through a down-day after my last booster, I admit I did wonder how much value it had. Again, we're on to a new variant currenly popular, that wasn't around yet when the vaccine was formulated.

So it's great to have vindication from the Washington University School of Medicine, which has just completed a study indicating that getting all your vaccines promotes broad-spectrum imminity - to new variants of COVID-19, and even to other coronaviruses.

I'll just leave it there, no details really needed. Peer-reviewed study, folks: get your vaccines, whether they're up-to-date, or not. They all do you some good.

2024 May 17: The Army Marches On

It was near the end of the previous blog, the link is over to the "CCCC archive", for the "Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle" vaccine under development by the US Army. As the linked article notes, the US Army also fights viruses; their staggering budget includes an amount for medical research.

The news today is from the Lancet, the vaccine is in testing.

This is really early testing - basically, does the stuff hurt you. They were paying attention to the immune response indications, but they aren't up to testing for efficiacy yet - this test was just a few people.

The first CCCC story on it is over two years old; that's about a normal speed for development of something so new, I think. It'll be another two before we see announcements that might matter to the public. What status COVID-19 has in that year isn't really that important; this vaccine is about all coronaviruses, a genuine, pardon the overused term, "Game-Changer".

2024 May 11: Spring Boosters

Just a few words to crow that I'm keeping the faith - got my spring booster, which would be my fifth booster, my seventh vaccine injection. A few moments, totally free. I have to admit I have a bad reaction every time, and a busy parent with a job might begrudge having some energy sapped for a day the next day. (Basically what it does to me, just runs me down a bit.)

But, it's we retirees that need it the most, for our own protection. Protecting the rest of society is pretty much a lost goal at this point, though I want to do my bit.

So, if you have any spare bandwidth at all, join me, and get 'er done.

2024 May 6: I Know "Killservatives" Won't Fly, But...

...what else am I to call them?

The article, also linked from the graphic, has no graphics itself, just some very plain-text conclusions in black and white: after vaccination came in during the pandemic, the "excess death rates" for Republican voters in Ohio and Florida rose to 43% higher than the "excess death rates" for Democratic voters.

There was always a gap between the two: Republicans do more dying than Democrats, basically, they die more-often, thus, younger, have a lower life expectancy.

The drop in life expectancy for Americans in general has widened, as shown in the graph at left. It used to be a minor difference with other nations; usually explained by American minorities - Blacks, Hispanics, Natives - dying much younger than their Whites. Now, it's everybody, even Whites with good incomes. It's been widening since Reaganism started, but took a dive since the pandemic started, and hasn't recovered yet, still plummeting.

The authors only conclude that there is an association between political party affiliation, and death rates; and that the difference rose after vaccination. Previous studies had only gone down to the county level, and that isn't enough for researchers, because perhaps Republican counties are bad in other ways that lower life expectancy. (And that's quite true; COVID just added a new reason for the GOP killing their populace.)

Now, it's nailed down to the individual level: conservative voters die younger, and they did a lot more dying from COVID-19, surely because of their lower vaccination rates above all. CCCC has done what it could to compare Canadian provinces, gathered some data that Canadian conservatives, like Jason Kenney, and the under-criticized Scott Moe got their people into graves; but this kind of study really confirms it.

Stay away from conservatives, voters: they're harbingers of death.

2024 April 27: "Quack" Medicine That Works?

If you'd just told me, in the middle of the pandemic, that applying some antibiotic cream up in your nose to avoid infection, I'd have called that "quack medicine" up there with the horse thing and the aquarium cleaner.

But that whole "I believe in Science" [sniff!] condescenscion has to bend the knee when they show you multiple trials with placebos and peer review.

The National Academy of Science has published a paper, so there - an early result, but very promising. It's not just that animals appeared to benefit from lower infection rates, but they have a mechanism explaining how the hell an antibiotic can help with a virus.

Turns out that the presence of the stuff stimulates the immune system generally. As Salon explains for the non-doctors, neomycin stimulated genes to "induce this antiviral state that we also saw in animals".

Promising indeed. Since so many regard the pandemic as "over" and associate closely without thinking of masks, (I was in a corporate cafeteria the other week that frankly bothered me), this probably won't create a rush on Neosporin sales, since it at most adds "another layer of protection", not a cure-all. They also note the animals got quite a bit of neomycin, the actual medicine, which the commercial product, Neosporin, has less of.

Still - it's a thing I'd consider if I had to work in close quarters for a while, and masks were impractical. Or I'd just do both.

2024 April 23: He Never Said "Bleach"

Just the four-year anniversary (I'm starting a series) of the day he recommended testing "disinfectant ... injection inside", along with bringing bright light into the body.

So: he never said "bleach". Just "disinfectant". Let's clear that up.

2024 April 20: Time For Review of America 2020

Having run a pandemic blog through the whole period, you'd think I could not be surprised by the review of Trump's pandemic performance by Stephen Robinson of Public Notice.

I wasn't surprised, exactly, but shocked anyway... I remembered all the incidents as he went back over them - deprecating masks and vaccines while admitting to using them himself; the promotion of snake-oil "cures", the "Liberate Michigan" violence, and all starting with his destruction of Obama's pandemic task for the year before. I had not known that none other than Joe Biden wrote a warning in October 2019 about that dissolution and the risk of pandemic. (USA today article by Biden also linked from the graphic at left.) If it matters, there were actually two pandemic task forces, and both were shut down.

It was really valuable to add it all up, because there are so many incidents and stances that you tend to forget some. Robinson's article reminds, again, that Trump deliberately dropped interest in COVID when he learned it was hitting Black people and large cities harder. Unfortunate that Robinson didn't also link to the Thom Hartmann story that goes into more detail.. Hartmann's story emphasizes how their pandemic plans turned on a dime on when they saw the NYT headline that "Black Americans Bear the Brunt as Deaths Climb". Hartmann notes how things changed that very day, in right-wing media. Fox News doyen Brit Hume posted that day that the virus was " dangerous as we thought" - to White people, I guess, is the only way to reconcile the April 7 story and Hume's opinion. Since White people had more telecommuting jobs, Black people more hands-on work, "re-opening" was an inherently racist position - and the greater Black death rate made it more stark again.

Not that Trump had to force the right wing to look at the pandemic that way: they eagerly forced meat-plant workers back to work in tight quarters. Because they weren't "regular folks".

As Robinson notes, we remember Trump's pandemic performance as incompetent, letting him off on how much of it was outright Evil.

Never forget.

2024 April 16: Very New Vaccine Approach: "Small Interfering RNA"

CCCC will not even pretend to understand this, because there's just the one article, and it's not very technical. It's clearly like older vaccines in that it involves a modified, live version of the virus.

But it doesn't rely on your immune response! It can be used by babies with very undeveloped immune systems. Something called "Small Interfering RNAs" destroy the virus instead.

The kicker: it should lead to vaccinations that work for all variants, "We are targeting the whole genome...they cannot escape this [by mutating], says author Rong Hai at UC Riverside.

And, that's all for how, folks. You can imagine how long it will take a really radical new approach to wend its way through the medical approvals system. Just all those precautions they take, to be really really sure they are right about a new medicine, before "VaxWarrior732", on social media, checks three websites for research, and calls them ignorant buffoons.

2024 April 1: James Inhofe, Snowball Guy and "COVID Hoax" Alarmist

I came across this on social media, checked it out, and it's true. Inhofe even admitted it. I'm not sure if he ever admitted that the snowball he brought onto the floor of the Senate, to prove that there was no such thing as global warming was not a great scientific argument.

You have to look at these things, almost daily, to remind yourself what utter ignoramuses and horse's asses so many politicians are, especially American conservative politicians. Though I would have thought a truly "conservative" attitude towards disease was to be careful of it.

There's been very little official turnabout on COVID, as the science came trickling in. The science on long COVID has only gotten more alarming as the cases have grown, the studies into the mechanisms continue. Brain damage, immune system damage. I'm going flying in two days, and I'm wearing a mask on the plane.>

2024 March 28: Four Years Ago Today, March 28, 2020:

I had forgotten how early it was. Later on, after Fauci had been demonized for months, they had some ammunition. He'd said we don't need masks please don't buy up all the PPE. Then it turned out that masks were useful and he flipped on the issue. This was taken as proof of lies and dictatorial intentions. When he supported mandates for masks and vaccines, the demonization was all about that - but it started when they had nothing to complain about.

On March 28, 2020, the only thing he'd done was look tired while Trump was talking. The NYT article linked from the headline at left seems to be un-walled at the moment, has a bunch more detail - detail on how Fauci was being attacked, none on what he'd done to deserve it but sound the alarm and, um, have expertise. That's what they hated.

My Stackback today is about myth-versus-fact struggles. What a coincidence.

2024 March 27: Can Canada Learn Some Lessons?

Just providing the link: Paul Wells hosted a discussion of whether Canada can learn any lessons from the pandemic. At that link, also his article about it, and comments, including mine (about "resiliency").

Wells must be thanked for staying on this topic. Reviews of "governance" a few years back, aren't as click-grabbing as the latest story, but Wells - and the people he interviews, all of whom expressed some frustation at the lack of reviews so far - know how important it is to learn lessons.

It's thankless work, no good for raising the Liberals polls, but it's what we really elect people to do. I can wish (foolishly, I'm sure) for some fantasy government that expects to lose the next election, and patriotically does all sorts of Hard Things that we wish governments would do, because they can shrug at the political costs - sort of like a terminal cancer case volunteering for the suicide mission. That would be great! We'd get care-home improvements, more hospital beds, a misinformation agency. It won't happen.

Be we do get this review. I'll be listening, today.

2024 March 26: Corey Doctrow Defends Anti-Vaxxers??, not really. But he does make a very good point about "denialism" of received wisdom from Authority.

In a post about "The Epistemological Crisis", Corey tells his own story of denying medical authority: opioids. He looked into pain relief back when doctors were still peddling contrived study results that claimed there'd be no addiction with long-term use.

He notes he "did his own research", though this is Corey, not Alex Jones: Corey's research was "I struggled through papers and commentary", actual research, if you will. Downloading papers from the NIH and Mayo are not the same as "checking websites". Corey avoided addiction, but points out that made him an "opioid denier" at the time, with his opinions sounding much like those of antivaxxers.

Corey goes on to note that all conspiracy theory would be harder, maybe a lot less of it, if there were not actual conspiracies between industry and government, more than a few of them:

Enough; one could go on all day. So, conspiracists do have some points, and Corey's "I was an opioid denier" - where he was correct, and The Establishment wrong, because of lobbyists - must give one pause before beating upon anti-vaxxers.

But then we get to beat-upon their ideas anyway, because it is different: Corey was really stretching a point. After that pause, we recall that opioids were new, not yet tested by huge populations and time. The Opioid Lie was found out, the hard way, within a few years. Vaccination, on the other hand, was already over a hundred years old in 2020, the principle tested on many diseases, by millions. (Oh, and vaccination has very little profit-motive to lie, by comparison to the long-term opioid prescriptions.)

Do read Corey's article, it's just excellent - but then go back to ripping on antivaxxers with undimmed confidence.

2024 March 16: "Major Measles Outbreak", Thanks, Antivaxxers

The CBC story makes it plain: this is all about lack of vaccination. The lack of vaccination has shot up since 2019. The epidemiologist they quote states it plainly "...because of widespread anti-vaccine and anti-science activities..."

I suppose the harms they are doing by pushing us into another measles outbreak are small compared to the COVID-19 deaths, but they'll be so much more sympathetic: babies and little kids will do the dying. And going sterile...or blind.

I can't hope for suffering and death, but one can glumly predict that lack of vaccination will eventually punish us until we become vaccine enthusiasts again, the way everybody was when I was little, and polio had just been beaten. Whooping cough, and smallpox itself, were remembered by all adults.

I feel sorry for the kids, almost as sorry for the parents who will surely be wracked with guilt at what they've done. But I hope it gets us back on the right mental track.

2024 March 15: Dr. Brad Delong is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

...about one minor point on his very good substack blog, linked from the graphic.

Where we disagree is with his sentence "As best as I can tell, the difference is not in non-medical behavioral differentials, but purely in vaccination. ".

Needless to say, faithful readers (that is, very needful to say), CCCC came to the opposite conclusion, after three years of semi-obsessive focus on the statistics. I kept finding different death rates in places with the same level of vaccination, including the comparison between Vermont, one of the best US states with 86% vaccination and 1,825 dead per million, and Alberta (one of Canada's worst pandemic provinces) with 86% vaccination and just over 1200 dead per million.

But, don't accept my figures, look at the graph Dr. DeLong was using: he prominently notes the dates where vaccinations were available. But the graph changes months before that, with the red line, for GOP-county deaths, is below the blue line nearly until the vaccinations are available. But, it isn't about the total deaths, it's about the death rate: and you can see the red line has a far sharper curve, right after the "7" in the "March 7" label. From the scale of the graph, I'd say the GOP counties started dying in greater numbers, per million, by late June, six months before vaccinations were taking effect.

A repeat, (again) of my figures from late 2020 appears at right. Those figures all predate vaccination. Again, the Canadian deaths have already been multipied by the population ratio: the numbers should be directly compared. The difference can't be due to vaccinations, because there were none at that time. Please note this: the ratios between Canada and America were higher back in 2020; look at the 30-49 column, the ratios are 12 and 13 dead Americans to every dead Canadian, in that age group, just before vaccinations arrived.

I'm not sure what to make of the spike in dying from about September, 2021, through February, 2022, where the red line gains most of the distance between it and the blue one. That spike is indeed not found in Vermont, with that 86% vaccination, and Ohio/Michigan, both about 60%. Thing is, old people mostly did vaccinate, and did most of the dying, so I'm not so sure the vaccination rates are that different for the most-affected population.

So I come again to behaviours, for which I gigged Michigander Matthew Walther, in previous CCCC posts. Walther made a point of how Michiganders around him, at least, including the whole medical team for his wife's baby, made few concessions to the virus - and Michigan then had those extra 12,000 deaths soon after his article.

So I'm unmoved: behaviours count, not just vaccinations.

2024 March 14: Responsibility

Fourth anniversaries are happening for the pandemic. They're just dates, not actual events, but I wanted to blog this one. Apparently today is the fourth anniversary "I don't take any responsibility at all".

You know, I'd thought that was later on; I'd thought he'd said it after the bodies were piling up, not just about the slow testing. As all the stories note, it wasn't just Unprecedented that a top executive would not proclaim "The Buck Stops Here" (sort of proudly, since everybody knows that "power" and "responsibility" are two sides of one coin), but the topic - slow testing because he'd ordered it slowed, to suppress the actual statistics - was about his specific orders.

Do click on the video on that link. Same day, four years ago, asked about the "no responsibility" in relation to having fired the whole pandemic unit back in 2018 (almost as if he'd seen the pandemic coming, and wanted to sabotage the country as much as possible), as something to take responsibility for, his first words are the also-famous "I just think it's a nasty question..". I'd also forgotten that both of those were the same day. What a day.

It's only true that "power and responsibility are two sides of the same coin" in a stable, functioning group of people. Without power, responsiblity can't be discharged, you can't be held responsible for what you have no power over. Without responsiblity, power always just consumes and destroys, and that's that.

Most politicians dodging responsiblity smother reporters in a torrent of words; it has to be admitted that this one just came out and said he was unfit to have power, plain and simple. If only America had really rational and effective government! Then, the very next day, the "Ides of March", when Caesar fell, would also have been when his cabinet removed him, saved countless lives. America needed an actual leader, as defined by taking responsibility.

2024 March 12: Just Design For Upward Airflow

Proud to read it's our own UBC at Okanagan that has made a real discovery in preventing airborne infections.

Read for yourself, but the ultra-short version is that if you can arrange a classroom's airflow to go from the floor up to the ceiling, you can reduce pathogensin the classroom by 85%.

The bad news is that we have to design our buildings around this: airs supply should come up from under the floor, and intake registers and exhaust ducts up in the ceiling. But if we can do this, we get a huge benefit basically for free, without higher airflows or filtration.

It's nice to put good news into a pandemic blog!

2024 March 7: Telling Headline

I kept this on my desktop, looking at it now and then, so long I can't tell you whether it's the Times, the Post, or something else. But it's not just the headline: it's the whole topic of the story.

It isn't about how child care needs are being met; it isn't about whether the kids are OK; it isn't even about whether the parents are free to pursue their jobs, the largest economic result of child care.

It's about whether an industry is doing OK, not people. Are investments paying back? Are the investors OK?

That was the problem in the pandemic: faced with danger to the population, the most-important and powerful people only had eyes for protecting their money.

2024 March 1: Past the 2024 Winter Peak

Just a note that CTV news is still doing COVID/RSV/Flu updates, at least. The news there is that rates have declined a bit for COVID, we're past the winter peak.

Also in recent news, a survey estimated that 5% of the population has some long-COVID symptoms, and that tests indicate Long-COVID sufferers lose a few IQ points from the "brain fog", in effect.

The other stories are about how all controls have been released, the five-day period has become a joke, and "let 'er rip" is practically CDC policy. Readers of CCCC can only be begged to continue taking it seriously, and have a mask in your pocket for indoor spaces with more than one or two people. Good luck.

2024 February 27: You Know Who's "Not Over the Pandemic"? T. Swift

No link, I'm sure it's easy to look up if you want details; just read the other day how Taylor Swift is simply not allowed to be close to people right now. Great efforts are made to keep fans past arm's length, but even her tour companions don't get close. Unlike the other singers, dancers, musicians, and crew, she's irreplaceable: no Taylor, no tour.

So she only has contacts that could get infectious with a limited number of other performers and assistants, and those people then have limited contacts with others, mask up when going out anywhere. It's a very quiet, very professional pandemic bubble, right out of summer 2020.

Some people are really serious about this. If only our school boards were numbered among them.

2024 February 23: Nope, No Help for Long-Term Care

I won't even link to a story, and this can be under 100 words: the BC Budget is out, with no special projects to improve long-term care homes. There's the usual funding, even some increases, but no real effort to change things fundamentally. Nothing for ending private long-term care, already a great suggestion. Maybe we'll have to go the way of Ontario where they are Suing Doug Ford.


2024 February 15: Canada's Would-Be PPE Makers Sue Over Tease

Short version: the Feds implied that great sales would come to domestic providers of PPE, if they could just tool up to make masks and so forth. They claim to have spent $88M doing so, and expected billions in profits. The feds kept buying from foreign suppliers. The PPE hopefuls are suing, not just for the $88M, but for all those billions in profits from sales they never made for PPE they never manufactures.

On the face of that, they get $88M worth of sympathy, I hope they win that, but not the profit thing.

Much more importantly, how stupid is the federal government to not start buying now and create a domestic industry?. Yes, the foreign stuff is cheaper. But we wanted a domestic industry pretty badly in a pandemic, didn't we?

The painfully obvious preparation for the next pandemic is to buy their stuff now, buy it regularly to keep the domestic industry alive; charge the difference to "industrial policy and resilience preparation", not to the medical budget. Start spending various medical costs on that new budget - spend a little extra to have more available, and more manufacturing capability available, for the next time.

We've already stopped thinking about that next one, that the CCCC suggestion above, just doesn't appear in the story, and no journalist is asking about doing that. We'll hit the next pandemic, just like the last one. At least the PPE makers will be warned next time.

2024 February 12: In a COVID Ward, Mask Grade Matters

Again, just a quick link to a quick article, a few minute's read. Cambridge University found they could cut COVID ward infections nearly to zero with the right masks.

Everybody gets COVID, these days, but people who worked on COVID wards got it more often - until they wore the better masks, and their infection rate dropped to the same as everybody else.

Of course, their rate would presumably drop to zero, if they wore their work masks all the time; the rate they still get, is out in the community. Just another reminder that masks work.

2024 February 11: No, I Don't Think We Do Care About Old People

I can't tell you much about KFF Health News, it seems to be just an independent news site focused on all health topics, but they're still on COVID-19, unlike so many others.

They have gathered the receipts on how much we actually responded to the Care-Home Horrors of 2020, and it's "not much". The 20 years of warnings about care-homes before COVID were ignored, and it seems even the Reaping of 2020 is now being shrugged at, not much done to prevent the next. They aren't getting old people Paxlovid when they catch it; and they aren't even keeping up vaccinations!.

I could have predicted this, but I just wasn't cynical enough. Life continues to surprise.

2024 February 3: Canada Is Indeed Reviewing Their Pandemic Response

Paul Wells' excellent substack is this week on the review of Canada's federal pandemic response, by Sir Mark Walport, a UK physician.

You may not be aware of it from other news; half of Wells' piece is about how hard it is to get the slightest information about the review itself. This is quite the contrast to some other countries, that could not be more forthcoming and proud of their work.

It's a great piece, recommended, as is all of Wells' substack work these days; the man's rolodex, and propensity to umpire from the middle, make him the journalist you needed, even when the conclusion isn't what you wanted.

I got into a bit of back-and-forth with another commmenter, and we stayed entirely polite, which was a pleasure. The substack is also getting compliments for its comment section, on social media.

2024 January 27: Why We Accept COVID Deaths

I have friends that are still not going out, avoiding crowds, enclosed spaces. They repeat for friends the statistics on how many in a given room have COVID at any given moment. But, for most, COVID risks are forgotten, ignored...just accepted.

The chart at left is from the BC Centre for Disease Control, and they call it their "mortality context" page. I've cut out the part about how many life-years are lost for each cause of death - as you can imagine, "Illicit Drug Toxicity", the #2 cause, takes a lot of life-years from young and middle-aged victims.

For overall dying, though, we note that COVID-19 has basically doubled the dying that happens from "influenza and pneumonia". The two similar things together are about 4% of total deaths, a bit less than "accidents" at 5%, and taking fewer life-years. The average age of death is 84, just one less than "stroke", which again, kills more than influenza, pneumonia, and COVID-19 all together.

In short, people under the age of 60 who are out working and family-raising, have shrugged it off with an already-long list of risks that exist for them, but mostly for those older. People aren't taking COVID-19 precautions, the same way they don't take precautions against accidents, take the car rather than the train, risk the street-food they haven't seen cooked.

A COVID-19 death is a probabilistic thing, you see, like a death from cancer: you raise your risks with every drink, every smoke. "Liver Disease" is just above the COVID-19 line on the chart, kills nearly as many people, and kills them 20 years younger, as a median. Nobody thinks about it when drinking. Diabetes is worse, kills people several years younger, risks can be reduced by eating well, and yet obesity is pushed to the limits by so many. (A US State just declared it has no more money to subsidize Wegovy, as much good as it does for your obesity; too many takers.)

I have to admit, even a month of hell from a D-list plain 'ol cold virus (below) has not made me eager to mask up in every store. A study of classrooms in China just showed that an N95 reduces your risk of infection by 96% in a situation where you have about a 1% chance of infection during a 1-hour class. People are taking the 1% odds - about 15 times a week, for most students, giving them 50% odds of infection every five weeks - when they could all-but-negate them with some discomfort. For a teenage student, perhaps an easier call than for myself.

For all the "context" around COVID, here's another: it's so little to do, just about halving your risk by even the most-modest, close-quarters-only mask usage, that, well, why not? You can accept your COVID risk, of course - but why not reduce it?

2024 January 22: Virus From the D-List?

So, what DID I just suffer through, and give to my whole family, the last month? I tested negative for COVID-19, twice. It did not fit the main symptom of RSV, which is "wheezing", or indeed, any invasion into the lungs proper. I've had flus that get down in the lungs, and this never got past the upper-bronchial tract, though it was heavy coughing for two days. Coughing so heavy that an evening of talking over kids and music gave me 4 weeks of laryngitis, that remains my last symptom.

Alas, we're assured that there are a lot of plain old colds circulating around, and some of those can be bad indeed. We had a week of coughing, weeks of sinus-clearing every five minutes, sinus headaches that reached migraine proportions in my case. Everybody else, even Dora at 92, had an easier time than I did, but there was no point where it got scary; just really miserable. And very little loss of energy, at least compared to a flu; I only had to skip a few workouts, take a few extra afternoon naps.

It was no special named virus, I'm thinking. It was quite a reminder that even a respiratory virus from the D-list of virus fame, can pack quite a punch. I just hope that anybody working, getting the same, doesn't go in. And is good about masking if you must go shop, as I was.

2024 January 19: Marvel at the Real Trump COVID Strategy

This is stupid, to do a special post all this time later, but recent events had me thinking of this day, today. The day that Trump, barely released from hospital after getting the almost-unobtainable "monoclonal antibodies" that ran $100K at the time (only useful for the first variant, why you've forgotten them), and anti-virals, and the best care, ripped off his mask.

He'd been wheezing and hardly able to stand the day before; had infected multiple Secret Service agents parading around in his armored car - but as soon as he could stand, he got out on that balcony and ripped off his mask.

To show how brave he was, facing down the Enemy. How strong a leader he was.

This was commented-upon at the time, the graphic links to a Vox story - but my CCCC posts that week did not really touch Trump's personal psychology. That link is to a comment about the whole White House staff of the time just not taking distancing or any self-protection seriously. That they were like the aristocrats in "Masque of the Red Death", imagining that the 13-foot anti-antifa fence then around the White House could protect them from a virus, too. The virus swept through the whole place when Trump got it.

I was so dismissive of Trump in general, at the time - simply an irrelevant distraction, clowning and being a stumbling block while others tried to work - that I didn't stop and think that this is how he meets every problem: just roaring defiance and hate at it. That's so far from making sense as a way to "attack" a virus, that I didn't stop to really see it.

Trump's whole reaction to the pandemic was to literally face up to it, as if it were a horde of sword-waving attackers from "Chy-na". To just be brave.

This is actually not insane, for an attack by a horde. Taking more casualties, but taking them "well", without the line breaking, the army scattering, wins sword-fights, even some artillery fights. For a virus, of course, it is simply handing free victories to the "enemy". (Is a storm an "enemy"? No? Then neither is a pandemic.)

It's pure tactical and strategic stupidity, a dumb self-own. Psychologically, however, it meets certain needs for certain kind of people. I do remember comments exactly to that effect: that Trump is showing he's a brave battlefield commander by ripping off that mask. I just dismissed them at the time as MAGA-craziness. I'm only now appreciating how deep the thinking runs. As mentioned, the thought comes from recent events that also seem to make no sense.

2023 December 14: A New Vax, With No Needles

I remember posting a "new vaccine" article every season or two on CCCC during the pandemic, and wondering if they could somehow rush the improvement into use. Hah. At the time, was really not paying attention to how unpopular the word "vaccine" was becoming, how understandably wary the medical profession was of offering anything but the most-familiar.

I dunno; vaccine uptake has fallen so low, that maybe they should be offering some variety, something to get people's attention.

Well, anyway, there's a wonderful new development: no less a publication than Nature is reporting on an effective, inhaled, vaccine for COVID-19. Very early report, on experimental animals; it works on mice, hamsters, and all primates. It'll work on us. At this stage, they can only report "strong immune response". Of course, we have little more for the most-used human vaccines, any more. We've had the new one out for months, now, but gathering data on how many recipients got sick, versus general infection levels, has got to be almost impossible. Hoping for something in some months, and we'll still be living cautiously when near Mom-in-law over Christmas.

2023 December 9: The Best Commentator on the Pandemic

George Monbiot on the pandemic in the UK. No notes. Not a word wasted.

2023 December 7: At Least The UK Are Getting an Inquiry

The headline in The Guardian is "How can any of us move on from the pandemic in the face of Boris Johnson's contempt?"

The story is just about Johnson's appearance at the UK Covid Inquiry, the inquiry that neither Canada nor, especially, America, are getting.

Johnson is shamed for showing up 3 hours early to avoid the crowds calling for his noose, but especially for his shameless, endless lying. The lie is singular to pick out: it's so minor and stupid, why lie? The lie was that Johnson claimed to have shaken the hands of early COVID patients. The author, one of their doctors, knows for certain this is a lie: there were just 35 UK patients on the day he told it, all at the time being treated like it was ebola, maximum PPE spacesuits for all - it was a ludicrous lie, and a lie in service of the diametrically-opposite health message, that COVID was not serious, not very infectious.

And he lied again to the inquiry, but only about the latter bit, saying that he shouldn't have sent that message; he never admitted the whole thing was a lie about an extremely minor event. If you're going to lie, it should be something big, like a stolen election, not a handshake.

He is also pilloried again for partying while others had to stay home. That's just not even an issue on this continent where the President had 150 people over to the White House for an occasion in August, 2020...and no newspaper said a word. (It was a funeral; just because it could have cost several more, it was still impolite to Power to complain, just because nobody else could hold a 150-person funeral.)

Certainly, no inquiry about that, or anything else that Canada or the US did during the pandemic. What we're getting instead, mostly in the States, but Alberta is trying, is the defanging of public health officials, the absolute opposite of an inquiry: we're getting the assumption that the liars were right, that the science was all wrong, that science must not be trusted, that "political correctness" will be the only medical correctness, next time. Next time, the Johnsons will win, they'll "let the bodies pile up".

Oh, and just today, came out that Johnson did the full factory-reset on his phone to delete all the information on it; (the reset requires his private code). And lied about doing so to the inquiry. Both are criminal acts.

Maybe we should call for an inquiry.

2023 December 6: Time To Lean on the Elderly to Vaccinate

The headline is tummy-sinking, because I know a 90-something who hates the vaccine reaction, and pleads that she lives a very isolated life, groceries delivered. But, I've got to try. Failing, I'll make sure her vaccinated grocery-delivering son is always masked at the store, and be wearing a mask myself when outside her house.

The numbers are rising again, and of course it's all 80-somethings, (and some 70-somethings) doing the hospital time, some leaving in boxes. What's appalling is that we oldsters aren't all hitting the needles, as we should. All have utterly given up on a need for vaccination to protect others, though of course it does. We've given up on any level of "herd immunity", the infection risk is just what it is, can't be controlled. So, we have to shrug at those under 50 not vaccinating. Of course they're taking a risk, but it's admittedly low, and not our problem.

The seniors, however, are being dumb, and should be counselled.

2023 December 2: Long COVID Has Been Shrinking, Now a Fraction

It's all in the one article in Scientific American, so I'll summarize as briefly as possible.

While we continue to hear that total COVID infections, even hospitalizations, are going back up for the season to numbers not so much lower than last year, the incidence of "Long COVID" in the population has declined much more: as much as 88% decline from 2020.

This is some combination of population immunity and continued vaccination, which multiple studies show to have been very protective of Long COVID.

Keep a mask in your pocket. Use it if the atmosphere gets close. Avoid a lot of close atmospheres, and vaccinate on the first day they let you. But, also, take heart. There are multiple signs things are getting better, even as we settle in to many years of twice-as-bad "flu seasons".

2023 November 26: This is How So Many Can Die, Unnoticed

It was weird, in the pandemic, that what was so plain inside hospitals was not in-your-face, in the street. Life went on entirely as normal, visually, unless you were in medicine, or doing stats for them.

It wasn't a "bad enough" pandemic to create social cohesion, some are saying these days. We apparently are so blind to statistical ways of seeing the world, that many of us needed to see bodies in the streets, piled up, to really believe in the pandemic. I recall people going to hospital parking lots, deeming them too quiet, and the entire thing a hoax, in Alberta.

How do tens of thousands die with nobody even believing it? It happens every day. It's been happening for decades, every day.

Now that coal has been about 95% eliminated, in just the last few years, the change was big enough and fast enough to see the real statistics on how many people died from coal smoke: and America was losing 50,000 more people per year than it really noticed.

Their deaths were noticed, obviously, but not that they happened years earlier than they might have, and because the elderly (or otherwise vulnerable) patients lived downwind of coal.

We keep discovering these things: that our world actually kills off more of us than we think, with chemicals, accidents, medical mistreatments. They can only be seen with careful statistics - and when measuring whether the elderly or sick got all the life they might have, or lost a dozen years, we are weakest of all.

The actual pandemic deaths can only be guessed at, really, with the study of excess deaths. That link hints that it may be multiples of the official pandemic count: tens of millions.

Part of the problem of understanding a global pandemic, is getting your head around how big the globe really is, how much it can lose, barely noticed.

2023 November 25: The Schools Could Ask the Doctors About Air Filtration

I had to visit two dental surgeon's offices, the other day. My dental surgeon, and an endodontist he wanted a consultation with. Both of them had huge air filtration machines, a foot square by a metre tall, in the corners of the front office, and every treatment room.

Well, they seem to have something figured out that the schools do not, and they are medical professionals.

They probably have learned something about gaining customer trust, too. It's always interesting to see the differences between dental and other services: the dentists have to compete for patients to make money, the doctors can barely handle the load dumped on them.

No conclusions here, just questions: if the medical professionals see the need for these machines, are they pandering to hypochondriacs, or are they valuable? If so, why wouldn't schools and other offices see the value?

2023 November 24: (Another) Worthy Nikiforuk Initiative

Andrew Nikiforuk's latest Tyee article on COVID is worth a quick read.

His theme is the "Ten Laws of Pandemics", much of which is familiar material if you've done your reading in recent years. But it's a great sum-up. A real reminder that it's not just "not a sprint" but a series of marathons, pandemics can come back for a century or three.

I really liked the one part, which dovetails with my "Titanic" thesis of decades back: a disaster has to be really, really big to bring change - and this pandemic was not big enough.

People were actually able to deny this pandemic - we now remember people claiming the hospitals weren't really full, that it was a hoax from the very first case. The article notes that if there had been "bodies piled in the streets", then that, it would have taken that, to really get a "great reset".

Instead, what we got was more of same, more corporate centralization, more money concentration. Nikiforuk points out that the revolutions and wars often come years later, when it gets to be too much.

2023 November 21: COVID Cup, The Final Rankings?

The pandemic may not really be over, but in terms of official policies to fight it, I think it's all over but ongoing vaccine programs. There was still hope right up to the start of this "respiratory virus season" that there might be more public health orders, but they're clearly dead, politically.

So, while the dying may continue, its trajectory, everywhere, is going to look a lot like its past, so final rankings may be made for COVID Cup performance: who lost the least citizens?

Here's my picks:

CCCC used worldometers, throughout, as its data source, it was the best dashboard, kept very up-to-date. But "Our World in Data", above, is using the same original sources, and now that we're down to the finals, being up-to-date with this week's data is no longer important.

The whole "contest", besides being very dark humour and cynical, is hugely dependent on national context. Removed from this chart are any nations where the data are suspect, like China, India, Russia. The only "non-free" nations allowed on this chart are Vietnam and Cuba, both of whom have shown exemplary honesty with medical data; I really believe their low numbers.

The other context is money. Peru is not on this chart, as the World's Biggest Loser, with about twice the death-rate of UK, because they're poor and have very limited health resources. (That said, they did much worse than other poor nations, and still are the Biggest Loser of the "Poor Country Division", which will get no more attention here, because we rich countries have a lot of guilt in them being poor to start with...)

I feel a little bad putting Italy up there with the Worst, and I could also have added Spain and some other EU nations. Italy got famous for that first wave, the dying 80-somethings filling corridors. Their real problem was how good the Italian and Spanish and other EU systems were in non-pandemic times, keeping a lot of people alive well into their 80s. So, Italy is in there, but the third context is your demographics: Italy is very old, and some countries are very young, like India. (Vietnam and Cuba benefit there, too.)

Context number four is isolation. The whole 'Good' group at at the bottom are basically islands, with the exception of Norway. South Korea is cut off from the rest of Asia by the North: it's effectively an island. Bhutan, which is the clear winner of the COVID cup globally, is practially another 'hermit kingdom' that just shut down its tiny, politically powerless tourist industry at the start, and most travel, too. Much easier to be King of Bhutan than on the Vietnamese Central Committee! They get the win.

Because it did nearly as well as pandemic superstars like South Korea and Japan, Norway gets special mention, and second-place, after Vietnam.

Vietnam actually scores a narrow win; they subtract many points for being a dictatorship that really has it easy about forcing people to isolate and vaccinate. But - all those tourist hotels; and the "dictatorship" angle actually gains them a few points in another metric: their dictators must actually give a crap about their people's lives, unlike the democratic demogogues Modi in India, Bolsonaro in Brazil. The rulers of Vietnam no doubt could have profited from opened-up hotels, while keeping their own rich asses safe.

So I'm handing the win to Vietnam, of all countries, because they managed half the death-rate of even Norway, despite not being an island, having a robust tourist industry. But, again, Norway nearly ties them, because it pulled off "island" death rates in the heart of Europe, surrounded by death rates two and three times as high, on its borders, while never sacrificing democratic freedoms. Australia, an island, nearly ties Norway, as it did even better, with very serious committment to lockdown. The pandemic could be beaten; they showed us.

For the "worst", I should actually show Bulgaria and Hungary, not to mention Georgia, Romania, Greece. They were far worse than UK and USA, and I think there wil have to be a later posting about the "poor and badly-run division" of the contest. Entrants are actually being graded here on how well they reasonably could have done. Bulgaria, Hungary, and much of eastern Europe are beset by so much corruption and half-developed poverty that not much was expected to begin with. Their condemnation, like Russia's, is to have never been considered in the running. Greece is accorded the same status, alas, having just come out of so many years of "austerity" predation by the rest of Europe, Germany in particular. Who took advantage of Greek corruption. Their medical system was hollowed out by others, so I'm giving them a pass.

The Biggest Loser is UK, clearly beating out the USA, even though it did only slightly worse. The difference is that the USA also gets allowances for bad governance, from Mr. Trump and the whole GOP that resisted every public health measure as a conspiracy. For the United States, that was a surprise outcome that happened because Mr. Trump broke their system, became President when the GOP itself would not have chosen him; he did an end-run around their party system, was an outlier even in America. GW Bush would have done much better.

Boris Johnson, and his whole crew of "let it rip", "let the bodies pile up" bastards are the British system working as designed, the whole lot coming from Eton, and Oxbridge, and up through their whole system. And worse, Trump only reflects what America did once; the Brits re-elected their Tories after Brexit Blunders. So, they're the worst, in the context that they they had the money and technology and governance to do so much better, and chose to fail.

Discussions of the overall COVID Cup, the various "Leagues" of poor and rich, free and dictated, will continue. Coming soon, a piece on the middling "not bad" group, like Canada. But Vietnam leveraged the very, very few good things about tyranny, combined them with the blessings of industrialization, and beat countries ten times richer. The UK threw their blessings away.

2023 November 20: Is COVID Awareness Sinking In?

All I get in the news are indications that few are masking, or taking other precautions, in high-transmission-risk places like waiting rooms and air travel, while COVID criers keep reminding me on social media that the numbers are still up, the damage happening, and: It's. Not. Over.

A catch-up call with a friend still at my old workplace yesterday left me thinking that people are aware enough. She talked about the colleague who got hit hard with "Long COVID" 18 months back, and is still badly affected, struggles to cross a parking lot, when he used to hike all the time. Big, strong athletic person not yet 40.

And she herself was still getting over a recent bout, though at 3 weeks testing negative, she's winded going up stairs. The first bout was also weeks of disability.

The Long-COVID case in our condo building (18 units) is walking up the front stairs now, seems to have improved over the last several months. But I don't know how anybody could be unaware of the risks of this disease.

There's a great human power to not-think about stressful things. I don't disparage it; thinking about stressful things, too much, is basically the cause of pathological anxiety that affects a lot of our population, causes drink and drug use. It's a needed mental power. But it has to be coupled with a calm acceptance of risk-avoidance. You don't have to think about being mangled in a car accident, every time you get in, to learn to buckle your seatbelt.

I've been slacking about putting on a mask, even in closed waiting rooms and busy, smaller stores. I think I'll tighten up - partly to set an example.

2023 November 18: Thank-You, Tyee, For Staying on COVID

Two CCCC posts in two days! It's like CCCC is back in business, even though "the pandemic is over" (hah). But, COVID history is not over.

The Tyee covers the publication of an important COVID history from a Saskatchewan doctor and MLA, Ryan Meili.

Meili has titled his book "A Healthy Future", but Crawford Killian at The Tyee uses the term "Time Fog" in the article, because we are already (deliberately?) losing COVID history in the fog.

I noted in my "stackback" blog about how Calgarians are already inverting a time-sequence by 16 months to blame Trudeau for their economy, and the same thing happens after every dramatic historical event. Nailing down the real history is necessary.

The book tells the familiar story right through the pandemic: a government that wanted to ignore facts and medical knowledge to keep people at certain jobs. Saskatchewan was just one of the worst in Canada, even worse than Kenney was in Alberta (remember Kenney got tossed for not being MAGA enough).

Meili also reminds us of what the health care workers went through, how he himself was on antidepressants, and the chief medical health officer nearly lost composure during a press conference.

Kilian ends his story, and Meili his book, with the eight lessons you have to stick by, in public health, just make this your north star:

  1. The best measure of a society is the health of its people.
  2. A healthy economy requires healthy people.
  3. More equal societies are healthier, including during a pandemic.
  4. Facts are worth fighting for.
  5. We need to trust people with the truth, even as the truth changes.
  6. Leaders need to learn to work together in times of crisis.
  7. For Medicare to work, we need to build a robust and resilient health system.
  8. To learn the lessons, our stories must be shared.

2023 November 17: These Guys Were Always Nuts Like A Squirrel

Preston Manning did appear to walk the walk as a responsible person and politician. His band of right-wing nuts took over the Conservative Party of Canada for years, and gave us Stephen Harper, who is still(?!?!) palling around with Victor Orban, yes, 18 months after the invasion of Ukraine. We'll pass swiftly over Harper, but I think we're finding out more about him that I'm glad I didn't know when he had power. What the "norms" were of the time may have restrained some maganutty ideas. Consider that Harper has never said a discouraging word about Danielle Smith's craziest ideas, ideas that even Poilievre has criticized. Harper never said an encouraging word about vaccines. It was probably inadvertent that he created the party funding mechanism that pushed it to the rightto Smith, to Poilivre.

The "Reform Party" were always nuts, in crucial ways, not in contact with reality. The current business of American papers "normalizing" Trump's maganuts is old hat, in Canada.

If you're young, you can read up on how wild Manning was in his time in many places, but, today, read about how he charged Albertans $2 million for a 116 pages of medical nonsense. It's a prescription for a maganut pandemic, all ivermectin and alternative therapies; but the main point of the document is political correctness. Manning's Reform party power dates almost precisely to the same time fall 1990, when all the "political correctness" stories were the sudden rage. ("Rage", heh.)

"Political correctness" is the heart of the alt-right movement. The epidemiologists and vaccinologists may have been medically correct, scientifically correct, actually correct. But they were not "politically correct" about maximizing work production, so they had to be just wrong. Manning would end all hope of there being any kind of correctness except political correctness.

It's dark times for Alberta right now. Knowledge is light. This is darkness.

2023 November 9: We Are Not "Dead as a Stone", We Are "Getting Better"

I trust the Monty Python reference worked, at least sort-of.

Andrew Nikiforuk has another Tyee article out on how the pandemic isn't over, which is becoming something of an article-genre, definitely at The Tyee.

It's got to the point where I can look back at my pandemic blog ( for entries on this "pandemic is not over, no matter what they say" topic, to note that the dying is dying-away.

2022 April: "We've hit a point where the troughs, the minima, are 40 dead per day".

2022 May: "We could be in a prolonged period of 10 deaths/day in BC alone"

2022 October 26: "3 or 4 dying every day in BC"

2023 March 20: "At 14,000 dead/year in Canada" - about 38/day

2023 May 1: "Currently 1 Canadian/hour" - or 8700/year about 24/day

Hospitalizations are currently trending down, wastewater signals are about level. 2023 has been distinctly better than 2022.

This page reveals that the week ending November 7 had 140 COVID deaths in Canada, 20/day; two-thirds over the age of 80, about one-eighth under the age of 65: 2-3 per day.

Which hints at the real reason "the pandemic is over". It's down to 2-3/day, barely a thousand per year, at the moment, who aren't retired, aren't still parenting. The pandemic showed how old people just are valued less, and it still is.

But, the overall numbers are down, even for us old people. So I have long-term optimism. Short-term I just hit five days since my vaccination with the first shot to be for the current variant, which is awesome.

2023 November 8: Vax Getting Easier

Correction to yesterday's post, which was done early in the morning. The early morning after a vax is the worst. Most of the vax symptoms are really just dehydration, which is worst when you get up. I was feeling quite normal by noon.

It's distressing to see so little vaccination going on, but ever since "herd immunity" hope was abandoned, that's really just concern for them, not for myself. Because this jab is considered to be the best for a variant so far, I can go on with my life now, leave them to their risks.

2023 November 7: Vax Day-After

Yeah, it's the same as the other jabs: dehydration, mild headache, some muscle aches from the run the day before are no better, when they should have been over - and of course, the muscle aches around the injection. (Why did I get it on the shoulder I sleep on? Restless night.)

It's not bad; it's not a "sick day" - though I guess it is for some people. But I had some nice chats with the doc, and with fellow vaccinators, about how pleased we were they'd finally "caught up" with the virus, protecting us against the same germ that's actually in current circulation. I got a laugh from the doctor with "we got original in time for Alpha, Alpha in time for Delta, Delta in time for Omicron"; it was true.

There are some other bits of Good News about the fading pandemic, but I'll save them for coming days. Today, I'm going to get some reading and tea-drinking done.

2023 November 6: Vax Populi, Vax Day

Today's my Vax Day! Whew.

The populi may not be getting their Fall 2023 booster. Uptake has been under 10%, so far.

I got vaxed at the start of 2021, boosted that Fall, caught the bug the next spring, got Fall and Spring boosters since. So that's five shots and an infection, but I'm glad of this protection, because the bug has changed so that my previous immunities are not worth much.

It's not much to ask. I have no idea why uptake is so low. It's still a killer bug, potentially, and definitely a nasty thing to go through, for a fair fraction of sufferers.

That's all. No big lecture. It's real simple, and you'll be real sorry if you bet wrong. Don't.

2023 November 5: Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November

...the COVID Treason and Plot. I know of no reason, the COVID Treason Should Ever Be Forgot

OK, that's a reach. It just happens to be the fifth today. The "plot" - and that's almost the right word - went on over years, and the inquiry revealing the stinking depths of it, for months. Today is just one. And the word "treason" is almost the right word, too. Treason to medicine and decency, at least.

The favourite quote is Boris Johnson said Covid was 'nature's way of dealing with old people', but the more-detailed coverage is found in The Guardian.

The Guardian breaks out what was the result of years of "austerity" (not enough beds, or wards, or PPE; testing and tracing lacked organization), what was from a growing tradition of falling back on private medicine - and what was just ordered from the ministerial level, and deserves hanging. (That link would be slow; it's to my pandemic blog for April 30, 2020, a quarter-million words down the page. We've known all along that BoJo needed a noose for his murderous "let the old people die on the way to herd immunity" policy, but the inquiry is getting the receipts.)

If you've only time for one link and an 8-minute read try Eight shocking things from the inquiry sum-up article.

The bastards. The incredible bastards.

2023 November 3: Maybe this Winter Will Be OK

I'm going to reactivate CCCC for a bit, mostly because the British COVID inquiry is digging up the most remarkably repulsive incidents of contempt for human life, and staggering incompetence.

But, also, there are a few posts needed in a positive vein. I see many comments from friends and on-line about the ongoing fear of COVID, and a story that the "pandemic is over" notion endangers us all - that a big fall/winter wave is coming from lack of vaccination (single-digit percent, alas) and good behaviour.

But there's not sign of that in BC. The incidence of COVID-19 in our wastewater did trend up through July and August, but the upward swing has stalled, leveled off, as of October 22, the last readings. And CTV news is reporting COVID-19 hospitalizations are down, fourth week in a row, for the whole province; we are back down to the numbers of early September (241, 40% caused by the virus).

No, it ain't over. But it's looking like a good season, when it would be reasonable to expect a bad one. I'm choosing to think that BC, at least, is winning.

2023 October 31: Our Care Homes Were Awful. But Better Than Elsewhere

CCCC is forced to reactivate, for Hallowe'en, after sleeping for five months. I've got a vaccination coming up, though the wastewater numbers are actually reassuring; and it's necessary to rise to the defense of Canada's Care Homes.

Say what? The execrable care homes, that the Canadian military had to rescue, calling conditions inside both Ontario and Quebec (especially Quebec, and especially for-profit) homes atrocious and appalling?

Still, they're being tarred as worse than others around the world, and specious statistics are being used to do it. CBC took it upon itself to report this morning about a report from 2021 data that says our care homes worst in the wealthy world.

But the metric used to judge that is very interesting, because its so weird. The metric is the "percentage of all COVID deaths that happened in Care Homes". The report appears to use no data from after February 15, 2021, taken as their end of the "second wave". The "first wave" being the original virus, and the second, the Alpha variant from the UK. (Delta wave was late 2021, Omicron early 2022).

So the numbers in the report, linked from the graphic, do show that by February of 2021, 69% of Canada's reported deaths were in care homes. The percentages across Europe varied widely, but the average was 41%, ours the highest.

Except that's nuts, for a metric.

It totally depends on how many people died overall. It's just as much a measure of how well the community prevented transmission, as how poorly the care-homes did. If your care-home numbers were average, or even better than average, but your overall death rate was way below average, your care-home fraction will look worse.

The real metric for care-homes, at a national level, (if you assume the country has about the same number of old people) is the overall deaths per million. If you take the actual care-home deaths in the report, it's 11,114 in Canada, and 139,699 in the USA, 30,995 in France. Divide by the national population, and you get the overall deaths/million figures in the chart at left.

In which, as you can see, Canada does very well. Well enough that I feel little need to check the actual demographic pyramid - or whether Canada has more or fewer old people per million in homes, rather than at-home. The numbers are stark enough that we're either one of the best countries at running a care-home, or at least in the middle of the pack. And, CCCC must sadly note again, that Canada would have looked a lot better without Quebec, and it's a scandal that Mr. Legault is still popular, rather than on the ash-heap of Quebec history. And it was his care-home operations that were the main contributor to Quebec's worst-in-Canada pandemic performance. The article would actually have been on-point if it had emphasized that, had compared provinces rather than nations. Quebec seniors need help.>

2023 June 3: Read Justin Ling on Medical Grifters

Just to ensure that both blogs advertise Justin today, do read Justin Ling's dive into the modern snake-oil salesmen who prey upon anti-vaxxers.

Anti-vaxxers were all the "enemy" during the pandemic, we feared them prolonging it, getting others sick. But most of the time, they're more pathetic victims of confidence men and women. The pandemic has swelled the numbers, there's a lot of pockets being picked these days.

2023 June 2: Both-sides-ing Immunology

All the journos I see on social media are reading this Atlantic piece on the guy who took over CNN. Look over to my Stackback blog for a smirk at the self-absorbtion.

But I had to put this excerpt from the journalist Tim Alberta in the CCCC blog, because it's just a flat, no-logic-offered statement of fact that you have to both-sides immunology:

The incurious tone of the network's COVID-19 coverage - its steady deference to government officials, paired with its derision toward those who held heterodox opinions on school closings and other restrictions - did a disservice to viewers.

Sorry, but the "government officials" were doctors practising their licensed profession, which is studying viruses and pandemics all their lives to be ready for this. The views Alberta calls "heterodox", are that because they differ from immunologists, virologists and students of historical pandemics. I heard "you must close the schools" in 2009 from a lecture at a city-management conference; it's like having a "heterodox view" on whether antibiotics fight infection.

As noted, no logic supports this statement: Tim Alberta doesn't argue that ignoring Dr. Fauci, or re-opening schools and bars, would have been good for anybody that tried it. The value of the commentary comes from its popularity, I suppose, not its medical truth.

No further commentary. Tim Alberta is a very respected journalist, and this is how they think. Not giving comparable time to everybody who passionately holds a viewpoint is a "disservice". Alberta didn't offer any arguments for that, just flat statement of inarguable fact. It's something that scientists who deal with journalists will just have to work around; the pandemic has changed nothing.

2023 May 29: Are We, Too, "Still Reeling with COVID"?

I suppose the rule is that if the headline has a question mark, the answer is "no", but I was left thoughtful by this opinion piece in The Guardian, that they "desperately need" a government that will admit Britain is "still reeling", from the disease, waves gone, or no.

This is about long-COVID effects, and ongoing infections that apparently have increased school rates of "persistent (over 10%) absence" from an eighth of kids to a quarter, and a jump of 500,000 in people not working from long-term sickness (from 2M to 2.5M).

Whether those percentage losses of workers and students constitute "reeling", or some milder word, no point in arguing. But I do wonder what the numbers are, here in BC, say: one of the best-responders to the pandemic, did so much better than Britain. Does that mean we also have milder aftereffects? What are our student absence rates this year?

It's impossible, of course, not to relate this to the previous post, just below, about China deciding to just soldier on and accept whatever casualties come from a surging wave, without trying to soften it. The economy-versus-health argument has been won at last, I suppose.

2023 May 27: I'm BACK, Baby! ... in China

It would be the one story that can revive this blog for a day. A real, honest-to-god, WAVE of Covid, may peak at 10 million infections per day, is rising in China. They've already passed 5 million per day. And they're just going to ride it out.

Some 80% were assumed infected in the previous waves, long-ago enough that they may have lost much immunity. Apparently, they have reached nearly 90% vaccination. And, I think, more importantly, they just don't care. It mostly kills old people, and they just accept that. China and India, to throw out an awkward topic, have developed much more quickly than cultures can really change. I think they both just still have an undeveloped-world attitude towards disease: it comes and takes who it will; you shrug and move on. It's the attitude our wealthy wanted us to have, and in China and India, the wealthy are still much more getting their way. Of course, after China's lockdowns, the notion of any locking-down at all is anathema - one hopes we'll at least see masks in the news stories.

2023 May 11: If You Only Read One "Pandemic Sum-Up" Article, Pick This

Yes, we're all busily forgetting. We went to a nice restaurant last night - nice, but very busy and packed, everybody talking right at each other across tables, loudly, to be heard. It was this absolutely perfect COVID-transmission situation, and all of us maskless. (I was a little glad we were in a tight corner at the bar, near the door; if anybody had fair odds, it was us.)

But, forgetting we are; I write that not to condemn the current situation as leading to a wave, as I might a year ago, but what is alarming is that nobody is doing a COVID inquiry. Police misconduct leading to 22 dead, huge inquiry. A dozen-odd bank accounts frozen for more than 3 days, huge inquiry. But 52,000 dead in Canada, and we aren't going to go back over how that happened.

The article notes there have been several smaller reports, by people who expected to be involved in an inquiry, and did their own write-up of their own province or bureaucracy.

But, my god, we really will just sleep-walk into the next one, because we don't want to admit to mistakes, or, for that matter, even think about the whole thing. Shades of Afghanistan.

2023 May 6: King COVID De-Coronation

Funny kind of news day. Below the coronation reports, one reads is that the WHO Emergency is over, but Arcturus is coming, so you might want to mask up.

Go figure. Me, I've been masking a bit, lately: at the DMV, in a crowded store. Getting vaxxed just reminded me, I guess. The pandemic in my brain, that makes such masking feel smart, is not going to be over for years, at this rate.

There's never been a better example of how "emergency" is a state of mind, not an actual state of your risk. There was a terrorism "emergency" from Sept 12, 2001, that went on for years, even though the actual risk of attacks wasn't there (until Iraq caused a few in Europe, which were smaller than many American mass shootings that never create a sense of emergency).

2023 May 1: Still Vaxxing

A fully month since any posts, it was great to have a break. The pandemic continues, of course - not quite 200 dead in BC, the last month, although the overall Canadian death rate is in decline, down towards just 20/day. Not even 10,000 per year. That's now considered normal, and not-newsworthy. Apparently, that's the real journey we had to take, we had to just get used to it.

For myself, I figure to keep fighting every way. I still have a mask in my pocket, which does come out in tight spaces with lots of people. It just can't hurt, takes seconds. Definitely on the plane, though not in the high-ceilinged, notbusy airport.

And when the automatic BC Vaccine invitation came last week, I didn't hesitate: signed right up, and yesterday, I went through the whole price again - tired and achy nearly all day, cleared up after supper. But it protects me, and all those near me.

Now, I'm just living with it. As are we all, save those that are dying, about one Canadian an hour.

2023 April 1: The Third Anniversary of CCCC: Stepping Back

For some months now, as the media turn away from pandemic stories, long after the dashboards are giving no new statistical information except raw death and hospital counts, I've been making an effort to find some stories, to sum up the pandemic.

This is a good date to stop doing that. The blog will remain up, and now and then I will have a new story thrust upon me, in which case, I'll put up a notice on the front page of the new entry.

I've been summing up my final thoughts on the three years for a week or so now, and there's not much more to say. Again and again, it was not just good governance that saved lives, but "good culture", as my last post stresses: socially-concerned people have to be a large majority.

The best resources, if you ask me, are the documentaries, and, still, the 2013 movie, Contagion. But the documentaries "The First Wave" and "Totally Under Control", are the most-powerful, and most-informative couple of hours you could spend reviewing the American performance in the pandemic, which was the most-dramatic.

Nowhere else did you get quite such clear lines drawn between those who accepted the medical facts and advice, and those who considered all that a hoax to control them, for reasons that have never become really clear.

I mean, whom, exactly, did the pandemic benefit? A lot of companies that provided services that became important, but the demonstrators never finger Big Pharma, or Big Delivery, as the villains: it's always "government" being driven by puppet masters that remain in the shadows.

I can only hope the absurdity of all that starts to sink in, as the tensions and passions die down and become part of history. There were anti-vax conspiracy theorists all the way back centuries, but history does not remember them well. I trust the same will happen to those of our generation.

The bastards.

2023 March 31: Canada is So Much Better (Sorry), Because We Say "Sorry"?

It's time to wrap up the COVID Cup Colour Commentary, so this is one last time that I'll repeat what I feel is my one major "scoop" in the whole three years. I just don't know a single other journalistic or medical news resource that has commented on how many more young (under 50) Americans died than Canadians.

I really think it is a very revealing difference between the two cultures. There was a lot of vague talk about Canadians just being more rule-abiding, more socially conscious and cooperative, more considerate. We do all that apologizing, after all. Do the people who say "sorry", a lot, survive community pandemics that much better?

I don't even know of a journo that made the distinction between the "retired" pandemic and the "active community" pandemic, as two different cultural and epidemiological phenomena. (Active people caught it in the community, at work; older people caught it from family.) I, at first, called the main pandemic the "care-home pandemic", because of the massive die-offs in the first wave. But the dying continued for the old, when it was reduced in care-homes.

Once again, that ratio of deaths, between Canada and the USA, was about 3:1, though the ratio is dropping now, as both have about the same death-rates these days. The 3:1 was during those waves.

Even the unstoppable Omicron waves were ending when the graph at left was published January 18, 2022. It's little different from the figures I'd spotted a year earlier, below. The raw American death-counts, the Canadians multiplied by 8.75. The story of those under 50 were hidden by the 95% of the pandemic that happened to those over that age. Because these higher ratios between Canada and the USA were only found in 5% of the pandemic.

But, we are not talking trivial numbers, here: a couple of days after the post with the above chart, Jan 21, 2022, I noted that America had lost more people too young to remember Vietnam (under 50) than they had lost in Vietnam itself. They've lost over 60,000 of their under-50s. Over 20,000 of them under the age of 40. Canada hasn't lost 300.

Phrased as a percentage of the deaths, this seems small. You'd think, of course, that "young people" wouldn't become an ignored minority. There was coverage of how much worse the pandemic was for people of colour, though they are a smaller minority.

But, take away the smokescreen. Suppose there had been no "old pandemic"; suppose that COVID-19 stopped having any effect at age 50, and the only people killed were sixty-thousand Americans felled by a disease, all of them in their years of working and raising families. That would be a huge story.

And journalism missed it, except for a hobby blog with almost no readers.

What the heck, I'll throw in the older graphic; I put in work on these, might as well recycle. As you can see from the dates, this is from the first "Dying Young" post, with weekly data back at the end of 2020. Once again, the Canadian figures are NOT our actual deaths, but ours multiplied by 8.76, so that they compare directly to the American figures beside them.

Please notice, that back in 2020, the death rate ratio wasn't just seven-to-one, as it eventually averaged out to: it was 9:1 and 10:1 and worse, particularly at the youngest ages, in their thirties. I had to stress that with my "Thirty-Something...and Dead" post in February 2022.

These ratios are just too high to explain with mask mandate acceptance, vaccine usage, alone. The 2020 numbers are from before most vaccines were available, so vaccines have nothing to do with those 10:1 numbers at right!

I'll close by re-iterating one more time that the pandemic was a Deep Test of Deep Culture. How people react day-to-day with everybody around them, not just how they react to government pronouncements. How they act in the privacy of homes, around their own families, as well as out at the store.

Older Americans, generally not involved with work or much hour-to-hour childcare, no kids in school, were able (and willing) to protect themselves about a third as well as Canadians. How much of that one-third was "unable" and how much was "unwilling" is hard to guess, but I'm heavily on the side of "unwilling", as it didn't come to much more than behaviour and masks. (Again, no vaccines available when the ratios first appeared.)

If anything the dropping ratios, from 10:1 down to 7:1, and now the two nations are at almost 1:1 that their behaviours are both "post pandemic", suggest that vaccines moderated the bad effects of American behaviour, rather than vaccination-rate differences being a part of the poorer performance.

It's even more suggestive that the deadly "bad behaviour" of Americans (presumably, just didn't take distance and contact in general seriously) is worse for those with other things on their minds: work, school, kids.

I can only suppose that the whole business of not taking public health warnings with the same seriousness, social spirit, means that it's 3 times worse if you have no competing interests, 7-10 times worse if it conflicts with anything else, particularly your pay.

I wish the best of luck to sociologists and historians that look at the whole pandemic through that lens, of national characters, of culture, of social spirit: I've compared two mostly-very-similar nations quite closely, and found huge differnces in that. These can be found all around the world, and we'll know more about humans, and about human society.

And maybe how to save more lives in the next one.

2023 March 30: Who Are These Unmourned Dead?

I'm sure they're mourned by their families, but as we've settled into a very steady death rate of nearly 3 per day in BC, over a thousand per year, apparently a permanent new reaping of our population, you don't see special features in the paper of the "face of the dead" or anything like we used to.

Is it that they're all very old, were already sick, mourning was expected soon, anyway?

I knew one of them. At 69, she was responding very well to cancer treatment, had quite reasonable expectations of pulling through it, having another decade or more - just like that "average of 13 years" of life-lost in the first wave.

She was very likely one of the 2000/year that die because they caught the disease in hospital itself, even though outpatient, it was almost the only outside-trips she was making. While there was the cancer itself, and while her compromised immune system began falling to other pneumonia-causing infections after the COVID hit, there was little question that COVID made the difference between pulling through, and suddenly dying.

The family mourned fully, but it wasn't a news story. And that, I suspect, is the 2023-and-onward pandemic: people die would probably would have made it and had another decade or more; and people who would have had a few, or several, more years, just dying earlier.

Rather than the costs of pandemic-fighting -- not even restriction-costs, we aren't even talking about upgrading ventilation standards -- we've decided we can just live with that. And die with it.

That's your real "new normal".

2023 March 29: The Unsolved Mysteries

Once I'd decided to basically shut down CCCC, my brain immediately tossed up the mysteries that weren't solved. Unsolved, not because I'm shutting down, just because the people who could solve them don't seem to be at it. I suspect that papers will trickle in over a decade, as the pandemic gets some forensic history.

A whole new mystery occurred to me looking at the Vancouver Sun article linked from the graphic. It's about a survey of Canadians in 2022 that showed we had 98% "seroprevalence" of COVID-19 antibodies in our blood - 52% of them from infection itself. (Presumably, 8% of them were entirely from infection, as we're only 90% vaccinated. The rest, from both vaccination and infection.)

What caught me as mysterious comes from the CCCC coverage of how Alberta's gross death rate was as much as double that of BC, if you age-adjust. The graph shows that BC had about 50% infected, Alberta more like 57%. More-infected, alone, explains 14% higher mortality, but not the 30% Alberta did have. And not the near-double that CCCC estimated it should have been, because BC has so many more old people in our demographic pyramid, as shown at the above link.

Theories? Oh, theories are cheap. Alberta is not only way more conservative, but her oldest are the most-conservative, and that was very associated with non-cooperation: less vaccination, masks, the works. Did Alberta's seniors do their dying before vaccines were available? Seniors vaccinated the most in the population, not just 90%, but 96% and higher. If BC seniors got to 97%, and Alberta's only to 94%, that's double the number of unvaccinated, who did over half the dying after they were available, despite their small numbers.

But, until somebody digs into exactly when all the dying in BC vs Alberta happened, how many were unvaccinated, how many were old, it'll remain a mystery. And for all the dashboards and stats reported in the pandemic, getting to the bottom of some of these details will just take years of work.

I picked that mystery, because it's from this week, and my location. But, as we look around the world, you find poor places that did well, rich places that didn't, places that defied restrictions and didn't suffer that much, places that obeyed them and suffered. There are many forces at work, we didn't understand, or even know, all of them.

Here's some journalism I haven't seen:

One can imagine "COVID research blogs" that go on for a full career of a doctor just graduated.

2023 March 28: Summing Up

Friday is April Fool's Day again, and thus the 3rd Anniversary of the COVID Cup Colour Commentary, and I've decided to quit even trying to look up stories. At first, stories fell upon me - either as news stories that everybody was talking about and I wanted to address, or, more often, that would suggest themselves from looking at all those dashboards of data.

Today, the coverage is a percent or three of what it used to be, and most of the dashboards with rich data have been shut down. It's been possible to find stories just looking at gross death rates, at dramatic things still happening around the world (China, until recently), and there's always the infrequent story about a new vaccine development, or lack thereof.

But, on April 2, I'll move the blog down out of the "Daily Blogs" section and not make it a daily effort any more to find material. Now and then, a story will thrust itself upon me, and I'll highlight that there's a new post on the front page.

For the next three days, I'll have some "summing up" posts that look back.

So, this is just a housekeeping post? No, the COVID story here is me - every (non-commercial) blog is about the blogger. (THE book about the "blogging era" is aptly titled "Zero Comments".) We all needed some tools to maintain our equilibrium when the world reeled. I wrote to vent, and to at least try to make sense of a situation where I had no control.

Having readers was irrelevant. (As McCartney said about silly love songs, there's nothing wrong with that, in an old man shouting at clouds.)

"Having a sense of control" was the big personal story of the pandemic: people hated losing control - of where they could go, what they could do, whether work would be steady. Not even to mention the legal mandates.

When we say "the pandemic is over", it really has nothing to do with seroprevalance and death-rates. We've always got death rates. America has ten times our gun death rate, a hundred times our school-shooting-death rate; they get on with life, and stubbornly resist cultural changes that would reduce it. We have an opioid death rate in this province that is twice the COVID death rate, and we just put up with it.

(Both are about the sense that "it won't happen to me". That'll be one of my summing-up topics.)

Nope, the "pandemic is over" in that people have regained a sense of control, of normality, even if a (slightly) "new normal". In me, the symptom is that the feeling of need to write about it, has been fading.

If only there were vaccines for mental health.

2023 March 27: Long Covid Encounter

Just a few words today. I have finally chatted with a long-COVID sufferer. It was sobering. Difficulty going up stairs, slow just moving across a room, mostly has to stay in. A very, very limiting and challenging disease indeed, and, again, there's no treatments for it yet, no solution.

A link about it, for you: Two-thirds of long-COVID sufferers report being unfairly treated at work. Which figures. A disease without much information yet, many won't have an official diagnosis of it - and the symptoms neatly mimic a person malingering: endless fatigue.

A bit of coincidence across the pond: this article in The Atlantic is about families struggling with a seemingly-endless series of colds, flus, and other minor diseases that have the household paralysed - those not sick are giving care...and society at large is unhelpful and unsympathetic.

It's the least-appreciated, least-covered part of the pandemic. As time passes, I suspect it will get a lot more attention, as so many cases are not going away.

2023 March 26: Britain, A Different COVID Planet

They say the pandemic is "over", but tell that to Boris Johnson; it's just cost him his (last hope of coming back to) his job.

Yes, in the UK, they were still on about "PartyGate", and it remains the go-to comparison, to note one's own inability to attend dying relatives or their funerals:

People who remembered being unable to see their dying relatives because of Covid rules were furious. A man who called in to the Nick Ferrari show on LBC broke down in tears, while Mick Hucknall, lead singer of Simply Red, joined a chorus of denunciation on Twitter declaring at 3.13pm that: "While Boris Johnson was having his leaving drinks party, like millions of others, I was disallowed to say goodbye to my dying father-in-law In hospital. You despicable lying BASTARD!"
I'm coming away from three years of pandemic punditry confused by the media on only two subjects:
  1. Nobody called out how the "Under age 50" pandemic was not just three times worse in the US than Canada, but seven or more times worse, and

  2. how nobody reacted to the 150-person Trump funeral, not even after the Prince Philip funeral shamed Johnson's little parties. Even weirder, it was a minor story, almost everybody missed it, that A Trump funeral guest hit a restaurant worker because of their restrictions.
The contrast of the Trump story to the Johnson story just blows me away, as a comparison for the culture of the US versus UK. The UK voters have kept putting in Johnson, voted for Brexit, these people are capable of great conservatism. But the UK, with real Royals, has some appreciation that class obligations run two ways, they still expect noblesse oblige; Johnson was expected to lead through his submission to the concept of authority, even at the head of it - just as the Queen displayed at her own husband's funeral.

In the US, the equivalent, Trumpism, says that great power gives you freedom from authority, you get to rise above it. That may be a principal psychological difference between your old Dwight Eisenhower conservatism, and the "Movement Conservatism" that ate it up, over 1968-2012. We're now using the word "fascism" more openly about it, as we see the belief that "the law protects me but does not bind me; the law binds you but does not protect you" is their ethic.

At least the British, with all their problems, still appear to get that, on Oxford Street, if not on Downing Street.

2023 March 25: The Guardian Sums Up the Revisionism

Revisionism of the pandemic started when the pandemic was just starting. The moment almost anything happened, what just happened was disputed. But, some facts remained that you can stick to. Distancing worked. Masks worked. The exact degree to which these things worked was wildly different in different situations, but, basically, they worked.

The Guardian article about revisionism not only reassure you on these grounds - again, the figure that the average first-wave death cost the patient an average of 10 years of life, not just af few, is repeated. Lockdowns (of various degrees) reduced deaths to a fraction of what they would have been.

If you see a revisionist article with the basic thrust that some measure didn't work, just spare yourself. If the article is about a study on how well it worked, that's fair enough, and you may learn some things didn't work especially well. But nearly every "intervention" saved lives.

Except Doug Ford taping off the playground equipment. That really was dumb.

2023 March 24: "Passage" Reports the Number Hospitals Killed

Dead minimum, over 2000 Canadians died because they caught COVID-19 in hospital.

So tells a story by Nora Loreto, whom I've heard as a Canadaland contributor, in "Passage", a Canadian newsmagazine that I'm an instant fan of.

There isn't much to add to the story, which you should read. It was just a matter of digging up a number that had to be there. A number they don't want, and don't want to report - and hasn't shown up in any other journal. Bravo for Loreto and Passage.

I can only echo her question: why has this been so ignored by hospitals, journalists, politicians? This isn't about a blame game; "iatrogenic" infections are a long-term issue, so long that I actually remember the word "iatrogenic" these days. This was a great opportunity to highlight the issue, work on new ways to reduce in-hospital infections to staff and patients alike.

Both my blogs today are about media missing a story, though the other one is also how they bought the false story instead. For this one, they just - missed it.

2023 March 22: US News & World Report Has Upbeat Take

I've been so angry-all-over-again on the occasion of the Iraq War anniversary, I've skipped over the "pandemic anniversary", if you like commemorating the official WHO declaration of pandemic.

The third anniversary means that the third anniversary of CCCC is coming up in a week, the first year of this new blog file. A pretty good time to shutter it, or at least move the link out of the "daily blogs" paragraph. I've kind of been digging up material for it on purpose, because it seems like the dominant narrative lately is that the pandemic is still going on - we're just pretending to ignore it. When we can. Friends the other day were chatting about a nearby resident who can barely make it up the stairs to visit: long COVID, can't breathe.

But, perhaps it's time to go to occasional reporting instead of daily. Cheer up with this US News and World Report article that sums up their take for the 3rd anniversary: much improved.

The US death rate just fell below what it was on that first pandemic day, lowest in three years. Every infection metric is going in a positive direction. There are no new strains appearing, and the decline of infections mean that new variants are less probable.

All cranky about Iraq all week, I need some good news. Pandemic "good news" is very relative (1119 still dead in the USA this week), but I'll take anything I can get.

2023 March 21: Britain Attempts to Memorialize

A few lines into this article about a British charity memorializing the dead of the pandemic, they mention that "today" they plan on a minute of silence, and the author notes that few will observe it, too little advertised.

The "today" in question was last Sunday, and I just found the article, so the comment was quite correct.

Much of it is about how we don't have ways to memorialize these losses. We have war dead (if not yet an Iraq War Memorial, 20 years in) but there is no memorial at all for the 1918 flu, for Polio, for Smallpox.

It really seems we just want to forget. It hits me that there will be almost no fiction that you can date to the pandemic, because everybody in the story is using masks, keeping distance. Just about every production did everything it could to pretend that their story was just before the pandemic, just after it, happened during a summer lull in cases...or something. Nobody wants actor's lovely faces covered!

CCCC did a very early post about how people were saying "unprecedented", or "not in living memory" when it wasn't.

I'm getting the feeling that people born after 2018 are simply not going to remember the pandemic, won't be reminded of it in any way, perhaps not taught much about it in school. I don't recall my lessons about the polio epidemic, and it was just seven years in the past when I started grade one.

We want to forget. Let's not.

2023 March 20: Pandemic "Over" at 150,000 US Dead Per Year (14,000 Canada)

I chose the American graph because it's the straightest, but Canada's is almost the same. It's about a year since the slope on these graphs went straight - no more bumps from waves. The last Omicron wave was falling a year ago, and no more real waves have come, no "fall wave", more of a "fall hump".

That was cause for celebration, when our ICUs never quite broke this winter, but the steady toll we've become accustomed to, is multiples of the flu deaths that we'd been accepting before. Now, we've somehow adjusted to 150,000 dead per year, in America, and Canada is down to 14,000/year, about 80% of the American death rate per million. (When it was a third of theirs, the whole pandemic.)

There's just no reason, at present, to imagine this will end, or even change. There are no better vaccines being announced, and the ones we have, they seem to be pulling back. This death rate is ongoing, despite the availability of Paxlovid. Metformin may halve our 10% rate of long-COVID, but that's still really bad.

And, just to bring in Iraq, again, today on the anniversary, we seem to just be forgetting the previous world, where all this dying seemed like it couldn't and wouldn't be tolerated and lived-with.

Here's a fun fact for you: many of those who most-opposed mask mandates, vaccination, distancing - I'm just certain they have an overlap with those who hate "Medical Assistance in Dying", though nobody could have done more to assure that the very old and bedridden, are assisted into the void.

2023 March 19: The Pandemic in Iraq: One Article. It's Wikipedia

Well, there were probably some journal article written at some point in the pandemic, but, with travel really difficult for TWO reasons, hardly anybody went to Iraq, the last few years, to write about illness.

I googled, and got zip, but the Wikipedia Article, which is actually pretty good.

I'm on about Iraq today, because we are now just hours from the 20th anniversary of the first bombs falling and the killing started - tonight, our time.

It was about as you'd expect. Bad pandemic-fighting, for lack of resources; few hospitals, not much oxygen. Just a lot more people simply died quietly at home.

The did some travel restrictions, school and office closures. They produced some great proof of super-spreading, when people held funerals, only to infect half the crowd.

Oh, and lots of looting when archaeological sites were left unguarded.

I just thought I'd mention it. How much worse Iraq did at the pandemic, than it would have done if not destroyed, is part of the cost of the war, which Iraq has to keep paying, and paying, and paying, even as the United States, and particularly her journalists that helped get Iraq into this pit, would prefer to "move on".

I'm sure they would.

2023 March 18: Nope. Not Getting Dragged Into Debating Racoon Dogs

CCCC has now made it amply clear, spending space to do so on repeat occasions, that the one COVID Controversy there's no more time for, is lab-leak discussions.

CCCC now extends this studied indifference to Racoon Dogs. Because I don't want to learn what racoon dogs are, that they are held in pathetic and awful conditions (almost certainly) and killed from some really stupid reason, like their imaginary Viagra-like powers.

CCCC got it this far in life without taking on that sorrow, and there's already enough sorrow. It still just doesn't matter what screwup is the underlying cause. It all boils down to China running itself like a real modern nation, not a pretend one with lots of high-tech toys they got from studying us, instead of progressing past wet markets. Nothing is going to make me not-pissed at the vicious, genocidal, incompetent government of the "People's" "Republic".

2023 March 17: Alberta Still Twice as Bad - or Is It?

Over a year ago, I ran this nasty post with Jason Kenney as the Mad Butcher, and the graphic at left to explain. BC doesn't just have about 20% more population than Alberta, it has nearly twice as many old people. Particularly, it has a lot of ex-Albertans like myself who retired here for the nicer weather, and easy access back to Alberta family. We remove ourselves from the Alberta medical system just as we start to break down, and dump ourselves on BC. Yet another "Alberta Advantage"!

So, with a disease that really picks on old people, you'd expect BC to have the higher casualty rate. But BC actually has logged 5278 dead, to Alberta's 5619, or 7% higher than BC. The ratio was much worse 13 months back: 40% more. That was when CCCC roughed in an "age-adjusted" death rate for Alberta TWICE as bad as BC.

The death rate, the last five weeks since CCCC compared hospitalizations, is actually even now. Are things getting better in Alberta, or worse in BC?

But here's what still twice as bad in Alberta as BC: the hospitalizations. Both provinces are now counting all people in hospital with COVID, and only roughly estimating that half are there "with" COVID, half "because of" COVID. The Alberta "with COVID" is actually now well over 50%, perhaps hinting the virus just has greater community prevalence through Alberta.

And Alberta just keeps having about 500 in hospital, BC with barely over 200. So why the lower death rate? Well, they are younger! Perhaps only now, the prevalence in Alberta has fallen to "merely" twice as much, the death rate has fallen to the same, since it takes twice as much COVID to kill as-many Albertans.

It would be great if there were more academic work on this with proper statistics, at which CCCC is amateur, and afflicted with very poor "dashboard" updates these days. The "competitive", "COVID Cup" aspects of this pandemic should provide fascinating natural experiments, by comparing polities. The American states and Canadian provinces are particularly good laboratories of pandemics, because they have so many similarities under the same federal systems.

2023 March 15: Wow, I Really Called It in 2018

I can't believe I ran a pandemic blog for nearly 3 years, and never remembered that I published a comment on pandemics, on arguably the first social-media site, As shown, the Slashdot topic was the 100th anniversary of the 1918 flu. I just tossed in a comment that you should watch "Contagion", and also, what I knew of how safe your basic utilities would be. (Very. Notice there wasn't a single pandemic story about basic services in danger? Water, Sewer, Power, Drainage, Heat: we are there for you, always.)

What I'm kind of proud of, is that the 2018 comment looked ahead to "supply chain" problems, in the last sentence, that people were not thinking ahead about, even in the pandemic. Here it is:

Watch "Contagion" (Score 1)
by rbrander on Sunday September 30, 2018 @11:21AM (#57399560)
Attached to: 100 Years Ago, Influenza Killed 50 Million People. Could It Happen Again?

Flu pandemic is one of the three "not ridiculously unlikely" emergencies our building picked for its "Emergency Preparedness" considerations. Basically, if something has a 1% chance per year of happening or better, then we'd include it. That came down to major earthquake, 100-year storm, and this, all of which can disrupt basic services and even food supply.

The movie "Contagion" shows a fairly realistic depiction of how such a pandemic could go, and food supplies do run short at one point, the army is handing out MREs, and not enough everywhere.

When I took training for it at work (running a water treatment plant) years back, they point out that it isn't about that many dying, or even that many being sick: it's how many people are home with sick kids and other relatives, how many SAY they are because they're terrified to leave the house. So we trained up all the office staff to be able to (basically, with supervision) run the plant so that even if we were at 25% (plant-experienced) staffing, we could keep the water on. Electrical and gas utilities have similar strategies. Grocery chains and private trucking companies do not, to my knowledge.

2023 March 14: USA Un-prepares for Next Pandemic

This screenshot showed up on Mastodon the other day, and I know where it's from, the Washington Post, because I've followed reporter Joel Achenbach for about 30 years, since he did a science-answerman column at the Miami Herald called "Why Things Are"; still have the book.

I've scrunched it down to the edge of legibility, but the upshot is that the USA has been working hard to make sure the next pandemic is worse.

It's the Republicans, of course, nearly every time. Some 30 states have weakened the authority of public health to do things like close businesses, require masks, require quarantine.

It will all be kind of "funny", in a very dark, ugly way, when the next pandemic has a higher death rate, when it kills people in middle life or youth. As the movie "Contagion" shows, people panic pretty fast when they realize that this might kill them. It's like how vaccination rates were much, much better for people over 70 than people under 50, this time. If everybody is the equivalent of "over 80" to the next virus, there won't be any resistance to public health measures: public health will just have to suggest that bars are where you go to catch the Killer Disease, and the bars will be empty.

But, before that attitude takes over, these rules will get a whole bunch of Americans killed - mostly in "red states", as there was more dying in red states this time.

This was like the "Joke of a Pandemic", compared to 1918. It was so lame as a killer, picking mostly on people that nobody but immediate family cares about any more, that people disrespected it, ignored it, pretended it wasn't there. And now, they want that pretense to be law.

When something like 1918 hits, there will be no more joking around. No More Mr. Nice Bug.

Then all the laws will be changed back. Nobody will have to admit to anything, of course. If it takes more than 20 years to happen, they'll all be gone, like those Iraq War Architects that are not celebrating any 20th anniversaries of their genius this year.

If only there were consequences for Republicans for their last huge mistakes, they might not have had this power to ensure the next one.

2023 March 13: Spring Booster, I Guess? Birthday Booster?

Even the provincial authorities seem pretty equivocal about more vaccine shots. The Tyee article has even Bonnie Henry hemming and hawing about who should get them. Over 65, yes. Over 60 "if you never had it".

In about six weeks, it'll be six months since my last booster, and a year since I caught the bug. We recently heard that catching it confers pretty good immunity for "at least 10 months".

And we previously knew that boosters begin to lose effectiveness as soon as five months.

A case could be made, then, for showing up as soon as they arrive, apparently late April. But all these numbers - ten months, five months - are loaded with the typical conservatism of doctors giving advice that's best on the side of caution.

As it happens, ten weeks later, I turn 65, putting me into the "recommend" zone, though of course I'll just be ten weeks older. It's more the stretching out of immunity that attracts me to wait a few months. My immunity is probably "good enough" to keep me from serious harm, on into the summer months, when risk will decline.

Indeed, if prevalence, which has been level for so long now, does drop this summer, I might stretch it towards fall, when immunity has fallen further, and risk, higher.

And the way their enthusiasm for this is weakening, it might be the last. I'm not sure why it is, when the prevalence is hanging in there, the consequences can still be as serious. "Endemic" is not the same thing as "all over".

2023 March 12: Stupidest Biowar Department Ever

CCCC readers know that the "lab-leak theory" is a stupid, boring topic, that is only a topic at all because it gives "China Hawks" a way to preach suspicion.

But for some bored-on-Sunday reason I clicked on a YouTube video of Tony Fauci being asked about it. He gave the answers you'd expect: that a lot of smart doctors strongly feel that it just naturally jumped from animal to human.

It was the "naturally" that reminded me. The "lab-leak theory" isn't just that China was researching coronaviruses and one got loose; the full "theory" is that China was engineering a bioweapon - altering the virus to attack humans, and not just to study it.

That's where it makes sense to obsess over it, rather than shrugging that the source doesn't really matter, as CCCC feels. If China was trying to do this, we're under attack!

But that's just straight-up freaking nuts!

What an apallingly stupid attack. A coronavirus? That everybody can catch? That is hard to immunize for? That you can catch over and over again? That would be the absolute worst "bioweapon" of all time.

The dullest, slowest reader of Tom Clancy novels could write the description of a good one in his sleep. It would be a lot more lethal; it would be possible to completely immunize a population against it (yours), and it wouldn't mutate around the immunization. You'd never go searching the coronaviruses for a bioweapon.

It's not just that maybe the virus was in early development, and they had no vaccine yet, so that China suffered badly from it all, too - this would have been a really stupid avenue for research, like searching for Bigfoot - in Saudi Arabia.

It's a shame that none of the journalism about it stops to contemplate how ridiculous the basic idea is. Fact is, they love a conspiracy theory, too; it grabs eyeballs. Now I've blown a third post on it, I've got to stop.

2023 March 11: At Least Bonnie Admits It

There's not much value in more than skimming the interview with Bonnie Henry for CBC, the other day.

Mostly a review of things that went poorly with the pandemic fight. Alas, it does not review ongoing controversies (at least CCCC and The Tyee think they are) about lack of improved ventilation, particularly in schools, just the "look back over 3 years" story.

The key thing is that, at least she admits we are not in a good place to have another pandemic. Mostly, she means the medical staff and systems are stretched thin.

That should improve with the blast of money going in to BC medicine, and time for the profession to rebuild with new blood, and, one hopes, some coming back because of the improved pay.

We are just not in a better place when it comes to basic infrastructre. Should another respiratory pandemic come, we should be ready to only close what has to be closed. And know what those are. That's a big topic, more later.

2023 March 9: COVID Cup Loser: Matthew Walther of Michigan

CCCC, along with a number of other journals, had a problem with Catholic scholar and writer Matthew Walther, and his uncaring attitude towards COVID in late 2021.

Walther wrote about nobody worrying about masks, distance, or vaccinations, that he was aware of, in his rural Michigan home. Well, the Atlantic readership exploded at him, the linked journals above wrote articles contradicting him, or at least crapping upon him for his attitude towards immune-compromised people, old people in general.

I figured I could just sit back and wait for vindication (or not); we'd find out about now who was over-cautious, who was criminally negligent.

I'm realizing I could do quite a number of these "how it all worked out in the end" pieces, now that we are at something of an end, at least of the panic phase.

This one is not equivocal. The map at left is very plain, about Michigan. It did ninth-worst in the American COVID Cup, it was the ninth-highest state in deaths, at 4226 per million.

But the thing about Michigan, is that it is just across a bridge from Ontario - that same bridge the Convoy blocked at $400M/day. It has the highest rate of easy drives to Canada, and vice-versa. And Ontario, just a river away, had barely one-fourth the death rate.

What the entries on that map show, are the death rate for the state or province, in deaths/million, and then in parentheses, how many of Michigan's population would still be alive if they'd had that other death rate. (So, Michigan itself has zero.)

I hope those numbers sink in. Michigan has a quarter of Canada's population, and but lost 80% as many people. Thinking that 30,000 people died because their neighbours were so dismissive of the needs of the time, is just hard.

I hope Matthew Walther goes to Mass a lot in 2023, thinking hard about 2021. It would be a very Christian act of humble self-doubt and self-examination.

2023 March 8: Pandemic Finally Gone Endemic?

Substack recommendations have led me to Eric Topol, Physician and Researcher. He's done a fair bit of COVID-related work, and his recent column has two pieces of Good News.

One, the pandemic is finally showing the statistics of being endemic, no longer growing wildly. "A break from COVID Waves", as he says, at the very least - aceepting the possibility of another variant starting a new wave.

It could happen, but for a while now, the "XBB.1.5" and "XBB.1.9.1" variants have taken over the world, no other variants seem to be beating them anywhere, and we have amassed enough immunity to hold them down to a "mere" twice as bad as a bad flu-year, but ongoing.

Apparently, "endemic" means, "get used to losing 150,000 Americans and 14,000 Cnadians per year as a new normal".

The thing is, we are accepting it as a new normal. Already have. Sad for old people, getting those last few years clipped off, but we've accepted it.

His second piece of good news is that there is finally a treatment that knocks the prevalence of "Long COVID" down by 40%, a drug called "metformin". The general anti-viral, Paxlovid, has also been reported to help with Long COVID, but they've yet to study it randmomized, or in concert with metformin.

Long COVID is a terrible problem, affecting millions; we are just starting to come to grips with it. As Topol notes, we now have one drug shown to prevent it, and no drugs that treat it.

2023 March 7: Six US States Beat Quebec, Three the Prairies

...but nobody could beat that 50% of Canada that lives in Ontario and BC.

So there. If you're going to treat the pandemic as over, we get to spike the football (or our arms, one more time) and declare a massive victory in the CanAm Games.

The perennial topic here at CCCC, the COVID Cup itself: who did best at saving lives? CCCC loves to contrast our own fine country to nearly everybody else that's not a well-run island. (Alberta would have beaten all Americans if it weren't for the island-ness and not-as-American culture of Hawaii.)

CCCC in the past has put up similar graphs to this, with all 51 US States and The District, to emphasize how nearly all the blue is way to the left. For today, we won't bother with 94% of the country, just the 7 best-performing states. Only they are in Canada's league.

And we throw in Arizona, which is (ounterintuitively)their worst state, a remarkable contrast to very central, busy, dense Washington DC, being one of their best. So much for rural locations being protective - which reinforces the priors of CCCC - that there are no safe places, only safe behaviours. I guess we should congratulate the majority-Black, very urban population of DC for their good, smart behaviours.

A pity their government doesn't think they deserve to govern themselves, since they can clearly manage life better than 95% of America.

They're so smart and sensible, they could almost be Canadians.

2023 March 6: Immune Damage? Ulp.

Again, I'll let one little Mastodon post do my heavy-lifting today. Interest in CCCC is obviously declining (even me) and a 500-character post is about right.
Christos Argyropoulos MD, PhD

Stating the obvious about #covid19 , but some times the obvious must be spelled out:

Reinfection = Boosting of Antibodies+ Immune damage
Re-vaccination = Boosting of Antibodies without Immune damage

If the *additive* immune damage from each reinfection does not decline to zero with successive reinfections, the *cumulative* immune damage will increase over time. Therefore, the apparent steady state of the last year will unravel as we stop revaccinating.

Is this a gamble one wants to take?

2023 March 5: The "Lab-Leak Theory" Has Nothing To Do With COVID

After dismissing the "Lab-Leak" story as uninteresting just days ago, I have to touch upon it again, to flog an article that explains why anybody wants to talk about it.

(Well, anybody not involved in tightening up procedures for wet markets or biolabs, both of which are worthy projects, wherever the pandemic came from...)

It's what you'd expect from the USA: China "Hawks" expound lab-leak; China "Doves" just avoid the topic.

Chris Wray, of last week's "FBI likes lab leak" story, is a Hawk who wants China pushed back more forcefully, more done to harm their efforts in all quarters - military, economic, diplomatic.

Beating up China, for them, isn't about fighting the pandemic, avoiding another, or getting any accountability for China's mistakes; just heating up public dislike of them so that there's support for other things.

That just clicked, made perfect sense. The next "lab leak" discussion, you can check out of, as soon as it starts.

2023 March 4: Canada Undermines Asian-Mask Narrative

Dr. Lucky Tran is a mask activist, and journalist, with just one of his several Guardian pieces, linked from the graphic at left.

I've added to that graphic, the badly-sketched Orange line that shows, roughly, Canada's pandemic performance, measured by deaths per million. I'm kind of on about that same topic as yesterday, that Canada did very, very well in the pandemic.

Other pandemic superstars, like New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, are basically islands, in the sense of being easier to isolate and control arrivals. Canada has a long land border and constant traffic with the near-worst pandemic performer. COVID was rushing into Canada from the States, when a flight from Wuhan every day was not transmitting. So, we did really well to be so much better than Europe, if not half as well as the Islands.

The graphic was used by Lucky Tran, on social media yesterday, to promote his disparagement of "Western" attitudes to masks:

The misplaced arrogance of Western countries continues, despite having handled #COVID-19 far more poorly than Asian countries. Asia learned a lot from SARS and did much better during COVID. The West, it seems, is determined to continue repeating its mistakes.
With that graphic beside that text, you'd have to admit, the Asians were way smarter, it must be the masks that have saved them. Until I drew in the Canada line.

Now, it's true that Canadians were way more accepting of masks than Americans. As that post said, the Americans ripped their off right in the airports when the announcement dropped, and the Canadians, en masse, did not. However, with a little more time, Canadians all dropped their masks, too, and continued to do it through all warnings of the "fall surge" that wasn't that big. And we still are. And that graph is what it is. Yes, worse than many, but poor Hong Kong lost 9,000 people in two months with Omicron, then 4,000 more since November, are now at 30% worse than Canada, despite all their mask-wearing, and 92% vaccination.

CCCC keeps coming back to the same conclusion: when you compare two different countries, you often find the same superficial response to COVID, but quite different outcomes that suggest that the real results are down in the details that are harder for journalists and public health people to see: how well are the masks worn? How diligently? How intelligently? Are people leaving masks off, mostly, but putting them on when it really counts, the tight spaces? Are Canadians just better at avoiding each other, sitting back in meetings?

We are doing something right. But "wearing masks constantly like Asians" is not it.

2023 March 3: UK Says Trudeau Twice as Smart as Merkel?

Everybody is laughing, not in a happy way, at the horrors of Boris Johnson's innumeracy today. That Guardian article goes on from his elementary percentage mistake (taking "0.04" to mean "0.04%" and underestimating possible UK casualties by 100-fold), to his misunderstandings of life expectancy, his hopes for magic solutions that reminds one of "injecting bleach" in the White House. This is contrasted to:
Germany, for example, went into the pandemic with a detailed national pandemic plan. Its politicians understood, from the beginning, the importance of ramping up testing capacity and of containing cases of the disease. You only need look Angela Merkel - a scientifically literate leader who was able not just to understand but to explain the intricacies of relevant scientific principles to her people - to see how different it could have been.
Ah, Angela the respected scientist, kept her country's losses down to 2500 per million, in contrast to the much higher 3000 in the UK, nearly 3500 in mismanaged America. Just 2500. Bravo!

Canada had 1300, half that. Half. The big diff between scientist Merkel, the incompetent Johnson, and the actively superspreading, mask-hating Trump, was just a range from 2500 to 3500, some 40% worse. Whereas Germany was 100% worse than Canada, America nearly 200% worse.

So, where's the praise for Trudeau? These things, you notice, are all heaped upon the Leader, the top guy gets all the blame, though much of it is for the overall behaviour of their society: if the pandemic taught us anything, it's that you can only push people around so much. But, that's the deal: the top person gets all the blame and credit, from journalists in search of a clear "narrative", a simple explanatory story.

Except when we come to Canada, where there is no way in hell that even generally liberal, left-leaning journalists are about to call Justin Trudeau, of all the well-known, not-a-rocket-scientist figures, some kind of maths genius and brilliant leader, who should get all kinds of credit.

For that matter, Mr. Legault in Quebec has utterly escaped journalists badgering him as to why his province had twice the death rate of the rest? (2117/million in Quebec, to Ontario's 1140, BC's 1043.)

Maybe he's bad at math.

2023 March 1: Oh, Christopher Wray, Who Cares?

Well, admitted, WHO cares about the origin of COVID-19, because it's their job to study the thing. But the rest of us should just lose interest.

Yes, Christopher Wray was irresponsible to go offering theories about COVID-19 that he can't really substantiate, or even win an argument with against the doctors that are much more sure about the food market. Law enforcement officers don't do that about single murders, they shut up until they have good enough evidence for court. Certainly, the "revelation" does no public good - excites a lot of angry words, without giving anybody any certainty or closure, any progress towards justice.

Most likely, a servant of a famously secretive agency was not hurting the public good while just looking for attention, but executing a strategy to put pressure on China in some way, for diplomatic efforts. Keep them unpopular, take away oxygen from China's efforts for our public opinion. They aren't the only ones that can manipulate it. In Canada, it was TikTok, same day. Pressure.

But, honestly, who cares? My climate guy, David Roberts, has the clearer view, yesterday:

1. There's no real practical *consequence* to whether the virus came from a lab or a market.
2. Nonetheless, a set of pundits has *obsessively* pursued the leak theory, repeatedly declaring victory despite a lack of evidence.

Oh, and the final cherry on this shit sundae: the pundits in question, the ones obsessively discussing the lab leak, are also whining that discussion of the lab leak has been "suppressed." As they obsessively discuss it.

I always thought one of the hardest things about covid, psychologically, is that there was no one to blame. It was just a bad thing that happened to us all. The only rational response was compassion & care ... but lots of people aren't satisfied w/ that. They want anger & blame.

Anyway I hope never to discuss this again, as I don't much care where covid came from. I care a lot more that we're not doing shit to protect the vulnerable, we're not improving air circulation in buildings (etc.), & we're not beefing up vaccine programs.

Absolutely goddam right, David Roberts. My view exactly.

2023 February 28: Yes, goddammit, Masks DO work

Christ Almighty, do you really think that doctors and nurses would wear these through their long, griding shifts, day after day after day, spending so much money on them, if they didn't work?

Many thanks to The Guardian for an article debunking the latest anti-mask nonsense.

It was one of those "meta-studies" that just summed up other studies - 78 of them, of which only two were about the hyper-infectious-and-mostly-by-air COVID-19. Most of the rest were on flu, and mixed up studies of partial masking with full masking. Just an academia shitshow. Worthless.

But, seized upon by right-wing journalists immediately, trumpeted as the Final Answer, the Truth At Last.

Read the article; I can hardly be bothered to sneer at them any more.

2023 February 27: "COVID Will Change Everything (NOT)", Episode CLXXXVIII

It's aggravating that we got the conspiracy theories about the Great Reset, but didn't get any Great Reset. Beliefs were rife, early in the pandemic, that this would restructure whole societies, along more social(ist) lines, usually. Government was so obviously necessary to keep half the private sector from just collapsing, and then bringing down real-estate and finance with it, when they couldn't make payments on everything from offices to stores to hotels and airplanes.

CCCC wrote about how we would now clear the air. That one was true, but not because the pandemic showed us clear air in Delhi. So, very, very not true was the Major change in the economic structure, where we proles would clean out the rich. As if.

CCCC wrestled with the question, through April 2020, whether the pandemic was "Year Zero" (my version of "great reset", I guess), illustrated with a reminder that the last "Year Zero" involved pyramids of skulls - societies don't change easily! By a few weeks later, I was already saying the same thing as the two Guardian headlines at left: "Everything is NOT Different Now".

The modern construction of newspaper web presentations by algorithm caused the inadvertenty-funny journalistic cringe humour at left: just a few weeks for The Guardian to concede their first headline was dreaming in technicolour. The second story agrees that Xi was damaged by his COVID blunders, but stresses that Xi put together such a hold on power, that even this cannot break it.

And, I'm afraid, our own power centres of oligopolies, finance, and their control over governments are just as entrenched as Xi. Even two years of global upheaval couldn't do more than a dent - in Xi's authority, or theirs.

2023 February 24: The Last Vax?

Looks like Alberta, and maybe everybody is on their last vaccination.

They phrase it as "five shots, we're done". Those with both original shots, two boosters, then the recent bivalent booster, are not getting any more. I've just had the four shots, basically skipping the second booster because I caught the disease last April. Maybe I can get one more, because I had just four - or not, because the last one was the bivalent?

As usual with these government announcements, that's all unclear. Can I get a shot if I pay for it? Is this just about the money? Unclear.

All I know, is that the shots are a microscopic risk, and are likely worth it, more so as I age. So I'll be following this story, very closely indeed.

2023 February 23: Let Mastodon Do the Lifting Today

I should get some benefits from having succumbed to social media and joined Mastondon. It's now sucking a half-hour and more out of my day, become part of the "morning news", what jokes or snark is in my stream of little posts. I'm increasingly turning to Mastodon's human equivalent of an algorithm - the "explore" button shows you posts that you don't subscribe to, but others have noticed in the last few hours, and much-liked.

Here's some sharp snark from a random citizen, "Augie Ray". Thanks, Augie.

If there's a storm, you cancel plans without whining about needing to live life.

You wear a seatbelt, even though it may not save your life in an accident, without complaining it is uncomfortable or difficult.

You don't drive drunk, in part because you know it endangers others, without sniveling about your freedoms.

We can adjust behaviors for #COVID19, wear a mask, and protect others in the same way. This isn't hard. We already do it all the time.

Nicely done, Augie. Only with masks and vaccination did anybody demand they be perfectly effective, or that it was wrong to require them. I'd thought before that "seat belts" and also "motorcycle helmets" were great examples, because they were also so bitterly resisted and hated, but the complaints died away, leaving a new "standard attitude" behind. Before that, there was some grumping about check stops, too, that they were presumption of guilt, taking away freedoms.

And I can thank Augie for his contribution by giving you the link to his Mastodon conversations with people who replied. You don't have to join Mastodon to have a look.

2023 February 22: Sickening Bureaucracy of the Calgary School Board

This kind of bureaucracy has always made me sick, and now it may be getting some Calgary families COVID-infected, too, at least if their kids go to older schools.

The data itself, from Calgary schoolrooms, whether collected officially, or by parents sending CO2 monitors (left) in with their kids, is clear enough:

Air quality in Calgary's newer schools, built after 1970, is pretty good. In the 1950-1970 schools, it can be more like the CO2 monitor on the kid's backpack at left. That is, way out of compliance for school boards that have addressed this issue.

Which the Calgary Board of Education basically refuses to do. They've done a few things to improve ventilation, where it doesn't call for too many changes. But they absolutely stonewall parents looking for information; they actively prevent them from protecting their own children with DIY solutions like buying expensive HEPA filters, or making inexpensive Corsi boxes, for their kid's classrooms. A teacher was threatened with severe career consequences for trying to add ventilation.

A parent went to the trouble of getting doctor's prescription for the HEPA filter for her vulnerable child, spent four months working her way up to the Superintendent of Schools, then had to wait another five months - a whole school-year, total. In the pandemic.

I was always sickened by the bureaucracy of what Pierre Poilivre calls "The Gatekeepers". They not only don't work to help, but they act as gatekeepers that won't allow others to help. Why? Well, solutions must come down from the top, or the bureaucrat is no longer a "crat", no longer the governor of the situation - that's always the person with the solution.

I was there, in a bureaucracy. It's the job of the IT department to provide the IT. The fact that the customer department - in my case engineering - might have highly technical programming-capable staff, better able to solve their own problems, is irrelevant, compared to the turf battle: I wasn't going to take their turf. They not only wouldn't provide it IT I needed, they would forbid me (as best they could) to solve it myself, which would break the monopoly.

There are reasons to centralize: we can't have rich parents keeping kids safe, while poor parents cannot. But you can do that temporarily, when you are in any event not sure (even the parents aren't really sure) that the DIY is actually safer. That provided a splendid opportunity to declare it "an experiment", do it in some schools, not others, keep records. What a great way to teach the kids science, the scientific approach to saving their own health!

On the contrary, they discourage the kids bringing in air-quality monitors to even study it, disparage all the data as amateur. And refuse to talk abou it.

On the data, I have problems even with the journalist: calling the parents "nerdy" in the headline, and begging the reader "don't turn away" when the topic is ventilation. Dude, it's a really serious issue for those parents: would you call Black Lives Matter "nerdy" because they go on about the statistics of Black-vs-White arrest patterns?

There's more respect for science in this similar story about BC, from a few weeks ago (CCCC apologizes for missing it). Same story there: bullshit arguments that a Corsi box isn't "CSA certified", when the expert queried points out the obvious: they can only help. It's not like filtering air can possibly cause harm. Jeeeezus...

If my prose sounds angrier than the subject requires, well, I spent decades under that kind of bureaucracy. And what makes me boil is their language, their bland, information-free responses designed to make further discussion impossible because of the equivocation and temporizing. The article mentions that many of these parents have jobs that involve this kind of information-processing, data-driven decisions that you see at left; it's clear from the CBE responses to them that they are out of their depth, faking it, hoping it goes away.

They're the ones that should go away. And I don't even know whom I'm say that of: the story just says "CBE response" over and over - no name to take responsibility and conduct discussion.


2023 February 21: Prior Infection IS Highly Protective For a Year

I enjoyed doing that "embedded video" the other day. Since this is news, with a short shelf life, I'll do it again today, with "The Hill", a political broadcast from the States, but today, it's all-COVID:

Finally, finally, the very-abundance-of-caution story that you should get vaccinated, even if you've had the disease, has been replaced by proof of how protective prior infection is, and it's pretty good: 88% reduction of hospitalization/severe-disease, and for a good 10 months. (Lancet, pretty gold-standard work.)

I'd still get vaccinated, even if I'd had it, and I certainly went on to get my second(!) booster, barely six months after I caught it. There's absolutely no rgood reason to forgo any added protection. I'm one of the people that has reactions, too - that last booster cost me a day of feeling crappy.

But, this goes a long way to explaining why the pandemic is, however slowly trending down in cases and hospitalizations - if you didn't get vaccinated, you got infected, and if you got infected, it was pretty protective.

The doctors would have me hasten to tell you that this is mere statistics, not your personal risk. People have gotten three and four vaccinations, and still gotten the disease, repeatedly, and gotten it worse on the second or third occasion than they had it the first time! Anything can happen with COVID. Your own actions should have that abundance-of-caution, if you also have an "abundance of caution" about dodgy-smelling food in the fridge, or crossing an icy street with a truck coming at you - even if the statistics are in your favour both times.

The overall population, however, is now about 100% vaccinated, in effect. China is all vaccinated, this way, the hard way, at the cost of millions dead, as is India. Good news for the world.

But, for now, it's been four months since my last vaccination, and that means it's two months until I next ask.

2023 February 19: China's Lies Show Why We Don't Have to Give Putin An "Off-Ramp"

How COVID connect to Putin? Just one jump. I was merely snorting with disbelief and contempt at China's current story that they beat COVID awesomely, which requires believing their case and death numbers. Two hundred million treated, and only 83,000 dead, by far the lowest case-fatality rate on Earth, by a factor of a dozen or more.

But, that's their story, and of course they're sticking to it, and the millions of Chinese families with a dead relative can just shut up.

Which is why historian Tim Snyder is right when he says we don't need to let Putin save face by keeping the Donbas or Crimea, or anything. It doesn't matter what happens to Putin, the truth will be what he says it is, and he can enforce that, just as Xi can enforce the most ludicrous, self-evident lie.

So, if there's a tiny pixel of silver-lining in the Chinese catastrophe, at least it means you can tell Putin Appeasers to shut up.

2023 February 18: Two Hours on the Convoy

Please watch it so I don't have to. Just brief me. The big report came out this week, and also this documentary:

It is recommended by Justin Ling, who doesn't agree with all of it (zero evidence that tear gas was ever used), but thinks it's pretty fair to both sides.

Of course, Justin has done a lot of journalism on the Convoy, nearly all of it negative towards the organizers and half the participants.

I just don't need more of this. Like everybody else, my opinions on the Convoy were fixed a year ago, very resistant to change.

The only issues worth discussing, to me, is how we handle such disruptions in the future - whatever political faction they arise from.

CCCC is having some fun today, the first time I've copied that "embed code" from a YouTube and included a direct YouTube frame on one of my blogs. Normally, I have only my own video content, and of course the rectangle at left may just go blank one day, it's somebody else's content. But if somebody can watch this for me and tell me where to find any good parts it may have, it'll be worth it.

All my favourite journalists are on that Convoy Report this week, so I'm repeating comments enshrined on this blog, on the subject of "fringey-ness" of the Convoy numbers.

I've just looked at some of this YouTube, and the first 36 minutes are not the documentary, but four people on a Zoom, talking about it. Skip to about 36:30 to go straight past the chit-chat and title cards.

2023 February 17: Quiet Reflections from an ICU Doctor

A lot of coverage, of anything, certainly COVID, has been pretty alarming, upsetting; you feel stressed after the read. This is not that kind of read.

A successful ICU doctor has to be the calmest, and most calming, of persons; they must have the best defenses against stress. This interview with one at The Atlantic is actually reassuring and soothing to read.

There have actually been fewer cases than expected (same at her distinguished workplace, Cedars-Sinai in LA as here), they have much better knowledge of how to handle them now, known treatments they trust, "less chaotic".

The staff are not as stressed as that terrible first wave, because they're all vaccinated, their families vaccinated, they have relaxed about the risk to their own lives.

Most of their current patients are in there because of those darn co-morbidities, their other health problems. (N.B.: The number of people coming into ICU for other organ-health problems has increased since before the pandemic. That damage to our overall health is very perceptibly real.) But, as she says, "Today, the people in the ICU are the sort of the people that you would expect to see there, as opposed to two years ago, when you had plenty of people who really had no known risk factor for being there."

There are still a lot of unvaccinated in the ICU, and she can only shrug sadly about it. "It can feel disheartening to know that certain things are preventable. If someone had just been vaccinated, or if the people around them had been vaccinated, or if somebody had worn a mask, maybe the transplant patient would still be alive..." But, she's not angry, not horrified. Of course, she sees a lot of what most of us would call horror.

After comparing the first wave to "flying the plane while learning how to fly", she notes that now, they know how to fly the plane, how to handle cases:

"Yeah. It feels like you know how to fly the plane, and you're pretty sure how to keep people from falling down the chute. And you can't understand why some people are voluntarily jumping off the plane. But at least you know how to get people safely on the ground if they choose that. And, I guess the analogy would be, there's the frustration of seeing some people being pushed out of the plane by people who don't care about getting them sick."

Recommended, to lighten your day.

2023 February 16: LRRC15 - the "Key to COVID Immunity"??

Australians have found a "receptor protein" they call LRRC15. They found it in the lungs of COVID patients, clinging like barnacles to the spikes of the COVID viruses.

The spikes, even I know, are, as the headline says, "crazy interesting", because they don't change the way the tops of the spikes change, with every new variant.

By clinging on to COVID, the protein shuts it down. Life or death in the ICU may have depended on just how much LRRC15 the patients could conjure up to strangle it.

I'm mostly going to focus on good COVID news, in CCCC. Come here for your cheer-up. We're winning.

2023 February 13: Paxlovid Works OK, No "Game-Changer" Either

When Omicron stalked the land in the middle of 2022, they tried Paxlovid. Well, somewhat. 5% got it.

CTV reports on a 2022 trial of Paxlovid that gave it to some 8000 out of 180,000 cases of COVID, about 5% of them. 2.1% of the ones who got it went to hospital. For the rest, 3.7% went on to hospital. The cases were mostly people in their 70s, who'd been vaxed.

(A CCCC reminder, the "freedom fighters" who didn't get vaxed were mostly endowed with "youth privilege". Freedom-fighting was far less popular with those over 70, who knew they were at real risk of their lives. They were about 95%-98% vaxed.)

So, if you took it, your odds of going to hospital were about 56% (2.1/3.7) as high as if you didn't take it. That's one pill worth taking.

The 8000-odd drug courses avoided 130 hospitalizations, roughly, since lots who did take it wouldn't have gone to hospital either way; you can't know that when you start the drug, ASAP after diagnosis (preferably). If everybody had gotten it in 2022, they would have avoided 20 times more - about 2600 hospitalizations.

Surprisingly, this article at The Star isn't paywalled, and features comments that Paxlovid only works this well if given to the most-vulnerable patients, limited to those over 60, or with health problems.

Not sure I approve; maybe it doesn't avoid hospitalization for many 50-somethings, who wouldn't be going anyway - but if a few dozen dollars' worth of pills could turn 3 weeks of hell into a week of bed-rest, I think the 50-something should have the option.

No doubt, that means "more study needed", which will probably arrive in 2024.


2023 February 12: Canadian Research Finds Treatment You Won't Get

Canadian research found that an interferon drug cuts hospitalization by 50%, and that's for the vaccinated. By 90%, for the rest.

The article is about how the lack of approvals, that it likely won't get "emergency use" authorization, means it probably won't make any practical difference.

It's like when only Donald Trump could get monoclonal antibodies, back when they were first found, but rare. You're getting a post, here, partly because the article also notes that monoclonal antibodies became useless a few variants ago; they were specific to the first variant, and they can't keep up. The story for the day is that the whole business of "game-changing" treatments, not just the fake ones, but the real, hyped, ones, never paid off.

The article mentions that Paxlovid is the only treatment we've got. It doesn't even mention the much-hyped Molnupiravir, which so much money was spent on.

And that's the oddest story, today: what happened to Molnupiravir? The most recent story that came up was last September. In five months, 6,000 Canadians have died, most in hospital. The story from September is unclear whether any had even been delivered, and there are certainly none about molnupiravir (or Paxlovid, for that matter) making any eye-opening difference in the death rate.

I guess none of those game-changers really changed the game - at least, not compared to vaccination. A little hard to cheer about drugs that mostly make a difference for people who refused the better option. But: we can be glad for the people with immune problems that forbade vaccination, I guess. Maybe they're so rare that they can ask for the Interferon.

2023 February 11: Corrected Hospital Loads Still Wild

Pierre Poilivevre wants to make something of the (frankly, slight) differences tween BC and Alberta approaches to opioids, and blame them from BC having about 30% more death-by-opioid than Alberta, proportional to population.

ProvinceIn HospitalPer mill.

So, are things going well, or is that ugly graph the ugly truth?

I don't recall a lot of stories, certainly no Conservative complaints, about Alberta having far more COVID deaths than BC, proportionally. (5510 dead in AB, vs 5139 in the province with 25% more population - about 33% more, oddly enough, and about the same number of added dead - funny coincidence!)

CCCC must admit that the hospital loads reported a week ago, were actually out-of-date. This is becoming a plague upon CCCC reporting,that dashboards go dead, but fail to mention it, or post a "last updated" date, even. Today, CCCC checked that its source is still updating. The stimulus here is that BC again reports drop in hospitalization, below 200 for the first time since 2021.

First point to note, the grand sum total of Canadian hospitalization is down - 3795 now, well below 4000, well below the last number on the scary graph. Very encouraging (he said cautiously).

When CCCC had more energy for this stuff, there'd be a bar chart, or map, or something to highlight that hospitalizations across the country are wildly different. Again, I have to say, "oddly enough", the difference between neighbouring Alberta and BC is over four times as many in hospital in Alberta, population-adjusted. All that from us being at 90% vaxxed, Alberta only 80%?

Keep in mind, BC has a major strike against it in the COVID fight: we have almost twice as many old people, per million, too. We should be the higher one.

As CCCC has proposed before, it more likely comes from the same different attitudes that also lead to lower vaccination.

But BC-vs-Alberta is just the sharpest contrast: why is Quebec twice as bad as Ontario? What's with the huge number in Manitoba?

COVID stories are about vanished from the news; CCCC is feeling more like a lone sentinel every day. But there has to be some value in this data - if we were looking harder at why some provinces are doing so well, maybe we all could be.

2023 February 10: Basic Research Encouraging for the Long (Medium?) Term

Hate to say it, but it has to be admitted: we need COVID tools for the long term, because we're going to have one. COVID will be a drag on our species' health, happiness, and productivity for years to come.

So, that means that there is time for the long-term, basic scientific research that takes years to bear practical fruit. And they're on the case, at the University of Sydney, where they've found way to block COVID-19 infection.

This is a protein that binds to COVID-19, but won't let it pass on into cells.

The article is very quick to note that "this offers a promising pathway to develop new drugs", which clearly means "nothing will come of this in 2023, and probably not 2024". Even 2024 would be breakneck, wildly-unusual speed for new drug development.

And it's for more than COVID-19, as well, they're optimistic for developments with other coronaviruses, and for fibrosis in the lungs.

We may not be rid of COVID-19 for years, but I bet we totally beat it in, not even the long term, but the medium term. '19 ain't makin' it to '29.

2023 February 8: Throne Speech Contains Nothing for COVID Fight

And they have a spare five billion to spend. There can't be political chores more welcome than to sail into office without having to fight an election first, then be handed a $5B surplus to lavish upon needy constituents.

But here are some things not in the full text of the Throne Speech, which I checked after finding nothing about schools or COVID in the news stories.

There's no mention of COVID at all, save as a past event that "set us back". There's no mention of medical-infrastructure, vaccination, or even programs to help with COVID suppression. Will we even build up a supply of ventilators and PPE, remember when it was a scandal that we didn't have enough? No mention. More beds per person, how about that as a goal? No mention.

Schools come up a few times, but after subtracting mentions of medical schools and residential schools, the kids' schools are barely mentioned, as something we will build in fast-growing areas, surely the most "Duh" of promises.

Nothing about money for school ventilation or air-filtering. Even after the need had become obvious, they'd rather stick their heads in the sand.

The school boards are independently elected, they're immune to Eby's displeasure. They should make known their own.

2023 February 6: Dr. Gandi Couldn't Take BC Health Any More

CCCC has always been reluctant to criticize BC Health. With a globe-spanning coverage mandate, Canada was one of the best performers, BC one of the best in Canada - and still is, noted by our low hospitalization two posts ago, just below.

But there have always been disquieting stories about how restrictive they are with information, how they let RAT tests go to waste, how they just could. not. stand talk about school ventilation.

And critics from within are not appreciated. Dr. Sanjiv Gandi just couldn't take it any more and quit. From a life-saving, top-pay job as a heart surgeon.

His calls for mandatory masking and ventilation got him big on Twitter. His adult kids were all relieved when he quit what he called a toxic workplace. (There were two surgeons in BC that could do heart surgery on kids. Now, one.)

Dr. Gandi appears here today, CCCC urges you to read his story, because of one remarkable comment he made for The Tyee:

"We don’t need more money necessarily, we need thoughtful creativity," he said, pointing to an initiative he helped lead to support children with congenital heart disease at home that, conservatively, saved the province $4.8 million over two and a half years.

"If it’s about dollars and cents, the cheapest health care is keeping people healthy in the first place," he said.

Absolutely goddamn right, Dr. G. The Costa Rica philosophy. How good to know that the guy at the top of the high-tech medicine totem pole, a heart surgeon surrounded by the highest tech, appreciates that even more lives could be saved by some low-tech, low-cost public health measures. Nurse visits. Home care. Masks. Corsi boxes.

I'm just sad he picked the Green Party, who are not getting near power any time soon. I hope he does good work as a public critic.

2023 February 4: Now I'm Afraid to Get a CO2 Meter

I had a chance to play, as far as one can, with a CO2 meter when I visited Calgary at Xmas, and some friends met at a bar with a tented-over outdoor patio and heaters. More than one of us was reluctant to meet indoors, at all, and the place was nice, the beer and burgers good. (free plug at link, to "Citizen Brewing", northeast Calgary).

Being a bunch of geeks, one brought a $250 CO2 monitor to show off. We all played with it, which was pretty limited to breathing right on it to make the number shoot up to 1200.

As covered earlier here on CCCC, CO2 monitors have been recognized as a good proxy for COVID risk. The "400"-sized numbers at Citizen Brewing were normal outdoor air numbers - the patio's tent-covering and heating units were making no difference to us just sitting outside. (And, indeed, it wasn't warm enough to take your coat off, just unzip a bit.)

Places that monitor air quality try to keep that number under 800. And 1000 is considered bad air, take caution, it's lowering your IQ.

And then we come to the tale of The Atlantic journalist who bought one, and it "broke" her. She could not get her air quality better than 1200. Hours of running her one range-hood fan and opening windows until it was cold, barely got her to 800. It was mostly above 1000.

This wasn't even COVID risk: she was worried about the CO2 itself, not to mention whatever was coming from her gas range. And her problem was: apartment's air quality has a lot working against it: two humans and two cats, all of us with an annoying penchant for breathing, crammed into 1,000 square feet; a gas stove with no outside-venting hood; a kitchen window that opens directly above a parking lot. Even so, I was flabbergasted by just how difficult it was to bring down the CO2 levels around me.
...the thing is, I live with another human and one cat, and our place is also 1,000 square feet. The author found it hard to get the numbers below 1,000 even by letting in so much air that he place was very cold.

It has me wondering how much bad air we're putting up with, and whether we even know where the COVID risks are, just by looking around a room.

2023 February 3: Wild Variances in Hospitalization

ProvinceIn HospitalPer mill.

The graphic is from a story today in CTV news, that hospitals in BC are lower than ever in "patients with COVID", about 40-50% of whom are in there because of the COVID. The lowered hospital numbers track with dropping wastewater indicators, and others.

So, how do we square this with the graph of soaring numbers of COVID hospitalizations across Canada?. That graph is from respected sources, as well, covered here just two weeks ago.

Can it really be that BC is this island of dropping cases, fading infections, improving conditions...while the rest of Canada is making up the difference by having large, and rising, problems?

The story is about BC dropping to 204. The table beside it is for all of Canada, last week. It shows BC still at 273, but the others so much higher. The table to the right comes from this CBC report:

The total comes to 4168, somewhat lower than the scary numbers on the January 20 graph. But not much. The other provinces really are doing much worse.

The "Per Million" column is a little rough, but you can see that we, Nova Scotia, and Ontario, are doing more than twice as well as the Canadian average (112), and the lowest-vaccination provinces, the three prairies, have five times as many citizens in hospital today. Vaccination doesn't explain a lot, though: Quebec and New Brunswick were about as vaccinated as BC and Ontario, but have triple our hospitalizations.

What bothers me even more is the difference in shape between the two graphs. The BC one is the reassuring "pandemic over" story we are hoping for: slow decline in hospitalizations, as the population gains immunity by jab or by infection.

The other graph is a story of a pandemic still growing and threatening.

OK, but it's not threatening BC. What are we doing so right, that the next three provinces to the east are getting so wrong?

2023 February 2: Take Your Vitamin D!

For many reasons. I've long been a Vitamin-D proponent, since data almost 20 years back was accepted by cancer researchers, that it lowers cancer risk, substantially. Studies have ranged as high as 50% reduction, though I believe that claim was scaled back some years later. But cancer, jeez: if a nickel pill per day can knock 5%, much less 50%, off those odds, I'm taking it.

Some vitamin fans baffle doctors with doses so high that even humble, normally-microdosed vitamins cause toxicity symptoms. I came across the news that vitamin D has been seriously looked-at for reducing both infection and disease risks since 2020, on YouTube - not where I normally, or ever, go for COVID wisdom. The guy with the piece on it (I won't link) said he was taking 4000 IU per day, at which point I clicked it off, though he has a good, sober reputation.

When the cancer news came out, they started talking about the 400 IU per day recommendation being merely to ward off scurvy, that 1000 IU per day was a better level. A GP in a clinic told me flatly to go to 2000 in the winter, but I haven't; just the 1000 IU pill, plus a diet that I'm sure is giving me hundreds more. Most of my reading suggests that by 2000, you're just eliminating it hours later in urine.

And I try to get some sun, all summer.

Multiple studies, like this one, are now concluding that at least "good", definitely non-deficient, levels of Vitamin D do protect against infection, and against severe disease, if infected. The reductions are perhaps a quarter, maybe as high as a half. Higher supplementation levels are associated with more benefit. Black patients get higher benefits. Multiple studies now. It's for real.

I might even start taking a second 1000 IU pill per day, for another month until there's some more sun available. Probably too much, but heck, just another nickel. The current "immune escape" levels of the XBB variant mean that a 25% reduction is nearly as good as vaccination!

Take your Vitamin D.

2023 February 1: The Cost of Misinformation

From the Tyee article on public health this morning, quoting a report from the "Council of Canadian Academies":
"Misinformation about COVID-19 is estimated to have cost the Canadian health-care system at least $300 million in hospital and ICU visits between March 1 and Nov. 30, 2021. This doesn't include the cost of outpatient medication, physician compensation, or long COVID. Model outcomes also do not include broader societal costs, such as delayed elective surgeries, social unrest, moral injury to health-care workers, and the uneven distribution of harms borne by communities."
I think the things they didn't include are larger than what they did. We could round it up to a billion.

We have this information because of our respect for free speech. Man, it's expensive. Not just dollars, obviously: it cost a lot of lives.

The report, by the way, comes from a group I hadn't heard of, but will keep an eye on. The "Council of Canadian Academies" is a non-profit that gets experts from the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society of Canada - our most-distinguished scientists are invited to volunteer and advise. The Council exists only to provide professional analysis and substantiated facts into public debate.

No wonder they hate misinformation and reported on it. Thank you.

2023 January 31: Nikiforuk News Round-Up Gloomy

Unsurprisingly, Andrew Nikiforuk, in The Tyee is gloomy about our current COVID mess.

I think that "mess" would be a word he could buy into. It's a COVID soup of different competing variants and sub-variants out there, no neat waves any more, just a steady rise, with waves on top of that.

It's this diametric contrast to all the socializing going on now, even fairly elderly people gathering indoors without masks, just bearing the risk. And Nikiforuk stresses that the risk could easily rise again, not just gradually go away as more and more immunity is gained from infection. Animal reservoirs; immunocompromised patients breeding another Omicron; China's billion-plus infections, a billion new chances for variants.

Pretty depressing.

CCCC can only go back to its basics: protect yourself; and call for ventilation and far-UV. Calling for masks seems hopeless.

2023 January 30: Just Switch to a Public Vaccine

It's a week or so, now since both Pfizer and Moderna jacked up the price of their vaccines - enormously. Yes, just when they've sold literally billions of doses, unquestionably paid off whatever investments they made in a basically government-provided technology, they're going in for the kill.

It's not like these folks are charities: today, Slashdot summarizes the NYT story about big pharma Abbvie making $114B by gaming the patent system.

The news piece above says the government should "stop them", with force majeure, of course, how else? Why not just outcompete them on the free market?

CCCC has already covered alternatives. Day after tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the post on the amazing vaccine invented by the US Army Medical Corps. "Spike Ferritin Nanonparticles" might be the vaccine that crosses all variants! Let's get trying it, it's been a year.

Then there's just another company: it's almost a year since Novavax was approved in Canada, haven't heard another word about it.

Indeed, just look back a year to the CCCC coverage of multiple new vaccine victories. That includes a reverse-engineering of Moderna's vaccine, given away for free in South Korea.

And our coverage of Amy Goodman interviewing Dr. Peter Hotez, and his free, public vaccine is over a year old now. Dr. Hotez developed a patent-free vaccine that vegans will take, haven't heard from him since.

We have a lot of options. Moderna and Pfizer have made their pile and should be moved along.

While I'm at it, a link to the movement to just nationalize Big Pharma. Enough.

2023 January 29: All That Lockdown-Suffering...for Nothing?

"It shows me: protecting lives was never the motor behind zero-Covid. Power was. Now the Chinese people also see it."

Or, more simply:

"I felt it was all for nothing"

The first, a survivor of one of the lost, last week. The second, a student who spent weeks in a dorm with no showers and little food.

That's the sense of the article in The Guardian this morning, about China's loss of over a million people (we believe) in the last few weeks.

The details are about how quickly the lockdown was lifted, the speculations about why - the main one being that Omicron was already ripping through the population, lockdown or no, as happened elsewhere. By opening completely and suddenly, the Chinese medical system was doomed to overcrowding and inability to save hundreds of thousands.

If the death-toll is under four million, it's actually better than the USA - China will have to exceed 1.5 million dead to do worse, proportionally, than Canada has already, much less the States.

But deaths that did not have to happen, the pointless deaths, are the problem for Mr. Xi. Nearly every Chinese family may lose a grandparent, and lose them at home because hospitals are full.

One gives up hope for another Tiananmen Square uprising. But, perhaps, this travesty of public health will be long-remembered, some justice sought. The costs of dictatorship have been made very plain in both Russia and China now, in one year flat. It's a bad winter for China, but, as George RR Martin would say, perhaps there's a hope of spring.

2023 January 28: Convoy Anniversary is the Only COVID Story Today

Well, the Tyee is still running a story from the other day, about Long COVID, and how little we are paying attention to that.

But, save that, there are no stories about COVID on the main pages of most news, today. Nothing about China, which presumably is doing a lot of dying, but we have no newsies there to record it. Nothing about other countries, no waves anywhere? Really? I suspect that everywhere is like here, like rural China: just ignoring it. The dying is now confined to the old, happens at a level that doesn't quite break hospitals, nothing to see here, folks.

Well, today is 365 days since the Convoy rolled into Ottawa, and it is a story that they died out. Something not happening is rarely a story to the major news sources, but CCCC notes it with great satisfaction. As I reminded various forums, and posted here at CCCC, they were always indeed a "small fringe", with three to four times as many Canadians getting vaccinated every day of their protest, as participated in it: some 2.5 million jabs into Canadian arms while 10,000 protested for three weeks.

Just 500 are expected in Ottawa today, and I wonder if it will reach that high.

The only "convoy story" remaining, is whether any politicians in the Prairies, or one in Ottawa, can mobilize some extra votes out of the protest movement. That the election of 2021 showed no great bump in numbers suggests not. You'd have to assume there were really a lot of people that would vote for Poilievre that just couldn't stand the weak-tea conservatism of O'Toole. That number is not zero, but I don't think it can turn an election, either. Trudeau will just have to lose it himself.

2023 January 27: Manning Manifested Alberta Nuttery 30 Years Ago

Nenshi nails it. Bizarre. Read the article for yourself, it only needs a quick skim. On top of millions for the conspiracy-theorists in "The War Room", the Alberta Conservatives paid their old mentor a quarter-million to head up a $2M panel to "investigate" the COVID-response. And he's already written an SF-fantasy-version COVID review that ends with speculation about making the health officials pay for their crimes.

Manning, for the young, has always been a bit of a nut, though a very capable politician, organizer, and debater. His main legacy has been destruction.

It was him that got Danielle to break up the Conservatives. (He loves destroying Conservative parties.) He battled with Harper about whether the Conservatives should be religious, should condemn homosexuals.

And for years, he's been saying that populism can be a good thing, if you harness it correctly, like an oil well.

No, really, he used an oil-well metaphor. Points for consistency.

2023 January 24: China Just Don't Care

Reading the BBC article about massive deaths in rural China, it abruptly hit me that CCCC and everybody else just shrugged and turned away from the story of at least four million dead in India, and never did much follow-up. There are no more stories to follow, save stories of grief.

The Indians did not have a revolution, throw out the awful Mr. Modi, have major inquiries; they moved on.

So, apparently, is rural China, even as the dying is probably peaking about now.

They don't have many hospitals out there, just village clinics. A local doctor is quoted as saying that he didn't hand out too many ibuprofen, because they'd be wasted. Remember us frantically scrambling for ventilators, so we could ventilate for weeks, pull them through? In China, they just die that first week, get buried in the fields - under a little red flag, as the image shows - and I guess, move on.

This CBC story from a week ago notes that the average age of death is 80, that 90% of deaths are over-65. In rural China, maybe all China, they're still thinking, "well, that's normal and natural enough; that's how life goes", hold the funeral, move on.

It's what the most right-wing leaders of our own countries wanted us to do, back three years ago now. Just suck up the casualties like an army taking a hill, and get back to work.

No wonder they like to send our jobs to China.

2023 January 23: Miracle Cure for Indoor Air?

The question mark in the headline calls for the old rule that, for any question that's a headline, the answer is "no". The claim certainly sounds like a bullshit sales claim of snake-oil miracle cures, here's their headline and opening sentence:

New Type of Ultraviolet Light Makes Indoor Air as Safe as Outdoors
March 25, 2022

A new type of ultraviolet light that may be safe for people took less than five minutes to reduce the level of indoor airborne microbes by more than 98%...

(note the 10-month-old dateline, and the lack of the world changing in 10 months)

But the thing is, the rest of the sentence is:

...a joint study by scientists at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and in the U.K. has found. Even as microbes continued to be sprayed into the room, the level remained very low as long as the lights were on.

When I started googling on "Far-UV", there were many links. The studies date back to 2020 itself. One was on Global News in 2020. The web page for that story had an advert link on it to "" which has a bunch of Far-UV (or UV-C, or 222nm) products. It's an industry.

So, what's going on, here, why isn't this a part of the conversation about schools? Well, there is money. The Global story mentions a thousand dollars for an installation, but many note there are few manufacturers. Another google took me to estimates of $1500 for just 300 square feet. Five bucks per square foot, maybe $55/sq.m.

If CCCC never heard about this in 3 years of pandemic-watching, there's clearly a disconnect between how well it works and how popular it is to even discuss it, if you aren't the Davos-rich. Probably no need to cover an entire school, how about just the classrooms, at about 2 square metres (22 sq.ft.) per student.

Actually, hang on, a hundred, hundred-and-twenty, bucks per kid doesn't sound impossible. What's going on, here? We should at least be talking about it.

2023 January 22: One Thing Even Schools Can Afford

I can't believe that I ran a pandemic blog all this time, love techno-fixes (so much easier than behaviour changes), and love DIY cheap solutions - and still missed the so-wonderful-its-almost-hilarious Corsi-Rosenthal Box.

Just click there, look at the Wikipedia picture, read the top two paras, save me the trouble. It's so freaking simple that will be enough.

Not that the Box lacks a distinguished pedigree: note that Corsi is an engineering Dean, Rosenthal a filter manufacturer. They did proper tests, can show you figures for how well it cleans the air.

The problem is that it isn't perfect. This really reminds me of the problems I had with IT departments: they could not stand half-way, DIY, cheap solutions. Everything with IT had to be a Big Project, and solve all problems. This wound up costing years, and millions - often to create a project so big, it couldn't succeed, and you actually got nothing.

Small, often DIY solutions that do 80% of the job with 20% of the effort, are often the best solution. In transportation, the little scooters you have to balance yourself don't do the last 20%, the self-balancing with 5 gyroscopes, that the Segway did, but they cost, not 20% as much, but about 8%.

In IT, something I could write in an afternoon and have tested the next day, often did enough of the job to mitigate over 80% of the effort of doing it manually, sparing staff-months, and a calendar year (no kidding) that would have been required to do 90% instead of 80%.

In epdemiology, it's all about the statistics, the probabilities, your odds of infection after an hour in a classroom with a COVID-positive classmate. If you can knock that down by 80%, it isn't good enough for doctors in a ward, but it sure is one-fifth as bad as "nothing" for our schools.

I've got my own, actually even-cheaper partial solution. The CCCC command centre is dependent, all winter, on a couple of $20 heater-fans I got at Canadian Tire when we moved in. For classrooms that have windows you can open, simply sticking one in at either end of the classroom (the two need to be on separate circuits, at 1500W) and you can blow in a lot of air without freezing the place, as it's all being heated on the way. On warmer days, you could add in more fans, with no cooling. Just pump air in. Simple, no? And $20 each.

Classrooms could handle a couple of heater fans, and a couple more Corsi boxes, with minor costs for power and background noise. They could easily be the difference between major and minor infection levels. We could at least try.

2023 January 21: Oddly, The Very, Very Rich Do NOT Believe "It's Over"

I'll get to the zillionaires of Davos in a moment, but let me tout The Gauntlet (nostalgia time, same name as my college paper), by Julia Doubleday, apparently a would-be Congresswoman, and presumed Democratic activist.

Julia started The Gauntlet a few months ago, with a tight focus on the pandemic not being (really, medically) over, and many powers-that-be attempting to promote the fiction that it is. (Early tagline: "President Biden promised to end the pandemic, then presided over 700,000 deaths.") It's pretty American-federal-political, with coverage of masks on the House floor, etc.

Anyway, her latest column is getting some notice. It seems those zillionaires of Davos, linked above, don't think the pandemic is over.

The Gauntlet goes on to compare Davos, where the powerful take care of themselves, to our schools, where we are not giving our kids the same protections.

I'm going to make a few CCCC meals out of the protections that schools could be looking at, the next few days.

2023 January 20: It Is SO Not Over

CCCC has agreed that the pandemic, psychologically, sociologially, is over; we're just acting like what used to be frightening, is not.

At left, one of those pictures worth a thousand words, about what is happening, epidemiologically. Keep in mind, that most hospitals are now just tagging cases as "COVID" if they test positive, whatever the reason they came in. (The graphic does not link - I got it through Mastodon, and credit for both the source and the Twitter presenter of it are on the graphic.)

So, there are about 90,000 hospital beds in Canada (The graph for how that has declined is appalling. We're down steadily, from 7 beds/1000 people when Reagan, Thatcher, and Mulroney took office, to 2.5, after 40 years of their neoliberal shrinkage of the public sector.)

And about 5%-6% of them how have COVID-positives in them, whatever their illness level. Is that just because the whole population is now about 5% COVID-positive? Or, at least, 5% of those who are in poorer health for other reasons, and vulnerable?

"Vulnerable" meant "Scared and shut-in for sure", but maybe even people with kidney or liver, or cardio issues are just strolling around in stores, these days. Certainly, not even 5% are going around masked.

Maybe we simply don't get out of this, until wide-scale standards improve for ventilation, as with an earlier post. More about ventilation tomorrow. Of course, maybe we'll finally invent a pan-COVID vaccine, as was promised by the Spike Ferretin Nanoparticles. We did beat smallpox, after thousands of years of not getting natural immunity. That required vaccines.

2023 January 16: Just End Private Care

Yeah, it's just another "Look at the Tyee" day, but, what can I tell you, they are all over this issue, and they don't hold back. The Tyee has been doing top-notch pandemic coverage because of the topics they dig into, and the positions they aren't afraid to take.

Today, it's basically an opinion piece, though the good kind, where there's a lot of supporting journalism in the facts: they say, "End Private Care" - stop making our system a mix of public and private, because the private side is the worst.

We think of private care as being the deluxe version, the only complaint is that the poor can't get it, must make do with second-rate public care. But that's not really our system. The private care is the one with the lowest staffing, the most four-bed rooms - and the most deaths from COVID.

People wind up there because Ontario has 38,000 on the waiting list. All homes, public and private, get the same funding, so there's no savings! Just lower service, presumably because more of the identical funding is siphoned off to profit. The waiting list means there's no risk.

It's very hard to get around their logic.

2023 January 14: For Lack of Love, Labours Lost

I kept harping, in CCCC posts, on how America was not just losing three times as many citizens as Canada to the pandemic, but seven and more times as many working-age people. That first link says "ten times as many", but by 2022 it had moderated to a mere "seven times".

It wasn't uniform across age-groups. Far fewer died as you go younger, but that jaw-dropping ratio between Canada and the USA was highest for the 30-somethings: nearly 14 during the Omicron wave.

I threw out a theory that this was about the age where you're most-likely to have a job in the Real World, with your hands, not in an office, but what do I know; no other journalistic source, than CCCC, really got into that Can-Am ratio of dead working people, or explained why, either.

Well, the Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, at least noticed the loss. If not many journalists care that so many young people died, at least the economists miss their monetary contribution. They are economically missed, if not otherwise.

Of the 1.09 million dead, apparently 500,000 would have still been working.

But the loss to the workforce, from the pandemic, seems to be as high as 3.5 million: many left the workforce early, and never came back: too close to retirement, anyway, accept the loss of income. Obviously, many more were injured with Long COVID than died from it; some can't work. Some need nursing by family that then can't work. And there was a fall in immigration - which so many saw as a good thing, but employers, not so much.

When the difference between the American and Canadian responses to the pandemic is added up, the mere-filthy-lucre, economic consequences need to be thrown in the face of those who wanted to "kill grandpa to save the economy".

2023 January 13: Suing Doug Ford

...well, actually, his Minister of Long-Term Care.

Apparently, it's so hopeless, suing the government, that it is rare for a judge to even let such a class-action lawsuit go forward. But the case against Ontario's Ministry of Long-Term Care looks so good, that a judge is going to let four families of dead COVID-19 patients Sue The Bastards.

This is wonderful news.

The bad news was that long-term care was already going into Stephen King's Memory Hole, where in "IT", the protagonists all forgot about IT, quickly, after the encounters were over. King's metaphor for how we all process trauma, how Holocaust survivors wanted nothing more than to forget, how major efforts to not-forget the Holocaust had to be made.

We want to forget the pandemic, particularly the most-horrible parts of it, and there was no part more horrible than the helplessness of standing outside a long-term care home, unable to do more than wave at a window, as people were basically imprisoned inside with the virus.

The lawsuit is going forward, partly because the judge accepted the estimate that 3,836 deaths were "preventable". Let's just say it: dead by negligent performance of licensed professional duties. There are thousands of families who can't just forget. I'm glad they're holding us to action.

Because of forgetting, we might never have gotten significantly better regulations, or new laws, new funding. We know that awful problems in Long-Term Care had been identified in reports twenty years back, so that remarkable statement has backing.

Where the legislature and executive both fail, the courts are the last chance for change. The courts hold us to our own morals, when we'd often rather express good morals, then slack off on the implementation. (Suppose there was somebody who could actually force you to really go on the diet you New-Year-resolved for yourself. Civil rights decisions are like that.)

I can't comment on the lawsuit, of course, it's not just medically technical, but how responsible government was is a real legal technicality. The value of the lawsuit, to the public, is that it keeps the event in memory. I look forward (sort of) to being reminded that they kept moving care-home workers from home to home, weeks into the quarantine, weeks after Bonnie Henry in BC forbade that. BC had far better long-term care results (relatively), and the difference should be thrown in Ontario's face.

Quebec next. They were worse, and Legault paid no electoral penalty whatsoever.

2023 January 12: Make This Year's Advent Calendar an Add-Ventilation Calendar

Oddly, that excerpt from Mastodon (which I've joined for fun to see what Twitter would be like, a bit, and make clear it is NOT hard to use) does not link to Mastodon. If you aren't into social media, why drag you over there? It's a link to a closely-related story in The Tyee.

Now, I'm constantly commending my reader(s?) to Andrew Nikiforuk there, but this time, the man really has my heart thumping, because he's recommending my own area, engineering, not medicine, as the needed cure for the world's ills.

Much of the article is about how infection risks had to be engineered out of society, long before any vaccines or mask ideas where known. The elimination of thatched roofs; the introduction of water and sewer (Roy preens with professional pride) were the "cures" for plagues of the past.

And the "cure" for this one, is better indoor ventilation. Give us that, and the cycle of infection can be brought low, if not eliminated. Reduced below plague status.

With the Six Million Dollar Man, "we had the technology" (1973 TV show, current value: $42 million). We have the technology for way better ventilation, too. And $42 million would put quite a dent in the worst problem: schools.

That problem is enormously greater in America, where they have a lot of crappy shools, not-coincidentally in, ah, um, "Neighbourhoods of Colour".

This article points out that parents want nothing more highly than better ventilation, and that it will cost about $1M per building. So, for every Steve Austin, you could fix up about 42 schools, help maybe 10,000 kids, that's $4200 a pop. Ouch, yes, but that's about the cost of one year of their education, and it would be a one-time expense.

This isn't just about COVID. It's about every other disease, including the commonest of colds, which suck energy and work out of our populace as a constant drag on education and productivity. It's about particulates and asthma, which our cities impose upon their residents, a burden not felt in small towns.

It's got a bunch of benefits, which lead to quick payback. The costs are concentrated, the benefits diffuse, so of course, this has to be Government, as usual. Government money for public buildings, government regulations to strong-arm offices and theatres. (Theatres, we must admit, are a nightmare: such concentrated humanity, and airflow makes unwelcome noise. They'll be last.)

But, hey! Workers can lend a hand, and directly benefit themselves. Workers are resisting return-to-office, last I heard; and managers, hating work-from-home.

Well, fight your managers by demanding better ventilation as the price of return-to-office. Maybe a demand that CO2 levels average below 600 PPM. (This is where France just upgraded their school rules to 800 PPM. 600 is a tough demand.)

At least, establish that this is a condition of work (or school) that gets tested, measured, managed, required - at all. Only building engineers have even thought about this, so far. Building buyers only ask for the CFM ("cubic feet per minute", in American be "within building regulations". Well, let's improve those.

For a start.

2023 January 11: Just a Cold. Just a Cold. Just a Cold.

I'm sure I have Just a Cold. It's confined to my sinuses, which are sneezy and drippy, and a mild headache, just a sinus headache. There's no fatigue, no body aches, it feels nothing like the time I had COVID, ten months back.

I don't want COVID. Yes, another layer of immunity would be nice, but a few people with repeat COVID have it go very badly. Do not like even a small risk of long COVID.

Naturally, I'll have to use up the last test for it in the box, because I want to be sure.

Here's a funny thing: the keen new "XBB.1.5" (hope I got that right, not going to check) is supposedly the most-infectious yet, which means it must be measles-infectious, catch it from across a room. Yet, I somehow managed to avoid it, and catch a perfectly ordinary cold, instead. I joked to my wife, that if she doesn't catch it, too, it's positively not COVID, because we aren't keeping distant from each other especially.

That may be a data point, hinting that COVID is currently not all that prevalent, not if ordinary colds are more-so. I'm glad they've opened all those extra centres, of course, not only out of caution, but because the system is already at 110%, corridors and storerooms filling up.

Anyway, its cold, flu, and COVID season, folks. Wash your hands and stuff. You know the drill.

2023 January 8: Let's Not "Get Kraken", But No Need for Panic

Predictably, (if you're a Tyee reader, or this blog),Andrew Nikiforuk is worried about the "Kraken" variant of COVID-19 (XBB.1.5) in The Tyee.

Being Nikiforuk, he highlights all the concerns, crying warning. I won't repeat it all, but it's the most-transmissable yet, the Omicron's Omicron.

And it sneers at your previous infections, your vaccinations, your boosters. Best "immune escape" ever, too. Well, crap.

My wife and I have become very hard-to-impress with risk levels, with all our immunity. (4 vaxes, and one infection, each). We have our N95 masks in quick-draw holsters, but just went through air travel, not wearing them in the airport, the waiting area, not even in the lineup. If an area has high ceilings, good ventilation, and you can mostly wave your arms without hitting anybody else (especially in front of you, breathing out where you breathe in), we can't be bothered. (If we'd been more than 5 minutes in the lineup, we'd have donned masks.) We did don them, in the jetway, and throughout the flight - but off again when hitting YVR. We left them off on the train, even, as it seemed the frequent stops, where a quarter of the walls become open doors for 30 seconds, constituted "pretty good ventilation".

The gang we had beers with, in Calgary, are all sixty-ish, and they wanted an outdoor patio. One guy brought a CO2 meter, and we all played with it, breathing on it to drive "450" up to "950" for a minute. Lots of people at our age are clearly still cautious.

I think we have the right approach. Kraken may be easy to catch, but it seems no worse killer or even hospitalizer. While it escapes immunity, it doesn't defeat your vaccination's power to keep you out of hospital.

There's little sign of increasing hospitalizations in the most-Kraken-hit areas of the USA, the northeast. They're up about 15%, so far. That tracks with increasing cases, but not enough to suggest more severity.

So, it's more of same, I think: keep a mask handy for "close air" situations, avoid tight indoor spaces if you can, get your booster if you haven't, and try not to stress. It only depresses your immune system. And your life.

2023 January 7: Global Risk Map Mimics Pandemic Risks Tightly

For some reason, The Globe and Mail didn't paywall a nice article on "A Shrinking Map...travellers' options have narrowed". Global instability, and distaste for China, even if still-welcoming, are reducing tourism. What blew me away was their link to the risk-map of Global Guardian, a travel advisory company. I do have to snitch the map here, though readers are commended to the Global Guardian site for comments and much more information.

This map blew me away, because the most-safe green-coloured countries are also a list of "pandemic superstar performers", as documented by over two years of CCCC postings, praising the "COVID Cup" top-league, and decrying, especially, the coutries with the resources to do much better, that failed because of their culture and governance. Notice some of the pairings of green-and-yellow neighbours with very similar problems, but quite different outcomes:

Canada vs USA
Portugal vs Spain
Norway vs Sweden
France vs Germany
Ireland vs UK

It's harder to compare South Korea, New Zealand, Japan, and Taiwan to neighbours, but that is the list of the four best "pandemic superstars", and they're all green on the map.

Alas, Cuba and Vietnam had to do amazingly well despite their status as somewhat-troubled nations on the larger risk map. But it's a very short list of "green", safe nations on this map, that managed to do badly in the pandemic. Basically, the Balkans did badly, but are rated 'green' here. Though you couldn't get me to travel to Orban's Hungary right now, with a pitchfork.

I offer no commentary on the cause-and-effect direction of this not-a-coicidence. Let's all just study it, and think a bit. We are really in danger of losing what wisdom the pandemic might give us, because we already want so badly to forget the damn thing. There was a similar phenomenon with the Holocaust, I believe.

2022 December 12: China Tries Out an Inhaled Vaccine

That's it for today, just a link to the BBC story.

Inhaled vaccines might have taken much longer to come to us, but China is in a desperate jam right now, as everybody knows, expecting a big wave in a week or so.

(I'm still skeptical on that: are they really going to start crowding tightly together so quickly - I think most will be more cautious, especially the retired, who can.)

It's still a Sinovax vaccine, all of which have been inferior, so far; but there are high hopes that the delivery mechanism, for a respiratory disease, may immediately provide higher protection to the upper airways, where the disease starts.

It's only been approve as a booster, so far, but because China is so big, we'll soon have some good stats on how well it works.

Fingers crossed.

2022 December 12: How Those ICUs are Coping

Finally, a look inside the problem. CTV News asks a pediatric ICU at 120% how they coped.

It's science versus nature, as usual: they took stock of resources, stretched them, asked parents to keep a kid one more day sometimes, and, above all redeployed nurses.

And, of course, as you know, they had to cancel surgeries and other treatments.

No big message here: just admiration for professionals performing at their best, under straitened circumstances that are our fault for under-resourcing.

Get your vaccine. Stay safe. And vote for more medical resources.

2022 December 11: One Last Time, There Was No Fall Wave

BC is being properly whacked for lack of transparency, lately, and our death-counts are now about two weeks behind. But this is the last month of the meager data they do still fill in:

And COVID simply did NOT take off in a wave when we all retreated indoors from the cold and rain, over two weeks ago, now. Yes, we're still in hospital-hell, because of the other two 'demics, but it's not COVID.

Pardon me for optimism if I see a relatively bright spring ahead. The other two diseases can also be beaten by populations that reach widespread immunity. Inflation is dropping at last, the end of interest rises beckons.

If Vladimir Putin could just drop dead, preferably by catching all three diseases at once, it could be a great spring.

2022 December 9:Of COURSE China Will Lie About COVID Deaths

For starters, they are dictators, who lie incessantly. We never found out about 70 million dead from Mao's policies because they were officially annouced. ("Oopsie, giant famine", said Xinhua News Agency, never.)

And, of course, they've under-reported COVID deaths, all along.

Now, Financial Times is being quoted, by those with subscriptions with the news that they're at it again, as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths rise. I'm reminded of Tim Snyder's point about why we don't need to give Vladimir Putin an "off-ramp" from Ukraine, to save his face: Putin controls all the news, can just declare victory at any time, no matter the facts, and retain power; there's no need for us to hand him a real victory.

China may get away with it. India attempted to tell the world they had only a few hundred thousand casualties from the Delta variant that country spawned; but it was world-wide news that oxygen ran out, literally millions died. Some models say China would be looking at a million, which would be better than Canada(!) by relative population. (Our death-rate would lead to 1.5M in China; America's, to nearly nearly 5M.)

China is re-opening cautiously, at the personal level, because so many were propgandized into great fear of the virus. The streets are still pretty empty. They may indeed, have "only" a million deaths, and claim that as a victory. Statisticians will agree.

2022 December 8: "Protections", Not "Restrictions"

Lessons Learned consoles us that our response to the pandemic was no worse than those of other provinces and sometimes better.
That was a low bar and this report offers little encouragement that our future responses will be better.
I'm quoting the last two sentences of Crawford Killian's Tyee article on the BC "Lessons Learned" report on our pandemic response, because I'm following his advice at the start.

He praises the authors (3 now-retired civil servants) for following the journalism advice he handed out for decades: be aware that people read the start and end more-closely than the middle. Sum up well.

If you want a summary of his summary, I'll put it here in the middle, that nobody reads. We did well in general, but it got worse and worse as the pandemic wore on and nothing changed, no advice. People lost confidence in them.

CCCC was always a Bonnie supporter, because CCCC was always very aware of how much worse others were doing. Bonnie was never lying to say "we're in a good place" - at least relatively.

But my absolute favourite part of Killian's article was something he just tossed off: the government should never have called them restrictions, but, rather, "protections". They really handed the Other Side (I guess before they knew there would be this vociferous, mendacious "other side"?) a win.

2022 December 7: Rather Than Vaccinate China, Just Toss It Out

I won't even bother with the links today, I'm too disgusted.

What little COVID news is left, is mostly about China, as our hospital news has clearly turned to flu (without the hospital ever getting a break). It's all about worries that China will now have a wave of illness and death, and can they vaccinate fast enough, with their inferior vaccine that's 70% effective rather than the mRNA still at 90% for avoiding hospital?

Sigh. It's their fault for not asking for our vaccines of course - but on a human-race-scale evaluation of the COVID fight, one part of the race (Canada) is onthe brink of throwing out $1B in vaccines, that could have probably ended the troubles of 3 or 4 Chinese cities, if distributed to the third of their seniors that are unprotected.

Our pandemic is going to be a case-study for future generations, when we're all a Star Trek "One World" government.

2022 December 6: Ventilation

Bonnie Henry is so obviously politically chicken to call for mask mandates. All the physicians and stats-followers like myself, and so many parents, can see it, but she offers lines about how "just masks, and just in schools" won't do enough good. So she's calling for the "Vaxapalooza" as this Tyee article calls it.

Which is fine, but too slow, and it won't work, we know how bad uptake has been, and some pleading won't bump it much.

The Tyee at least mentions "ventilation". Once in the headline, again mentions it in the article. But nobody DISCUSSES ventilation, talks about it seriously - not DIY, improvised improvements to school ventilation, even, something accomplished easily with $20 electric heat fans from Canadian Tire, like the ones heating my patio right now. Blow in outdoor air, but throw away 1500W to heat it up, as you do. Replace the air in the classroom more times per hour. It could be as useful as masks would be!

Let alone, they've now had about 30 months to work on actual, formal, engineered ventilation for schools, and there are no projects, design work, no discussion.

So frustrating.

2022 December 5: No News Is Good News

Three days since CCCC remarked that if the cold snap, driving us inside, doesn't cause a wave, we're done. I know that's just 3 days, but it was a weekend, we've been inside and socializing the whole time, and there's just zero news from the hospitals. Yes, the emergency departments, and peditrics, are running at max, but COVID is only a fraction of that, and the 'ol exponential increase is simply not happening.

Good news.

2022 December 4: CO2 Monitors So Popular, The Library Has Them

This is a local story, indeed, not local to Vancouver yet, just West and North Vancouver. (They have more money?) CCCC wrote earlier about the value of CO2 monitors as a proxy for respiratory infection risk. Last July, CCCC noted that they were "hundreds of dollars".

It had not crossed my mind that a public library might get into loaning out CO2 monitors. They don't loan out power tools. Basically, they didn't loan out a lot of movies back when there were video stores, either; they don't want to be accused of taking bread from private business's mouths. There must be no good way to rent a CO2 monitor, so the libraries of West and North Vancouver have started stocking them, and they are flying off the shelves; more being purchased.

What a great idea. Bless the library! I can't think of a need in my life, just now, but if I were going to an event, I'd really consider it. This could really help places like schools and offices realize they need to improve their ventilation, particularly this winter.

2022 December 3: Crisis? What Crisis? KidVaxing Remains Low

So, you'd think, with every news report beating its chest about the crisis in health care, in pediatric in particular, in emergency in very particular, people would want to avoid their kids getting sick.

Nope. Half are utterly unvaccinated; only 14% have a booster; 90% have no flu shot.

I think I'm done, what else can you say? They aren't afraid for their kid's very lives, and that seems to be what it takes to get people to jab. COVID-19, Flu and RSV are all only rarely fatal for children. You'd think the very idea of weeks of bad illness, even at home, would be enough, that the mere prospect of even a short hospital stay would be enough, but no.

No wonder doctors quit.

There's nothing for this population, but to expensively supply them with a lot more health care, just keep hiring. For lack of vaccination, they will just have to pay more taxes.

2022 December 2: Driven Inside; If This Doesn't Cause a Wave, We're Done

I don't want to go out today. I'm sure I'll drag myself out for a walk, if not a run but it's just sub-zero and blustery-grim (and grey) out there. The streets are much quieter. As with those cafes the other day, the indoors are getting packed. And, as mentioned, nobody in masks. So, if we're going to get a wave of respiratory hospitalizations hitting adults, we should know in a week at most.

The wave of children is bad enough; if we get an actual, 2021-style COVID wave now, it'll be bad. I'll be a couple of days yet, wondering if the maskless day on the 30th will hit myself or Connie with a case. If the wave hits, though, we can't say we weren't warned. The doctors have been trying.

2022 December 1: Nobody's Wearing Masks

We had to evacuate our building for several hours, yesterday, for bug-spraying - and spent hours in two cafes, a restaurant, a movie theatre. The theatre had only a few people in it, but both cafes and the restaurant were packed every table busy. And not a mask in sight. At the restaurant, not even the server:

My excuse was that we were there to eat and drink - and also, we hadn't much choice but to go there or the library. It's weird, that I felt social pressure to not just knock back my coffee and spend the next hour, reading, in a mask. It's always odd to be the only one doing anything.

But, we'll be a lot more careful in the run-up to Christmas, when we'll be with a 91-year-old that hasn't had that 4th shot, yet. It's not really over, though we're trying to make it look that way.

2022 November 30: We Are GAINING Health-Care Employees?

Read it to believe it, health-care employment is up 16% over the last five years. Sounds wrong, with all the other stories about quitting?

Well, the other odd fact is that 80% of "health-care providers" are women. And that doctors are still majority male. We've been losing some of our most-trained emergency and ICU staff, yes, but they're hiring the women who take care of elders and patients in standard hospital beds.

2022 November 29: Best China-Analysis Article So Far

There's a bunch of articles running now about China, and the trap that Mr. Xi has walked himself into, one step at a time. It's only a "trap" if you are unwilling to just turn around and walk out, back up the ramp. But he's now at a wall he can't climb, going forward.

I see that they are now, at last, promoting a vaccination campaign for the elderly, essential to escaping the trap without massive deaths - but they still aren't buying our vaccines, that would be going backward.

The most-nuanced article, that digs into some of the backstory, that I've read this week is from Michael Schuman, at The Atlantic. Schuman lives in Beijing, tries to read the, ahem, tea leaves of the Communist Party full-time. Just a few minutes of your time, very recommended.

2022 November 27: If Only We Could Loan Them Our Trucks

I won't even bother with link to any article about the outbreak (heh) of protests in China. Well, finally. If only we could loan them a few thousand trucks (for Canada, you need just 400, but China, obviously would need some 12,000 in proportion) to give the protests some police-intimidating muscle.

The comparison to what we put up with before an uprising, and what Chinese put up with, is of course pretty dramatic.

2022 November 26: A Thousand Words on Masks

At least, a picture is worth 1000 words. Thanks to Mike Babulic for digging this up, and putting on his Facebook feed. A rare occasion where I'm glad I looked at that site.

2022 November 25: Universal Flu Vaccine with mRNA?

That rarest of creatures, the positive, upbeat, happy story from the pandemic.

CTV reports on the prospect of mRNA technology giving us a "universal flu vaccine". Not the "end of flu" or anything, maybe not more effective than the vaccines of today: it's just that there would only be the one vaccine, rather than a yearly guessing-game of "which variant(s) should we vaccinate for?"

It's good odds on a real step forward, heartening to those of us getting towards those years when flu can be very serious indeed.

2022 November 24: China, WTF?

I've just hit the stage of being, as the Brits say, "gobsmacked", by the news from China.

Since we are doing well here, no lockdowns, we're now looking at China's extreme lockdown policy with bewilderment. As the story notes, they never vaccinated more than half their elderly population! notes in their story that this was because of concern the vaccines would harm their health!

And now a whole nation is paying the price for vaccination concerns. And they still aren't vaccinating them! There's no end in sight.

WTF, China?

2022 November 23: Ottawa Has More Flu Than COVID

Readers who follow COVID news won't need this, it's high up on the google news recommendations: CBC has an extensive report on Flu Vs. COVID in Ottawa, and there's more Flu.

COVID in the Ottawa wastewater is slowly falling, if anything, as November wears on; whereas the hospitals are more clogged with Flu and RSV than they are with cases of COVID.

One good definition for when the pandemic is over, is when it's just another seasonal virus, like flu. Well, now it's like flu, and less prevalent.

This is not to say it's less deadly or disabling. There's no such thing as "Long Flu" or "Long RSV" than I'm aware of.

But it's certainly a milestone.

2022 November 21: The Dashboard Pandemic Has Ended, For Sure

I had been saving up a post for CCCC, that would, one last time, compare the rate of "young" (under 50) people dying, in both America and Canada. CCCC has ragged on the issue (alone of all journalism!) that, while America may have had three times the rate of death overall, it had six and seven times the rate of "young" people dying - the community pandemic, as opposed to care-homes.

I just realized that my snapshots from the Government of Canada tracking site for cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, had the same total dead (46,029) yesterday, as it had a month ago. And then I checked, and that number was the same as a few weeks before. They've stopped updating it - and not mentioned that on the page!

Total neglect. More and more dashboards have gone dead, lately. CTV at least has a note at top, saying so, and that it is now an archive.

People are still dying in alarming numbers, of course; we've just gotten over our alarm, and stopped tracking it, at least publicly.

2022 November 19: Measuring Risk Through the Day: Careful on Buses

CCCC already covered the notion of using a CO2 monitor as a proxy for your COVID infection risk. Well, Wes Hardaker of USC, recorded his CO2 levels on a conference visit.

At right, one of the several graphs provided in his article, showing the CO2 level in PPM, with notes about where he was. Lower levels at breakfast and in most meetings than sleeping in his room with his own CO2!

But, he cautions, hallways and breakout rooms, where mask protocols were relaxed, were the riskiest rooms. And buses, just avoid them if you can, N95 the whole time if you cannot!

2022 November 17: Mask Freedom!!

Not to go all MAGAGA on you - I'll immediately comply with a now-unlikely mask mandate - but I appreciate my mask freedom. Bonnie Henry has officially stated they're not coming, same in Ontario the other day. They aren't coming.

Which is fine, now. Having upgraded to N95 masks, I'm much less worried about whether others in the store or theatre have theirs on; mine protects doctors in infectious wards!

And, after two years of this blogging, I feel pretty expert in knowing when they are needed. Basically, not, in most very-high-ceiling, very-uncrowded grocery stores, except maybe near the checkout for five minutes. Certainly not in the nearly-empty theatre I saw "Black Adam" in, on a Wednesday matinee.

But in any place that's close, low-ceilinged, with a lot of people? Of course, at least for the next six or eight weeks.

That's my choice.

2022 November 16: China and the State of Fear

Something both political parties accuse their rivals of, is trying to get the populace into a State of Fear. Liberals accused of stoking up environmental fears (Trump, just last night claiming people were being made to fear an eighth-inch sea level rise in 300 years), and Conservatives, of stoking up immigrant and terrorism fears.

Well, in China, they've really pounded on "pandemic fears" for almost 3 years now, and it's worked. Fascinating little article today at Bloomberg, about panic in Shijiazhuang, the test-city for reopening. There's re-opening, but everybody's staying home and keeping their kids in, out of fear of everybody else.

After the journey we've been on for the last two years since the first vaccines came out, what a contrast.

2022 November 14: Masks Work In Schools

Hate to be a simple blog that just calls out your one quick read for the day, on a topic. Today's is top of the picks for COVID news in most places: a study in Boston, across many school districts, got pretty sure that mask rules cut down infections by a good 30% - for the teachers, more.

This should make schools thoughtful for the next month. The epidemiologists are picking the next four weeks for the peak of flu season, and perhaps the worst of the RSV that's going around kids. And the other headline news, is Ontario Public Health practically begging for masking, particularly in social situations, where they can't mandate it anyway.

This isn't indefinite: this is not like the COVID pandemic, with its waves that kept coming back. "Seasonal flu" is seasonal - just hold the bugs coming out of the schools, and into the rest of the population, right before Christmas; six weeks at most. Teachers are feeling their oats, right now: they should stand up and make this a public call.

2022 November 13: Not "Immunity Debt": It May Well be COVID-19 Side-effect

CCCC is pleased to correct itself quickly. Two days ago, discussing RSV infections, we used the term "immune debt", which most are using as "immunity debt", to describe two years of isolation being the cause of a spike in RSV infections.

There is indeed backing for the "greater infections" theory, but not for the hospitalizations of RSV patients. Two years away from RSV exposure might indeed cause two years worth of infections to come at once, but not a spike in the fraction of those that need hospital: and that is what we've got. Not just double the RSV hospitalizations, but much more.

The actual culprit might even be COVID-19, according to immunologist Colin Furness at UofT. If the problem is that the kid's immune systems have been harmed recently, COVID-19 would be the chief suspect for it: most kids have caught it in the last year, and damaging the immune system is a standard viral strategy.

Which brings us back to masking and all that. But, CCCC has tired of repeating itself. Also of first-person plural. CCCC will switch to third-person, for variety.

2022 November 12: Hospital Heck

No kidding, these two stories were the top two on The National Post page this morning, providing rich irony.

Or not. The image links to the "full hospital" story, which emphasizes that they aren't full because of COVID-wave cases, though they have a fair number, and of flu, and of RSV.

They're just full because the system is stretched. They're nearly ready to put patients in corridors - because business is a little brisk. They are so hard-up for staff, and a few other resources, that they're running on the ragged edge for every upswing.

We don't need a wave to put us in "Hospital Hell" anymore; Ontario is in perpetual "Hospital Heck", even on good days.

But the point actually doesn't change: whether you should get a shot, to avoid hospital, because great pandemic waves are crushing the hospital system, or because the hospital system came pre-crushed by government inattention, you should get a shot.

And people are not. They're still trusting that hospital system that the news had been telling them is wobbly. More accurately - since nobody wants to go to a perfectly good hospital, either - they're just trusting the disease to not put them in hospital, much less a coffin.

Since most people have had it by now, we survivors probably tend to be cocky, unless you've read our CCCC article about how your second and third infections are more likely to cause serious damage than the first.

We do get it, now, that people keep being dumb about risk, right up to the point where it happens to somebody they know, and have to believe it. I guess this one will be no different.

2022 November 11: Excluding RSV

I've obviously been struggling with whether to stick a fork in this blog and stop making any posts; it's kind-of going at this point on the assumption that "COVID isn't done with us yet" and some kind of wave(s) will return to require significant public effort.

Sure enough, we not only still have China - now vying for just how badly you can manage a pandemic, for the COVID Razzie cup, despite how many lives they've saved with their painful lockdowns - but we have our own Theresa Tam flatly telling us it isn't over, get your mask, winter is coming, etc.

Fine; mostly, there's so little of that news, that I can't imagine readers who want it pointed out to them, so as you can see, I'm posting but rarely.

What CCCC will not do, is broaden out our coverage to RSV and the Flu, and the "tripledemic". I've seen no coverage that suggests RSV is a new pandemic; mostly, the opinions lean to this wave being caused by "immune debt" piled up from two years of childhood isolation. That suggests it will not be a prolonged or horrible wave, that the population will absorb the assault and bounce back in a few months.

It's a story worth covering, but "COVID Cup Colour Commentary" was about a global pandemic, affecting all, and we aren't going there.

We will, however, continue to use first-person plural, when we consider the announcement to be important.

2022 November 8: Canada Back in the Vaccine-Making Game

The far-off day has arrived. The Prime Minister's Office annouced broken ground on our new mRNA vaccine factory, in Quebec (of course), yesterday.

That's it, that's the news. It'll take years to build, and when done, still won't be able to suddenly supply 38 million people with a vaccine for the next pandemic. But, at least, we're no longer wholly dependent on others for those jabs of life. The next pandemic, could be much, much, deadlier, too, so it could be a very important factory in some dark year to come.

2022 November 7: Duelling News Stories: No Vax, No COVID

I won't even provide links, today. I did a quick skim of the most-seen news stories that mention COVID, and for one thing, there are not many. What grabbed my eye, though, was that half of them were about bad vaccine uptake (only 37% of adults, 20% of little kids, have their 4th shot) and low case-counts, death-counts, and wastewater prevalence.

We have the clogged hospitals, but that keeps being described as the "tripledemic" of childhood RSV cases, flu cases, and COVID.

If all this low vaccination and tripledemic exposure doesn't cause a wave of COVID very soon, even epidemiologists are going to declare the pandemic is now just an endemic. A trying, costly one, but a steady drag on our lives, not one that comes in waves.

Which does not feel like "victory"; just a steady thousand dead per month, in Canada. Just steadily sad.

2022 November 6: New Pfizer Really Is Better (says Pfizer)

Well, am I ever glad I got Pfizer, two weeks back!

The company has just claimed in a press release that their new bivalent booster pumps up your antibodies four times as much, as a booster of the old vaccine formula.

Even better, if you're over 55! The new bivalent, they linked to a 13-fold increase in antibodies, compared to 2.9-fold for the old vaccines.

I won't deny it, that 4th shot was as hard as any before it, though that may have come from doing COVID and Flu in the same day. But, reading this news, either way, I'm glad to have done it. However easy the virus is going on us this season (see last post, below) safer is better.

2022 November 5: No Fall Wave

Remember, remember the Fifth of November, the Gunpower Treason and Plot!

Not only a good day to re-watch "V for Vendetta", but it's exactly 45 days after September 21st, the first day of fall. Half-way through a 91-day season of the year.

And there's just no Fall Wave. School has been in for eight full weeks, no school closures with coughing teachers. Here's the BC weekly report, for fall:

Report DayHospitalICUDead
Sept 223052222
Sept 303673016
Oct 63692919
Oct 133651925
Oct 203892132
Oct 272922044
Nov 32862723

I had been preparing to write that a wave was indeed hitting, but with our current medical system, was only showing up in actual mortality rates, not hospitalization or ICUs. If you look at just the "death" column, it goes: 16,19,25,32,44, which is nearly triple in just four weeks. Maybe not an exponential increase, but a steady one, even if the other two numbers didn't expand the same way.

But then came this week's figure, dropped by half, and the jump to 44, last week, suddenly looks more like a blip than a wave. Because waves don't take a week off, not when you carefully add up a whole week at a time, as they've been doing for months.

I'd wondered if the dying was all in care-homes, the victims not getting hospitalization or ICU, just dying in their care-home beds. Might still be the case. But the drop in death means there's no province-wide "wave" happening even there, just little outbreaks that cause blips.

This is despite the miserable uptake of boosters! The virus is certainly circulating, causing mild illness that doesn't put people in hospital, mostly.

A wave can still come, obviously. I'd thought the Fall Wave was just delayed by warm weather keeping people outdoors. But we've been indoors a few weeks, now, and not much, but a few outbreaks in those poor care-homes.

Let's just breathe out, for now, and give thanks, a few weeks after Thanksgiving.

2022 November 4: The Real EA Verdict Has Always Been "Good!"

I left a comment at today's "Convoy Commission Story" in the National Post, where they note that an Abacus poll found that 63% of Canadians feel the EA was the "best choice in the circumstances". My comment asked whether this was the first time that was polled. Because it's awfully strong support that should shut down most of the notion that it was controversial.

Well, of course not: we poll everything. The numbers vary, I suspect depending on how the question is asked. On Valentine's Day, when the Act was dropped, 72% wanted them to go home; 93% supported some sort of action to remove them, 68% approving police or military doing it physically.

The righter-wing Toronto Sun asked if the Act was 'necessary', in May, when a lot of second-guessing had been done, and the number dropped to 46%.

Which was quite a drop from March 3, just a week after they'd finally been pushed out of their various camps, when Daily Wire reported 68% approved the use of the EA.

This is tangential pandemic news. But it's all part of the Canadian psyche that followed rules, got vaccinated, showed community spirit. I blogged about Canadian community spirit today in response to The Line, where Andrew Potter thinks Canada has little societal trust, when it's one of the best nations at it. So it's on my mind, today.

2022 October 31: Pandemic-Driven Pink Tide in South America?

The graphic at left is some months old; "Brazil", this morning, can be moved from light-blue, to dark-blue for "Elected Leftist Leader".

The "pink tide" is a term that's had a comeback, like the phenomenon itself. The graphic links to a story about how the "new" pink tide, of the last few years, is different from the first one, the creep of very socialist (in the case of Venezuela, dictatorial) new governments. Most of them were gone by the time Trump took office up north - the worst flip being huge, rich Brazil, going to Bolsonaro, and all-but-open fascist. Bolsonaro was a COVID denier ("a little flu") and vaccine opponent.

Which connects the new pink tide to the pandemic. Across the world, many on the left equated lefty thinking of all stripes, to better communal, public-health, voluntary-cooperation approaches to pandemic fighting; and "righty-thinking", in its many forms across different nations, to COVID denial, vaccine and mask opposition, and cries to "open for the economy".

Further, those (I mean "we") lefties believe the pandemic largely validated our thinking, and condemned our opposition as bad for life, and also worse for the economy in the end.

My niece, on vacation from Spain, said she believed there would be a leftward shift in voting around the world, in general: for her country, the death rate was higher in the more right-wing provinces and cities, not just whole nations. I agreed, telling her about the death rate differences between lefty BC and righty Alberta.

The linked article notes how the new pink tide is less socialist than the previous one - which itself, was called "pink" to contrast it to the "red" revolutionaries, calling for Marxism, in the 20th century.

Today, it's South America that contains the "laboratories of democracy", and the "laboratories of leftism", as they find positions that win long-term support, not just passion that evaporates when it turns out the new government is neither an economic miracle, nor free of its own political corruptions.

If the pandemic got Brazil out of Bolsonaro before he could turn it wholly back into another tiresome right-wing dictatorship, it's at least a silver lining - though Brazil's nearly 700,000 dead were a terrible price to pay.

I liked an article at something called TRT World, which goes over some positives and negatives - particularly that these new governments and the USA are antagonistic.

2022 October 29: Good Pandemic News! BC Not Worse!

The stats for hospitalization, ICU-ization, and coffin-ization of COVID-positive persons, have become pretty unreliable. They go up and down, and not in the previous synch with each other (hospitalization a week behind cases; death two weeks behind that - 2020 was so mathematically smooth).

About all you can really watch any more are those wastewater results. This CBC story makes clear that they are noting the wastewater data as the most reliable. Of course, back in January, CTV was already reporting that wastewater was the only useful monitoring left to BC.

And that wastewater data is ... flat. There's no "Fall surge", not yet. We're five weeks into Fall, of course. The epidemiologists are continuing to warn about November being when it will come - perhaps put back by all that warm weather. Well, everybody's been inside in the parts of BC where 90% of us live, for over a week, now. Perhaps the death business will pick up right after Halloween.

Hope not - it would not be Good Pandemic News, and I'd like to start a long streak.

2022 October 28: Good Pandemic News! (Rebranding) Inhaled Vax Arrives

With my name, I should be good at branding and re-branding. I'm seeing good pandemic news two days in a row - maybe I can keep it up, and re-brand as the "good pandemic news" site, which ought to make me the most-popular pandemic news.

Alas, pandemic news is so avoided these days (it tends to remind us that we're still dying at rates that used to horrify us) that "favourite pandemic news" site probably still ranks below "Togo Today".

But here it is: an inhaled vaccine is in production, being given out as a booster in Shanghai. There's certainly nothing to the administration: over in 20 seconds, tastes like weak milk tea, slightly sweet, nothing.

They don't mention whether you still have an immune response that makes a lot of us feel crummy the whole next day, but I'd assume so. I can't recall where I saw something recently (or I'd provide a link) that those with the worst next-day blahs tended to have the most immune system response, presumably the most immunity. If so, I'm the most-protected guy around, all of my shots have been trying. That's good news, too: if you have a bad time with vaccination, at least there's payback: something for your sufferings.

The bad news that's on every front page this morning are two small studies indicating that the new shots are not that much better than the old, though we won't really know for months. If you ask me, that's still good news, because it also means they aren't worse - when we've been frightened by the possibility of "immune escape" and a whole new pandemic, since the first variant appeared at the same time the vaccinations did.

So it's a good news day, amidst all the rising-wave, long-covid Bad News.

2022 October 27: So Much Good Pandemic News, So Little Blog

I've had a lot less energy for this blog, recently, though I've glumly realized there will not-soon be any "end" to Covid Cup Colour Commentary. The notion of a "COVID Cup" has gotten stale, as the phase where different major national strategies for medicine, masks, and wave-flattening, has ended. It's painfully obvious who lost, who paid a price for that (not Legault in Quebec, for instance) and nobody wants to talk about it. The more-liberal places that did better (BC) are not into shaming or dunking, and the more-conservative places that did worse, don't want to talk about it.

I've a longing for good news, and I've saved up a few day's worth, just reading this morning's news. (Coming tomorrow: China tries new vaccines!)

But the good news for today is that a recently-rising variant of Omicron has just been certified "less lethal". A Harvard Study of outcomes for different COVID patients has found that Delta had a mortality rate of 0.7%, Omicron Original was 0.4%, and BA.2 just 0.3%.

It has been hoped for a long time that COVID would become more "moderate" with age, as the 1918 flu apparently did. It happens easily when transmission happens after symptoms, because severe symptoms floor the patient and keep them away from work and school. With COVID, transmission has mostly been before symptoms, and Delta was worse than Alpha. But, some transmission happens after symptoms, so the evolutionary pressure was still there, just gentler.

Let's hope it continues. Twenty thousand dead in Canada, this year, most likely. Even a drop of 0.3/0.4 (25% less) would save 5,000 lives.

2022 October 26: Once More Into The Arm, Dear Friends

I have now completed my tour of pharmaceutical companies; that, at least, got a laugh out of the medical tech at Safeway who hit me in the right arm with Pfizer (left) and in the left arm with the flu shot.

That's two Astrazenacas, a Moderna, and a Pfizer, now. It's not really clear, yet, whether the shot with specific BA4/5 elements in it will really be better, for the next several months, than the Moderna. But, it's not a bad bet, and I finished the tour. (I got a second laugh by asking if she had any Johnson and Johnson.)

I would join those who say you should just get it over with: get a day, or at least a morning, off, and take both shots at once. Yes, I feel low and headachy today, as well as having two sore shoulders. (The flu shoulder, much less ache than the Pfizer, FYI.) I'm glad I don't have to work, though I could manage it.

The "low and headachy" may have some fault on my part, too. Pleased that I wasn't already feeling crappy last night, I sat up past midnight, had an extra drink or two. At my age, that counts as a wild night you have to pay for, the next day.

Uptake of the fourth shot has been really bad. 14% nation-wide, and BC is just about national champion province, with a miserable 17.0% up to four doses.

I tried to prevail upon a 90-year-old of my acquaintance to sign up for a shot; she pleaded that she never goes out, is safe by her isolation. I'm going to have to try again, pointing out that the one deliverer of groceries could pass it along before he saw any symptoms himself. Omicron is that kind of tricky.

It's still killing people: forty to fifty a day in Canada, since early summer; it just touched 30,000 dead in Canada last New Year's Eve, will be pushing close to 50,000 next New Year's Eve. 20,000 dead in a year, while the news coverage of it vanished. 350 and more in hospital, in BC, three or four dying every day, all the time, that's just become normal now.

I'm not sure how much universal booster take up would cut that, but I'd sure like to see.

2022 October 13: The Fall Plateau

I could have noticed this weeks ago, but on the CTV covid-tracking page, they now have a nice summary of hospitalizations for the whole pandemic, and it is screaming "something has changed" at me.

Look at the peaks along that chart, and find me one that doesn't have a brief high point, followed by steady decline for a while. The dip bottoms out, then another wave rises. But they all look like waves, like ocean waves, all the same basic bell-curve shape, some narrow, some wide.

Until last August.

With August, the "Fall Wave" began, according to the news media; but it isn't a wave. Look at it: there was a nearly-flat plateau from late August through all September, a shape never seen before. Then a dip, but a curious, flat-bottomed dip, as the previous wave had gone flat.

Now, hospitalizations are rising every day, and perhaps that will become a proper, wave-shaped wave, but I wonder if it will just flatten again - chewing away at a mostly-vaccinated-and-exposed population with a lot more immunity than ever before. We've not only had a lot of vaccination, but a lot of infection, and despite all "escape" by new variants, it seems to be admitted that even your new infection may be less-bad than the old ones.

That's not contradicting the "Strokes Scare Me" post of just two weeks ago. It's quite possible for the disease to mostly spare prevous infectees a bad, hospital-grade case on a next infection, while also having higher risks for those that do have a bad one. Odd, maybe - normally, chances of 10X decline with chances of X - but this whole disease has been odd for that small percentage that have other symptoms than pneumonia that has been the most-deadly effect.

If we are now into plateaus that spare the medical system a crush of work, that would be mercy enough in itself, to celebrate.

2022 October 10: Study Confirms Republicans Killed Republicans

There's a paywalled article in Slate, but it actually links over to a free substack by one Don Moynihan, "Republican Elites Killed Their Own Followers".

Now, CCCC has covered this issue before, which was already statistically proven. But that was nearly a year back, and it always feels more certain to conclude things looking backward. The graphs in the linked article are a little harder to follow than the plain ones in this new study, with the main one shown at left.

The article says the effect is mostly due to vaccination, but, beg to differ: the death rates were already a third higher by Fall 2020, when almost nobody was vaccinated yet. After vaccination was rolling, however, by summer of 2021, the difference between the Democrat's death rate, and Republican, is nearly double.

The article doesn't attempt to compute the number of dead people, just observes different percentages in the variation from an average-year "excess deaths", but the point is hardly the number dead. The main point, is that many GOP politicians, and their Fox News cheering section, are still, today, giving advice that gets their own followers killed. Amazing, really.

2022 October 9: Make Mine Pfizer

It's an effort to find pandemic news these days (good) and I was in no mood to look, recently, busy with the also-frightening plague of bedbugs that must be stopped from advancing nearer our suite in our building!

The one bit of news that hit me personally, is that it looks like I'll have a choice of Moderna (B1) or Pfizer (B4/5) in a few weeks when my vax appointments comes up.

It's not so much that the BA4/5-based vaccine is really going to be that much better than the Moderna product: it's that I now have two AstraZenacas, and one Moderna, so asking for Pfizer will allow me to complete the tour of pharma profiteers, like getting your whole card punched by the bar with 20 different beers.

But, absent that, I wouldn't place any bets that statisticians will be able to declare Pfizer a lick better than Moderna, six months from now, when most of the good they can do will have been done.

2022 October 5: Fall Wave in Ottawa, Not BC - Because It Isn't Fall

OK, technically, hospitalizations of those who also have COVID-19 (not many of whom are in hospital only for COVID) are up about 15% this last week, sure. But it's Ottawa and places with actual fall weather that are clearly showing a "fall wave".

In BC, it's still summer. Kids have been back in school for a month, and that's clearly not starting its own wave; more people are at work, and that isn't, either. Indoor socialization still isn't up much, CCCC is thinking, most people are still enjoying all that fresh air that is over 20C in mid-day, and conspicuously lacks COVID particles.

The weather is going to hold through the Thanksgiving festivities, mercifully, and hopefully won't even start in earnest until after October 25.

A curiously-specific date until you know it's my next vaccine appointment.

2022 October 4: 800,000 Dead Canadians? Not wrong, but it is Silly

Many are snickering at a Public Health report that says 800,000 Canadians could have died of COVID-19...without the beneficient efforts of Public Health. Dr. Theresa Tam is a co-author, now being derided for tooting her own horn.

The number is kind of silly. Getting that many dead would have required everybody to completely ignore the virus and go on as normal with every crowded bar and restaurant, as a thousand died every tents outside the overflowing hospitals.

It assumes zero pandemic-fighting, and obviously, a whole lot of vulnerable people, in particular, would have started staying home at all costs when the freezer trucks backed up to the hospital doors. From their travails, the public-health officers might have seen themselves as having to force everybody to distance, but most people did so entirely on their own, as medieval peasants reacted to plagues with no public health officers at all.

What's the worst really believable number? I'll go with 200,000. I get that by taking the rough estimators at their word, who say that, while we may never know, India may have had 6 million COVID deaths.

In India, public health just failed them, and the hospitals did overflow; literally millions died for lack of an oxygen mask. India has about 30X the population of Canada (1.2 billion vs 40 million), and one-thirtieth of 6 million is 200,000.

On the one hand, Canada's medical system is better; but on the other, India is a very young country, with a far lower percentage of old people to kill.

I'm not sure if those two neatly cancel each other, or if my 200,000 is actually low because of our extra old people. Hard to see even that being more than a factor of two, however, and 400,000 is still half the report's estimate.

Whatever, public health can take a bow for saving hundreds (plural) of thousands of lives. The fact that we could have held it down to 400,000 or even 200,000 with obvious behaviour that even medieval peasants understood doesn't change that.

2022 October 1: At Last Americans Notice They're "Dying Young"

The graphic at left links to an article by Ed Yong at The Atlantic. Ed reminds his audience in the article that He Called It. He Told You So. Ed Yong wrote an Atlantic article in mid-March, 2020, that predicted the USA would have the worst pandemic in the industrialized world, because of its prior weaknesses of population, health care, and public health in particular.

It was sad that he was right, but oh, so right he was.

And again, here is Ed Yong at long last uncovering what CCCC wrote about early on, and then kept on returning to, because nobody else was noticing: that the USA was not merely losing three times as many citizens to COVID-19 as neighbour Canada, it was losing a far higher ratio of younger citizens.

The "pandemic of the old" that was 90% of the dying, was only, say, about twice as bad, in the USA, than in Canada (though we would have looked better without those awful Quebec care homes, that disgraced us, even if Legault is about to be forgiven). It was the people in their fifties and forties that were much, much worse. According to the chart at right, three to four times as many "excess deaths" - though CCCC noted (links above) that for strictly tracked "COVID deaths" they were up to seven times as bad as Canada, for people in their forties and thirties.

The media missed it, because they were focussed on the numbers of dead, which, again, were mostly for the very old. Ed Yong spotted the reports on the ratio at left.

His article excoriates the many authors of the tragedy: American culture towards the poor and brown, American health care, American public health systems.

The harshest criticisms are not actually about the pandemic response itself, because America has always had high excess death rates for the middle-age group, especially since about 1980. They keep going up, and the pandemic made them absolutely spike.

Canada is doing little better at preventing the next pandemic. But, as we can llook to Russia for how not to behave militarily, to the UK for how not to run your economy, we can look to America for how not to keep people healthy.

2022 September 29: Strokes Scare Me

What the story doesn't say, is how many we're having. What it does say, is the kind of thing story-editors love, because it is so scary: your first symptom of COVID may be a stroke. First? Really? Damn.

But it does seem to have happened that a number of stroke cases are arriving at the hospital COVID-positive, too many for coincidence. Worse, no other symptoms of COVID.

Apparently, it can cause inflammation of blood vessel walls, can cause clots; all you need for a stroke. Even for younger patients.

The "new normal" may include a higher incidence of strokes in our society, like we needed that. Keep your overall risk level down with healthy eating and living, I guess, like we needed to be told.

If we aren't going to fight this disease with infection-reduction measures (masks, distance) any more, we really need those miracle, pan-COVID vaccines that three or nine different labs are working on.

2022 September 28: ANOTHER Treatment Discovery that May Change Everything

This is NOT a repeat of the story about the discovery of a "weak spot" on COVID-19 that may allow treatment of all variants. It's possible there is overlap between these two researchers, since they've found similar things: antibodies that attack points on COVID-19 that have not changed from variant to variant, neutralizing the pack of them.

Researcher Natalie Freund in Tel Aviv, and team, have identified two antibodies - with appropriately badass-sounding names, "TAU-1109 and TAU-2310" (if not "THX-1138") that go badass on every COVID we've got. 95% neutralization, which I assume means, you go home healthy and stay that way.

I have some concerns about abandoning vaccination along with all other virus-fighting, and just hoping that people will go to doctors, to hospitals, in time for the advanced antibody treatment to work; so many will stay home until they're on death's door. I have more concerns about this being no help in places where teh public health budget is $10/person/year.

But, I'll take any good news I can get, and this is good news.

2022 September 27: Paperless Office, Achieved at Last!

No pictures, and not even a story-link this time (in its old age, CCCC is getting casual). Just a very blogger-like rumination on Life in General.

The "Paperless Office" was predicted in the 1970s, expected in the 1980s, imagined to never be possible, after all, in the 1990s. Paper usage had gone way UP because of computers.

By the 21st century, nobody even talked about it any more, and through my 15 years of work in it (half my career was 21st century; so there, oldness-shamers!) the printer was still used often, by old and young both. Especially for meetings! Even years after most people could bring in a pad, phone, or laptop to the meeting room, the whole infrastructure of "passing out a handout", (often only ready about 5 minutes before the meeting started, we've all been there) wasn't up for handing it out electronically.

In 2009, I remember noting to colleagues that we'd be past paper when the scene from "Avatar" was real: in it, a soldier touches his hand to his desktop screen, pulls it over to his pad and touches that, and that means "drag the paper onscreen over to my pad". The Avatar sequel took 13 years, and that user-interface trick is still not here; but the pandemic got us to paperless, anyway.

As the pandemic made remote work more common than "going in", everybody talked about how the distributed office was here at last, would anybody come back? I've never doubted that. For a lot of jobs, there's no point going back; but for organizational jobs, it's hard to avoid. But: paper died, finally.

What we have reached, for sure, is the paperless office, at last. Now that even a substantial minority of those in a meeting, are joining electronically, it is necessary for a handout hand-outer to be able to do so electronically. Post it as a web page, mail it, put it into the zoom as a shared desktop, whatever, paper will no longer do.

It's one of the few good things the pandemic has done.

2022 September 26: But, Take Heart: The Enemy Has a "Weak Spot"

Well, if COVID is with us for a very long haul, and if it does get worse with re-infection, damaging organs, time for the good news: it has this "weak spot" - and we've found it.

Researchers, as reported by CBC (link from their graphic, left), have found one point on the virus that can be attacked by one antibody that will affect every variant found so far. (Story from last month, well after BA.5 was out.)

This is not about a vaccine, it's about a treatment. Since COVID is now cheerily evading vaccines right and left, the news that there is something better than Paxlovid, perhaps coming over the horizon, is very welcome.

Not soon, unfortunately. Discoveries like this are usually a year or three away from deployment as a new treatment. It does "neutralize, at least to some extent", every variant known so far. No promises that goes on forever, but it's just very promising.

It's depressing in its own way to be cheering discoveries that will help us with COVID in 2025 or later; we thought we wouldn't have to. But the world is not what we wish it was, and COVID, like Putin, may go on tasking us for years yet.

2022 September 25: Alas! COVID-19 Not Remotely Over!!

If you were starting to breathe out (so to speak) because death rates have been so decoupled from case-rates, allowing us to claim the "pandemic over" despite ongoing cases, many re-infections, please tense up again.

Pandemic pessimist (which means, he's been right, over and over) Andrew Nikiforuk at The Tyee, has written over and over against pandemic triumphalism, and his latest article about an immunologist who was permanently injured by a COVID re-infection after four vaccinations, is chilling indeed.

Turns out, the for those who do get COVID, again and again, despite vaccination, it is not "just a cold", or a "flu", or anything else you think you just just "get it over with". This has stunned immunologists who imagined it would become quite mild for repeat sufferers with vaccinations. 2.3% of athletes who catch it suffer heart inflammation, and your odds of that, or kidney damage, brain decline, blood-clotting problems - the odds go UP, sharply, with each re-infection, not down.

Nobody is about to lock down society again over a mere death rate that's double or quadruple our old "seasonal flu" butcher's bill; as CCCC has written, we've let those dozens per day in Canada, hundreds in the US, become a background-noise cost, like we have with traffic accidents (and American gun deaths). So, nobody is going to lock down over Dr. Goodnow's injury statistics, either.

We, the people, of course, can take our own precautions. I'll get on with scheduling my October vaccination for ASAP after my six-months-since-COVID date; and if cases do spike up in coming months, I might just get back to that mask.

2022 September 19: Hurrah! Pandemic Over!!

The President is simply acknowledging what CCCC noted months ago: that the pandemic is "over" as a sociological phenomenon that causes nearly everybody to behave differently. Everybody but the very immune-compromised is right back in the restaurants, theatres, schools, and workplaces, without almost anybody giving a thought to distance, risk, droplets, or fog.

I saw a scene in a show the other day with a birthday-cake getting the candles blown out, and remembered how people freaked at the same sight at a Kardashian party two years back: it looked like somebody just spitting on everybody's dessert to many, and there was commentary about how we'd never go back to blowing out candles after this, made so aware of all that spit.

Already forgotten by most, I'd wager; we're back to having birthday parties, and since everybody is drinking and talking into each other's faces, above the noise, what's the difference with a few droplets on the cake?

The picture links to Rolling Stone's article on Biden, for the headline. But the better article is at The Atlantic, where they rather sadly note that 400 dead/day is "what normal looks like" now, and the best bet for the effects of the Fall Wave and attendant new vaccinations, are reducing that by half - down to 200/day, that's 70,000/year, or at least double the death toll exacted by the yearly flu.

Canada, by the way, is no longer at 1/3rd the American death toll per capita; we are having about 33/day pass, the equivalent of 290 in America; but the daily, weekly, monthly numbers are no longer news. The trackers are not maintained.

It's sad that COVID-19 browbeat us so thoroughly that we've come to accept this, but not shocking; the urge to "get back to normal" was so strong, we just redefined normal.

2022 August 10: The Big Picture

You'd have thought I'd mined out every one of the praiseworthy COVID stats pages that CTV has been doing over the last two years. But I'd missed one, shocking myself! Just noticed it today.

It's the "Compare Canada to Other Countries" page, which I should have been all over. Too late now, mostly! Except I get to keep chortling at China, responsible for the whole mess really, suffering (see previous post) because they blew their window to vaccinate before Omicron evolved.

What did strike me as fascinating, was one master graph for the whole world, that you can flip between "cases" and "deaths". Both reproduced here, at smaller size, do go to the real thing and do the flipping.

The cases graph certainly has Omicron put the previous waves, which seemed so tall at the time, into the shade. The deaths graph is very different.
The Omicron wave is still a peak, but actually the shortest one. And previous waves, so small next to Omicron that you can barely see them as such (more like ripples) become great waves again, by their death-counts.

In particular, the very first wave, subject of a documentary that's just painfully affecting, about a New York hospital, "The First Wave" - which shows up clearly at day 93 on the death-graph, can barely be seen as even a ripple in the case-graph.

We have come a very long way indeed, to making COVID not such a killer. It's all about the vaccinations, of course, we keep saying over and over. But those who free-rode on our vaccinations won't be convinced.

Of course.

2022 August 8: Contrasting BC, Very High Vaccination, To China, Not

Few are the places better vaccinated than BC, at least places with 5 million population and up. So, when we had our Pride Week, and our quarter-million audiences for the Fireworks, just recently, it was a test of whether high vaccination can still prevent an entire infection wave. That they can prevent a hospitalization wave, was already proven by the spring Omicron wave, so much less than the winter one. But, at the 9-day mark since the festivities, there's simply no news about any COVID issues. The hospitals are unchanged, no news from the wastewater monitors, no sign of unusual numbers of people going off sick.

We've beaten Omicron, guys. Best Summer Ever!

Here's the thing: as I compliment our vaccination, we have actually sucked at it since that spring wave was not a big killer. This article, from mid-July, urged us all to get boosted and start masking, as the "BA.5 wave was here".

We did none of that. We ignored the medical advice, for once. Weren't we feeling invulnerable and frisky. Normally, such pride goeth before a fall, and CCCC has done many posts over two years on how not heeding such advice led to sickeness, hospital, morgues.

Not this time. We ignored all that, and did not suffer from the BA.5 wave, for the last three weeks; not death, not hospital, not even time-off-sick. The numbers stayed steady. When it came to BC, the experts are now over-cautious. The booster shots, alas, are going fallow; maybe 100,000 of the population has boosted in the last few weeks, but that's just 2% of BC. If there's no wave of infections in the next week or so, we'll continue to ignore them unless a fall wave is bad.

Meanwhile, in late-to-vax China, the popular vacation island of Hainan, "China's Hawaii", they've just decided to utterly lock down. Don't leave your hotel room, no beach for you, back into quarantine.

It's all over 470 cases that were recorded Sunday, showing the number was just going up on an exponential, and though 245 were symptom-free (which indicates that the people who can afford to go to Hainan to tourist are vaccinated), they've hit the roof, freaked out, and locked up 80,000 people.

China probably needs several months at 90% vaccination to relax; and, of course, Omicron will be hitting them no matter what, and toughening immune systems at a higher price.

But Canada vaccinated early and heavily. We're now reaping the rewards. Let's just wallow in it. Off the Aquarium tomorrow, and it may be a little crowded, and unmasked. But we'll be OK.

2022 August 5: When They Resolved the Droplet/Aerosol Question

I, and CCCC, had avoided the whole dispute of whether COVID-19 is spread only by "droplets" (meaning that the 6-foot rule was useful, and masks not so much), or by "aerosols", meaning distance is not so important as ventilation.

The dispute was hugely important. The 6-foot rule was relied upon, and it was actually not very useful advice. Masks were actually deprecated for a few months, when they were badly needed by hospitals, so it was doubly difficult to mandate them when the error was reversed.

The story behind it, I'm finding fascinating, as I read a great little article on it at WIRED.

Very briefly, research determined 60 years ago that water droplets less than 100 microns in diameter (1/10th millimetre, big enough to see) float indefinitely in the air, do not fall to the ground. These are big enough to hold viruses like COVID-19 for long periods, alive, infect people clear across the room.

Then, the question is not about distance, but about time in that room, and the density of exhalations in that air. As we've seen, that was the key to understanding COVID risk, until now we use CO2 detectors as useful COVID-risk monitors.

What happened? At the time, the thing to study was tuberculosis. Particles more than 100 microns in diameter can't get down into mammal lungs very easily, particles that big didn't infect test subjects with tuberculosis. Only particles under 5 microns, could carry TB way down into your lungs and infect you. So they were only worried about particles under 5 microns.

And, when information was copied from one project to another, somehow, the 5 micron limit for TB got conflated with 5 microns being the size at which particles were aerosols, rather than droplets that can fall. Oops.

Well, now we are wiser. Mask-wearing may become more common around the world, as it did in much of Asia after SARS. It's clearly useful for a number of diseases. And, at the very least, we won't have to go through all those floor-stickers next time.

2022 August 1: Hanging On For the BA.5 Vaccine

The very devil (of vaccinations) himself, the dreaded Dr. Anthony Fauci, is looking for a BA.5-specific vaccine in time for Fall

One can only assume that they can put it out without months of testing, first, since Big Pharma is hoping they can get them out the door by October - but the FDA is pushing them for September.

Whichever, I'm glumly certain that Canada will be in line behind America itself, on those latest-and-greatest new products. Even so, I'm willing to stand on my partial-immunity granted by some Omicron variant that we survived in April, to keep us safe enough until October or even November. The "Fall Wave" doesn't really get going until then.

I'd really like a BA.5-specific protection, because I have fingers crossed that it's close to the last, that any COVID-19 variants for years to come will be BA.5, or very close to it, what Fauci calls "sub-sub-variants" in the article.

It's clearing up that the current wave is not that bad, though it may be hitting lightly because it's summer. If we can all get BA.5-specific protection and hammer down the BA.5 (ish) waves, we may be able to stick a fork in this thing. I know that depressed analysts are now talking as if COVID-19 will be hanging around our necks for decade(s) to come, but call me an optimist.

2022 July 31: "Small Fringe Movement", Episode II

I missed a bit of polling about the Canada Convoy. A link to it was provided in Justin Ling's very negative article on them in Maclean's.

I'm indebted for that link to the guy in TheLine commentary that called Ling a "propagandist" against the convoy. I looked him up, and Ling's top article was the one for Maclean's.

The Ipsos Survey that Ling links to, has one "low" number in it: 67%. That's the percentage of Canadian Conservatives who support vaccine passports. A normally door-slamming number, in politics; nearly the Trump support in Wyoming, his best state.

For every other kind of vaccine requirement: mandatory vaccination for public servants, 80%; for taking a plane/train, 82%; for healthcare workers, 84%.

Those were the Conservatives. Liberals were in the mid-90s, for a Canadian average above 80% for everything, except "vaccine passports" for hospitality venues, a mere 72%.

The Convoy Controversy I keep bringing up, is how many of them were not just "anti-mandate", but "anti-vaccine", because the newsies really had trouble finding a convoyer to interview that was only the first. Generally, a few more questions had them going on about the vaccines themselves.

But, I hardly needed to bother: support for those rotten, fascist mandates was only about 10% behind support for vaccines themselves.

Talk about a small fringe minority. Never mind the handful of Confederate Flags; their whole reason-to-exist has less support than parties that the journalists routinely ignore.

2022 July 28: Good News!!!

...that would be: no news.

Here's the thing. All we've got, except the sewer studies, to guage how bad covid is in our population, is the hospital reports. We don't actually care about the sewer stuff, either: just how badly this is hitting the population.

We certainly still have staff issues in many businesses because off people off sick. This is really hurting medicine, because they actually take time off. They get COVID tests, obey the results. I strongly suspect that most shoe stores, at this point, are not making staff test, and will turn a blind eye to somebody working "a bit under the weather", as we always did with colds and flus.

All of which would be disasterous, if this were early 2021 and vaccination was still building. But the proof in the pudding is those hospital numbers, and they just are not up much. Not enough to scare anybody.

This is after the big Calgary Stampede, after weeks of being told we're in the seventh wave and not changing our behaviour a bit. We'll know in about two weeks if the upcoming Pride Week in Vancouver - which is a lot of filled bars and restaurants, on top of the parade - causes some debilitating spike in serious illness.

I would currently bet: not. The numbers are too low all over the USA, where they've been behaving badly all along, and they have less vaccination.

Man, that's good news.

2022 July 25: Maybe No Natural Immunity

This article in The Atlantic teases us with the possibility that some people are totally immune to COVID.

Alas, no. The great story is that one of the researchers who found that some people are completely immune to AIDS, escaped unscathed from a super-spreader event, and wondered if she had the same property vis-a-vis the coronaviruses.

Alas, no. She later caught it. Fascinating that she didn't catch it when about 20 people around her did, but, alas, no perfect immunity. (The AIDS phenomenon is a mutation that prevents the virus from entering their cells, at all.)

It turns out that perfect immunity from any disease is vanishingly rare; AIDS is one of only three where it has been shown to happen at all. Where it happens, it's a tiny, tiny sliver of the population.

The article notes that people do want to believe they have such a superpower, and may believe it if they have events far less convincing than the AIDS researcher had happen. But it is so very rare, so beware.

2022 July 23: Yes, The Convoy Was A Small Fringe Movement

Back to this topic? Well, there's this book out about the Convoy, so the journalists are all paying attention again for a few days.

I just stopped to look up the basic figures for just how tiny a fringe movement they were, and are. Yes, sure, some 29% of Canadians generally agreed with the views of the Convoy - didn't like masks and distances and having to get a vaccination to go out, or do some jobs. But how many actually got out and protested? Several thousand. I'll give it to them, when they round up to 10,000 that actually went all the way to Ottawa for at least a weekend.

(Keeping in mind, fellow Westerners that "going to Ottawa" is a half-day drive for most of the national population.)

On the day those 10,000 rolled in to protest vaccines:

During the three weeks of the protest (basically, Jan 30-Feb 22), two point five MILLION vaccine doses went into Canadian shoulders. Some 186,000 first doses; 640,000 seconds; and 1.7 million boosters, that being the big thing at the time, they'd just become available for seniors, who scarfed them up like beers at Octoberfest.

That's 250 jabs delivered for every person who protested.

Because of media attention, we forget that protest groups are all tiny fringe minorities. Climate protesters got nothing until the climate itself began to frighten the powerful. Anti-war protesters got nothing. Black-Lives-Matter protests not only failed to abolish or defund any police, there have only been the palest nods towards reform. No politician has stood for their causes, will speak of defunding police in high offices. Occupy got no financial reforms other than those already under way before 2010.

So: they were a fringe group, not because they had a few Confederate flags aboard, but because they were anti-vaccine, and nearly everybody is pro-vaccine.

You can forget about them. I'm going to try.

2022 July 21: We'll Survive BA.5, and Maybe Even Not Close Up Again

We're all seeing one article after another warning us of BA.5, and the Seventh Wave, and generally telling us to stop being complacent and willfully-blind to danger.

Then there's this one, suggestion BA.5 isn't making things any worse than previous variants.

The article's main point is that reinfections are not coming closer together. They run about nine months apart, not nine weeks. There's more reinfection now, because there are loads more previously-affected for the virus to choose from, not because BA.5 is that much worse at re-infecting than Omicron Original and the other subvariants.

Unless we get objective, macro-scale damage to society - basically, the ICUs filling up again, and offices losing too many staff to work - we're going to stay "open", no restrictions, and just bear the costs. Where "we" is mostly elderly and disadvantaged groups, doing the cost-bearing.

Well, that's us, that's our values. A bunch of us are getting sick and some are going to die, and we're just going to put up with it. No editorial here, just a statement of fact.

2022 July 20: Nasal Vaccine Experiments Getting Major Attention

Well, you can imagine why the Times of India would put major attention on nasal vaccines, a "New Hope".

Nobody needs easier, cheap vaccines more, than India, who lost a good 4 million dead, maybe five million(!) - we don't even know to the nearest million.

They would certainly be easier to administer; may well work better, delivering immune response to the tissue that needs it most.

Alas, the article ends with "Long way to go", and how they are still trying different vaccines with the approach. In short, not this year, probably not next.

Cheering, though.

2022 July 18: Only the Wastewater Dashboard Is Reliable

...and it says we are NOT in a new wave (seventh, or whatever; the BA.5 "summer spoiling" wave, if you will).

The old COVID dashboard for BC is now quite unreliable, on every count except deaths, since they decided to just report how many in hospital, anyway, for anything, as COVID cases if they test positive. The numbers "in hospital" go up and down with no discernable connection to the general public risk. If deaths spiral upward and keep going, I guess that tells us a wave started a month earlier (and, like other Omicron waves, may be short and already declining).

The useful addition to our tools is the Government of Canada Wastewater Dashboard, which gives all the wastewater test results, up-to-date, across the nation.

For sure, the various "Vancouver" area wastewater plants are showing an increase in virus comparable to last March, last January. But lots of them show multiple spikes that end a week later, all through the spring. It all seems pretty disconnected from the number of people very sick.

For now, CCCC can't recommend you being the paranoid that's wearing your mask outdoors, or in a well-ventilated restaurant, to your table. If the numbers on those dashboards break out of the low hundreds where they've been meandering for months, CCCC will advise caution. And it probably is coming, and soon. The numbers just aren't there, not yet.

2022 July 16: We Can Ignore More Deaths Than COVID

Here's more proof the pandemic is "over", in the public mind.

The BC Coroner reported the other day, that the province lost about 6 people per day - over one in a million residents, per day, over 400/million/year, to drug overdoses.

And it was barely a ripple. Not on the front page, not news for long, passed over, accepted, shrugged at.

We've heard, repeatedly, that many of these victims were sucked into addiction by medical prescription, for chronic pain. The losses in 2021 were 2,232 people, well above our 2021 COVID deaths. But we just are not about to change behaviours, or spend money, because of all those dying people: not our problem.

As people get a sense of personal safety from COVID - catching it once or twice with little long-term harm - a large majority will start seeing COVID as "somebody else' problem", the way they do with fentanyl.

We just ignore traffic deaths, smoking, and drinking deaths. America has decided, repeatedly, to ignore their wildly high gun deaths. COVID is starting to be added to the list.

2022 July 6: World is Getting Vaccinated, Slow But Sure

Six million vaccine shots were delivered, around the world, every day. If they were all first doses, that would be nearly a thousandth of the world, every day.

Two-thirds of humanity has now been vaccinated, just one-third to go, so you might estimate that in a year, we'll be done that last third.

Of course, lots of those six million are second and third doses going into wealthy arms, whereas the poorest nations of the world are still at 20%.

Canada is near the top, though some much-poorer countries like Cuba, Vietnam, and Brazil, are even more-vaccinated. (What humiliation to be beaten by Brazil, beset with Bolsonaro and his anti-vaccine bluster; they just ignored the bastard, and went ahead. No "convoy" belief-systems for most of them.)

The bottom includes belligerent nuclear powers with space programs, like Russia and Pakistan, (50%-60%) so it isn't all about money. Egypt and Ethiopia field well-equipped armies, but not armies of vaccination doctors. (40%-50%)

Nigeria has "Nollywood", a whole film industry of its own, a burgeoning middle class, growing influence (there's a lot of oil money). They're at 13%

So we have other problems than just wealth. There's some very bad politics out there, poor priorities, magical thinking.

But that 66% already done is staying with me. It's a hopeful day. The story and the data at "Our World in Data", which is now in heavy competition with "worldometers" for the attention of CCCC every day.

2022 July 3: A Dead Kid a Day

I guess it's a small thing; children die every day from disease, cars, and in America, gunshots. I was skimming back over old posts, with a thought to a "where are they now" return, and my eye stopped at "A Thousand Dead Kids", posted on April 23, just when the official count page from the CDC, ticked over 1,001 COVID-19 deaths from age 0-17.

I took a look at it today, and it's at 1,063 - 62 higher, just over 62 days later; COVID is still killing almost 300 Americans per day, and one of them is just a kid, who never got to take a legal drink, or vote.

That's what we're normalizing, that's what we're saying is "COVID is over".

All that's over is the change from the old normal to the new normal, where we just accept a new form of daily life risk, on top of the cars and the guns.

I'm glad all the vaccinologists I've been touting on this page for the last few weeks do not think it is over, but just getting into the real slog: they still plan to win, when the rest of us have basically capitulated, like a kingdom just conceding they have to throw somebody into the volcano every few weeks to keep the Gods happy.

Keep going, vaccinologists; kids are depending on you, whether they know it, or not.

2022 July 2: They've Invented a COVID Risk Monitor When You Go Out

It's not really a CO-vid monitor, more of a CO-2 monitor. You can pick up handheld ones, that often check for other air poisons (CO) for a few hundred dollars

What's getting some attention, not that I can find the news story twice, is that your PPM (parts per million of CO2) is a great measure of COVID-catching risk in the room.

Sadly, normal outdoor air is now up to 420PPM, when it should be below 350. But indoor air, with humans and their pets exhaling 4% (40,000 PPM) CO2 in their breath, rises to 800 PPM (the recommended maximum) and past 1000 PPM to 2000 PPM, recently, with 3000 people in a ballroom for the "White House Correspondent's Dinner"...which proved to be a super-spreader event.

Embarrassingly, when I went looking for the news story, what I found were far-more-scientific sources, like CCCC is supposed to be finding for you, that dated back almost 15 months to early 2021.

Here's q quick easy read at Science Daily, with a link to the paper about just how much CO2 you should tolerate.

The short answer, for now, is simple: they say, don't go above 800 PPM all the time, well let's knock that down to 700 or even 600 and turn around and leave the restaurant if it's higher. Maybe it's a patio day.

2022 July 1: Real New COVID News! It's All Bad.

As anybody can see, I've struggled to even find interesting COVID news, lately, as America and Europe try to forget it ever happened, and nearly everybody has low case loads.

Except the UK, where an article pops up this morning that case levels have gone up 30% in a week. Huh. Will it be serious?

Yeah, it's serious, because, of course, it's BA.5, which has combined the greatest-ever infectiousness, driving BA1 extinct at lightning speed, and now displacing BA.4; with apparently-more "pathenogenic", likely to give you symptoms. And, it resists monoclonal antibodies made for "Wuhan Original", has greater escape from older vaccines, and even prior Omicron-original infections.

Yahoo-news is calling it the "worst version of COVID"!.

Back to The Guardian for the article on how we are not getting any "herd immunity", and even prior BA.5 infection won't save you from another.

So, all that sucks. OK, there is some good news to finish. They are coming around to the opinion, from all this, that they have to go for it and get BA.5-specific vaccines out to us, and think they can, by late October, or early November.

Speed the day.

2022 June 30: Finally a Friggin' Vaccine Rule

My posts are getting shorter and shorter, I know - but it's nice out.

Today's shortest-ever is that somebody, finally, finally gave us a rule for "fully vaccinated". It's "your last shot was within 9 months". Four shots every three years, until it's over, I guess.

But this means they really have to loosen up the "over 70" rule I've been complaining about, for the fourth shot. Presumably Dr. Dix will unbend in a couple of months at most, that being the time it seems to take accepted facts to actually affect policy around here. Story in the National Post, quoting the Federal Health Minister! Surely that's clear enough, Dr. Dix.

2022 June 29: They're Trolling Me

Shortest entry ever. I have no graphic, because it's on paper, in my morning Vancouver Sun. Somebody at BC Public Health read my post of yesterday, below, and decided to troll me with a big, eighth-page ad in The Sun telling us all to "get boosted", get your booster shot today.

I know there are a bunch with no third shot yet, but still, it felt like they were trolling me.

2022 June 28: Dix Dicking Around? We Need Those Fourth Doses By Autumn

I'm not findin this story elsewhere; praise be for the Alternative Press. The Georgia Straight has been British Columbia's alternative press for over fifty years - it was "alternative" before the National Post was invented as "mainstream".

I can send you nowhere else but to this Georgia Straight Commentary by Charlie Smith, for the complaint that BC, of all places, is lagging behind in vaccination, when we have always been a vaccine leader.

Nobody has much faith, any more, in vaccine shots giving really good COVID protection beyond several months. COVID infection itself, not much better. Less than half the province even has a third dose, meaning this fall, over half the population will be years past their last shot, and nearly everybody will have only half-assed protection.

Everywhere else that has plentiful vaccines - except BC, apparently - has allowed a fourth shot for those over about 50, sometimes 60. And many have OK'd a fourth shot for everybody over 18. Why not, honestly?

In BC, it's still just for those over 70. Glad they have it, but we 60-somethings, and a lot of 50-somethings, could easily be clogging the ICUs by Thanksgiving, if this Fall has a seasonal surge, like the last two Falls had.

That sums it up. Dix needs to bend, here, follow the lead of the rest of the world, practically. There are Omicron-specific boosters on the way, and a program to push them out en masse by Labour Day is really called for. And we could clear out some of the lineup, by lowering it to 60, then 50, over the course of the summer.

Personally, I'd rather wait to the first day of Fall, roughly, even that is just five months after I got better from an infection. But, of course, the shot will take a few weeks to provide protection, and October 20 was when the 2020 Fall Wave started. 2021, courtesy of Omicron, had an August Wave, and then a huge start of December Wave. In Ontario, it was just the December Wave, with 2022's starting in November.

So, and early-Fall vaccination is a great strategy for anybody to have maximal protection when their infection hits, and we can certainly do it.

Dix just has to get out of bed and do his dang job, sometime this summer.

2022 June 27: Canadian Medical Association Says Canada is Awesome

CCCC has covered just about everything that the new report says, but it's nice to have medical validation from the top. CTV is covering (link from graphic) a report by the Canadian Medical Association, on how well we did in the pandemic, cpared to peer-countries, like the States and Western Europe.

And, oh, man did we rock. Only Japan beat us for "fewest infections and deaths", however measured. And we beat even them, if by 1%, on vaccination.

The report does note that our GDP lost a few percent, whereas the American GDP, amazingly, grew a few. However, even there, they had a few percent more inflation, cutting in half any relative gains. CAMA is quick, however, to not associate our GDP woes directly with our pandemic restrictions. As it turns out, ours were only a little more dire than America's, on the whole.

I've sucked up a lot of page-space with the graphic, because I love the look, making the pandemic look like a race - races where Canada always pulled ahead and finished on the podium.

It's great that the CAMA describes the death-toll in the same bald terms that CCCC did, only worse. The CCCC post was that Canada would have had 100,000 dead, last January 19. The CAMA report estimates another 70,000 dead on top of the nearly 42,000 we've had by this point, so 12% worse.

The CTV article moves on to CCCC's next crusade: getting people boosted. Canada beat nearly the whole world at vaccination, at 81.7 double-vaxed - but only 48.6% boosted. A smooth fall and winter, rather than another bunch of filled ICU beds and calls for restrictions, needs those jabs.

The BC government, by the way, is disgracing itself on the booster question, but that topic is for tomorrow.

2022 June 25: UK Pollster Finds Canada's Post-COVID Mood Exemplary

I hadn't heard of Lord Michael Ashcroft, but he doesn't just sit around the House of Lords, he gets up and works for a living, as a pollster. He seems to be a bit like our Environics polls, where he looks into, not just how popular some politician or soft drink is, but how the population feels about emotional stuff.

He was on the cover of my Vancouver Sun this morning, but for some reason that is not likely a big conspiracy, I can't find that big National Post article with any googling. What the image links to, is the Lord's own business web site, where he's written a lovely article about how awesome Canada feels at the end of the pandemic.

Concerned that our Convoy Blockade was a sign that we'd aquired the same family-dividing politics as America and post-Brexit UK, he asked 10,000 Canadians what their concerns and hot buttons were.

At the link, you can download his report, or even his raw data. (Abortion, we're at 70% "legal in all cases" and 21% "illegal in all cases", with women 4% higher than men on "legal".)

But the upshot, for the pandemic-related concerns that we now don't trust each other, distrust our government, are polarized, radicalized, unhappy campers: that's all nonsense, promoted by loudmouths. The Silent Majority in Canada, as the National Post story by Joseph Brean puts it, "seem a lot more confident, empathetic, proud, and trusting of their own democracy and national identity than the loudest cultural voices often suggest". We mostly agree on what our problems are, have a lot of agreement on how to fix them, and 70% of us think Canada is one of the best places on Earth to live.

Absolutely freakin' right, Lord Michael Ashcroft. You're not the first to test this, and anybody reading the news closely knows that newsies love to generate conflict, drama, and divisiveness.

This poll was a very Worthwhile British Initiative! (sorry).

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.