Covid Cup Colour Commentary

A Pandemic Blog.

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

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

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

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Archive of CCCC posts From 2020-2022 April 1.


2022 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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#medics


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#chinatrucks


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#masks1000words


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#mrnaflu


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! India.com 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?

http://brander.ca/cccc#chinawtf


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#moreflu


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#dashboards


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!


http://brander.ca/cccc#riskmonitor


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#maskfreedom


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#chinafears


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#maskswork


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#immunedebt


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#hospitalheck


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#norsv


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#vaxfactory


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#novaxnodead


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#pfizerbetter


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#nofallwave


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#easupport


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#pinktide


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#bcstable


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#inhaledvax


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#BA2notbad


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#vax4


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#fallplateau


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#deadgop


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#makemine


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#fallwave


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 day...in 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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#800000


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#dyingyoungseen


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#stroke


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#freund


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#paperless


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#weakspot



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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#notover


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#pandemicover


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#smallfringe2


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#goodnews


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#naturalimmunity


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#fringe


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#BA5ok


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#nasalvax


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#sewerdash


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#ignorable


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#vaxprogress


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#deadkidaday


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#covidmonitor


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#badnews


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#9months


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#vaxtroll


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#bc4th


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#canadawesome


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).

http://brander.ca/cccc#ashcroftpoll


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.

http://brander.ca/cccc#newvaxtech


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.

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


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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#sinovac


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

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

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

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

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

But.

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

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

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

Don't shirk.

http://brander.ca/cccc#unvaxedkids


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

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

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

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

Fingers crossed this will mean easier vaccination programs in future.

http://brander.ca/cccc#vaxinjuries


2022 June 19: The Lives That COVID Saved

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#saved


2022 June 16: Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#trust


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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#tonguevax


2022 June 7: Painless Vaccination II: Inhaled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#inhaledvax


2022 June 5: Painless Vaccination I: Microneedles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#microneedles


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And culpable.

http://brander.ca/cccc#maskdamning


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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#auspitals


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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#goborder


2022 May 31: Also a Pandemic, At This Point

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#monkeypox


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#anzac


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#wave6stats


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#over4sure


2022 May 25: Even Nikiforuk's Byblows Are Devastating

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

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

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

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

...

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

...

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#nikionkenny


2022 May 23: Uncompromising Mask Mandator Beats Up Bonnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#promask


2022 May 22: We Will Never Know About North Korea

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#nkneverknow


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#zanewvariants


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#northkorea


2022 May 16: Our First Post-Pandemic Holiday

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#postpandemic


2022 May 15: Britain on Why Canada Beat the USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#whycangood


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

...America does not...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#canvsusa


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#overnotover


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

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

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

Well, if you skip Portugal, anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#canadabetter


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#whovs0covid


2022 May 10: No News Is Good News

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#goodnews


2022 May 9: We Could Have Been Portugal or Cuba


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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#cubaportugalOK


2022 May 6: BC Out of the Woods?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#BCOK


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2022 May 3: Vaxnuts Still Foaming

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

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

Purebloods. Paging Harry Potter.

http://brander.ca/cccc#vaxnuts2


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

I will never understand Quebec.

http://brander.ca/cccc#noqbcc


2022 April 29: So Much For The Great Reset

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#noreset


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#faucifiring


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

But how far?

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#sixthwave


2022 April 25: How Can They Be So Stupid?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#stupidcrooks


2022 April 23: A Thousand Dead Kids

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

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

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

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

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

A thousand. Jesus wept.

http://brander.ca/cccc#deadkids


2022 April 22: Alberta Skips Vaccinations, Hundreds Die Pointlessly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#abisbcX2


2022 April 21: Obviously, COVID-19 Causes Lassitude

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#notmuch


2022 April 20: Canadians Are Just Different, I Guess

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

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

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

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

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

CCCC chooses to assume that explains a lot.

http://brander.ca/cccc#canuckmasks


2022 April 19: Vax Still Doing a Good Job

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#vaxworking


2022 April 18: Souvenir Picked Up On Vacation

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

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

Aw, crap.

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#testpositive


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#convoystill


2022 April 12: Endless Vaccinations? Possible!

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#endlessvax


2022 April 10: Ventilation Avoids Ventilators (II)

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#ventilation2


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

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#nextwave


2022 April 8: Wastewater Monitoring Has Become Our Main Tool

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#sewagemonitoring


2022 April 7: Omicron Has Different Symptoms

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

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

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

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

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

http://brander.ca/cccc#omicronsymp


2022 April 6: Welcome to the New Start

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

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

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

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

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

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

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