For all the talk about “unity”, the simple act of giving some credit where credit is due would go a long way. mrossol
Johnson & Johnson and Novavax this week reported that their vaccines were effective in clinical trials, and what fortunate timing. The U.S. urgently needs a supply boost. But at this juncture it’s also worth noting how former Operation Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui positioned the Biden Administration for a vaccine triumph.
One of Mr. Slaoui’s inspired ideas was to diversify the federal government’s vaccine bets with six manufacturers when nobody knew which, if any, would work. The vaccine candidates used different technologies—Moderna and Pfizer -BioNTech (mRNA), J&J and AstraZeneca (adenovirus), and Novavax and Sanofi -GSK (recombinant protein).
The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines were hobbled by trial delays in the fall. But J&J reported Friday that its vaccine was 66% effective at protecting people from moderate to severe disease in a global trial, and 85% against severe illness. Early trial data from AstraZeneca suggests similar efficacy. Novavax reported Thursday its shot appears to be nearly 90% effective.
The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are about 95% effective, so it’s fortuitous that their trial results came first so their shots could inoculate the elderly and others most at highest risk. But even if somewhat less effective, the other vaccines may be good candidates for young people and boost supply this spring.
Operation Warp Speed removed the financial risk for drug makers by financing trials and manufacturing in advance so vaccines could roll out as soon as they are approved. This is the reason some 20 million Americans have already been inoculated. President Biden this week ordered another 200 million doses from Pfizer and Moderna to be delivered this summer.
These extra doses may or may not be needed if other vaccines are approved—J&J could add 100 million this spring—but the reason they will be available is contracts that Operation Warp Speed negotiated with drug makers that gave the feds the option to order more. We point this out because White House officials have been griping that they are “starting from scratch.”
That’s false. Operation Warp Speed created the incentives for vaccine development, and assisted with rapid approvals and distribution infrastructure, which Mr. Biden will undoubtedly claim credit for as the rollout gains speed and breadth. The Biden team showed its gratitude by deposing Mr. Slaoui via a nasty news leak that criticized his good work.
Mr. Slaoui graciously agreed to remain on the job for a few weeks as a consultant. He deserves praise for his excellent public service, all the more because the Biden Administration so ungraciously won’t acknowledge it.
“…mail ballot election will .. protect the health of voters..” I have not seen any investigations, reports or data on how many people actually got COVID as a result of in-person voting. Seems if it was really a danger there should have been a statistically significant case spike 7-14 days (??) later? I don’t recall seeing anything like that.
In updated guidance published on Jan. 20, the WHO said that lab experts and health care practitioners should also consider the patient’s history and epidemiological risk factors alongside the PCR test in diagnosing the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
The new guidance could result in significantly fewer daily cases.
“Most PCR assays are indicated as an aid for diagnosis, therefore, health care providers must consider any result in combination with timing of sampling, specimen type, assay specifics, clinical observations, patient history, confirmed status of any contacts, and epidemiological information,” the guidance says.
It’s unclear why the health agency waited over a year to release the new directive. The WHO didn’t reply to an inquiry from The Epoch Times.
Scientists and physicians have raised concerns for many months of an over-reliance on and a misuse of the PCR test as a diagnostic tool since it can’t differentiate between a live infectious virus from an inactivated virus fragment that is not infectious.
Additionally, the high cycle threshold values of most PCR tests—at 40 cycles or higher—increases the risk of false positives. A higher threshold value indicates less viral load and that the person is less likely to be infectious, while a person with a lower cycle threshold value has a higher viral load, or is more infectious.
The WHO did not specify what the threshold value cutoff should be for a positive diagnosis, but said to only “determine if [a] manual adjustment of the PCR positivity threshold is recommended by the manufacturer.”
However, it clarified that when the prevalence of the CCP virus is low, “the risk of false positive increases” meaning that “the probability that a person who has a positive result (SARS-CoV-2 detected) is truly infected with SARS-CoV-2 decreases as prevalence decreases, irrespective of the claimed specificity [of the PCR test].”
SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name for the CCP virus that causes the disease COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says its PCR tests have a cycle threshold cutoff of 40 cycles. The federal agency finally included information on cycle threshold value in its Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 for laboratories on Nov. 12, 2020.
But many medical experts consider a threshold value cutoff of 40 cycles to only return false positives since samples that go through many amplification cycles will pick up negligible RNA sequences regardless if the virus is inactivate or the viral load is exceedingly low to pose any problem.
Prior to the CCP virus pandemic, for individuals to be considered a case, they must test positive and show clinical signs and symptoms. But to be counted as a CCP virus case, only a positive PCR test is required. And no matter how many times an individual is tested, each positive test is counted as a separate case.
The WHO is now advising that a positive PCR test that does “not correspond with the clinical presentation” should be verified by taking “a new specimen” and retesting it.
This advice may also help lower CCP virus cases in hospitals as it more clearly defines who is considered a hospitalized case.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) Director of International Relations Dr. Layla McCay confirmed to talkRADIO that a percentage of hospitalized patients officially counted as positive cases were actually being treated for different illnesses not related to COVID-19. They had only tested positive for the disease at the hospital without displaying any symptoms.
“It is correct that in hospital, people who tested positive for COVID will be the full range of symptoms,” McCay said. “Some will have it as an aside to some other problem for which they’re in the hospital.”
The day after the WHO released its new guidance, Chief Medical Adviser to President Joe Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the United States would rejoin the organization.
“As such, I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Fauci said. “Yesterday, President Biden signed letters retracting the previous administration’s announcement to withdraw from the organization, and those letters have been transmitted to the secretary-general of the United Nations and to you Dr. Tedros, my dear friend.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is the director-general of the WHO.
“The United States also intends to fulfill its financial obligations to the organizations,” Fauci added.
In July last year, the Trump administration pulled out of the WHO over its alleged role in helping the Chinese communist regime cover up the severity of the CCP virus.
There have been mixed responses from Congress over Biden’s decision to rejoin the WHO.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) introduced a bill (pdf) on Jan. 21 to “prohibit the availability of United States contributions to the World Health Organization until Congress receives a full report on China and the COVID-19 pandemic, and for other purposes.”
She said in a statement: “The WHO is China-centric and panders to Beijing at every turn. There is no reason U.S. taxpayers should contribute more than $400 million annually to an organization that covered for China and failed to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Prior to former President Donald Trump withdrawing from the WHO, the United States contributed the most money to the health agency, according to State Department statistics.
If the censorship doesn’t get totally out of control, it will be a fascinating tale of just what caused this event, this virus, to literally turn the political forces on their heads. mrossol
Italy, last seen trying to prosecute government scientists for failing to forecast an earthquake, is now pioneering the use of criminal prosecutors to examine the country’s Covid-19 response. Italy as a country ranks low on every index of efficient, accountable governments and effective legal systems. Criminalizing policy disappointments and managerial errors is a symptom of this failure, not its cure.
Still, the particulars of the indictment being sought by relatives of early victims will ring bells for many Americans: the shipping of infected persons to nursing homes, failure to test patients who couldn’t be connected to China, failing to order lockdowns sooner, worrying about the potential impact on businesses.
The U.S. remains in a similar phase of denial, with every failure related to testing, mask promotion, etc., spun as a missed chance to extinguish Covid altogether. When the reality principle intrudes, here’s suspecting the greatest failure will be the one we are least willing to acknowledge or even understand: It began with our strange reticence to acknowledge the reality of mild (and, as it turned out, asymptomatic) Covid.
Any alert person knew from the get-go that, amid the exigencies of Wuhan, Chinese doctors were failing to detect mild cases, and that thousands of these cases were likely being exported to the world. Whatever the horrors in Wuhan’s hospitals, they happened not because Covid-19 is an extravagantly deadly respiratory infection. They happened because a flu-like disease had been allowed to spread unrecognized for months in an urban population unprotected by any prior immunity or vaccine.
Yet it instantly became a U.S. journalistic trope to accuse anyone mentioning the flu of “downplaying” the new disease—downplaying anything being the worst sin in journalism.
Inexplicably, authorities, including the World Health Organization, insisted on promoting a fatality rate they knew was exaggerated because of the failure to account for mild infections. To this day, U.S. officialdom and the media dwell on a nearly meaningless “confirmed” case count, knowing full well that doing so is innumerate and unstatistical. It’s a mystery and my only explanation is that they are afraid to stop because it portrays the disease as more deadly than it is (supporting the case for urgency) and also less prevalent than it is (supporting the case that it can somehow be contained).
A parade of conclusive contrary indicators is not so much unreported as simply unintegrated into the picture sold to the American public. To give the latest example, a Johns Hopkins study finds that in late spring in Maryland, when “confirmed” cases were less than 1% of the state’s population, 10% of autopsies showed evidence of Covid infection—a rate that applied equally to auto-accident victims and people who died of natural causes.
As the pandemic has unfolded, only deeper has become media revilement of anyone who pointed out that the death risk was being exaggerated, that the lockdowns were not sustainable due to the costs they imposed on people who were at low risk, that our efforts would be better invested in shielding those at high risk of a bad medical outcome.
The hostility is even greater now that these views have been adopted implicitly and unavowedly almost everywhere in obedience to the reality principle. The lockdowns were unsustainable. Low-risk people were unwilling to maintain energetic social distancing through the summer and fall. Vaccines are being rolled out now expressly to protect the most vulnerable first.
For all their talk that no cost is too great to save a life, the actual behavior of our elected officials has made clear that the one thing they believe their careers can’t tolerate is a breakdown in hospital care for Covid patients and others.
I’ve informally adopted Brown University’s Ashish Jha as my metric for realism’s gradual unfurling. In his latest media appearances, he invariably now stresses unseen spread, the impracticality of the lockdown solution, a role for herd immunity in supplementing vaccination to end the pandemic—even if he also occasionally utters imprecations against these opinion pages for making the same arguments months ago.
When it’s over, countries like Germany and Sweden, which have hardly been spared Covid’s ravages, I suspect will be seen as the least-bad models. And for reasons American leaders will be loath to admit: They treated their people like adults. They leveled with their citizens about Covid’s inevitable spread. They skimped on the baby talk, virtue signaling, or any resort (especially prevalent in the U.S.) to trying to mislead a supposedly infantile public for its own good.
These countries worked no public-health miracles nor any miracles of the self-isolating sort that appealed in the antipodes. Where they succeeded was in eliciting the intelligence of their people, their intelligent adaptations, to make the Covid trial as bearable as possible.