Category Archives: Social issues ( be civil ! )

The silence is deafening

3 weeks ago I published a post about a paper that I thought would be a real bombshell, in effect contradicting a paper in a prestigious journal, and strongly arguing from real data that the pandemic virus could have been made in a lab, quite possibly Wuhan.  .

Absolutely nothing has happened. No letters to PNAS (the source of the article) to Cell (the source of the criticized study).  With a question of this magnitude and importance  you’d think Nature or Science would weigh in about it.  The origin of the pandemic virus is certainly they’ve covered extensively.

So I’m going to send this to all concerned and see if I get any feedback.

Here is the original post.

Evidence that the pandemic virus was made in a lab

 

Everyone knows that the Chinese have been less than forthcoming about the origin of the pandemic virus (SARS-CoV-2).  An article in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2202769119 arguesthat US data, which hasn’t been released, and some 290 pages of which has been redacted could shed a good deal of light on the subject (without any help from China).  One of the authors is an economist, but the other has serious biochemical chops — https://www.pharmacology.cuimc.columbia.edu/profile/neil-l-harrison-phd.

Basically a variety of US institutions (see the paper — it’s freely available) have been working with the lab at Wuhan for years modifying the virus, long before the pandemic.  The paper names the names etc. etc. and is quite detailed, but I want to explain the evidence that the virus could have been produced (by human modification) at the Wuhan lab.  It has to do with a site in a viral protein which says ‘cut here’.

Here is more background than many readers will need, but the virus has affected us all and I want to make it accessible to as many as possible.

Proteins are linear strings of amino acids, just as this post is a linear sequence of letters, spaces and punctuation.

We have fewer amino acids (20 to be exact) than letters  and to save space each one has a one letter abbreviation (A for alanine V for valine, etc. etc.).  The spike protein (the SARS-CoV-2 protein binding to the receptor  for it on our cells) is quite long (1,273 amino acids all in a row).

Our genome codes for 588  proteins (called proteases) whose job it is to cut up other proteins. Obviously, it would be a disaster if they worked indiscriminately.  So each cuts at a particular sequence of amino acids. Think of the protease as a key and the sequence as a lock.  One protease called furin cuts in the middle of an 8 amino acid sequence RRAR’SVAS (R stands for aRginine and S for Serine).  This is called the furin cleavage site (FCS)

A paper (The origins of SARS-CoV-2: A critical review. Cell 184, 4848–4856 (2021) argued that the amino acid sequence of the FCS in SARS-CoV-2 is an unusual, nonstandard sequence for an FCS and that nobody in a laboratory would design such a novel FCS.  So, like many, I skimmed the paper and accepted its conclusions, as Cell is one of the premier molecular biology journals.

One final quote “The NIH has resisted the release of important evidence, such as the grant proposals and project reports of EHA, and has continued to redact materials released under FOIA, including a remarkable 290-page redaction in a recent FOIA release.”

Sounds like Watergate doesn’t it?

 

Watch this space

Evidence that the pandemic virus was made in a lab

 

Everyone knows that the Chinese have been less than forthcoming about the origin of the pandemic virus (SARS-CoV-2).  An article in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2202769119 argues that US data, which hasn’t been released, and some 290 pages of which has been redacted could shed a good deal of light on the subject (without any help from China).  One of the authors is an economist, but the other has serious biochemical chops — https://www.pharmacology.cuimc.columbia.edu/profile/neil-l-harrison-phd.

Basically a variety of US institutions (see the paper — it’s freely available) have been working with the lab at Wuhan for years modifying the virus, long before the pandemic.  The paper names the names etc. etc. and is quite detailed, but I want to explain the evidence that the virus could have been produced (by human modification) at the Wuhan lab.  It has to do with a site in a viral protein which says ‘cut here’.

Here is more background than many readers will need, but the virus has affected us all and I want to make it accessible to as many as possible.

Proteins are linear strings of amino acids, just as this post is a linear sequence of letters, spaces and punctuation.

We have fewer amino acids (20 to be exact) than letters  and to save space each one has a one letter abbreviation (A for alanine V for valine, etc. etc.).  The spike protein (the SARS-CoV-2 protein binding to the receptor  for it on our cells) is quite long (1,273 amino acids all in a row).

Our genome codes for 588  proteins (called proteases) whose job it is to cut up other proteins. Obviously, it would be a disaster if they worked indiscriminately.  So each cuts at a particular sequence of amino acids. Think of the protease as a key and the sequence as a lock.  One protease called furin cuts in the middle of an 8 amino acid sequence RRAR’SVAS (R stands for aRginine and S for Serine).  This is called the furin cleavage site (FCS)

A paper (The origins of SARS-CoV-2: A critical review. Cell 184, 4848–4856 (2021) argued that the amino acid sequence of the FCS in SARS-CoV-2 is an unusual, nonstandard sequence for an FCS and that nobody in a laboratory would design such a novel FCS.  So, like many, I skimmed the paper and accepted its conclusions, as Cell is one of the premier molecular biology journals.

One final quote “The NIH has resisted the release of important evidence, such as the grant proposals and project reports of EHA, and has continued to redact materials released under FOIA, including a remarkable 290-page redaction in a recent FOIA release.”

Sounds like Watergate doesn’t it?

 

Watch this space

 

A touching Mother’s day story — with an untouching addenum

Yes, a touching mother’s day story for you all. It was 55 years ago (yes over half a century ago ! ! ), and I was an intern at a big city hospital on rotation in their emergency room in a rough neighborhood. The ER entrance was half a block from an intersection with a bar on each corner. On a Saturday night, we knew better than to try to get some sleep before 2AM or until we’d put in 2 chest tubes (to drain blood from the lungs, which had been shot or stabbed). The bartenders were an intelligent lot — they had to be quick thinking to defuse situations, and we came to know them by name. So it was 3AM 55 years ago and Tyrone was trudging past on his way home, and I was just outside the ER getting some cool night air, things having quieted down.

“Happy Mother’s day, Tyrone” sayeth I

“Thanks Doc, but every day is Mother’s day with me”

“Why, Tyrone?”

“Because every day I get called a mother— “

Untouching Addendum

Well, it’s 55 years later and the terrible violence in the Black community continues unabated.  Nothing has changed from 1967.  Fifty percent of the murdered in the USA are blacks, with only 13-14% of the population.

My white neighbors drench themselves in holiness, displaying their virtue for all to see with signs on their lawns saying Black Lives Matter.  This neatly avoids facing the real problem — Black Lives Matter except to other Blacks.  

Any solution must come from within the Black community itself, not from outsiders, however well-motivated like my neighbors.

Does getting COVID19 shrink your brain?

Does getting COVID19 shrink your brain?  A paper from last Thursday’s Nature says yes.  Not only that, but it slows you mentally. Here’s a link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-04569-5.pdf.   and a reference: Nature vol. 604 pp. 697 – 707 ’22.

Here’s what they did.  Take 785 people over 50 from England. Have 401 get infected with the pandemic virus, after obtaining MRI scans, all sorts of data including mental function about them.   Then repeat the MRI and mental tests  4 – 5 months after the infection.  Compare the two groups and there’s your answer.

The moral among you must be wondering how they ever got this past an Institutional review board.  It didn’t.  This was an experiment of nature on participants in the UK Biobank — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Biobank.  Starting in 2006 and ending in 2010 some 100,000 people (ages 40 – 69 on entry) from the United Kingdom (UK) were intensively studied (they donated urine, saliva and blood, filled out questionnaires, and consented to access to their electronic health records).   Planned follow up is 30 years.  All this before we had any idea about the pandemic to hit us in 2020.

Obviously the control group without infection, must be as similar as possible to the infected group and I think the authors tried their hardest.  Even so the control group was a bit older, and the infected group had slightly lower cognitive abilities.

The average time between the two scans was 3 years.  The average time from COVID19 to the second scan was 141 days.  The scans were done before Omicron hit.  Even so only 15/401 had to be hospitalized.  This is consistent with the mildness of the pandemic presently.  On 9 April 22 Shanghai reported some 23,000 positive PCR tests (for Omicron), but only one thousand or so were symptomatic.   Excluding the 15 from analysis didn’t change the result.  I’ve heard from clinicians, that the severely ill are usually obese.  This is partly true for the 15 hospitalized (average Body Mass Index 29.3) vs. the 386 not hospitalized (BMI – 26.6).

So the clickbait is that being infected with the virus shrinks your brain. But does it? It is stated that there was a decrease in thickness of the cerebral cortex (the gray matter on the surface of the brain) concerned with smell and taste.

The decreases were minimal.  Have a look at figure 1a p. 701.  The changes between scans are plotted vs. age, and separately for cases and controls. As we get older the brain shrinks.  This was true for both patients and the controls, but the patients showed more shrinkage (measured by the change between successive MRIs).

What sort of shrinkage in the thickness of he cerebral cortex are we talking about here?  At most 3% and usually under 2%.  But 3% of what?  Most estimates of the thickness of the human cerebral cortex place it around 2 – 3 millimeters (range 1 to 5 millimeters).  So I got out a clear plastic ruler and found that 1 milliMeter is about the thickness of a penny?  Are they really saying that the MRI can measure thickness differences of 2 – 3% of something only 2 – 3 millimeters.

It gets worse.  Most of us have seen MRI pictures by now.  If you look closely, you’ll see that they are slices made of pixels.  These are computed slices of 3 dimensional cubes (voxels).  And what dear reader is the size of an MRI voxel — around 1 x 1 x 1 milliMeters.  So they are measuring cortical thickness with a rather blunt instrument which is 30 – 50% the size of cortical thickness.  Do you think, even with averaging of hundreds of people, that they can pick up a change in cortical thickness of several percent in something so small.

I don’t, and am amazed that the reviewers let them get away with this.

The cognitive changes are on much better ground.  But that’s for the next post.  This post is long enough.

Local transmission in Beijing, the avalanche continues

The pandemic has now come to Beijing with its 21 million people.

From CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/24/china/beijing-covid-outbreak-lockdown-fears-intl-hnk/index.html”More than 20 cases were detected in the capital over a period from midnight Friday morning (22 April ’22) to 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, officials said. One middle school where multiple cases were detected was shuttered on Friday, with students and teachers in the district required to take several Covid-19 tests over the coming week. more than 20 cases were detected in the capital over a period from midnight Friday morning to 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, officials said. One middle school where multiple cases were detected was shuttered on Friday, with students and teachers in the district required to take several Covid-19 tests over the coming week.”

Other sources think the pandemic has been silently spreading in the city for a week.  If present policies continue and the if rapid spread shown in Hong Kong and Shanghai happens in Beijing, we are likely to see lockdown of the political capital.  Unfortunately I was worried about something like this last December, and by 15 March I thought China would be brought to its knees.  All this can be found in the series of posts recopied verbatim after the ***

As of 21 April Mainland China had 2,971 symptomatic cases and 21,335 asymptomatic, most of which were in Shanghai.  As of 23 April it was in 17 of 31 Chinese provinces.

Very sad.  At some point, attempting to control the pandemic by lockdown will cause more harm than good.   Events are proving the zero-Covid policy isn’t working.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any brilliant suggestions for them.

Basically this is happening because the zero-Covid policy produced a set of immunologic virgins to the Pandemic virus.

***

There’s a lot here.  If you are new to the Chinese pandemic

First scroll down to (and read) the following post written 12 December ’21

Is China following a Smokey the Bear policy on the pandemic?

Then look at (and read) the following — written 15 Jan ’22

I hope to Hell I was wrong about China

Then look at (and read) — written 25 March

China will be near collapse due to COVID19 — here’s why

Lastly look at the one just below — written 10 April

It’s a long sad story

China is closer to near collapse

26 days ago on 15 March ’22  I wrote a post beginning “Here is why I think China will be near collapse due to COVID19 in the next few months.”  At that time there were essentially no symptomatic cases in Shanghai and 1,000 locally transmitted cases.  At the end of 9 April there were 1,006 symptomatic cases and 23,937 asymptomatic ones, essentially all locally transmitted.  The city of 27 million people is now locked down.  The epidemic in Hong Kong has calmed down and the number of new locally transmitted is down to 2,000.

However the new organism (BA.2) is very infectious, and the fact that it is in all 31 Chinese provinces does not bode well.  Mainland China (excludes Hong Kong) has 1,318 symptomatic and 25,111 asymptomatic cases, essentially all locally transmitted.

We have to be impressed by the fact that 25,000,000 PCR tests for the virus were performed in Shanghai the past week, with roughly one in every thousand people carrying the virus.  It’s great to have data showing just how asymptomatic most cases are (96%).  We owe Shanghai and its people a great debt for this.

Xi reminds me of King Canute.  I think BA.2 will pop up again and again until it runs through the population.  Clearly full  vaccination with boosters  is not protective against infection here in the USA (witness Pelosi, Vilsack, Garland and Collins) although in the past  COVID19 was stated to be a disease of the unvaccinated.   The ‘fully vaccinated’ rate this year in Massachusetts for those in the hospital with COVID has ranged from 37 %  to 64% (currently 54%).  I think the USA is doing better, because given that 96% of cases (in Shanghai) are asymptomatic, almost everyone in the states has been infected with one or another strain of the pandemic virus, so there is some degree of immunity in the population.  Not so for China.  They are immunologic virgins for the pandemic virus (SARS-CoV-2)

Due to stringent criteria for who can bring in supplies to Shanghai there are problems with supplying food for the population.

Here is the post of 15 March — it’s long but has a lot more evidence to back up what I’m saying here

China will be near collapse due to COVID19 — here’s why

Here is why I think China will be near collapse due to COVID19 in the next few months.

Due to a strict containment policy, the only experience the Chinese population (excepting Wuhan) has had with the pandemic virus has been by vaccination, mostly with Sinopharm and Coronavac.  These are known to be less effective against the Omicron variant than the western mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, etc.) which themselves are not terribly effective against infection.  So most Chinese are immunologic virgins for exposure to the variants of the pandemic virus and the omicron variant of the virus is incredibly infectious.

In contrast, western populations have been exposed to variant after variant of the pandemic virus, building up immunity to coronaviruses.  The vast majority of cases are mild not requiring hospitalization, and many are completely asymptomatic.

One small piece of evidence for this — there are many more —

The following is from a post July/2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html–https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/23/new-york-antibody-study-estimates-13point9percent-of-residents-have-had-the-coronavirus-cuomo-says.html.

New York State  randomly tested 3,000 people at grocery stores and shopping locations across 19 counties in 40 localities to see if they had the antibodies to fight the coronavirus, indicating they have had the virus and recovered from it. With more than 19.4 million people residents, according to U.S. Census data, the preliminary results imply that at least 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with Covid-19.They weren’t all hospitalized.

If you’re into authoritative statements, here is Dr. Fauci 3 months ago –Source — https://nypost.com/2021/12/12/omicron-appears-to-evade-some-protection-from-covid-vaccines/

“We’re getting anecdotal information … not necessarily confirmed yet, that the level of severity appears to be maybe a bit less than in the Delta. But there are a lot of confounding issues that it may be due to the underlying protection in the community due to prior infections,”

Omicron spreads like wildfire.  For example, we had to call our plumber a week ago.  He has trained his teenage daughter to enter the trade.  We talked about the pandemic.  Teenagers love crowded parties (well I did, and so did our kids). His daughter  told us that apparently one irresponsible kid came to a party while sick in the early stages of what turned out to COVID19 and transmitted the virus to NINETEEN people.

Here is the Hong Kong experience.  It began with an aircrew member from Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., who was subsequently found to be infected with omicron.  He ate lunch at a restaurant 27 December ’21 with his family. . Five other customers later tested positive.   By the first week in March there were over 50,000 new cases each day.  Fortunately Hong Kong appears to have passed the peak with ‘only’ 20 – 30 thousand new cases each day.

The South China Morning Post of 16 March notes that 90% of Hong Kong residents have received one dose of a vaccine.  This hardly speaks well for the efficacy of whatever they received.

The Hong Kong experience has been rationalized by several reasons perhaps peculiar to Hong Kong:

l. A very low vaccination rate among the most vulnerable (e.g. over 80)

2. Very high population density — 50% of the population in Hong Kong live in public housing which is mostly very tall, very skinny high rises, due to the lack of buildable land in Hong Kong.  The elevators are a perfect way to transmit the virus.

I can’t speak to how common this is elsewhere in China.

5 days ago the number of cases in China was 1,000.  Today (16 March) I read that there were 5,100 on 15 March — https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3170631/china-reports-another-3000-covid-19-cases-latest-surge-continues?module=lead_hero_story&pgtype=homepage

So the elevator pitch is — a highly infectious virus is loose in a huge, previously uninfected population with minimal vaccine protection.

I was very worried that something like this could happen all over China in posts  written 2 and 3months ago, long before the number of cases in Hong Kong took off.  You can find my reasoning in the following post — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2022/01/15/i-hope-to-hell-i-was-wrong-about-china/   It was published 15 January ’22, and can be found below and it contains the 12 December ’21 post:

Addendum 16 Marchhttps://www.shine.cn/news/nation/2203163160/–MainlandChina now has 1,860 locally transmitted cases — with most in the province next to North, but in 20 other locations all over China including Shanghai and Beijing. This is is not good news given how infectious Omicron is.

 

I hope to Hell I was wrong about China

From the South China Morning Post — 9:52pm, 15 Jan, 2022

“The Chinese capital reported its first community case of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday, with local and imported infections of the strain now detected in about half of the country’s provinces and municipalities.”

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3163525/china-braces-omicron-variant-extends-its-reach-and-lunar-new-

If true, containment, quarantine, lockdowns and isolation are hopeless.  The quote implies that they’ve already failed.

I find this very worrisome for reasons listed in a post 12 December 2021, a copy of which is below.

The short answer is that the mainland Chinese are immunologic virgins to exposure to the variants of the pandemic virus.  Hopefully their vaccines will work better against omicron than those of the west, but there is no reason to think they will.

Is China following a Smokey the Bear policy on the pandemic?

China is following a prevent pandemic virus infection policy, just as Smokey the Bear followed a prevent forrest fires policy.  The latter didn’t work out well, as although fires were prevented for a while. However, when fires did occur, they were much much worse than the smaller ones Smokey prevented.  There was much more tinder and stuff to burn.

Actually Smokey has changed his tune slightly.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokey_Bear  SmokeyBear.com’s current site has a section on “Benefits of Fire” that includes this information: “Fire managers can reintroduce fire into fire-dependent ecosystems with prescribed fire. Under specific, controlled conditions, the beneficial effects of natural fire can be recreated, fuel buildup can be reduced, and we can prevent the catastrophic losses of uncontrolled, unwanted wildfire.”

Revision 14 December 2021 — China’s policy of prevention has resulted in a Chinese population which has been vaccinated using two killed virus vaccines (Sinopharm, Coronavac).  They have not had any natural infections with the virus (aside from the original cases) as far as we know given what China has allowed out.

Infection with the virus itself exposes you to all its proteins, with your immune system responding to all of them.   Western vaccines are just to the spike protein.

It tends to be forgotten that moist cases of pandemic viral infection are asymptomatic.

Given 800K deaths  from COVID19  in the USA, how can I possibly say this is good. Here’s how :>

If you had an infection with the virus, you develop antibodies.  Nowadays, everyone who is vaccinated has antibodies so there is no point in testing for them, but what were things like in the days before vaccines?

The following is from a post July/2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html–https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/23/new-york-antibody-study-estimates-13point9percent-of-residents-have-had-the-coronavirus-cuomo-says.html.

New York State  randomly tested 3,000 people at grocery stores and shopping locations across 19 counties in 40 localities to see if they had the antibodies to fight the coronavirus, indicating they have had the virus and recovered from it. With more than 19.4 million people residents, according to U.S. Census data, the preliminary results imply that at least 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with Covid-19.They weren’t all hospitalized.

Here’s some work the same month from Queens — https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html

At a clinic in Corona, a working-class neighborhood in Queens, more than 68 percent of people tested positive for antibodies to the new coronavirus. At another clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens, that number was 56 percent. But at a clinic in Cobble Hill, a mostly white and wealthy neighborhood in Brooklyn, only 13 percent of people tested positive for antibodies.

So the disease has already to spread to half the population in some neighborhoods in Queens. If even 10% of them were sick that would have been 140,000 hospitalizations.  They didn’t happen.

OK, so a lot more people were infected than got sick.  Why is this good?

Enter the omicron variant of the pandemic virus.  It can evade the antibodies produced by all the current vaccines (in the West — protection against the Chinese killed viral vaccines CoronaVac and Sinopharm isn’t known yet).   Yet omicron doesn’t appear to produce severe disease. Thus far…

 

The CDC in the past week said of the 40+ omicron cases it knows about (there certainly are more out there, and more to come), there was one hospitalization (for two days) and no deaths.

Here is Dr. Fauci 12 December 2021 — “We’re getting anecdotal information … not necessarily confirmed yet, that the level of severity appears to be maybe a bit less than in the Delta. But there are a lot of confounding issues that it may be due to the underlying protection in the community due to prior infections,”

Source — https://nypost.com/2021/12/12/omicron-appears-to-evade-some-protection-from-covid-vaccines/

So the Chinese population may be sitting ducks for omicron having been given vaccines (Sinopharm, Coronavac) of unknown potency against omicron.  If their statistics are true there has been little or no natural infection with the pandemic virus in the Chinese population (which Fauci has just implicated is protective),.  Given that I have a son, daughter in law and two grandkids living in Hong Kong, I find this extremely disconcerting.

Should you get a second booster of the Pfizer vaccine?

Should you get a second booster of the Pfizer vaccine?  As usual, with medical questions the answer is “it depends”.  Fortunately we now have excellent data on this point for those over 60.  As usual the best data is from Israel, with a mere 623,335 people over 60 getting the fourth shot and 628,976 not getting it.

The short answer is that the booster will give you some protection (compared to not getting the 4th shot)  against getting infected for a few weeks, but essentially no protection from infection at 6 weeks.

The headline news is that for 6 weeks the 2nd booster cuts your chance of  severe COVID19 by a factor of 3.  The protection against severe infection didn’t wane at 6 weeks.

The numbers in a minute, but I’m sure you’re wondering why such a short study?  Because infections with the B.1.1.529 variant of omicron started surging in Israel in December.  So with that in mind  the Israelis began vaccinating people over 60 in January of 2022. You don’t just go and vaccinate over half a million people for fun.   They had to balance the hunger for data about the help a fourth dose would give with the time needed to pass to get a meaningful study.  The longer the study, the better the data, but the longer to remain in the dark.

I’m certain the study will be updated with the passage of time, but likely the number of people with only 3 doses will shrink.  Also almost certainly more people in both groups will get severe COVID19

Now for the numbers: there were 355 severe cases of COVID19 in the 623,335 getting 4 doses and 1,210 cases in the 628,976 getting only 3 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.  So the protection from severe illness by the fourth dose was a decrease in  risk by greater than 2/3.

That’s the headline, but there is more to think about. 1/500 people getting 3 doses had severe COVID vs. 1/1500 people getting 4 doses.  Neither risk is very high.

Although there was no decline in severe COVID19 protection at 6 weeks, some decline at 6 months and a year is likely (if it’s like every other vaccine that’s been studied).  Even more to the point, if the first booster had not declined in protection we wouldn’t need a second.  I don’t see any reason the second booster should act differently. Remember both boosters are to a virus which is no longer circulating.

So should you rush out and get that 4th shot?  Again it depends.  You want maximum protection when cases are surging in your area.  That’s when you get the most bang for your buck.

Here in the USA, statistics are good.   What you are interested in, is people admitted to hospital because of COVID19.  To avoid spreading the virus, everyone admitted gets tested for the virus even if they got run over by a truck..  In this regard Massachusetts’s reporting is quite good — on  14 April ’22 there were 343 COVID19 patients in hospital statewide, but only 113 were hospitalized because of COVID19.   Hopefully, your local statistics are that good.

One of the (few) benefits of the pandemic is the fact that articles about the virus and COVID19 are not behind paywalls, but freely available to all (which is good because we’re all in the same boat, and we need all the brainpower we have to evaluate the latest data).

So here’s a link to the article discussed above — https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa2201570?articleTools=true

China is closer to near collapse

26 days ago on 15 March ’22  I wrote a post beginning “Here is why I think China will be near collapse due to COVID19 in the next few months.”  At that time there were essentially no symptomatic cases in Shanghai and 1,000 locally transmitted cases.  At the end of 9 April there were 1,006 symptomatic cases and 23,937 asymptomatic ones, essentially all locally transmitted.  The city of 27 million people is now locked down.  The epidemic in Hong Kong has calmed down and the number of new locally transmitted is down to 2,000.

However the new organism (BA.2) is very infectious, and the fact that it is in all 31 Chinese provinces does not bode well.  Mainland China (excludes Hong Kong) has 1,318 symptomatic and 25,111 asymptomatic cases, essentially all locally transmitted.

We have to be impressed by the fact that 25,000,000 PCR tests for the virus were performed in Shanghai the past week, with roughly one in every thousand people carrying the virus.  It’s great to have data showing just how asymptomatic most cases are (96%).  We owe Shanghai and its people a great debt for this.

Xi reminds me of King Canute.  I think BA.2 will pop up again and again until it runs through the population.  Clearly full  vaccination with boosters  is not protective against infection here in the USA (witness Pelosi, Vilsack, Garland and Collins) although in the past  COVID19 was stated to be a disease of the unvaccinated.   The ‘fully vaccinated’ rate this year in Massachusetts for those in the hospital with COVID has ranged from 37 %  to 64% (currently 54%).  I think the USA is doing better, because given that 96% of cases (in Shanghai) are asymptomatic, almost everyone in the states has been infected with one or another strain of the pandemic virus, so there is some degree of immunity in the population.  Not so for China.  They are immunologic virgins for the pandemic virus (SARS-CoV-2)

Due to stringent criteria for who can bring in supplies to Shanghai there are problems with supplying food for the population.

Here is the post of 15 March — it’s long but has a lot more evidence to back up what I’m saying here

China will be near collapse due to COVID19 — here’s why

Here is why I think China will be near collapse due to COVID19 in the next few months.

Due to a strict containment policy, the only experience the Chinese population (excepting Wuhan) has had with the pandemic virus has been by vaccination, mostly with Sinopharm and Coronavac.  These are known to be less effective against the Omicron variant than the western mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, etc.) which themselves are not terribly effective against infection.  So most Chinese are immunologic virgins for exposure to the variants of the pandemic virus and the omicron variant of the virus is incredibly infectious.

In contrast, western populations have been exposed to variant after variant of the pandemic virus, building up immunity to coronaviruses.  The vast majority of cases are mild not requiring hospitalization, and many are completely asymptomatic.

One small piece of evidence for this — there are many more —

The following is from a post July/2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html–https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/23/new-york-antibody-study-estimates-13point9percent-of-residents-have-had-the-coronavirus-cuomo-says.html.

New York State  randomly tested 3,000 people at grocery stores and shopping locations across 19 counties in 40 localities to see if they had the antibodies to fight the coronavirus, indicating they have had the virus and recovered from it. With more than 19.4 million people residents, according to U.S. Census data, the preliminary results imply that at least 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with Covid-19.They weren’t all hospitalized.

If you’re into authoritative statements, here is Dr. Fauci 3 months ago –Source — https://nypost.com/2021/12/12/omicron-appears-to-evade-some-protection-from-covid-vaccines/

“We’re getting anecdotal information … not necessarily confirmed yet, that the level of severity appears to be maybe a bit less than in the Delta. But there are a lot of confounding issues that it may be due to the underlying protection in the community due to prior infections,”

Omicron spreads like wildfire.  For example, we had to call our plumber a week ago.  He has trained his teenage daughter to enter the trade.  We talked about the pandemic.  Teenagers love crowded parties (well I did, and so did our kids). His daughter  told us that apparently one irresponsible kid came to a party while sick in the early stages of what turned out to COVID19 and transmitted the virus to NINETEEN people.

Here is the Hong Kong experience.  It began with an aircrew member from Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., who was subsequently found to be infected with omicron.  He ate lunch at a restaurant 27 December ’21 with his family. . Five other customers later tested positive.   By the first week in March there were over 50,000 new cases each day.  Fortunately Hong Kong appears to have passed the peak with ‘only’ 20 – 30 thousand new cases each day.

The South China Morning Post of 16 March notes that 90% of Hong Kong residents have received one dose of a vaccine.  This hardly speaks well for the efficacy of whatever they received.

The Hong Kong experience has been rationalized by several reasons perhaps peculiar to Hong Kong:

l. A very low vaccination rate among the most vulnerable (e.g. over 80)

2. Very high population density — 50% of the population in Hong Kong live in public housing which is mostly very tall, very skinny high rises, due to the lack of buildable land in Hong Kong.  The elevators are a perfect way to transmit the virus.

I can’t speak to how common this is elsewhere in China.

5 days ago the number of cases in China was 1,000.  Today (16 March) I read that there were 5,100 on 15 March — https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3170631/china-reports-another-3000-covid-19-cases-latest-surge-continues?module=lead_hero_story&pgtype=homepage

So the elevator pitch is — a highly infectious virus is loose in a huge, previously uninfected population with minimal vaccine protection.

I was very worried that something like this could happen all over China in posts  written 2 and 3months ago, long before the number of cases in Hong Kong took off.  You can find my reasoning in the following post — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2022/01/15/i-hope-to-hell-i-was-wrong-about-china/   It was published 15 January ’22, and can be found below and it contains the 12 December ’21 post:

Addendum 16 Marchhttps://www.shine.cn/news/nation/2203163160/–MainlandChina now has 1,860 locally transmitted cases — with most in the province next to North, but in 20 other locations all over China including Shanghai and Beijing. This is is not good news given how infectious Omicron is.

 

I hope to Hell I was wrong about China

From the South China Morning Post — 9:52pm, 15 Jan, 2022

“The Chinese capital reported its first community case of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday, with local and imported infections of the strain now detected in about half of the country’s provinces and municipalities.”

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3163525/china-braces-omicron-variant-extends-its-reach-and-lunar-new-

If true, containment, quarantine, lockdowns and isolation are hopeless.  The quote implies that they’ve already failed.

I find this very worrisome for reasons listed in a post 12 December 2021, a copy of which is below.

The short answer is that the mainland Chinese are immunologic virgins to exposure to the variants of the pandemic virus.  Hopefully their vaccines will work better against omicron than those of the west, but there is no reason to think they will.

Is China following a Smokey the Bear policy on the pandemic?

China is following a prevent pandemic virus infection policy, just as Smokey the Bear followed a prevent forrest fires policy.  The latter didn’t work out well, as although fires were prevented for a while. However, when fires did occur, they were much much worse than the smaller ones Smokey prevented.  There was much more tinder and stuff to burn.

Actually Smokey has changed his tune slightly.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokey_Bear  SmokeyBear.com’s current site has a section on “Benefits of Fire” that includes this information: “Fire managers can reintroduce fire into fire-dependent ecosystems with prescribed fire. Under specific, controlled conditions, the beneficial effects of natural fire can be recreated, fuel buildup can be reduced, and we can prevent the catastrophic losses of uncontrolled, unwanted wildfire.”

Revision 14 December 2021 — China’s policy of prevention has resulted in a Chinese population which has been vaccinated using two killed virus vaccines (Sinopharm, Coronavac).  They have not had any natural infections with the virus (aside from the original cases) as far as we know given what China has allowed out.

Infection with the virus itself exposes you to all its proteins, with your immune system responding to all of them.   Western vaccines are just to the spike protein.

It tends to be forgotten that moist cases of pandemic viral infection are asymptomatic.

Given 800K deaths  from COVID19  in the USA, how can I possibly say this is good. Here’s how :>

If you had an infection with the virus, you develop antibodies.  Nowadays, everyone who is vaccinated has antibodies so there is no point in testing for them, but what were things like in the days before vaccines?

The following is from a post July/2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html–https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/23/new-york-antibody-study-estimates-13point9percent-of-residents-have-had-the-coronavirus-cuomo-says.html.

New York State  randomly tested 3,000 people at grocery stores and shopping locations across 19 counties in 40 localities to see if they had the antibodies to fight the coronavirus, indicating they have had the virus and recovered from it. With more than 19.4 million people residents, according to U.S. Census data, the preliminary results imply that at least 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with Covid-19.They weren’t all hospitalized.

Here’s some work the same month from Queens — https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html

At a clinic in Corona, a working-class neighborhood in Queens, more than 68 percent of people tested positive for antibodies to the new coronavirus. At another clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens, that number was 56 percent. But at a clinic in Cobble Hill, a mostly white and wealthy neighborhood in Brooklyn, only 13 percent of people tested positive for antibodies.

So the disease has already to spread to half the population in some neighborhoods in Queens. If even 10% of them were sick that would have been 140,000 hospitalizations.  They didn’t happen.

OK, so a lot more people were infected than got sick.  Why is this good?

Enter the omicron variant of the pandemic virus.  It can evade the antibodies produced by all the current vaccines (in the West — protection against the Chinese killed viral vaccines CoronaVac and Sinopharm isn’t known yet).   Yet omicron doesn’t appear to produce severe disease. Thus far…

 

The CDC in the past week said of the 40+ omicron cases it knows about (there certainly are more out there, and more to come), there was one hospitalization (for two days) and no deaths.

Here is Dr. Fauci 12 December 2021 — “We’re getting anecdotal information … not necessarily confirmed yet, that the level of severity appears to be maybe a bit less than in the Delta. But there are a lot of confounding issues that it may be due to the underlying protection in the community due to prior infections,”

Source — https://nypost.com/2021/12/12/omicron-appears-to-evade-some-protection-from-covid-vaccines/

So the Chinese population may be sitting ducks for omicron having been given vaccines (Sinopharm, Coronavac) of unknown potency against omicron.  If their statistics are true there has been little or no natural infection with the pandemic virus in the Chinese population (which Fauci has just implicated is protective),.  Given that I have a son, daughter in law and two grandkids living in Hong Kong, I find this extremely disconcerting.

Sad to watch

Watch a confused old man ramble on semi-coherently and tell our troops they would be in the Ukraine.

Later, he called for regime change in Russia in a speech in Poland  according to an article in the Atlantic –hardly a right wing organ. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/03/biden-putin-regime-change-russia/629397/

Addendum 27 March — a third Biden response this week which had to be walked back by the ‘ White House’  — we would respond ‘in kind’ if Russia used chemical weapons — https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60870771

As a neurology resident I was taught that a quick way to find out if a patient was confused, was to just shut up and let them talk.  This is exactly what is happening with Biden abroad, out of unscripted press conferences with preselected questions from friendly reporters.

I’ve written on Biden’s probable early dementia before.  This is just more evidence. Have a look, and draw your own conclusions.

Here’s an earlier post with much more evidence (including unadulterated clips of Biden speaking).

President Biden possibly has Occult Hydrocephalus (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus)

President Biden possibly has Occult Hydrocephalus (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus).  That’s quite a mouthful. Here are  three levels of explanation, short, medium and long depending on what you already know.

The short explanation — justification for each statement later  – “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”  ― Carl Sagan

l. President Biden had a subarachnoid hemorrhage due to an aneurysm in his head years ago.

2. President Biden is in early dementia

3. President Biden is having changes in his walking, one of the reasons leading to his recent medical evaluation

Subarachnoid hemorrhage is one of the most common causes of Occult Hydrocephalus (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus { NPH } )

Symptoms of NPH are progressive dementia and gait disturbance. So he fits the pattern.

A brief primer on hydrocephalus.  We all have water on the brain (e.g. cerebrospinal fluid  {CSF } ).  We make about two pints a day in the ventricular system of the brain which lies deep in the brain — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventricular_system.  It flows out of the ventricles to the surface of the brain where it flows over the surface and is absorbed.   You can imagine what happens if there is a problem absorbing CSF.  Secretion doesn’t stop and the ventricles get bigger  (the origin of the term hydrocephalus), and pressure rises usually along with headache and serious neurologic problems.

It is thought that after subarachnoid hemorrhage, scarring occurs impeding CSF flow, just enough to enlarge the ventricles, but not enough to raise pressure in the head.  Amazingly this can occur years after the bleed and is called normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) or occult hydrocephalus (occult because it doesn’t present in the usual way with headache etc. etc.)

NPH was discovered in the late 60s when I just entered neurology.  It was tremendously exciting for patients and docs, because it represented a treatable cause of dementia.  The treatment is placement of a shunt (hollow pipeline) from the ventricular system to the surface of the brain (or elsewhere).

It is extraordinarily easy to diagnose hydrocephalus these days. Just do an MRI or a CT scan and see how big the ventricles actually are.  It is important to note that President Biden should never have an MRI.  High magnetic fields are used, and if the clip placed on his aneurysm by the neurosurgeon contained any magnetic material, the clip would be ripped off the artery causing a fatal hemorrhage. This has actually happened to a few unfortunate patients in the early days of MRI and Biden’s aneurysm surgery was 1988 in the early days of MRI.

The medium explanation

l. Biden’s cerebral aneurysm — I have a whole post on the subject — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2020/12/08/bidens-cerebral-aneurysm/ which is reproduced below the ***

Interestingly, I knew the neurosurgeon who operated on him (Neal Cassell), back in the day when I was a neurology resident and he was a Penn undergraduate, already very interested in neurosurgery.

The post concludes with “I think the chances of occult hydrocephalus developing 32 years after the aneurysm are remote. If it were going to happen it would have already. In the meantime, watch him start to walk.”  Well that was written 8 December ’20, and he’s having trouble walking now.

2. Biden is in early dementia — certainly the most controversial statement in the post.  It’s based on years of clinical experience trying to taking care of demented patients.  Don’t take my work for it  please look at the following post — it contains lots of clips of him speaking (C-SPAN etc. etc.)– just look at them and make up your own mind if he is functioning normally during them.  Remember the symptoms of early dementia are always intermittent.  Here’s the link Vhttps://luysii.wordpress.com/2021/08/20/biden-is-in-early-dementia-yet-more-evidence/. The entire post is reproduced below the &&&&

3. Biden is having changes in his walking — this is the easiest — https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/President-Biden-Current-Health-Summary-November-2021.pdf.  It is incredibly detailed and thorough, I’m not going to reproduce it, but here are a few quotes “The president’s gait is perceptibly stiffer and less fluid than it was a year ago.”

 

 

They put down his gait disturbance to a mild peripheral neuropathy, old foot fracture, spinal arthritis, but they didn’t consider NPH.
I think he should have a CT scan of his head (never an MRI for the reasons above).  It might reveal a treatable cause of his early dementia.
The long explanations 
***

Biden’s cerebral aneurysm

A friend sent me a semi-hysterical rant from a neurosurgeron about the dangers of President Biden’s cerebral aneurysm. Not to worry. This happened in 1988 and was successfully clipped although it ruptured during surgery. The only possible complication at this point is normal pressure hydrocephalus (occult hydrocephalus). That’s a medical mouthful so here’s some background to put it all into context.

If you’ve ever seen a blister on an inner tube, that’s what a cerebral aneurysm looks like. They usually look like a round ball on the side of an artery in the brain. They look nothing like an aneurysm of the aorta. To treat them, one puts a clip around the neck of the aneurysm, so to prevent the pressure in the adjacent artery from bursting it. As Dr. Tom Langfitt, the neurosurgeon who taught medical students, interns and residents at Penn Med in the 60’s said “they’ll stare you down every time”. To put a clip around the neck of the aneurysm you have to jiggle and move it, which may cause it to break. This happened during surgery on President Biden in 1988.

Remarkably, Neal Kassell, the neurosurgeon operating on President Biden was an undergraduate at Penn when I was a neurology resident there in ’67 – ’68. Even before med school (graduating Penn Med in’72) he was vitally interested in neurosurgery and hung around the hospital and would observe Langfitt in action in the OR.

What is there to worry about? Relatively little. It is possible that Biden is developing another aneurysm. One well known complication of a ruptured intracranial aneurysm is something called occult hydrocephalus (or normal pressure hydrocephalus). Blood is extremely inflammatory, and the inflammation can resolve causing scarring (fibrosis) of the linings of the brain. This can impede the flow of spinal fluid.

What are the symptoms? Cognitive decline for one, something that’s been endlessly discussed by pundits, politicians and the voters. The other symptom which even you can look for is difficulty walking, in particular beginning to walk. People with this seem to have feet glued to the floor and have problems initiating walking.

Diagnosis — in Biden’s case, a CAT scan to see if the cerebral ventricles are larger than they should be — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventricular_system has great pictures and explanation.

Why not an MRI — because the clips used back in 1988 contain magnetizable material, and entering the strong magnetic fields of an MRI scanning would rip the clips off the aneurysm and kill Biden.

I think the chances of occult hydrocephalus developing 32 years after the aneurysm are remote. If it were going to happen it would have already. In the meantime, watch him start to walk.

Biden is in early dementia — yet more evidence

This is the third post arguing that Biden is in early dementia.  Today’s post is  based on his performances on the 18th of August and today 20 August.  The previous 2 posts can be found below the ***

Addendum: 23 August.  Don’t take my word for it.  All the material in this post  is evidence — please look at the linked videos and quotations and decide for yourself.  Your conclusions may be different from mine, but at the least you will see the evidence on which mine are based.   If you disagree, I’d love to see a comment. 

On the 18th in an interview on ABC with George Stephanopoulos a transcript contains the following exchange

“STEPHANOPOULOS: I– I think a lot of– a lot of Americans, and a l– even a lot of veterans who served in Afghanistan agree with you on the big, strategic picture. They believe we had to get out. But I wonder how you respond to an Army Special Forces officer, Javier McKay (PH). He did seven tours. He was shot twice. He agrees with you. He says, “We have to cut our losses in Afghanistan.” But he adds, “I just wish we could’ve left with honor.”

BIDEN: Look, that’s like askin’ my deceased son Beau, who spent six months in Kosovo and a year in Iraq as a Navy captain and then major– I mean, as an Army major. And, you know, I’m sure h– he had regrets comin’ out of Afganista– I mean, out of Iraq.”

Doesn’t he know which branch of the service his son was in? Did he think his son was in Afghanistan?  My wife and I know where our 4 uncles served in world war two.

Unsurprisingly, ABC did not put this exchange on the air.  It was only found by reading the transcript.  Pravda could have done no better.

Today

“President Biden: (12:15) Look, let’s put this thing in perspective here. What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with Al Qaeda gone? ”

They aren’t gone according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.  At a briefing following Biden’s remarks Kirby said that there remains an al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan.

Wasn’t Biden told this?  If he was did he forget it?  Where is the shrink from Yale who wanted remove Trump using article 25 of the Constitution back in the day.

At least the questions he’s getting are no longer of the “what’s your favorite ice cream?” variety.

Here are two such questions.

Stephanie Ramos: (18:42)
Yeah. Thank you, Mr. President, two questions for you. The military has secured the airport, as you mentioned, but will you sign off on sending US troops into Kabul to evacuate Americans who haven’t been able to get to the airport safely?

President Biden: (18:56)
We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get in Kabul through the airport.

Given the incompetence of our intelligence this may actually be what Biden has been told.  Reports from Kabul say exactly the opposite.  It is also possible that Biden has been told what is going on there and simply forgot or is lying.

I have friends who have told me they’d rather have a demented Biden than an undemented Trump.  It looks like they’re getting their wish.

Here’s the previous post which contains older evidence.

*****

Biden is in early dementia — more evidence

In an earlier post (reproduced below the ***) I gave my reasons based on (presumably unedited) tapes of the President for concluding that President Biden is in the early stages of dementia.  I am a retired board certified neurologist and occasional board examiner with 34 years of clinical experience.

Here is further evidence.

In a town hall meeting put on by CNN 21 July President Biden became rather incoherent and confused when answering “When will children under 12 be able to get vaccinated.”

Here is the (presumably) unedited video of the meeting — https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/21/politics/full-president-joe-biden-cnn-town-hall-july-21/index.html.

The question was asked 6 minutes and 20 seconds into the recording.  The response starts to make not much sense at 7 minutes and at 7 minutes 21 seconds, he briefly becomes incoherent.  He continues on in this vein up to about 8 minutes.

This is what early dementia looks like.

Well that’s my opinion.  Look at the tape and make your own.

****  The earlier post

Biden is in early dementia — the evidence

As a neurologist I am often asked about Biden’s mental capacity.  My first post on the subject occurred after the first debate with Trump.  I thought he was intact — you can read about it here.

https://luysii.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5200&action=edit&calypsoify=1

Then I was asked to comment on the possibility that his previous operation for aneurysm could be causing trouble. I didn’t think this was likely as so much time had passed.  Interestingly, I knew the neurosurgeon as a Penn undergraduate when I was a neurology resident.  You can read the post at the end — Biden’s cerebral aneurysm.

That was written last December.

I changed my opinion after his press conference. of 14 June ’21 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAWRHM4i3Dg
I strongly suggest you look at the segment at 15 minutes where his response makes little sense, and then he shuts down completely for 7 seconds, apparently quite confused. That’s my reading of the video. Form your own opinion.

Then on June 23rd I was sent another clip where he was confused

It is an 8 minute speech, and the clip can be found at 2 minutes, again showing an episode of confusion.

 

But first a story:

As a third year medical student on psychiatry rotation,  I interviewed a Bryn Mawr student who was on the psych ward (my wife was also an undergraduate at the time).  I well knew the intensity of the place, and how much pressure the girls (see the end of the post) put on themselves.  So I talked and talked and commiserated with her.  After a pleasant enough time the I concluded the interview and left.   The teaching psychiatrist asked me what I thought, and I told him how frigtening I found it given what I knew about Bryn Mawr. He asked me if I found out that she thought the television was talking to her.  Basically by yapping when she went off track, I kept her sane.

So I learned to shut up, and let people tell me what was wrong with them.  This is why Biden likely did well during the debates. The short time given to answer and the barrage of questions and interruptions kept him focused.

It really came home as I looked at the whole 8 minutes of the second clip trying to find the brief period of confusion.  Please look at the whole clip yourself and draw your own conclusions.  I see a pleasant,  rambling, slow thinking,  occasionally confused old man.

 

This is what early dementia looks like.

I was severely criticized by a follower after the first post.  Here it is,  “Issuing alarmist statements about his mental health is reprehensible. You are not his physician. Moreover, armchair diagnosis is frowned upon by the American Psychiatric Association.I’ve been following your blog for several years and also have been reading you comments on the “in the pipeline” blog. On the basis of that experience I had not expected to stoop that low.”

In my defense, I was defeated by the new WordPress editor which wouldn’t let me bring in the evidence shown here.  Apparently it was a (still extant) incompatibility of Safari with the editor.   I was still impressed enough by how confused Biden looked that I posted it anyway.

As the late Carl Sagan said “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. So here is the evidence (finally).  Apologies for the delay.

As children, our least favorite explanation was ‘because I say so’.

Essentially that’s part of what I’m offering here.  I was involved in clinical neurology from ’67 to ’00, and at a minimum saw at least 1 demented patient a week during that time.  That’s an underestimate, as I’d make rounds on other neurologists patients when covering weekends.  I doubt that anyone reading this has similar extensive experience.

So Biden just looks like all the early dementia patients I saw during that time.  Given my experience, I think that should carry some weight.

The fact that Biden appears sharp at times is typical of early stage dementia.  I’ve certainly seen it in family and friends, with such things being excused as ‘it must have been the heat’ or ‘they must not have been feeling well’.

Why is this important?  Khrushchev’s estimate of President Kennedy’s weakness lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Khrushchev’s son confirmed this when he spoke at the Kennedy Center at Harvard.   Kennedy was receiving narcotics for his back.  The side effects of what little medicines we had back then weren’t appreciated.  Example: thyroid and amphetamines were used to help people lose weight.

Biden does not appear mentally strong to Putin or Xi (or me).

 

China will be near collapse due to COVID19 — here’s why

Here is why I think China will be near collapse due to COVID19 in the next few months.

Due to a strict containment policy, the only experience the Chinese population (excepting Wuhan) has had with the pandemic virus has been by vaccination, mostly with Sinopharm and Coronavac.  These are known to be less effective against the Omicron variant than the western mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, etc.) which themselves are not terribly effective against infection.  So most Chinese are immunologic virgins for exposure to the variants of the pandemic virus and the omicron variant of the virus is incredibly infectious.

In contrast, western populations have been exposed to variant after variant of the pandemic virus, building up immunity to coronaviruses.  The vast majority of cases are mild not requiring hospitalization, and many are completely asymptomatic.

One small piece of evidence for this — there are many more —

The following is from a post July/2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html–https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/23/new-york-antibody-study-estimates-13point9percent-of-residents-have-had-the-coronavirus-cuomo-says.html.

New York State  randomly tested 3,000 people at grocery stores and shopping locations across 19 counties in 40 localities to see if they had the antibodies to fight the coronavirus, indicating they have had the virus and recovered from it. With more than 19.4 million people residents, according to U.S. Census data, the preliminary results imply that at least 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with Covid-19.They weren’t all hospitalized.

If you’re into authoritative statements, here is Dr. Fauci 3 months ago –Source — https://nypost.com/2021/12/12/omicron-appears-to-evade-some-protection-from-covid-vaccines/

“We’re getting anecdotal information … not necessarily confirmed yet, that the level of severity appears to be maybe a bit less than in the Delta. But there are a lot of confounding issues that it may be due to the underlying protection in the community due to prior infections,”

Omicron spreads like wildfire.  For example, we had to call our plumber a week ago.  He has trained his teenage daughter to enter the trade.  We talked about the pandemic.  Teenagers love crowded parties (well I did, and so did our kids). His daughter  told us that apparently one irresponsible kid came to a party while sick in the early stages of what turned out to COVID19 and transmitted the virus to NINETEEN people.

Here is the Hong Kong experience.  It began with an aircrew member from Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., who was subsequently found to be infected with omicron.  He ate lunch at a restaurant 27 December ’21 with his family. . Five other customers later tested positive.   By the first week in March there were over 50,000 new cases each day.  Fortunately Hong Kong appears to have passed the peak with ‘only’ 20 – 30 thousand new cases each day.

The South China Morning Post of 16 March notes that 90% of Hong Kong residents have received one dose of a vaccine.  This hardly speaks well for the efficacy of whatever they received.

The Hong Kong experience has been rationalized by several reasons perhaps peculiar to Hong Kong:

l. A very low vaccination rate among the most vulnerable (e.g. over 80)

2. Very high population density — 50% of the population in Hong Kong live in public housing which is mostly very tall, very skinny high rises, due to the lack of buildable land in Hong Kong.  The elevators are a perfect way to transmit the virus.

I can’t speak to how common this is elsewhere in China.

5 days ago the number of cases in China was 1,000.  Today (16 March) I read that there were 5,100 on 15 March — https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3170631/china-reports-another-3000-covid-19-cases-latest-surge-continues?module=lead_hero_story&pgtype=homepage

So the elevator pitch is — a highly infectious virus is loose in a huge, previously uninfected population with minimal vaccine protection.

I was very worried that something like this could happen all over China in posts  written 2 and 3months ago, long before the number of cases in Hong Kong took off.  You can find my reasoning in the following post — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2022/01/15/i-hope-to-hell-i-was-wrong-about-china/   It was published 15 January ’22, and can be found below and it contains the 12 December ’21 post:

Addendum 16 Marchhttps://www.shine.cn/news/nation/2203163160/–Mainland China now has 1,860 locally transmitted cases — with most in the province next to North, but in 20 other locations all over China including Shanghai and Beijing. This is is not good news given how infectious Omicron is.

 

I hope to Hell I was wrong about China

From the South China Morning Post — 9:52pm, 15 Jan, 2022

“The Chinese capital reported its first community case of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday, with local and imported infections of the strain now detected in about half of the country’s provinces and municipalities.”

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3163525/china-braces-omicron-variant-extends-its-reach-and-lunar-new-

If true, containment, quarantine, lockdowns and isolation are hopeless.  The quote implies that they’ve already failed.

I find this very worrisome for reasons listed in a post 12 December 2021, a copy of which is below.

The short answer is that the mainland Chinese are immunologic virgins to exposure to the variants of the pandemic virus.  Hopefully their vaccines will work better against omicron than those of the west, but there is no reason to think they will.

Is China following a Smokey the Bear policy on the pandemic?

China is following a prevent pandemic virus infection policy, just as Smokey the Bear followed a prevent forrest fires policy.  The latter didn’t work out well, as although fires were prevented for a while. However, when fires did occur, they were much much worse than the smaller ones Smokey prevented.  There was much more tinder and stuff to burn.

Actually Smokey has changed his tune slightly.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokey_Bear  SmokeyBear.com’s current site has a section on “Benefits of Fire” that includes this information: “Fire managers can reintroduce fire into fire-dependent ecosystems with prescribed fire. Under specific, controlled conditions, the beneficial effects of natural fire can be recreated, fuel buildup can be reduced, and we can prevent the catastrophic losses of uncontrolled, unwanted wildfire.”

Revision 14 December 2021 — China’s policy of prevention has resulted in a Chinese population which has been vaccinated using two killed virus vaccines (Sinopharm, Coronavac).  They have not had any natural infections with the virus (aside from the original cases) as far as we know given what China has allowed out.

Infection with the virus itself exposes you to all its proteins, with your immune system responding to all of them.   Western vaccines are just to the spike protein.

It tends to be forgotten that moist cases of pandemic viral infection are asymptomatic.

Given 800K deaths  from COVID19  in the USA, how can I possibly say this is good. Here’s how :>

If you had an infection with the virus, you develop antibodies.  Nowadays, everyone who is vaccinated has antibodies so there is no point in testing for them, but what were things like in the days before vaccines?

The following is from a post July/2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html–https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/23/new-york-antibody-study-estimates-13point9percent-of-residents-have-had-the-coronavirus-cuomo-says.html.

New York State  randomly tested 3,000 people at grocery stores and shopping locations across 19 counties in 40 localities to see if they had the antibodies to fight the coronavirus, indicating they have had the virus and recovered from it. With more than 19.4 million people residents, according to U.S. Census data, the preliminary results imply that at least 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with Covid-19.They weren’t all hospitalized.

Here’s some work the same month from Queens — https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html

At a clinic in Corona, a working-class neighborhood in Queens, more than 68 percent of people tested positive for antibodies to the new coronavirus. At another clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens, that number was 56 percent. But at a clinic in Cobble Hill, a mostly white and wealthy neighborhood in Brooklyn, only 13 percent of people tested positive for antibodies.

So the disease has already to spread to half the population in some neighborhoods in Queens. If even 10% of them were sick that would have been 140,000 hospitalizations.  They didn’t happen.

OK, so a lot more people were infected than got sick.  Why is this good?

Enter the omicron variant of the pandemic virus.  It can evade the antibodies produced by all the current vaccines (in the West — protection against the Chinese killed viral vaccines CoronaVac and Sinopharm isn’t known yet).   Yet omicron doesn’t appear to produce severe disease. Thus far…

 

The CDC in the past week said of the 40+ omicron cases it knows about (there certainly are more out there, and more to come), there was one hospitalization (for two days) and no deaths.

Here is Dr. Fauci 12 December 2021 — “We’re getting anecdotal information … not necessarily confirmed yet, that the level of severity appears to be maybe a bit less than in the Delta. But there are a lot of confounding issues that it may be due to the underlying protection in the community due to prior infections,”

Source — https://nypost.com/2021/12/12/omicron-appears-to-evade-some-protection-from-covid-vaccines/

So the Chinese population may be sitting ducks for omicron having been given vaccines (Sinopharm, Coronavac) of unknown potency against omicron.  If their statistics are true there has been little or no natural infection with the pandemic virus in the Chinese population (which Fauci has just implicated is protective),.  Given that I have a son, daughter in law and two grandkids living in Hong Kong, I find this extremely disconcerting.

 

Apres Hong Kong le deluge?

With apologies to Louis XV, China may be in the early stages of what happened to Hong Kong.  In case you haven’t been following this, the Hong Kong disaster began with an aircrew member from Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., who was subsequently found to be infected with omicron.  He ate lunch at a restaurant 27 December ’21 with his family. . Five other customers later tested positive.   By the first week in March there were over 50,000 new cases each day.  Fortunately Hong Kong appears to have passed the peak with ‘only’ 20 – 30 thousand new cases each day.

I was very worried that something like this could happen all over China in posts  written 3 months ago and 2 months ago, long before the number of cases in Hong Kong took off.  You can find my reasoning in the following post — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2022/01/15/i-hope-to-hell-i-was-wrong-about-china/

It was published 15 January ’22, a copy of which can be found below  the **** .   It also contains the 12 December ’21 post as well.

As of today (14 March ’22) there are > 3,000 locally transmitted cases in China — https://www.scmp.com/coronavirus/greater-china/article/3170289/china-covid-19-cases-surge-3-times-cross-3000-most-severe?module=lead_hero_story&pgtype=homepage.

The 500,000 + infections in Hong Kong have been blamed on several factors.  I don’t know China well enough to see if the factors are widespread .

l. A very low vaccination rate among the most vulnerable (e.g. over 80)

2. Very high population density — 50% of the population in Hong Kong live in public housing which is mostly very tall, very skinny high rises, due to the lack of buildable land in Hong Kong.  The elevators are a perfect way to transmit the virus.

One story about just how infectious Omicron can be.  We had to call our plumber a week ago.  He is training his teenage daughter to enter the trade.  We talked about the pandemic.  Teenagers love crowded parties (well I did, and so did our kids).  She told us that apparently one irresponsible kid came to a party while sick in the early stages of COVID19 and transmitted it to NINETEEN people.

Given what we’ve seen on several trips to Hong Kong, Beijing  and the Great Wall, I’m not optimistic, but the Chinese are a great hardworking people and I wish them the best.

*****

I hope to Hell I was wrong about China

From the South China Morning Post — 9:52pm, 15 Jan, 2022

“The Chinese capital reported its first community case of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday, with local and imported infections of the strain now detected in about half of the country’s provinces and municipalities.”

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3163525/china-braces-omicron-variant-extends-its-reach-and-lunar-new-

If true, containment, quarantine, lockdowns and isolation are hopeless.  The quote implies that they’ve already failed.

I find this very worrisome for reasons listed in a post 12 December 2021, a copy of which is below.

The short answer is that the mainland Chinese are immunologic virgins to exposure to the variants of the pandemic virus.  Hopefully their vaccines will work better against omicron than those of the west, but there is no reason to think they will.

Is China following a Smokey the Bear policy on the pandemic?

China is following a prevent pandemic virus infection policy, just as Smokey the Bear followed a prevent forrest fires policy.  The latter didn’t work out well, as although fires were prevented for a while. However, when fires did occur, they were much much worse than the smaller ones Smokey prevented.  There was much more tinder and stuff to burn.

Actually Smokey has changed his tune slightly.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokey_Bear  SmokeyBear.com’s current site has a section on “Benefits of Fire” that includes this information: “Fire managers can reintroduce fire into fire-dependent ecosystems with prescribed fire. Under specific, controlled conditions, the beneficial effects of natural fire can be recreated, fuel buildup can be reduced, and we can prevent the catastrophic losses of uncontrolled, unwanted wildfire.”

Revision 14 December 2021 — China’s policy of prevention has resulted in a Chinese population which has been vaccinated using two killed virus vaccines (Sinopharm, Coronavac).  They have not had any natural infections with the virus (aside from the original cases) as far as we know given what China has allowed out.

Infection with the virus itself exposes you to all its proteins, with your immune system responding to all of them.   Western vaccines are just to the spike protein.

It tends to be forgotten that moist cases of pandemic viral infection are asymptomatic.

Given 800K deaths  from COVID19  in the USA, how can I possibly say this is good. Here’s how :>

If you had an infection with the virus, you develop antibodies.  Nowadays, everyone who is vaccinated has antibodies so there is no point in testing for them, but what were things like in the days before vaccines?

The following is from a post July/2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html–https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/23/new-york-antibody-study-estimates-13point9percent-of-residents-have-had-the-coronavirus-cuomo-says.html.

New York State  randomly tested 3,000 people at grocery stores and shopping locations across 19 counties in 40 localities to see if they had the antibodies to fight the coronavirus, indicating they have had the virus and recovered from it. With more than 19.4 million people residents, according to U.S. Census data, the preliminary results imply that at least 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with Covid-19.They weren’t all hospitalized.

Here’s some work the same month from Queens — https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html

At a clinic in Corona, a working-class neighborhood in Queens, more than 68 percent of people tested positive for antibodies to the new coronavirus. At another clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens, that number was 56 percent. But at a clinic in Cobble Hill, a mostly white and wealthy neighborhood in Brooklyn, only 13 percent of people tested positive for antibodies.

So the disease has already to spread to half the population in some neighborhoods in Queens. If even 10% of them were sick that would have been 140,000 hospitalizations.  They didn’t happen.

OK, so a lot more people were infected than got sick.  Why is this good?

Enter the omicron variant of the pandemic virus.  It can evade the antibodies produced by all the current vaccines (in the West — protection against the Chinese killed viral vaccines CoronaVac and Sinopharm isn’t known yet).   Yet omicron doesn’t appear to produce severe disease. Thus far…

 

The CDC in the past week said of the 40+ omicron cases it knows about (there certainly are more out there, and more to come), there was one hospitalization (for two days) and no deaths.

Here is Dr. Fauci 12 December 2021 — “We’re getting anecdotal information … not necessarily confirmed yet, that the level of severity appears to be maybe a bit less than in the Delta. But there are a lot of confounding issues that it may be due to the underlying protection in the community due to prior infections,”

Source — https://nypost.com/2021/12/12/omicron-appears-to-evade-some-protection-from-covid-vaccines/

So the Chinese population may be sitting ducks for omicron having been given vaccines (Sinopharm, Coronavac) of unknown potency against omicron.  If their statistics are true there has been little or no natural infection with the pandemic virus in the Chinese population (which Fauci has just implicated is protective),.  Given that I have a son, daughter in law and two grandkids living in Hong Kong, I find this extremely disconcerting.