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☕️ Coffee & Covid ☙ Monday, January 3, 2022 ☙ WHEN ROBOTS ATTACK 🦠
Omicron is spreading like crazy but deaths and hospitalizations are low; the Times shows the new variant seems to have an affinity for the jabbed; the Netherlands goes full booster; and more...
It’s the first Monday in 2022 and things look great. Omicron continues to spread like wildfire — especially among the injected — but people just aren’t getting as sick. Scott Gottlieb dunks on cloth masks; HHS relents on monoclonal antibodies and will let states order them again; a Rose Parade float makes a surprising metaphor; the US hits a new record level of Omicron cases but hospitalizations remain under control (again); the New York Times publishes a pair of infographics that are especially interesting when you look at them together; the Netherlands goes full booster, shooting for the record; I explain my theory on why the CDC shortened Covid quarantines; Eric Adams takes office as New York City’s new mayor; and the new Florida weekly report is out.
🗞*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 🗞
😷 Yesterday on Face the Nation, former FDA commissioner and new Pfizer executive Scott Gottlieb said something that would have gotten him canceled and fired twelve months ago: cloth masks DON’T WORK. He didn’t mince words:
> “Cloth masks aren’t going to provide a lot of protection. That’s the bottom line. This is an airborne illness. We now understand that. And, a cloth mask is not going to protect you from a virus that spreads through airborne transmission.”
You don’t say.
Here’s the problem, Scott. Since the Experts have either been lying the entire time or completely wrong about simple science like cloth masks, whilst encouraging us to wear them inside, outside, at the restaurant, at the ball field, on a bus, with a goat, at breakfast, in the shower, morning, noon, and night, and since all of that medical performance theater has now turned out to have been completely useless, we are wondering why we should listen to ANY of your ideas now. And don’t say “in a pandemic you do the best you can.” Stephen Petty was talking about airborne viruses and mask failure over a year ago and you just kept prattling on with the cloth mask nonsense like you couldn’t hear him or something.
So get bent.
💊 After Florida’s Surgeon General Joe Ladapo sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on December 29 requesting monoclonal antibodies, pointing out that while some mABs may not work for Omicron, there are a lot of other variants still out there and patients that will benefit from the mABs, Joe Biden said there was no federal solution to the virus, and the CDC reversed its estimate of the prevalence of Omicron, HHS has now backed down.
On New Year’s Eve, HHS announced that:
> “In light of recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical guidelines published on Dec. 30, 2021, and the significant variability in prevalence of the Omicron Variant of Concern (VOC), all states and territories can continue to order both Lilly (bamlanivimab plus etesevimab) and Regeneron (casirivimab plus imdevimab) monoclonal antibody products from HHS based on allocated amounts for clinically appropriate use.”
In other words, the federal government has now unlocked the stores of monoclonal antibodies. We’d been hearing reports of clinics running out of mABs from all over the country after the federal government locked them down. I’ve also been hearing many anecdotes of folks receiving the mABs and feeling better, Omicron surge or not. I’ve yet to hear one single report of anyone getting the mABs early and not quickly improving.
🔥 The “creepiest float” award at the New Year’s Rose Parade goes to an over-the-top effort captioned “Vaccinate Our World! (VOW)”. Upon close study, it appears they may have been shooting for a Jetson’s theme, but it came out absolutely bizarre, the coerced vaccine metaphor didn’t jive or sync with Jetsons’ canon, none of the Jetsons characters were present, and, well, it was sort of terrifying and definitely NOT whimsical.
The float features a giant 12-foot-tall robot nurse waving a colossal syringe, with a six-foot needle, and a flat expressionless face that says nothing less than, “this is your future.”
The human float riders are two scientists … or space doctors … or something … who are “flying” in a big silver saucer. In other words, they are stereotypical space aliens. Hmm. A float with giant robots armed with massive needles and aliens … both things that stereotypically ATTACK human beings! Not an especially good metaphor for friendly helpful medical care.
The real message though is discovered in the float’s ultra-high production values. The float is a Hollywood-caliber special effect, all its elements carefully designed, obviously carefully crafted, including the best custom materials money can buy, assembled by a high-end studio in LA someplace. In other words, it is obviously VERY EXPENSIVE. So the real, hidden connotation or subtext is, “there’s a lot of money in them thar’ vaccines!”
🔥 Omicron continues to spike. The U.S. hit a new record high of 580,000 Covid cases on Thursday, breaking its previous record for the second consecutive day and nearly doubling last winter’s all-time high. Still, hospitalizations, while growing, are increasing much more slowly than are cases, and Covid-related deaths actually fell last week.
A double set of New York Times’ infographics over the weekend unintentionally show what appears to be a direct correlation between high vaccination levels in the US and high case numbers. I checked my own county — Alachua — and sure enough, we have a high vaccination rate AND ALSO a high infection rate, while the surrounding counties are the exact opposite. Weird.
I say weird because you would have thought that high-vaccination-rate areas would have LOWER infection rates, or at least the same as low-injection-rate areas. So. Dang. Weird.
All reports suggest the vast majority of the infected are injected people. Fortunately Omicron is very mild. Injected folks are being hospitalized, but at lower rates, their cases are less serious, and they are leaving the hospital sooner. But .. what if it had gone the other way? What if the new variant HADN’T been milder? Then all the injected folks would be … what? Dying in droves?
I don’t know, maybe this is something the FDA should look into? Why are do injected seem more susceptible to a heavily mutated variant than the uninjected? Doesn’t that seem like something they might want to figure out? Oh well. What do I know. Let’s just keep doing it their way.
💉 The Netherlands is going there. I guess somebody had to do it. On Thursday, Newsweek reported on the Netherlands’ new plan to administer FOUR boosters — six shots total — to all its citizens. They government has ordered the shots on a rolling six-month schedule, depending on when a Netherlander got his first shot. So they could get up to three more shots in 2022, if their schedule works out right. Or wrong, depending how you look at it.
The article says that the nordic country has already bought 18 million Pfizer does and is under contract to purchase another 17.5 million. According to Newsweek, the country is currently 89-percent vaccinated and 20 percent boosted.
🔥 The independent data analysts that I have followed for 20 months — who have been right more often than the corporate experts — are predicting a winter-wave peak sometime in the second week of January, but suggesting it will be a wild ride. This would be consistent with the short, sharp peak we’ve seen with the Omicron wave in other places like South Africa. We just have to ride the bull a little bit longer.
🔥 I’ve been thinking about the CDC’s relaxing of quarantine restrictions during record case reports and a substantial winter wave. Obviously it makes no sense from a science perspective. In fact, the CDC has already taken a lot of heat for the move, even from corporate media and its experts. But the wacky experts in Altanta are not backing down. Why not?
Over the weekend, I heard from one of my clients. He’d been laid off for being uninjected, but when the CMS Mandate was stayed, he got hired back as an independent contractor. Last week his boss offered him double pay if he’d take extra shifts. Why? Because his fully-injected co-workers are largely out sick.
So … it occurred to me that, since Omicron prefers the injected, had the CDC stuck with its original 14-day quarantine, employers who followed the guidance and enforced vaccine mandates could have most of their workforce out for up to 18 days (three weeks plus two weekend days on each side). That could put a lot of folks out of business, or in the uncomfortable position of — like my client’s employer — having to hire back their uninjected workers at huge premiums.
That wouldn’t be good for business.
So, it’s possible, even likely, that the CDC was NOT responding to the Delta Airlines letter or to the NFL, but instead was trying to avoid a wholesale, nationwide disaster where the CDC would ultimately be the one who got blamed. So they just changed the rules, again. It’s nice when you are completely unaccountable and can change the rules whenever you want. Nice and convenient.
💉 On his second day in office, New York City’s new Mayor Eric Adams said that city workers might have to get boosters to be “fully vaccinated” and keep their jobs. And last week, delusional governor Kathy Hochul of New York announced that 600,000 public university students in that state will be required to get boosters to stay in school. Haha! College kids will put up with anything.
Reporting on the story, the New York Times boldly asserted that “The [Omicron] variant of the coronavirus has shown it can evade vaccines, though studies indicate Moderna and Pfizer are likely to offer substantial protection from the variant.”
In English, the Times is saying: (1) the injections don’t work against Omicron, and (2) nobody knows if the boosters will work, either. So let’s boost, of course.
📊 *COVID IN FLORIDA AND ALACHUA COUNTY* 📊
The new weekly report came out over the weekend, and it looks about like what we expected, given what we know about Omicron. Cases have now more Ethan doubled over the previous week (298K cases versus 125K) — “doubling!” — and the positivity ratio is now at an extremely high 26.5% — meaning almost a third of tests are coming back positive.
Florida’s R-naught is possibly at an all-time high of 3.61, meaning that Omicron is ripping through the state at an unprecedented rate.
But the good news is that even with the blockbuster “cases,” hospitalizations are only up to 4,933, which is less than a third of the summer peak of 17,198. That’s significant, because during the summer peak, Florida hit only 151,000 cases. Right now we have DOUBLE that many “cases” — twice the summer peak — and fewer than a third as many hospitalized.
Even better, the deaths report continues to scrape the bottom with 32 reported for the week. At the summer peak, 389 deaths were reported on half as many cases.
Have a terrific Monday and enjoy the sensation of having put 2021 behind us. I think you deserve an extra cup of coffee today. Back at ya’ tomorrow.
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