The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins

Link: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/06/the-lab-leak-theory-inside-the-fight-to-uncover-covid-19s-origins

Excerpt:

Wuhan is also home to China’s foremost coronavirus research laboratory, housing one of the world’s largest collections of bat samples and bat-virus strains. The Wuhan Institute of Virology’s lead coronavirus researcher, Shi Zhengli, was among the first to identify horseshoe bats as the natural reservoirs for SARS-CoV, the virus that sparked an outbreak in 2002, killing 774 people and sickening more than 8,000 globally. After SARS, bats became a major subject of study for virologists around the world, and Shi became known in China as “Bat Woman” for her fearless exploration of their caves to collect samples. More recently, Shi and her colleagues at the WIV have performed high-profile experiments that made pathogens more infectious. Such research, known as “gain-of-function,” has generated heated controversy among virologists.

…..

By spring of 2021, the debate over COVID-19’s origins had become so noxious that death threats were flying in both directions.

In a CNN interview on March 26, Dr. Redfield, the former CDC director under Trump, made a candid admission: “I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped.” Redfield added that he believed the release was an accident, not an intentional act. In his view, nothing that happened since his first calls with Dr. Gao changed a simple fact: The WIV needed to be ruled out as a source, and it hadn’t been.

Author(s): Katherine Eban

Publication Date: 3 June 2021

Publication Site: Vanity Fair

St. Francis Dam Disaster – Frank Black and the Catholics

Description:

It’s not just a song, it’s a history lesson!

St. Francis Dam Disaster by Frank Black and the Catholics off of the album Dog in the Sand (2001 Cooking Vinyl)

Many of the pictures were culled from https://scvhistory.com/scvhistory/stfrancis.htm

They have a lot of info on the St. Francis Dam disaster and it’s worth checking out if you want to see more.

Image:

Author(s): Skippy .Bob

Publication Date: 1 December 2013

Publication Site: YouTube

CDC’s slow, cautious messaging on Covid-19 seems out of step with the moment, public health experts say

Excerpt:

When the CDC issued new guidelines recently on when people still need to wear masks, the guidelines were seen as so conservative that they prompted a primetime rant on “The Daily Show.”

“I know science is difficult … but who’s running messaging at the CDC?” asked the show’s host, Trevor Noah.

Some public health experts are asking the same question. Most experts interviewed for this story say the agency has struggled to take advantage of the latest scientific findings to communicate as rapidly as possible with the American public. And when the guidance is issued, it tends to be overly cautious.

….

Still, public health officials say the conservative nature of the agency’s approach to Covid is a marked departure from how it deals with other major public health issues, like HIV and opioid use disorder.

…..

Multiple experts told STAT that they fear the CDC’s recommendations are becoming irrelevant for most Americans. They worry, too, that guidelines, like the CDC’s advice on masking, so seriously underplay the benefits of getting vaccinated that they risk dissuading people from getting a shot in the first place.

Author(s): Nicholas Florko

Publication Date: 11 May 2021

Publication Site: Stat News

Insuring Another Disaster

Excerpt:

Leave it to California lawmakers, however, to cast aside thousands of years of complex commercial history in a misguided attempt to fix an admittedly legitimate insurance problem. Thanks to Proposition 103, a 1988 ballot measure, California already has a distorted insurance market that gives the insurance commissioner czar-like powers to approve rate increases and impose rate decreases.

Because of that law, insurers have a tough time adjusting rates to manage their risks. It’s a long, cumbersome, and antagonistic government process to adjust rates. Their other lever for ensuring solvency is to reduce their underwriting risks by, say, not writing fire-insurance policies to homeowners who live in high fire-risk areas or car insurance policies to drivers with multiple DUIs.

….

Instead, California Assemblymember Marc Levine, D-Marin County, has introduced Assembly Bill 1522, which would prohibit insurers from canceling insurance policies solely because a home or business is located in a high-risk wildfire area. It epitomizes California’s economically illiterate edict approach.

Author(s): Steven Greenhut

Publication Date: 29 April 2021

Publication Site: The American Spectator

A Misleading C.D.C. Number

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/11/briefing/outdoor-covid-transmission-cdc-number.html

Excerpt:

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines last month for mask wearing, it announced that “less than 10 percent” of Covid-19 transmission was occurring outdoors. Media organizations repeated the statistic, and it quickly became a standard description of the frequency of outdoor transmission.

….

That benchmark “seems to be a huge exaggeration,” as Dr. Muge Cevik, a virologist at the University of St. Andrews, said. In truth, the share of transmission that has occurred outdoors seems to be below 1 percent and may be below 0.1 percent, multiple epidemiologists told me. The rare outdoor transmission that has happened almost all seems to have involved crowded places or close conversation.

Saying that less than 10 percent of Covid transmission occurs outdoors is akin to saying that sharks attack fewer than 20,000 swimmers a year. (The actual worldwide number is around 150.) It’s both true and deceiving.

Author(s): David Leonhardt

Publication Date: 11 May 2021

Publication Site: NY Times

The Pandemic Will Likely End In One Of These Four Ways

Link: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/danvergano/coronavirus-pandemic-vaccines-endings?utm_source=digg&amp%3Butm_medium=email

Excerpt:

By June, most US adults get vaccinated. The shots halt the spread of SARS-CoV-2, even the more transmissible variants. And people feel safe shopping, traveling, and visiting each other, almost like they did before the pandemic.

This is the best outcome — and it isn’t completely far-fetched. Half of US adults have received at least one shot. Even with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine paused, more than 3 million shots are being administered a day; at that rate, every adult American could receive one by late June.

Israel offers a glimpse of this future. There, a fast-paced campaign had immunized more than half of the population by mid-April. The results have been striking in the country of 9 million, with new cases falling to around 200 a day, 2% of the January peak. Starting this weekend, an outdoor mask mandate will be lifted.

Author(s): Dan Vergano

Publication Date: 21 April 2021

Publication Site: Buzzfeed News

Vaccine Efficacy and the Immunity Time Spans

Link: https://polimath.substack.com/p/vaccine-efficacy-and-the-immunity

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Let’s refer back to the Pfizer study submitted to the FDA. In that study, 18,555 people were vaccinated and 18,533 people received the placebo injection. In these groups, 7 days after the second dose was administered, we saw that the vaccinated group got infected at only 5% the rate that the placebo group was infected.

Furthermore, this is the number of cases we see over the course of a two month study. So those 9 people out of 18,555 were not symptomatic and infectious that whole time, but only for a few weeks.

So, to take CNN’s example and re-imagine it for the reality we have with this data.

Let’s say 1 million people are travelling. If everyone is unvaccinated (and the window of infection is roughly one week), there will be about 1,100 infected travelers.

If, however, everyone is vaccinated, there will be about 60 infected travelers and their chance of infecting you (my dear vaccinated friend) is reduced substantially.

Author(s): PoliMath

Publication Date: 13 April 2021

Publication Site: Marginally Compelling on substack

J&J Covid-19 Vaccine Pause Driven by Risk of Mistreating Blood Clots

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/j-j-covid-19-vaccine-was-paused-over-blood-clot-treatment-concerns-11618777554

Excerpt:

U.S. health authorities came close to simply warning about a blood-clotting risk from Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, but they decided to recommend pausing use out of concern doctors would improperly treat the condition, people familiar with the matter said.

Over the previous four weeks, U.S. health officials had become alarmed about similar blood-clotting conditions in Europe involving a Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca PLC, the people said. The officials dug into a U.S. vaccine safety database and identified the cases of great concern, but they debated what action to take.

By the night of April 12, the officials resolved that urgent action was needed, the people said. Four of six women in the U.S. who developed the clots days after vaccination had initially been given blood thinner heparin, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its use could have worsened the patients’ condition, the people said.

Author(s): Thomas M. Burton and Betsy McKay

Publication Date: 18 April 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Blood clots as prevalent with Pfizer and Moderna vaccine as with AstraZeneca’s: study

Link: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/blood-clots-as-prevalent-with-pfizer-and-moderna-vaccine-as-with-astrazenecas-report-2021-04-15

Excerpt:

study by Oxford University found the number of people who receive blood clots after getting vaccinated with a coronavirus vaccine are about the same for those who get Pfizer PFE, 2.43% and Moderna MRNA, 6.67% vaccines as they are for the AstraZeneca AZN, -0.16% vaccine that was produced with the university’s help. According to the study, 4 in 1 million people experience cerebral venous thrombosis after getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, versus 5 in 1 million people for the AstraZeneca vaccine. The risk of getting CVT is much higher for those who get COVID-19 — 39 in a million patients — than it is for those who get vaccinated. AstraZeneca’s vaccine use has been halted or limited in many countries on blood clot concerns.

Author(s): Steve Goldstein

Publication Date: 15 April 2021

Publication Site: Marketwatch

Covid 4/9: Another Vaccine Passport Objection

Graphic:

Excerpt:

I haven’t said this explicitly in a while, so it’s worth saying it again: If you are not vaccinated, the current level of risk out there is much higher than the graphs and charts naively imply. On top of that, the cost of getting Covid now is much higher than it was earlier, both because the new dominant strain is deadlier, and also because the main benefit of getting infected – that you can’t get infected again – no longer matters much since you’ll have vaccine access soon either way and things aren’t so bad out there that prevention is hopeless. You won’t even be able to skip the vaccine, due to people requiring it (plus it’s a good idea anyway, since the cost is trivial).

Not only have we vaccinated over a quarter of the population, and given one dose to over a third of the population, we’ve done so with an emphasis on those most at risk.

That means that if you’re in the remaining two thirds, not only is your risk a third higher than it looks (e.g. almost all the infections will happen to unvaccinated people) but also the risk of death is more than double what it appears, as those at risk have largely been vaccinated early.

Author(s): TheZvi

Publication Date: 9 April 2021

Publication Site: TheZvi

Rational Ignorance and the Protection Gap: Is There a Cure?

Link: https://www.soa.org/sections/reinsurance/reinsurance-newsletter/2021/march/rsn-2021-03-poon-affat/

Excerpt:

The phrase “coverage gap,” heard often from life insurance company executives, is defined as  “the shortfall in the amount of life insurance cover necessary to maintain the current living standards of dependents.” Life insurance companies devote extraordinary amounts of time, effort, and expense trying to educate underinsured individuals about the need to protect themselves and their families from this gap by buying more cover. Could our industry not be addressing one of the key issues leading to the lack of consumer enthusiasm for our products?

Here’s the issue: insurance products and contracts are not consumer-friendly. To the average person, life and living benefits products are at least as byzantine as Brazil’s political system, and the language of insurance contracts could almost be considered an actual dialect. Insurance is thus fertile ground for the manifestation of rational ignorance among potential customers, who are already known to be more likely to pay attention to information about it if it comes from friends and social media posts. (I pity the buyer researching concepts and options such as pure protection, accumulation, critical illness, disability income, or long-term care.)

Author(s): Ronald Poon-Affat

Publication Date: March 2021

Publication Site: Reinsurance News at the Society of Actuaries