A Journal of the Plague Year (21)

April 6, 2020

How real values change overnight. Suddenly, some object performing a role in the our world that never gets a second thought, is elevated in status beyond all previous measure.

And so it should be. Guaranteed to reduce particulate intake by 95%, it is a good start to reducing the transmissibility of the disease.

On that front, have you noticed that all the eco-babble has suddenly stopped? All those beardy-weirdy sandal-wearers droning on about “natural healing” and the problems with evil “chemicals” have retreated to the nearest flat rocks to hide under?

An illuminating article from the science20.com website, mainly bloggers from the American Council on Science and Health,[here] [promoting science and debunking junk since 1978] points out that no matter how many people talk about the “virtues” of all these organic or “natural” materials:

…Environmental Working Group recently rolled out its annual Dirty Dozen list of foods that … wait, did they?

This year, no one seems to know or care if a group of lawyers paid an intern to go through USDA pesticide data and did simple arithmetic to declare how ‘toxic’ fruit was unless the pesticides on it were made by their clients.

Instead of being paralyzed by irrational fear, the way organic industry groups make money, people are paralyzed by something real; SARS-CoV-2, the 2019 coronavirus that set off a microbiological bomb in Wuhan, China and causes the COVID-19 disease that has spread across the world. Go to a store right now and lots of Seventh Generation brand “alternatives” can be found on shelves but good luck finding Purell, Clorox, and Lysol. It turns out when people are actually at risk the public wants things that work, not that have a “natural” halo.

No kidding! All the purity talk evaporates like the morning mist when a real situation demands real action. What your grandmother told you is true and still works, and all the Whole Foods organic eco-drivel is no more. Again, the hold-up is always the inability of bureaucracy to adjust to real-time thinking.

On another science front, a paper from Australia on a possible drug treatment for the coronavirus says:

Although several clinical trials are now underway to test possible therapies, the worldwide response to the COVID-19 outbreak has been largely limited to monitoring/containment. We report here that Ivermectin, an FDA-approved anti-parasitic previously shown to have broad spectrum anti-viral activity in vitro, is an inhibitor of the causative virus (SARS-CoV-2), with
a single addition to Vero-hSLAM cells 2 hours post infection with SARS-CoV-2 able to effect ~5000-fold reduction in viral RNA at 48 h. Ivermectin therefore warrants further investigation for possible benefits in humans.

This is interesting in light of the reported encouraging treatments using hydroxychloroquine from around the world.

All of this is pretty much a shotgun approach to trying out various drugs as therapeutics and/or prophylactics, but there is no time to lose in emergency response operations, particularly global situations:

March 28, 2020 Updates: Dr. Vladimir Zelenko has now treated 699 coronavirus patients with 100% success and ZERO deaths using Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate, Zinc and Z-Pak.
The deadly Coronavirus pandemic continues to claim thousands of lives around the world. That’s the bad news. The good news is, many doctors from around the world, including the United States are successfully treating coronavirus patients with great success. Studies in France, China, and Australia, found that a combination of two anti-malaria drugs Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin (Z-Pak) have shown to cure coronavirus patients within six days with a 100% success rate.

The jury is still out on that but the amount of research that is taking place in days, not weeks or months, is truly astounding. One of the results of this pandemic is going to be a thorough revision and purging of the peer-review process for scientific publications.

In the current frenzy of the pandemic, many mistakes will be made, but, as they say, perfection is the enemy of the good. In our situation, it has never been more apt.

Rebel Yell

A Journal of the Plague Year (20)

April 5, 2020

There has been the predictable whining about President Trump from the usual suspects in the media and the from the lesser political figures in Canada over the shortage of protective masks and the direction to the 3M Company in the US. It may have escaped the notice of the media that the President’s first responsibility is to the American people, just the same as the first responsibility of the Prime Minister in Canada is to the Canadian people.

Front-line health workers, nurses and doctors are in desperate need of protective equipment in both countries, and many other countries besides. How would they feel if a company in Canada was making protective masks and shipping them abroad when our nurses, doctors, paramedics and other essential workers went without? It is true that we can help each other as nations, brothers and sisters in fact, but the media need to get a grip on reality and quit their unfounded griping.

To turn to more relevant topics, the ability of the health-care system to deal with a surge capacity of new patients. Some interesting information is available in Wikipedia. One has to be circumspect about the reliability of information in Wikipedia, particularly with politically contentious topics when it can be plainly deceptive, but health care may be a relatively innocuous topic; moreover, there are many original sources to check.
Many countries like to brag about their health care systems. Most shouldn’t.

Taking a look at one measure, hospital beds per 1 000 people, at the top in ranking are Japan and South Korea with 13.05 and 12.27. Interestingly, Russia comes in at number 3 with 8.05 (all figures are for 2017) and Canada appears at number 36 with 2.52. The occupancy rate of beds, that is the number of beds occupied in normal times, is best in the US at 64%; Japan comes in at 75% and Canada—at 91.6%. Note that the lower numbers indicate more available capacity. This means that our system is working at almost full capacity at the best of times with little room for a surge in patients.

Also of great interest is that the available number of hospital beds per 1 000 people in almost all of the developed countries has, between 2013 and 2017, been continuously declining. In terms of percentage decline per year Canada comes in at number 8 with a change of –1.8% [2017/2016 figures]. This is not encouraging when we hear so much political jabber about our health care system when compared to other countries.

Even with these problems facing our doctors and nurses, it has been made worse by the slavish worship of political correctness. As Chris Selley pointed out in the National Post:

…As recently as Jan. 29, when it was obvious the Chinese had a big problem on their hands, Theresa Tam, the chief federal public health officer, was rejecting calls for a ban on travellers from China saying “racism, discrimination and stigmatizing language are unacceptable and very hurtful.”
More hurtful than dying in an ICU gasping for breath with fibrotic lungs, alone because your family is forbidden to be with you?
For nearly a month, our own prime minister was more worried about showing how “woke” he is on racism than safeguarding public health.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said allegations the virus was spreading from China was “fake news” and claimed “we can’t let fear or ignorance triumph over our values of community …”

And, don’t forget, while President Trump was making the right decision, as has been verified by Dr Fauci in the US, he was being excoriated for it by you-know-who.

What was that about “accountability”? Some people are going to get it good and hard when this thing is over.

Rebel Yell

A Journal of the Plague Year (18)

April 3, 2020

Talking of sorting out the men from the boys, Premier Doug Ford of Ontario continues to be a voice of reason and common sense; someone with a handle on reality. A frequent target of the bloviating pseuds in our Fake News media, he seems to have risen to the occasion. On today’s news conference he laid out in brutal detail exactly what the epidemiological models are predicting for the development of the corona virus in Ontario, based on what we know now. Addressing the public he said, “You will know what I know.” [here]

It shows a very sound understanding of ordinary folks. Now everybody knows what they have to prepare for. The secret of delivering bad news is that it should be told as soon as possible and in as much detail as possible. Failure to do that destroys credibility later when it is needed more than ever. Continual obfuscation destroys credibility faster than the morning sun dispels mist. There’s a lesson here for he-of-little-credibility Trudeau.

Based on knowledge of the events in Italy and Spain and other countries, Ontario is looking at between 2000 and 15 000 fatalities. Not pleasant, and very difficult for people who have never had any experience of disaster situations. However, the only way to deal with disaster situations is to have the maximum amount of information disseminated as soon as it becomes available.

Neither politicians nor scientists are magicians, no matter what the ignorant journalistic rabble may think. Speaking of which (no more than necessary) after Premier Ford’s presser, three senior doctors in the public health field gave a more detailed rendition of Ford’s address speaking directly to and from the modeling data and projections. In an ice-cool way they exposed the presumptions and ignorance of certain journalists. It would be nice to think that in a national emergency the media would be interested in conveying as much essential information to the public as possible, but no. Not now. It’s always… “Why didn’t you see the future three months ago?” Why is it that journalists can’t seem to fathom that opening a book on biology or math might, just might, teach them something?

In terms of people who need to be spanked openly and rudely in public, President Trump wrote to Democrat Senator (Up-)Chuck Schumer after his whining about leadership from the White House. Schumer wouldn’t know leadership if it bit him in the ass. Trump’s response was a much needed response––a flamethrower of a reply that was absolutely necessary. So many others need it too. I include it in full for your joy….

I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Rebel Yell

A Journal of the Plague Year (17)

April 2, 2020

Lead on, Emperor Trump.

But I want to focus on events in Britain today, more than usual.

The political class, the trendies, and the usual shower of the wokerati, love to trash the Daily Mail, a right-wing (somewhat) paper in the UK. Actually, the Mail has been doing some pretty good reporting of late concerning the developing public health fiasco in Britain. If the Grauniad morons are obsessing about the impact of coronavirus on transsexuals, or some other absurdity, at least the Mail is looking at some of the events that are happening on the ground.

The UK Government has been saying all day (for the past few days) that testing will be ramped up to x thousand per day (it doesn’t matter what x is, it’s nowhere close). Only a few thousand health service personnel have been tested for the virus today, after weeks of expanding case load. Meanwhile, Germany has been testing half a million a week already. How so? What’s the hold up?

Apparently, Public Health England, a soviet-style bureaucratic behemoth, is solely responsible for conducting biosample testing in the UK, and a new facility was supposed to be up and running to deal with problems like this. Actually it hasn’t even been finished yet.

Further, there were no contingency plans to deal with such a situation in the event of a catastrophe like coronavirus. Further, there are hundreds of small biotech companies, university laboratories and scientific institutions that are capable of conducting testing at the local level with rapid turnaround times, thereby dispensing with the need to send test samples to some centralized Ministry of Bugs in Little Berserkly, England.

As the Mail reports:

It is, therefore, scandalous to discover yesterday that officials at Public Health England have repeatedly failed to take up multiple offers from some of the country’s leading scientific organisations willing to help expand the testing programme.
One came from Oxford University’s Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, whose head, Professor Matthew Freeman, complained yesterday that repeated offers to provide specialised testing equipment and expert laboratory staff to PHE had been ignored.
The virus test requires a PCR machine (polymerase chain reaction) to detect the presence of the virus. Apparently, these machines are widely available, but are being little used.
One came from Oxford University’s Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, whose head, Professor Matthew Freeman, complained yesterday that repeated offers to provide specialised testing equipment and expert laboratory staff to PHE had been ignored.
Of our machines there was only one of that type, and the army came and collected it and took it off to Milton Keynes. But we have another 118 machines that can broadly do the same job, but they don’t appear to be part of PHE’s plans.’
The Francis Crick Institute in London has supplied five PCR machines to Public Health England, but is understood to have dozens more sitting idle inside its labs. The Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham is testing 200 samples a day but its director said yesterday ‘we could probably treble that’ if only someone bothered to ask.
Many medical experts blame PHE’s reluctance to accept help on a mixture of control freakery and incompetence among senior staff.
For example, whereas other countries weeks ago took the sensible decision to relax the rules on which laboratories can carry out coronavirus tests, in order to get as many as possible done, PHE chose to follow a tightly controlled approach.

In a national, nay, international emergency, it beggars belief to see bureaucrats behaving in this way.

Tim Colbourn, associate professor of global health epidemiology at University College London, has called for PHE to now hand over control to local authorities and private sector providers. ‘All the national capacity needs to be used for this effort,’ he said. ‘You could ramp it up a hundredfold… This is a national emergency.’ PHE seems, however, to be more interested in ticking boxes. A vast testing facility in Milton Keynes, supposedly operational since last week, is in fact still in a ‘trial’ period.
There are also claims that PHE decided to destroy thousands of swabs sent by GPs who suspected their patients had contracted the disease, before they could be analysed, because they did not meet strict criteria.
‘If they had looked at those swabs earlier instead of throwing them away, we could have got a handle on this thing much earlier,’ one GP told The Daily Telegraph.
Meanwhile at least some of PHE’s reluctance to requisition university and commercial laboratories appears to stem from a politically-motivated hostility towards private sector involvement in the healthcare system.
‘Their top staff of course like their fatcat salaries, but on other issues their world view is basically Corbynite,’ complains one healthcare expert.

The entire decision-making structure in Public Health England (PHE) is built on a centralized soviet-style model of central control. Fossilized management, incompetent bureaucrats very likely unqualified in medicine, biology or any scientific discipline, have been promoted into a civil service nomenklatura where they are responsible to no-one, least of all the people they are supposed to serve.

Completely ignorant of how any emergency response operation must work, where decision-making and response capabilities have to be delegated to the responders on the ground as far as possible, they have created an organization unfit for purpose and, what is worse, is paralyzed and apparently incapable of responding even in a national emergency.

Public Health England is a national disgrace as are the people who head it. When this thing is over, the papers, investigations and PhD theses written on it will be essays of an organizational disaster.

Rebel Yell

A Journal of the Plague Year (16)

I’ll start with a few links right off…

Dr Bhattacharya on how the ignorance of the number of possible infected people who have antibodies in their blood (but may never have developed disease) is essential to knowing how widespread the disease is and what the infected fatality rate is. This greatly affects how many people are now basically immune. Immune people are free to go back to work.

In news from the Back of Beyond in the Frozen North, Ottawa, our responders are dealing with pretty much the same problems they all are around the world: bureaucratic delays and red tape.

An article in the Ottawa Citizen says that many of the shortfall problems are due to various shortfalls that….

“…have been exacerbated by the country’s heavy reliance on a network of foreign-based suppliers who make everything from laboratory equipment to specialized throat swabs used to extract specimens. Post COVID-19, the idea of developing vital technologies in-country will resonate profoundly.” No kidding.

And in Britain, the land of the National Health Service, “the envy of the world”, the situation is way more chaotic and paralyzed. Here again, the fault seems to lie with a Soviet style of decision making. Since the health service is run by a bureaucracy, it us populated by the kind of people who cannot make a decision in an emergency because they have been trained to think only in terms of regulations and paper work¬¬¬—not in terms of the lives they have to protect. There is no capacity in the organization for innovation, no matter how much prattle there is in gov-speak about it.

As an article in the Daily Mail pointed out, when NHS staff arrived at work expecting to be tested…

And even though there were empty spaces at the testing bays NHS staff were refused entry as they did not have an appointment. A doctor flashed his NHS laminated ID pass at the security guard but was told to turn around and leave.
The medic, who did not want to be named, told MailOnline he had a letter from his head of department requesting a test but without an email from Public Health England with a specific appointment time he would not be tested.

This kind of soviet-style paralysis beggars belief, but it is the current arrangement of much the British health service.

[Meanwhile in the US, federal regulations on centralized testing have been rapidly swept aside to allow all state, local and private sector laboratories to carry out testing were possible.]

This why the private sector companies have been saying that have the materials and resources to deliver what the NHS wants, but red tape is holding things up. Now? Surely, in a global emergency, this can be swept aside for once. One has to wonder what material is between the ears of some of these bureaucrats—it’s not brains. President Trump in the US has been showing the way on this. The “We want it not now, but yesterday” kind of approach.

And something one would have never thought possible even a few weeks ago, “Russian Aid Aircraft Land In New York”. We are living in strange times.

And last, but not least, nothing could be complete without mentioning the cretins at CNN:

In an attempt to squeeze the Covid-19 crisis for all its worth, networks like CNN are letting agenda-driven celebs such as Sean Penn and Stephen King exploit the situation to promote themselves as offering real expertise.
Even quarantines in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak have not been enough to keep celebrities from virtue-signaling and preaching to the rest of the world.
From bizarre renditions of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ to messages from their mansions and hottubs shaming others for daring to live lives during this pandemic, one could even argue celebrities are more insufferable right now than they have ever been.
What makes matters worse is a mainstream media that can’t get enough of it. Not only do they want to cover every celebrity’s coronavirus messages with puffpieces, but they also want to prop these people up as experts that we should be listening to.

Thank you RT.

Rebel Yell

A Journal of the Plague Year (15)

One of the things we’re learning in this crisis is that so many organizations, particularly international organizations so beloved of the progressives, have shown themselves to be absolutely worthless.

The World Health Organization (WHO), belatedly calling for the measures it opposed only weeks ago (such as travel restrictions) at the behest of their communist masters in China, is now looked upon as a leading light. How short memories are.

And, in a very revealing and penetrating article in National Review, the timeline of the incompetence and catastrophe is laid out clearly.  It was well known in China in December of 2019, that there was a new, menacing pneumonia on the loose in Wuhan.

I won’t go into detail here, you should read the whole article. It reveals how the WHO has been just a mouthpiece for Chinese communist propaganda, and, as a result, Western nations have been stymied in their attempts to come to grips with this problem. Its head, Dr Tedros, has long been associated with Marxist revolutionary movements in Ethiopia that were responsible for untold deaths. He was and is in the pay of the Chinese communists. However, we’ll hold that for later. Now is the time to concentrate forces on the biological problem. Yet again, President Trump is showing himself to be a leader; a leader adapts fluidly to rapidly changing circumstances, without being bound by dogma. The White House press conferences show that. However, they also reflect the true nature of the Fake News Media. Repeatedly, CNN, the Cuckoo’s Nest network, would cut away from President Trump and the doctors on the task forces, to go to some fatuous nonentity for “opinion” or “interpretation”. In a time of national emergency who wants to listen to some bloviating halfwit from the world of pinko irrelevancy when we need facts about what is going on on the ground?

Esteemed idiot, Rachel Madcow, on MSNBC, was driveling on about how the US hospital ships Comfort and Mercy would not be arriving “for weeks” when live TV showed them arriving in New York and LA at that time. Truly a Comical Ali moment for the drivel network! There should be handouts of special awards, the New York Times Walter Duranty Awards for Mendacity in Journalism, with a special mention for Rachel Madcow.

As they say in a potential airline disaster, “brace for impact”, the next couple of weeks will be the make or break.

Rebel Yell

A Journal of the Plague Year (14)

March 30th, 2020

This pandemic is certainly sorting out the men from boys. It’s also bringing out the best and, tragically, the worst in people. There will be a reckoning.

In Canada, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, a favorite figure of ridicule by the Fake News media, has stepped up to the plate and is receiving a good deal of praise from across the country—and the political spectrum—for his calm and focused response to the crisis. In the US, President Trump seems, likewise, to have adjusted rapidly and is taking charge. On the other hand, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, after wasting months on a spiteful, pointless “impeachment” process, is still preoccupied with personal insults in the midst of a national and international emergency.

Progress is being made on developing an antibody test which will be essential for determining who has been infected but who never may have shown symptoms. They will be immune, at least for while.  According to Science magazine, Singapore is setting the pace here.

The test was developed by a team led by Linfa Wang, an emerging disease specialist at Duke-NUS. In blood samples from recovered patients, the team identified antibodies targeting the spike protein that proved able to block the virus from killing cells in laboratory tests. In parallel, they created synthetic viral proteins that can detect those antibodies in a blood sample without having to use the live virus.

Daily New Cases in Spain [Johns Hopkins University].

 

The daily new cases in Spain is showing some decline over the past five days, which is some encouraging news. But this may show a rise with increased testing of the population.

In a very revealing article by Spanish journalist and author, Ixtu Diaz, he discusses the fantasies that occupy the liberal mind in the EU and the real world that we all live in.

On November 28th, 2019, the European Union officially and solemnly declared the “climate emergency,” in a ceremony presided over by the would-be 17-year-old prophet Greta Thunberg. Today, almost four months later, in the midst of a real emergency, the only thing that remains official and solemn in that declaration is its ridiculousness.

And …

The reactions of politicians in Europe reflect the bewilderment of those who were living in the Matrix and have just been awakened. Most governments in Europe have moved from denial to chaos. But probably the most vile reaction has been that of the Social Communist government in Spain, which encouraged Spaniards to participate massively in the March 8 feminist rallies, the next day hiding reports that the coronavirus was already out of control in the country — something they may well have to answer for in court. Vice President Carmen Calvo said at the time that to attend the demonstrations was a moral obligation for all Spaniards: “what is at stake is the life” of many people. She was referring to violence against women, I think. It goes to show that Sanchez’s government only tells the truth by accident. Yes, many people’s lives were at stake, as we have unfortunately found out. Now Calvo is recovering from coronavirus, as are most of the members of government who took part in the demonstrations. Of course, the Spanish do not seem to be worried about the government’s taking a few days holiday: It’s worse when they’re actually on the job.

And on our side of the pond, in the US, long held as the bastion of free enterprise, it turns out that the major holdups have not been from politicians (although they have there share too), but from all the bureaucratic red tape for protecting “privacy” and, of course, that utterly useless “precautionary principle” which guarantees that nothing can get done when required. From the New York Post:

It’s the latest example of red tape gone awry that could prove deadly. It took weeks for the feds to waive regs even on coronavirus testing kits. For more than a month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only allowed the use of its test — which proved to be inaccurate much of the time — even as companies were champing at the bit to produce better and faster kits.
South Korea kept the spread of the virus under better control than most countries because of its widespread testing, something that took the United States months to match.
N95 respirator masks are produced for medical use and construction-industry use. But manufacturers of those made for the former have to jump through a ton of extra hoops — special tests of flammability and strength, for example — because they’re classified as medical devices…..

…Why didn’t the feds immediately waive those non-essential requirements when it became clear it was crunch time? Mostly because bureaucrats assume they can only get in trouble for allowing something that later produces problems, rather than for stopping something that was actually fine — a rule that’s all too true in normal times.

Perhaps governments could learn a few lessons for the future: emergencies actually have to be prepared for, not just talked about.

Rebel Yell

A Journal of the Plague Year (13)

March 29th, 2020

I went to do some grocery shopping today. Our local supermarket (market really, it’s not that big) was almost deserted. Continuous cleaning was been done by staff—all very calm. Some of the aisles, paper products and the milk and yogurt were a little sparse, but probably due to heavy weekend shopping. No problem with anything else. I’ve yet to see any panic anywhere.

Is all this being overdone a little?

We all know that journalists, reporters and the flotsam of ignorance on TV dearly love a panic especially with lashings of hysteria. Is this warranted, if ever? …See[here]:

If we look at the 110 fatalities in Washington State as of Mar 23 [4], the picture
is similar — bulk of deaths from people in 70s, 80s and 90s with preexisting
conditions. Only two deaths from people in their 40s, both in Snohomish
County. No younger deaths reported. Most deaths (87 of 110) are clustered in
King County, and in turn 42% of those deaths (37) originate from the same
nursing home in Kirkland.
Ditto for recent data from the Netherlands — no recorded deaths below age
of 54 so far. [5] Keep in mind selection bias towards severe patients, though.

[Comments on https://wmbriggs.com/post/29886/ ]. All true, but the cool voices will never be complimented later; only the hysterics]. Also note that these figures will be out of date as soon as you read this.
Anyway, regardless of one’s level of paranoia, a check on the disease rates and hospitalization rates of other years should act as a soporific….

Whenever you hear “…if it saves one life, it’s worth it”, you know it’s bullshit, else one would never get out of bed in the morning.

Trump is right, as usual, the economy will have to be re-started soon; people will have to accept (maybe) a slightly elevated level of risk. It must happen and it will be OK now that we know how to deal with a new level of risk.

Just had an excellent dinner of braised lamb in coffee and red wine. Never let a lock down stifle good dining. Cheers!

Rebel Yell

Every Bad Idea is French

For a non-plague entry enjoy this rollicking, brilliant, illuminating chat on Trigger-nometry with Dr David Starkey. What a joy.

He starts off with placing the seed of all the modern rot, Rousseau, and his bastard spawn, the French Revolution, at the root of the decay of civilization in the world today. The idea that all of history prior to the fantasies of the Left is “wrong” and the world and society have to be remade in the image of “reason”–actually the dreams of the revolutionaries–is the cause of our modern demise.

“All revolutions turn into the worst excesses of the ancient regime”. “Bolshevism–the same disease in the 20th century, and even worse than the French Revolution.”

“All bad ideas [in politics] are French”. Zing! Pow!

“The Left today are eating themselves. Look at that ghastly woman in Guardian…”

“I didn’t know the Guardian had 300 readers, let alone employees!”

Guaranteed analysis and enjoyment.

Rebel Yell