John Campbell shares his findings on Omicron.
View here (Youtube, Nov 27, 2021)
John Campbell shares his findings on Omicron.
View here (Youtube, Nov 27, 2021)
‘Scientists have detected a new Covid-19 variant called B.1.1.529 and are working to understand its potential implications. About 100 confirmed cases have been identified in South Africa, Hong Kong, Israel and Botswana.
‘B.1.1.529 has a very unusual constellation of mutations, which are worrying because they could help it evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists have said. Any new variant that is able to evade vaccines or spread faster than the now-dominant Delta variant may pose a significant threat as the world emerges from the pandemic.
‘Dr Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency, said the R value, or effective reproduction number, of the B.1.1.529 variant in the South African province of Gauteng, where it was first found, was now 2 – a level of transmission not recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, before restrictions began to be imposed. For an R of anything above 1, an epidemic will grow exponentially.’
Read here (The Guardian, Nov 26, 2021)
Simpler, clearer indicators can help the public interpret the sea of data on COVID-19 and avoid cognitive biases, says Duke-NUS’ David Matchar...
Read here (Channel News Asia, Nov 26, 2021)
John Campbell shares three theories on sudden drop of Covid-19 cases in Japan: (1) Ivermectin allowed as a treatment on August 13, two weeks before the precipitous drop in cases (2) Ituro Inoue, professor, National Institute of Genetics, on the virus’s error-correcting protein, nsp14 (3) More people in Asia have a defense enzyme called APOBEC3A that attacks RNA viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
View here (Youtube, Nov 24, 2021)
‘According to our village-level digital entrepreneurs in the SoochnaPreneur programme at Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), the four essential systems that were massively hit by the pandemic were education, healthcare, finance, and citizen entitlements. When the pandemic was raging, our SoochnaPreneurs reported that all people wanted was food and rations, a device to access online education for their children, the ability to talk to a doctor or health worker to learn how to keep themselves safe, and to make some money to meet their daily needs from the confines of their homes. Ironically, given the stringent nature of the lockdowns, all this needed access to the internet.
‘However, across the country, lack of access to resources, high levels of digital illiteracy, and the deepening digital divide exacerbated by the pandemic acted as major roadblocks in India’s COVID-19 response. Even as the government announced relief packages—food grains and cash payments—the mechanisms of delivery to beneficiaries at the last mile were unclear.’
Read here (IPS New, Nov 23 2021)
‘Until recently most people had never even heard of mRNA vaccines. Now scientists believe they may be the key to solving a wealth of health problems...
‘The theory behind the mRNA vaccine was pioneered by University of Pennsylvania scientists Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, who both recently received the 2021 Lasker Award, America's top biomedical research prize. Even in 2019, however, mainstream mRNA vaccines were believed to be at least five years away. The pandemic fast-forwarded this field of medicine by half a decade. Kathryn Whitehead, an associate professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and a key collaborator of Weissman and Karikó admits, "there weren't many people in the mRNA therapeutics world who would have imagined 95% initial efficacy rates in this emergency scenario".
‘But now, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Or, as Blakney puts it: "Now it's like, OK, so it's worked for a viral glycoprotein, what other vaccines can we make with it? And what can we do beyond that?"...
‘All this raises the question: could mRNA therapeutics give us almost superhuman immunity? Already Covid-19 mRNA vaccines lead some people to produce very high levels of antibodies, able to neutralise several variants of Covid-19 at once.
‘There's also the potential to mix various mRNA vaccines together into a single health booster vaccine, which could ward off cancers and viruses at the same time. While it's just speculation at present, Fu says, "you could take a whole bunch of different flavours… a cocktail of mRNAs that make different proteins selective for your particular need." Both Moderna and Novavax already have combined Covid-19 and flu vaccines in development.’
Read here (BBC, Nov 23, 2021)
‘As the climate crisis was telling us long before Covid blared the message, what happens in one place can have repercussions in many places. That’s why the pandemic must be understood not as an anvil-from-the-sky medical crisis, but as something far more encompassing. “Science is the exit strategy,” the head of the Wellcome Trust famously said, early in the pandemic. But, though science is necessary, it’s hardly sufficient, particularly when we’re interested not simply in exit but in re-entry. As raucous, inward-turned nationalisms continue to claim followers, we’ll need to resist the go-it-alone fantasies of autarky. Rather, a post-pandemic era calls for a richer sense of our mutual obligations.’
Read here (The Guardian, Nov 23, 2021)
‘In September, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended "urgent action" be taken to get pregnant people, and those who want to be pregnant in the future, vaccinated against COVID-19. The alert was issued after mounting evidence demonstrated how COVID-19 affected the outcomes of pregnancy and the overall health of the pregnant person. As of mid-September, only 31% of pregnant people were vaccinated against COVID-19 -- a much lower rate than the general US adult population -- but they had a 70% increased risk of dying from symptomatic COVID-19 compared to people who weren't pregnant.
‘Now, research is showing that pregnant people with COVID-19 have a higher risk of their baby being stillborn, according to a November report by the CDC. While the overall rate of stillbirths was low from March 2020 to September 2021, people who had COVID-19 during their delivery had a 1.26% chance of stillbirth, compared to people without COVID-19 at .64% -- roughly double the risk. This risk was even higher, the CDC said, during the months the delta variant was circulating.’
Read here (CNET, Nov 23, 2021)
‘Infectious diseases experts have questioned the need for continued widespread enforcement of TraceTogether and SafeEntry rules as Singapore moves towards more targeted contact tracing and living with endemic Covid-19. They noted that while daily new cases continue to number in the thousands, the vast majority of the population eligible for vaccination – 94 per cent – is fully vaccinated and most will show mild or no symptoms if infected. Extensive contact tracing, as was done in the early days of the pandemic, is no longer practical or necessary, they added.’
Read here (Straits Times, Nov 22, 2021)
‘According to a “potentially revolutionary” theory put forward by Professor Ituro Inoue, a genetics expert, the Delta variant simply accumulated too many mutations to the virus’s error-correcting protein called nsp14. Prof Inoue says the virus struggled to repair the errors in time and ultimately caused its own “self-destruction”.
Read here (News.com.au, Nov 22, 2021)
‘The virus that causes COVID-19 likely jumped from animals to humans at the Huanan wet market in Wuhan, China, according to a landmark new analysis by evolutionary biologist Michael Worobey published in the journal Science. Worobey’s article is another nail in the coffin of the Wuhan lab conspiracy theory, concocted by the fascist ideologue Stephen K. Bannon and promoted by the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
“It is yet another piece of data that points to the so-called ‘natural’ origin in the wildlife farms and market system,” said a source close to an earlier WHO-China joint study on the origins of COVID-19.’
Read here (Defend Democracy Press, Nov 20, 2021)
“We went into this project thinking we would see a higher rate of negative outcomes in people with a history of malaria infections because that’s what was seen in patients co-infected with malaria and Ebola,” said Jane Achan, a senior research advisor at the Malaria Consortium and a co-author of the study. “We were actually quite surprised to see the opposite — that malaria may have a protective effect.”
‘Achan said this may suggest that past infection with malaria could “blunt” the tendency of people’s immune systems to go into overdrive when they are infected with COVID-19. The research was presented Friday at a meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.’
Read here (Associated Press, Nov 20, 2021)
‘Pregnant women who tested positive for Covid-19 when admitted to a hospital to give birth were at a greater risk for stillbirth compared to those who did not, according to a study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Friday, with risks rising more since the delta variant has become the dominant strain.’
Read here (Forbes, Nov 19, 2021)
Read CDC report here.
‘With SARS, live-animal markets continued to sell infected animals for many months, allowing zoonotic spillover to be established as the origin and revealing multiple independent jumps from animals into humans. Unfortunately, no live mammal collected at Huanan Market or any other live-animal market in Wuhan has been screened for SARS-CoV-2–related viruses, and Huanan Market was closed and disinfected on 1 January 2020. Nevertheless, that most early symptomatic cases were linked to Huanan Market—specifically to the western section where raccoon dogs were caged—provides strong evidence of a live-animal market origin of the pandemic.
‘This would explain the extraordinary preponderance of early COVID-19 cases at one of the handful of sites in Wuhan—population 11 million—that sell some of the same animals that brought us SARS. Although it may never be possible to recover related viruses from animals if they were not sampled at the time of emergence, conclusive evidence of a Huanan Market origin from infected wildlife may nonetheless be obtainable through analysis of spatial patterns of early cases and from additional genomic data, including SARS-CoV-2–positive samples from Huanan Market, as well as through integration of additional epidemiologic data. Preventing future pandemics depends on this effort.’
Read here (Science, Nov 16, 2021)
‘Unlike the more flexible arrangements of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the WTO framework and negotiating priorities have undermined developmental aspirations. The South has been undermined by rich countries’ betrayal of the 2001 Doha compromise. After ‘softly’ killing the ‘Development Round’ promised then, rich countries can now redeem themselves by supporting the waiver.
‘Almost two years after COVID-19 was first recognized, the pandemic continues to threaten the world, with poor countries and people now worse affected. The devastation could be partly mitigated if developing countries could meet their pandemic needs without fear of litigation for IP infringement. A TRIPS Council meeting is scheduled for 16 November, before the four-day WTO Ministerial Council meeting from 30 November. The waiver would also encourage renewed international cooperation, long undermined by destructive rivalry and competition.
‘By refusing to make concessions, rich countries would not only jeopardize the WTO, but also the world’s ability to urgently contain the pandemic. With complementary financial resource transfers, they can restore the goodwill urgently needed for international cooperation and to revive multilateralism.’
Read here (IPS News, Nov 16, 2021)
‘About one in five health-care workers has left their job since the pandemic started. This is their story—and the story of those left behind...
‘Health-care workers aren't quitting because they can’t handle their jobs. They’re quitting because they can’t handle being unable to do their jobs. Even before COVID-19, many of them struggled to bridge the gap between the noble ideals of their profession and the realities of its business. The pandemic simply pushed them past the limits of that compromise...
‘Several health-care workers told me that, amid the most grueling working conditions of their careers, their hospitals cut salaries, reduced benefits, and canceled raises; forced staff to work more shifts with longer hours; offered trite wellness tips, such as keeping gratitude journals, while denying paid time off or reduced hours; failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment; and downplayed the severity of their experiences.’
Read here (The Atlantic, Nov 16, 2021)
‘Dr Zhong Nanshan is seen as something of a medical hero in China. The specialist in respiratory medicine shot to global fame in 2003 for challenging the then-government's line that the Sars outbreak was not so severe. These days, people - including officials - listen to what he has to say.
‘In a recent interview, he said China's strict Covid amelioration measures would remain for "a rather long time". He added that a global Covid-19 mortality rate of 2% was too high for China to accept even with vaccines in place. The cost of opening too quickly was not worth it, he said, adding that China would be watching the experience of other countries under their "living-with-Covid" plans.
‘It is also important to consider that China's officials can be quite conservative in their approach. It is possible that they plan to "re-open" the country again and are simply in no great rush to do so.’
Read here (BBC, Nov 15, 2021)
‘China will continue its “dynamic zero-case” policy to cut off virus transmission as early as possible, although most countries have adopted a “living with Covid-19 virus” strategy, health officials and infectious disease specialists say. In the latest epidemic wave which started in China on October 16, more than 1,000 cases have been reported across 21 provinces, mainly in the northeastern region.
‘The number may seem insignificant when compared with those in Western countries, which have reported tens of thousands of cases daily, but top Chinese leaders said the country would not tolerate virus outbreaks as anti-epidemic work was an important political mission.’
Read here (AsiaTimes, Nov 15, 2021)
‘Drugs such as molnupiravir and Paxlovid could change the course of the pandemic if clinical trial results hold up in the real world...
‘Researchers will be looking at the ages and ethnicities of those who were enrolled in the trials, and at any other health conditions that they had, says John Mellors, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pennsylvania.
‘Because antiviral drugs often need to be given early in the course of an infection for them to work effectively, Mellors will also be looking for more detail about when the drugs were given in the trials, and at how those timings correlated with efficacy. That information will provide a sense of when the window of opportunity for treatment closes. Neither trial had enough participants to enable firm conclusions to be drawn about the drugs’ ability to prevent deaths, but no deaths occurred in their treatment arms.
‘Researchers are also keen for any clue — including from further clinical trials — as to whether the drugs affect transmission of the coronavirus, or prevent illness in people who have been exposed to it.
‘If they do, the combination of vaccines and antiviral drugs could become a powerful tool in controlling outbreaks, says Jerome Kim, director-general of the International Vaccine Institute in Seoul. For example, if a worrying coronavirus variant emerges in a specific region, those who are most likely to be affected could be given an antiviral drug to supplement immunity from vaccines. This could clamp down on the virus and prevent its spread. “It opens up some new possibilities for the way we think about control,” Kim says. “This would have a really dramatic impact.”
Read here (Nature, Nov 10, 2021)
Pharmacodynamic analyses that show that the new Pfizer antiviral works in the same way as ivermectin -- as a SARS-CoV-2-3CL protease inhibitor. Plenty of links attached to the video to back the claim.
View here (Youtube, Nov 9, 2021)
‘Making them isn't easy. But new pills to treat COVID-19 are now showing promise at curbing illness and saving lives...
‘Unlike vaccines that can prevent infection, antivirals act as a second line of defense, slowing down and eventually arresting progression of a disease when infections occur. They’re also important when effective vaccines aren’t available against viral diseases, as is the case for HIV, hepatitis C, and herpes.
‘But developing antivirals is an expensive and difficult endeavor. That’s especially true for acute respiratory diseases, for which the window for treatment is short. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that has unleashed the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have resorted to repurposing old drugs or compounds that were being tested against other diseases.’
Read here (National Geographic, Nov 5, 2021)
We don’t recommend Ivermectin to treat Covid-19, says health DG. Read here (Free Malaysia Today, Nov 3, 2021)
Ivermectin study: Doctor whose clinic was raided stands his ground, disputes findings Read here (Free Malaysia Today, Nov 3, 2021)
I’ll study findings, says MP who urged use of Ivermectin for Covid treatment Read here (Free Malaysia Today, Nov 3, 2021)
‘Mandatory vaccinations have been with us for centuries, quietly saving lives – and they're often largely unopposed until something changes.
‘When chosen carefully, there's no question that mandatory vaccinations can save lives. For example, one study found that patients were substantially less likely to die (with mortality rates of around 13.6% mortality verses 22.4%) in hospitals where healthcare workers had higher rates of flu vaccination compared to those with low rates, though patients were equally as likely to be infected with the virus.
Another European study also found that in countries with mandatory measles vaccinations, and without non-medical exemptions, the disease incidence was 86% lower than in countries without the mandates.
‘One common tension is between obligation, which can increase hostility, and voluntary vaccination, which can increase transmission. Some health experts are nervous about mandatory vaccination because these policies may diminish trust in medical authorities over the long term. Vaccine mandates have led to violent riots in Brazil and may have contributed to vociferous anti-vaccine movements all over Europe, for instance.
‘In France, one of the world's hotspots of vaccine hesitancy, the Ministry of Health has attempted to reduce the polarising effects of vaccine mandates by embedding mandates within a broader effort to build trust. This has led to improved vaccine coverage, although a significant minority are still vaccine-hesitant – suggesting the importance of continuing to monitor attitudes and strengthening relationships between the medical establishment and the public.’
Read here (BBC, Nov 1, 2021)
‘We know how this ends: The coronavirus becomes endemic, and we live with it forever. But what we don’t know—and what the U.S. seems to have no coherent plan for—is how we are supposed to get there. We’ve avoided the hard questions whose answers will determine what life looks like in the next weeks, months, and years: How do we manage the transition to endemicity? When are restrictions lifted? And what long-term measures do we keep, if any, when we reach endemicity?
‘The answers were simpler when we thought we could vaccinate our way to herd immunity. But vaccinations in the U.S. have plateaued. The Delta variant and waning immunity against transmission mean herd immunity may well be impossible even if every single American gets a shot. So when COVID-related restrictions came back with the Delta wave, we no longer had an obvious off-ramp to return to normal—are we still trying to get a certain percentage of people vaccinated? Or are we waiting until all kids are eligible? Or for hospitalizations to fall and stay steady? The path ahead is not just unclear; it’s nonexistent. We are meandering around the woods because we don’t know where to go.’
Read here (The Atlantic, Nov 1, 2021)
‘COVID-19 vaccines show excellent efficacy in clinical trials and effectiveness in real-world data, but some people still become infected with SARS-CoV-2 after vaccination. This study aimed to identify risk factors for post-vaccination SARS-CoV-2 infection and describe the characteristics of post-vaccination illness.
‘To minimise SARS-CoV-2 infection, at-risk populations must be targeted in efforts to boost vaccine effectiveness and infection control measures. Our findings might support caution around relaxing physical distancing and other personal protective measures in the post-vaccination era, particularly around frail older adults and individuals living in more deprived areas, even if these individuals are vaccinated, and might have implications for strategies such as booster vaccinations.’
Read here (The Lancet, Nov 1, 2021)
View John Campbell’s video on “Severe illness after vaccination” on the above here.
‘The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 5 million on Monday, less than two years into a crisis that has not only devastated poor countries but also humbled wealthy ones with first-rate health care systems. Together, the United States, the European Union, Britain and Brazil — all upper-middle- or high-income countries — account for one-eighth of the world’s population but nearly half of all reported deaths. The U.S. alone has recorded over 745,000 lives lost, more than any other nation.’
Read here (AP, Nov 1, 2021)
‘There's a possibility that SARS-CoV-2 could do an end run around the drug; any variant that happens to be less susceptible to the drug’s modus operandi could survive and become more dominant, pushing the virus’s evolution toward resistance. And SARS-CoV-2 has already shown its propensity for outsmarting certain treatments: In July 2021 the US halted shipments of an antibody therapy from Eli Lilly after detecting resistance in newer variants of the virus.’
Read here (Wired, Nov 1, 2021)
‘Here’s what the science reveals about the safety of the Pfizer shot for this age group, the doses involved, and the role it will play in protecting everyone from the disease...
‘A recent Swedish study confirmed the value of this ring of protection: Families where one member is immunized have up to a 61 percent lower risk that others in the home will get COVID-19, while three or four immunized members gives more than a 90 percent reduction.
‘Inoculating children in an effort to protect others already happens in the U.S., Levy says. “Some say it’s not ethical to vaccinate kids for a disease that doesn’t affect them as much,” he says, but children are currently immunized against rubella when the main risk is to pregnant mothers, he points out.’
Read here (National Geographic, Oct 30, 2021)
‘Covid-19 vaccines in use today have to be stored at cold temperatures, but a patch covered in tiny plastic spikes coated in a vaccine could provide an alternative...
‘A skin patch for administering covid-19 vaccines gives greater immune protection than traditional injections, according to a study in mice. The patch can be stored at room temperature and be self-administered, making it suitable for use in places that lack cold storage facilities and medical staff.
‘Although covid-19 vaccines are now widely available in many countries, they have to be transported and stored at cold temperatures. “We wanted to come up with an alternative that would be stable long enough to go that last mile, especially in resource-limited settings,” says David Muller at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.’
Read here (New Scientist, Oct 29, 2021)
‘This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first large, randomised controlled trial to test the efficacy of fluvoxamine for acute treatment of COVID-19. We found a clinically important absolute risk reduction of 5·0%, and 32% RR reduction, on the primary outcome of hospitalisation defined as either retention in a COVID-19 emergency setting or transfer to tertiary hospital due to COVID-19, consequent on the administration of fluvoxamine for 10 days. This study is only the second study to show an important treatment benefit for a repurposed drug in the early treatment population.13 Our findings represent the complete analysis of the trial after the DSMC recommended stopping the active fluvoxamine group and all 28-day follow-up of randomly assigned patients. Given fluvoxamine's safety, tolerability, ease of use, low cost, and widespread availability, these findings might influence national and international guidelines on the clinical management of COVID-19.’
Read here (The Lancet, Oct 27, 2021)
‘Covid has severely affected healthcare staff and may have killed between 80,000 and 180,000, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. Healthcare workers must be prioritised for vaccines, WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, and he criticised unfairness in the distribution of jabs. The deaths occurred between January 2020 and May of this year.’
Read here (BBC, Oct 19, 2021)
‘One thing people often overlook is the adaptive immune response caused by vaccination is natural. Vaccination prepares the body’s immune system in the same way “natural” exposure to infection does. It just does it in a safer, controlled way with a much lower dose.
‘Given there’s no underlying reason why natural health and vaccination cannot coexist, why does this perception exist, and why does it persist?’
Read here (The Conversation, Oct 19, 2021)
‘Emerging mRNA technology proved excellent for COVID vaccines. BioNTech’s founders preview what that could mean for cancer and other mysteries...
‘The fact that mRNA technology had never delivered an authorized therapy before the coronavirus pandemic could tell us one of two things. Perhaps synthetic mRNA is like a miraculous key that humankind pulled out of our pockets in this pandemic, but it was so perfectly shaped for the coronavirus that we shouldn’t expect it to unlock other scientific mysteries any time soon.
‘Or perhaps mRNA is merely in the first chapter of a more extraordinary story. This month, BioNTech announced that it had initiated Phase 2 trials of personalized cancer vaccines for patients with colorectal cancer. It is working on other personalized cancer vaccines and exploring possible therapies for malaria using a version of the mRNA technology that had its breakout moment in 2020.’
Read here (The Atlantic, Oct 18, 2021)
‘A new pill with the promise to treat Covid-19 is creating waves across the world and even at US$700 for a five-day course of treatment, it might just be a game changer. It is too early to tell if it will be available to Malaysians, although health minister Khairy Jamaluddin has revealed that he has started negotiations for Malaysia to procure the drug Molnupiravir, which is reputed to have shown a 50% reduction in the risk of hospitalisation and death.
‘Developed by US pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co, the pill has yet to get emergency authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It would be the first Covid-19 oral antiviral medicine, if approved.
‘How does the pill work? The pill has been designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus, thereby stopping effective replication. It is designed to be taken once someone displays Covid-19 symptoms. One course of the treatment lasts five days, with four capsules taken twice a day for a total of 40 pills.
‘How effective is it? Merck says the drug cuts the risk of hospitalisation or death in half according to trials conducted among 775 Covid-19 adults with mild-to-moderate Covid-19 symptoms. After 29 days, 7% of those who received the drug were hospitalised compared to 14% of those who received the placebo. No deaths were reported in patients who received Molnupiravir while there were eight deaths in patients who took the placebo, the company said.’
Read here (Free Malaysia Today, Oct 3, 2021)
‘The pandemic made it clear that science touches everything, and everything touches science...
‘To the extent that the pandemic has been a science story, it’s also been a story about the limitations of what science has become. Perverse academic incentives that reward researchers primarily for publishing papers in high-impact journals have long pushed entire fields toward sloppy, irreproducible work; during the pandemic, scientists have flooded the literature with similarly half-baked and misleading research. Pundits have urged people to “listen to the science,” as if “the science” is a tome of facts and not an amorphous, dynamic entity, born from the collective minds of thousands of individual people who argue and disagree about data that can be interpreted in a range of ways. The long-standing disregard for chronic illnesses such as dysautonomia and myalgic encephalomyelitis meant that when thousands of COVID-19 “long-haulers” kept experiencing symptoms for months, science had almost nothing to offer them. The naive desire for science to remain above politics meant that many researchers were unprepared to cope with a global crisis that was both scientific and political to its core. “There’s an ongoing conversation about whether we should do advocacy work or ‘stick to the science,’” Whitney Robinson, a social epidemiologist, told me. “We always talk about how these magic people will take our findings and implement them. We send those findings out, and knowledge has increased! But with Covid, that’s a lie!”
Read here (The Atlantic, Oct 2, 2021)
‘The Penang Hospital began life as a double-storey, colonnaded brick-and-timbre building. As was the norm for most bungalows in Penang at the time, the building would have been raised on a brick plinth, allowing for air to flow underneath. The floors were probably hardy and washable, and tiled with terra cotta. The veranda on the first-floor was 5ft wide and protected by a roof jack, a feature developed by builder designers of the day in observance of tropical architecture.
“A roof jack,” explains conservation architect Laurence Loh, “is a secondary roof located at the ridge that is literally jacked up for the hot air within the space to rise up and escape through the open gaps between the two roofs, based on the principle that air, once warmed, becomes more buoyant, with a tendency to rise.” This process employs what is known as stack effect or ventilation. The surrounding cool air is pulled into the building from openings like doors and windows at the lower level, with the heated air being pushed up and out.’
But how has it evolved?
Read here (Penang Monthly, October, 2021)
‘Mastering data is only half the battle. A major reason hospitals were getting overwhelmed is because people were scared, and the government missed an opportunity to send the right message.
‘Singapore is very proud of its reputation for technocratic excellence. In recent months, government officials have tried to tackle the country’s most pressing question — how to live with Covid-19 — by scrutinizing, modeling and projecting data, as if staring hard enough at those little gray-rimmed boxes on Excel would produce the answer.
‘The trouble with this strategy is that living with Covid is messy, and the data will never look good. Countries that have been praised for the most meticulous of approaches to the outbreak have stumbled time and again. Ultimately, treating the coronavirus as endemic will require Singapore to do something it may find unnatural: think beyond the numbers.’
Read here (Bloomberg, Sept 29, 2021)
‘This one is far from over, but the window to prepare for future threats is closing fast...
“To be ready for the next pandemic, we need to make sure that there’s an even footing in our societal structures,” Seema Mohapatra, a health-law expert at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, told me. That vision of preparedness is closer to what 19th-century thinkers lobbied for, and what the 20th century swept aside. It means shifting the spotlight away from pathogens themselves and onto the living and working conditions that allow pathogens to flourish. It means measuring preparedness not just in terms of syringes, sequencers, and supply chains but also in terms of paid sick leave, safe public housing, eviction moratoriums, decarceration, food assistance, and universal health care. It means accompanying mandates for social distancing and the like with financial assistance for those who might lose work, or free accommodation where exposed people can quarantine from their family. It means rebuilding the health policies that Reagan began shredding in the 1980s and that later administrations further frayed. It means restoring trust in government and community through public services. “It’s very hard to achieve effective containment when the people you’re working with don’t think you care about them,” Arrianna Marie Planey, a medical geographer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told me.
Read here (The Atlantic, Sept 29, 2021)
‘Studies suggesting ivermectin is an effective Covid treatment relied on evidence ‘that has substantially evaporated under close scrutiny’, fresh research shows...
‘On Thursday (Sept 23, 2021), the prestigious medical journal Nature Medicine published an article authored by concerned epidemiologists and researchers who interrogated studies on ivermectin. “Many hundreds of thousands of patients have been dosed with ivermectin, relying on an evidence base that has substantially evaporated under close scrutiny,” the authors wrote.
“Several … studies that claim a clinical benefit for ivermectin are similarly fraught, and contain impossible numbers in their results, unexplainable mismatches between trial registry updates and published patient demographics, purported timelines that are not consistent with the veracity of the data collection, and substantial methodological weaknesses.”
Read here (The Guardian, Sept 25, 2021)
Read here (Nature Medicine, Sept 22, 2021)
‘The Sinovac vaccine can reduce the risk of death among Covid-19 patients by up to 84%, the health ministry said today. Citing data from the real-world evaluation of Covid-19 vaccines under the Malaysia national Covid-19 immunisation programme (RECoVaM), the ministry said the Pfizer jab decreased the risk of death by 93%.
‘In a Twitter post, it said the AstraZeneca vaccine showed the best result, with the lowest rate of “breakthrough deaths”, with the study finding that the jab reduced the risk of deaths among Covid-19 patients by 96%. This was based on a survey led by the health ministry’s Institute for Clinical Research (ICR) on 1,261,270 individuals.’
Read here (Free Malaysia Today, Sept 24, 2021)
‘SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can sometimes cause the immune system to mistakenly attack the person’s own body. This process, known as “autoimmunity”, can damage a number of different organs... The science on how and how often this occurs is still emerging. But here’s what we know so far...
This article attempts to answer the following:
Read here (The Conversation, Sept 23, 2021)
‘The increased prominence of antisemitic incidents during the COVID pandemic may leave you wondering: has antisemitism always been part of the Australian social fabric, or are we facing a new, sinister trend? Members of Melbourne’s Jewish community have been subjected to a surge of antisemitic abuse in recent weeks, following breaches of public health orders by ultra-Orthodox Jewish worshippers.
‘And Victoria’s proposed law to ban Nazi symbols — a first for any state or territory — further reinforces how antisemitism is becoming an increasingly visible problem in Australia.’
Read here (The Conversation, Sept 22, 2021)
We get a lot of e-mails and private messages along these lines “do you have a source for X?” or “can you point me to mask studies?” or “I know I saw a graph for mortality, but I can’t find it anymore”. And we understand, it’s been a long 18 months, and there are so many statistics and numbers to try and keep straight in your head.
So, to deal with all these requests, we decided to make a bullet-pointed and sourced list for all the key points. A one-stop-shop.
Here are key facts and sources about the alleged “pandemic”, that will help you get a grasp on what has happened to the world since January 2020, and help you enlighten any of your friends who might be still trapped in the New Normal:
“Covid deaths” – Lockdowns – PCR Tests – “asymptomatic infection” – Ventilators – Masks – Vaccines – Deception & Foreknowledge
PART I: “COVID DEATHS” & MORTALITY
1. The survival rate of “Covid” is over 99%.
2. There has been NO unusual excess mortality.
3. “Covid death” counts are artificially inflated.
4. The vast majority of covid deaths have serious comorbidities.
5. Average age of “Covid death” is greater than the average life expectancy.
6. Covid mortality exactly mirrors the natural mortality curve.
7. There has been a massive increase in the use of “unlawful” DNRs.
PART II: LOCKDOWNS
8. Lockdowns do not prevent the spread of disease.
9. Lockdowns kill people.
10. Hospitals were never unusually over-burdened.
PART III: PCR TESTS
11. PCR tests were not designed to diagnose illness.
12. PCR Tests have a history of being inaccurate and unreliable.
13. The CT values of the PCR tests are too high.
14. The World Health Organization (Twice) Admitted PCR tests produced false positives.
15. The scientific basis for Covid tests is questionable.
PART IV: “ASYMPTOMATIC INFECTION”
16. The majority of Covid infections are “asymptomatic”.
17. There is very little evidence supporting the alleged danger of “asymptomatic transmission”.
PART V: VENTILATORS
18. Ventilation is NOT a treatment for respiratory viruses.
19. Ventilators killed people.
PART VI: MASKS
20. Masks don’t work.
21. Masks are bad for your health.
22. Masks are bad for the planet.
PART VII: VACCINES
23. Covid “vaccines” are totally unprecedented.
24. Vaccines do not confer immunity or prevent transmission.
25. The vaccines were rushed and have unknown longterm effects.
26. Vaccine manufacturers have been granted legal indemnity should they cause harm.
PART VIII: DECEPTION & FOREKNOWLEDGE
27. The EU was preparing “vaccine passports” at least a YEAR before the pandemic began.
28. A “training exercise” predicted the pandemic just weeks before it started.
29. Since the beginning of 2020, the Flu has “disappeared”.
30. The elite have made fortunes during the pandemic.
Read here (OffGuardian, Sept 22, 2021)
Former Nigeria CDC leader Chikwe Ihekweazu talks with Nature about the COVID crisis, and strengthening global response to future public-health emergencies...
What are the biggest problems you hope to fix — and why do you want to solve them at the WHO?
‘I want to make the mechanics of reporting disease-related information easier, and also demonstrate that the WHO can use that data to help countries that share it. One way to do that is to enable countries to derive value from their own data.
‘I wouldn’t want to do this at a venue other than the WHO. I know that different countries are creating hubs, as are some big donors. They may be able to analyse publicly available data, but they won’t have the same access to information from countries that the WHO does. Speaking as the current director of the Nigeria CDC, I can tell you that I wouldn’t share my data openly with a hub located in another country. We share our data with the WHO without worry because the WHO belongs to us and other countries as a member-state organization, and has a mandate from countries to monitor health risks and coordinate the response in health emergencies.’
Read here (Nature, Sept 21, 2021)
‘Far right nationalists, anti-vaxxers, libertarians and conspiracy theorists have come together over COVID, and capitalised on the anger and uncertainty simmering in some sections of the community. They appear to have found fertile ground particularly among men who feel alienated, fearful about their employment and who spend a lot of time at home scrolling social media and encrypted messaging apps.’
Read here (The Conversation, Sept 21, 2021)
‘A leading international economic watchdog urged developed countries to put more effort into providing low-income countries with coronavirus vaccines in order to ensure that the global recovery from the pandemic is more even.
‘In its latest assessment of the state of the global economy, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Tuesday that the global recovery from the shock of the pandemic is faster than it anticipated a year ago. Though the global economy has more than recouped the 3.4% output lost in 2020, it cautioned that the recovery is “uneven.”
Read here (Associated Press, Sept 21, 2021)
‘As part of Denmark’s largest behavioral covid-19 research project (the HOPE project), we surveyed more than 400,000 individuals in Denmark and seven other countries. Our findings suggest that citizens’ high and stable trust in their health authorities has been a crucial factor in Denmark’s success. This trust, shown in the figure below, encouraged high vaccination rates and the successful implementation of key policies such as mass testing and coronavirus passports.’
Read here (Washington Post, Sept 20, 2021)
The pandemic keeps changing, but these principles can guide your thinking through the seasons to come.
Read here (The Atlantic, Sept 20, 2021)
‘Pfizer and BioNTech on September 20 announced positive results from a Phase 2/3 trial of their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in children aged 5 to 11 years. The researchers found that a 2-dose regimen of 10µg doses administered 21 days apart demonstrated a favorable safety profile and robust neutralizing antibody response. The findings—which are neither published nor peer-reviewed—are a crucial step toward a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine becoming available for younger children, and the companies expect to submit an application to the US FDA for the vaccine’s authorization for that age group by the end of September. US regulators have issued warnings to the general public to wait for authorization before seeking vaccination for younger children, as the full adult dose of 30µg may put children at a higher risk for adverse side effects, including myocarditis.
‘The trial included nearly 2,300 children, and two-thirds of them in the vaccine group. The vaccinated children also were compared with a separate cohort of 16-25-year-old individuals who received the full adult course of the vaccine (2 doses of 30µg). The trial found that the neutralizing antibody response was similar between both vaccinated groups, with the neutralizing antibody levels within 5% of each other. Both groups also experienced similar post-vaccination adverse events.’
Read here (Pfizer news release) and here (Stat News, Sept 20, 2021)
‘The discussion took a new turn this week as fresh data backed up earlier findings - yet to be peer-reviewed - that the efficacy of both Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines declines in a matter of months, and that one more dose of the Pfizer shot can reduce the rates of infections by 11 times and severe illness by 20 times in the elderly.
‘There are many arguments both for and against boosters, but what concerns policymakers and health professionals first and foremost is whether the science shows that they are a necessity. In considering this, we examine three key issues: Are immunity levels indeed dropping? Will extra shots really help and are they safe? What are the broader implications of giving another shot to those already vaccinated?’
Read here (Straits Times, Sept 19, 2021)
‘Bats dwelling in limestone caves in northern Laos were found to carry coronaviruses that share a key feature with Sars-CoV-2, moving scientists closer to pinpointing the cause of Covid-19. Researchers at France's Pasteur Institute and the University of Laos looked for viruses similar to the one that causes Covid-19 among hundreds of horseshoe bats.
‘They found three with closely matched receptor binding domains - the part of the coronavirus' spike protein used to bind to human ACE-2, the enzyme it targets to cause an infection. The finding, reported in a paper released on Friday (Sept 17) that is under consideration for publication by Nature journal, shows that viruses closely related to Sars-CoV-2 exist in nature, including in several Rhinolophus, or horseshoe bat, species. The research supports the hypothesis that the pandemic began from a spillover of a bat-borne virus.’
Read here (Straits Times, Sept 18, 2021)
Ramping up communications to convince those on the fence, along with differentiated measures nudging more to take the shot can help get vaccination rates up, say infectious diseases experts on CNA’s Heart of the Matter podcast...
‘As someone who treats COVID-19 patients, Dr David Lye, Director of the Infectious Disease Research and Training Office at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), says he has spoken to “thousands of people”, and he always has one message for them: Get vaccinated. As a researcher and a scientist, he admits he gets frustrated when he encounters people medically able to get a vaccine but choose not to. But would he go so far as to recommend that vaccines be made compulsory?
“To be honest, I am in favour of a vaccine mandate, but I'm also aware that the impact on individuals in these times can be devastating,” Dr Lye added, pointing to the possibility of the unvaccinated getting shut out of jobs if COVID-19 vaccination was made compulsory nationally.
‘He was speaking to Supervising Editor Lin Suling, host of Heart of the Matter podcast on Thursday (Sep 16).
‘Dr Ashley St John, Associate Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School’s Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases, who was also on the podcast, agreed. "If you're asking me personally, it would be nice to have compulsory COVID-19 vaccines, but I also understand there are other policy considerations … beyond just the scientific aspects.”
Read here (Channel News Asia, Sept 18, 2021)
“Compassion fatigue is the feeling, ‘It’s hard to care when you’re overloaded but still dedicated to the task,’” Dr Kernan Manion, executive director of the Center for Physician Rights, said. “Moral injury occurs when the nurse or doctor feels that, ‘The patients I’ve dedicated my life to treating are now here because of their own negligence and now they’re imposing upon me and my team to treat them, while also exposing us to continued danger from this virus.’”
These days, Meck knows that first-hand. She is seeing more children with Covid-19 at her Missouri hospital than ever before. At 46%, Missouri has one of the lowest rates of full vaccination in the country. “I don’t even get the chance to try to show you all the split-second decisions and critical thinking and compassion I’m capable of,” Meck said. “Practising mindfulness is not going to fix moral injury.”
Read here (The Guardian, Sept 18, 2021)
‘While many high-income nations, including the United States and most members of the European Union, now offer Covid vaccines for children 12 and older, a handful of countries have now authorized the shot for younger people. Meanwhile, severe vaccine inequality persists on a global level, with many developing nations continuing to struggle to provide first and second doses to high-risk groups -- with the very idea of getting shots to children still a pipe dream. Here's a global snapshot of where things stand.’
Read here (CNN, Sept 17, 2021)
‘At least 29 US states have passed laws, enacted other initiatives, or succeeded in lawsuits that permanently weaken state and local government authority to protect public health, and similar efforts are pending in multiple other states. The analysis was published by Kaiser Health News and the Associated Press as part of their ongoing series “Underfunded and Under Threat,” which examines how US public health systems were unprepared to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and face ongoing politicization, funding cuts, and other hindrances. Legislators in at least 16 states have limited public health authorities’ ability to issue mask mandates or quarantines or isolation orders, and in some cases, legislatures gave themselves that authority or shifted it to other elected officials. In at least 17 states, lawmakers passed legislation banning SARS-CoV-2 vaccine mandates or passports or facilitated opt-out options. And in at least 14 states, new laws, executive orders, or court rulings ban or limit mask mandates.
‘Proponents of the new measures argue that they are a necessary check on executive powers, particularly for appointed officials, and give lawmakers a voice in public health emergencies. Public health officials and experts have expressed frustration with these efforts and warned that the consequences of these actions will extend far beyond the current pandemic. These new limits could also impact public health officials’ ability to prevent and contain future outbreaks for any number of communicable diseases. At least 303 state and local public health department leaders have resigned, retired, or been fired during the pandemic, according to the analysis.’ Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security e-newsletter
Read here (KHN & AP, as at Sept 17, 2021)
‘Some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies have played a central role in the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it’s likely no surprise that the pandemic has also been great for many healthcare businesses. In fact, in 2020 alone, the world’s 50 largest pharmaceutical companies still combined for a whopping $851 billion in revenues.
‘In this graphic, using data from Companies Market Cap, we list the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world by market capitalization. It’s worth noting this list also includes healthcare companies that work closely with pharmaceuticals, including biotech, pharmaceutical retailers, clinical laboratories, etc.’
Read here (Visual Capitalist, Sept 17, 2021)
‘While some politicians have touted the new mandates as “un-American,” vaccine mandates are older than the United States itself. “General [George] Washington mandated smallpox inoculation—the precursor to the vaccine, and a more dangerous procedure—for the Revolutionary Army,” says Dorit Reiss, a law professor who specializes in vaccine policy at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. “And I don't think it’s fair to describe Washington as un-American.”
Read here (National Geographic, Sept 16, 2021)
‘Instead of holding out for today’s popular vaccines, some researchers hope that those in clinical trials will be easier to license and make in the global south. At the top of the list are protein-subunit vaccines, in which peptides matching those from SARS-CoV-2 teach the immune system to recognize the virus and fight it off. Researchers say the benefit of such vaccines is that vats of yeast or insect cells can churn out huge quantities of peptides, making the vaccines scalable. They add that many companies are familiar with the process because they produce vaccines for other diseases and recombinant drugs in a similar fashion.’
Read here (Nature, Sept 15, 2021)
‘Biolidics said the ClearEpi NAB Test is intended for the qualitative detection of circulating human IgG antibodies capable of attaching to the Covid-19 spike proteins and preventing binding. "The company wishes to highlight that the ClearEpi NAB Test is intended for use as an aid in identifying individuals with an adaptive immune response to Sars-CoV-2 and should not be used to diagnose or exclude acute Sars-CoV-2 infection," Biolidics added.
‘Biolidics expects the development of the test and the receipt of the CE marking to contribute positively to its revenue for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2021, provided the company is able to successfully market and commercialise the test in the EU.’
Read here (Straits Times, Sept 15, 2021)
‘Many schools, businesses and governments requiring vaccination have offered religious exemptions. Some are loath to challenge people’s claims that getting the shot goes against their beliefs for fear of being sued, but organizations have come up with a variety of ways to assess claimants’ sincerity. But the legal basis of Americans’ supposed right to a religious exemption to vaccination is less clear than such policies’ popularity would suggest.
‘As a lawyer and scholar who focuses on religious liberties, I have supported religious exemptions for a baker who refused to create a cake for a same-sex wedding, a family-owned business that refused to provide emergency contraception to its employees, a Muslim prisoner who was obligated to grow a beard and many others.
‘Even so, I believe that under the general law of religious liberty – including the Constitution and state and federal religious freedom laws – the government has an easy case to refuse religious exemptions from vaccines against infectious disease.’
Read here (Religious News Service, Sept 15, 2021)
‘Results from another study evaluating the Sinopharm SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in children were published on September 15 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The Phase 1/2 trial examined the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine in a cohort of children aged 3-17 years, with participants broken into several age groups (3-5, 6-12, and 13-17 years) and dosing groups (0 [control], 2µg, 4µg, and 8µg). Three (3) doses of each vaccine dosage or placebo were administered 28 days apart. All adverse events were categorized as mild or moderate severity, but the article does not report on serious adverse events. The study concluded that children who received the vaccine had robust immune responses and similar levels of neutralizing antibodies to those observed in older vaccine recipients. The study recommended a 2-shot 4µg dose regimen for future Phase 3 trials. Additional data are being collected through a Phase 3 trial currently taking place in the UAE.
Read here (The Lancet Infectious Disease, Sept 15, 2021)
Read here (WHO East Mediterranean as at Sept 2020)
‘The main problem with Long COVID is its complexity: dozens of symptoms, different causes, different treatments, vaccine protection, Delta variant, age impact, gender impact, evolution over time…
‘This complexity is crippling. We think “Hmmm Long COVID is bad but how bad? I don’t know… Maybe we should avoid it? But how careful should we be? I don’t know. Is it worth keeping masks? Staying indoors? I don’t know...” So how can we simplify things?
‘By looking at the most alarming problem that Long COVID most likely causes: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. There are other problems, such as unregistered deaths, post-intensive care syndrome, chronic loss of smell... But they’re too much, and I don’t think they change our takeaways, so we will look at them in the premium deep dive this week, along with other things.’
Read here (Uncharted Territories, Sept 13, 2021)
‘In an expert review published September 13 online in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet, a group of US and international scientists claim current evidence does not support providing booster doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to the general public. The group—including 2 departing US FDA officials and WHO experts—said that any decision to provide additional vaccine doses should be evidence-based, concluding that despite a small drop in protection against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant, authorized vaccine regimens continue to provide high levels of protection against severe disease and hospitalization for all major SARS-CoV-2 variants. The authors acknowledged that some additional doses might be needed immediately for certain elderly and immunocompromised populations, but they encouraged prioritizing primary immunizations over booster shots for the general public.
‘The authors also acknowledged that booster doses might be necessary in the future due to waning immunity or the emergence of a vaccine-resistant variant but that current evidence does not warrant additional doses now because “efficacy against severe disease remains high.” The authors noted that currently available vaccine doses could save more lives and provide better protection against the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants if used in previously unvaccinated populations, especially those in low- and middle-income countries.’
Read here (The Lancet, Sept 13, 2021)
‘The built environment contributes to the spread and contamination of the virus, as people spend more than 90% of their time indoors and even more during lockdown and community quarantine. During the current pandemic, healthy and asymptotic individuals are staying in their houses, and many people that are affected by the virus are now in hospitals and in healthcare facilities. These situations might affect the spread and contamination of the virus, as well as individuals’ interactions with each other.
‘To reduce the contamination and spread of the virus in the built environment that might affect healthy individuals – such as health care professionals, office workers – it is important to understand the steps that need to be taken and the policies to be implemented along with the theories underlying them. One of the approaches to be considered in designing effective fresh air supply and air extraction ventilation systems to minimize the concentration of suspended viruses. This is in addition to other essential procedures to understand the movement of viruses in the indoor air and its suspension/resuspension to and from surfaces.’
‘In the absence of a mandatory vaccine policy, the government can consider other lesser restrictive options. They are as follows:
‘In a nutshell, the government should navigate through this ethical dilemma cautiously. The government should consider other less restrictive alternatives that will protect the individual’s self-determination which is also in the state’s interest.’
Read here (Free Malaysia Today, Sept 12, 2021)
‘These deaths of the fully vaccinated, that occurred between June 7 and Sept 6, were mainly senior citizens (744; 80.6 percent), had comorbidities (750; 81.3 percent) - usually both (605; 65.6 percent). Deaths among those below 60 with no comorbidities only accounted for 33 cases (3.6 percent).
‘Based on Malaysiakini's analysis of the data, Sinovac vaccine recipients account for 710 out of 922 of these deaths (77.0 percent), even though Sinovac vaccine recipients only make up 51.5 percent of fully vaccinated people as of Sept 6 including the 14-day period after the second dose. In comparison, Pfizer vaccine recipients account for 206 deaths (22.3 percent) while accounting for 43.6 percent of the fully vaccinated population in Malaysia.
‘In other words, there are 10.11 vaccine breakthrough deaths for every 100,000 people fully vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine, and 3.47 per 100,000 for Pfizer recipients.’
Read here (Malaysiakini via YahooNews, Sept 10, 2021)
‘The head of WHO Europe was today pessimistic about vaccines’ ability to put an end to the Covid pandemic, as new variants dash hopes of reaching herd immunity. Faced with the possibility that the virus may be around for many years, health officials must now “anticipate how to gradually adapt our vaccination strategy”, in particular on the question of additional doses, Hans Kluge told reporters.’
Read here (Free Malaysia Today, Sept 10, 2021)
‘Science is a social process, and we all live amid the social soup of personalities, parties and power. The political dysfunction that holds America hostage also holds science hostage. Dr. Virchow wrote that “mass disease means that society is out of joint.” Society’s being out of joint means that epidemiological research is out of joint, because it exists inside the same society. This is not a new problem, but the dominant “follow the science” mantra misses the fact that the same social pathology that exacerbates the pandemic also debilitates our scientific response to it.
‘To restore faith in science, there must be faith in social institutions more broadly, and this requires a political reckoning. Of course one can cite many specific challenges for scientists: The wheels are coming off the peer review system, university research is plagued by commercialization pressures, and so on. But all of these are the symptoms, not the underlying disease. The real problem is simply that sick societies have sick institutions. Science is not some cloistered preserve in the clouds, but is buried in the muck with everything else. This is why, just eight days after his investigation in Upper Silesia, Dr. Virchow went to the barricades in Berlin to fight for the revolution.‘
Read here (New York Times, Sept 10, 2021)
Our weapon against Covid, one money can’t buy... We have to work for it. For those vaccinated, it will elevate our fight against Covid to a higher level. The answer is exercise.
View here (Dr Ling Health Wave, Sept 9, 2021)
Pregnant women who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine were not at higher risk for miscarriage than their unvaccinated counterparts, according to a trio of new US studies:
Miscarriage no more likely in vaccinated: In the first study, published yesterday in JAMA, researchers from the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) surveillance network used diagnostic and procedure codes and electronic health records to identify and assign gestational ages of miscarriages and ongoing pregnancies from Dec 15, 2020, to Jun 28, 2021... Read here.
More evidence of vaccine safety in pregnancy: Similarly, in a letter yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), CDC scientists enrolled 2,456 women who were part of the agency's COVID-19 vaccine safety pregnancy registry... Read here.
A revised risk estimate: And in response to a letter yesterday in NEJM, a separate group of CDC researchers updated its analysis of 2,456 pregnant women who received one or two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine before conception or 20 weeks' gestation... Read here.
Read here (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, Sept 9, 2021)
The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) welcomes the strong start by Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, and note the recent evaluation criteria that he set for the Ministry of Health (MOH). We hope to see the entire MOH machinery, as well as inter-agency collaborations, be mobilized to achieve these goals.
We urge the following:
1. Clarify the specific policy changes for an endemic COVID
The Minister stated that Malaysia “can expect to move into an endemic COVID-19 phase” by the end of October 2021. The MOH must clearly communicate this new strategy to the public by announcing the specific policy changes to its COVID-19 responses. Controlling virus transmissibility, routine vaccination programmes, efficient testing, and improving healthcare capacity, are among the areas that require clear policy shifts, so that we can treat COVID-19 as part of daily Malaysian life. We urge some caution in labelling COVID-19 as endemic, unless these parts of our health system are strengthened. Otherwise, we risk a complacent population or a public administration that stops focusing on COVID-19.
2. Involve expertise from outside MOH when making decisions.
We believe that it is the Minister’s right to build a team which he feels comfortable working with. Nevertheless, we recommend the Minister to get appropriate health advisors and implementation partners, especially from among health experts outside the MOH. Therefore, we urge that non-MOH health advisors and implementation partners be systematically embedded within the decision-making and implementation process, rather than be consulted on an ad hoc basis. A good working model is the Greater Klang Valley Task Force. The MHC and our member organisations are ready to assist.
3. Establish phased Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) for 30-60-90 Days
We commend the Minister’s 100 Day KPIs. However, as we are in the middle of a raging pandemic, some urgent measures must be taken earlier than the 100 days. Therefore, we suggest the Minister agrees on a phased set of KPIs to be achieved within 30, 60, and 90 days, together with MOH and non-MOH experts. This phased KPIs must be publicized for accountability, and also to unite all of Malaysia to achieve these KPIs together. These phased KPIs must be merged with the National Recovery Plan, Budget 2022 and Rancangan Malaysia ke-12, where Health must be at the forefront of all policy considerations.
We must now make up for some lost time due to the political instability of the last 18-months. Therefore, we stand behind the new Health Minister as he leads the MOH to turn the COVID-19 tide in Malaysia’s favour. We will fulfill our duties as responsible health professionals and citizens.
Read here (Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC), Sept 9, 2021)
‘The benefits of ventilation reach far beyond the coronavirus. What if we stop taking colds and flus for granted, too?
‘The challenge ahead is cost. Piping more outdoor air into a building or adding air filters both require more energy and money to run the HVAC system. (Outdoor air needs to be cooled, heated, humidified, or dehumidified based on the system; adding filters is less energy intensive but it could still require more powerful fans to push the air through.) For decades, engineers have focused on making buildings more energy efficient, and it’s “hard to find a lot of professionals who are really pushing indoor air quality,” Bahnfleth said. He has been helping set COVID-19 ventilation guidelines as chair of the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force. The pushback based on energy usage, he said, was immediate. In addition to energy costs, retrofitting existing buildings might require significant modifications. For example, if you add air filters but your fans aren’t powerful enough, you’re on the hook for replacing the fans too.
‘The question boils down to: How much disease are we willing to tolerate before we act? When London built its sewage system, its cholera outbreaks were killing thousands of people. What finally spurred Parliament to act was the stench coming off the River Thames during the Great Stink of 1858. At the time, Victorians believed that foul air caused disease, and this was an emergency. (They were wrong about exactly how cholera was spreading from the river—it was through contaminated water—but they had ironically stumbled upon the right solution.)’
Read here (The Atlantic, Sept 8, 2021)
“Breakthrough cases,” where people who are fully vaccinated get COVID-19, are still considered rare, even with Delta, according to the CDC, but if a vaccinated person is infected, they can transmit the virus. (The CDC is continuing to assess data on whether people with breakthrough cases who don’t have symptoms can spread the virus.) Here are five things you need to know about the Delta variant.
Read here (Yale Medicine, Sept 8, 2021)
‘Vaccine costs have pushed many developing countries to the end of the COVID-19 vaccination queue, with most low-income ones not even lining up. Worse, less vaccinated poor nations cannot afford fiscal efforts to provide relief or stimulate recovery, let alone achieve Agenda 2030.’
This story is well argued and contains several relevant and informative links under the following subheadings:
Read here (IPS News, Sept 7, 2021)
‘So who is capable of mounting this "superhuman" or "hybrid" immune response? People who have had a "hybrid" exposure to the virus. Specifically, they were infected with the coronavirus in 2020 and then immunized with mRNA vaccines this year. "Those people have amazing responses to the vaccine," says virologist Theodora Hatziioannou at Rockefeller University, who also helped lead several of the studies. "I think they are in the best position to fight the virus. The antibodies in these people's blood can even neutralize SARS-CoV-1, the first coronavirus, which emerged 20 years ago. That virus is very, very different from SARS-CoV-2."
Read here (NPR, Sept 7, 2021)
‘In recent days and weeks, there have been statements made about moving from a Covid-19 pandemic state to an endemic phase by the end of October 2021. The argument for this is that higher adult vaccination rates will be achieved nationwide by that time. So we need to ask this question: Is Malaysia ready to move to an endemic phase by the end of October 2021? I would like to describe some ‘movements’ we need to make as a nation for us to be ready to enter an endemic phase, as well as offer you a ‘report card’ of our preparedness measures.
Three possible ‘phases’ impending
‘Finally, a note about what is to come. No one can predict what will happen with Covid-19, but after hearing international experts and looking at our situation, I would like to offer some ideas.
‘We are currently in what I call the primary protection phase, whereby we are racing against Delta and trying to complete adult vaccination. Many states outside the Klang Valley are in trouble, and we are starting to see rising cases of children hospitalised nationally.
‘We will then move to what I call a consolidation phase, where we try to increase societal protection and reduce the spread of Covid-19 by vaccinating teenagers. Meanwhile, we have to look at the data carefully for any signs of waning immunity, and if adult boosters are required.
‘We then enter a phase I call the long-term danger phase. Here is where we must not let down our guard and risk more outbreaks, especially if worse variants appear. We can do this by a change in lifestyle to address the long term Covid-19 journey. There may be a need to invest in new vaccines.’
Read here (Code Blue, Sept 6, 2021)
‘The number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths in India has dropped dramatically since a second wave of the virus peaked in May. First the Alpha and then the Delta variant — which was first detected in India and is now causing strife elsewhere in the world — ravaged the country. But the seven-day average of daily reported cases this week is just a tenth of the 400,000 recorded during the peak.
‘According to health authorities, more than 439,000 people in India have now died with the virus. The relatively stable numbers, which lasted throughout August, prompted the World Health Organization's chief scientist to suggest India may have reached a state of "endemicity". That is, it may be endemic or constantly present in a particular place. So how did they get there and is the worst of the pandemic over for India?’
Read here (ABC News, Sept 6, 2021)
‘Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and his counterparts from the Group of Twenty (G20) are aiming to vaccinate at least 40 per cent of the world against COVID-19 by the end of the year. The target was announced at the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting, held from Sunday (Sep 5) to Monday in Rome.
‘In a press release on Monday, Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) said the meeting had also adopted a Health Ministers’ Declaration emphasising the importance of strong multilateral collaboration in managing the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting global recovery, with the World Health Organization (WHO) taking a central and leading role. The health ministers also agreed that vaccination was key.’
Read here (Channel News Asia, Sept 6, 2021)
‘Malaysia likely has four times more Covid-19 cases than are being officially reported due to limited testing, said Greater Klang Valley Special Task Force (GKVSTF) chief Dr Chong Chee Kheong. Dr Chong said he agreed with views that the real case tally could be undercounted as the government’s policy is to focus on testing symptomatic cases rather than all suspected cases. “On whether it is true that for every Covid-19 case we detect, there are three more undetected cases, that is true,” he told a media briefing today. The Ministry of Health (MOH) reported a record high 20,596 new Covid-19 cases yesterday.’
Read here (Code Blue, Aug 6, 2021)
‘Malaysia is not ready to enter an endemic phase of the Covid-19 crisis, which the health ministry said the country would reach by the end of October, according to a consultant doctor. Dr Amar-Singh HSS, a consultant paediatrician, said Malaysia could only enter an endemic phase by January or February. The term refers to the presence of an infectious disease being permanently present in the population...
‘Amar said Malaysia would endure three phases in the current health crisis. The current phase was the Primary Protection Phase, with the country racing to control the Delta variant and trying to complete adult vaccination. Many states outside the Klang Valley are in trouble and a rising number of children are being hospitalised, he said.
‘Next would be the Consolidation Phase, with increased societal protection, and teenagers being vaccinated to reduce the spread of the virus. (Yesterday, health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said vaccinations of teenagers would begin in Sarawak this month.)
‘Amar said the final phase would be the Long-term Danger Phase. “Here is where we must not let down our guard and risk more outbreaks, especially if worse variants appear. We can do this by a change in lifestyle to address the long-term Covid-19 journey,” he said, adding there may be a need to invest in new vaccines.’
Read here (Free Malaysia Today, Sept 5, 2021)
‘The first recorded death from COVID-19 in the U.S. occurred a month earlier than previously thought: A Kansas woman's death certificate was recently amended to say she died from the disease in January 2020, according to news reports.
‘The 78-year-old woman, Lovell "Cookie" Brown, died on Jan. 9, 2020 in Leavenworth, Kansas, several weeks before the first cases of COVID-19 were identified in the U.S., according to The Mercury News. Initially, Brown's death certificate said she died of a stroke and chronic obstructive lung disease. But in May 2021, her doctors quietly updated the certificate to add "COVID-19 pneumonia" as a cause of death, The Mercury News reported...
‘Before her death, Brown had experienced symptoms of headache, fever, diarrhea and body aches, and on Christmas Day 2019, her family remembered Brown saying that her favorite foods tasted bland, The Mercury News reported. When she began gasping for air, Brown was rushed to the hospital, where she spent a week in the ICU before her death.’
Read here (LiveScience, Sept 4, 2021)
‘WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence opens in Berlin backed by initial US$100 million from Germany. It aims to pool global disease data, and produce tools to predict outbreaks – but is reliant on countries taking part.’
Read here (South China Morning Post, Sept 3, 2021)
‘Vaccines don’t last forever. This is by design: Like many of the microbes they mimic, the contents of the shots stick around only as long as it takes the body to eliminate them, a tenure on the order of days, perhaps a few weeks.
‘What does have staying power, though, is the immunological impression that vaccines leave behind. Defensive cells study decoy pathogens even as they purge them; the recollections that they form can last for years or decades after an injection. The learned response becomes a reflex, ingrained and automatic, a “robust immune memory” that far outlives the shot itself, Ali Ellebedy, an immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, told me. That’s what happens with the COVID-19 vaccines, and Ellebedy and others told me they expect the memory to remain with us for a while yet, staving off severe disease and death from the virus at extraordinary
‘That prediction might sound incompatible with recent reports of the “declining” effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, and the “waning” of immunity. According to the White House, we’ll all need boosters very, very soon to fortify our crumbling defenses. The past few weeks of news have made it seem as though we’re doomed to chase SARS-CoV-2 with shot after shot after shot, as if vaccine protections were slipping through our fingers like so much sand.’
Read here (The Atlantic, Sept 3, 2021)
‘India has approved a new COVID-19 vaccine that uses circular strands of DNA to prime the immune system against the virus SARS-CoV-2. Researchers have welcomed news of the first DNA vaccine for people to receive approval anywhere in the world, and say many other DNA vaccines might soon be hot on its heels.
‘ZyCoV-D, which is administered into the skin without an injection, has been found to be 67% protective against symptomatic COVID-19 in clinical trials, and will probably start to be administered in India this month. Although the efficacy is not particularly high compared to that of many other COVID-19 vaccines, the fact that it is a DNA vaccine is significant, say researchers.
‘It is proof of the principle that DNA vaccines work and can help in controlling the pandemic, says Peter Richmond, a paediatric immunologist at the University of Western Australia in Perth. “This is a really important step forward in the fight to defeat COVID-19 globally, because it demonstrates that we have another class of vaccines that we can use.”
Read here (Nature, Sept 2, 2021)
1. Undocumented migrants in novel infectious outbreaks
‘Malaysia, sadly, is reaping the consequences of decades of corrupt mismanagement of the “supply chain” for foreign labour, viz. a persistently large pool of undocumented migrant workers, often in congested workplaces and dormitories, who have strong incentives to avoid contact with government agencies.
‘Already fearful of detection, arrest, and deportation in pre-pandemic times, undocumented migrants’ insecurities were exacerbated by the policy reversals of the Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN) and its contradictory messaging over an offer of temporary amnesty to facilitate Covid testing, contact tracing, isolation & treatment, and vaccination.
‘This deeply rooted problem with undocumented migrants, which persists despite repeated rounds of amnesties, will prolong our catastrophic experience with Covid-19 (and future pandemics as well).’
2. Local manufacture of vaccines
‘The major bottleneck was vaccine supply. The likelihood of further variants and endemic Covid emphasises the importance of local capacity for manufacturing vaccines and other pandemic essentials, as part of Malaysia’s pandemic preparedness.’
Read here (The Malay Mail, Sept 1, 2021)
‘People who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 appear to have a much lower likelihood of developing long Covid than unvaccinated people even when they contract the coronavirus, a study published Wednesday indicated. The research is among the earliest evidence that immunization substantially decreases the risk of long Covid even when a breakthrough infection occurs. Already, researchers had said that by preventing many infections entirely, vaccines would reduce the number of cases of long Covid, but it wasn’t clear what the risk would be for people who still got infected after vaccination.’
Read here (STAT, Sept 1, 2021)
‘While the vaccines don’t protect against infection as well as they do against severe disease, the shots are keeping people off ventilators and from dying, Kathryn Edwards, an infectious disease pediatrician at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, said August 26 in a news briefing sponsored by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “We cannot lose the forest for the trees.”
Read here (ScienceNews, Aug 31, 2021)
‘As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines continues, public attention is increasingly turning to booster shots, which aim to top up immunity if it wanes. But is a third dose needed? And if so, when? Let’s take a look at what the data tell us so far about how long immunity from COVID-19 vaccines might last.
Read here (The Conversation, Aug 30, 2021)
John Campbell shares his findings on Omicron. View here (Youtube, Nov 27, 2021)