The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

How We’re Making Sure Covid Goes Chronic

So, you may all recall, for much of the first eight months or so of the pandemic, people would natter on about how “viruses always become less deadly.” I never bought that.

You may have noticed that Covid variants are not less deadly, but more deadly.

I was wondering about this the other day, and got my answer, courtesy of a specialist in mass murder.

In a vacuum, sure, viruses evolve towards a situation where they reproduce more, which tends toward lower lethatlity and more chronic infection. What they want, like most lifeforms, is more offspring. But this isn’t a vacuum, they’re evolving against public health measures

The first big breakout variant, the UK strain, was specifically adapted against masks. It was much more contagious, so minor mask lapses were more easily exploited. It spread more evenly, relying less on super-spreader events, and was more infectious to children, who mask poorly.

The next big breakout was the South African strain, which was part of the family of Covid strains that contain a mutation colorfully labeled “Eek” which evades antibodies, especially from natural infection or weaker vaccines, because that was/is becoming a bigger impediment than masks.

Now that MRNA vaccines are becoming the tool of choice, if the virus is allowed to continue to circulate in a partially vaccinated western population, it is only a matter of time before that becomes the biggest impediment to Covid’s success, and viruses are selected for resistance to it.

I feel a little silly not realizing this myself, as it’s Natural Selection 101.

What this means is that half-assing a workable measure only allows the virus to adapt to defeat it. If you don’t mask/shutdown/quarantine/track-and-trace properly, if vaccines aren’t quickly spread to virtually everyone, Covid adapts.

By leaving large chunks of the population effectively un-protected, we have ensured Covid’s continued evolution into forms optimized against our half-assed measures. This means everyone has to be protected and quickly, and that includes people in other countries. Just protecting your own population is not enough — especially if you half-ass it and don’t insist on compliance.

This suggests a rather bleak future for us v.s. Covid: A chronic, but still fairly deadly, disease which also gives some people long-Covid, i.e., impairment long after the initial infection.

This will allow pharma to sell booster shots every year. Pfizer wants to sell them for $150 a shot. Small and medium businesses will continue to shut and large businesses will continue to expand their market share since they can use the internet and delivery to cut around retail distribution. Those retail businesses which pretty much have to remain will continue to put workers at risk, and the same will be true of production and distribution centers, where low-paid workers must come together in large groups.

Countries which wish to opt-out of this future will have to go to hard borders with mandatory quarantines (jail sentence for skippers; track-and-trace and quick shutdowns against any break-outs). Although the main transmission vector is airborne, such countries will probably want both robots to offload freight, and then temporarily isolate shipped goods (especially anything coming in by air.)

I do hope this is all wrong and that vaccines can get Covid under control by main force, but I fear my desire for a decent future is overcoming my analytical sense when I wish for such.

In some ways, Covid has been a perfect test of humanity, which most of the “West” has failed abysmally, and we’ll discuss that more in a future article.

(The more people subscribe or donate the more I write and the happier I am. So please consider doing so if you like my writing.)


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 30, 2021


The Squad and Kabuki Votes


  1. NR

    If vaccines aren’t quickly spread to virtually everyone, Covid adapts.

    Right-wingers are the driving force of this, at least in the United States. Right-wing anti-vaccine propaganda is rampant, Republican-run states are passing laws forbidding private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, and right-wing hero Ron DeSantis is even going so far as to fine cruise lines $5,000 per person required to show proof of vaccination.

    Stupid right-wingers (but I repeat myself) are going to be the death of many, many people.

  2. VietnamVet

    The neoliberal West is going with mRNA vaccines rather than public health measures because they make money for the connected. Not much different than for-profit monoculture industrial farming selecting for glyphosate resistant weeds. Only the restoration of functional governments and increased taxes (the public health system going on a war footing) will end the pandemic and eliminate the virus. As long as corporate oligarchs are in charge, this won’t happen. The unvaccinated will be scapegoats for the chaos. The only nations left to carry on human civilization will be in Asia and the South Pacific; that is if nuclear or climate change extinction events don’t end it all, first.

  3. NL

    The quote is rubbish, designed to blame the so-called vaccine resistance for the failure of the leadership to deal with the pandemic. Just read it:

    “…if the virus is allowed to continue to circulate in a partially vaccinated western population, it is only a matter of time before that becomes the biggest impediment to Covid’s success, and viruses are selected for resistance to it.”

    “a partially vaccinated western population” — the solution is obvious vaccinate them all — punitive vaccinations — pass laws, throw them in jail, fines — it’s 1850s all over.

    People, don’t be fools – use your head. Vaccine-resistant virus (assuming that the vaccine is actually effective against the virus) will evolve in those who are vaccinated but did not develop strong immunity (or lost it, see below) against the virus for whatever reason (for example, people on immunosuppressants, immunocompromised, elderly, frail, malnourished, drug users). There is a good example of how this will happen — resistance to antibiotics. The problem with antibiotics is that they are over-prescribed and misused. People start taking antibiotics and then stop before finishing the whole dose, what this does is that the germs most sensitive to the antibiotic die, but those who are a little bit resistant survive. If the person took the whole dose, then even the little bit resistant germ would die. These little bit resistant germs go on to the next person -> the same thing happens in that person –> after a while a germ evolves over multiple rounds of selection for antibiotic resistant that can survive in very very high doses of the antibiotic –> boom, we have antibiotic resistance.

    Same may happen with SARS-CoV-2. In a person that is NOT vaccinated, a virus variant resistant to the vaccine has NO advantage, regular virus easily over-runs it, and it disappears. In a vaccinated person, vaccine-resistant virus has advantage over the regular type and easily outcompetes regular virus. For a vaccine resistant virus variant to evolve it has to go from one vaccinated person to another. In the very very old days in certain countries, temperature was taken before administering vaccine to make sure that the person is not sick (fever) or immunosuppressed (lower than normal temperature).

    It’s like evolution 101 — without selective pressure there is no evolution.

    Don’t believe me? Read the above quote again. The quote clearly states that the mask-resistant variant evolved in people who wore masks but had lapses –> ‘ so minor mask lapses were more easily exploited’. Mask wearing with lapses equals weekly working vaccine. (Putting aside the fact that a more contagious virus would outcompete the regular virus regardless of whether people wear masks not). The author does not seem to be very bright and has contradicting statements in the passage.

    It is now widely acknowledged that the immunity created by the vaccine wears out slowly and becomes insufficient in 8-12 months. This means that at the tail end of protection, people will be only weekly protected, and the virus will have plentiful opportunities to evolve resistance in these weekly protected individuals! Resistance to the vaccine is inevitable. (Of course, the pharma will develop a different vaccine against the resistant virus, and you will all need to be vaccinated yearly to maintain your health and life.)

    Vaccine is not a panacea or a cure. No vaccine by itself every eradicated a pathogen (not even the smallpox — it was a identify/trace/isolate). It is one medical treatment among many that together can stop the spread of the virus and eradicate it. We need a new Leicester method! We need a diversity of different vaccine types (especially inactivated virus vaccines that are not available in the ‘West’), facial protection (specifically N95 respirators), test/trace/isolate, indoor ventilation and air purification, etc.

    We will not be happy and safe until we eradiate the virus — not manage, not ‘live with it’, not mitigate — say it with me together —> We need to ERADICATE the virus.

  4. Ven

    I have a question on the vaccine.

    We know that COVID has a low fatality rate, say 10x higher than flu; and that it primarily affects older people. We also know that vitamin D seems to be protective, and ivermectin effective in early treatment. And finally the reason hospitals couldn’t cope is that they have been eviscerated, such that they couldn’t cope with a caseload that was 10x higher than flu.

    For the vaccine, we know that it reduces risk of severe hospitalisation by c.1% in absolute terms – remembering that the risk of a severe outcome is low (hence the oft-quoted relative risk reduction of 90%). We also know that it has not been properly tested, is marketed by companies like Pfizer that have a history of racketeering, and several virologists have pointed out that it could lead to antibody dependent enhancement, and the side-effects that are currently being reported. Vaccine boosters are thought likely to enhance this ADE.

    So why is govt pushing an untested vaccine when ivermectin and others seem to work. Is it really because they have done a medical cost benefit calculation? Or simply that they want to reduce the case load of hospitals, so that they can justify opening up the economy again so that western corporations don’t fall behind China?

    The media blackout on any vaccine debate, and the implicit argument to trust our leaders, only adds to the fog.

  5. Mark Pontin

    Ian W: “Now that MRNA vaccines are becoming the tool of choice, if the virus is allowed to continue to circulate in a partially vaccinated western population, it is only a matter of time before that becomes the biggest impediment to Covid’s success, and viruses are selected for resistance to it.”

    Let’s start with the question that the people who argue this have never answered yet and that you didn’t ask your interlocutor: If the mRNA vaccines target the spike protein that’s the single, very specific mechanism which enables the coronavirus to invade human cells, how much can that mechanism mutate (to evade the current mRNA vaccines) and still do the work of invading human cells?

    Sure, one should never underrate the power of Nature’s infinite mutation machine. But if the very mechanism that enables the virus to invade our cells is targeted by the mRNA technology, how much latitude does it really have to change that mechanism and still invade human cells?

    I don’t have any knowledge of the molecular architectures here. Maybe it’s possible. But at least as likely not. In which case, you may argue, the coronavirus would only need to mutate a whole new mechanism for getting into human cells.

    Fine; assume that happens. That in turn would only require that the mRNA vaccines be re-programmed to target the virus’s new mechanism. In principle, sequencing of the new virus variant and then the design of the mRNA-based counter-measure could be done in a day. (Seriously.)

    There’s a larger point here. Lots of times you’ll hear people with accredited biomedical expertise in some area or other — epidemiologists are the worst, because they’re essentially only statisticians — hold forth on the basis of that expertise. The thing is, we’re not necessarily in their classical biomedical world anymore, as of the last twenty years.

    I’ll never forget being at this conference around 2012 for conservation biologists — men and women with many decades of being professors and so forth — when a speaker with knowledge of the new synthetic biology got up and explained to them what was technologically possible at that point (e.g. de-extincting species, augmenting species’ capabilities to survive climate change given that there’s not enough evolutionary time for them to adapt, and so forth).

    These very mature professional conservation biologists had maybe _less_ ability to get their minds around all this — that human beings could now bioengineer in this way, essentially — than the normal person in the street. It contravened their existing expertise and beliefs. They were deeply shocked and upset. Some of them argued violently with the speaker that these things couldn’t be possible — or shouldn’t be — and some left the room, with a couple of them looking like they might throw up.

    This brings us back to RepublicanDalek.

    Sure, it’s an astute (but obvious) point that SARS-CoV2 is evolving in response to the selection pressure of, say, masks (the UK) and antibodies (S. Africa). Nevertheless, think through just how the mRNA vaccine technology works: it delivers instructions to your immune system to target the coronavirus spike protein.

    Okay. That in turn means that the coronavirus _never_ encounters the mRNA technology, only the results of the payload of instructions that it delivers to a human immune system. In which case, contra RepublicanDalek’s claims, the virus has no way to directly adapt to the mRNA vaccines.

    I’d love it if you went back to RepublicanDalek and asked by what specific biomolecular mechanisms the coronavirus could evolve to escape: –

    [A] the reality that the currently existing mRNA vaccines instruct human immune systems to target the spike protein that’s the single existing mechanism that enables the coronavirus to invade human cells;

    [B] the reality that the coronavirus never encounters the mRNA vaccine, only the instructions it’s given to a human immune system — and furthermore the mRNA vaccine technology can be reprogrammed to deliver as infinite a number of payloads of biogenetic information to human immune systems as is commensurate with the library of biomolecular possibilities that might exist.

    I don’t know what I don’t know. So if RepublicanDalek has answers that I don’t, I’d love to hear them — and so it’d be nice if you happened to ask them the above questions.

    But if all you get in response is general retorts that the person who proposed them (me) is full of Faustian, hubristic delusions about human bioengineering capability, that’s bogus. That’s not a real answer as to how the SARS-CoV2 virus could evolve variants that escape the mRNA vaccine.

    Real answers require explications of mechanisms of, firstly, targeting specificity and, secondly, biomolecular architecture that would enable them to happen. Accept no substitute.

  6. Mark Pontin

    Ian W: “This will allow pharma to sell booster shots every year. Pfizer wants to sell them for $150 a shot.”

    Good luck with that. (Granted, Pfizer might be able to pay off the right politicians in some countries.) Because the situation will have changed by this time next year

    I know of four companies developing oral and nasal therapeutics/prophylactics against the coronavirus, for instance, so there’s probably a dozen more such efforts out there. The FDA process for a therapeutic/prophylactic sprayed into mouth or nose requires that it show efficacy and minimal/acceptable toxicity. New modalities or delivery systems can typically pass in a year, and I think at least one of these efforts has already entered trials.

    Beyond that, Pfizer has Moderna for a mRNA vaccine competitor. The adenovirus vector vaccines, Sputnik V and Oxford-AstroZeneca, are cheaper and easier to transport and store (and British-Swedish AstroZeneca has begun cooperating with Russia’s Gamaleya Institute behind the scenes). And they’re only the front wave of a hundred-odd other SARS-CoV2 vaccines in development.

    As far as the world at large getting the mRNA technology, my guess is that it’s like nuclear, inasmuch as that now it’s known to be doable, other people will do it. I wouldn’t be surprised if China cracks it within a couple of years. (I won’t be surprised if they’ve cracked it by this year’s end.)

    But it’s more complicated — because more bleeding edge — than you think. I know Moderna only got it working in 2019.

  7. caro

    I agree that covid is actually pretty limited in its evolutionary possibilities (but agree that we’re doing our best to select for more contagious variants) but as a relatively young person working in a genomics lab at the interface of plant breeding and conservation genetics doing things like assisted gene flow, I feel compelled to point out that we absolutely do not have the ability to de-extinct species or engineer their capabilities to survive climate change except in very limited cases in the most narrow technical sense. And I imagine at least some of those old professors were so angry because, ethical issues aside, part of the reason it’s not possible is because we simply don’t fund enough research in ecology and evolutionary biology to have the first goddamn clue about what we’d need to change to make a species more resilient to climate change let alone how it would impact their evolutionary trajectory and even that is simple and tractable compared to our unbelievably pitiful ecological knowledge – we are completely unaware of many many species and even those we do know, their interactions and roles in the ecosystem, how communities form, how this interacts with evolution – we have no knowledge at all or only very crude outlines.. Tryng to use the technical tools we have would be like NASA trying to build a Star Trek warp drive based on a 3 year old’s drawing of the Enterprise.

  8. RobotPliers

    I’m not entirely sure of the logic laid out here, but I do agree that at least in the medium term covid may be getting relatively more deadly. I suspect this is due to it evolving to better access and replicate within host cells rather than against (eg) masking. It also seems less likely to evolve specifically toward lower lethality due to the big lag between when an individual becomes infectious and when they show symptoms, plus the relatively large number of asymptomatic infections. Seems like there’s less pressure on becoming benign due to such a loose coupling.

    It will probably become “less lethal” simply when we’ve all been vaxed or exposed and have some innate immune response to it and it’s variants. I doubt the virus itself will become “nicer” to us at any point.

  9. Daniel Lynch

    The science of virus’s is certainly not my area of knowledge, but applying Darwin’s theory of evolution it stands to reason that covid will attempt to evolve in a way that allows it to survive and multiply.

    But disagree with Ian’s conclusion that the result will be countries sealing their borders, etc.. A few countries will, but mostly, as we have seen in the West, they will simply allow the virus to “run through” and if people die or suffer long term impairments, so be it. With a death rate around 1%, our psychopathic rulers will gamble that they will be in the 99% that will survive and it’s just too bad about the 1% who die.

  10. BC Nurse Prof

    Ivermectin is not being used because it cannot be patented. The Japanese researchers who developed this drug and received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine donated the patent to the world.

    That’s why no company wants to push this cure – they cannot patent it. The pharmaceutical companies are actively telling people that Ivermectin is dangerous and shouldn’t be taken. This is a crime against humanity.

    In many countries Ivermectin is for sale over the counter. The FLCCC has sent representatives to India (the largest drug manufacturer in the world) to tell them that Ivermectin works. Now two states in India have approved its use. We’ll see if more states approve it.

    See here for more info:

    How to dose yourself with Ivermectin:

    with doses per kg or pound on page 2. Get your Ivermectin from a doctor (called Stromectol in Canada and used for parasites) or at the feed store as horse wormer. I recommend the oral preparation for horses (doesn’t taste like anything at all) or the sterile injection bottle (draw out with a needle and syringe and squirt into a glass of water, then drink the water).

    Remember: one dose of Ivermectin will cure long haul Covid. You’re welcome.

  11. bruce wilder

    If the vaccine’s effect is not sterilizing, the virus has less “incentive” to evolve to evade it. The virus does not care how sick it makes you except to the extent that making you sicker somehow makes you more contagious. If, despite the vaccine, you can still contract the virus and transmit it, that is good enough for the virus to fulfill its mission to reproduce and multiply.

    The implications of a non-sterilizing vaccine are both that virus variants that evade it may not be much advantaged in evolutionary competition and also that simultaneously vaccinating everyone may not eliminate virus. This was accomplished with smallpox and has nearly been accomplished with polio, but it is not at all clear that it would be feasible with this virus and its variants.

    That the mRNA vaccines are likely to be effective for only a short time, with a half-life of perhaps a year in their ability to reduce the severity of disease when contracted is more worrisome and opens the lucrative path to boosters or annual mixed Corona/influenza vaccines.

    The propaganda machine has been turned recently to emphasize the possibility that this virus was originally a product of deliberate genetic engineering, not an accident of nature. The speculation on this point has little to support it so far that I have seen, for or against the proposition of lab release of an engineered virus; it is all paranoia and politics. But, it is possible and has happened before (which is rarely admitted, and I consider that omission a tell). Real engineering might have implications for the molecular potential to naturally evolve evasion of a vaccine’s aid to the immune system (and different vaccines strategically seek to boost different aspects of the human immune system).

    One implication of lab release of an engineered virus is that it will not be the last instance. Worrying about what nature might do blindly and randomly has a companion now.

  12. BC Nurse Prof

    Escape from a lab has happened before, and in the U.S. no less. Read Laurie Garrett’s book, “The Coming Plague” for a description of how that happened, among other even more frightening scenarios. I read this book about once every other year just to keep myself reminded.

  13. Jan Wiklund

    Viruses always get less deadly in the end – but that may take decades, if not centuries. It’s not something to wait for.

  14. NR

    We also know that it has not been properly tested

    No, we don’t know this. This is right-wing propaganda. Stop spreading it.

    The testing data for COVID vaccines is publicly available and was consistent with FDA requirements.

  15. NR

    Oh and by the way, the issue of antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) is another anti-vax scare tactic being pushed by right-wingers, but here’s what actual scientists say about it:

    Scientists say that ADE is pretty much a non-issue with COVID-19 vaccines, but what are they basing this on?

    From the early stages of COVID-19 vaccine development, scientists sought to target a SARS-CoV-2 protein that was least likely to cause ADE. For example, when they found out that targeting the nucleoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 might cause ADE, they quickly abandoned that approach. The safest route seemed to be targeting the S2 subunit of the spike protein, and they ran with that, wrote Derek Lowe, PhD, in his Science Translational Medicine blog “In the Pipeline.”

    Scientists designed animal studies to look for ADE. They looked for it in human trials, and they’ve been looking for it in the real-world data for COVID-19 vaccines with emergency use authorization. So far, they haven’t seen signs of it. In fact, the opposite is happening, Lowe noted.

    “[W]hat seems to be beyond doubt is that the vaccinated subjects, over and over, show up with no severe coronavirus cases and no hospitalizations. That is the opposite of what you would expect if ADE were happening,” he wrote.

    Furthermore, ADE is an acute problem, and it can be very dramatic. If it was an issue with these vaccines, we would have spotted it by now, said Brian Lichty, PhD, an associate professor in pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster University in Toronto.

    “It’ll kill you quickly. In all the places I’m aware of ADE happening, it is an acute, mostly cytokine-driven event,” he told MedPage Today.

  16. bruce wilder

    Viruses always get less deadly in the end – but that may take decades, if not centuries.

    Is that strictly true? I wonder.

    There’s an evolutionary competition going on between host and virus and if the virus is not to be beaten into extinction by the resistance or immunity of its host, it has to blindly find its way to some solution that allows reproductive persistence. There are many possible solutions, some of which might lead to some form of co-existence or even, I suppose, incorporation or a sort of symbiosis. Given trillions of trials, more than one “solution” may emerge and the “solution”, as with influenza may simply be endless recurrence of variation sufficient to evade host-acquired resistance, with lethality down to the luck of the draw and special opportunities in the environment (e.g. trench warfare, peak air travel, urban gay promiscuity)

    Did smallpox become less lethal? It did and it didn’t — the parallel cowpox was part of its solution and ultimately the means by which human science undid it. Has rabies? Polio, some have argued, became more virulent as hygiene improved. Other, more complex pests, like the parasitic malaria, have not become less nasty. I do not think I know the story of the cycles of bubonic plague, though I know it persists, though as a now treatable disease. I have watched enough English historical costume dramas to know the “sweating sickness” that dramatically knocked off so many in Tudor England disappeared without, as far as I know, a diagnosis in modern scientific terms.

  17. Ché Pasa

    So we can say with a fair amount of confidence that Our Rulers have pretty much agreed among themselves on an acceptable level of die-off from COVID among the old, sick, poor, disabled and minorities. Nothing can be done about it, oh well, toobad sosad.

    It’s been pretty obvious that this has been the case throughout the pandemic, and nothing has arisen to change it. The dead continue to pile up, but the Health Care Industry has got a handle on it, and the piles of bodies stay largely out of sight and out of mind — except in India right now…..

    As for all the alternative cures and treatments beyond or instead of the vaccines, yeah no. Every chronic condition, plague, major and minor disease of any kind has given rise to claims of conspiracy and fraudulent treatments and cures. Every. Single. One. In this case, the public health system has been decimated by decades of rent and profit seeking administrators, disinvestment, and political gamesmanship. There was no real system left, as we saw with the badly botched tests, various vaccine snafus, overwhelmed hospitals and mortuaries, and poorly conceived and administered treatments at first — and in some cases continuing. Yet none of the supposed alternatives has quite panned out, either. Just a reminder: placebos “work” too. Prayer “works” too. Both probably work as well as or better than all the alternative cures and treatments out there.

    I’m supposed to get my second dose of Moderna vaccine today, but then I get a message that even with the full dose of vaccine I may not develop antibodies because I’m also on immunosuppressants. We’re being told that, in essence, people like me are shit out of luck. Oh well, toobad sosad.

    But then part of my medication routine includes Plaquenil and Vitamin D. If I should happen to get the COVID there are treatments! Yes!Primarily oxygen saturation and build up of resistance through whatever is handy. And so it goes.

    Obviously, there are many people delighted with the die-off — so long as it doesn’t include them. Many of those in the higher orders are certain that their vaccinations and health care regimens will protect them no matter what, and if somehow they are unlucky, their heirs will carry on.

    I don’t know how we change this situation for the better. Our systems and institutions are not up to the job, that’s for sure.

  18. Ven

    Actually, an EUA shortcuts the normal approval process. It should only be used when no other treatment is feasible (Ivermectin?). Further the clinical trials did not progress long enough to test for longer term side effects.

    The Pfizer trial involved 42,000 people, about half of whom got the experimental vaccine and the rest a placebo. In total, 170 people (0.4%) fell ill with covid-19. Eight (0.04%) of them were in the vaccine group; 162 (0.77%) had received the placebo. Note ‘fell ill’ was defined as testing positive for the PCR test with at least one symptoms, not whether the person was seriously ill. In the study, their ’secondary efficacy analysis for severe COVID-19 cases after two doses showed that 1 person in the vaccinated group and 3 in the placebo group developed severe COVID.

    Severe or life-threatening adverse events were observed in 1.2% of vaccine recipients vs 0.6% of placebo recipients. And that was after just 2 months of monitoring.

    So the vaccine absolute efficacy was 0.73% risk reduction (in the loose sense of COVID infection, ie not severe), whilst the severe or life-threatening adverse events were +0.6% relative to the placebo group.

    It is all in the Pfizer paper.

  19. Oakchair


    There is literally zero long term let alone mid term data on Covid vaccines because they have not even been around for the time period to even begin to study them.

    The FDA approved Covid Vaccines on emergency basis. They didn’t even go through the loose standard FDA process. A process that regularly approves drugs with little to no benefit and that cause massive harm.

    It’s interesting how you’re saying it is right wing to not believe a drug corporation selling it’s drug. A corporation that has been fined billions of dollars for fraud and lying about their drugs. Also interesting how it is now right wing to abide by medical privacy and not have it be required to show “papers”. Round a circle ideology goes.

    Maybe you should avoid using ad homiem logical fallacies in order to distract from your dishonesty.

  20. Craig Morris

    @NR: No, we don’t know this. This is right-wing propaganda. Stop spreading it.

    It is simply impossible to know the long term consequences of the vaccine. You can’t know the consequences of something 2 years down the road when it has only been around for a year. We know that spike proteins from the vaccine attack epithelial cells in the the vascular system. What is the long term consequence of this, especially or children and young people. No one knows and to say you do is ridiculous.

  21. Stirling Newberry

    Does nobody do the homework? Yes, the disease dials back – if its kill rate is extraordinarily high. Think AIDS, or Ebola, or myxomatosis in Rabbits.

    It is in the literature.

  22. Synoptocon

    Rule #1: Don’t take science advice from an being that can’t cope with stairs and believes a plunger is a lethal weapon.

  23. NR

    And yet still has quite stringent approval requirements, which were observed with the COVID vaccines.

    So the vaccine absolute efficacy was 0.73% risk reduction (in the loose sense of COVID infection, ie not severe),

    It is extremely misleading to cite absolute risk reduction given that this factor is extremely sensitive to time. The relative risk reduction is the much more relevant statistic in this case, because we have no way of knowing how many study participants were exposed to COVID during the study, but that number is certain to increase in the weeks and months after the study, and so the absolute risk reduction will improve along with it.

    And by the way, here is what the report on the Moderna vaccine says about severe adverse events:

    Serious adverse events were rare, and the incidence was similar in the two groups.

  24. NR


    It is right-wing to repeat right-wing propaganda that is contradicted by facts and evidence. For you to call me dishonest while defending people who make up lies designed to mislead the public (and make no mistake, the right-wingers lying about vaccines now are the very same people who were lying about COVID not being dangerous all last year) is really quite something.

  25. Things today – including viruses – are not things themselves, they are shadows of themselves determined by social, cultural, geographical, economic, political and religious variables. After an initial surge, the problem now is getting people to take the vax. People don’t do well with chimeras, shadows, and superstition. Only half the population has been fully vaccinated. And therefore, C-19 will continue to circulate in the environment.

  26. NL

    Kurt McGill
    “Only half the population has been fully vaccinated. And therefore, C-19 will continue to circulate in the environment.”

    Nooo, it will circulate because vaccines are not cure, not miracles. They are a medical treatment that helps stave off the virus to some extent but has limitations, like it does not work in immunocompromised people, its effectiveness wanes, it needs to be administrated over and over, it causes side effects.

    No single treatment can stop a pandemic. Only a combination of health measures will stop it… or it will go away on its onw for reasons unknown to us.

    Seems to me, people on this blog and out there are more afraid of the word ‘eradicate’ than they are afraid of the virus.

  27. NL

    bruce wilder
    Did smallpox become less lethal?

    It did. “By the mid-20th century, variola minor occurred along with variola major … as v. minor spread all over the US, into Canada, the South American countries, and Great Britain, it became the dominant form of smallpox, further reducing mortality rates.”

    Was smallpox eradicated by vaccination alone — No. It was a combination of measures. Even Wiki admits to this:

    “To eradicate smallpox, each outbreak had to be stopped from spreading, by isolation of cases and vaccination of everyone who lived close by.[105] This process is known as “ring vaccination”. The key to this strategy was the monitoring of cases in a community (known as surveillance) and containment. ”

    Surveillance and containment, isolation !!! — Look it up — comes from Leicester in England.

    A large body of evidence shows that the key to eliminating the diseases of the 1800s-early 1900s (smallpox, whooping cough, dysentery, scarlet fever, etc) was improvement in sanitation, working conditions and nutrition of the people (primarily workers). To put it simply, people stopped living in and eating and drinking their own excrement and started eating better and having more time to cover from work — all the things that remove the pathogens and strengthen human immunity. These were disease of the primitive capitalist accumulation. When vaccines were introduced, these diseases were already retreating.

  28. Michael

    I have read the following comments with a mixture of both amusement and horror.

    @ NL

    The problem with the “vaccine hesitant” population has been remarked upon for weeks – even in the mainstream press – so it is remarkable to find anyone holding on so tightly to the right-wing anti-vaxxer narrative.

    While vaccines are widely available, the people most in need (typically low-wage, hourly laborers) are the least likely able to find the information necessary to get vaccinated, have the time available to schedule two shots, and the time/money to deal with lost hours at work from any side-effects.

    @ VEN

    COVID19 has a low fatality rate? In Pennsylvania, during the first few months of the pandemic, the CFR was 16.3 percent for hospitalized patients. By comparison, the CFR for influenza in hospitalized patients is usually about 3 percent:

    @ Mark Pontin

    The mRNA vaccines do not target the S-protein; they target specific codons of the S-protein found in the original strain. Should enough mutations occur among the relevant codons, the virus will demonstrate varying levels of immunity escape.

    Precisely the reason the efficacy of the vaccines is lower against certain extant variants – and quite likely to eventually prove more efficient at immune escape due to the selective pressures RepublicanDalek mentions.

    However, @ bruce wilder makes a good point: the virus’ replication machinery is perfectly happy as long as it continues to replicate. The problem is mutations are not usually confined to a single task. The increasing number of children being hospitalized appears to be just one side effect of the growing population of living petri dishes our societies are creating.

    And finally…

    @ NR

    Hospitalizations and death are not the only outcomes of ADE as regards coronavirus vaccines:

    Chinese macaques immunized with a modified vaccinia virus expressing S protein then challenged with SARS-CoV-1 did not develop clinical disease, but histopathology showed lung injury. This injury was characterized by decreased wound healing, and increased pro-inflammatory macrophages expressing IL-6, IL-8, and CCL2.

    It is also notable that Pfizer was decidedly confrontational in responding to the FDA review board’s requests. I have significant doubts about the thoroughness of their testing regimes, and – given the post-trial incidents associated with the J&J and AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines – telling people approval requirements were “stringent” is a rather questionable stance to take.

  29. Ven


    I am not an anti-vaxxer, but I would like to make an informed choice, and not trust ‘my leaders’ or Pfizer.

    I said in my very first comment that COVID probably has a fatality rate 10x higher than flu – which your stats have confirmed. However the rate of people getting serious COVID seems to be low. And the fact that the absolute risk reduction of COVID vs the increased risk of severe adverse events from vaccine, should give some pause for thought.

    There was an article in the Lancet dissecting the experience in Israel, from 24 Jan to 3 Apr 2021

    In summary:
    – Number of people (over 16 years age) fully vaccinated (2 doses) = 4.7m of population of 6.5m
    – Of unvaccinated group – 39,065 had symptomatic COVID19 (I’m ignoring asymptomatic, given false positive of the PCR test), of which 3,200 had severe / critical hospitalisation
    – Of the vaccinated group – 1000 had symptomatic COVID 19, of which 364 had severe / critical hospitalisation
    – So, on a simplistic basis, % of vaccinated people with critical hospitalisation = 0.0077%; % of unvaccinated people with critical hospitalisation = 0.1778%
    – So relative efficacy = 96%
    – Absolute efficacy = 0.17% – reduced risk of severe / critical hospitalisation. Study period of 2 months; so let’s allow for full year, by multiplying by 6 => 1% risk reduction
    – Interesting to note that the people who did develop symptomatic covid, had a far higher rate of severe hospitalisation
    – The study did not cover serious adverse events

  30. ComedyDrama

    The thing is – Ivermectin is THE solution to the pandemic. I know it works because I treated myself with it. It was the most dramatic improvement in my health after medicating that I ever experienced. I’d been moderately sick for a few days, I got the drug and I was mostly cured overnight. I was astonished.

    Hundreds of thousands of people have been cured with IVM to date. I wonder for how long it will be kept under a lid. I wonder why non-western aligned nations aren’t pushing it more. Perhaps the odium of Trump’s bleach treatment is too strong.

    This case has made me lose all hope in our civilization to be honest.

  31. gnokgnoh

    ComedyDrama, don’t lose all hope in civilization just yet. A very recent NIH-funded study demonstrates the benefits of ivermectin. It’s still mixed and not as conclusive as your one example, but hopeful.

  32. iwouldntpissonneoliberalsiftheywereonfire

    Who cares? Americans deserve it. Fat bastards can barely even roll out of bed every morning. Why are you so concerned about Americans anyways Ian? The best thing to do is to let them fail. They are beyond redemption.

  33. “Perhaps the odium of Trump’s bleach treatment is too strong.”

    No, this is much bigger than Trump. Hydroxychloroquine was more suppressed in France. Ivermectin was more suppressed in South Africa.

    People aren’t grasping the scale of what I call the Medical Mafia.

    Gary Null started speaking about the “politics of medicine” over 40 years ago, because you can’t understand why helpful therapies have been long suppressed, without looking at politics and financial corruption. He himself was targeted by a paid “debunker” troll, named Frederic Stare, IIRC.

    There’s both financial and non-financial inputs to dysfunctional science. See my sub-reddit bad_science_culture, for a scant, but useful overview.

    Someday I’ll get around to adding how financially driven interests rapidly suppressed information and research into widespread aluminum contamination. See youtubes by Dr. Chris Exley, if you can’t wait for this exciting update.

    There may be some justice coming for the worst perps, like Fauci. See interviews of Peter Navarro on warroom pandemic. BTW, Navarro recently said that Fauci kept his mouth shut about his authorization of gain of function research, even after covid hit the US.

    BTW, there’s now a “Vietnamese variant”, which is supposedly more contagious than the UK or Indian variant. Vietnam’s vaccination rate is only 1%, so maybe they will go full blast on ivermectin. Apparently, Uttar Pradesh aggressively promoted ivermectin as part of a home care kit, and crushed their curve. (See youtube on this by Dr. Campbell, “Concerns from Vietnam”).

  34. Soredemos


    It’s not that what you’re describing doesn’t exist, it does, and it’s immensely frustrating to try and counter. A lot of people are being willfully foolish; the way that vaccines (and even simple measures like wearing a mask) have become part of a culture war is especially asinine. Kulturkampfs are always moronic, but this one has been particularly stupid.

    But all that being said, our government, scientific, and medical institutions have absolutely shredded their credibility during this pandemic, and there seems to be very little acknowledgement of this fact. The CDC and WHO especially have not just shot themselves in the foot, but taken a shotgun to their entire lower extremities. Fauci is literally on record as having blatantly lied, getting institutional acknowledgement of the obvious role of aerosol spread has been like pulling teeth, ‘it might have come from a lab’ has gone from the media assuring us for over a year that that was just conspiracy nonsense to “okay, maybe…”, etc.

    To just pretend that this hasn’t happened is completely dishonest, and only further hurts credibility with the already skeptical. And the current ‘strategy’ to counter vaccine hesitancy seems to consist entirely of having people wave their credentials and attempt to browbeat anyone with often rational doubts as some sort of crazy fringe QAnon-esque lunatic or Facebook reading boomer troglodyte. Yeah, just keep insulting people, I’m sure that will work.

  35. Lex

    There is no direction to evolution. Many viruses evolve to be less deadly but more contagious. The 1918 flu was the opposite (some think because of the environment of the trenches and field hospitals of WWI). But we’re also talking about a time line that’s too long to take predictive action on. For all we know the common cold used to regularly kill people. At it’s root, we’re just too in love with the idea of a silver bullet and too unwilling to make any sacrifices. Masks were and are literally the least we can do, yet we won’t. Can’t do shutdowns because the government won’t support people and they can’t go very long under a crushing debt load. Can’t even do vaccinations because too few people are willing. We’ve “evolved” to a point where we can’t handle complex issues, so complex issues like a viral pandemic are crushing.

  36. Synoptocon

    Less deadly but more contagious – over the long term – pretty much has to be the norm. In the absence of sufficiently high mortality to meaningfully reduce the host population, increased transmissibility equates to greater fitness (e.g., the new more contagious variants of concern which quickly become dominant in Canada).

  37. “You may have noticed that Covid variants are not less deadly, but more.”

    I remember hearing one of the Indian news programs discuss this. The Indian variant was said to be more contagious, but NOT “more deadly”, in the sense that people infected with it are more likely to die.

    Well, this may not be exactly true in India, since they had overtaxed their minimalistic healthcare services. When you send people home to die, because your hospital doesn’t have enough oxygen for the patients they already have, then of course your percentage fatalaties will go up.

  38. I’m on the Kim Iverson email list, primarily because I want access to her programs that would be censored from youtube. Iverson is a progressive, but Jimmy Dore like in her honesty. She doesn’t always get her facts straight (like Dore; like everybody), but not so much that she’s not a real asset to civil society.

    Her latest email links to a program of hers called “CENSORED: Ivermectin Drastically Reduces COVID deaths in India and Africa” on vimeo. She claims that it’s right in youtube’s terms of service that you can’t talk about ivermectin. Now, Dr. Campbell mentions ivermectin, a lot, on his youtube show. But Chris Martenson, who’s probably the best digester of science related to covid (his mask fluffery being an exception, which he’s lately corrected) that I know of, also refused to mention ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine by name, on his youtubes. (He calls them something like wizibin 1 and wizibin 2.)

    So, I don’t get this disparity. Maybe Campbell has gotten a wink and a nod from youtube – maybe not.

    I haven’t heard Iverson’s show, yet. Hopefully, it won’t disappoint. But the fact that it’s on a venue to bypass censorship is newsworthy, even if nothing unusual, at this point.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén