Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Comparison of COVID-19 Vaccines

How Do COVID-19 Vaccines Compare?, Kristina Fiore, MedPage Today

MedPage Today has a good article detailing each of the approved Covid drugs as of today. The information includes company name, vaccine name, efficacy, trial participation, type of vaccine, dosage, and patient side effects.

There is other information which is not necessarily needed for a typical or curious patient. If still interested, I included a link above. I think it is always good to educate people. The more you know, the better your decisions.

The Dakotas already appear to be shambling towards herd immunity

Coronavirus dashboard for March 3: as good news on vaccinations accumulates, the Dakotas already appear to be shambling towards herd immunity

There is more and more good news on the vaccination front. In addition to the fact that the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been approved, President Biden has made use of the Defense Production Act to enlist competitor Merck in additional production of the J&J vaccine. Biden also announced that there would be enough vaccine produced to supply doses for every American adult by the end of May.

Further, the pace of vaccination has picked up to new highs since the setbacks due to recent weather, with the 7 day average just short of 2 million per pay at 1.946 million as of yesterday:

And just shy of 80 million doses have been administered – 78.6 million as of yesterday:

From My Wandering Internet Reads

Just something a little bit different today that I found while reading techie stuff. The hurting of a person as described by one care giver.

There is nowhere Black people can go to not be inside a carceral gaze or at risk of experiencing police brutality. …And we, in healthcare, have to [start] building that sanctuary for folks as their human right.— Rhea Boyd1

A Perspective; “Without Sanctuary,” S. Michelle Ogunwole, M.D, New England Journal of Medicine

On an otherwise routine day in 2014, I walked into my hospital as a new internal medicine resident to find a patient I would never forget.

Ms. A. was the first patient with sickle cell anemia I’d treated. She was 28 like me, tall like me, Black like me. But there was one notable difference between us: she was admitted for a vaso-occlusive crisis and needed care, and I was the doctor assigned to care for her.

In the mornings when I prerounded, our conversations often drifted from pain management to ordinary things, like the misery of being trapped under the hair dryer at a Black salon, or our shared love of the chopped and screwed hip hop that originated in our home state of Texas. It struck me then that in another world, Ms. A. and I could have been friends.

But in this world, I was a doctor tasked with helping her navigate her health crisis. And in that pursuit, I fell short. Even in her hospital room, where Ms. A. came to find healing and relief, she could not escape White supremacy, police violence, or White indifference. Like many Black people in the United States, she had no sanctuary.2

Bearing Witness

A very few of us now living lived through The Great Depression; only a very few more of us lived through WWII; some more than that of us lived through the Korean War; more yet of us lived through the Vietnam Era; and so it goes up until now. All of us now living may have thought of the possibility of seeing another war, pestilence, the disaster of Climate Change, … , may have even thought of the possibility of experiencing a pandemic; but who amongst us thought of witnessing the concurrence of a Trump presidency and this once in a century level COVID-19 Pandemic? In the past five years, each of us have witnessed a lifetime of history. These past five years have been equal several normal lifetimes.

On January 6, 2021, the unthinkable nearly happened. On that day in infamy, our venerated constitution barely survived to live another day. We are not out of those dark woods yet; our democracy is still very much on the block. A majority of one of our two political parties has chosen one-man rule over democracy; has joined the Trump cult. Of course, this didn’t just happen over night; fully one-fifth of those of us alive today have gotten to watch most of this unfold. Few, if any, of those one-fifth of us understood at any point what was going on during this time. Thus it was that Trump came as a shock to us, to the world. In the 20/20 of hindsight, it shouldn’t have. Enough was known. — How We Got Here

Vaccinations start to have a dramatic effect

Coronavirus dashboard for February 23: vaccinations start to have a dramatic effect

Totals US deaths, Cases, vaccinated one dose and two doses:

– Coronavirus confirmed deaths: 500,310

– Confirmed infections: 28,190,159

– One Dose vaccinations: 44,138,118, and

– Two Dose vaccinations: 19,438,495.

The good news is, roughly 9.5% of the US population age 18 or over has received both doses of a vaccine. Over 20% has received at least one dose.
The bad news is that we have reached the milestone of half a million dead. Further, probably at least 40,000,000 people have been infected, since many who have no or mild symptoms don’t ever get tested.

Here’s the graph of the 7 day average of new infections and deaths for the US over the last 12 weeks:

While there has been a decline of over 2/3’s in infections, and 40% in deaths, this only puts us even with the very worst levels of the summer outbreak.


Trade is great; trade is good.

Since at least 2000 BCE, since the first inter-tribal (what was to become international) trading of horses, gold, silver, silk, foods, oils, wines, knowledge, technologies, …; trade between peoples has enrichened the lives of humans everywhere. Traditionally, trade was the great cross fertilizer. Without trade, our world would be a lot more like it was 4000 years ago than what it is like today. But first, before there was trade, there had to be enough self-sufficiency (self-sufficiency being relative to a given civilization at a given time) amongst the peoples, the tribes, trading for them to feel that they could afford to part with a goat, a horse, a bit of gold, … in exchange for something different they would more like to have.

Not all trade is great, or good. Certainly not the selling of weapons to warring nations. The exploitation of less developed people by more advanced people clearly wasn’t good for the less developed people. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was itself fueled by trade; trade that was intended to enhance the wealth of the then first world England, Portugal, Spain, Holland, and France. Did so indeed; at horrendous expense to the Africans enslaved and traded, and to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The enslaved Africans produced the tobacco, rice, cotton, and sugar that made their enslavers, and these enslavers’ international trading partners, wealthy. It was this pursuit of wealth that fueled the slave trade. Trade from which they, the enslaved, got but hardship and death. The pursuit of land on which to grow these crops for trade fueled the displacement and murder of indigenous people throughout the Americas, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The slave trade was a very unbalanced equation; the abducted were enslaved. This misappropriation of the natives’ land was theft; not trade. What is happening today, in this the 21st century, on palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia, is little different.

Covid 19 One Dose or Two IV

Angrybearblog December 22,2020 “Eyeballing, the first shot looks 80-90% effective.” (Moderna) and “my guess is that the first shot was about 90% effective over this period.” (Pfizer).

Angrybearblog December 24,2020

New England Journal of Medicine February 17 2021

We used documents submitted to the Food and Drug Administration2 to derive the vaccine efficacy beginning from 2 weeks after the first dose to before the second dose (Table 1). Even before the second dose, BNT162b2 was highly efficacious, with a vaccine efficacy of 92.6%, a finding similar to the first-dose efficacy of 92.1% reported for the mRNA-1273 vaccine (Moderna).3

With such a highly protective first dose, the benefits derived from a scarce supply of vaccine could be maximized by deferring second doses until all priority group members are offered at least one dose.

You read it here first

On the effects of COVID vaccination, Israel is the bellwether

On the effects of COVID vaccination, Israel is the bellwether

 I’m beginning to see some clickbait reports of COVID diagnoses after two doses of the vaccine, together with breathless reporting by some RW’ers and LW’ers that the vaccines are not very effective. I’m here to tell you to beware of these headlines and reports.

For example, here is a report out of Oregon that 4 people were diagnosed with COVID after their second doses of vaccine. Sounds scary, right? But if you read carefully, you see that while the *diagnosis* was made more than 14 days after the 2nd dose of the vaccine. That doesn’t mean that the *infection* occurred more than 14 days after administration of the 2nd dose, which would be more significant. In other words, it is perfectly likely that the infection started before the 2nd dose took full effect.

Welcome to the Vaccination Hunger Games

Welcome to the vaccination Hunger Games

That, dear reader, is a slight variation on what my sibling unit said to me when I related the saga of my attempts to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination.

As I have mentioned from time to time, I am an Old Fossil. And, well, the supply shortage of the COVID vaccines has set off a fierce (if anything involving Old Fossils can qualify as “fierce”) competition for very limited appointment slots.

What your helpful neighborhood MegaPharmacy has chosen to do is to open up their website for vaccination appointments pretty much in the middle of the night. If you haven’t made your appointment for a date in the next week by the time of your first morning coffee, you are shut out.

So yesterday I intrepidly opened the vaccination portal immediately after getting up in the morning, only to find that the three nearest sites to me were already booked up. So I tried to book at the fourth, about 45 minutes away, and lo and behold, there were slots available today!

CRISPR and the Ethics of Genome Editing

Joel Eissenberg, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Associate Dean for Research at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. 

In Our Image: The Ethics of CRISPR Genome Editing , Joel C. Eissenberg, De Gruyter | 2021

Humanity has been busily modifying plant and animal genomes for centuries. It has long been a dream to speed up and target that process. Additionally, the promise of molecular cloning included the hope of curing genetic disease once the gene is identified. These aspirations are being met, incrementally. Now, the CRISPR technology for genome editing promises to deliver on those hopes. The economic impact of genome editing in crops and livestock will be felt in short order. In the sphere of human health, there is both the prospect of editing the human genome to correct inherited disorders, as well as extinguishing plagues that have devastated human populations for millennia. There are a number of clinical trials underway to exploit CRSPR technology to treat inherited disease. The genetic tools to drive pest species (insects, weeds) to extinction are being developed and tested.

We can now do all these things, but should we?

The ethics of genome editing limited to the somatic cells (all cells except sperm and egg and the cells that can give rise to them) are no more complicated than the ethics of drugs or vaccines. The consequences of editing in these cases are limited to the treated individual and die when the person dies. Where genome editing becomes ethically fraught is when the products can enter the human gene pool through reproduction. That horse left the barn a couple years back when Dr. Jiankui He infamously announced the birth of twins that he had engineered as embryos to be resistant to HIV. There is no assurance that either of these twins don’t carry off-target mutations as a result of the editing mechanism. Further, the CCR5 gene mutation that was engineered in the twins may affect their susceptibility to other diseases. Since they carry the edited chromosome(s) in their germ lines, they can pass these edits to future generations.