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

VA Study: How Long Does COVID-19 Vaccine Immunity Last?

This popped up in my email box today. I am not a member of any particular group representing veterans; but, I do use the VA for healthcare as a discharged Marine Sergeant. At times, I have written in support of various actions by different military groups supporting veterans.

With regard to healthcare, Medicare has started to use the VA Pharmaceutical formulary due to their pricing. In some cases such as Metoprolol, Medicare has changed from one version to another as a result of cost saves.

Groundbreaking VA Study Shows How Long COVID-19 Vaccine Immunity May Last

26 Mar 2021 | By Patricia Kime

Among the great unknowns of the COVID-19 vaccines now in use against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is how long immunity lasts and whether booster shots will be needed over time.

Scientists at the VA’s Office of Research and Development in White River Junction, Vermont, have found that the vaccines can provide immunity for at least seven to nine months, a time frame similar to the immune response generated in people who have had COVID-19.

Coronavirus dashboard for March 28: good news … < sigh > … and bad news

Coronavirus dashboard for March 28: good news … < sigh > … and bad news

According to the CDC, there have been 30.3 Million *confirmed* cases of COVID-19 in the US, and 550,000 deaths.The true number of actual infections is probably much higher.

On the good news front, the CDC says that 36.2% of the entire US adult population has received at least one shot; a full 20%, or 1 in every 5 adults, has been fully vaccinated. Among those 65 years of age or higher, the news is even better: just shy of 3/4’s (72.4%) have received at least one dose, and just shy of 50% (48.4%) are fully vaccinated.

As a result, as of one week ago, both cases and deaths among senior citizens have declined by nearly 90% since their December peak. Here are cases: 

And deaths among senior citizens have all but disappeared:

Medicaid Enrollment Grew ~30% Year-Over-Year

Medicaid expansion enrollment grew nearly 30% year-over-year in 19-state sample, Andrew Sprung, XPOSTFACTOID, March 17, 2021

An update on Medicaid expansion enrollment growth since the pandemic struck. Below is a sampling of 19 expansion states through January of this year, and 14 states through February.

Maintaining the assumption, explained here, “relatively slow growth in California would push the national total down by about 2.5 percentage points.” These tallies still point to year-over-year enrollment growth of approximately 30% from February 2020 to February 2021.

If that’s right, then Medicaid enrollment among those rendered eligible by ACA expansion criteria (adults with income up to 138% FPL) may exceed 19 million nationally and may be pushing 20 million.  Assuming the sampling of a bit more than a third of total expansion enrollment represents all expansion states more or less and again accounting for slower growth in California.

Seasonal Migrant Surge At the Southern Border

In the practice of Law, there is terminology used to establish whether a person or Company (also a person) is following a pattern or practice of doing something. Typically, the terminology is used in discrimination suits to determine or describe whether a defendant has a policy of doing so, even if the policy of doing so is not always followed. 

Nancy LeTourneau at Horizons Blog looks at such a pattern or practice with regard to migration issues on the southern US border using the detail provided by the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog

Lets get to my favorite, “the numbers.”

We have some charts today as provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Washington Post’s  Monkey Cage blog. They too have looked at the numbers and come to the same conclusion which Nancy LeTourneau reaches.

Lets establish a yes or no question and see if we can prove or disprove whether Republicans are correct in stating the recent surge is unique to Biden’s term as President.

Is the Southern border migration surge a practice or a pattern, the United States can expect over certain time (annual?) periods? Or is this occurrence during Biden’s tenure a one time occurrence which may be caused by his taking office and failing to act?

Using a graph supplied by Reuters and reviewing the numbers of people apprehended on a yearly basis, we can see the spikes occurring annually. The intensity of the spikes varies according to what each administration did or did not do. From 2000 till 2010, the numbers and peaks decreased and did not noticeably increase again till 2019.

The Washington Post, Monkey Cage, There’s no migrant ‘surge’ at the U.S. southern border.

Economic data and coronavirus quick hits

Economic data and coronavirus quick hits

I really need to rouse myself to write a long-form piece on interest rates, housing, and the economy to post over at Seeking Alpha. Ugh! In the meantime, here are a few quick hits on some important or noteworthy new data.

1. New home sales – interest rates bite, but don’t panic

New home sales are the most leading, but most noisy, of housing data. Yesterday they were reported as having declined -18.3% to 775,000 annualized, a 9 month low, and 204,000 below their July peak (blue in the graph below):

For comparison, the much less volatile single family permits declined -9.8%, and remains above every other month in the past 10 years except for December and January.

Crossing an important threshold, to the *good* side

Coronavirus dashboard for March 22: crossing an important threshold, to the *good* side

The US is on the verge of crossing an important threshold: as of today, the 7 day average of COVID 19 deaths in the US has declined to exactly 1000:

The last time the US averaged less than 1000 deaths a week from the virus was the beginning of November, almost 5 months ago. Since the January peak, deaths have declined by 70%.

A Curious Form of Sex Addiction

A Curious Form of Sex Addiction, EconoSpeak, Barkley Rosser

 The murderer of 8 people recently in the Atlanta area, of whom 6 were Asian American women, mostly (if not completely) Korean American, has claimed that he did not do it out of any anti-Asian prejudice, much less anti-women prejudice, although apparently only one of those killed was a man.  Rather he claims that he did it to “remove temptation” for himself due to a claimed “sex addiction” he has.  

I note that for at least one of the three massage parlors he hit numerous individuals are strongly denying that any sexual activity ever went on there, which might also be the case at one or both of the others as well. However, there is another rather curious fact that sticks out regarding these murders. Four of them, that is half of them, with these all being of Korean American women, were of the ages respectively of 74, 69, 63, and 51.  I find it hard to believe that a 21 year old white male would seriously think that killing women of those ages would somehow help remove from him temptations to have sex.  But then, what do i know.  I am rather on the older side myself.

Barkley Rosser

Coronavirus dashboard for March 19: yes, vaccinations are working

Coronavirus dashboard for March 19: yes, vaccinations are working

The three big Western standouts for vaccination progress have been Israel, the UK, and the US, respectively. And in all three, there have been dramatic declines in both cases and deaths.

Let’s look at them in order. First, Israel:

56% of all Israelis have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 50% have been fully vaccinated.

Coronavirus dashboard for March 15: good news, and cause for concern

Coronavirus dashboard for March 15: good news, and cause for concern

A year ago today I wrote about the accuracy of Jim Bianco’s forecast of exponential spread of COVID-19. At that time there were exactly 2952 cases, but increasing at 30% each day, and I wrote, “I have not seen any government action significant enough to stop this exponential projection being correct.” 

As of yesterday, there have been 29,438,775 *confirmed* cases – 9% of the total US population. There have certainly been many more cases which have never been confirmed by testing, primarily but not always because they were mild or asymptomatic.

The good news is that vaccinations in the US are making better and better progress. In the past week, about 2.5 million doses were administered each day. At this rate, the entire adult population could be vaccinated by the end of June.   

Kids Used To Sell Old Newspapers for Pennies

I was told this by someone years ago. We tried to do this and were not to successful in the fifties. March Madness comment below.

Sen. Whitehouse: Dark Money Behind GOP Judges Is Now Behind Voter Suppression | Crooks and Liars, Aliza Worthington, March 13, 2021

“Sen. Whitehouse chairs a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee that deals with oversight of the federal courts, and now that the Democrats are in charge, he is taking full advantage of it. He held a hearing on Thursday aimed at pulling back the curtain on the role dark money has played in the placement of judges at all levels.

‘Whitehouse: Courtrooms ought to be open places where you know who is present, not a place where powerful players can come masked behind front groups hiding both their own identity and their interconnections. The Supreme Court should not be a place that has a special interest-controlled fast lane bringing certain special interest-chosen cases before the court at high-speed, without the trappings of a real case or controversy.”

The politicization of SCOTUS makes for a good read.

Two Documentaries That Help Explain What’s Happening Today, Horizons, Nancy LeTourneau’s big picture look at politics and life, March 7, 2013