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

Coronavirus dashboard for November 9: Wow (and not in a good way)

Coronavirus dashboard for November 9: Wow (and not in a good way)


US total infections: 9,968,155*

US average last 7 days: 108,737

US total deaths: 237,570

US average last 7 days: 939

*I suspect that the real number is about 16 million, or about 5% of the total US population
Source: COVID Tracking Project

While we have been riveted by the 2020 election, the pandemic has continued to rage out of control in parts of the US, particularly in parts of the upper Midwest and northern Mountain States.

At its peak, NY had an average daily rate of 51 infections per 100,000 people. Now,  17 States have infections rates higher than that:

The worst is North Dakota, at 174 infections per 100,000 people. By contrast, the worst country on the planet, Czechia, had 117 infections per 100,000 people at its recent peak:

Vaccine Progress

Guest Author at Angry Bear is Professor Joel Eissenberg. Dr. Joel Eissenberg is a professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and is probably a good source to ask questions concerning pandemics and bringing new vaccines to market. Ask questions  .  .   .  I am sure he will answer the same as he has commented in the Comments section. He also reviewed my layman’s piece on Moderna’s mRNA. I am hoping he will contribute at Angry Bear on healthcare from time to time.

The Moderna trial has reached its enrollment goal of 30,000 subjects and at least 75% have already received both injections. This is not a challenge trial, but it is expected that many subjects in the vaccine and placebo arms will be infected and these will be tracked. Power calculations suggest that only a few dozen infections are necessary to determine whether there is a benefit to the vaccine over placebo. So far, the number of infected subjects is at or ahead of what they expected. The trial lasts two years, so there is plenty of time to collect data. There is, of course, understandable urgency to push out some vaccine ASAP.

I’m in the Moderna trial, which tests the efficacy of injecting the messenger RNA for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (the surface protein that gives coronaviruses their corona) directly into muscle. The protein is made in muscle cells and then (a) secreted and (b) presented to immune cells to stimulate the adaptive immune system. Technically, it is a double-blind trial, but so far, everyone in the vaccine arm experiences the short-term vaccine syndrome of headache, mild fever, muscle and joint ache after the booster. I did, and was able to get an antibody test confirming a robust response (IgG). I’ll continue to social distance and mask as before; I have no interest in testing just how effective the vaccine is or isn’t with my own body.

Coronavirus dashboard for October 27: The EU is now worse than the US

Coronavirus dashboard for October 27: The EU is now worse than the US


Total US confirmed infections: 8,777,432*
Average US infections last 7 days: 71,833 (new record high)
Total US deaths: 226,695
Average US deaths last 7 days: 806 (vs. recent low of 689 11 days ago)

*I suspect the real number is about 15,000,000, or 4.5% of the total US population
Source: COVID Tracking Project

The pandemic is once again raging out of control in parts of the country, and it is likely to be far worse over the winter months.

Let’s start today by comparing the US with the EU countries plus Canada.

While in Canada the virus is still under control, on average, the EU is seeing nearly twice as many daily infections per capita as the United States:

The EU is at parity with the US now in terms of deaths, and that can be expected to rise further as well:


Just Some More Gibberish on Covid

Or one would think so, given people resist wearing a mask, social distancing and they want to party like its 1999. Song written in 1982  .  .  .   “Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. I only want you to have some fun,” Covid.

Melissa Jeltsen, Huffpost; “The U.S. has entered an ominous new surge of the  coronavirus  pandemic, with   more cases reported on Friday (10/23/20) than any other day since the crisis began in March. And yet, in many areas of the country where infections are spiking, wearing a mask in public is still completely optional.”

Speaking of which, optional mask wearing and distancing? Even if there was no Covid, I would not want someone close to me. Here in Michigan, we have a special type of intellect where people quote numbers and they really do not know how they compare to others. One particular person cited the raw numbers for North and South Dakota and claimed it was not necessary to wear masks or socially distance there. He claimed it was proof enough for the bars and restaurants to go back to normal. Looking at the raw numbers does not give you a state by state comparison unless you convert to “numbers per million,” etc. When we look at the numbers in such a manner and extrapolate the raw numbers to numbers of people per million, we discover North and South Dakota are 1 (50,181) and 2 (44,922) in ranking for contracting Covid. More congested Michigan is number 41 (17,991) in contraction and again we are on a roll right now. State Repubs do not believe masking and distancing should be mandatory or at least when demanded by a female Dem Governor in Michigan. The Michigan Senate has been controlled by Repubs since 1990 and the House 80% of the time since 1992.

“Of the 10 states with the highest rates of new coronavirus cases per capita according to a White House Coronavirus Task Force report this month, seven do not require residents to wear masks. Seven of 10 reside in the South and the other three are South and North Dakota and Wisconsin. Illinois is the only non-western or southern state in the next 10 states.

Coronavirus dashboard for October 20: some good news among the gloom

Coronavirus dashboard for October 20: some good news among the gloom


Total US confirmed infections: 8,273,296*

Average US infections last 7 days: 59,527 (vs. recent low of 34,354 on Sept 12)

Total US deaths: 221,052

Average US deaths last 7 days: 738 (vs. recent low of 689 4 days ago)

*I suspect the real number is 14-15,000,000, or over 4% of the total US population
Source: COVID Tracking Project

As we head into the cold weather, experts are warning that, as bad as the pandemic has been up until now, it is likely to be far worse over the next few months.

We’ll look at the bad news. But first, let’s look at some good news: 60,000,000 Americans live in two large States that have largely contained the pandemic – California and New York.

My benchmark, as usual is adjoining Canada, which most recently has averaged 6.34 infections per 100,000 people daily:

Canada’s most recent death rate has averaged 0.0534 per 100,000 over the past week (or roughly 1 death daily for every 2,000,000 people):

Two noteworthy tweets

Two noteworthy tweets

It’s a slow economic news week. Housing starts and permits are reported tomorrow, and jobless claims and existing home sales on Thursday. I’ll update the Coronavirus Dashboard Wednesday.  So for today, two nuggets.

1. Nate Silver discovers behavioral psychology:

This has been my paradigm for months. Panic breeds compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing. Complacency breeds risk-taking. Over time both trends wane, breeding the conditions necessary for the opposite outcome. Not only has this been true in almost all US States, but we have now seen the same dynamic play out in Europe.

Nice to see that Nate Silver is learning about learning.
2. What is the solution to the Supreme Court?

Eating More Chocolate: A Cure for Pandemic Fatigue?

Just doing the local rounds and reading. One of three writers over at Naked Capitalism had this up on a small way escape the boredom of Covid.  It is more than just a promotion about chocolate and it does make you smile. When I was working in Riethim-Weilheim area of Germany near Tuttligen, on the weekend I would drive into Switzerland to a  Chocolatier in Schaffhausen and buy a nice box of chocolates to share with my German associates and then wander over to  Konstanz to explore along the lake.  Good stuff and it made friends. A little bit about the writer: Jerri-Lynn Scofield has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

I just finished compiling today’s Links and they are particularly dire. COVID-19 is not going away. There is no vaccine or cure in sight. Even some places that had seemed to control spread of the disease – much of Europe – are imposing more draconian restrictions, in response to an uptick in cases. The only positive thing I can think of to say is the virus does not seem to have evolved into a more virulent form and that treatment is getting better. Small comfort.

According to today’s New York Times, As the Coronavirus Surges, a New Culprit Emerges: Pandemic Fatigue:

Christie, never forget

Chris Christie:

“I believed when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that I and many others underwent every day,” Mr. Christie said in the statement. “I was wrong. I was wrong not to wear a mask at the Amy Coney Barrett announcement and I was wrong not to wear a mask at my multiple debate prep sessions with the president and the rest of the team.”

So, what should we make of this?  Is it a genuine change of heart after a brush with death, or a convenient time to scurry like a rat off a sinking ship?  And how could Christie believe that safe zone crap?  Did he wear a mask at the grocery store?

Regardless, anyone public figure who failed to oppose Trump should never be trusted or forgiven.  They betrayed us, they betrayed our country, they betrayed the immigrant children separated from their parents, the victims of covid, the people who depend on the ACA for health insurance, black, brown, gay, trans people, Jews and Muslims . . .  It was a choice.

Coronavirus dashboard for October 14: winter is coming

Coronavirus dashboard for October 14: winter is coming

Total US confirmed cases: 7,806,805*
Average cases last 7 days: 51,038
Total US deaths: 215,887

Average deaths last 7 days: 714*Actual cases probably more like 14 million, or over 4% of the US populationSource: COVID Tracking ProjectToday let’s take a look at the most recent upsurge in COVID not just in the US, but in the entire West.Here is the 7 day average of new cases per capita in the US, Canada, and the 5 most populous countries in Europe:

Every single country, even Germany, is experiencing an upsurge. France, Spain, and the UK are having an even worse outbreak than the US.


Perhaps, Recall the Thalidomide Disaster, etc. while Searching for a Covid Vaccine

There is a big push by trump and Republicans to bring a Covid to market quickly.

Remember the Thalidomide Disaster, The Morning Call, May 12, 2020


In the rush to find a vaccine or treatment for the coronavirus, let’s not forget the bitter lesson learned in the 1950s and ’60s when thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women for morning sickness. Thalidomide was approved for European use in 1957 although it was never tested on pregnant women.

Our Food and Drug Administration never approved the drug, but 20,000 pills had been given to doctors for distribution to patients in clinical trials. After reports surfaced about babies born with birth defects to mothers who had taken the drug, thalidomide was taken off the market.

Worldwide, an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 babies were born with deformed or shortened limbs; about 40% died around the time of birth. Children who didn’t die in infancy suffered from eye, ear, heart, and urinary tract problems.

Thalidomide was taken off the market in 1961. In the years since the tragedy, several countries, including the U.S., have tightened their drug regulations.

The Thalidomide Tragedy: Lessons for Drug Safety and Regulation,” Helix, Bara Fintel, Athena T. Samaras, Edson Carias, September 2009

Clinical Trials