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Quick Thoughts on Short-Term Effects of Trump Catching COVID-19

October 3, 2020 19 comments

As readers know, 2020 has been a most unusual year full of all sorts of surprises. Who could have foreseen the decision by establishment Democrats to close ranks behind a frail old man with senile dementia to run against the orange idiot? Of course, not all events are unexpected even if many of their consequences might be hard to foresee. Trump catching COVID-19 is an excellent example of something which was totally predictable but whose consequences are much harder to predict. I had expected him to catch it months ago, especially given his unwillingness to hide in the basement like Dementia Joe. So it was not surprising when Trump announced yesterday that he had tested positive for COVID-19. With that on mind, let us talk about potential consequences.

1] As many of you have heard, Trump has received an infusion (8g) of two monoclonal antibiotics (REGN-COV2) manufactured by Regeneron. While this drug is currently in clinical trials, there is enough evidence that it causes a significant reduction of virus levels in body fluids. Since Trump received this drug before progressing onto the later and more serious inflammatory symptoms, it will very likely benefit him. He is also receiving a 5 day course of Remdesivir (200mg on day 1 and 100 mg on day2-5). Once again, since he received it before progressing onto inflammatory symptoms, it will benefit him far more than those who receive it after being quite ill for a number of days. While this might not cheer up MikeCA, Trump is very likely to survive this illness and be back in the White House sometime next week- ready to berate Dementia Joe again.

2] While Joe Biden had a negative COVID-19 test yesterday, this is likely to change over next few days since there is usually a 3-6 day period between infection and producing enough viruses to be detected by PCR-based tests. Since it is almost certain that Trump was in asymptomatic, but potentially infectious, stage when he shared the stage with Biden at the first debate. It does not help that more than a few of Trump’s entourage at that debate were also infectious. Did I also mention that normal cloth masks cannot stop COVID-19. Unlike Trump whose is in otherwise OK health for a 74-year old man, Biden is a very frail 78-year old in early stages of senile dementia. To make a long story short, if Biden gets COVID-19 his prognosis will be far worse than Trump. Biden might end up where many liberals and progressives are praying for Trump to end up.

3] While many talking-heads on corporate news outlet and twitter pundits are trying to demean Trump by spreading rumors and demanding an ever increasing amount of personal information about his medical status, this strategy is likely to backfire since he is now increasingly an object of sympathy as he now has something in common with an increasing number of people in this country. Many still remember how all these MSM cocksuckers kept on hyping “scandal” after “scandal” for the past four years. It is like the boy who cried wolf.. after enough false calls, the person making them loses credibility. Long story short, it is not going to hurt his poll numbers and will likely increase them as well as embolden his more determined (and armed) supporters. And as mentioned above, Biden isn’t out of the COVID-19 woods yet.

4] The case for Trump being an incompetent moron who does not deserve re-election could have been far stronger IF Democrats had presented a significantly better economic vision of future, demonstrated ability to fulfill at least some of their previous promises and selected a presidential candidate who did not have senile dementia. Instead these paid losers have decided to focus on bullshit which only appeals to white upper-middle class types such as “respectability”, bullshit about the “green new deal”, gobblygook on “extending” Obamacare, talk about banning semi-automatic guns and other “woke” cultural bullshit that nobody who does not live in certain coastal zipcodes cares about. People such as MikeCA are partisan democrats because it is about social class rather than actual belief in anything he pretends to care about.

5] Let me now repeat something which needs to repeated as long as people such as MikeCA pretend to be appalled by Trump. The orange buffoon, you see, is the result of everything which has been going wrong in this country for past four decades.. and let us not pretend that this decision was not bipartisan. Trump, or someone similar to him, was as inevitable in our era as Hitler in post-1930 Germany or Mussolini in post-WW1 Italy. People in this country have stopped believing that politicians are anything but greedy, cynical, corrupt assholes who are increasingly disconnected from the people who vote them into power. Trying to portray Trump as “uniquely bad” because he does brazenly what other politicians do more surreptitiously is not a recipe for defeating Trump. Then again.. perhaps, Democrats don’t want to defeat Trump, since they are fake opposition paid by same people as Republicans.

In summary, based on everything we know to date, Trump is very unlikely to die or even suffer prolonged hospitalization due to COVID-19. The same cannot be said about Biden, especially in next few days. The attempts by MSM outlets and Twitter pundits to defame and enjoy Trump getting sick with COVID-19 is likely to backfire on them and Democrats.

What do you think? Comments?

COVID-19 Face Masks are Modern Day Talismans of Liberal Scientism

September 28, 2020 15 comments

As regular readers know, I have written many posts about the hilariously ineffectual and visibly incompetent response of western governments to the COVID-19 pandemic. Continuing in that general direction, let us talk about another stupid intervention cooked up by all the credentialed dummies advising morons occupying elected office in these allegedly developed countries. Yes.. I am talking about the enthusiasm displayed by many countries in recent months to make people wear face masks that are incapable of stopping viral transmission. But as you will soon see, my issues with making people wearing ordinary face masks are about much more than them being generally ineffective at preventing infection by airborne viruses.

So let us start by talking about the efficacy of various types of face masks at preventing viral infections. Long story short.. only masks rated N95 or higher have been shown to reduce the transmission of viruses. And there is a very good reason for why that is the case. It comes down to the maximum size of particles which can pass through them. N95 or better masks can reliably filter out particles that are in size range of common larger viruses. Your normal surgical mask or cloth face mask cannot stop particles in the size range of most bacteria and viruses. At best, they are effective at reducing formation of aerosols created by wearer when speaking or breathing.

Remember that surgeons wear surgical masks to reduce the chance of bacteria from their nose and mouth from ending up on open wounds or during procedures. All of this is another way of saying that normal cloth face masks and surgical masks are basically useless at filtering out particles in size range of respiratory viruses. Sure they might reduce the size of inoculum by trapping larger droplets and aerosols, but let us not pretend that they do much for viruses such as influenza, rhinoviruses or COVID-19. Now some of you might say.. “isn’t a bit of protection better than no protection?”. Well.. sure, but only as long as you are being honest about their limited effectiveness. Pretending they are far more effective than they are is malpractice.

So why are LIEbrals, especially those found on social media site such as Twitter, Reddit etc so enthusiastic about forcing people to wear ineffectual face masks? To understand this, you have first accept that LIEbrals are as stupid as their CONservative equivalents. They just happen to believe in different religions. See.. while CONservatives believe in traditional religion with all its trappings, LIEbrals believe in the church of Scientism. So instead of blindly believing in the word of priests in white garb, LIEbrals choose to blindly believe the words of “credentialed” dummies who represent the church of Scientism. It is about blind faith, not rational and critical belief.

The LIEbral obsession with making people wear ineffective facemasks is better understood when you understand what they represent to believers in the church of Scientism. To make another long story short, ineffective facemasks promoted by the priests of Scientism are best seen as Talismans. In case you don’t want to click on the link, a talisman is an object that someone believes holds magical properties that provide particular power, energy, and specific benefits to the possessor. Note that Talismans or ‘good luck charms’ have a long history of use in pre-modern medicine and the cynical might say, even modern medicine. Some of you might say.. “but what is the harm of letting people believe in such bullshit if it makes them feel better?” Don’t many people keep their own lucky shirts, coats, dresses, shoes, baseball caps etc?

Well.. here is why. If you promote something as a highly effective for prevention of COVID-19 infection, people might actually believe you in the beginning. But what happens after it becomes increasingly obvious that normal face masks are almost ineffective at preventing COVID-19 or Influenza? While devout believers in church of Scientism might continue to believe in ordinary face masks irrespective of evidence, others won’t be so ideologically invested. Another long story short.. the loss of credibility caused by failure of such face masks will blow back on those most involved in promoting them and destroy whatever residual credibility they might still command.

If you thought people weren’t believing in the pronouncements of attention-hungry losers such as Fauci etc and institutions such as CDC and FDA now, imagine how bad things could get once it becomes once it is obvious that these face masks don’t work. To reiterate, while N95 and better face masks work quite well, the cloth and surgical ones promoted by western governments barely work.. if at all. Pretending that they do won’t change reality.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Many Potential Real-Life Problems with Any COVID-19 Vaccine

July 23, 2020 25 comments

Most of you might have recently heard something about progress in the development of one (or more) of the many vaccines being developed for COVID-19. While I don’t want into a lot of detail about the types of vaccines being developed, two are getting most of the attention. One is the ‘RNA-based’ one such as those from (Moderna, Pfizer etc. The other type is adenovirus-based ones such as that Oxford-AZ and CanSino vaccine. Even with the initial results of these, and many more, vaccines- I predict that even the most successful vaccine will have to overcome tons of real-life problems. And I am not the only one to hold that opinion. Here is why..

1] RNA-based vaccines of the type developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are problematic for more than one reason. Firstly, no RNA-based vaccine has yet been approved for human or animal use. Sure.. this is partly due to the reason that the technology, injecting encapsulated mRNA to make you own cells produce the antigen you want to stimulate an immune response against is fairly new technology. But there is a second reason- specifically, mRNA based vaccines are notorious for causing grade 3 and higher reactions in a small percentage of individuals. Though Moderna is trying its best to obscure the data, more than a few people in their relatively small phase I trial developed reactions serious enough to require prompt medical attention.

Why does this matter? Well.. let us consider how things will play out if they have a 5% incidence of such reactions during a mass vaccination drive against COVID-19. Imagine you vaccinate a million people and 5% of them develop such reactions. Even if they are can be easily treated in the hospital or a clinic, you have 50,000 fairly ill people who wouldn’t be there if they had not taken this vaccine. Also, if there are 50,000 people ill enough to require medical attention, you can bet a few of them will end up becoming much more ill or even dying. Let me remind you that the mortality due to COID-19 in people under 50 is less than 1 in 1,000. What are the chances that the vaccine kills and hospitalizes as many people as the infection in younger age groups?

This is not to say that vaccines with such high rates of side-effects are useless. The vaccine for smallpox and older versions of the rabies vaccine also had rather high rates of side effects. But there is the thing.. smallpox, when it existed, was a very contagious illness with 30% mortality rate. Rabies has a mortality of almost 100% once the infection has reached the central nervous system. Most people will be fine with a vaccine for smallpox or rabies that kills one in a few thousand people, because of the high fatality rates of those infections. The same cannot be said about COVID-19. To make matters more interesting, we don’t know if mRNA based vaccines are more likely to induce auto-immune diseases than other, more conventional, vaccines.

2] The other main type of COVID-19 vaccines use fairly harmless adenoviral vectors that express some proteins from the virus in question. In contrast to mRNA based vaccines, we have a decent amount of experience with such vaccines in both animals and humans trials. Also vaccines that use a similar strategy- where one fairly harmless virus expresses proteins of a far more harmful virus to induce immunity to later have been used to develop a few vaccines used in animals and at least one for humans (Ebola vaccine). We can, therefore, be a bit more certain that the safety of vaccines in this category is not as unknown as those mRNA-based vaccines. Also, the rate of complications for such viral-vector based vaccines is noticeably lower than mRNA vaccines.

The initial data from the Oxford-AZ vaccine trials also suggest that they do a much better job at stimulating immunity to the virus among CD4 and CD8 T-lymphocytes. It is known that immunity to Coronaviruses in animals is more cell-based than antibody based. In other words, the Oxford-AZ vaccine is likely to produce better immunity under real-life conditions with noticeably fewer side-effects than mRNA based vaccines. The CanSino vaccine, which uses a human adenoviral vector, seems to be a bit less effective than the Oxford-AZ vaccine which uses a chimpanzee adenoviral vector- perhaps, because of pre-existing immunity to human adenoviruses. Between mRNA and adenoviral-vector based vaccines, I would put my money on the later.

3] The next issue concerning COVID-19 vaccination comes down to the logistics of producing, distributing and actually giving the vaccine. Having the best vaccine means shit all if you cannot produce it on a large scale without breakdowns in quality control. Once again, the adenoviral-vector based vaccines are a bit better than mRNA-based ones in that regard, especially with existing infrastructure. Distributing the vaccine, even if effective will however pose quite a few problems. For starters, who do you vaccinate first- the groups most likely to die from infection or those most likely to transmit it? How do you vaccinate hundreds of millions in a very short time without a huge number of people ending up in hospitals due to side-effects, even if temporary.

And what are you going to do about all the people who would rather wait and see what happens to initial bunch of vaccine recipients? What if there is a large wave of hospitalizations from first widespread use of whichever COVID-19 vaccine ends up being approved. Remember even a 2% incidence of severe reactions is a large number once you are talking about millions of recipients. How will you convince people to keep getting vaccinated if initial use of COVID-19 vaccine causes tens of thousands of hospitalizations? This is especially likely for mRNA-based vaccine such as those being developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech. Then there are issues of efficacy. What if the approved vaccines prove to be only 80-90% effective. While this is a perfectly acceptable for many existing vaccines- dumbfuck “ivy-league experts” have promised the sky to masses.

I can think of many other issues, but we are already past a thousand words. Might write more in a future post on this topic, depending on responses to this one.

What do you think? Comments?

Case Fatality Rates for COVID-19 are Now Decreasing Across the World

July 3, 2020 10 comments

Since I am feeling a bit lazy today, here is a quick post that is nonetheless quite interesting and topical. Many of you have might have heard about the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in USA- especially on the lying corporate media. Well.. I noticed a trend too, and not just in USA. Have a look at the first figure and see if you can spot an interesting change in the trends for positive cases vs ICU admissions vs deaths due to COVID-19 in Sweden during past month. In case you can’t see the obvious, let me spell it out..

While Sweden has experienced a large increase in number of people testing positive for COVID-19, this increase has not translated into an increase in people admitted to ICU with COVID-19 or people dying from it. In fact the number of people dying from COVID-19 has gone down a lot in the past month despite a large increase in number of diagnosed cases, to say nothing about undiagnosed cases. This is even more obvious when you compare those trends and figures to what was happening 2-3 months ago.

Clearly, something big has changed. Perhaps we are testing for it more widely, the median age of cases is lower, maybe our symptomatic treatment regimes have gotten better or the virus have mutated into a less lethal version. It could also be a combination. But whichever way you look at it, the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) for COVID-19 has dropped considerably over past month in that country. And yes.. I did factor in the 1-2 week lag between diagnosis and adverse outcomes.

Moving on to this country, we see a similar trend. While there has been a huge spike in number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 over past few weeks, number of people admitted to hospital (most are not in ICUs) has increased very modestly while number of deaths keep on declining. Once again, a number of things might have changed- lower median age of cases, better medical management, newer virus strains being less lethal etc. But once again, it is hard to ignore that the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) has COVID-19 has gone down considerably in past few months.

Of course, it always possible that the real Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) for COVID-19 was always much lower than what discredited institutions such as CDC and FDA were pretending.

BTW, Case Fatality Rate (CFR) = percentage of people who die due to diagnosed cases of an infection while Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) = percentage who die in all people with that infection- both clinical and subclinical. IFR rates are often calculated after CFR rates as they are based on retrospective analysis of samples and data.

What do you think? Comments?

Potential Consequences of 200-300k COVID-19 Deaths by Election Day

June 12, 2020 16 comments

In the midst of nationwide protests against police brutality, most mainstream media outlets seem to have conveniently forgotten that the COVID-19 pandemic is still killing (mostly old people) in this country at a pretty constant rate. While we are no longer at the peak of about 3k deaths per day, the plateau of about 1k per day does not seem to be decreasing further. Sure.. most people in NYC have probably been exposed to the virus and recovered from it, but most people in flyover country, the deep south and west coast are just now starting to be exposed to it on a large scale. And this brings up an interesting question.. what if COVID-19 ends up killing 200k-300k more people between now and November 3, 2020 aka election day?

To be clear, I am not restricting my analysis to the political implications of such a scenario- which will be considerable. It goes without saying that 200-300k more deaths (even if most are elderly) will throw a massive wrench in the process of reopening the economy in addition to destroying millions more jobs and small businesses than the original shutdown. While I am sure that the stock market will continue booming in response to trillions more dollars for large corporations in the event of such a scenario, it is clear that everybody else will be poor, angry and desperate- especially since political leaders of both parties have shown themselves to be grossly inadequate for the job. Let us now talk about a few obvious effects of such a scenario playing out..

1] A couple hundred thousand more deaths due to COVID-19 will deplete the older (and largely conservative) voter-base of both parties in more than one way. Firstly, there is direct attrition due to the disease in the form of voters who are dead or unwell from post-infection complications (much more likely in 65+ age group). But the indirect effect of such a large number of deaths among the elderly might keep many more in that age range from coming out to vote in person. While this isn’t that big an issue in states with a robust system for voting by mail, it could be spoil a lot of electoral calculations in states where such systems aren’t already in place.

2] Since neither of the two parties have demonstrated the ability, competence or willingness to help the average person most affected by the shutdown.. who is under 45 and increasingly non-white, it would be presumptuous to count on their votes. While it is unlikely that republican will vote for democratic candidates or vice-versa, it is possible that an unusually large number of voters below 50 will just stay home and note vote by election day. This scenario is especially likely if the economy does not pick up by election day, an almost certain outcome if there an additional 200-300k deaths by election day. So we now have a situation where electoral turnout among under-45 and over-65 is likely to be significantly lower than the previous election.

3] But wait.. there is more. As mentioned in previous paragraph, an extra 200-300k deaths by 3rd of November would pretty much negate all the efforts to reopen economy- even if it was not shut down once again. Think about it.. how many people would go to restaurants and bars again even if they were open. What about movie theaters, concerts, sporting events or even malls and offices. What about the effects of such a prolonged and rolling disruption on millions of small businesses, most of whom operate on fairly small profit margins and do not have access to trillions in bailout money unlike large corporations. To make matters worse, both political parties have exhibited a strong unwillingness to bailout both the average person and small business.

4] Which leads us the likelihood of widespread civil unrest, of a scale that will make ongoing BLM protests seem almost quaint by comparison. It is no secret that a pretty significant percentage of those under 40 have jobs or gigs which either disqualify them from unemployment insurance or restrict their access to such benefits. To make matters worse, many financial institutions and rent-seeking outfits have decided that they will not defer or forgive recurring payments from such people- in spite of already having received trillions to cover their potential losses in the event this occurs. So what do you think these people are going to do when they are being evicted from their residences, chased by loan repayment sharks and unable to maintain necessities such as cars.

Did I mention that most of these people are in good physical shape, more educated than their parents and have nothing to lose. Oh.. and one more things, a high percentage of them are white or something other than black- which means the rioting, unrest and other fun will not be restricted to downtown and ‘urban’ areas of large cities. To make matters even worse.. there is very likely to be another wave of mass layoffs over next few months even if the excess 200-300k deaths due to COVID-19 don’t materialize as many business that seem to have survived the initial shutdown have to either shutdown permanently or lay off a good percentage of their current employees. In my opinion, widespread civil unrest, over next few months, by the under-45 due to the economic consequences of this shutdown is now almost inevitable.

5] A further fly in the ointment has to do with the many ongoing standoffs by dying american empire against a host of countries from Iran, Syria and Venezuela to DPRK, Russia and China. Given that Tangerine man’s closest advisors are neocons and the idiot-in-chief seems to think that this voter-base respect “shows of strength”, it is likely that he will decide to intensify these standoffs or even start a war with Iran or DPRK. It does not take a genius to figure out that such military conflicts are unwinnable for USA and will only worsen the domestic situation, especially if the bozo does this after widespread unrest has already started in this country.

To summarize, an extra 200-300k deaths due to COVID-19 by November 3, 2020 are more likely than not, and will worsen a host of large problems and negative trends that we are are already seeing in this country. 2020 promises to even more ‘exciting’ that we anticipated..

What do you think? Comments?

Some Predictions about Downstream Effects of COVID-19 Shutdown: 1

May 20, 2020 12 comments

Since I have been recently writing a lot of posts about the COVID-19 shutdown (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, link 5, link 6), I thought it might be a good idea to write down some more and specific predictions about the downstream effects of COVID-19 shutdown. So here are some of them, in no particular order of importance or significance. Just so you know, most are pretty depressing.

1] As I have mentioned many times in the past, jobs in the service sector dominate the economic landscape of post-industrial western countries. Just think about how many people you know who work in a place which makes a real physical product or processes some raw material vs all those who work at some shop, mall, hotel, restaurant or something similar. But this goes even further, as the largest employers in most towns and cities in this country are either hospitals, universities or school districts. While these more “credentialed” jobs might seem to be something other than service sector jobs- they are just that and you will see why that matters later in this post.

While jobs in the service sector might seem too heterogeneous to be hit by the shutdown and its aftermath, they share some common features that make them especially vulnerable to economic disruption. Firstly, majority of business in the service sector operate on much low margin of profit compared to some other sectors. For example, there is no service sector equivalent of Apple or Microsoft with a few hundred billion dollars stashed into overseas accounts and obscure financial instruments. In other words, consumer sector businesses and employers lack the very deep pockets of corporations in other sectors.

Secondly, as a partial consequence of the first, they are heavily dependent on highly predictable levels of businesses activity and are usually (especially in west) financially over-optimized to the point that they cease to be profitable or even viable when capacity utilization levels are not close to maximum. This is a fancy way of saying that restaurants, bars, hotels, airlines, most shops in malls etc become money pits if they are not operating at close to their maximum capacity for a good part of the year. FYI- this is less of an issue in some Asian countries where the proprietors often own the premises and are not so heavily financially leveraged.

But why does this matter? Well.. because even if they can survive a couple of months of being closed down due to helicopter money from the government, they are just not viable if forced to operate at 25% or 50% capacity for even couple of months. Sure.. restaurants which do mostly takeout (pizza joints, chinese) might survive, but the vast majority will simply close it down because there is no way a sane person would operate, for more than a couple of months, under poorly thought and uncertain regulations made up by bozos without any skin in the game.

And it gets worse.. the service sector is far less monopolized than other sectors of the economy, and the majority of business in it are either small or medium sized. Given that government largess seems to preferentially benefit the large and politically connected in every sector, it is likely.. almost certain.. that many small to medium sized businesses will go bankrupt or close forever. What makes this outcome especially problematic is that those business account for the majority of jobs in that sector. In other words, we will a large rise in long-term unemployment in the very societies which have decided (about four decades ago) to abandon their economies to the “free market” aka financialism and monopolization by choice.

To add insult to injury, the vast majority of people in this sector are under 60 years of age and therefore the least likely to die (less than 1 in 1,000 chance) from COVID-19. And here is what will happen next.. tens of millions will be unable to pay their rents, mortgages, student loans, car loans etc for a prolonged time. Of course, trying to throw so many people on the street and out of their cars will have some very nasty political repercussions- more so because the majority are young. Some of you might say.. but what about unemployment insurance? Well.. that amount paid by most western countries (but especially USA) is not adequate for covering majority of their bills- more so if you live in a medium to large city.

And it gets worse…

2] The whole “social-distancing” and “quarantine” bullshit along with dubious measures such as requiring everybody to wear mask in public perpetuates the atmosphere of a perpetual crisis. I liken these measures to the security theater we saw in USA after 9/11- but with the potential to cause infinitely more economic problems. Think about it.. would you eat out at restaurants with same frequency as before if you server was wearing a face mask and every alternate table was closed off with big stupid stickers? Would you go to a pub as often? What about a movie theater? What about shops in malls pestering you to disinfect your hands every time you walked into them? Would you buy as many clothes as before if you couldn’t try them out in fitting rooms?

What about airlines? would you take a flight as often if you had to deal with all that bullshit? What about vacations? Would you stay at hotels as often even if you still had a job? And all of this security theater for what end? To maybe slow spread of a highly infectious disease with an gross population IFR of less than 0.5% and mostly problematic in people over 70 and 80? A disease that does not cause symptoms bad enough to seek any medical attention in over 90% of those infected. A disease that is functionally asymptomatic in most people it infects? A disease that the vast majority recover from without any therapeutic intervention or long-term sequelae.

The vast majority of disease control measures deployed to stop this pandemic are closer to ritualistic virtue display than good science. Consider for example, face masks. Do they benefit people under 70 to the same extent as those over 70? And given the highly infectious nature of this disease along with very low mortality in most age cohorts, isn’t it a good idea to let non-vulnerable people get the illness and recover from it. thus conferring them immunity than wait for an effective and safe vaccine- which will likely take at least a few months. Now let me ask you another question- do you think I am the only one thinking along these lines?

It is becoming increasingly harder to maintain lock-down in many parts of the world and while those regions might suffer more death at first- it will become increasingly obvious that letting people under a certain age get infected while protecting the more vulnerable minority is the least bad option. Notice I said ‘least bad option’ because there is no realistic good option in the near future. You are really choosing between options that front-load death or those which spread far wider economic misery over a much longer time-scale. Personally, I choose the first and you can be sure that the majority will eventually choose it because the second one sucks far more.

Noe let me ask you a related question- what happens to the credibility of the people and institutions who pushed the second option. As many of you know, it is my opinion that Trump’s rise of power had a lot to the non-recovery of most people from the GFC of 2008 and continued neoliberal policies under Obummer. Imagine what such a crisis and much bigger repudiation of “credentialed” people and institutions would do for the political scene in this country. You might remember that in a previous post I made the case that rise of fascist and strong-men type leaders in continental Europe during 1920s and 1930s had everything to do with high rates of unemployment among men combined with a repudiation of the elites who led them into WW1.

You think Trump is bad? Just imagine the type of right-wing ‘populists’ that will arise in response to these stupid and ruinous lock-down policies. In future posts of this series, I intend to write about the impact of these stupid policies on schools, universities, future of “left”, effects on certain parts of manufacturing sector, municipal bonds, velocity of money, effect on rates of drug use and much more. But before I finish this post, let me say something else. If you think that a crisis of this extraordinary magnitude will make corporate-owned western governments question their faith in neoliberalism- think again.

And another thing.. this crisis will destroy whatever residual faith people in many countries still have in the WHO- but that is the topic of another post.

What do you think? Comments?

COVID-19 Pandemic has Bared Intellectual Bankruptcy of LIEbrals: 2

May 16, 2020 5 comments

In the previous part, I wrote about how the especially disastrous response to COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the intellectual bankruptcy of LIEbrals. To summarize the gist of that post, the most ardent supporters of LIEbralism in west come in two main flavors- the very rich (billionaires and multi-millionaires) and their professional managerial class (PMC) lackeys. Sure.. more than a few partisan followers of these two groups do also self-identify as LIEbrals- but are largely irrelevant since they have little real power. I also promised to talk about how LIEbral mental shortcomings can explain their disastrous response to this pandemic. These include, in no particular order, the LIEbral obsession with ineffective lock-downs which have far more to maintaining the appearance of action than making a real difference. As you will, later on in this series, the shortcomings are a result of the peculiar mental gymnastics necessary to maintain belief in LIEbralism.

But before we go that far, let us talk about the most obvious but deliberately ignored question- namely, is the response to this pandemic justified by its mortality rate? If you have watched any of the fake corporate “news” outlets, you might have seen what can be best described as a ‘death clock’ which shows how many people have allegedly died of the pandemic to date. Oddly enough, those bullshit counters do not show you the age distribution of those who have been diagnosed with that infection vs those who with very adverse outcomes such as ending up in the ICU and death. But why does that matter and what does it have to with LIEbral intellectual bankruptcy? As it turns out.. a whole fucking lot! See.. much of the statistics these LIEbrals are peddling on corporate media have no basis in reality. To understand what I am talking about, let us quickly go over a few basic concepts in statistics as it applies to epidemiology.

Infectious diseases come in two flavors- one in which almost every successful infection results in a clinically evident illness and another in which most infections result in an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic disease. Examples in the first category include diseases such as smallpox, chickenpox, measles, herpes, influenza, ebola etc. Examples in second category include diseases such as polio (especially in children under 8), meningococcal meningitis (surprisingly!) and infectious mononucleosis (another surprise) etc. Infections which cause an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic disease do so in people who were not previously immune. A superficially similar but mechanistically different phenomena known as mild self-limiting infections occurs if you are immune to a closely related strain of the offending virus and is the basis of vaccines for rotavirus infections and genital warts. With that out of the way, let us talk about COVID-19..

Everything we know thus far about COVID-19 suggests that it clearly falls in the second category. And here is where it is important to understand which type of epidemiological data allows you to make what sort of conclusions. See.. calculating the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) for any disease with a high percentage of asymptomatic cases requires different criteria from one in which almost every successful infection causes an symptomatic illness. In the later, we can assume that total number of cases = total number of people with specific set of symptoms. For the former, we cannot make that assumption and this has huge consequences for calculating the IFR. In the case of COVID-19, the number of positive PCR-tests from areas with high rates of positive test suggest that not enough testing has been done. So places with 30-50% positive tests such as NYC, Detroit, Northern Italy at beginning of epidemic etc are totally useless for calculating IFR.

To make a long story short, even the most basic calculation of a disease with a known high rate of asymptomatic illness requires test positive rates of below 10%, preferably less than 5%. Luckily there are certain areas of the world where the positive test rates have seldom exceeded 10% and are usually around 5%. These include the western provinces of Canada, Germany and South Korea. We also know that these jurisdictions have done a decent amount of testing since the majority of positive cases are between 20-60 years of age. Based on data from these three well-tested populations we can make a determination of the upper limit of IFR by age group. It is as follows: 0-10 = 0.0%, 10-20 = 0%, 20-30 = 0.1%, 30-40 = 0.1%, 40-50 =0.1%, 50-60 = 0.2%, 60-70 = 0.3-0.5%, 70-80 = 3-5%, 80+ = 5-20% (more in institutionalized people).

In other words, death rate for anybody between 0-50 years of age with COVID-19 is less than 0.1% or 1 in 1000. For those between 50-60, it is less than 0.2% or 1 in 500, and upto 1 in 200 for people between 70-80 who are not institutionalized. And remember.. these are the maximum rates. What we know from serological tests done around the world suggest that there are 10-50x undiagnosed and spontaneously cured infections for everyone caught in the act by PCR-based tests. Even if we take a conservative 5X multiplier, the IFR of COVID-19 now becomes less than 0.02% (1 in 5,000) for those between 0-50, 0.04% or (1 in 2,500) for those between 50-60, and a maximum of 0.1% (i in 1,000) for those between 70-80 who are not institutionalized.

In other words, we can readily identify those at greatest risk from bad outcomes based on age, general health status and certain pre-existing conditions (poorly controlled type II diabetes, serious obesity, COPD, recent treatment for cancer etc). Some of you might say.. but what about our hospitals getting overwhelmed? Well.. as it turns out the risk of hospitalization for each age group, based on PCR-test only, is as follows: 0-50 = less than 2%, 50-60 = 3-5%, 60-70 = ~ 5-10%, 70-80 = ~ 20%. If we use the serological test 5x multiplier, only those above 60 have a hospitalization rate than exceeds 1%. But what about rates of ICU use? Well.. once again using the PCR-only data, only 0.2-0.5% (1 in 500 to 1 in 200) of patients below 50 end up in the ICU- and most of them have serious pre-existing illnesses. For those between 50-70, it is about 1-2% (1 in 100 to 1 in 50)- again mostly with serious pre-existing conditions.

It is only once you get in the 70-80 group, that ICU use starts reaching 10%. And remember.. this is based on PCR-positive cases. You can divide those numbers by 5 to get an estimate based on serological tests. To put in another way, for anybody below 50, COVID-19 poses a lower risk than yearly Influenza A epidemics. For those between 50-70, the risk is about what you might expect in a bad influenza season. It is only once you reach the 80+ age cohort, especially those in very poor general health that the mortality due to COVID-19 starts looking gnarly. But, you see, there is a much easier way to protect that group and others with high-risk co-morbidities. We could provide them good protection by staffing nursing homes adequately, testing the staff who work there frequently, maybe give free face masks and hand sanitizers to everybody over 65. Perhaps we could give free restaurant and grocery delivery to those over 65.

My point is that there are many ways to protect the most vulnerable in our society without shutting down the economy, causing 30-40% unemployment rates and all its attendant socio-economic and political sequelae. But the problem, you see, is that LIEbrals are incapable of objective analysis and rational response, because they do not fit the fashionable “consensus”. It does not take a genius to figure out within next few weeks to months, it will be obvious to most people that COVID-19 is no more lethal than Influenza for those below 65. It is at that time, and with unemployment north of 30%, many will start asking whether all these interminable lock-downs, massive job losses, career-ruining turns and social distancing bullshit was worth it. I don’t think LIEberals have thought that far, because they are intellectually bankrupt. But the 30-40% of those without jobs or a future won’t stop asking them and it won’t be a pretty sight.

In the next part, I will go into why the LIEbral opposition to use of Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 was such an incredibly bad and stupid idea. Will go into why the promotion by Remdesivir by that stupid conman.. I mean Fauci.. is going to haunt them. Hope to also discuss antibody tests- specifically their specificity and sensitivity for detection antibodies to COVID-19.

What do you think? Comments?

COVID-19 Pandemic has Bared Intellectual Bankruptcy of LIEbrals: 1

May 14, 2020 5 comments

Most of you will have read my previous posts in which I predict that the disastrous response to COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately destroy residual credibility of mainstream corporate media in this country, increase political divisions, have a large effect on the 2020 elections and very likely hurt the democratic party’s prospects in that election and the one in 2022. While writing those posts, and reading them later, I noticed an interesting thread which ran through all those posts and even a prior series I had written. To make a long story short, the horrifyingly inept response of western countries (and to fair, even many east-Asian ones such as China) represent a failure of the ideology of LIEbralism and its institutions. But before we go further, let us talk about what LIEbralism is and is not. This will allow us to get a better grasp of the ideology rather than talk about it by invoking totally wrong stereotypes as done by most idiots in this country.

Firstly, LIEbralism is NOT Socialism, Communism or any combination of them. In fact, LIEbralism does not require democracy, as 18th and 19th century England was a LIEbral society without having anything close to universal suffrage. Similarly openly slave-owning societies such as pre-1865 USA were LIEbral societies. Pre-1945 France, Netherlands, Portugal with their colonies in Asia and Africa were also LIEbral societies. So how do we define LIEbralism? How can LIEbralism exist without democracy and alongside slavery and racism? LIEbralism is best understood as the successor ideology to CONservatism which in turn succeeded Feudalism. The biggest difference between CONservatism and LIEbralism has to do with the rationale given by those in power to justify their position. Under CONservatism, elites justify their existence by invoking tradition and history. Under LIEbralism, elites justify their position and ill gotten gains by claiming that they are somehow “better” and “more deserving”.

To bolster those claims, they support lots of token causes which sound nice such as individual rights, rule of law, meritocracy, religious tolerance and equality. Of course, none of this means that they actually give a shit about making the world a better place- though they frequently claim this to be their goal. A better understanding of LIEbralism can be gained by examining what it actually supports in the economic realm. LIEbrals are strong believers in limited government, “free trade” and “free markets”. This is why, for example, it is was possible for wretched parasitic and highly unequal societies such as as 18th and 19th century UK to correctly call themselves LIEbral. Similarly, the founders of USA could write a nice sounding constitution and still be perfectly OK with slavery. Countries such as Belgium could claim to be civilized and LIEbral societies while simultaneously exploiting and killing millions of people in west Africa. LIEbralism is best understood as a worse form of CONservatism, but with secular humanistic facade and tons of double-think to justify its existence.

With that out of the way, let us focus on why the response to current COVID-19 pandemic will be incredibly damaging for LIEbralism in the west- including its most current incarnation aka neo-LIEbralism. So who are most prominent supporters of LIEbralism in the west? Well.. the most prominent and ardent supporters of that ideology fall into two groups- the very rich and those in sinecured professions and jobs. Let me expand on that a bit. When I am talking about the very rich, I am talking about those who will be bailed out of any financial loss by the government. So, that includes billionaires, multi-millionaires in certain sectors, top management of most large corporations.. basically anyone who personally call up elected politicians to bail them out- directly or indirectly. Somebody like Bill Gates, your average CEO of a multinational, large shareholders in Disney etc. Notably, it does not include the vast majority of people who operate small- and medium- sized business and we shall see why that matters later on.

The other group which supports LIEbralism most vocally is the PMC (professional managerial class). This group is defined by being credentialed at “prestigious” educational institutions, inhabiting the ‘right’ social circles and being employed in secure professions or positions with a highly subjective and elitist entry barrier. Fauci is a good example of such a creature, since he has been effectively a senior bureaucrat (and not a scientist) for the past four decades. Other examples of such critters include the vast majority of upper-level management-types in corporations, universities, hospitals etc throughout this country. While they lack the same type of access to government largess at billionaires and other really rich people, they make up for that by being far more numerous than the very rich. Members of this group are defined by a carefully cultivated image of competence alongside a simultaneous and shocking lack of even minimal competence in their supposed areas of expertise.

So why do I think that the ongoing botched response to COVID-19 pandemic will expose the intellectual bankruptcy of LIEbrals to an hitherto unthinkable extent? To understand that, we have to first understand why CONservatism lost the battle to LIEbralism, Communism and Fascism a century ago. You might remember that me saying that the people making decisions about public health measures during this pandemic remind me of the horribly incompetent generals who led armies during WW1. As it turns out, the vast majority of incompetent generals, political leaders and all the others who led the world into that disastrous war were outspoken supporters of CONservatism. This was especially the case in countries which suffered tons of casualties during WW1 (France, German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire, Italy). Consequently, CONservatism lost the battle for public relations in those countries and the old regimes were replaced by ones who subscribed to other ideologies.

Since we are at almost a thousand words, I will continue this discussion in the next part of this series- which I hope to post within next couple of days. In it, I will show you how LIEbral mental pathologies and shortcomings can explain their disastrous response to this pandemic. You will, for example, see how the desire of LIEbrals to continue lock-downs has a lot to do with them trying to avoid looking incompetent rather than any real objective measure of efficacy. You wills also see how the mental pathologies and double-think inherent in LIEbralism can explain why its most vocal exponents avoid talking about the need to temporarily cancel rent collections of all types. I will also show you how their unwillingness to honestly and objectively assess risks has a lot to do with their real-life incompetence. And we also talk about the various strains of secular apocalypticism which pervades the mind of LIEbrals under late-capitalism in the declining west.

What do you think? Comments?

Economic Fallout of COVID-19 Shutdown will Dominate 2020 Elections

May 3, 2020 17 comments

As many of you know, I have consistently held the opinion that social and economic fallout from overreaction to this pandemic is going to be far worse and consequential than the final death toll. In case you need a refresher, here are a few links (link 1, link 2, link 3). While yet another post about this general topic might seem tediously repetitive, it is my opinion that even supposedly non-corporate media-types are too fixated on the deaths of 81-year-olds in nursing homes to notice the absolutely unprecedented socio-economic damage and long-term consequences of this shutdown on many western countries. And yes.. the negative effects of this shutdown will be far bigger in western countries and wannabes such as India than their East-Asian counterparts.

1] Many serological surveys in areas with high rates of deaths due to COVID-19 have consistently shown that the number of people who were infected by this virus (and developed antibodies to it) but did not develop symptoms sufficient to seek medical attention is about 10-50 times higher than number who tested positive for the virus with PCR-based tests. Note that PCR-based tests can only detect active infection (in all patients) or post-infectious viral shedding (in a small minority). In other words, asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infections account for the vast majority of cases. To make a long story short, serological surveys from even the worst hit areas with an older population suggest an Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) of less than 0.5%.

Even in areas of northern Italy that are full of old retirees and nursing homes, the chance of an infection leading to death is less than 1 in 200. Now I am sure that some of you are going to tell me that the present generation of serological tests have high error rates etc. And this is in spite of most of you never having performed a serological test let alone have an understanding of the factors which lead to false positive and false negative results in those tests. Once again, to make a long story short, the tests used in most of these surveys were independently validated by the researchers who used them and almost every single one had false positive rates below 1%. To put it another way, while some of the tests could be better, the vast majority were good enough to detect rates of seropositivity over 2%.

In many heavily affected areas, these surveys show rates of seropositivity in the 10-15%, 20-30% and even 50% range. Moreover, the geographical distribution of seropositivity rates in each survey tracks the death rate in those areas. But what does a discussion of seropostivity trends and extrapolated IFR contribute to a post on how the socio-economic fallout of this pandemic will dominate 2020 elections. Well.. let me spell it out for you. An infection, however contagious, with an IFR of less than 0.5% and most likely closer to 0.2% is not much worse than a bad strain of Influenza. Since the end of WW2, we had at least 4-5 Influenza pandemics with similar or slightly higher IFR rates. While some of these pandemics necessitated shutting down schools etc for a few weeks etc, none resulted in a generalized economic shutdown of the kind we are seeing today.

2] Given that the 2020 elections are in early November, which is about six months from today, you can be certain that general experience and many more serological surveys with even better tests will reveal an IFR of around 0.2% (1 death per 500 infections). Since this is no worse for most of the population (below 80 years) than an especially bad Influenza season, people who have been ruined and impoverished through the loss of their jobs and businesses will start asking some very inconvenient questions about the “official response” to this pandemic. Was a general shutdown really necessary? Given the mild presentation and low infectivity of this disease in children and young adults, was the closure of schools and universities really necessary?

Weren’t highly targeted actions meant to protect the most vulnerable (65+ and chronically ill) the better option- especially since we knew, even early on, that the disease caused the vast majority of fatalities in those groups? Given that this virus can easily spread in aerosols beyond 2 meters, how was this whole “social distancing” bullshit any different from post 9/11 security theater in airports. How was the decision to close “non-essential” retail and restaurants a good idea, when studies show that most transmissions occur in private residences, nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, aircraft carriers and other unusually crowded and enclosed areas. And the questions will keep get more problematic..

Why did so many elected officials not have a well-thought out (if somewhat unemotional) plan to reopen the economy? Even today, politicians from states such as NY and CA to TX and GA do not have a coherent and well-thought of plan for definitively reopening the economy- the key word being ‘definitively’. Do these elected dumbfucks think that pausing the economy for 12-18 months is possible? This question becomes especially important when it becomes obvious that the IFR is about 0.2% and there is a very clear way to identify those with the worst outcomes? Do these dummies have a plan to successfully develop, mass produce and mass vaccinate hundreds of millions? Given how badly they have bumbled thus far, why would you believe them? Why would you trust people whose poor decision-making skills have already ruined your life?

3] Talking about those who have suffered due to incompetent leaders making poor decisions.. how can all these unemployed people afford to keep on paying rents, mortgages, car payments, health insurance payments, university fees etc. While it might be tempting to point out that the Trump administration has been especially incompetent and stingy at delivering cash payments to average people- even countries which have done a much better job have not been able to make average people whole again. Small business in this country face a similar problem, because most of the trillions in government aid has gone to large companies and multinationals. Long story short, even if the economy all over this country was opened tomorrow, there would tens of millions who would be unemployed and many millions whose small businesses had failed for no fault of theirs. Do we have the political will to implement a decent social safety net?

Democrats, such as that corrupt dago from NY and that neoliberal from CA, are now positioning themselves as the new ‘resistance’ against Trump. They keep on mumbling random bullshit, which they don’t understand, such as “science based plans” for reopening economy etc. Are you fucking serious? Have these democrat dumbfucks even performed a back-of-envelope reckoning of the number (and percentage) of newly unemployed people and failed business in their state? Are they stupid enough to imagine that people won’t blame them for destroying their livelihoods? Then again the democratic party was stupid enough to nominate HRC in 2016 and that dementia patient.. Joe Biden.. in 2020. So, I guess it is possible. Also note how establishment democrats such as that hag with bad plastic surgery.. Nancy Pelosi.. and her compatriots have pretty much disappeared from the public arena. It doesn’t help that these losers haven’t come up with anything beyond a few “means tested” and very inadequate programs to help those affected by biggest financial crisis since the great depression.

Yes.. you read that right. The COVID-19 pandemic, specifically its aftermath, is the biggest financial crisis since the great depression of the early 1930s. The GFC of 2008 now looks almost quaint compared to how bad things have gotten so far, and we are nowhere near the end of this one. And you something else.. when such a large scale disaster or crisis strikes any country, affected people always look for scapegoats. The last time we had an election with over 20% unemployment in this country was in 1932, about 88 years ago- and we know how that went. Heck, even a now minor one like the one in 2008 made many people vote for a black guy who sounded good on TV than anyone remotely connected to that mess. Some partisan democrats (MikeCA) might think that this crisis will translate into a victory for his cult. I wouldn’t be so sure.. because in this crisis, democrats have visibly fucked up at least as much (if not more) than their republican counterparts- and it shows.

Establishment types in the democratic party seem to believe (almost as a matter of faith) that Trump’s fuckups will somehow magically hand them the presidency in 2020. However, as I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, there is more than enough blame to go around, and this will be very apparent by early November. At that time, many tens of millions of impoverished and angry people will want to find and lynch a scapegoat.. any scapegoat. Chances are that Trump’s rhetoric of “opening the economy for business” might sound far better to them than “lets keep it all closed (or close to that) until some undefined date in the future”. This outcome is especially likely once it becomes obvious that the IFR is somewhere between 0.2-0.5% and even lower (0.1%) in working-age population. In any case, the economic fallout of the response to this pandemic is going to totally overshadow the number of deaths from it by November 2020.

What do you think? Comments?

Aftermath of COVID-19 Shutdown will Deepen Political Divisions in USA

May 1, 2020 12 comments

Here is another prediction I am willing to make.. ready? I predict that the COVID-19 shutdown, specifically its aftermath, will greatly deepen existing political divisions in this country. To better understand what I am talking about, and get an appreciation of how far things have deteriorated, let me take you back to November 1984. In the presidential election of that year, Ronald Reagan won the electoral college in 49/50 states and got almost 60% of the popular vote. Interestingly, despite such a landslide victory for the republican candidate in presidential elections, democrats held their majority in the house and even gained a few states in the senate. If I told anyone who is not old enough to have remembered this particular election, perhaps someone born after the late 1970s, they would find this particular result to be highly implausible. But why was this the case in 1984 and more importantly.. what changed between 1984 and 2020 (or even 2000).

To understand what changed between 1984 and 2000, we have talk about the peculiar political environment prevalent in this country between 1945 and the late 1980s. To make a long story short, during those four decades there wasn’t much difference in the public and private positions of members from both parties. You could find tons of CONservative racist democrat legislators (even after 1968) as easily as you could find socially LIEbral republicans who were not especially racist. Even when attitudes changed (such as embrace of neoliberalism after late 1970s) there wasn’t much light between the positions of democrats and republicans. This is why republican presidents such as Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan got along well with democratic legislators and JFK and LBJ got along pretty OK with republicans. When some living fossils such as Pelosi and McConnell bemoan the lack of “bipartisanship”, they are referring to this era.

Of course, the flip side of this bonhomie was that both political parties developed a knack for repeatedly screwing over the majority of their constituents, to benefit their donors, under the guise of bipartisanship. To make matters more interesting, the realignment of late-1960s also resulted in both parties gradually cultivating different voter bases. There is a reason why the republican party is today associated with the white working class in non-coastal states, while democrats are the party of affluent white coastal professional types + inner city minorities. 1984 was pretty much the last major national-level election where the majority of voters still saw themselves as part of a larger group. We can argue about which party abandoned which group or vice-versa but it is clear that by the late 1980s, the emerging divisions between political parties (and their bases) were ideological rather than socio-economic. But what does any of this have to do with future political divisions and how is any of this related to aftermath of this pandemic?

Sometime ago, I tweeted about something which can be summarized as follows: Trump’s electoral success was largely due to his realization that american politics was about providing empty reality-show theater, rather than competent governing. In other words, he figured out that most people had lost all hope in the system actually working for them and were only in for the stupid drama and dumb pet peeves indulged in by both parties since early 1980s. Since that time, politicians from both parties have been busy pushing for ever increasing levels of job outsourcing, de-industrialization while simultaneously defunding social safety nets, destroying job security, increasing costs of higher education, making housing less affordable and much more. Electoral turnout in this country is so low because people correctly assume that elections have no effect on public policies. The only way either party can get anyone to vote for them, nowadays, involves empty posturing on meaningless or minor cultural issues such as gun control, abortion or vague and equally meaningless ideological position such as ‘diversity’, ‘patriotism’ or support/disbelief in one set of charlatans.. I mean.. “experts” vs another.

Basically, this country and most other western countries are run by two (or three) “teams” of D-grade actors on the payroll of same corporate masters. This might sound cynical but just have a look at how poorly the political systems of most western countries have dealt with major systemic crisis for the past 2-3 decades. Now.. it is much easier to go slowly go downhill if you you start at a higher point than others. But ultimately the course of events throws up challenges which expose the decrepitude and incompetence of the underlying system. In the past two decades, we had at least three major events (9/11 and its aftermath, GFC 2008 and its aftermath and COVID-19 and its aftermath) that have exposed the allegedly competent western systems for their reality. But what does any of this have to with ever deepening political divisions in this country?

Well.. it comes down to how politics in this country has evolved. Long story short, it has become a meaningless team sport played by an increasingly geriatric and dumb group of elected leaders posturing against each other to win applause from their own crowd of partisan morons (such as Mike CA) rather than come up with even a half-decent solution to a problem- especially if such a solution angered their corporate masters. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, but more so in its aftermath, this has taken the following forms..

1] Neither political party in this country has a clear exit plan from the lockdown and its massive associated job loss, some of which will be long-term. On one side, the ‘scientism’ worshiping democratic morons are working themselves up into a frenzy every time somebody suggests that the broader economy has to reopened soon or the disease is nowhere as lethal as they want to believe. On the other side, republican idiots believe that simply opening the economy after such an unprecedented shutdown will miraculously restore the economy to its previous (and let us be honest.. pretty shitty) state- because of “free market” and “american capitalism” pixie dust. But more importantly, neither party has demonstrated any clue as to how to reopen the economy and keep it open while simultaneously fixing the very real human misery (a good part of it medium term or longer) caused by this shutdown.

And here is why this will matter. In Chapter 17 of the ‘Prince’ by Niccolò Machiavelli, he wrote “Men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony”. Let me explain that in terms of the COVID-19 crisis.. in the end, most people care far more about the effect of this pandemic and ensuing shutdown on their own financial status than the possible demise of their 81-year old parents or grandparents who have been warehoused in some nursing home. As many of you might have figured out by now, the aftermath of this crisis will cause a large sustained increase in unemployment in sectors of economy that have a lot young people- such as tourism, hospitality, retail and many part-time/ seasonal gigs (concerts, festivals etc). This will occur even if the lock down is lifted today. To make matters worse, there will be an unprecedented number of small-business bankruptcies which, once again will, occur even if the lockdown is lifted today. The point I am trying to make is you will sustained unemployment rates of over 30% in people under 40 and millions of small business owners whose whole sense of self-worth and livelihood will be destroyed for no fault of theirs. As you will soon see, this has an interesting historical precedent- specifically continental Europe in the decade after end of WW1.

Have you ever wondered why so many fascists came to power in continental Europe between 1920 and 1932? Well.. in each case (and this include countries in Eastern Europe) there was a massive increase in unemployment among young men, old and sometimes new political systems that were unable to adapt to new reality, tons of small-business owners who has experienced business failure due to finance-based consolidation and.. oh.. a party that appealed to these disaffected groups- often led by some charismatic individual. Italy had Mussolini, Poland had Pilsudski, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had their own dictators, Hungary had Gyula Gombos, Austria had Engelbert Dollfuss, USSR had Stalin, Spain had Franco and Germany had Hitler. While each took a slightly different manner to power, the overall circumstances and forces which let to those outcomes were remarkably similar.

2] And this brings us to why the existing political system or establishment in those nations was unable to stop the rise of all these strongmen to power. The simple answer is.. the pre-existing political class of those countries was largely insulated and disconnected from the dire struggles of their fellow citizens during that era. They simply could not care, did not want to care and thought they could get away with it while still retaining their old positions in those societies. Today we are seeing something similar, among members of both political parties- but especially democrats. You might have many instances of members of the sinecured LIEbral classes lecturing to and scolding white working class and small-business types who are desperately looking for any sign of the economy reopening and things getting back to normal. These LIEbral shitheads, holed up in their nice suburban houses and condos while being paid via various secure streams of money for their useless jobs have the temerity to confidently tell everyone else that the economy is not going to reopen for 12-18 months while vehemently denying every bit of information that points to a different outcome truly deserve the Guillotine.

But the underlying problem is worse.. if that is possible. These LIEBrals (mostly of the democratic party persuasion) spend time fantasizing about the imminent death of working class people just because they want to get a regular paycheck. Did I mention that USA has a deliberately shitty social safety net and that the number of people without their regular income is closer to 50-60 million, instead of the 30-something million official number) right now. But wait, it gets better. These dumfucks, who decry the desire of working class and petit bourgeois for a return to ‘normal’ have no plan of helping them through measures such as cancelling rent, mortgages, auto and health insurance payments.. let alone give them some sort of universal basic income until the economy returns to some level of normalcy. AS I mentioned in one of my previous post, it would not be surprising if these LIEbral attitudes led to an electoral defeat for the democratic party in 2020 inspite of running against orange man and a bunch of assholes.

I will wrap up this post by giving you one more example of how clueless and disconnected these LIEbals are from reality. You might have heard about how some meat-packing plants have been temporarily closed because of local outbreaks of COVID-19. While I do not support the way these plants are run, especially the working conditions within them, I understand why keeping them open and running at this time is necessary to prevent food shortages, more panic buying and social disorder. But what do LIEbrals think? Well.. these retards are busy lecturing to poor people about their “excessive” meat consumption. I even saw a few urging people to adopt a vegan diet! Yes.. even in the midst of such a massive crisis, rich LIEbrals are busy performing virtue displays. If you still believe that political divisions in this country wont intensify in aftermath of COVID-19 crisis, I have a bridge in London to sell you.

What do you think? Comments?

A Very Intriguing Theory about Possible Artificial Origins of COVID-19

April 26, 2020 28 comments

A couple of days ago, I came across a rather long medium post about how COVID-19 aka SARS-2 might have been created in a laboratory rather than through natural selection. While I considered posting a link to it yesterday, it was prudent to do some due diligence first. See.. part of my job and training involves using software tools similar to the ones used in that post, so I decided to first independently verify a few of the main sequence alignments, structural models of proteins and publications etc before promoting it. Well.. while I have not re-verified every single point of data in this post, whatever I have done to date suggests that its main conclusions are correct.

Here is the post: SARS-CoV-2 Genealogy Through the Lens of Gain-of-Function Research

Since this post is very long and technical, let me summarize it- very briefly. The author starts by pointing out the unusual coincidence of an absolutely minimal furin cleavage site evolving at the junction of S1 and S2 subunits of the Spike protein in SARS-2. This is suspicious since gain of function by natural mutations usually tend to first create less than optimal sequences for new functions before being optimized via evolutionary selection. But this virus is too new for such an optimization to have occurred naturally- at least, that is not the most likely explanation.

He then points out that the two viruses which SARS-2 is most similar to ones discovered a few years ago (2014 and 2017/2019) in two different parts of the China. The Bat virus (RaTG13 with 96% similarity) came from a faecal swab from bat droppings from some cave in a part of China that is over 1,000 km from Wuhan, while the Pangolin virus (MP789 – 70% something similarity) came from autopsy of a bunch of smuggled sick pangolins from Malaysia in 2017. He then compares their sequences and while the Bat virus (RaTG13) is very similar to SARS-2, the Pangolin Virus has considerable dissimilarity with SARS-2 in first quarter of sequence for Spike Protein. Homologous recombination in a host infected with two viruses of same “species” without a segmented genome requires them to be very similar to each other.

More curiously, the new furin cleavage site in SARS-2 is a “gain of function” mutation, which means that it allows the virus to be more pathogenic (more infectious or capable of infecting a wider range of hosts/ cell types). It should be noted that more than a couple western research groups tried to insert similar enzymatic cleavage sites into other Coronaviruses such as SARS, MERS etc in the past. So it is not unreasonable to assume that the Chinese group in that Wuhan lab might have also tried it. In fact, we know that multiple research groups in Beijing tried that same gain of function mutation in a chicken Coronavirus. Oh ya.. and they also showed that putting that site into the S protein of another bat Coronavirus allowed it to infect human cells.

He then goes on talk about the whole field of Coronavirus research including many publications by a prominent researcher named Ralph Baric, who pioneered many of these techniques used for creating “gain of function” mutations in Coronaviruses. And yes.. he collaborated with the head of that Wuhan Coronavirus lab over the years, so it is makes perfect sense that you would see some his techniques are used in the later’s lab. Long story short, they looked at many “gain of function” mutations which made the resultant viruses deadlier. Also, Baric’s work seems to be have been “inspirational” to the lab in Wuhan since they kept trying out his ideas on Bat Coronaviruses.

The author then goes on to point out that accidental “leaks” of viruses from secure labs are far more common than most people realize, and are almost always due to poorly or hastily trained staff. So the idea that a poorly trained or careless researcher getting infected, but not developing serious illness and going on to spread it outside the lab is far more plausible than many would like to believe. He also points out the restriction enzyme map of nucleotide sequence, necessary for many types of genetic engineering, is rather similar for SARS-2, Bat and Pangolin coronvirus. And there are some other unusual similarities between the nucleotide codons used for certain amino acids- The explanation for which is a bit technical and complicated.

To summarize, the likelihood that this virus was created (along with others) to study effect of various “gain of function” mutations in Coronaviruses but then accidentally released into community through the actions of a poorly trained junior researcher is much more likely than it evolving naturally from a bat Coronavirus found in some remote part of the Yunnan province in China somehow magically recombining with a Pangolin Coronavirus from Malaysia and gaining just the right fragment of the Spike protein from it.

What do you think? Comments?

Response to COVID-19 Will Destroy Democratic Party in 2020 Elections

April 20, 2020 74 comments

I was going to post an article about the stupid western LIEbral reaction to use of Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine to treat SARS-2 disease in its initial stages. FYI- there is a rapidly increasing amount of evidence from different parts of the world that standard dosages of both drugs started within first few days of symptomatic SARS-2 illness do significantly reduce (by about 4-5 times) the risk of hospitalization in its later stages. This is a big deal, as the percentage of older people who die after becoming sick enough to be hospitalized is much higher than those below 65. While writing that article, which will be hopefully post next, I had an interesting epiphany. In its briefest form, it is as follows: the reactions (and in cases, the lack thereof) by establishment LIEbrals to the economic crisis created by current dumb and ineffectual measures deployed to contain this coronavirus pandemic will likely sink the democratic party during 2020 elections.

While this particular take on what is clearly a rapidly evolving and multifactorial crisis might seem premature, especially since the election is almost 6 months away- my analysis is based on solid factors which most LIEbrals are ignoring at their own peril. I am sure some of the more ardent worshipers of LIEbralism (MikeCA?) would like to tell me how the republican party will suffer the biggest electoral losses in generations since Trump (and by association, that party) botched the initial response to this pandemic. To which I say.. sure, Trump and the republican party certainly botched the initial response to this pandemic and ensuing crisis- but so did every other major western country (from UK and France to Italy and Spain). But let us be honest about something, we have already passed the point where the initial botched response still matters to most people. What matters now is how the political parties in power in those countries deal with the massive economic fallout caused by measures instituted to allegedly contain this pandemic.

Some of you might say.. isn’t the mortality due to this pandemic still the biggest cause for concern. Well.. based on a preponderance of evidence, it is not and let me explain how I reached that conclusion. A number of recent population studies which look for specific antibodies generated in response to SARS-2 infection seem to strongly suggest that the percentage of population who were exposed to this infection and went on to develop an asymptomatic (or mildly symptomatic) form is about 10-50 times higher than the cases who were ill enough to be tested by the PCR tests used for detecting viral RNA. In other words, rate of functionally asymptomatic infections for SARS-2 is at least 10 fold higher than previously thought- especially in otherwise healthy people below 60. While there is no shortage of doomers pretending to be “statisticians” who want to tell you that all that data is somehow wrong, the number of studies from different countries (using different test kits) which support the high rates of asymptomatic infection is now so high that a non-biased person would have to admit that it is true.

So why does this matter? Well.. it immediately changes the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of SARS-2 from 1-3% in countries with extensive PCR-based testing to lower than 0.3-0.1% or even lower for those under 65. While a CFR of about 0.2% is higher than most yearly influenza epidemics, it is in the range of major influenza pandemics such as the one in 1957-1958. That pandemic killed about 100k people in USA when its population was almost half of what it is today. At that time it was seen as an unfortunate, but still acceptable, body count and things improved quickly once it was over. My point is that, heartless as it might seem, a body count of 200k (mostly old people) is not going to have a long-term adverse effect on this country. However a prolonged shutdown which creates 30-40% unemployment rates on top of massive number of business failures is going to cause far more problems that burying or burning the corpses of 200k mostly very old (and white) dead people. And yes, I have factored in the differences in rates of death by race as well as the percentage of each group in population.

But what does any of this have to do with why the official response to this pandemic will likely destroy the democratic party in 2020 elections. To better understand what I am going to talk about, let us first spell out a few obvious facts. Firstly, elections will occur in early November 2020, when the economic impact of the shutdown due to official government response will be a far bigger issue than the number of old dead people. As a consequence, the way both parties respond over next few months to the growing economic disaster will be far more relevant than it is right now. But.. wouldn’t that favor the democrats, since they are allegedly the working class party? Well, in case you haven’t been reading what I have been writing for last few years- the democratic party became the party of credentialed suburbanites + professionals a long time ago. Sure.. some black people vote for them- but that is largely due to historical affiliations among older black people. Neither the democratic party, or its republican equivalent, cares about black people or most white people for that matter.

So what have the democrats have been doing so far?

1] It is no secret that democrats haven’t been doing much, if anything, to help the working class they claim to represent. Most of the two-something trillion dollars in first bailout bill has gone to large business pretending to be small ones. In fact, republican dipshits such as Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley are the reason why it even contains a provision to bail out small business. But it gets worse.. democrats did not seriously try to pass a 2k/month universal unemployment provision in that bill. That number is important because every west-European country, Canada, Australia etc made sure that even their gig and contract workers could easily get at least 2k/ month in addition to generous (75-80%) support for both large and small business to keep their employees on payroll. Now LIEbrals (like MikeCA?) might say that such a measure would not have passed in the senate. Well.. they never tried seriously, so we don’t know. But even if it hadn’t passed, trying hard to pass it would have shown potential voters that the party cared about them- especially important in a presidential election year.

Instead democrats are totally banking on Trump screwing up the response to this pandemic. Yes.. you heard that right. Thy have no other plan to win the 2020 elections other than hope and pray that Orange Man fucks up so badly that people will just vote for their dementia patient aka Joe Biden. To make matters even worse, if that is possible, their response to the crisis has been either cringeworthy or downright repulsive. Some of you might have seen Nancy Pelsoi displaying the expensive contents of her super-expensive refrigerators on national TV at a time when about half the country don’t know whether they can afford food within few weeks and food banks in many cities have been swamped by tens of thousands who had never used such services in the past. Or look at that stupid cunt who is the current governor of Michigan acting like an out-of touch autocrat or the governor of Virgina using this opportunity to push through ‘gun control’ legislation. It is as if democrats at both the national and state level are completely out of touch with the needs and demands of their supposed constituencies.

2] Many of you might have also seen the decrepit MSM giving tons to air time to Andrew Cuomo and to a lesser extent- Gavin Newsom. They are doing so to project both of them, especially the former, as future potential presidential candidates. The only problem is that they are both very mediocre and borderline incompetent leaders with serious electability issues at national level. Don’t believe me? Let us go through their records. Cuomo is a part of a political dynasty which benefited from being in the 2nd most openly corrupt state in USA- after neighboring New Jersey. Andrew’s biggest achievement has been his full throated support for neoliberalism and working with the republican party to keep in his state to maintain that status quo. Did I mention NY is one the most unequal states in this country. As far as his supposed ability to contain this pandemic.. well, it was Cuomo (who against the better judgement of Bill de Blasio) delayed any serious response to the pandemic in NY state by about 2-3 weeks. Under Cuomo, NY reduced its hospital bed count by over 20k in the last few years to build luxury condos and now he also cut Medicaid funding in the most recent state budget.

Gavin Newsom, while not as venally corrupt as Cuomo, is nonetheless a highly problematic potential democratic party leader at national level. From his support of severe ‘gun control’, SJW causes such as trangenderism to being ineffectual at actually solving real problems such as very high levels of homelessness and economic inequality in that state. At best he is a neoliberal who is not as bad as Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden, assuming the later still knows who he is. But the much bigger problem, as far as 2020 elections are concerned, is how they are acting right now. See.. both are trying to position themselves as ‘resistance’ to Trump, which means opposing everything put forth by Trump- irrespective of the merit of each idea. That is why both are opposed to any concrete and defined plan for reopening the economy in their states. But why would this matter? Well.. because other states, especially those run by republican governors will reopen sooner and while they may initially suffer from outbreaks of SARS-2, their economies won’t be as thoroughly trashed as those of NY and CA. And this will matter come election time.

As I have repeatedly mentioned in my previous posts on this general topic, USA has neither the bureaucratic framework or ideological bent to quickly provide effective levels of financial help to its citizens in times of crisis. Consequently, this shutdown is going to an incredible amount of socio-economic damage to everyone in this country who is not rich, well connected or has a sinecured job. Sure, some will be hurt more than others but even most doctors are seeing their income plummet because of the cancellation of scheduled surgeries, normal medical procedures and reduction in appointments. The same is true for supposedly resilient entities such as universities, municipalities and many more. Even if the government decides to bail them out, under the present set of rules, most of the money will not reach the people it was intended to help (employees, contractors, small business dependent on them etc). In other words, a prolonged shutdown will cause exponentially increasing amounts of damage to economy and those states which are closed for a longer time (to show their resistance to Trump) will inflict the most suffering on their residents. And this will be weaponized by Trump reelection campaign.

3] Talking about the ‘resistance’.. it is an open secret that corporate media and democrats want Trump to fail. To be clear, I am not suggesting Trump is competent- but then again, there is no evidence that his predecessors were any better than him. Sure, they were somewhat “better spoken” in public, but their policies were just as neoliberal, poorly thought out and shitty as his. You might have seen these ‘resistance’ bullshitters convert each press briefing into an adversarial nightmare and constantly question his actions. The problem with such behavior is that it highly counterproductive. Because the corporate media is so openly adversarial to Trump, he can claim false persecution and thus divert attention from this many actions which are actually stupid and shitty. There is a reason why “RussiaGate”, “Mueller Report”, “UkraineGate”, “impeachment” and now this crisis has not had any impact on his popularity. The relentless but totally ineffectual media attacks on Trump are, ironically, what keep his popularity from going down.

It does not help that all the losers clamoring for prolonged shutdowns in media, and on social media, are limo LIEbrals who have enough money and other resources to weather them. These dumbfucks have little, to no, connection or understanding of how the majority of people make a living. This position is going to become increasingly problematic as more and more evidence from other countries will show that specific antibodies to this virus in asymptomatic people (evidence of exposure and recovery) are far more widespread than currently believed- which implies that CFR is significantly less that 1-1.5%. At that point, I predict that these resistance dummies will try to sabotage testing of people for antibodies or claim that “antibodies in recovered patients do not offer protection” because they want to prolong shutdown and cause more economic damage to make Trump lose is reelection bid. Needless to say, such behavior is only going to make Trump and the republicans look like the better option in November for most of the country.

In summary, the reaction of establishment LIEbrals and corporate media to this pandemic is very likely to severely damage the electoral prospects of democratic party in the 2020 elections.

What do you think? Comments?

Inept Western Response to COVID-19 Will Result in Public Backlash: 4

April 13, 2020 26 comments

In the previous post of this series, I made the point that all of the dumbshit “democratic” western countries and their sad imitators (India etc) have not thought through the full consequences of shutting down most of their economies in response to the SARS-2 pandemic. Because, if they had performed any due diligence, it would be obvious that stopping the collection of all types of rents and bills had to be done before shutting down other things. It is also no secret that some large countries (USA and India) lack both the bureaucratic and financial infrastructure to deliver timely and sufficient money to most of their people who have lost income because of this shutdown. Even those who have done a far better job in this regard (Denmark, Canada, UK etc) are still half-assing it by not covering all their people and cancelling economic rents. Bad as these things are, these are not their biggest failures- so far.

In my opinon, the single biggest failure (thus far) has been the complete lack of any exit plan- something which Kim Iversen alluded to in one of her many videos. Any politician, bureaucrat or “credentialed epidemiologist” who cannot present a definitive and feasible exit strategy from this thoughtless lockdown is not living in the real world. While there will be ample opportunity to dunk on politicians and bureaucrats later on this post (or series), let me start by exposing the utter incompetence of all those “credentialed epidemiologists” who staff the public health departments of western countries. You know who they remind me of.. WW1 generals. If you have read a significant amount of history, you will be aware that the vast majority of generals in WW1 on both sides were epic disasters and clusterfucks whose decisions caused far more casualties than if they hadn’t been born. But why were they such massive disasters? Well it has to do with how they ended up in their positions and careers prior to 1914.

See.. for almost 50 years prior to WW1, there was no large scale warfare in western Europe. The only real action most soldiers and generals in that part of world saw from end of Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the start of WW1 in 1914 was restricted to putting down rebellions in colonies and a few small skirmishes in the Balkans. Therefore, an entire generation of western generals had never faced anything beyond dark-skinned tribals with spears and a few old firearms. To put it another way, the upper military ranks of western countries were filled with shysters and dummies who had reached their position via family connections, patronage and bribes, flattery and good social manners etc. Sure.. many of them had attended “prestigious” schools and universities and were capable of accurately reciting back whatever they had learned in them. To put it another way, they were incompetent posers who could nevertheless give the appearance of competence. But reality cannot be fooled and WW1 exposed them in a most unflattering manner.

The current crop of “credentialed epidemiologists” in USA and other western countries are, in many ways, similar to WW1 generals. Here is why.. firstly, neither has actually faced a large scale challenge of this magnitude in their entire careers. Sure, there have been bad influenza seasons and occasional outbreaks of some exotic diseases in Africa or East Asia- but dealing with routine or small-scale problems does not prepare one for making decisions during large scale meltdowns. Secondly, just like their military counterparts a century ago, the bulk of these “credentialed epidemiologists” went to “prestigious” universities where they learned to regurgitate the alleged “wisdom” of those who had fought past wars while also building up their social networks. Most importantly, their training and experience leaves them particularly unequipped to think outside the box of “conventional wisdom” and “established norms”. You know.. in some ways, they remind me of the current democratic party establishment.

But why does any of this matter? The brief answer is as follows: any strategy or plan is always subject to the constraints of the system it operates within and available resources. Sure.. you can always find new ways to unlock resources that were previously unavailable or partially bypass existing constraints, but in the end the feasibility of any given plan is dictated by what exists and is available at that time. Let me explain that concept with a couple of examples- the stalemate of trench warfare in WW1 was ultimately broken by using shock-troop tactics by Germans and combined arms operations by the other side- but both approaches, though new, were extensions of what was feasible at that time. Similarly, in WW2- the development of jet aircraft made it possible to fly faster, V1 and V2 demonstrated that cruise and ballistic missiles were not pipe dreams. However, once again, they were extensions of what was feasible at that time.

My point is that physical, logistical and technological feasibility of any strategy or plan of action is central to success- whether you are waging war or trying to control a pandemic. With that in mind, let us talk about something almost every commentator in mainstream media seems to have missed. Ever wonder how you can motivate people to follow a plan of action which might be painful in short-term, but potentially rewarding in long run? The more delusional of you might think that fear would work. However any close reading of history shows that fear by itself, at best, can only buy you a short time (weeks to months). So what else can? The answer is hope.. specifically hope for a better future. In other words, a leader with a reasonably feasible plan to overcome whatever adversity they are facing will always motivate people to go along for a far longer time than somebody who is using only fear. Hope trumps fear. With that in mind, let us go through their stupidities, not necessarily in order of importance.

1] ‘Social distancing’ and shutting down most of economy is unworkable over any period longer than a few weeks. Even countries which provide far more generous direct monetary support to their population than USA have been either unable/unwilling to provide full income replacement. Consequently, any shutdown that goes on for more than a few weeks will definitely have very nasty downstream and knock-on economic effects. But why does this matter? Well.. here is why. SARS-2 aka COVID-19 has a maximum fatality rate of about 1.5% in populations which conduct extensive testing + factoring in asymptomatic or very mildly symptomatic patients who recovered (not counted in official positive numbers). Compare this to massive and inevitable job loss in the service sector due to ‘social distancing’ guidelines and the inevitable closure of many small business.Long story short, shutting down economy for more than a few weeks gives results in unemployment rates reaching 30% and beyond. Note that this will be on top of all the other problems caused by many people being unable to pay rent and other bills.

To put it bluntly, the number of severely pissed off people who are unemployed and in poverty will exceed the potential number of who might die by a minimum of over 20 times. Continuing the bullshit charade of ‘social distancing’ and shutdowns until we develop an effective vaccine a year or more from now is not a viable option, regardless of what dumbfucks such as Faucci or Bill Gates want to to believe. We are already seeing lineups of thousands (who own cars) in many american cities to use food banks- and this is just the beginning. Let me remind you that similar combinations of unemployment and non-existent safety nets have, in the past, led to the rise of people such as Mussolini and Hitler. Unless the “credentialed epidemiologists” come up with a viable plan to reopen the economy real soon, things will develop a momentum and direction of their own- in ways that are not controllable.

2] ‘Social distancing’ and ‘flattening the curve’ loses its utility after a few weeks. Slowing the spread of a highly contagious but not-especially-lethal disease (in the absence of effective treatments or vaccines) for more than a couple of months merely prolongs the outbreak. While such measures can buy us a few weeks (at the beginning) to get things in order, find a better protocol for treatment or develop better measures to protect the most vulnerable groups etc- it cannot stop the inevitable. This becomes much more relevant once you understand that excess deaths due to ignoring other diseases and conditions, because of a misguided focus on SARS-2, will keep on increasing and quickly eclipse the extra mortality due to the later. People don’t stop having heart attacks, strokes, needing anti-cancer therapy, requiring elective surgery or receiving treatment for other acute and chronic conditions because there is a moderate pandemic of some sort. Anything which takes resources away from other medical issues will increase total mortality.

To make matters more interesting, most people above 80 who require incubation due to severe presentations of SARS-2 don’t make it- at least with currently used therapeutic interventions. This groups also makes up the majority of deaths due to that disease. At some stage, people will start asking whether intensive therapeutic interventions in severely ill people over a certain age is desirable given that it takes those resources away from people with far more treatable disease conditions. In wretched countries such as USA and India, the loss of income in a system without a decent safety net will cause additional problems such as many people being unable to purchase medications, seek medical help or even buy food. Do not, even for a minute, believe the idiots who are trying to tell you that such deprivations won’t cause widespread and violet social unrest.

Since this post is already close to 1700 words, I will stop now. In the next part we will talk about why legal enforcement of ‘social distancing’ and shutdowns are going to cause far more problems than you realize- especially after next two weeks. Will also go into why the fear of looking bad due to covid-19 deaths after shutdown is lifted might cause decision paralysis among the “credentialed” leading to further collateral damage. Might also go into the scientific and clinical evidence behind using Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine to treat SARS-2 in early stages of disease. Here is a quick spoiler, there is considerable evidence that both drugs are very effective at reducing the number of those who require hospitalization and ICU care, but only if given within first few days of initial symptoms- and this actually supports their known mode of action.

What do you think? Comments?

Assorted Observations about the COVID-19 aka SARS-2 Pandemic: 2

April 9, 2020 25 comments

In the previous post of this series, I briefly touched on some things we still don’t fully understand about the disease caused by SARS-2 virus. Also, I am going to start calling it as the SARS-2 virus instead of COVID-19 since it displays high genetic similarity (sequence homology) to the original SARS virus. Most notably, the similarity extends to the main host protein used by both viruses to enter cells, main organs affected as well as pathological changes and diseases process caused by them. Therefore, SARS-2 is best understood as a significantly less lethal but more easily spread version of the original SARS virus. This is not to say that SARS-2 evolved from SARS- far more likely, both evolved from a common ancestor. With that out of the way, let us start by talking about ventilators or why they are of limited utility- at best.

1] During the past 2-3 weeks every politician and public figure has been incessantly talking about how we need tens of thousands more ventilators. To be fair, western countries which adopted the “neoliberal consensus” over past two-three decades ended up starving their healthcare systems to vary degrees. Hence a chronic shortage of ventilators have been a fact of life for many years especially during bad influenza seasons. While we could cerainly use more ventilators, ICU beds, more hospital beds and other medical resources in general- a large increase in those resources is unlikely to have a beneficial effect on the course of the SARS-2 pandemic. Here is why..

Based on a examination of multiple studies from countries such as Italy, Spain, UK and China- it appears that ventilators (at least as they are used right now) don’t help much with the survival of the most vulnerable group of patients. Let me put it this way, about 70-80% of people of people over 80 who end up on a ventilator due to this disease die. For those between 70-80, the number is closer to 50%, while the majority of those below 60 survive their stint on the ventilator. But why do these numbers matter. Well.. because the vast majority of those ill enough to require ventilators are over 60. To be clear, I am not claiming that nobody below 60 requires a ventilator. It is just that they are a small percentage of that age group of patients.

In other words, ventilators have poor efficacy in the age group who needs them the most. Unless significantly better protocols for medical intervention in very old and ill patients are developed, we should reconsider the wisdom of putting people above 80 with serious multiple comorbidities on ventilators- especially if there aren’t enough of them. People above 80. but without significant comorbidities. and in otherwise OK health have a better than 50% chance of survival as are those between 70-80. Any body below 70 who is not in poor health has a pretty good (better than 60%) chance of coming out alive. We should make resource allocations accordingly. I am not suggesting we go all soylent-green, but a realistic assessment of the chance of survival for each patient in the ICU with SARS-2 is necessary.

2] Talking about pre-existing conditions, it seems that the previously reported strong link of poor survival to hypertension is mostly an artifact. See.. most people above 75 have a slightly higher blood pressure than what is defined as “normal”. More relevantly, there is no evidence that blood pressures upto 150/95 are associated are bad for those over 75. Indeed, supposedly healthy systolic blood pressures below 130 have a link to slightly increased in those over 75. Having said that, there is now good evidence that the link between increased mortality from SARS-2 and cardiovascular disease and Type II diabetes is real. Infact, given that ACE2 receptors (which allow the virus to infect cells) are found on the endothelial lining of most blood vessels, it appears that the quality of baseline endothelial function is a significant factor in how ill a patient will end up.

Disturbed microvascular perfusion and tiny clots in lungs which disturb normal oxygenation of blood might also explain why so many patients in ICU due this virus have normal lung tissue compliance but really low oxygen saturation in their blood. All the cytokines released due to this infection in some patients (Il-1 and Il-6) don’t help microvascular function either. To make a long story short, very impaired microvascular perfusion and oxygen exchange in the lungs due to damaged and dead endothelial (and related) cells + severe inflammation and small clots is likely what puts most people in ICU. Clearly, we need a different and better treatment protocol for this disease than treating it as if was not different from the most common presentations of ARDS.

3] With those things out of the way, for now, let us talk about therapeutic options for SARS-2. As luck would have it, the vast majority (over 80%) who are symptomatic do not require anything more than bed-rest and anti-pyretics. This is especially the case for those below 60 years, who account for the majority of population- even in old and demographically stagnant western countries. Furthermore there is emerging evidence that the number of people who develop and recover from an asymptomatic form of this disease might be far higher than previously believed. But what about all those patients (15-20 %) who have symptoms which require some degree of medical intervention? Well.. this is where things start getting controversial.

But before we go there, let me say something else about potential treatments. It is my opinion that drugs that have to be injected or biological in nature (antibodies, recombinant proteins) are unsuitable for mass treatment of this disease because quickly scaling up facilities which make injectables or antibodies/ proteins etc is not easy. This does not mean that such drugs have no role in treating this disease. It is just that they would be most useful for people who are ill enough to be in an ICU. But as I mentioned in the earlier parts of this post, most older patients who end up in ICU end up dying- at least with current treatment protocols. The key, then, is to keep as many patients from deteriorating enough to need the ICU. In other words, we require effective orally available drugs to have a significant effect on the mortality rates due to SARS-2.

So what are the options? Well.. the most hyped drug, Remdesivir, does have activity in animal models of many viral diseases including Coronaviruses. However, it cannot be administered orally and hence will be used only in very ill patients- and that is a bad thing. See.. viral infections unlike their bacterial counterparts have to be treated early since peak viral levels are reached (and most of damage has been done) around the time people are sick enough to be require hospitalization. You can see why a drug which cannot be administered orally (and therefore used only in hospitalized patients) might provide very little therapeutic benefit in later stages of the disease. Now let us talk about Chloroquine (CQ) and Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ).

While Trump haters in media and bureaucracies are trying their best to discredit CQ and HCQ, the reality is that we have known that both drugs have decent activity against coronaviruses at concentrations achievable with normal anti-malaria or lupus dosages since 2003 (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4). It doesn’t hurt that both drugs also have an immunomodulatory/anti-inflammatory effect. Multiple reports from China (mostly preprints) strongly suggest that normally used doses of both drugs are effective at treating SARS-2 in human beings. To be more specific, they are most effective at reducing the number of people who go on to develop severe disease if given within first 4-5 days of symptoms. No serious person is suggesting that they are miracle cures for patients ill enough to need intubation and ventilators. However, it also quite obvious that they speed up recovery from disease, reduce peak viral loads and significantly reduce the risk of complications when given early. It also helps that they can be given orally and synthesized very easily and on a large scale (by the metric ton).

Since we are already past a thousand words, I Will write about other potential drugs and therapeutic options such and convalescent plasma, monoclonal antibodies and vaccines in next post of this series.

What do you think? Comments?

Assorted Observations about the COVID-19 aka SARS-2 Pandemic: 1

April 3, 2020 27 comments

Since I have been following this viral pandemic pretty closely, and actually possess professional expertise in the topic, I thought it might be an good idea to create yet another series for posting about assorted bits of news and my musings on them. With that in mind, let us start now..

1] We still do not understand why children under 10 years of age or even teens and youth under 20 seldom get seriously ill, given that cells in their bodies also express the ACE2 protein which is used by this virus to enter cells. Sure.. man in his 80s with serious cardiovascular issues might express more of that protein on their cells, but not that much more and in any case the difference is not enough to explain the very different course of infection in the below-20 vs the above-80. Variations in amount of ACE2 expression is totally inadequate to explain why many in the younger age-groups don’t even have symptoms versus why many above 80 quickly go into respiratory failure and then cardiogenic shock so quickly.

2] Many of you might also have noticed that rich and middle-class people between 20 and 80 are noticeably less likely to develop the more serious forms of the disease than the poor or working class people. Why? Why does the course of this disease vary so much with socio-economic status? What part of being from a higher social-economic status translates into the more benign form of this illness and which aspects of being poor or working-class result in a substantially higher percentage becoming seriously ill? This is especially relevant since we do not, yet, have good and specific treatments for this infection. Also, why is mortality among blacks in USA noticeably higher than whites or latinos. Yes, this observation is based on fairly preliminary data from certain states such as Michigan and New York– but it is just too obvious to ignore.

3] We also still do not know what percentage of those infected experienced an asymptomatic or mildly-symptomatic version of the disease. This is important since the vast majority of testing in western countries is still limited to those showing some symptoms, usually serious enough to seek medical attention. But we already know that a significant minority of the infected don’t even develop symptoms and then go on to develop immunity to it without experiencing the disease. What is the percentage of those who never develop even a fever or cough serious enough to seek medical attention and why is the course of the disease so mild or nonexistent in them? What makes some people resistant to the disease even if they have no prior immunity to it?

4] How many older people who died of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) due to an unidentified reason (not bacterial pneumonia, influenza etc) in the past two months in USA, and countries such as Italy or Spain, actually died from COVID-19. I suspect that the number of such deaths might be far higher than most “serious people” are willing to accept right now. There is evidence that doctors in Italy were seeing isolated cases of serious viral pneumonia that could not be attributed to influenza or other common virus, as early as November and December 2019. In USA, this is especially obvious in certain urban areas such as Cook County and New Orleans. We require far more extensive testing of the population- both for the virus and resultant antibodies.

5] If you look at the “official” symptoms of COVID-19 or SARS-2, you will see stuff such as fever, dry cough and difficult breathing. However even a cursory glance at published data and accounts of medical professionals attending them paint a different picture. For example, symptoms such as sudden loss of smell (anosmia), some GI symptoms in elderly patients, anomalously low blood pressure, puffy allergy-like eyes carry far more diagnostic significance to this disease than typical symptoms supposedly associated with it. For example, patients who display hypotension are far more likely to progress to more serious forms of the disease than those who don’t. What is the mechanism behind these unusual symptoms and their correlation with disease severity?

In the next part, I will write about potential drug therapies to treat this infection as well as possible routes for rapid vaccine development.

What do you think? Comments?