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Posts Tagged ‘sars-2’

Aftermath of Pandemic Will Destroy Residual Trust in Mainstream Media

May 9, 2020 7 comments

In the past, I have written many posts about why (and how) the majority of people have now lost faith in a range of supposedly “objective” and “impartial” institutions. The takeaway from those posts was as follows: 1] No institution can be “better” than the average person who populates them; 2] All institutions, given sufficient time, will end up being run by cliques of incompetent sycophants; 3] Institutions created to solve any problem will always end up perpetuating that problem in order to remain relevant, 4] All institutions, given time, will either lose or expel their competent members and replace them with clever-sounding but ineffectual cock suckers, 5] These changes make said institutions increasingly incestuous, fragile and ineffectual. 6] While decaying institutions can keep going for some time on social inertia alone, sooner or later they will face a series of real-life challenges exposing them for what they have become.

The above stated pattern holds true whether the institution in question is the democratic party, presidency, AMA, Google or the mainstream corporate media. While I have a few things to say about the WHO, let us leave that for another post and focus on the corporate mainstream media. But before we do that, let us define the term. In my opinion, mainstream corporate media often referred to as MSM is best understood as official propaganda in so-called “democratic” countries. The scam works as follows.. to maintain the pretense of a “democratic” and “free” society, the corporation-controlled government allows certain trusted ass-kissers to label themselves as “objective” journalists. To demonstrate their alleged “objectivity”, these clowns are occasionally allowed to write or publish content that is slightly adversarial to those in power. But don’t worry, these presstitutes will never publish anything that will truly challenge the malfeasance of those in power or expose their sheer incompetence.

This is why, for example, very few journalists challenged the official narrative about the Vietnam war until it was obvious that USA would lose. Something similar happened in 2003, when almost no journalist would contradict the official bullshit about the Iraq War until it became painfully obvious that USA was going to lose this war too. Now you know why the media cheerlead the housing boom of mid-2000s until that house of cards crashed or why it supported an endless slew of “free trade” treaties until pissed off people in the MidWest elected Trump in November 2016. People who work in corporate media outlets are best understood as the modern equivalent of minstrels and troubadours whose livelihood is dependent on remaining in the good graces of their real patrons while they sing songs and tell stories about their patron’s nobility and competence to the masses. However, while the medieval audience of minstrels and troubadours saw them as nothing more than entertainment, more than a few people today (usually older) still see their modern counterparts as courageous truth-tellers.

To be fair, the decline of residual public trust in MSM began sometime during the 1990s. But why the 1990s and not say in the 1950, 60s, 70s or even the 80s? Well.. the early part of the 1990s was the first decade which saw a slow decline in living standards of some Americans. While this decline was initially restricted to blue-collar workers in some flyover states, it was different from other ones in past because it was irreversible. The thing is.. most people will go along with a lot of government bullshit as long as they believe that their present is secure and future is hopeful. The 1990s was the first decade in which some Americans had to finally face the fact that their lives were not going to get better. But why should that fact affect their ability to trust MSM? Well.. belief in the MSM is like belief in any religion or cult. People stop believing in religions and cults once those belief systems cannot satisfactorily explain the reality they face.

This is why material affluence does far more damage to continued belief in Islam and Christianity than continued poverty. Another example would be how urbanization has done far more damage to belief in caste system than any reform movement in Hinduism. Or why the plague pandemic in 14th century did more to damage to the hold of catholic Church over Europe than anything before that or since then. But back to the topic of this post.. many believe that the internet (especially Google, FakeBook etc) struck the fatal blow for MSM by depriving them of money made through advertising. While it is true that the Internet in general, and Internet monopolies in particular, did irreversible harm to the previous business model of many MSM outlets, they did not destroy its credibility. That was a self goal.

See.. media overreaction to 9/11, shilling for the Iraq war, shilling for the housing bubble, shilling for financialism of the economy, shilling for Obama, shilling for LIEbralism in an environment where the fortunes of most people in this country slowly but irreversibly went south was the real reason why it lost so much credibility- especially among people who were born after 1970. People went looking in the internet for alternative news because the establishment mouthpieces were clearly, deliberately and repeatedly misleading them. This is also why a reality show clown.. I mean host.. with a sketchy past could win the presidential election against a “qualified” and “credentialed” establishment insider in 2016. Partisan democrats (MikeCA) still want to believe that the election of Trump was an inexplicable aberration rather than the highly predictable consequences of establishment politicians (of both parties) ignoring the needs and interests of a large section of the population. And this finally brings us the topic of this post.

Many of you might have noticed that an endless parade of “professional journalists” seem to have a deep emotional and material investment in keeping the economy closed during this pandemic. While I won’t go into the details of why this is such an incredibly bad idea in this post (read my previous posts on covid-19), let’s just say that shutting down the economy without a definitive and feasible exit plan or crippling it with restrictions for a diseases that kills less than 1 in 400 people below 65 has far more dangerous medium- and long-term consequences than these ivy league morons can imagine. For one, unemployment rates over 20% (closer to 30 or 40%) in a country without a decent social safety net is a disaster waiting to happen. Trying to shout down and at people who want the economy to open in this environment is more risky than striking a storm-proof match in a room drenched with gasoline.

Then again.. this turn of events is highly predictable. The vast majority of presstitutes alive today fall into one of three categories- 1] People from rich families who attended the “right” universities and don’t need the money, 2] People from a less-privileged but still solidly upper-middle class background who aspire to ge in the first category and 3] Social climbers without much money but who still want to emulate the second type so they can become them. Notice that all of them are in it for the fame, prestige, exposure and yes.. some money. My point is that the vast majority of journalists today are in for for giving each other blowjobs, according to a strict hierarchy- of course. But notice what they are not interested in.. “objective” journalism.. you know that thing they all claim to be their guiding principle. But how can I be so sure that is the case?

Well.. just have a look at the bullshit.. I mean “news stories”.. they are peddling. It is all about ‘how COVID-19 is much worse than we think’ or some fake scare story about ‘how it is mutating into increasingly dangerous forms’. But wait.. there is more. If you start asking them about how the results of serological tests affect our perception of the real IFR of this disease, they will tell you with great certainty that all those tests used to determine the results they don’t like are bad- even though these dumbfucks haven’t studied medical microbiology. These pathetic losers are enthusiastically pumping up doomsday stories peddled by aspy shitheads with delusions of grandeur such as Bill Gates or dishonest guinea dagos who haven’t touched a single laboratory instrument for the past four decades such as Fauci.

And they are doing this while either ignoring the real and massive harm done due to shutdown of everything from elective surgeries and cancer treatments to places that offer haircuts and food. Ask them about how to help the tens of millions whose lives have been turned upside down for no fault of theirs to perhaps protect protect a couple of million (at most) very old and dying people warehoused in nursing homes. Do they have a plan or idea to help the far more numerous group? If not, why not? How do these dumbfucks think people are going to buy food, let alone pay rent in a few months from now? Sure.. opening the economy right now might kill 10-15% of all people living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. But what is their fraction in the population compared to all those whose lives are being destroyed by this lockdown. Also think about what will happen once it becomes obvious that the IFR is much lower than these presstitutes are claiming it to be. Do they think that tens of millions will just forgive them for helping ruin their lives without adequate compensation.

You might not like my argument because it is too coldly utilitarian. But let me ask you another question.. given the way things are setup in this country, and how the course of events have proceeded thus far, do you have a better and more feasible idea?

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?