Covid19 News from Planet Waves — August 2020 entries

This is an archive of the August entries for the Covid19 news feed. You may return to the current page here.


The New York Times casts doubt on PCR testing | Added August 31

The New York Times has finally decided to question PCR testing and the accuracy of its results. For the second time, that is.

On August 29 the Times published an article that directly pointed out the issue with PCR testing and its results: depending on how many cycles (explained further, below) are run during the testing, you are liable to find whatever it is that you are looking for. This renders the case count that we are constantly bombarded with as irrelevant. We have been saying this for months.

It would be one thing to say that the Times happened to be running a little late in their coverage. But they took this position back in 2007 and called out PCR testing for its role in fueling a pseudo-epidemic of whooping cough at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. “Not a single case of whooping cough was confirmed with the definitive test, growing the bacterium, Bordetella pertussis, in the laboratory.”

The issues with PCR testing were known and they have refrained from covering it or asking serious questions about it until now, more than halfway through this year.

From The New York Times:

​The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample. The greater the viral load, the more likely the patient is to be contagious.

This number of amplification cycles needed to find the virus, called the cycle threshold, is never included in the results sent to doctors and coronavirus patients, although it could tell them how infectious the patients are.

In three sets of testing data that include cycle thresholds, compiled by officials in Massachusetts, New York and Nevada, up to 90 percent of people testing positive carried barely any virus, a review by The Times found.

On Thursday, the United States recorded 45,604 new coronavirus cases, according to a database maintained by The Times. If the rates of contagiousness in Massachusetts and New York were to apply nationwide, then perhaps only 4,500 of those people may actually need to isolate and submit to contact tracing.


FDA willing to approve vaccine before completion of human trials | Added August 31

In a recent comment in a newspaper interview the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s commissioner stated that the agency is willing to approve a coronavirus vaccine before Phase 3 clinical trials are complete. And as a side note: a little over a week ago the director for the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research threatened to resign if the FDA approves a dubious vaccine.

“‘In doing so,’ Marks said, ‘I would indicate to the American public that there’s something wrong.'”

More from The New York Times:

Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, who has been under pressure from the White House to speed coronavirus treatments, said in a newspaper interview that his agency would be willing to approve a coronavirus vaccine before Phase 3 clinical trials were complete if the agency found it “appropriate” to do so.

Dr. Hahn told the newspaper that a vaccine developer could apply for approval before the end of Phase 3 clinical trials, which are the largest and most rigorous, but that the agency would make “a science, medicine, data decision” and might issue emergency authorization for use for particularly vulnerable groups rather than a blanket approval.

“This is not going to be a political decision,” he said.


RFK speech in Berlin | Added August 31

On August 29, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gave a speech in Berlin which you may view above.

Here is more from Children’s Health Defense:

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. spoke to hundreds of thousands in the streets of Berlin, Germany, August 29, 2020. With Großer Stern Square and the Siegesäule Monument as a backdrop, Mr. Kennedy talked about government control by fear and spoke out against totalitarianism. He said the government and those with the greatest wealth and control have done a terrible job on public health and will shift us all to 5G and a cashless society. He said that 5G is being pushed on us as a good thing but it will be used for surveillance and data harvesting. Mr. Kennedy added that the COVID 19 pandemic is a crisis of convenience that is destroying the middle class, impoverishing us all, and it is making the powerful elite even more powerful. He closed with the message that we must protect our fellow man, our vulnerable children and our freedoms and democracy!


1,000 National Guard members activated by Mass. Governor; meanwhile protests over flu vaccine mandate | Added August 31

For “no immediate reason” according to ABC News, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker activated 1,000 National Guard troops in the state. More on that quoted below. Seemingly unrelated, hundreds of protesters gathered at the Massachusetts State House in Boston the next day on August 30 to protest the recent flu vaccination mandate for most students attending schools in the state.

More on the National Guard Activation:

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed an order on Friday obtained by ABC News, activating up to 1,000 National Guard members in the state.

The Republican governor did not cite a specific reason for signing the order.

The activation began on Friday and will continue until “further order” of the state’s senior National Guard officer, according to the statement.

The deployment is to “provide necessary assistance to State and local civilian authorities and/or special duty and emergency assistance for the preservation of life and property, preservation of order, and to afford protection to persons,” the order says.


Biden promises that if elected, all Americans will have to shove a mask up their ass | Added August 29

Biden is in favor of mandatory masks for every orifice.

The candidates’ remarks came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued yet another policy change, urging Americans not to fart in public to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told reporters yesterday that if he is elected, he will issue an executive order mandating that all Americans plug their anus with a surgical mask.

“I know this isn’t popular with some people,” he said. “But it’s for their own good. We’re not asking much. Just roll the mask up in a little wad and shove it.”

“President Biden will have you shoving masks up your butt, and candidate Biden is asking you to do the same thing,” he said, referring to himself.

His running mate Kamala Harris promised harsh prosecutions for those who do not comply, and said that inspectors would be roaming the streets to check up on people. Before Harris served as California’s attorney general, she served as chief of the Ass Crimes Unit in San Francisco.

No farting on campus! CDC banned passing gas way back during the Nixon administration.

“Eventually there will be an app,” she said. “Bill Gates is personally developing that, so you know it will work perfectly. The data will flow directly to the Department of Justice, where they really care about this kind of thing,” presumably because so little else is going on.

The candidates’ remarks came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued yet another policy change, urging Americans not to fart in public to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. CDC has long had a ban on farting on its sprawling campus, even outside.

“If breathing spreads COVID-19, then farting spreads COVID-19,” said Franz Verlierer, a CDC spokesman. “Breathing is just like farting, especially if you’ve been wearing a mask for six months,” he added.

Americans, who on average eat 12 hamburgers a week and consume approximately 21 milkshakes a month, lead the world in human methane production, coming in close second on production of hydrogen sulfide.

In other words, they leave a trail of farts across town from the time they go out in the morning till they return in the evening.

“There’s just one way to prevent this, which is to shove a mask up your ass,” said Dr. Annabel Smith, a professor of theoretical medicine at Johns Hopkins University, which contributes to most of the confusion surrounding COVID.

“Surgeons shove masks up their ass before they go into the operating room. I bet you didn’t know that. But don’t worry, that’s before they do the five minute scrub,” she added.

CDC has ordered that all restaurants, public transit facilities, schools, churches, synagogues, buses and airplanes install mask changing partitions for safety. These will be plexiglass booths located in the corner of everything, everywhere.

“This will never end,” said an official with the National institutes of Health, speaking on the condition of anonymity, “And once they start with masks, there’s no telling what you’re going to have to shove up your rear end next. Really, it could be anything. This is a terrible precedent.”


Pam Popper on elder abuse in nursing homes | Added Aug. 28


WHO is “social listening” | Added August 28

With the help of artificial intelligence and an analytics company the World Health Organization is hard at work “immunizing the public against misinformation” through what they have termed “social listening”. This entails the surveiling and scanning of information on various social media platforms to get a sense of public opinion. The WHO hopes to adjust their public health messaging in response to the data.

Here is a snapshot of the program in the WHO’s own language:

“WHO has also been working closely with social media and technology companies to help curb some of the misinformation spreading on their platforms. In February, officials from the health agency met at Facebook’s headquarters about how to promote accurate health information about COVID-19. Now, WHO is working with more than 50 digital companies and social media platforms including TikTok, Google, Viber, WhatsApp, and YouTube to ensure that science-based health messages from the organization or other official sources appear first when people search for information related to COVID-19. Even the dating app Tinder now features WHO health reminders, because social distancing is still appropriate during a date.”

And here is an excerpt from Reclaim The Net that gives a further sense of how unsettling this is:

According to the WHO, there’s an “infodemic” – an overload and spread of misleading information, so much so that it decided that to tackle misinformation, it needs to employ various tools, including social listening, with machine learning monitoring.

“Countering fake news or rumors is actually only responding or mitigating when it’s too late,” said Tim Nguyen, a technology expert helping the WHO’s unit titled Information Network for Epidemics (EPI-WIN). “What we’ve put in place in the beginning of the pandemic is what we call a social listening approach.”

The company has been creepily scanning more than 1.6 million social media posts each week to monitor online conversation. It then uses machine learning to classify information into four topics; cause, illness, interventions, and treatments. The WHO’s aim is to learn the coronavirus topics that are gaining popularity so that it can then create its own content to counteract and attempt to change the narrative.

The WHO’s “social listening” goes beyond analyzing people’s conversations for content, it also tries to analyze their emotions. Through language analytics, the technology detects emotions such as sadness, acceptance, denial, and anxiety. With such insights, the WHO hopes to come up with effective strategies to adjust coronavirus narratives.


Two PR experts who advised on the FDA’s coronavirus blood plasma treatments comments have been removed | Added August 28

Earlier this week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval to blood plasma treatments for the coronavirus; Donald Trump called the move a breakthrough (despite his complaints just a day before). At the time researchers questioned the data behind both Trump and the FDA’s assertions. And today two public relations experts at the FDA have been fired in relation to what were considered misleading comments on the efficacy of coronavirus blood plasma treatments.

From The New York Times:

Two senior public relations experts advising the Food and Drug Administration have been fired from their positions after President Trump and the head of the F.D.A. exaggerated the proven benefits of a blood plasma treatment for Covid-19.

On Friday, the F.D.A. commissioner, Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, removed Emily Miller as the agency’s chief spokeswoman. The White House had installed her in the post just 11 days earlier. Ms. Miller had previously worked in communications for the re-election campaign of Senator Ted Cruz and as a journalist for the conservative cable network One America News. Ms. Miller could not be reached for comment.

The New York Times correspondents Sheila Kaplan and Katie Thomas report that Ms. Miller’s termination comes one day after the F.D.A.’s parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, terminated the contract of another public relations consultant, Wayne L. Pines, who had advised Dr. Hahn to apologize for misleading comments about the benefits of blood plasma for Covid-19.


Rarity of fatal or severe Covid-19 in children | Added August 28

Reuters has reported on a study out of the UK said to have found that fatal or severe Covid-19 is very rare in children.

More from the article:

Children and young people are far less likely than adults to get severe cases of COVID-19 infection, and death from the pandemic disease among children is exceptionally rare, according to UK research published on Thursday.

A study of COVID-19 patients admitted to 138 hospitals in Britain found that less than 1% were children, and of those fewer than 1% – or six in total – died, all of whom were already suffering serious illness or underlying health disorders.

“We can be quite sure that COVID in itself is not causing harm to children on a significant scale,” said Malcolm Semple, a professor of outbreak medicine and child health at Britain’s University of Liverpool, who co-led the work.

“The highest level message really has to be that (in children with COVID-19) severe disease is rare, and death is vanishingly rare – and that (parents) should be comforted that their children are not at direct harm by going back into school,” he told a briefing.


Japan attempting to secure a half-billion doses of coronavirus vaccine | Added August 28

The major story coming out of Japan right now is that the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stepped down citing health issues. But there is also this: Japan is attempting to secure nearly a half-billion doses of coronavirus vaccines in preparation for next year’s delayed Summer Olympics. According to Reuters, “Japan is on track to have 521 million doses of five different vaccines in 2021, compared with a population of 126 million.”

Moderna is reportedly in talks to supply them with a vaccine as well.

More from Reuters:

Japan is making an aggressive move to grab enough coronavirus vaccine to inoculate its population four times over, a push the government hopes will instil confidence that it can host a delayed Summer Olympics next year.

Like other rich countries, Japan is signing multiple deals because some of the vaccines could fail in clinical trials or require more than one dose.

But Japan has something else riding on a successful mass rollout of a vaccine: outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s aim to bring thousands of athletes and fans to Tokyo for the Games, postponed from this year due to the pandemic.

On the day he announced his resignation as premier, Abe sought to reassure domestic and foreign audiences that the coronavirus was under control. He pledged there would be enough vaccine for Japan by the middle of 2021 and said the nation would relax its travel ban from Sept. 1.


Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

The Nature of Fear | Added August 27

Dear Friends Around the World:

Last week I asked you, our readers, to describe your ideas about fear and your responses to the overwhelming fear that is now circulating in society.

This was a slightly veiled way of asking how you’re using your spiritual training and sensitivity in this crucial time in history. I say crucial because we have important decisions to make, and these can be made from a place of sanity, or a place of anguish and panic.

There is not much in between because fear is subversive, and it has no place in a reasoning process. Where it exists, we need help; we need to return to a loving space.

My main concern watching society the past six months is that many places, fear seems to now be mandatory. It has, for many, become a god that must be worshipped.

READ MORE


Incoming vaccination media campaign | Added August 27

Thank you Max Holm for this write-up. Editor’s note — campaigns for seasonal flu vaccine are also cranking up, including making them mandatory many places where they were optional. This is problematic because the seasonal flu is connected to worse outcomes for other infections, and may be source of stray coronaviruses.

GET READY… for the brainwashing, I mean vaccination campaign media blitz in October/November, even though no safe vaccine has been produced. They plan on starting vaccinations by January.

From Bill Gates himself, “the fastest a vaccine has ever been made is 5 years.” [That was the mumps vaccine, and we have also read that it took up to seven years.]

The Moderna Vaccine seems the most “promising”. This is what their spokesperson says: “The Company remains on track to be able to deliver approximately 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, beginning in 2021…We thought the immune responses look promising, but we don’t know whether the levels we’re seeing would actually protect against infection.”

Why will this media campaign happen? Because only half of Americans now say they’d get the vaccine. As an official said, “We don’t want a lot of vaccines sitting in a warehouse.” [Planet Waves readers in a recent survey were overwhelmingly against a vaccine by 120 to 12, with about 20 giving a hazy maybe or I’ll see if it’s safe.]

Right now Yale is conducting what it calls a clinical trial, but it’s a study with 4,000 people about which messages will be the most effective to convince them to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The “winning” messages will be used in the media blitz.

They will probably play up the political polarization since they’re already putting stories out that Democrats want to get the vaccine, but Republicans don’t.

Below are a few of the emotional buttons mentioned in the study that the media blitz will try and press – notice the emotions they’re going to get you to feel with various news stories. GUILT, EMBARRASSMENT, ANGER, COWARDICE. You will be subjected to pressure constantly:

Guilt message — This message is about the danger that COVID-19 presents to the health of one’s family and community, with the idea that the best way to protect them is by getting vaccinated, and that society must work together to get enough people vaccinated. Then it asks the participant to imagine the guilt they will feel if they don’t get vaccinated and spread the disease.

Embarrassment message — This message is about the danger that COVID-19 presents to the health of one’s family and community. The idea to promote is that the best way to protect them is by getting vaccinated and by working together to make sure enough people get vaccinated. Then it asks the participant to imagine the embarrassment they will feel if they don’t get vaccinated and subsequently spread the disease.

Anger message — This message is about the danger that COVID-19 presents to the health of one’s family and community. The sales idea is that the best way to protect them is by getting vaccinated and by working together to make sure that enough people get vaccinated. It then asks the participant to imagine the anger they will feel if they don’t get vaccinated and spread the disease.

Not bravery message — A message which describes how firefighters, doctors and front line medical workers are brave, and infers that those who choose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 are not brave.


Dutch molecular analyst Merel Boogaard gives speech on PCR testing | Added August 27

Here is a talk given by molecular analyst Merel Boogaard on PCR testing; the above video has the option for translated closed captioning. Below is a translation of the description provided with the video, on Youtube:

Merel Boogaard is a molecular analyst at a university hospital in the Netherlands. She has 15 years of experience with PCR testing. She has set up, performed and co-validated PCR tests, including very difficult ones. She immediately saw the practical and technical difficulties of testing COVID-19 with a PCR test. At first she kept her doubts to herself, until stories started to emerge that the test was not working properly. Then she contacted Virus Truth to ask how they stood there.

She was invited to join a team of lab people and started to learn more about it. She found that the PCR test is not very correct. A report on this will be published shortly. In short, a PCR test serves as a preprocessing for further research on which the final result is done, and that is not happening now. The result is done directly on the PCR test via the test streets of the GGD, which is an outrageous state of affairs.

‘Analysts from the Netherlands, the government of the Netherlands, the RIVM, the GGD, I am here to express my indignation and genuine anger about the use of a fraudulent PCR test for the diagnosis of COVID-19. This test is poorly designed and does not give a reliable test result. This test gives positive results where they are not there and negative results where the SARS-CoV-2 virus is there but is not detected. Analysts from the Netherlands, I ask you to stand up and defend the honor of your profession. We have a special profession.

READ MORE


NYT reports that the CDC was pressured to modify coronavirus testing guidelines | Added August 26

Yesterday we posted a story from The New York Times on how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly updated their coronavirus testing guidelines. The new guidelines state that people who have been exposed to the coronavirus but who aren’t showing symptoms “do not necessarily need a test.” Today The New York Times has reported that according to two health officials, the CDC was instructed to change the guidelines by the Trump administration.

From the article:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was instructed by higher-ups within the Trump administration to modify its coronavirus testing guidelines this week to exclude people who do not have symptoms of Covid-19 — even if they have been recently exposed to the virus, according to two federal health officials.

One official said the directive came from the top down. Another said the guidelines were not written by the C.D.C. but were imposed.

Admiral Brett M. Giroir, the administration’s coronavirus testing czar, told reporters the guidelines ultimately belong to the C.D.C., specifically its director, Dr. Robert Redfield. But he also said other members of President Trump’s coronavirus task force were involved.

“Let me tell you right up front that the new guidelines are a C.D.C. action,” Dr. Giroir said. “As always, guidelines received appropriate attention, consultation and input from task force experts — and I mean the medical and scientific experts — including C.D.C. director Redfield and myself.”


Time for Change Protest Dublin | Added August 26

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0bDKsMaBcs&feature=share&

 


CDC data on mental health: 25% of young adults in US considered suicide in June | Added August 26

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report this month titled Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24-30, 2020 where they took a look at the mental health impact of the coronavirus and surrounding events. Below are a few takeaways from the report, provided by Quartz.

From the article:

Medical experts predicted that the Covid-19 pandemic would prompt a mental-health crisis. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows they were right.

One-fourth of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 said they had considered suicide in the past 30 days, according to the online survey of 5,412 adults administered by Qualtrics in late June.

A similar percentage also said they’d started to use or increased their consumption of substances as a way of coping with the stress and emotional toll of the pandemic. And roughly half of young adults reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression between April and June of this year.

Across the board, adults from 18 to 24 years old were more likely to report experiences with suicidal ideation, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression tied to the pandemic than any other age group. The prevalence of harmful mental-health effects actually decreased with age, with Americans ages 65 and up reporting the lowest levels of anxiety, depression, and related problems.


Doctor in Spain doesn’t play along during interview | Added August 25

This is so good I have no words for it. It’s an interview with a doctor in Spain, on Spanish TV, explaining the whole problem to a TV news reader…the interview is not going as planned…doc is saying you cannot trust PCRs…especially samples taken in a car…so they bring in a senior reporter (a dude of course) to try to shut him down.

Senior reporter asks, “Are you calling the entire population idiots?”

Doctor: “I am in the hospitals, you are in the studio.”


CDC updates testing guidelines — those exposed to virus but not showing symptoms excluded | Added August 25

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new coronavirus testing guidance yesterday. In the new guidance, people not showing symptoms but who have been in close contact with someone thought to have the coronavirus “do not necessarily need a test”. Close contact is essentially defined as ” being within 6 feet of [a suspected case] for at least 15 minutes”.

This is quite the walk-back as clinical microbiologist Susan Butler-Wu points out, further on in the article.

From The New York Times:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly modified its coronavirus testing guidelines this week to exclude people who do not have symptoms of Covid-19 — even if they have been recently exposed to the virus.

Experts questioned the revision, pointing to the importance of identifying infections in the brief window immediately before the onset of symptoms, when many individuals are thought to be most contagious.

Models suggest that about half of transmission events can be traced back to individuals still in the so-called pre-symptomatic stage, before they have started feeling ill — if they ever feel sick at all.

A more lax approach to testing, experts said, could delay crucial treatments, as well as obscure the coronavirus’s true spread in the community. Case numbers remain persistently high across much of the United States, though they have been falling in recent weeks, to an average of about 43,000 new cases a day from a peak of more than 66,000 a month ago. Many of the states that saw the largest outbreaks in early summer are now reporting sustained progress, including Arizona and Florida. But parts of the Midwest, as well as Hawaii and some U.S. territories, are still seeing increases in new cases.


Test results of 77 NFL members re-examined, come back as false positives | Added August 25

Here is another story to add to the false positive genre: the coronavirus test results of 77 NFL members were re-examined and found to be “most likely” false positives. The Associated Press reported on this on August 24: “The NFL had 77 positive COVID-19 tests from 11 teams re-examined by a New Jersey lab after false positives, and all those tests came back negative.”

“The league asked the New Jersey lab BioReference to investigate the results, and those 77 tests are being re-tested once more to make sure they were false positives.”

The Associated Press also followed up on the leagues investigation request: “In a statement, BioReference Laboratories said the test results on Saturday were contaminated during preparation at its lab in New Jersey. Eleven clubs were affected, and the tests were reexamined and found to be false positives.”

“’The NFL immediately took necessary actions to ensure the safety of the players and personnel,’” said Dr. Jon R. Cohen, executive chairman of BioReference, which does all COVID-19 testing for the 32 NFL teams in five labs across the country. “’Re-agents, analyzers and staff were all ruled out as possible causes and subsequent testing has indicated that the issue has been resolved. All individuals impacted have been confirmed negative and informed.’”


Researchers say that the FDA ‘grossly misrepresented’ data on blood plasma treatment | Added August 25

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval to blood plasma treatments for the coronavirus on August 23. Donald Trump called the move a “breakthrough” despite his complaints just a day before that the FDA was attempting to stop the rollout of vaccines andd treatments, for political reasons. Now scientists are calling the administration’s purported data on blood plasma treatments into question.

From The New York Times:

At a news conference on Sunday announcing the emergency approval of blood plasma for hospitalized Covid-19 patients, President Trump and two of his top health officials cited the same statistic: that the treatment had reduced deaths by 35 percent.

Mr. Trump called it a “tremendous” number. His health and human services secretary, Alex M. Azar II, a former pharmaceutical executive, said, “I don’t want you to gloss over this number.” And Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said 35 out of 100 Covid-19 patients “would have been saved because of the administration of plasma.”

But scientists were taken aback by the way the administration framed this data, which appeared to have been calculated based on a small subgroup of hospitalized Covid-19 patients in a Mayo Clinic study: those who were under 80 years old, not on ventilators and received plasma known to contain high levels of virus-fighting antibodies within three days of diagnosis.

What’s more, many experts — including a scientist who worked on the Mayo Clinic study — were bewildered about where the statistic came from. The number was not mentioned in the official authorization letter issued by the agency, nor was it in a 17-page memo written by F.D.A. scientists. It was not in an analysis conducted by the Mayo Clinic that has been frequently cited by the administration.


Virginia’s health commissioner announces plan to mandate vaccine; Governor and Department of Health say otherwise | Added August 25

Virginia’s Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver recently made headlines following his announcement that he planned to mandate coronavirus vaccinations once a vaccine is made available; you will find excerpts of that story below. Meanwhile a spokesperson for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam later clarified the governor’s position. The spokesperson stated that Northam does not plan on mandating a vaccine for the coronavirus in Virginia, despite Health Commissioner Oliver’s intentions.

The Virginia Department of Health also released a follow-up statement:

“When Dr. Oliver spoke of his support of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine for adults, he was sharing his personal opinion as a physician. Currently, the Northam administration has taken no official policy position on whether or not a COVID-19 vaccine for adults should be mandatory. VDH regrets this error.”

More on Oliver’s announcement from WRIC:

State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver told 8News on Friday that he plans to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for Virginians once one is made available to the public.

Virginia state law gives the Commissioner of Health the authority to mandate immediate immunizations during a public health crisis if a vaccine is available. Health officials say an immunization could be released as early as 2021.

Dr. Oliver says that, as long as he is still the Health Commissioner, he intends to mandate the coronavirus vaccine.

“It is killing people now, we don’t have a treatment for it and if we develop a vaccine that can prevent it from spreading in the community we will save hundreds and hundreds of lives,” Oliver said.

Under state law, only people with a medical exemption could refuse the mandate.


$11M lawsuit filed against Justin Trudeau and multiple other Canadian agencies, media outlets, politicians, and health officials | Added August 25

Canadian advocacy group The Vaccine Choice of Canada has filed an $11 million dollar lawsuit against various officials in Canada over their handling and coverage of the coronavirus.

From Collective Evolution:

The Vaccine Choice of Canada, legally represented by Rocco Galati, a constitutional lawyer and executive director of the Constitutional Rights Centre Inc. (CRC), has sued the Canadian and Ontario governments, the city of Toronto, the CBC, and a number of politicians and health authorities for their handling and coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Complaints include business closures, the mandating of masks and social distancing rules which the group argues are “extreme, unwarranted and unjustified” responses to the pandemic were “not scientific, nor medically-based, nor proven.” They also bring forth evidence stating that government mask mandates can cause “physical and psychological harm.”

The group accuses the WHO, mainstream media and the federal government of spreading false alarm during the COVID-19 pandemic. This claim is subjectively felt by many people all over the world given the amount of evidence backed controversy there is surrounding COVID-19, including inflated death numbers, botched projections and destructive lockdown measures.


CDC drops mandatory 14-day quarantine order; individual state quarantine orders still apply | Added August 24

Here is the article in full from Travel Pulse:

With travel restrictions part of the new normal thanks to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has changed its recommendations for quarantine.

The CDC previously recommended travelers quarantine for 14 days after visiting overseas destinations or arriving in areas with a high number of confirmed coronavirus cases, but that changed Tuesday.

According to the CDC’s official website, the mandatory quarantine portion of the order has been lifted, with travelers being advised to follow the same protocols people should be following on a daily basis anyway.

The CDC says that regardless of where tourists visit for the remainder of 2020, they should practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash their hands often and monitor for possible symptoms of coronavirus when they return home.

While the CDC said in the updated recommendations that travelers could pose a risk to the community for 14 days after they were unknowingly exposed to the virus, there is no longer an order for a two-week quarantine.

The agency still recommends travelers who visit areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases, attend large gatherings or sail on a cruise ship quarantine for 14 days and get tested for the virus.

Last month, The Bahamian government reversed an earlier decision to ban U.S. travelers, saying it will continue welcoming arrivals from all countries, provided the tourists follow proper health and safety protocols.


NY Times reports ‘first confirmed case’ of reinfection | Added August 24

Here is a classic deception: the “reinfection” is only indicated by PCR and not by other confirming methods, as the emergency approval instructions of FDA and CDC say must be done. The patient has no symptoms. He may have been exposed a second time and his immune system is addressing it.

We know that both enzyme and PCR can flash on and off in the same patient, giving no coherent reading over time. To make this page one news is absurd, and a form of terrorism, falsely indicating that this mess could go on forever. Note that there is no balance in the story — there is no other point of view than the one of the researchers making the claim.

From The New York Times:

The report is of concern because it suggests that immunity to the coronavirus may last only a few months in some people. And it has implications for vaccines being developed for the virus.

The 33-year-old man had only mild symptoms the first time, and no symptoms this time around. The reinfection was discovered when he returned from a trip to Spain, the researchers said, and the virus they sequenced closely matched the strain circulating in Europe in July and August.


Trump administration reportedly shared plans emergency approve for vaccine before election | Added August 24

The New York Times has reported that officals from the Trump Administration told congressional leaders that the emergency approval of a coronavirus vaccine by Sepember is being considered. Officials from the administration have disputed the congressional leaders’ account, and said that the claims were a misrepresentation or that the leaders misunderstood.

From the article:

Trump administration officials met with congressional leaders last month and told them they would probably give emergency approval to a coronavirus vaccine before the end of Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States, perhaps as early as late September, according to two people briefed on the discussion.

The move would be highly unusual and would most likely prompt concerns about whether the administration is cutting corners on approvals for political purposes.

The two-hour meeting involving Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, took place on the evening of July 30 in Ms. Pelosi’s conference room.

During the discussion, the people briefed on it said, Mr. Meadows indicated that a vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was the most likely candidate.


Food and Drug Admin. approves blood plasma treatment for the coronavirus | Added August 24

The use of blood plasma as a coronavirus treatment has been gaining more attention, and yesterday on August 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of blood plasma from recovered Covidd-19 patients as a treatment.

More from Al Jazeera:

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorised the use of blood plasma from patients who recovered from COVID-19 as a treatment for the disease, a day after President Donald Trump blamed the agency for impeding the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics for political reasons.

The announcement on Sunday from the FDA of a so-called “emergency use authorisation” also comes on the eve of the Republican National Convention, where Trump will be nominated to lead his party for four more years.

A day before the FDA’s announcement, Trump tagged the agency’s Commissioner Stephen Hahn in a tweet and said, “The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!”

On Sunday, Trump hailed the FDA move as a “breakthrough”.


Russia’s vaccine not popular among doctors | Added August 24

In an online survey, only 24 percent of 3,040 doctors said they would administer the new vaccine to their patients.

In another instance of medical workers warning against the various fast-tracked coronavirus vaccines that are under development (or already approved, in Russia’s case), medical workers in Russia were surveyed and shown not to have much confidence in the vaccine.

More from The New York Times:

The Ministry of Health said the first doses would go to Russian medical workers and teachers, and Mr. Putin said one of his daughters had already taken the vaccine.

But even Russian doctors have been reluctant customers.

The chairman of the ethics committee in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Aleksandr Chuchalin, quit as the ministry was in the process of approving the vaccine. Reached by telephone, Dr. Chuchalin declined to comment.

In an online survey, only 24 percent of 3,040 doctors said they would administer the new vaccine to their patients.

Four Russian trade unions representing doctors and teachers have recommended their members not take the vaccine.

The Kremlin approved it prematurely in a “political decision” for purposes of prestige and to revive the economy, said Anastasia Vasilyeva, the director of one of the unions, Doctor’s Alliance, which is affiliated with a Russian political opposition group.

“Doctors are not stupid,” she said in an interview. “They understand what an untested medicine can do.”


Australian healthcare worker warn against mandatory coronavirus vaccine | Added August 24

Earlier this month Austrailian Prime Minister Scott Morrison commented in a radio interview that he planned on making a coronavirus vaccine as mandatory as possible. He later walked back that statement following backlash. However various doctors and medical workers have now spoken out and warned that making a fast-tracked coronavirus vaccine mandatory isn’t such a great idea.

Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison.

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

Doctors are urging governments not to compel Australians to get a COVID-19 vaccine, warning the fast-tracked approval process could create a risk of harmful side effects.

Australian Medical Association President Omar Khorshid said while the peak body was “very supportive of vaccination generally because of its extensive science behind the safety, it’s not going to be the case for a COVID vaccine, at least initially.”

Dr Khorshid said tying vaccination to access to services such as childcare, school or social security payments, as state and federal governments do with paediatric vaccines under ‘no jab, no play’ and ‘no jab, no pay’ laws, could not be justified with a brand new COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have to acknowledge it is a rushed approval process and even if the phase three trials on this Oxford vaccine go really well, it’s still not absolutely proven that it is safe, not as proven as is normally the case,” he said.

“That does increase the risk that there might be rare side effects … that we just don’t know about.”


Are Covid19 cases in the UK actually rising? | Added August 24

From The Spectator:

Further graphs may be found in the rest of the article.

The government has restricted the movements of millions of people in England because Covid is apparently on the rise. But what happens when you start digging into the data?

I have used two datasets to piece together the number of tests, cases and results for Pillar 1 tests (which are done in healthcare settings) and Pillar 2 tests (which are done in the community).

Looking at the data for July, by the date PCR tests are reported, you can see a trend for an increased number of cases detected (from about 500 to nearly 750 a day). If you then look at the date the actual tests were taken, the trend is still apparent:

Now all things being equal, the increase in cases is about 250 per day over a month – not an exponential rise and no sudden jump. But is this a real increase or could it be down to something else, such as an increase in testing?


College in Michigan apparently planning to digitally track students at all times | Added August 24

The Washington Free Beacon reports that Albion College in Albion, Michigan plans to create a ‘COVID-bubble” on its campus. The article states that students will be required to download an app that tracks their location — not that they can go far, as students will be asked to to stay “within the school’s 4.5-mile perimeter for the entire semester.”

More from the article:

Clearly this is where the college keeps its super computer to track all of its students. (Actually it’s the college’s observatory with quite the history; It was completed in 1884.)

A Michigan college is requiring students to download a phone application that tracks their location and private health data at all times in an attempt to protect them from the coronavirus.

Albion College, located in Albion, Mich., is one of the first schools in the country to tackle contact tracing. The school is working to create a “COVID-bubble” on campus, and asking students stay within the school’s 4.5-mile perimeter for the entire semester; if a student leaves campus, the app will notify the administration, and the student could be temporarily suspended.

The move comes as universities grapple with how to reopen safely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Several schools including Harvard University have shut down their campuses entirely, while the University of California system will provide the majority of classes online with a selection of hybrid options. Other schools, such as Boston University, are resuming in-person learning with masks and social distancing guidelines alongside virtual learning supplements for those who don’t feel comfortable returning.

Albion’s reopening plan has sparked blowback from students and parents who are expressing concern about what they view as an invasion of privacy. A father of an Albion student said that he is upset that he must choose between keeping his daughter home from school or signing off on a university-sanctioned “invasion of privacy.”


EPA to approve American Airlines use of surface coating ‘to fight Covid-19’| Added August 24

Today the EPA has plans to announce the issuance of an emergency exemption that will allow the state of Texas — and thus American Airlines — to use the surface coating SurfaceWise2. The coating purportedly kills coronaviruses for up to seven days. The coating must be applied in Texas, and any reapplication that is done must be applied in Texas as well.

An American Air Lines plane sits on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles. (AFP/Daniel Slim)

From Reuters:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to announce on Monday it will issue an emergency exemption to the state of Texas permitting it to allow American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) to use a new surface coating that kills coronaviruses for up to seven days, sources briefed on the matter said.

EPA officials said the agency would approve the emergency exemption requests under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to allow the use of SurfaceWise2 — a product manufactured by Allied BioScience Inc – by both American Airlines and Texas-based Total Orthopedics Sports & Spine’s two clinics for up to a year.

American Airlines declined to comment.

The announcement comes as airlines are struggling to convince people that it is safe to resume flying. EPA officials said the product was aimed at providing added protection in public spaces that could increase consumer confidence in resuming air travel.


Asteroid expected just before election day | Added August 24

Over the weekend we had quite a few readers submit this story to us: there is an asteroid scheduled expected to come close to Earth on November 2, the day just prior to the U.S. election.

Just kidding about it being scheduled. (But, hey, who knows these days?)

From the CNN:

​Well, 2020 keeps getting better all the time.

Amid a pandemic, civil unrest and a divisive US election season, we now have an asteroid zooming toward us.

On the day before the presidential vote, no less.

Yep. The celestial object known as 2018VP1 is projected to come close to Earth on November 2, according to the Center for Near Earth Objects Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was first identified at Palomar Observatory in California in 2018.

“Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approximately 6.5 feet, and poses no threat to Earth. If it were to enter our planet’s atmosphere, it would disintegrate due to its extremely small size,” NASA said in a statement. “NASA has been directed by Congress to discover 90% of the near-Earth asteroids larger than 140 meters (459 feet) in size and reports on asteroids of any size.”

NASA says that, “based on 21 observations spanning 12.968 days,” the agency has determined the asteroid probably — phew! — won’t have a deep impact, let alone bring Armageddon.

The chance of it hitting us is just 0.41%, data show.

CNN has reached out NASA for any additional or updated information but has not heard back.


After Trump blocked it, CDC will once again collect hospital coronavirus data | August 22

Following a policy reversal the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will once again collect coronavirus hospital data. The data collection responsibilities were previously taken from the CDC and given to Health and Human Services where software provided by the company TeleTracking Technologies Inc. handled the data.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is reversing course on a change to the way hospitals report critical information on the coronavirus pandemic to the government, returning the responsibility for data collection to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, told hospital executives and government officials in Arkansas this week that the current system under which hospitals report new cases is “solely an interim system” and that the reporting would soon go back to the CDC.

“CDC is working with us right now to build a revolutionary new data system so it can be moved back to the CDC, and they can have that regular accountability with hospitals relevant to treatment and PPE,” Dr. Birx said, referring to personal protective equipment used by doctors and nurses.

The reversal comes after increasing reports that the new system has been plagued by delays and inconsistencies in data since being implemented in July. Among other things, certain key statistics, such as inpatient beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, were updated only once a week, rather than daily or multiple times a week, as under the CDC system.


South Korean church alleges that government is fabricating Covid tests | Added August 21

A church in South Korea has been accused of obstruction by the country’s government due to not “providing complete lists of its members and spreading fake news” regarding the coronavirus. In return Sarang Jeil Church has claimed that they are victims of a witch hunt and that the government is fabricating test results. Reverend Jun Kwang-hoon who is mentioned in the quote below is affiliated with Sarang Jeil Church.

From Reuters:

The health ministry said on Sunday it had filed a complaint against Jun for violating self-isolation rules by participating in the rally, and for obstructing a medical investigation into the outbreak.

Peter Ko, an attorney for Jun, said the church followed social distancing guidelines and Jun was only at the rally for about 15 minutes.

Some Sarang Jeil members say the government is fabricating the test results as part of a plot to persecute them.

Ko said when a person identifies themselves as a church member to clinic staff, their results are more likely to come back positive.


Health officials in Beijing rescind mask requirement for residents | Added August 21

For the second time since April, health authorities in Beijing have relaxed their guidelines on mask usage in the capital city.

From Reuters:

Health authorities in China’s capital Beijing have removed a requirement for people to wear masks outdoors, further relaxing rules aimed at preventing the spread the novel coronavirus after the city reported 13 consecutive days without new cases.

Despite the relaxed guidelines, a large proportion of people continued to wear masks in Beijing on Friday.

Some said the mask made them feel safe, while others said social pressures to wear the masks were also a factor.

“I think I can take off my mask anytime, but I’ll need to see if others accept it. Because I’m afraid that people would be scared if they see me not wearing mask,” one 24-year old Beijing woman surnamed Cao told Reuters.


White House now designates teachers as essential workers. What were they before? | Added August 21

Teachers have been designated essential workers in the U.S., however the article below also notes that it is more of a political designation than anything else.

From NYT:

The White House on Tuesday added teachers to the list of the country’s essential workers, which includes health care workers, grocery store employees and police officers, among others.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been widespread confusion over whether people deemed “essential” are actually forced to go back to work, regardless of any lockdowns — will they lose their jobs if they don’t show up? The quick answer is, yes, that is a possibility, but it is up to each employer to decide how lenient to be.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, for example, acknowledges that the “essential worker” designation “is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard.”

The federal government controls a large amount of the funding that goes to public schools, but it does not run the school systems. States and local municipalities have the legal authority for their own districts.


Making an example, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti keeps his promise and shuts off water and power to house in Hollywood that turned into a ‘nightclub in the hills’ | Added August 21

On August 6 we posted a story regarding Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s announcement where he warned that water and power could be shut off at homes and businesses that“host large gatherings in defiance of public health guidelines.” And now after several warnings a house in Hollywood has recently had their utilities cut off.

From NPR:

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Wednesday that he had authorized the city to disconnect utility service at a Hollywood Hills house after it hosted several large parties in “flagrant violation” of COVID-19 public health orders.

The announcement comes two weeks after Garcetti first warned that properties hosting “un-permitted large gatherings” could have their water and power service shut off as a consequence.

“With more than 2,000 Angelenos — and over 170,000 Americans — lost to COVID-19, we need every resident to undertake critical safeguards to stop the spread of this virus,” Garcetti said Wednesday. “That includes not hosting or attending parties that put themselves, their neighbors and many others at risk.”

Garcetti said that despite several warnings, this particular house “has turned into a nightclub in the hills.”


Johnson & Johnson plan to test their coronavirus vaccine on 60,000 volunteers | Added August 20

From Reuters:

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) aims to test its experimental coronavirus vaccine in up to 60,000 volunteers in a late-stage trial scheduled to start in September, according bit.ly/3iWRuic to a U.S. government database of clinical trials.

The trial would be conducted in nearly 180 sites across the United States and other countries, including Brazil and Mexico, according to the information posted on clinicaltrials.gov on Aug. 10.

“We can confirm that planning and recruitment is underway for our Phase 3 program, which is subject to interim data of the Phase 1/2a trials and approval of regulators,” a Johnson & Johnson spokesman said.

“Our Phase 3 program is intended to be as robust as possible, could include up to 60,000 participants and will be conducted in places with high incidence rates,” he added.


New measures give pharmacists permission to vaccinate children as young as three years old | Added August 20

New measures are set to be introduced which will give pharmacists permission to vaccinate children for the flu and other diseases.

From NYT:

​The Trump administration has announced measures intended to boost childhood vaccination rates that have sagged during the coronavirus pandemic, putting hundreds of thousands at risk of contracting serious and life-threatening diseases.

The Department of Health and Human Services is giving permission to pharmacists nationwide to administer all scheduled shots to children as young as 3, including the flu vaccine, a step that makes immunization more convenient for parents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that a high-dose flu shot aimed at better protecting people 65 and older will guard against four strains of the virus this year, rather than three. Because the conventional flu vaccine can be less successful in older people, an enhanced shot to boost their immune system has been offered in recent years and this one is stronger than ever.

Protecting against the impending flu season in the United States is foremost on the minds of public health officials, who worry about the confluence of cases of flu and Covid-19 hitting hospitals this fall and winter. On Wednesday, Massachusetts announced that it will require all students, ranging from 6-month-olds in day care centers to those under 30, to get flu shots by Dec. 31. It is the first state to institute such a sweeping requirement for the shot, which is rarely mandated in the U.S.


Flu shots made mandatory for school students in Massachusetts | Added August 20

In Massachusetts students from pre-school to university are expected to get a flu shot by December 31. The mandate includes “elementary and secondary students who are using a remote education model” as well as “college students who attend any classes or activities on campus, even once.”

From WWLP:

State public health officials announced Wednesday that the flu vaccine will be required for all children six months of age or older who are attending child care, pre-school, kindergarten, K-12, and colleges and universities in Massachusetts.

According to a news release sent to 22News from the Department of Public Health, the new vaccine requirement is a step to reduce flu-related illness and the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31 for the 2020-2021 influenza season, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided.

Students also exempt are K-12 students who are homeschooled and higher education students who are completely off-campus and engaged in remote learning only. This new flu vaccine requirement to enter school in January is in addition to existing vaccine requirements for all those attending child care, preschool, K-12, and colleges and universities in Massachusetts.


FDA gives antigen test emergency use authorization | Added August 20

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization to a British made antigen test. In our August 7 post titled “Tests are garbage compilation,” we briefly covered antigen tests and how they differ from antibodies tests. We also shared the story of how the Governor of Ohio tested positive and negative for the coronavirus in the same day — positive via an antigen test, and negative via a PCR test.

In the article below The New York Times calls the reliability of antigen tests into question; these are the very same questions and concerns that they should bring to PCR testing. And in fact The New York Times did previously raise those concerns over PCR tests following the pseudo-epidemic of whooping cough at Dartmouth 14 years ago. Yet today PCR is presented by them as entirely trustworthy.

From The New York Times:

The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to a coronavirus test made by a British company that gives results in about 12 minutes.

It is an antigen test, the third one of that type that the F.D.A. has authorized.

Antigen tests work by rapidly detecting fragments of virus in a sample. They are speedy, but they tend to miss more infections than do slower tests based on a technology called polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R.

In its authorization letter to LumiraDX, the British company, the F.D.A. noted that negative results from the antigen test do not rule out Covid-19 infection, and that a positive test should not be used as the sole basis for treatment.


Honey as an alternative to antibiotics | Added August 20

According to the Guardian, researchers from the University of Oxford have taken a look at honey and its medical efficacy. Although the researchers cited in the article add that further study is needed before definitive conclusions can be reached, they are quoted as saying “honey is a frequently used lay remedy that is well known to patients. It is also cheap, easy to access, and has limited harms. When clinicians wish to prescribe for [upper respiratory tract infections], we would recommend honey as an alternative to antibiotics.”

From the article:

Honey may be better than conventional treatments for coughs, blocked noses and sore throats, researchers have said. The substance is cheap, readily available, and has virtually no side-effects.

Doctors can recommend it as a suitable alternative to antibiotics, which are often prescribed for such infections, even though they are not effective, scientists from the University of Oxford said.

Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) affect the nose, throat, voice box and the large air passages (bronchi) that lead from the windpipe to the lungs.

There is evidence for honey being used in children – although the NHS warns against giving it to the under-ones because of the danger of botulism – and it has long been used as a home remedy to treat coughs and colds. But the evidence for its effectiveness for a range of upper respiratory tract symptoms in adults has not been systematically reviewed.


Genetically modified mosquitoes to be unleashed on Florida | Added August 20

Down in the Florida Keys 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes are set to be released following local government approval. The approval of this plan to cull mosquito populations was granted despite an eight year long petition. Oxitec, the company responsible for the work, “shrugged off any possible negative effects after years of investigation by the EPA.”

From Futurism:

No, this isn’t one of the genetically modified mosquitoes. This is a sculpture of a giant mosquito made from car parts, created by Russian artist Valery Chaliy.

Local authorities in the Florida Keys just approved a plan for biotech company Oxitec to release more than 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes over the next two years, CNN reports.

The Environment Protection Agency approved the pilot project back in May after a years long approval process. The goal is to use mosquitoes that have had their genes altered so that female offspring die in the larval stage, meaning that populations could die off rapidly.

The target, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, can carry deadly diseases including the Zika virus, dengue, and yellow fever. But environmental rights activists are condemning the plans, raising concerns that the engineered mosquitoes could disrupt and harm nearby ecosystems.

“With all the urgent crises facing our nation and the State of Florida — the Covid-19 pandemic, racial injustice, climate change — the administration has used tax dollars and government resources for a Jurassic Park experiment,” said Jaydee Hanson, policy director at the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit advocacy group, in a Wednesday statement.


U.S. report finds that officials in Wuhan tried to hide early coronavirus info from leadership; pool testing and pool parties in Wuhan | Added August 19

Remember Wuhan? It doesn’t come up in the news all that much these days, but today the first city to lockdown in response to the coronavirus was mentioned in one of The New York Times’ daily updates. U.S. intelligence agencies have recently concluded that officials from Wuhan attempted to hide initial information about the coronavirus from their higher ups, presumably in Beijing.

Could you imagine this in Wuhan six months ago?

This assertion isn’t exactly new and The New York Times notes as much in their report. But this is the first time we are hearing the U.S. intelligence community agree with that assertion. Or, this is at least the first time that it is getting major press; the NYT states that this assessment has been circulating since June.

Wuhan was also recently in the news over photos and footage of mass crowds gathered at a water park. The crowd was not socially distanced, nor were they covered in hazmat gear — it was an old fashioned pool party.

The water park reopened in June and has been running at 50 per cent capacity; there’s also a half price promotion for female visitors. This is according to Global News. The article also mentions that “no new cases have been reported in Wuhan or the surrounding Hubei province since mid-May, although any statistics out of China should be taken with a grain of salt.”

It should be noted that in the month of May China reportedly tested Wuhan’s 11 million residents by using a “batch testing method” where health workers pool together tests and “assess as many as 10 samples simultaneously.”

Not only is he on a water hoverboard, those are fireworks on his back.

“The method is only efficient when the infection rate is below 1 percent, according to Peng Zhiyong, director of intensive care unit at Wuhan Zhongnan Hospital.”

On July 18 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Emergency Use Authorization to this testing method which “mixes specimens from multiple people and tests the combined sample for coronavirus instead of testing samples one by one,” and where positive result are followed up with tests from each person in the batch. Just yesterday The New York Times published an article saying that it isn’t working in the U.S.

All of that to say, if we’re already doing pool testing in the U.S. when will we get a pool party?


Germany and France want to give the WHO more funding and more power | Added August 19

Reuters has apparently come across an internal document that suggests that Germany and France wish to give the World Health Organization more money and greater power in light of the coronavirus — reform talks may potentially start in September. France and Germany are reportedly “seeking consensus ‘from Washington to Beijing’ around the document, a source close to the talks said.”

From Reuters:

Germany and France want to give more money and power to the World Health Organisation after the COVID-19 pandemic underscored long-standing financial and legal weaknesses at the U.N. agency, an internal document seen by Reuters shows.

The proposed reforms could already be discussed at the WHO in mid-September, three officials familiar with the talks told Reuters, in a fast timeline that would confirm the two European powers’ growing concerns about the organisation, which they also see as excessively subject to external influences.

In a joint paper circulated among diplomats involved in the reform talks, Berlin and Paris said the WHO’s mandate, which includes preventing outbreaks across the world and helping governments tackle them, was not backed up by sufficient financial resources and legal powers.

“Not only during the current pandemic, it has become clear that the WHO partly lacks the abilities to fulfil this mandate,” the document seen by Reuters said.


Children’s Health Defense sues Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and three Facebook ‘fact-checkers’ for ‘government-sponsored censorship, false disparagement and wire-fraud’ | Added August 19

From Children’s Health Defense:

Washington, DC—August 18, 2020—Children’s Health Defense (CHD) filed a lawsuit on Monday in San Francisco Federal Court charging Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and three fact-checking outfits with censoring truthful public health posts and for fraudulently misrepresenting and defaming CHD. CHD is a non-profit watchdog group that roots out corruption in federal agencies, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and exposes wrongdoings in the Pharmaceutical and Telecom industries. CHD has been a frequent critic of WiFi and 5G Network safety and of certain vaccine policies that CHD claims put Big Pharma profits ahead of public health. CHD has fiercely criticized agency corruption at WHO, CDC and FCC.

According to CHD’s Complaint, Facebook has insidious conflicts with the Pharmaceutical industry and its captive health agencies and has economic stakes in telecom and 5G. Facebook currently censors CHD’s page, targeting its purge against factual information about vaccines, 5G and public health agencies.


Marshall McLuhan was into books. He was a literature professor.

The Medium is the Message: A very short introduction | Added August 19

You will read many references on Planet Waves to the work of the McLuhans, particularly Marshall (1911-1980) and Eric (1942-2018). I apply many tools I’ve learned from McLuhan’s approach to reality to do the work that I do, including astrology.

Understanding Media, his best known book published in 1964, teaches you how to understand what a “medium” is — and it’s important to recognize the interchangeability with the idea “environment.” He also meant it as any extension of human consciousness or ability into the environment, for example, the car tire is an extension of the foot.

McLuhan said “the medium is the message” and what he meant was, the message (the transformative power of media) comes from the environment it creates, and how it changes the wider environment, rather than the content. This is a figure-ground issue. The content — Archie Bunker, the Cookie Monster, etc — is the figure. The environment is what the TV itself does, the speed of movement, the scan lines, electricity, airwaves, etc.

The relevant information about how society changes comes from the ground, the background, the environment – rather than the figure. So the whole training vis a vis learning McLuhan media studies is to study the ground and the conducting medium: to study the environment.

If you’ve ever kept fish, you know that if the fish seem unwell, you test the water – the medium, the environment. You don’t test the fish. You want to know pH, salinity, temperature, nitrates, ammonia, etc. That tells you what is going on. What is notable is that different types of water quality support different kinds of life. Salt water fish will die in fresh water.

This leaves important questions about the relevance of content that I do not think the theory addresses adequately, though it leaves plenty of clues how to work that angle, especially if you use the fish and water metaphor. If you study the ground and the environment for a while, your whole worldview changes and things (as in most things) start to make more sense.

With Covid, the figure is this little virus everyone imagines. It tells us nearly nothing. The ground is the political movement, the social movement, the thrust of everything toward the internet…that is crucial. The whole illusion of the pandemic is upheld by digital: both the digital test (the PCR) and all the “information” that would not move without 24×7 digital data flow morning, noon and night.

So as for a medium: here is a riddle. What was the impact of the typewriter?

Clue: today in particular is a good day to remember.


ProPublica article highlights near miss accidents at high security lab; Prof. Richard Ebright makes statement to Covid19 News on Planet Waves | Added August 17

Today ProPublica published a report today documenting repeated problems at a high-security lab in North Carolia. The article quotes Dr. Richard Ebright, who is the go-to person on this issue. Dr. Ebright is a research molecular biologist and professor of bacteriology at Rutgers University. He has testified before Congress on lab safety issues. He said in an email that these comments are additional to those in the attached Aug. 17 ProPublica article

We have earned the “fake news” award from Facebook for this article on lab safety by Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica.

“The high frequency of breaches of biosafety breaches exposing laboratory workers to deadly and transmissible viruses in the UNC BSL-3 lab — six exposures in 56 months, which represents, on average, one exposure every nine months — underscores the high frequency of laboratory accidents in high-level biocontainment labs, and the need for biosafety standards for high-level biocontainment labs. (The fact that laboratory accidents exposing laboratory workers to deadly and often, as in this case, transmissible pathogens is something that is well known to workers in the field, but that is largely unknown to the public.)

“In the US, there are no mandatory standards–just voluntary guidelines–for biosafety for most deadly pathogens, including MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. The absence of mandatory standards compromises safety of both laboratory personnel (who can be directly exposed and infected in laboratory accidents) and the public (which can be exposed and infected by infected laboratory personnel).

“Overseas, matters can be even worse, with no mandatory standards and often poor compliance with voluntary guidelines.

Here is how they dispute it.

“In the wake of a pandemic that potentially may have originated as a laboratory accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan CDC, the high frequency of accidents, involving the same family of viruses, namely coronaviruses, at the UNC [University of North Carolina] BSL-3 facility underscores the possibility the pandemic originated as a laboratory accident is very real and that the possibility that a next, potentially even more catastrophic, pandemic could originate as a laboratory accident.

“It is crucial that mandatory standards for biosafety in high-level biocontainment laboratories be implemented and enforced, both in the the US and overseas. It also is crucial that a mandatory risk-benefit review be required for approval of high-level-biocontainment research–something that currently almost never occurs–to ensure that potential benefits to the public outweigh the very real risks to laboratory workers and the public.”‘


Not going away, not a conspiracy theory: where did the virus come from? | Added August 17

The issue of where the virus came from is not going away, particularly absent direct evidence of a natural zoonotic cause, and with the Wuhan Virology Institute doing gain of function research right across town from the Huanan Wet Market. And short of a proven origin, the issue must remain front and center.

In this article from Life Site, an Italian author is reported to publish published a book detailing how this whole thing happened.

A recent study published in BioEssays (on Aug. 12) questions whether the virus aroes through intentional serial passage through animals or through a cell culture — same idea.

For those who would relegate this discussion to the “conspiracy” bin, how exactly is that logical? That it may have come from a lab says nothing about its potentially intentional release. People working in labs are exposed often to the thing they are researching or developing. The lab safety issue is well established. There is no question that the research was going on, and that Fauci participated in its funding and its move to China to dodge US laws against gain of function research.


This one is important: NY Times cites multiple studies refuting the one published last week about short immunity period after Covid recovery | Added August 17

The studies all call for careful review. But this is what is being reported and therefore what is being introduced into the spin machine. The problem with reports of “short immunity” are that they argue against a vaccine, which is the whole point of all this effort being exerted. It is interesting that the Times finally makes reference to how the pandemic might end. Currently it is set up to be a perpetual crisis — a problem without a solution. This is the first reference to the word “end” that we have seen in more than five months.

From the article:

Scientists who have been monitoring immune responses to the virus are now starting to see encouraging signs of strong, lasting immunity, even in people who developed only mild symptoms of Covid-19, a flurry of new studies suggests. Disease-fighting antibodies, as well as immune cells called B cells and T cells that are capable of recognizing the virus, appear to persist months after infections have resolved — an encouraging echo of the body’s enduring response to other viruses.

“Things are really working as they’re supposed to,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona and an author on one of the new studies, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

And:

This new spate of studies could also further assuage fears about how and when the pandemic will end. On Friday, updated guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was misinterpreted by several news reports that suggested immunity against the coronavirus might last only a few months. Experts quickly responded, noting the dangers of propagating such statements and pointing to the wealth of evidence that people who previously had the virus are probably at least partly protected from reinfection for at least three months, if not much longer.

Considered with other recent reports, the new data reinforce the idea that, “Yes, you do develop immunity to this virus, and good immunity to this virus,” said Dr. Eun-Hyung Lee, an immunologist at Emory University who was not involved in the studies. “That’s the message we want to get out there.”

Some illnesses, like the flu, can plague populations repeatedly. But that is at least partly attributable to the high mutation rates of influenza viruses, which can quickly make the pathogens unrecognizable to the immune system. Coronaviruses, in contrast, tend to change their appearance less readily from year to year.


Bus stops turned into high tech prisons in South Korea | Added August 17

Had you going there for a second, but after reading the description of these bus stops you can’t help but think that they could be made to keep you locked inside: LG Electronics has teamed up with a local district office in Seoul, South Kore to establish “Smart Shelter” bus stops. These bus stops are outfitted with surveillance cameras, require temperature checks by thermal imaging camera to enter, and share real time updates with police and fire stations “by using intelligent CCTV, alert bell[s] and AI noise sensor[s].”

Make it stop.

From Reuters:

Designed to combat summer heat, monsoon rain and the coronavirus, the smart bus shelter has arrived on the streets of the South Korean capital.

The glass cube “Smart Shelter” has air-conditioning and ultraviolet light sterilisers to clean and cool the air, surveillance cameras and digital screens to warn when your bus approaches. It is equipped with hand sanitiser and you can charge a laptop or mobile phone while using the free Wi-Fi.

“I felt uncomfortable at first as I had to take my temperature before I entered, but it didn’t take that long,” said 25-year-old university student Park Sung-yeon. “I hope we can have more of these so that we can overcome the coronavirus.”

A thermal imaging camera on the doors allows entry only to those with temperatures lower than 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit). A separate camera is installed at a lower height for children.


Wisconsin state agency requires masks during virtual meetings when what they really need is antivirus software | Added August 17

If you thought the day would come where you’d be required to wear a mask during any Zoom meetings you may have in the safety of your home, it seems that day is steadily approaching. The Department of Natural Resources in Wisconsin has directed its employees to wear masks during at home teleconferences with the intention of setting a “safety example.”

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The head of the Department of Natural Resources is telling employees to wear face masks on teleconferences — even when they’re not around others and at no risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole reminded employees in a July 31 email that Gov. Tony Evers’ mask order was going into effect the next day. That means every DNR employee must wear a mask while in a DNR facility, noted Cole, an appointee of the Democratic governor.

“Also, wear your mask, even if you are home, to participate in a virtual meeting that involves being seen — such as on Zoom or another video-conferencing platform — by non-DNR staff,” Cole told his employees. “Set the safety example which shows you as a DNR public service employee care about the safety and health of others.”

The governor’s mask order requires people to wear masks when they are indoors — other than in private residences.


Tests are still garbage, continued | Added August 17

This story almost slipped by; on August 7 we posted a compilation of stories where mainstream figures and outlets referred to coronavirus tests as “worthless” and “garbage.” Here is another critical take from an August 3, Harvard Magazine article that focuses on PCR testing, its high sensitivity, and the length of time it takes for test results to return.

Though the article contains some misconceptions, there is finally an admittance of a problem with PCR testing. The problem with that problem is that there were already quality control issues with the tests due to the excessive speed of processing.

More from the article:

“At the moment, the United States has no semblance of public-health testing” for the coronavirus, says Michael Mina, an assistant professor of epidemiology at both Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. What does Mina—an expert in viral testing protocols—mean by that?

Current tests for active infection with SARS-CoV-2 are highly sensitive—but most are given to suspected COVID-19 patients long after the infected person has stopped transmitting the virus to others. That means the results are virtually useless for public-health efforts to contain the raging pandemic. These PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which amplify viral RNA to detectable levels, are used by physicians, often in hospital settings, to help guide clinical care for individual patients. In general, members of the public have not had access to such tests outside clinical settings, but even if they did, would find them too expensive for frequent use.

Furthermore, such tests detect tiny fragments of viral RNA even after the patient has recovered. Mina says that means “the vast majority of PCR positive tests we currently collect in this country are actually finding people long after they have ceased to be infectious.” In that sense, a positive result can be misleading, because the results can’t be relied on to guide the epidemiological efforts of public-health officials, which are focused on preventing transmission and controlling outbreaks:

“The astounding realization is that all we’re doing with all of this testing is clogging up the testing infrastructure,” with results arriving a week or more after tests are administered, “and essentially finding people for whom we can’t even act because they are done transmitting.” In fact the testing backlog is so dire, and so “absolutely horrendously useless as a system for public-health surveillance,” that Mina believes the United States should at the very least throw away the millions and millions of samples that are waiting to be tested—and perhaps even halt the current testing regime and just start over.


The Coxing on the Grandmother Land, as seen on Beltane, tucked into the woods behind High Falls, New York. Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

The Coronavirus Novel: Covid Collection | By Eric Francis

Introduction: May 25, 2020

Dear Reader:

We’ve gathered a collection of everything I’ve written related to the pandemic situation, more than 20 major articles in all starting in early March. These are presented in chronological order. I’m also the editor of Covid19 News on Planet Waves, and have written many commentaries there that are not included in this collection of essays.

Coronabro by Jen Sorensen.

I’ve also commented every week on Planet Waves FM, part of the Pacifica Radio Network. Some of my best work has been in radio format, usually at the beginning of each week’s program.

While we are questioning the dominant narrative that the government and media have been weaving around us, my position has remained consistent that the first thing you must do is take care of yourself.

Government precautions of wash your hands, stay away from people and cover your face with a rag, are to me signs of desperation. We can do a lot better, though you have to educate yourself, listen to your body, trust your body, and take the necessary and known steps to boosting your immunity.

Caring for your immune system — your only actual protection — is a lot more about what you don’t do rather than what you do.

READ MORE


Photo by Eric Francis.

From the Mars Retrograde File: An ounce of prevention, and a pound of self actualization | By Eric Francis

Dear Friend and Reader:

Tuesday, I was the beneficiary of a two-and-a-half hour conversation with a virologist working on the Covid issue. It is unusually difficult (verging on impossible) to find sources on this story. Every other major story I’ve worked on, it’s been possible to identify and contact people on various sides of the situation and start to assemble a picture of what is going on.

In the digital age, particularly for Covid, this has been replaced by YouTube videos of people who are rarely personally accessible, so a dialog is not possible, and a dialog is what is necessary to gain understanding. So speaking to a virologist and microbiology professor with personal knowledge of Covid was the next best thing to front row at Radiohead.

He also has specialties researching the virology issues I’ve taken the most interest in (HPV, SV-40, and natural immunity). So we had a lot to talk about, here beside the rising tide.

He gave a response to every question I could think of, giving me the other side of the story on several issues I’ve been investigating. You could say that he explained the official position better than the people you see on TV. I now have sufficient information to formulate questions for future interviews with other scientists. These are breakthrough moments in journalism: the one source who sets you up to talk to future sources, and who you can run things past along the way. By about halfway through the conversation, I was falling in love with virology.

READ MORE


Vaccines now equal patriotism, and punishment to those who disagree! | Added August 14

This article from the pro-life news website LifeSiteNews is a rebuttal to an August 6, USA Today opinion piece that proposed making a coronavirus vaccine mandatory, and associated the notion with patriotism. The three doctors who wrote the USA Today piece advocated for “disincentives” (read: punishment) for American citizens who would attempt to refuse such a mandatory vaccine.

Planet Waves
USA Today op-ed by doctors calling for mandatory Covid vaccination for all Americans, whom they believe should be punished harshly if they do not comply. This punishment amounts to revocation of citizenship rights. There is no evidence that a rushed vaccine would even work, or be safe.

Both articles are briefly referenced in Eric’s article posted above. Here is a small excerpt from LifeSiteNews:

A coronavirus vaccine should be mandatory, and tax penalties, higher insurance premiums, and denial of many government and private services ought to be considered for those refusing the shot, three doctors argued in USA Today on Thursday.

“[W]hile the measures that will be necessary to defeat the coronavirus will seem draconian, even anti-American to some, we believe that there is no alternative. Simply put, getting vaccinated is going to be our patriotic duty,” wrote Drs. Michael Lederman, Maxwell J. Mehlman, and Stuart Youngner.

There is no “alternative to vaccine-induced herd immunity in a pandemic,” they argued. “Broad induction of immunity in the population by immunization will be necessary to end this pandemic.”

The USA Today article, published August 6, is titled “Defeat COVID-19 by requiring vaccination for all. It’s not un-American, it’s patriotic.” Its original subhead (see screenshot below) read, “Make vaccines free, don’t allow religious or personal objections, and punish those who won’t be vaccinated. They are threatening the lives of others.” It has since been changed to “Make vaccines free, don’t allow religious or personal objections, and create disincentives for those who refuse vaccines shown to be safe and effective.”


Quarantine guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: the gift that keeps on giving | Added August 14

On August 10 we posted a story from NBC that was originally published on July 24. The story is about updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding quarantine procedure. The article’s main takeaway is that the CDC’s updated guidance suggests that people are no longer infectious 10 days after they begin having symptoms.

Also noted in the NBC article: “virus fragments have been found in patients up to three months after the onset of the illness, although those pieces of virus have not been shown to be capable of transmitting the disease.”

And now today The New York Times has come across this information and has included it as one of their top stories among their coronavirus live updates.

From The New York Times:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidance recently to suggest that people who have recovered from the virus can safely mingle with others for three months.

It was a remarkable addition to the body of guidance from the agency, and the first acknowledgment that immunity to the virus may persist for at least three months.

In June, a study found that antibody levels could wane over a course of two to three months in people with confirmed infections who experienced mild symptoms or no symptoms. They drop off, but they may still be present at low levels, including below the limit of detection.

The latest C.D.C. guidance — which was tucked into public recommendations about who needs to quarantine — goes a bit further.

“People who have tested positive for Covid-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to three months as long as they do not develop symptoms again,” the guidance says. “People who develop symptoms again within three months of their first bout of Covid-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.”


North Carolina health officials announce coronavirus test count error; tally overcounted by 200,000 | Added August 14

Here’s another one to add to the ongoing tale of testing miscounts, mistakes, and mishaps: state officials from North Carolina announced on August 12 that the state’s tally of completed coronavirus tests had been overcounted by 200,000. And as damage control continued state health officials also issued a followup news release. In it they stated that the tally of completed tests is collected in a different way from how positive cases positive percentages are handled.

From U.S. News & World Report:

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina overcounted its tally of completed coronavirus tests by 200,000 since the start of the pandemic, state officials announced Wednesday, blaming most of the error on a processing lab. The error doesn’t affect key measures such as the percentage of positive test results, they said.

Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, pinned the brunt of the blame on LabCorp Diagnostics for providing North Carolina with two different daily testing count numbers when the clinical lab network submitted the data electronically and manually.

“The positive cases are reported electronically,” Cohen said in an interview. “Those continue to be accurate. The number that we are correcting today is just the total cumulative lab tests.”


Vietnam’s health ministry rushes to buy Russia’s rushed vaccine | Added August 14

Russia’s recently approved vaccine (dubbed Sputnik V) has been garnering attention for all the wrong reasons. Namely health officials worldwide have questioned the vaccine’s safety due to Russia’s decision to skip the final trial phase, prior to approval. You can read more about that in our August 11 entry. With that in mind, it was reported today that Vietnam’s health ministry made the announcement that it has registered to buy a coronavirus vaccine from Russia.

More from Reuters:

Vietnam has registered to buy a Russian COVID-19 vaccine, state television reported on Friday, as it fights a new outbreak after going several months with no local cases.

Russia said on Wednesday it would roll out the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine within two weeks, rejecting the concerns of experts who said it should not have been approved before completing large-scale trials.

“In the meantime, Vietnam will still continue developing the country’s own COVID-19 vaccine,” state broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) said, citing the Ministry of Health.

Vietnam has signed up for 50 million-150 million doses of the vaccine, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. Some will be a “donation” from Russia, Tuoi Tre said, with Vietnam paying for the rest.


U.S. government working to distribute coronavirus vaccines for free | Added August 14

Early on wasn’t there talk about how in the U.S. a coronavirus vaccine would not be free? Bernie Sanders even called for a guarantee that any vaccine that was developed be given free to all people in the U.S. because there was no indication that that would be the case. Now however the U.S. government is working with health insurers to offer the vaccines free of charge, according to Paul Mango from the Department of Health and Human Services.

From the New York Post:

Americans likely won’t have to pay for a coronavirus vaccine once researchers have one ready, according to reports.

The US government plans to pick up the tab for the hundreds of millions of vaccine doses that pharmaceutical firms are racing to produce, the Wall Street Journal reported. The feds are also reportedly talking with insurance companies to make sure patients can get the shots without forking over a copay.

“What we’re hoping is that every American will not only get a free vaccine distributed to many different outlets, but also will not have to pay for the administration of that vaccine,” Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, said Thursday.


New Zealand faces lock down once more; Brazilian chicken wings test positive for coronavirus in China | Added August 13

In international news New Zealand announced on August 11 that four cases of the coronavirus had emerged from an unknown source. It has been more than three months since they last documented a case of community spread — all four cases were from the same family, and only one person was reported to have had symptoms.

The four family members are from Auckland. Most of the lockdown measures being reimposed are focused there. According to a report from The Guardian published today: “There are 17 cases of Covid-19 linked to the south Auckland cluster, and the city of 1.4 million is under level 3 lockdown for three days, meaning people can only venture out for food or exercise.”

Interestingly Reuters had an August 11 report where it was pointed out that New Zealand health officials were investigating the potential that “the virus was imported by freight.” Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield was quoted as saying “We know the virus can survive within refrigerated environments for quite some time.”

Then today Reuters published an article originally headlined “Chinese cities find virus in Brazillian chicken wings, Ecuadorian shrimp packaging.” Specifically imported frozen chicken wings and the outer packaging of frozen shrimp from Ecuador tested positive for the coronavirus; if it was a PCR test they can find whatever it is they want to look for.

However the article acknowledges both the New Zealand into freight, and the public’s renewed concern over whether packaging is a source of spread for the coronavirus. The article answers this by featuring a joint statement from The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Agriculture Department (as well as a similar statement from the World Health Organization) which asserts that there is no evidence that people can “contract Covid-19 from food or food packaging.”


Joe Biden calls for nationwide mask mandate, calls for whole solar system to join in | Added August 13

Joe Biden has recently called for a nationwide mandate that would require the use of masks in the United States. We previously posted an interview from NBC on June 26 where Biden floated a similar suggestion. In that interview he said that if he were president he would “do everything possible to make it required that people had to wear masks in public,” and that he would use his “federal leverage” to mandate mask usage.

Here is what he had to say today. From CNBC:

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, called for a nationwide mask mandate on Thursday, drawing a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump, who rarely wears a mask himself and opposes such mandates.

“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum,” Biden said at a press appearance in Wilmington, Delaware. “Every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing. The estimates by the experts are that it will save over 40,000 lives in the next three months. Forty thousand lives, if people act responsibly.”

“It’s not about your rights. It’s about your responsibilities as an American,” said Biden, flipping the script on Republicans who argue that mandates infringe on an individual’s right not to wear one.


U.S. teams up with researchers abroad to test coronavirus vaccines | Added August 13

As part of the Trump Administrations efforts to develop a “warp speed” coronavirus vaccine, the U.S. is teaming up with scientists throughout South Africa and Latin America. In exchange for those scientists abroad assisting in the clinical trials of the vaccine, the U.S. has pledged to ensure easier access to any of those vaccines deemed successful.

From Reuters:

The Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine project is recruiting scientists in South Africa and Latin America to help test possible vaccines in U.S.- backed clinical trials, pledging to ease their countries’ access to any successful products, Reuters has learned.

Moncef Slaoui, a former pharmaceutical executive who heads Operation Warp Speed, a multi-billion dollar U.S. collaboration between the federal government and drugmakers, made the commitment to international scientists late last month, two people familiar with the matter said.

Researchers in South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Peru and Argentina are in discussions to join U.S. counterparts in conducting large-scale human trials of an experimental vaccine from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) beginning next month, according to half a dozen government officials and scientists with knowledge of the effort.

The U.S. government so far has committed nearly $11 billion to fund the development, testing, manufacture and stockpiling of hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses. In addition to J&J, it is working with drugmakers including Moderna Inc (MRNA.O), Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) and AstraZeneca PLC (AZN.L) to coordinate large-scale, or Phase 3, clinical trials.


Health officials issue warning over Trump administration’s new coronavirus data collection database | Added August 13

In mid-July the Trump administration ordered coronavirus hospital data to be sent to a central database in Washington D.C. as opposed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the time there was resistance to the idea of taking that responsibility away from the CDC, and fears over the politicization of that data. And yesterday evening The New York Times covered a warning that was issued by a number of health officials who are concerned that “the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database is placing an undue burden on hospitals and will have ‘serious consequences on data integrity.'”

The hospital data is currently being managed by TeleTracking, a bed-tracking company that won a $10 million contract in April which came under scrutiny.

From The New York Times:

Nearly three dozen current and former members of a federal health advisory committee — including some appointed or reappointed by Health Secretary Alex M. Azar — are warning that the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database is placing an undue burden on hospitals and will have “serious consequences on data integrity.”

The advisers, all current or former members of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, issued their warning in a previously unpublished letter obtained by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, a Washington correspondent for The New York Times.


Consumers have no way of knowing whether software-development kits that can track their locations are embedded in their apps. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/Zuma Press.

U.S. Government Contractor Embedded Software in Apps to Track Phones | Added August 12

By Byron Tau | Aug. 7, 2020 | From The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—A small U.S. company with ties to the U.S. defense and intelligence communities has embedded its software in numerous mobile apps, allowing it to track the movements of hundreds of millions of mobile phones world-wide, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Anomaly Six LLC a Virginia-based company founded by two U.S. military veterans with a background in intelligence, said in marketing material it is able to draw location data from more than 500 mobile applications, in part through its own software development kit, or SDK, that is embedded directly in some of the apps. An SDK allows the company to obtain the phone’s location if consumers have allowed the app containing the software to access the phone’s GPS coordinates.

App publishers often allow third-party companies, for a fee, to insert SDKs into their apps. The SDK maker then sells the consumer data harvested from the app, and the app publisher gets a chunk of revenue. But consumers have no way to know whether SDKs are embedded in apps; most privacy policies don’t disclose that information. Anomaly Six says it embeds its own SDK in some apps, and in other cases gets location data from other partners.

Anomaly Six is a federal contractor that provides global-location-data products to branches of the U.S. government and private-sector clients. The company told The Wall Street Journal it restricts the sale of U.S. mobile phone movement data only to nongovernmental, private-sector clients.

READ MORE


Children’s Health Defense to sue University of California over mandatory flu shot | Added August 12

We shared a story on August 10 regarding the University of California’s recent mandate that will require all students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated for the flu. The mandate was signed by outgoing UC President Janet Napolitano. Now, Children’s Health Defense is suing the University of California. Below is what Robert F. Kennedy posted on Instagram regarding the suit:

Dr Napolitano says mandatory flu shots will “lessen the chance of being infected with COVID “
However Prevailing research suggests that flu vaccines actually raise the risk from coronavirus infection:

•A January 2020 US Pentagon study(Wolff 2020) found that the flu shot INCREASES the risks from coronavirus by 36%. “Receiving influenza vaccination may increase the risk of other respiratory viruses, a phenomenon known as “virus interference…’vaccine derived’ virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus…”
Many other studies suggest the increased risk of viral respiratory infections,including coronavirus, following vaccination for influenza
•A 2018 CDC study (Rikin et al 2018)found that flu shots increase the risk of non-flu acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs), including coronavirus, in children.
•A 2011 Australian study(Kelly et al 2011)found that flu shots doubled the risk for non-flu viral lung
infections.
• A 2012 Hong Kong study(Cowling et al 2012)found that flu shots increase the risk for non-flu respiratory infections by 4.4 times.
•A 2017 study(Mawson et al 2017)found vaccinated children were 5.9 times more likely to suffer
pneumonia than their unvaccinated peers

Children’s Health Defense is aware of a contrary study published last month by Gunther Fink et. al. That report appears to conclude that flu vaccines may be prophylactic against coronavirus. The study, of Brazilian populations, has many dubious unexplained outcomes including a 47% death rate among study subjects, raising numerous unanswered questions about the methodology and validity of this research. UC campuses should not be encouraging flu shots until we have unambiguous science supporting efficacy against COVID.

If you want to join our fight against the UCJab visit CHD and fill out the form. Please include details about your opposition to this mandate. We would like plaintiffs representing all the UC system schools and disciplines.


Chinese death scare of yesterday: bubonic plague redux part four | Added August 12

We’ve been following the story regarding cases of the bubonic plague and there have been quite a few developments. Late last week a man from China’s autonomous region of Inner Mongolia was reported to have died of the plague and authorities sealed off his village in response.

Meanwhile a nearby province in Russia has initiated a mass vaccination campaign against the plague.

And within the past few days there was even a report of a man in New Mexico dying of the plague.

To come back to Inner Mongolia there have now been a total of two people reported to have died of the plague in August. And further along in the article quoted below it is mentioned that those villagers who were quarantined are apparently being tested for the plague via PCR.

From UPI:

Two people died of the bubonic plague in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region of China in August, as authorities issued a third-level alert in the region and quarantined groups of people who may have made contact with the patients.

The two new cases of the plague were reported in China on Aug. 2 and Thursday, in Baotou city and Bayan Nur city, Urad Front Banner, respectively, China Central Television reported Monday.

The patient who died in Baotou city was diagnosed with “intestinal plague.” The patient in Bayan Nur died of swollen lymph nodes after contracting the same disease, Chinese health authorities said.

The patient in Bayan Nur was taken to a hospital but died the next morning, Xinhua news agency reported.


Chinese death scare of the day | Added August 12

It seems that killer ticks are an issue now.

From Newsweek:

A deadly tick-borne virus has reemerged in China, with experts warning it can be transmitted from human to human.

According to the state-backed newspaper the Global Times, 37 people in the Jiangsu Province have been diagnosed with Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS) so far this year. SFTS is a disease caused by bunyavirus.

Sheng Jifang, an infectious disease expert with the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine, told the newspaper the virus can be spread by ticks and infected animals, and by people via blood, wounds and the respiratory tract.

The CNA news channel reported 23 people have been infected in the Anhui Province. Five of these patients died, while two more deaths from the virus were recorded in Zhejiang Province. CNA said a woman in her 60s in Jiangsu Province was diagnosed with the virus after suffering from a fever, coughing and fatigue.


Excuse me while I buy your DNA | Added August 11

You may be familiar with the genealogy company Ancestry and perhaps you’ve even sent them samples of your DNA. Well on August 5 the investment firm Blackstone acquired Ancestry for $4.7 billion dollars alongside the Ancestry’s user-submitted DNA samples. A Blackstone spokesperson assured that the firm will not have access to user data. It’s not like they would break that promise, right?

From Vice:

The genealogy company Ancestry has been acquired by investment firm Blackstone for $4.7 billion, changing ownership of the company and its trove of user-submitted DNA from a set of investment firms to another private equity firm.

The announcement was made in a press release published earlier this week by Blackstone, which shared it had “reached a definitive agreement to acquire Ancestry from Silver Lake, GIC, Spectrum Equity, Permira, and other equity holders for a total enterprise value of $4.7 billion.”

Ancestry is known for its genealogy and home DNA testing services. According to its website, the company has 3 million paying subscribers, 27 billion records, and 100 million family trees. The website also says that over 18 million people have been DNA tested through the company.

“To be crystal clear, Blackstone will not have access to user data and we are deeply committed to ensuring strong consumer privacy protections at the company,” a spokesperson for Blackstone told Motherboard in an email. “We will not be sharing user DNA and family tree records with our portfolio companies.”


Penna. health officials face backlash over mishandling of nursing home virus data | From May 21, retrieved August 11

Back in May health officials in Pennsylvania caused a stir over their mishandling of nursing home coronavirus data. This is according to a May 21 article from Spotlight PA. The mismanagement of the data included the overreporting and underreporting of both case counts and deaths. And in another instance a facility was reported as having cases when they actually had none. The initial quote below comes from Pennsylvania’s top health official Dr. Rachel Levine. This article is part of a whole genre of “virus count rollbacks” that we documented back in May or June. Let us know if you’re looking for it and we will find it for you.

From the article:

“I have heard that there were a small number of errors,” Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said Thursday, after being confronted by lawmakers who said facilities in their districts were reporting different numbers of cases than the state had posted on its website. “We’re correcting those.”

The secretary’s comments sought to minimize the extent of the problem, as nursing home owners and the associations that represent them say the health department’s data is riddled with inaccuracies and, despite knowing about it for days, officials took little action in response.

Provider associations said publishing erroneous data has sown panic and anger among family members, distrust among nursing home staff, and frustration for providers.

“Minutes after the data was published, it became clear it contained inconsistent and inaccurate information,” Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, which represents more than 400 long-term care facilities, said in a statement. “The Department of Health has not provided a plausible explanation for why it will not remove faulty data or alert the public that the posted data is inaccurate.”


Russian president Vladimir Putin (and his reflection).

Russia announces world’s first ‘approved’ coronavirus vaccine despite not finishing trials | Added August 11

In a speech today, President Vladimir Putin of Russia announced that a health care regulator based in the country had approved a vaccine for the coronavirus, thereby making Russia the first country to do so. Quite a few groups and organizations, including the World Health Organization, have expressed concern over the safety of a vaccine pushed through this quickly.

As it was reported by The New York Times, Putin said about the vaccine that it “works effectively enough.” And, also, one of his daughters is said to have taken the vaccine.

More from The New York Times:

A Russian health care regulator has become the first in the world to approve a vaccine for the coronavirus, President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Tuesday, though the vaccine has yet to complete clinical trials.

The Russian dash for a vaccine has already raised international concerns that Moscow is cutting corners on testing to score political and propaganda points.

Mr. Putin’s announcement came despite a caution last week from the World Health Organization that Russia should not stray from the usual methods of testing a vaccine for safety and effectiveness.

Mr. Putin’s announcement became essentially a claim of victory in the global race for a vaccine, something Russian officials have been telegraphing for several weeks now despite the absence of published information about any late-phase testing.


640 doctors claim that ‘Covid-19 is a global scam’ at international conference | Added August 11

Presented without commentary. A video and transcript may be found if you follow the link. From Weblyf:

It seems now that so many more people around the world are waking up to the reality of the current so-called coronavirus pandemic, seeing it as an obvious manufactured crisis aided with harsh government policies and seemingly totalitarian measures that are, ironically, totally unjustifiable and preposterously inconsistent. For example, on August 6, a website called Awakening Channel has published a video entitled “640 DOCTORS, CV19 IS A GLOBAL SCAM”. It showed an international conference of professional health workers and doctors joined also by online participants, talking about the current status of many hospitals and governments around the world in dealing with the so-called pandemic. Clearly, the official narrative of this pre-fabricated crisis is now turning out to be fake and many scams have been happening related to the responses and the policies of the many governments of the world.


Coroner in Mississippi’s DeSoto County claims the state’s coronavirus death tally is misleading and causing ‘unnecessary fear in the public’ | Added August 11

Presented without commentary. From Newsweek:

A Mississippi county coroner said his state’s death count from coronavirus could be incorrect, telling residents that possible misreporting has led to “unnecessary fear in the public.”

Joshua Pounder, the coroner for DeSoto County in northwest Mississippi, wrote on his Facebook page Thursday night a breakdown of all causes of death in the county in July. He said he felt compelled to act because of the “many facebook google experts and politicians with politically driven agendas driven by money reporting information that is twisted and false to the public.”

The post, which has since garnered nearly 3,000 shares, described what Pounder called an “average month in Desoto county,” despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The coroner’s office recently completed reports for 144 deaths in July, Pounder wrote.

Pounder attributed the highest number of deaths to heart conditions, lung or vascular diseases and strokes, with 67 reported deaths. Pounder wrote that cancer was the second-highest, causing 30 reported deaths in the county.

Of the 11 causes of death Pounder listed, coronavirus was not among them. Instead, the 24 DeSoto County residents who had a positive COVID-19 test at the time of their death were included in the count of total deaths and attributed to causes other than the novel coronavirus, Pounder said.


It’s equal opportunity season for Big Pharma PACs: State and National lawmakers across the US benefit from deep pandemic pockets on the way to Election Day 2020 | Added August 10

Here is a rather lengthy article from Stat News with a few accompanying, helpful graphics if you click on the link.

From the article:

WASHINGTON — The world’s biggest drug makers and their trade groups have cut checks to 356 lawmakers ahead of this year’s election — more than two-thirds of the sitting members of Congress, according to a new STAT analysis.

It’s a barrage of contributions that accounts for roughly $11 million in campaign giving, distributed via roughly 4,500 checks from the political action committees affiliated with the companies.

The spending follows a long tradition of generous political giving. Major manufacturers typically make hundreds of modest donations to incumbent members of Congress but avoid donating to presidential candidates, seeing little utility in placing presidential bets.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a race among drug makers eager to develop a vaccine and improve the industry’s standing in Washington — pharma’s giving underscores the breadth of its influence and its efforts to curry favor through lobbying and donations to the lawmakers who regulate health care.

STAT’s examination focused on 23 of the biggest drug makers and the two major trade associations: PhRMA and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, known as BIO. It includes a series of data visualizations that map the pharmaceutical industry’s spending and the lawmakers who’ve accepted its PAC donations.


California public health director Sonia Angell abruptly resigns, quickly replaced | Added August 10

It seems we have another resignation from a leading public health official — last week on August 4, New York City’s health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot suddenly resigned (and was quickly replaced). And now this past Sunday, August 10, California’s public health director Dr. Sonia Angell resigned and her position has now been filled by two people.

Angell’s resignation comes in the wake of a malfunction in California’s medical reporting system that monitors both coronavirus cases, and other infectious diseases.

Dr. Sonia Angell and Governor Gavin Newsom of California, over her shoulder. Photos of resigning health officials with governors over their left shoulder seem to be a growing genre.

From The New York Times:

California’s public health director, Dr. Sonia Angell, abruptly resigned late on Sunday after less than a year on the job. In a letter to her colleagues at the California Department of Public Health, she cited “my own plans to depart from my position,” but did not give a specific reason for leaving.

Her departure comes after a malfunction in the main disease reporting system that omitted as many as 300,000 test results. The problems clouded the overall picture of the virus’s progression in California, which has had 10,365 deaths related to the virus, third in the nation after New York and New Jersey, and 563,244 confirmed cases.

“Since I joined this department as Director and State Public Health Officer in October 2019, we have been responding to emergencies, from e-cigarette and vaping-associated lung injury to the public safety power shutoffs and wildfires, and now to a global infectious disease pandemic,” Dr. Angell wrote in the letter. “It is with deep appreciation and respect for all of this work that I share with you my own plans to depart from my position, effective today.”


CDC revises isolation guidance for those who test positive for the coronavirus | Added August 10

Increasing evidence shows that most people are no longer infectious 10 days after they begin having symptoms of COVID-19. As a result, the CDC is discouraging people from getting tested a second time after they recover.

According to this July 24 report from NBC News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for Covid-19 patients and how long they are to isolate after being diagnosed — that is, after testing positive via a PCR test. Patients are now suggested to isolate for only 10 days as “increasing evidence shows that most people are no longer infectious 10 days after they begin having symptoms of COVID-19.”

From the article:

People who have been confirmed with mild to moderate COVID-19 can leave their isolation without receiving a negative test, according to recently revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Increasing evidence shows that most people are no longer infectious 10 days after they begin having symptoms of COVID-19. As a result, the CDC is discouraging people from getting tested a second time after they recover.

“For most persons with COVID-19 illness, isolation and precautions can generally be discontinued 10 days after symptom onset and resolution of fever for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and with improvement of other symptoms,” the CDC says.

For people who have tested positive but don’t have symptoms, “isolation and other precautions can be discontinued 10 days after the date of their first positive RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA.”


University of California system to require flu vaccination for students, faculty and staff | Added August 10

An executive order has been signed that will require students, faculty, and staff that are a part of the University of California system — which is comprised of 10 campuses located throughout California — to vaccinate for the flu.

Sather Tower at University of California, Berkley. Photo by Michael Pihulic.

From ABC7:

Students, faculty and staff in the University of California system will be required to get a flu vaccination before Nov. 1, part of a system-wide executive order signed on Friday.

In consultation with the UC Health leadership, UC officials say the mandate is an “important proactive measure to help protect members of the UC community and the public at large.”

The newly signed order is also to help relieve the health care system during the upcoming fall and winter flu season amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“In addition to protecting those on campuses and the surrounding communities, this requirement is designed to avoid a surge of flu cases at health care facilities across the state during the unprecedented public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” officials say.

The UC system says the flu vaccination is required for all faculty and staff who are working at a UC location and officials say they are adding the flu shot to the existing immunization policy for students.


Documented problems with using the PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 | From Covid19 News on Planet Waves, August 8, 2020

Excuse me while I grab a little who knows what from your nose.

August 8, 2020 | from Covid19 News on Planet Waves

PCR is an amplification method. It amplifies the signal (its target) and the noise (anything in the background). As with amplification, turn it up high enough and the signal and the noise blend into one thing.

Dear Friend and Reader:

Since the beginning of the covid crisis, I have focused my energy on unraveling problems with the tests being used. This is a large and unwieldy topic, though there is historical precedent for the discussion, which I’ve documented in this article.

I have said before that the “case” count is being done improperly, against all guidelines, and is therefore grossly inflated. In order to maintain the illusion that there are currently 6,282,369 (as of this writing Saturday) currently infected patients, a tool called the polymerase chain reaction is being used — the PCR test. Any time you hear the word “test” without the word “antibodies,” this is what’s being referred to.

This is the machine that can create the mirage of an infectious disease outbreak without one single person being infected. I know this sounds ridiculous. It is ridiculous, and it’s also true. I am not saying that there’s not a disease outbreak happening right now. I’m not saying there is no SARS-CoV-2. I am saying we have no way of knowing that for sure based on the PCR test.

If you want news from an official source covering this issue, check this article from The New York Times, which we have verified personally. The quotes from epidemiologists are priceless, one after the next, and worrying that their warnings have been ignored.

Kary Mullis, inventor of the PCR test

Many Protocols, Many Possible Interference Sources

PCR is an amplification method. It amplifies the signal (its target) and the noise (anything in the background). As with amplification, turn it up high enough and the signal and the noise blend into one thing.

“The test” is one of many, many varieties PCR tests, which are being lumped together. There is no one protocol. Different labs in different jurisdictions used different methods and most significantly, leave the machine for different numbers of cycles, each of which doubles the amount of material that is measured.

Notably, this is not the actual virus in the machine. As we learned famously during the HIV crisis, the PCR test does not measure viral load. And even if it did, viral load, in turn, does not determine whether a person is sick or well.

The test does not find ANY virus at all. This is important to recognize. It is supposed to finds bits of evidence of DNA or RNA that supposedly show up in the genetic sequence of the virus.

But that leaves a lot of room for error. It’s kind of like searching a novel for a four-letter sequence of the alphabet and thinking you know how the story turns out. For example, someone whose immune system processed the virus five months ago can still test positive based on residue in their body, even though they have no infection. Our best discussion of this is from Prof. Beda Stadler (interview and transcript here).

The test might pick up any coronavirus (there are many) or according to one document we have, all Asian viruses. It could pick up viral remnants from a previous cold. It might pick up remnants of a previous successful bout between the immune system and covid. But as you will read, it can pick up nothing at all and call it a positive result.

Essentially the Gold Standard is the series of experiments that prove they are looking for the right thing, and they know how much of it causes disease. Without that, there is no foundation or baseline established to calibrate the test or its results upon.

The Lack of the Gold Standard

The first problem is that the PCR test has not been calibrated for the virus they are supposedly looking for. This is the Gold Standard. Essentially the Gold Standard is the series of experiments that prove they are looking for the right thing, and they know how much of it causes disease. Without that, there is no foundation or baseline established to calibrate the test or its results upon.

The PCR device is so sensitive that for important research, entire laboratories that have never had the substance being looked for must be used, to prevent the possibility of cross-contamination. The test is looking for molecular fragments that match the virus, not for viruses. Said another way, it is a chemical assay invented by a chemist — not a biological or medical test.

Today, hundreds of thousands of samples are being run through labs around the clock with no time to clean the facility. This all falls under the general heading quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC). There must be negative and positive controls used to test the machine on a daily basis, or even several times a day. These labs are currently working like the Chinese sweatshops that are making masks.

Invented by a chemist named Kary Mullis in the early 1980s (for which he won the Nobel Prize), the PCR was never intended as a diagnostic tool (which is now it’s being used today). It was intended as a research tool.

FDA Admits the Problems With the Test

How do we know this? Well, everywhere but MSNBC. Let’s start with the FDA, which admits the problems in its updated emergency memo on the use of the test. This document is a grand tour of the sausage factory:

“Positive results do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease.”

That bears repeating: The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease. They go on:

“Negative results do not preclude SARS-CoV-2 infection and should not be used as the sole basis for patient management decisions. Negative results must be combined with clinical observations, patient history, and epidemiological information.”

The reason that PCR is not a diagnosis is that it may not catch the thing that is actually causing the illness, such as a bacterium. That has to be diagnosed through other testing, which is rarely being done.

The FDA in this document leaves out the serious problem with false PCR positives from other coronaviruses such as the common cold, influenza viruses, and absolutely nothing at all causing a positive test result. But their comments leave room for the possibility. For example, someone who briefly had coronavirus four months ago may have residue of the virus but be non-infectious, pefectly healthy, and still test positive and be a confirmed case.

This is the central fraud: a positive PCR is called a “confirmed case” of Covid-19, even if the “patient” is perfectly healthy with no symptoms and is out climbing Mt. Everest.

Here are some prior articles if you are interested:

Was the COVID-19 Test Meant to Detect a Virus? by Celia Farber, who was the first journalist to address this issue, with HIV in the 1990s.

Corona: creating the illusion of a pandemic through diagnostic tests, by Jon Rappoport, who was the first writer to document this for the Covid campaign

Faulty COVID-19 tests: Why prisoners love their jailers and never-ending lockdowns

COVID19 PCR Tests are Scientifically Meaningless, a classic from Off-Guardian

PCR Tests are a Total Fraud, a new one from Dr. Serge Gregoire

Here is what can go wrong: the Dartmouth Incident, by Planet Waves

The Dartmouth incident problem was documented accurately by The New York Times. The quotes from epidemiologists are priceless, one after the next. We have verified this story ourselves (see link above).


More from the tests are garbage collection | Added August 8

Since the beginning of the Covid mess, we’ve taken a keen interest in the test being used to create the staggering case count: the polymerase chain reaction. The PCR is a research tool, not a diagnostic tool, and therefore the test cannot be accurately used to tell who has an “infection” with SARS-CoV-2, if such even exists. We don’t actually know what causes the sickness people have, and if it’s SARS-CoV-2, nobody knows how it works. That’s another story.

This is from someone we just discovered, a kanook named Dr. Serve Gregoire, who has some real bona fides.

He writes in an Aug. 5 post:

For people who have done PCR before, we know that we can “manipulate” the settings and obtain different results.

This is especially true when you use genomic DNA has the source of material to amplify using the PCR. In our case, scientists use genomic material to run the PCR.

Another problem is that the genomic DNA they obtain from patients’ nasal swabs is not pure. They contain all kinds of DNA from humans, bacteria, viruses, and maybe other pathogens, who knows?

He quotes the FDA’s emergency authorization to use the test:

“The detection of viral RNA by RT-PCR does not necessarily equate with an infectious virus.”

and the FDA on the subject of antibody testing:

“Because serology testing can yield a negative test result even if the patient is actively infected (e.g., the body has not yet developed in response to the virus) or maybe falsely positive (e.g., if the antibody indicates a past infection by a different coronavirus), this type of testing should not be used to diagnose an acute or active COVID-19 infection.”


Pam Popper at the World Medical Desk

August 4, 2020 | Pam Popper Interview

Mobile device | Download | Thank you for sponsoring Planet Waves FM

For those of you who like a good, strong cup of coffee, I have an interview with Pam Popper. Founder and president of Wellness Forum Health, Pam is a naturopathic doctor who has gone into medical journalism and a kind of citizen action data collection. You may be familiar with her YouTube videos, which focus the issue of civil liberties. This is the topic that few people want to talk about, being the good citizens that we are, we do what is necessary for the whole. But just one thing: without our rights and our freedoms, we have nothing; we cannot take care of ourselves, our families, our health, our communities or our businesses.

I recorded this interview for the forthcoming edition of Planet Waves FM, but am distributing it as a special edition because why wait.


https://planetwaves.net/root/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/1111web-grandmother-0918-1024x689.jpg
Photo by Lanvi Nguyem

The Branching of the Road | By Eric Francis

Dear Friend and Reader:

The United States and the world of which it is part stand at a juncture. The time has come to decide what kind of society we want, which translates to what kind of people we want to be.

That is the thing to remember: choosing what kind of society means choosing what kind of people, which I think of as actually meaning being people, or not. Are we more identified with our physical and spiritual existence, and our ability to love, or with the fear being injected into us through all of our robotic technologies and (worse) our robotic thinking? Those are the options we have.

While this is true of everyone everywhere — the global crisis has left few societies unscathed — the United States is in a special situation.

Some countries have handled the situation calmly, and reasonably, and without political manipulation. This means working from an actual public health standpoint, without the corporate machine driving everything toward the most profitable vaccine. And as a result, they obtained a positive outcome.

The United States, though, is a uniquely complex and unmanageable society on a good day. At the moment we are profoundly mired in both political division and a political system so corrupt people barely notice the stench anymore. As we have seen so many times before, the only thing that seems to motivate people is abject terror.

Read more


Tests are garbage compilation | Added August 7

We’ve continued to beat the drum regarding the complete unreliability of testing when it comes to the coronavirus. However, now, there are a few stories floating around saying how, in the U.S., tests are “worthless” or “garbage” such as in this Yahoo News article, and this Bill Gates interview from Wired.

These headlines are a bit misleading, though, as most of them are referring to the long lengths of time that it takes for test results to come back, and not the (un)reliability of the testing processes themselves.

And, in that frame of mind, where there is a scarcity of fast, reliable tests, a demand has been created. Appropriately, the Yahoo News article goes on to talk about antigen tests as a replacement for PCR tests — not antibodies tests, but antigen tests which are meant to detect foreign substances (such as bacteria or components of a virus), instead of measuring one’s immune response to the virus.

“Imagine a $1, at-home, paper-based test that’s as easy to distribute and use as a pregnancy test. Imagine waking up in the morning, adding saliva or mucus to a tube of chemicals, waiting 15 minutes, dipping a paper strip in the tube and reading your results — instantly.”

“Now imagine every single person in America doing this every couple of days.”

And here’s another horrifying quote from the Yahoo News article:

“Storms aside, the main reason U.S. testing is going down instead of up is that the type of testing we’re doing — PCR (polymerase chain reaction) — seems to have reached its limit. PCR tests are the gold standard for diagnosing COVID-19, and rightly so: They correctly identify more than 98 percent of positive cases.”

Besides seemingly pulling this percentage out of nowhere, let’s not forget that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rebutted these very claims, at length, in its Aug. 24, 2007 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report which documented how PCR testing created the illusion of three whooping cough epidemics over the course of two years.

Lastly, regarding the antigen test, Ohio’s governor Mike DeWine tested both positive and negative for the coronavirus, on the same day. He tested positive in the morning via an antigen test, and later tested negative via PCR that night. Both he and his wife plan to take further, confirmatory PCR tests tomorrow.


ACLU not too keen on contact tracing apps | Added August 7

The American Civil Liberties Union has something to say about America’s favorite new pastime, contact tracing. In the article they take a detailed look at reasons why they believe contact tracings apps aren’t very helpful.

From the article:

Proposals to use the tracking capabilities of our cell phones to help fight COVID-19 have probably received more attention than any other technology issue during the pandemic. Here at the ACLU, we have been skeptical of schemes to use apps for contact tracing or exposure warnings from the beginning, but it is clearer than ever that such tools are unlikely to work, and that the debate over such tracking is largely a sideshow to the principal coronavirus health needs.

We have said from the outset that location-based contact tracing was untenable, but that the concept of “proximity tracking” — in which Bluetooth signals emitted by phones are used to notify people who may have been exposed — seemed both more plausible and less of a threat to privacy. Indeed, a number of serious institutions began working on this concept early in the pandemic, most notably Apple and Google, which have already implemented a version of the concept in their mobile operating systems.

Some of the problems with tech-assisted contact tracing have been apparent from the beginning, such as the social dimensions of the challenge. Smartphone ownership is not evenly distributed by income, race, or age, threatening to create disparate effects from such schemes. And even the most comprehensive, all-seeing contact tracing system is of little use without social and medical systems in place to help those who may have the virus — including access to medical care, testing, and support for those who are quarantined. Those systems are all inadequate in the United States today.


Revelation! Researchers from Washington Univ. suggest that boosting immune system could help with Covid-19 | Added August 6

From KSDK:

Most of the research on COVID-19 has focused on the immune system’s role in patients who become seriously ill.

One theory suggests the immune system works so hard fighting the virus that it could result in fatal organ damage, especially in the lungs.

New findings from researchers at Washington University in St. Louis point to another theory that suggests patients become ill because their immune systems can’t do enough to protect them from the virus.

Researchers suggested boosting the immune system could be a potential “treatment strategy” for the virus.

“People around the world have been treating patients seriously ill with COVID-19 using drugs that do very different things,” said Richard S. Hotchkiss, professor of anesthesiology, of medicine and of surgery. “Some drugs tamp down the immune response, while others enhance it. Everybody seems to be throwing the kitchen sink at the illness. It may be true that some people die from a hyperinflammatory response, but it appears more likely to us that if you block the immune system too much, you’re not going to be able to control the virus.”


Piece from Common Dreams: War and Pandemic Journalism | Added August 6

From Common Dreams:

The struggle against Covid-19 has often been compared to fighting a war. Much of this rhetoric is bombast, but the similarities between the struggle against the virus and against human enemies are real enough. War reporting and pandemic reporting likewise have much in common because, in both cases, journalists are dealing with and describing matters of life and death. Public interest is fueled by deep fears, often more intense during an epidemic because the whole population is at risk. In a war, aside from military occupation and area bombing, terror is at its height among those closest to the battlefield.

The nature of the dangers stemming from military violence and the outbreak of a deadly disease may appear very different. But looked at from the point of view of a government, they both pose an existential threat because failure in either crisis may provoke some version of regime change. People seldom forgive governments that get them involved in losing wars or that fail to cope adequately with a natural disaster like the coronavirus. The powers-that-be know that they must fight for their political lives, perhaps even their physical existence, claiming any success as their own and doing their best to escape blame for what has gone wrong.

My First Pandemic

I first experienced a pandemic in the summer of 1956 when, at the age of six, I caught polio in Cork, Ireland. The epidemic there began soon after virologist Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for it in the United States, but before it was available in Europe. Polio epidemics were at their height in the first half of the twentieth century and, in a number of respects, closely resembled the Covid-19 experience: many people caught the disease but only a minority were permanently disabled by or died of it. In contrast with Covid-19, however, it was young children, not the old, who were most at risk. The terror caused by poliomyelitis, to use its full name, was even higher than during the present epidemic exactly because it targeted the very young and its victims did not generally disappear into the cemetery but were highly visible on crutches and in wheelchairs, or prone in iron lungs.


Ohio restaurant opts out of wearing masks | Added August 6

Posted on Facebook by a restaurant owner from Ohio:

So Thursday we had our visit from the health department. I own a restaurant/bar. All of our servers/host/bartenders have opted out of wearing masks. They all have a documented note in their file with the health or practical reason why they cannot wear a mask. The health department had me send a copy of each one of their notes in to their office. Apparently we have had the most complaints in Warren County for not wearing masks. ???? So during our visit, which we passed with flying colors, he went through each of their documented notes and told me that with their documented health or practical reasons they would all be exempt from the mask order. He also said that from now on when their office gets a complaint, he is able to tell them that our employees with notes are exempt! A big win for us and for my employees!!

Edit: I’m comfortable posting the name of our restaurant since we got the approval for the exemptions from the health department. So here’s the link to our website.

 


It’s not a blackout, they cut off your power | Added August 6

If you were planning to throw a party in Los Angeles any time soon, you might want to buy some candles; Mayor Eric Garcetti said yesterday that the city might cut off electricity to homes and businesses that “host large gatherings in defiance of public health guidelines.”

From The New York Times:

Eric M. Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, said on Wednesday that the city could cut off power to homes or businesses that host large gatherings in defiance of public health guidelines.

Large gatherings in private homes are banned under Los Angeles County’s public health orders because of the pandemic, but there have been a number of reports of parties in recent weeks. One party that drew a large group to a mansion on Mulholland Drive on Monday night devolved into chaos and gunfire after midnight, leaving five people wounded, one of whom later died, the authorities said.

“These large parties are unsafe and can cost Angelenos their lives,” Mr. Garcetti said at a news conference on Wednesday. “That is why, tonight, I am authorizing the city to shut off Los Angeles Department of Water and Power service in the egregious cases in which houses, businesses and other venues are hosting unpermitted large gatherings.”


Quarantine checkpoints set up in NYC | Added August 6

New York City is tightening up travel restrictions and is now setting up quarantine checkpoints into the city. You may find a list of states that are subject to the travel restrictions if you click the link to the article.

From CNBC:

New York City is setting up quarantine checkpoints at “key entry points” along main bridges and tunnels to the city to screen travelers coming from more than 30 states with bad coronavirus outbreaks, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

“Travelers coming in from those states will be given information about the quarantine, they will be reminded that it is required, not optional,” de Blasio said at a press briefing. “They’ll be reminded that failure to quarantine is a violation of state law and it comes with serious penalties.” The checkpoints will begin Wednesday.

Dr. Ted Long, head of New York City’s Test & Trace Corps, said that a fifth of all new coronavirus cases in New York City are from out-of-state travelers.

The new agency is deploying teams to Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal starting Thursday. They are checking in on travelers through calls and text messages, “and if we can’t get through to you on the phone, we’ve deployed teams that are now knocking on your door and making sure you’re safe,” Long said.


Article from The Atlantic: Hygiene Theater Is a Huge Waste of Time | Added August 6

The Atlantic has a July 27 article that covers the topic of “hygiene theater.” That is, the obsession over “risk-reduction rituals,” in light of the coronavirus, may make people feel safer, but don’t do much to reduce risk. The article draws comparison to measures implemented in the wake of 9/11, as well.

More from The Atlantic:

As a COVID-19 summer surge sweeps the country, deep cleans are all the rage.

National restaurants such as Applebee’s are deputizing sanitation czars to oversee the constant scrubbing of window ledges, menus, and high chairs. The gym chain Planet Fitness is boasting in ads that “there’s no surface we won’t sanitize, no machine we won’t scrub.” New York City is shutting down its subway system every night, for the first time in its 116-year history, to blast the seats, walls, and poles with a variety of antiseptic weaponry, including electrostatic disinfectant sprays. And in Wauchula, Florida, the local government gave one resident permission to spray the town with hydrogen peroxide as he saw fit. “I think every city in the damn United States needs to be doing it,” he said.

To some American companies and Florida men, COVID-19 is apparently a war that will be won through antimicrobial blasting, to ensure that pathogens are banished from every square inch of America’s surface area.

But what if this is all just a huge waste of time?


House Democrats launch investigation into $765 million given to Kodak by U.S. government | Added August 5

Last week on July 30 we posted a story regarding the loan that the camera company Kodak received, under the Defense Production Act, to produce ingredients to be used in generic drugs; today House Democrats are investigating that loan. Senator Elizabeth Warren has also called “for the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate possible insider trading and disclosure violations tied to Kodak’s announcement.”

From Business Insider:

House Democrats have launched an investigation into Eastman Kodak Co.’s $765 million government loan and are seeking documents from a U.S. agency involved in granting the proposed funding.

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters is among Democrats who said they’ve sought all communications about the loan from the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. The agency handles financing provided through the Defense Production Act, which is how Kodak would secure funding to make ingredients for generic drugs.

In a Wednesday letter to the DFC, the Democrats questioned why the agency would “support Kodak, an organization that was on the brink of failure in 2012 and was unsuccessful in its previous foray into pharmaceutical manufacturing.”


Tag, you’re it! | Added August 5

You may have heard about the quarantine breakouts that were happening in New Zealand — so far four visitors have broken out of quarantine — but in Singapore they’ve decided to simply fit incoming travelers with electronic tags to enforce quarantines. Batteries not included.

(Actually, there’s no mention of what the device will look like.)

From Reuters:

Singapore will make some incoming travellers wear an electronic monitoring device to ensure that they comply with coronavirus quarantines as the city-state gradually reopens its borders, authorities said on Monday.

From August 11, the devices will be given to incoming travellers, including citizens and residents, from a select group of countries who will be allowed to isolate at home rather than at a state-appointed facility.

Similar measures using electronic wristbands to track peoples’ movements during quarantine have been used in Hong Kong and South Korea.

Travellers to Singapore are required to activate the device, which use GPS and Bluetooth signals, upon reaching their home and will receive notifications on the device which they must acknowledge.

Any attempt to leave home or tamper with the device will trigger an alert to the authorities.


Sex ban back on in England | Added August 5

From the Independent, this is national news in the UK today — no frolicking in the garden. We reported this week that the sex ban had been lifted on July 31, or at least that’s what we thought:

Gatherings of two or more people in a private dwelling who are not from the same household have been banned under new coronavirus lockdown rules imposed in the north of England, meaning couples who do not live together can no longer have sex indoors and stay overnight.

The government published the regulations, which cover Manchester, parts of east Lancashire, and West Yorkshire, on Tuesday, nearly five days after restrictions were introduced.

Restrictions imposed on private homes make it illegal for two or more people to meet and take part in “any form of social interaction with each other, or to undertake any other activity with each other”.

People are not allowed to meet in one another’s gardens or yards either. However, holiday accommodations such as hotels and bed and breakfasts are not included under the “private dwellings” definition, which means couples will be able to meet in hotel rooms.

Gatherings of more than 30 people are also banned during this “emergency period” in any public indoor or outdoor space.


Does this count for a plandemic? CDC warns of new outbreak of disease in kids | Added August 5

Is this a warning, or a plan? The Hill is reporting that CDC has announced a new disease, this time one that primarily afflicts children rather than avoids them.

From the article in Tuesday’s edition:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned parents and doctors Tuesday that it expects another outbreak this year of a rare but life-threatening condition that mostly affects children.

Outbreaks of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a serious neurologic condition that can cause paralysis, typically peak every two years between August and November.

The last peak occurred in 2018, when 238 cases were reported to the CDC.

While rare, parents and doctors should be vigilant to recognize symptoms of AFM because it progresses quickly over the course of hours or days, leading to permanent paralysis or life-threatening respiratory failure in previously healthy patients, according to the CDC.

“As we head into these critical next months, CDC is taking necessary steps to help clinicians better recognize signs and symptoms of AFM in children,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield.


There is declining support for Covid vax | Added August 4

Yahoo News is reporting that support for a Covid vaccine has dropped from 55% in May to 42% in August, the lowest ever.

From the report:

At first, responses were mostly favorable. In early May, 55 percent of Americans said yes, they would get vaccinated. But that number shrank in each subsequent survey, slipping to 50 percent in late May and 46 percent in early July.

Now the latest Yahoo News/YouGov poll, conducted July 28 to 30, shows that just 42 percent of Americans plan to get vaccinated for COVID-19 — the smallest share to date.

The outlook for universal vaccination is clouded by political considerations from both sides: skepticism about medical authority and expertise (more common among Trump supporters), and suspicions (mostly among Democrats) that the administration is cutting corners on safety to rush a vaccine into production before the election.

Together, these forces threaten to undermine COVID-19 vaccination in the U.S.


Turning Covid into an antisex campaign | Added August 4

We are now seeing more examples of the Covid scare being turned into an antisex campaign aimed at young people, who are extremely unlikely to die or even get sick from the virus. Now they are being advised to have phone sex, internet sex, or to stick to one partner.

In the spring, people who live together and were isolating together were advised to wear surgical masks when having sex. Then last week, health authorities in New York City and British Columbia recommended having sex through a glory hole — that is, a hole drilled or chopped in the wall between two rooms.

In the spring, England banned overnight guests, which restriction was finally lifted last week.

We have seen no evidence or even discussion that one-on-one or small group contact is a public health concern, that is, that it can drive the numbers up. What seems relevant is avoiding large indoor gatherings where the air cannot move.

The Independent of Ireland is reporting in Tuesday’s edition:

“Young people are being asked to choose having sex online or over the phone to stop the spread of Covid-19. The new advice is designed to stop people having sex if they don’t live together, if possible.”

What makes no sense is that young people are not especially vulnerable to the disease, such as it exists. Infection fatality is 1 in 10,000 for anyone under age 49, and increases radically for those close to 80 with multiple preexisting serious diseases.

HSE, the national health service of Ireland, wrote in a letter to pharmacies, “while sexual health may not be a primary healthcare focus in the current environment, as restrictions ease there is a strong possibility that heightened sexual risk-taking will occur and people’s sexual health and wellbeing will be affected.”

In other words, with little else to do, young people are more likely to be sexual with one another — which could rationally be seen as a benefit of the crisis. But public authorities never endorse sexual behavior, and when they do, treat it as a disease vector.

“Young adults, in particular, are affected by crisis pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections and are more likely to engage in sexual activity with more than one partner,” HSE added. “If you decide to be sexually active with someone living outside of your household, limit it to as few partners as possible, preferably one regular partner,” the leaflet said.”


New York City’s health commissioner resigns in protest against Mayor de Blasio’s handling of the coronavirus | Added August 4

New York City health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot has resigned from her position following conflict between City Hall and the Health Department. Regarding the conflict, the article below goes on to reference another story that we shared back on May 14 where Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city’s public hospital system would handle contact tracing instead of the Health Department, which typically handles such affairs.

Dr. Oxiris Barbot and Mayor Bill de Blasio during a coronavirus meeting in March.

Following Dr. Barbot’s resignation, Mayor de Blasio moved to replace her and “immediately” announced the appointment of Dr. Dave A. Chokshi as the new health commissioner. Chokshi happens to have been a senior leader within New York City’s public hospital system, Health + Hospitals.

From The New York Times:

New York City’s health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, resigned on Tuesday in protest over her “deep disappointment” with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent efforts to keep it in check.

Her departure came after escalating tensions between City Hall and top Health Department officials, which began at the start of the city’s outbreak in March, burst into public view.

“I leave my post today with deep disappointment that during the most critical public health crisis in our lifetime, that the Health Department’s incomparable disease control expertise was not used to the degree it could have been,” she said in her resignation email sent to Mr. de Blasio, a copy of which was shared with The New York Times.


Some small business bailout money reportedly went to Chinese-owned companies | Added August 3

We have previously reported on the Paycheck Protection Program distributed in response to the coronavirus, and the issues with disclosure of where the money actually went. Well, The New York Times has an August 2 article that takes a look information that suggests that a good chunk of money went to Chinese-owned companies.

From the article:

President Trump has blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, but as the White House looks to stabilize small businesses in the United States, the rescue effort has had an unintended beneficiary: Chinese companies.

Millions of dollars of American taxpayer money have flowed to China from the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program that was created in March to be a lifeline for struggling small businesses in the United States. But because the economic relief legislation allowed American subsidiaries of foreign firms to receive the loans, a substantial chunk of the money went to America’s biggest economic rival, a new analysis shows.

According to a review of publicly available loan data by the strategy consulting firm Horizon Advisory, $192 million to $419 million has gone to more than 125 companies that Chinese entities own or invest in. Many of the loans were quite sizable; at least 32 Chinese companies received loans worth more than $1 million, with those totaling as much as $180 million.


French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi charged with manslaughter in birth defects case | Added August 3

Sanofi, French pharmaceutical firm that just recently secured a $2.1 billion deal with the U.S. government to supply 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine in the largest deal Operation Warp Speed deal to date, has been indicted for manslaughter over “birth defects linked to an epilepsy drug in a long-running case that has also seen it charged with fraud.” This is according to Al Jazeera.

More from the article:

French prosecutors have indicted pharma giant Sanofi for manslaughter over birth defects linked to an epilepsy drug in a long-running case that has also seen it charged with fraud.

The charges relate to the drug valproate, marketed as Depakine among other trade names, which studies say has caused disabilities in about 15,000-30,000 children whose mothers took the medicine while pregnant.

On the market since 1967, the drug is used to treat epilepsy, migraines and bipolar disorder.

But research found that when pregnant women took the drug, their children had an elevated risk – between 10 to 40 percent – of congenital malformations, autism and learning difficulties.


The politics surrounding the development of a ‘warp speed’ coronavirus vaccine | Added August 3

Here’s a look at the politics surrounding the ‘warp speed’ development of a coronavirus vaccine on the part of the U.S. government, the question of safety regarding such rushed vaccines, and how such efforts play into this year’s presidential election. From The New York Times:

In April, with hospitals overwhelmed and much of the United States in lockdown, the Department of Health and Human Services produced a presentation for the White House arguing that rapid development of a coronavirus vaccine was the best hope to control the pandemic.

“DEADLINE: Enable broad access to the public by October 2020,” the first slide read, with the date in bold.

Given that it typically takes years to develop a vaccine, the timetable for the initiative, called Operation Warp Speed, was incredibly ambitious. With tens of thousands dying and tens of millions out of work, the crisis demanded an all-out public-private response, with the government supplying billions of dollars to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, providing logistical support and cutting through red tape.

It escaped no one that the proposed deadline also intersected nicely with President Trump’s need to curb the virus before the election in November.


Homicides, shootings rise amidst pandemic | Added August 2

We’ve been hearing this a lot: violent crime is increasing concurrently with Covid. From the Wall Street Journal (paywall site):

A sharp rise in homicides this year is hitting large U.S. cities across the country, signaling a new public-safety risk unleashed during the coronavirus pandemic, and amid recession and a national backlash against police tactics.

The murder rate is still low compared with previous decades, and other types of serious crime have dropped in the past few months. But researchers, police and some residents fear the homicide spike, if not tamed, could threaten an urban renaissance spurred in part by more than two decades of declining crime.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of crime statistics among the nation’s 50 largest cities found that reported homicides were up 24% so far this year, to 3,612. Shootings and gun violence also rose, even though many other violent crimes such as robbery fell.

Police, researchers, mayors and community leaders see a confluence of forces at work in the homicide spike. Institutions that keep city communities safe have been destabilized by lockdown and protests against police. Lockdowns and recession also mean tensions are running high and streets have been emptied of eyes and ears on their communities.

Some cities with long-running crime problems saw their numbers rise, including Philadelphia, Detroit and Memphis, Tenn. Chicago, the worst-hit, has tallied more than one of every eight homicides.

Less-violent places have been struck as well, such as Omaha, Neb., and Phoenix. In all, 36 of the 50 cities studied saw homicide rise at double-digit rates, representing all regions of the country.