April 30, 2021

So… are we close to reaching herd immunity? The short answer is NO… but, following up on two days of depressing news that vaccinations may not, after all, be the ticket out of this mess… for no other reason than people refusing to take it… comes a bit of optimism… of the game-changing sort. And the short answer to that, interestingly… might also be NO.

Forget the herd immunity upon which you were hoping to depend. What if you could shift control of the risk entirely back on yourself? What if you could simply protect yourself from getting infected? What if you’re not able to receive the vaccination for other reasons, but there’s still a way to be protected? What if you’re about to be headed into a crowded restaurant or concert hall or sporting venue for the first time in more than a year and, as protected by vaccines as you may be, are still feeling a little uneasy?

Trials of locally developed nasal spray are going very well. The company behind it, SaNOtize, has recently been pushing to receive emergency approval in Canada and in the U.K. They’re also now trying to figure out how to get it to India – ASAP.

To summarize what this particular product brings to the table in four succinct points:

– A 95% reduction within 24 hours in viral load given to those who’d tested positive

– A 99% reduction in viral load within 72 hours

– A 100% prevention rate in getting infected in the first place

– Zero side-effects

You might think the capitalized “NO” implies NO Covid… but it’s more to do with Nitric Oxide, the key behind it. That, and their delivery method, kills the virus in the upper airways, preventing it from incubating and spreading to the lungs. A little blast of nasal spray… and that’s it. One in the morning when you get up, to clear out what may have accumulated over night. One before bed to clear out the day’s potential infections. Maybe one or two if you’ve been on a plane or crowded place for an extended period of time.

It’s safe, it’s effective, and one day it may be as common as eyedrops.

I’m looking forward to hearing what the crazies have to say about it… “You see! They want you to spray the 5G chip straight into your brain!”

Yeah, whatever. This could be a serious game-changer, and I hope they navigate the regulatory bodies as efficiently as possible. If this thing is as good as it sounds, things could be back to normal…. like normal normal… like… you know, the good old days… much sooner than later. This NO looks like it might be a big YES.

April 29, 2021

Today’s brief summary requires nothing more than a brief look at the vaccination graph I’ve posted below the usual charts. And if this were being presented as a brief summary in some boardroom somewhere, there would be some hushed whispers. “Hey… what’s the deal with the blue line?”

We’ll get to it.

This is a graph of smoothed-out daily data of the number of people being vaccinated by region, normalized to a number per million.

If you look at the tail-end of the graph, which is from the last day or two, you can see the thick red Canada line somewhere near 7,500… which means, on a daily basis, 7,500 out of a million Canadians are being vaccinated. That number was 4,500 a month ago.

In fact, here’s a look across the country of rough seven-day averages:

BC, a month ago: 4,600. Today: 7,100
AB, a month ago: 3,700. Today: 7,300
SK, a month ago: 3,600. Today: 6,000
MB, a month ago: 3,000. Today: 8,800
ON, a month ago: 4,700. Today: 7,600
QC, a month ago: 5,200. Today: 7,400

Across the board – very good. Vaccination programs across the country gearing up and/or delivering at increasingly-effective rates.

Now, let’s look at that thick blue line… our neighbours to the south. That’s the line that seems to be going in the wrong direction, opposite to all the others.

US, a month ago: 5,300. Today: 3,700

The irony of course is that the U.S. is comparatively drowning in vaccine… but demand is waning. This is the pattern that took them to a 43% vaccination rate, but the next 43%… well, it’ll be beyond difficult. It may actually be impossible.

Forget all of the complicated supply/demand market elasticity theories you may have come across. All of it is irrelevant. If this were a business, the boardroom presentation would be a PowerPoint full of lousy explanations and poor excuses… because the fundamental value proposition is gone. The business model is going to fail, because, as good as the product may be, demand is drying up. R&D department? They did what they were asked and delivered beautifully. Legal? Check. Logistics and distribution? Check. Marketing? Ouch.

It still boggles the mind. This is the part that I and many others simply didn’t see coming. That, after creating, in record time, what’s arguably one of the greatest achievements ever in medical science, an awful lot of people simply don’t want it. A massive failure, arguably due to nothing more than awful, irresponsible, criminally negligent messaging. The marketing department responsible got fired in November and the new team took over in January… but as hard as they’re trying to fix the damage, it may be too late.

Brutal. Meeting adjourned.

April 28, 2021

“It is often easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”

It was Admiral Grace Hopper, a legend and pioneer in the world of computer science, who said that… though it’s possible she didn’t quite realize the extent to which people would eventually lead their lives by it. It makes sense sometimes to bend the rules, but you have to know where and when to pick your spots. It’s not a free-for-all for reckless decisions.

You think you already know what I’m about to say, so instead of repeating what I’ve been saying for a year, here’s are some different examples.

Perhaps the shortest existence of a professional sports league in the history of the world took place last week. If you don’t follow football (ie soccer) on a global level, there’s a good chance you missed it entirely. Basically, a small group of the biggest teams in the world, spanning multiple leagues, announced they were forming their own super-league. Forget rankings and playoffs… this league of elites is by invitation only, and here’s $5 billion TV deal to go along with it, just for them.

Imagine the uproar you’d hear in Canada if the top 6 NHL teams decided to break away and form their own little league… and now imagine it on a global scale. The backlash from literally millions… of fans, players, coaches, reporters… pretty much everyone… was a tidal wave that, when you think about it, was completely to be expected.

“OK ok we’re sorry… forget the whole thing!! Jeez!!” – said the ringleaders… who no doubt are re-thinking their ridiculous, stupid assumptions that led to it in the first place. And who are now facing significant consequences for their failed mutiny.

Closer to home, the existence of Playland being open lasted just as long. The backlash was swift and expected. What else is going to happen when a few hours after announcing no inter-provincial travel, you announce the opening of one of Canada’s biggest amusement parks? “Sorry sorry yeah you’re right”. Playland will be open one day, just not when anybody from out of town isn’t supposed to be there in the first place.

Speaking of Playland, I really like that midway horse racing game… the one where you’re trying to fire the balls into the right hole which makes your little horse-in-lights move along. If I can’t have real horse racing, I’ll take that for now.

And speaking of horse racing, this weekend’s running of the Kentucky Derby notwithstanding, there’s an interesting sort of horse race that’s easier to explain if you visualize it… so, see below.

Replacing all of the tiny vaccination graphs today is one big one; this is what the provincial horse race of vaccinations looks like. This graph is based on vaccination percentages, using 10% as the same starting point for everyone.

What exactly does it tell us? You’d never have known that Manitoba seems to be vaccinating people, per capita, faster than anyone. Conversely, Alberta is the slowest.

At the end of the day, it’s not a big difference. It took Manitoba 23 days to go from 10% to 25%. It took Alberta 31 days. Everyone else is somewhere in between (B.C. is 26 days). By any definition, it’s a tight race. Also, who cares… the idea is we all get to the finish line, and then we all win.

But just to circle back to the premise of this entire piece, we get there not by doing stupid things and begging for forgiveness. Better to ask first… and act responsibly.

April 27, 2021

Take a map of Canada and tip it to the left… like rotate it about 45 degrees. Now you have British Columbia on the bottom. If you imagine the population being 38 million little specs of dust all over the map, you shake it a bit, and the specs all fall towards B.C. To some extent, this is the understood path of migration of people in this country. Should you choose to move from wherever you are, there’s a good chance you’re heading west. Vancouver is continually voted one of the best cities in the world to live in; choosing to move somewhere around here is pretty sane.

On the flipside, our neighbours to the south do it very much the other way around. First of all, you have to tip the U.S. map 45 degrees to the right. That leaves Florida on the bottom. And then, the little shakeout is not the sane people… quite the opposite. How else can you explain disproportionate insanity that seems to emanate from The Sunshine State.

News headlines from Florida are in a league of their own… things like “Thousands of gun owners in Florida planning to ‘shoot down’ Hurricane Irma”

In fact, whenever you see a news story that starts off with “Florida man…”, you know you can expect the crazy. It’s such a thing that there’s even a Twitter account of exactly that – a collection of Florida Man headlines… with gems like:

Florida Man tries to rob GameStop while wearing transparent bag on his head

Florida Man denies drinking and driving, says he only swigged bourbon at stop signs

Florida Man stabs tourist despite having no arms

Florida Man asks trooper if he can leave the scene of crash to get more meth

Florida Man bursts into ex’s delivery room, fights her new boyfriend as she’s giving birth

Florida Man bored, calls 9-11 to talk about Hitler

Florida Man tries to evade arrest by cartwheeling away from cops

Florida Man trapped in unlocked closet for two days

This is an endless list that grows on a daily basis, and serves as a perfect introduction to the “crazy of the day” – a private school in Miami that’s barring contact between students and vaccinated teachers. Because, somehow, vaccinated teachers may pose a threat.

The school’s position: “Tens of thousands of women all over the world have recently been reporting adverse reproductive issues from being in close proximity with those who have received any one of the COVID-19 injections.”

That’s bullshit. There have been no such reports.

Also, “No one knows exactly what may be causing these irregularities, but it appears that those who have received the injections may be transmitting something from their bodies to those with whom they come in contact.”

Also bullshit… of the spectacular sort.

There is, of course, zero scientific credibility to any of this… and it’d be next to impossible to come up with anything plausible to explain it. Magical evaporation of vaccinated blood somehow making its way to bystanders? Just make up the insane narrative, shove it down peoples’ throats, and hope they swallow it. And many do.

The school’s response to being questioned on this policy: ““We’re doing what we think is in the best interest of the children because children shouldn’t be around teachers who are vaccinated.”

This is amusing at first glance, and then terrifying when you think about it some more. It’s frightening to think what else might be being taught to the kids there. We rhetorically ask… how can there exist people who think this way? The question and the answer are the same. Where do university-educated anti-vaxxers come from? Places like this.

The bigger problem is that this is all part of why the U.S. may actually never get to a vaccination percentage high enough for herd immunity. They have millions of doses available for whoever wants one… but the demand is waning. They’re at 43% of the population having at least one dose, but now some are saying they don’t want the second one… so there’s no real purpose in arguing what’s needed for full herd immunity. 70% 80% 90%… they’re all the same, because the way things are going, none of them will get reached.

It’s not incorrect to label this an issue of ignorance and bad messaging. The previous administration, the demonizing of science, the miseducation of large swaths of people… factors which add up and conspire against critical thinking and common sense. It’s perhaps not a lost cause for those who genuinely don’t know any better, but it’d require a big public-service effort of education. Back to school for everyone. Just… please… not that one in Florida.

April 26, 2021

I play around a lot with my 3D printer… it’s here, beside me, in my home office, and the little series of sounds it makes while operating is good background noise; it’s not distracting… on the contrary, it helps me focus. And, at the end of it, you end up with some interesting (and sometimes useful) object. I have an endless list of things I and the kids have designed and printed… and I’m fascinated with the technology. This printer is already three years old, and there have been upgrades to it… many of which I’ve printed myself. How’s that for innovation – instead of sending you a part, they just send you a 3d blueprint – then you print the thing yourself. So cool.

That being said, it’s still an evolving technology. Some of these prints take several hours… and sometimes, halfway through them, just when you think it’s all going well, one little thing goes wrong and the entire thing is ruined. We’re all familiar with that concept these days.

I’m looking forward, as the technology progresses, to being able to print things with better consistency, and with more and more detail… and with a greater variety of materials. This one only does plastic, but this is the same technology that’s printing metal. And food. And houses. And human organs… one day.

Soon, these things will be printing with the finest detail possible… atom by atom. What would I print with that?

The first thing I would print is the tiniest violin imaginable… suitable for playing the sympathetic music due to the likes of the soon-to-be-former owner of the Corduroy restaurant on Cornwall, Rebecca Matthews… and Alaska Republican state Senator Lora Reinbold.

These two have misunderstood something, and they’re beginning to pay the price for it. What they don’t understand is that nobody gives a crap about them, and long after the issues of the day have become non-issues, they will be left holding the bag for the misguided messages they were propagating.

After Rebecca Matthews loses her business license, liquor license and whatever court case the City of Vancouver throws at her, she’ll be wondering where all of her supporters have gone. Where are the people that were chanting “Get out!” to provincial health officials when she was illegally operating her restaurant? Where is the crowd that was chanting outside her restaurant yesterday, reminding everyone that social distancing and masks and vaccines are all useless? Where’s Mark Donnelly?

Restaurants in Vancouver are a fickle business. 70% of restaurants fail in the first year. 90% are gone by year 3. Where’d everyone go? To the next one… the new one… the latest and greatest. That’s where all those people will have gone, and her GoFundMe will be puzzlingly disappointing. But that’s what you get for being the voice of unreason.

Similarly, Senator Reinbold is one of these freedom-fighting anti-maskers who doesn’t want to wear a mask in an airport or on a plane. Accordingly, Alaska Airlines has banned her indefinitely… a significant issue when Alaska Airlines is the only airline that services her hometown of Juneau. As a result, what would have been a routine one-hour flight getting home for her turned into a 14-hour road-and-ferry adventure. And, for the foreseeable future, she’s somewhat stuck if she needs to get anywhere in a hurry. Now she’s whining about the monopoly of air transport to/from Juneau… an issue that, of course, was non-existent a few days ago. I actually hope she resolves that “issue”…. so that United and American and Delta and JetBlue and Southwest… can also all ban her.

One thing that’ll never be 3D printed is intelligence, and the ability to think big-picture. And that’s too bad… because, as per above, there are at least two people who’d benefit greatly from it.

April 25, 2021

Lazy Sunday… good one to sit on the couch and not do much… but a special shoutout to all my fellow Gen-Xers who managed to secure an AstraZeneca vaccine and are feeling somewhat hungover. Like the old days, the hangover fades after a few days… and, like in those old days, you sit around and wonder if it was worth it. And the answer back then is the same as the answer today.

Well worth it, eh… we’ll be all ready for next weekend. Let’s meet at Luv Affair or Twilight Zone… then maybe head over to the Purple Onion after a bite in Gastown somewhere.

OK, so this isn’t 25 years ago… none of that is likely to happen… especially since none of those places are still around… but this hangover is still totally worth it.

Back tomorrow with updated numbers across the board… then, with a clearer head, we’ll see where we’re at…

April 24, 2021

The last time I wrote about India, it was to congratulate them on how well a country with some pretty awful conditions for large parts of its population was managing to keep things so well under control. It is actually possible to keep people in less-then-ideal situations safer than you think, and there’s no better example then our own Downtown East Side… which has pretty much reached what’s being called “significant herd immunity” thanks to the persistent effort of getting all of the at-risk and homeless population vaccinated… even resorting to bribing them with $5 gift-cards to do so. Whatever it takes. It’s the least Covid-infested part of town.

But whatever squalor you imagine on the DTES, it pales in comparison to vast areas of India… which is why it was so impressive that they were keeping things under control. Masks, social distancing, etc. So much for that.

I’ll resume the usual graphs tomorrow, but for today, here is a view of what’s going on over there.

The graph on the left is daily new cases counts since mid-March, with Canada and the U.S. thrown in for comparison.

That’s an insane graph to look at, but raw numbers aren’t necessarily fair when you’re comparing vastly different population sizes… so, the graph on the right normalizes it for every one million of population.

When you look at the graph on the left, you see the sheer numbers and how quickly they’re growing. But the graph on the right tells the real story; a month ago, they were doing well; better than us, and better than the U.S… as far as new cases go. Both countries have been bouncing around an average of ~200 new cases per million population for a while now, but India was down at less than 50 about a month ago… but now, as you can see from the graph, there’s no bounce in their step… it’s straight up.

That is textbook exponential growth, and I really have no idea what they’re doing over there to try to mitigate it… but if you were wondering what happens when you don’t do enough – or when you allow things to derail — there’s your answer.

April 23, 2021

I can’t say I’m feeling particularly well today… but, on the flipside, it’s never felt so good to not feel so good. Hit me with the side-effects… I’m happy to have them! Headache, sore arm, zero energy, random little pains. It’s all good.

Here’s what’s not so good… if I told you the average C19 hospitalizations in B.C. over the last 5 weeks have looked like this:

Five weeks ago: 425
Four weeks ago: 441
Three weeks ago: 456
Two weeks ago: 483
A week ago: 502

… you’d say jeez… that’s not good. And it’s not… but what’s worse is that those aren’t weekly averages; they’re the daily numbers going back five days.

Let’s rewrite the day-over-day growth as a percentage, leading up to yesterday:

4/18 – 4/19: 3.8%
4/19 – 4/20: 3.4%
4/20 – 4/21: 5.9%
4/21 – 4/22: 3.9%

The average of that is 4.3%, but let’s just call it 4%.

At this pace, here’s how many hospital beds would be needed by these dates:

4/26: 611
4/30: 715
5/07: 940
5/14: 1,237

Fortunately, that’s unlikely to happen… but there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t have if things had remained unchecked. If people wonder why “senseless” restrictions get imposed, it’s precisely to avoid scenarios like this.

From the time a case is diagnosed to the time they make it to hospital, it’s about 10 to 14 days. Accordingly, the alarming numbers above are a reflection of that really bad stretch in the second week of April, and things have improved slightly since. Numbers have come off a bit, and today saw a 3.2% *drop* in hospitalizations… but both hospitalizations and ICU numbers are near all-time highs.

The travel restrictions imposed today raise lots of questions… and I would suggest everyone simply drop any questions that contains the words “technically speaking”. It would take a lot longer than the length of these restrictions (to the end of the May long-weekend) to come up with rules and wording that everyone would agree with. So, forget the wording… and just think about the spirit of what’s trying to be achieved here – which is to not spread cases from region to region, hot-spot to hot-spot. And when you don’t know where those regions or hot-spots are likely to pop-up, you mitigate for all of them.

I totally agree with the intent of these measures because it’s not hard to see the evolution of these numbers, and something needs to be done… but I do wonder how effective they’ll be. We will not have militant checkpoints and rogue cops. We will simply have, as usual, things being left up to us. I guess we’ll see how that pans out. Other words I really don’t want to hear one day are… “If only we’d…”

By |2021-04-23T17:03:08-07:00April 23rd, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , |10 Comments

April 22, 2021

What a beautiful day… to get vaccinated. Though, technically, any day you manage to get vaccinated is a beautiful one.

So… finally. It was my turn.

At the start of this thing, I optimistically agreed with the 12-18 month guesses, as opposed to the 2-3 year pessimists… and I landed right at 13 months.

How does it feel? Perfectly fine for the moment. Not even a sore arm… but if my reaction to the Shingrix vaccine is any indication, I may be in for a rough couple of days.

But that’s not the correct “How does it feel?” answer.

The correct one talks about profound gratitude… to the countless people, brains, hard work and perseverance that led to this. What’s the big deal, a little shot in the arm… the whole event taking less than 2 minutes?

The big deal, of course, is everything that led up to that moment… and the bigger deal is the implications for me and for everyone around me that lead from it. My chances of getting really sick or dying from C19 are near zero. My chances of getting sick at all, even a mild case, have gone down dramatically. And if I do catch a mild case, so what. Most people don’t care about catching a cold; you expect it every year. A few days of discomfort, and that’s it. And that’s how it’ll be with this… the next time I have the sniffles, it might be C19. Probably the rest of my life, every time I catch a mild cold, I’ll wonder. But won’t really care.

For now… relief. Every moment of every day is the beginning of the rest of your life… but we all have those moments where the impact hits hard; the day of your high-school graduation when you’re handed your diploma on stage. Or the day you hear “You’re hired.” Or the day you bring your kid home from the hospital, and there he or she is, a few days old, still strapped into the car-seat… staring at you, with a look in their eyes: “Now what?”

Yeah, now what… well, here’s what. For me, the beginning of the end of worrying about getting seriously ill from this thing. It’s actually a pretty wonderful feeling, though tempered by the fact that the kids who stared at me from that car seat so many years ago are themselves not yet vaccinated. But we’re getting there… every day is one day closer to the end of this thing for all of us… and that day, which will also be a beautiful day, can’t come soon enough.

April 21, 2021

Finding a pharmacy that’s dishing out AstraZeneca is very hit-and-miss. If you’re fortunate enough to call up and find one that’s got vaccine and is booking appointments, please feel free to share the info here in the comments. Even though that info may be stale 10 minutes later, there are a lot of people looking… and they’ll be happy to take a chance. If you’re trying to find a place, feel free to check these comments as often as you like. Facebook doesn’t mind you refreshing this page every 10 seconds.

In the meantime, there’s a bit of confusion with respect to where you’ll be allowed to travel after Friday, once some temporary restrictions kick in. Essential travel is ok, but if you just want to go somewhere for fun, can you? And, if so, where can you go?

To simplify things, I’ve come up with a very simple formula that lets you know where you can travel. If you’re in Metro Vancouver, simply do this:

a. Take the first number of your postal code

b. Multiply it by 3

c. Add 3

d. Multiply it by 3 again

e. Whatever number you’re at now, add up all the digits in it

f. Look that number up on the list below. That’s where you can go:

1. Victoria
2. Kelowna
3. Nanaimo
4. Kamloops
5. Prince George
6. Vernon
7. Courtenay
8. Campbell River
9. Stay at home
10. Port Alberni
11. Fort St. John
12. Cranbrook
13. Terrace
14. Salmon Arm
15. Powell River
16. Quesnel
17. Prince Rupert
18. Williams Lake
19. Kitimat
20. Oliver

See… not so complicated. Easy-peasy-travel-easy.

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