June 6, 2021

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Happy Sunday!

You might think there’s nothing good about B.C. being the only province that doesn’t update C19 numbers over the weekend… but you’re wrong!

… because it means… contest time!

I’m not sure how long I can keep doing this, because at some point the numbers get too low… but that’s a good thing. I hope the “It’s not worth running a contest” thing happens sooner than later… but, until it does, we’re doing it again: Take a guess at what the cumulative (Sat/Sun/Mon) new daily cases will be – put your guess in the comments below – and whoever is closest will get (besides *coveted* bragging rights) $100 donated to their charity of choice.

To help you with your integral calculus, statistical analysis, regression… or just good old-fashioned, plain, intuitive guessing… here’s what the last several weekend totals have looked like… and please note the very-encouraging and consistent dwindling towards zero:

Apr 24,25,26: 2,729
May 1,2,3: 2,174
May 8,9,10: 1,759
May 15,16,17: 1,360
May 22,23,24: 974
May 29,30,31: 708

Guesses will be accepted till noon tomorrow. Henry, Dix, Horgan & their associates are banned… but anyone else can play!

Numbers will be released tomorrow at 3pm… and I’ll post the winner at 5pm.

Good luck!

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June 5, 2021

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

There are lots of discussions going on with respect to what exactly happened to the flu this year. It was certainly expected that the social distancing and masking would have an effect, and that numbers would be lower… but nobody really expected it to be virtually zero. The number of pediatric flu deaths in the U.S. this season was exactly one (where it’s normally in the hundreds), and you can be sure that unfortunate kid caught it from a foreign traveller.

How do I know that? Because the flu, like C19, is a virus… and viruses need a breeding population of hosts that they can infect.

Unfortunate side-note for those of you who want to believe in Bigfoot or the Yeti or the Loch Ness Monster or the Ogopogo; perhaps the biggest show-stopper in there being a possibility of them existing is that you can’t have just one. You’d need a breeding population, and it’d have to be significant enough to perpetuate the species. They’d take up a lot of space, and there would be ample evidence (droppings, dwellings) to find, even if not the creatures themselves, whether on land or in the water. It’s not like “I saw *the* Ogopogo”; Lake Okanogan would have to have been teeming with them for centuries.

The masking, and sanitizing surfaces every 10 minutes, had a drastic effect. Flu probably arrived in North America on various airplanes, but died out with nowhere to go. No breeding population of hosts. In fact, so drastic was its demise that there are two common flu strains that may well be extinct. Around the world, there were zero cases reported of two particularly common strains; two that are always part of the annual flu-vaccine concoction. That, on its own, doesn’t yet mean they’re gone forever… but if they don’t show up next year or the year after that… well, it’s a virus. Unlike 200 BigFoots (Bigfeet?) that might be hiding in a cave somewhere in Sasquatch Park, there’s no hiding place for a virus. When the last one has no place to go, it’s gone forever.

It’s ironic that a couple of flu strains might be eradicated simply as “collateral damage”… while C19, with its variety of variants, is going to be around for a lot longer.

The bigger irony would be that Bigfoot actually exists… but gets wiped out by C19, because the humans were unable to eradicate it.

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June 4, 2021

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

For old time’s sake, I’ve thrown in the graphs showing the progression of this pandemic from day one. If you look below, you’ll see three rows. The first row is the shape of the entire pandemic, going back to Feb 15th of last year. The next row is the second wave onward, starting Sep 8th of last year. You can easily see where that second wave fits into the graph above it. And the third row is the 3rd wave, as of Mar 10th of this year. You can also see where it fits into the one above.

It’s very interesting to note, looking at the column of the 3 B.C. graphs… that our first wave was relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things; it’s barely a blip in the big picture. That tiny little bump at the bottom left of the top B.C. graph; that’s it. Daily new case counts never broke 100 that entire time… compared to today’s number, +183, which sounds kind of low… and it is. It’s the lowest number since Oct 20th. It’s below what we’re considering the start of the third wave, where, at its worst, we were seeing more than 1,200 new cases a day. The same can be said for hospitalizations and ICU admissions… lowest numbers since November.

Looking at those towering subsequent second and third waves should remind us that, while things are certainly trending in the right direction, it’s not quite over yet. Those flare-ups happened for a number of reasons; reasons which haven’t gone away.

But, of course, one big thing has changed, and it’s not going away… and that is vaccines. And that’s what’s made the biggest difference of all.

On that note, I got my second-dose email today… the one asking what I want to do… get a second AZ shot, or wait a bit longer and get Pfizer or Moderna. Given the results I’ve been observing from what’s been published so far, for me, mixing it up with Pfizer might be the way to go.

There’s obviously a lot of discussion going around asking what’s the right move, and the answers differ. The original adage of “get whatever is offered to you” will never be wrong, especially for first doses. Get the one being offered to you. But what about second doses for those who had AstraZeneca for round one?

It’s up to you.

“ASAP” is never wrong.
“The same as the first dose” is not wrong.
“Recent reports imply Pfizer for round two is a good idea” is also not wrong.

Some people are making noise that this goes against the manufacturer’s recommendations and, indeed, NACI’s original recommendation was also against it; stick to what you got.

But, guess what… originally in this pandemic, we were told we wouldn’t need masks. Suddenly, we were told we do. Why? Because it’s all a scam and a sham and fraudulent and Bill Gates and Fauci and 5G and…. No… it’s not that. It’s because *science*. That’s how it works; you learn something new and you course-correct. Nobody was “wrong” at the time; they made their suggestions as best they could; with incomplete information. And as information rolled in, better decisions could be made.

Here’s a decision I hope most people agree with; no matter what flavour it is… get that second dose. It gets us all one step closer, and looking at the pretty graphs and numbers, there’s no doubt we’re going in the right direction.

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June 3, 2021

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Do you remember learning about convex vs. concave? Which is which? If you have trouble remembering, and are frustrated, go punch a piece of sheet metal… see that indentation? How the sheet is now “CAVEd” in? There you go… conCAVE when it goes in, conVEX when it comes out… like the VEXed expression on the face of the guy on the other side of that sheet, wondering why you did that.

Now that we’re clear on that, let’s look at this new colourful graph I’ve thrown in today… the one on the bottomright. You’ll notice it has three convex lines, a thicker blue one that’s a bit of both, and only one concave one – the thick red Canada line.

Much like the Canada line that runs from downtown to the airport, this one also took a while… and was expensive in its own way… but well worth it in the long run.

This particular Canada line tells a few interesting stories. The first thing that pops out is how ridiculously steep it is in recent months, compared to the others. That’s what happens with a lot of pent-up demand; in fact, you have to wonder if the fact it took so long to hit 5th-gear with our rollout is now contributing to its continuing momentum. Would we have wanted it so badly if it were so easy to get…? Brilliant psychological trick, if that’s what they pulled on us. Either way, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The best thing it indicates – exactly what the others don’t – is that we’ve not yet reached the end of the “low-hanging fruit”. We’re still injecting as much of the stuff as is made available, but let’s not fool ourselves; we’re going to plateau at some point, and we will start to look like that thick blue American line… concave to start as demand outweighed supply… followed by that flattening… which is also evident in the three other countries I threw in there; Israel, the UK and Chile. Those three were the world leaders in vaccinations… but once the fanfare wore off and the low-hanging fruit was picked… now it gets more difficult. In the last two months, we’ve gone from 14% to 59%. Israel has gone from 61% to 63%. It’s not difficult to see where the momentum is. Those three countries have entered the post-low-hanging-fruit phase and are entering the vaccine-hesitant phase.

To be clear, nobody is getting to 100%… even here. There’s a solid 10% to 15% of ardent anti-vaxxers in Canada who’d rather get Covid-19 than admit they’re wrong, and nothing will change their mind… so forget about them. That number is higher in other places, and inter-mingles with the vaccine hesitant crowd. Looking at that graph, you’d have to assume a global number of around 65% “yes for sure” vs a sliding scale of 35% that ranges from “yeah, soon, eventually, I will probably…” to “never”.

While it’s impossible to know exactly who any of these lines will eventually shape out, there’s no doubt that Canada will go crashing into first place if current trends continue. Assuming the vast majority of people who get that first does eventually get the second one as well, while it took us a while to get there, we may end up in better shape than anyone else. Doesn’t matter through which sort of lens you use to look at that – convex/concave… whatever… it’s looking good.

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June 2, 2021

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Shocking news to report… we didn’t win the Lotto Max. And… nobody else did, either. I’ll spend a bit of time analyzing whether what I predicted was in any way statistically significant. Of the top 10 tickets generated, 5 of the 7 numbers picked were on them. Never more than 2 together though. I’m not sure if a monkey throwing darts would’ve done better, worse, or simply the same.

In the meantime, other numbers… my vaccination numbers and graphs differ from the official ones because I’ve never used “eligible people” as a denominator; I’ve always simply used everyone. That two-month-old baby? One day he’ll get a C19 vaccine – not sure when… but as far as vaccinated/not-vaccinated, I’m counting him.

As such, here’s something interesting; in Canada, at this moment, B.C. has taken the lead with respect to vaccinated population. We’ve vaccinated 61.3% of everybody (at least one jab). Now in second place is Quebec (61.0%). The country overall is at over 58.4% with at least one dose (which is really good), and 6% fully vaccinated (that certainly has a ways to go).

The next big issue will be vaccine passports or immunity certificates or green passes or whatever you want to call them. Many countries and even some provinces are starting to talk about how it’ll look, how it’ll be implemented and how it will affect things. The “Freedumb!!” crowd will start screaming, etc… perhaps without realizing that vaccine passports in some fashion have been around for centuries, and many places have always required them… for your protection as well as theirs. Of course, the vast majority of people complaining are not those who typically travel to malaria-infested river basins or parts of the world known for Dengue Fever outbreaks.

Just remember, the couple dining next to you in the restaurant has rights too. They have to the right to know they’re in a safe environment. And the restaurant itself has rights too… to do whatever they want to provide that.

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June 1, 2021

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , , , |

We’ll get back to vaccines and pandemics and all of the related issues… tomorrow.

But tonight… the idea is to try to win $70 million in Lotto Max.

Figuring out lottery odds is pretty simple. Using factorial notation (where 4! = 4 x 3 x 2 x 1), when there are 49 numbers to choose from and you have to hit exactly the right 6 (like Lotto 6/49), the formula is ( 49! / (49-6)! x 6! ) – which is just under 14,000,000 to 1. When you add a 7th number in there, like for Lotto Max, the odds shoot up to over 80,000,000 to 1. So, they go from impossible to… impossible.

That being said, let’s take a crack at it; here’s what I did…

I wrote a little program that does a number of things:

– It reads in all of the historical draws (~4,000)

– It figures out how often every number (1-49) has come up in the last 10, 40, 100 and all-time draws

– It figures out, for each number, what other numbers are likeliest to come up together… based on those historical draws.

– It generates, and then scores, all 86,000,000 possible draws

That last step is a doozy… it generates every single potential draw of 7 numbers… from 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 to 43,44,45,46,47,48,49… and then, based on the history, assigns a “likelihood” score to it.

If anyone is interested in the source code or results of any of this, feel free to ask. For all the geeks out there, I’m especially proud of my function that generates all of those draws… it’s a recursive function that’s only 7 lines long.

Anyway, I think I’ve sunk enough time into this… now I’m going to sink some money into it and, like last time, I’m happy to share $5 million of my jackpot winnings with all of you. If you want a piece of it, just like this post.

Apologies ahead of time if we don’t win and, either way, back to normal tomorrow.

Unless we win. Then… things will be far from normal.

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May 31, 2021

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , |

Well… that was a fun little contest. We will do it again in future for sure.

Shout-out to the two extremes…

The pessimist award goes to Lyn Garnier’s guess of 1,123.
The optimist award goes to Larry Lacoursiere’s guess of 362

Also, shout-outs to the “pretty-close” club:

Nicky Owers’ guess of 699 missed by 9
Denise Praill’s guess of 714 missed by 6
Cadence Jensen’s guess of 807 had all the right digits… backwards.

So… congrats to Andy Sellars – whose guess of 712 missed the actual 3-day total (258+238+212) of 708 by only 4.

To put these numbers in context… this is the best weekend we’ve had since October, and that linear descent continues to hold. I’m sure it’ll tail off eventually, at some point, but for now… it looks very good. If this continues, we’d be down to single-digit case counts by the third week of June. Who knows… all of this is certainly being helped by the fact that we just crossed a significant milestone… more than 3,000,000 B.C. individuals have had at least one dose.

Andy, well done! Please let me know your worthy charity of choice.

And the rest of you, sharpen your pencils and/or clear your spreadsheets; we’ll do it again next week.

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May 30, 2021

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , |

The last little contest that I held was to guess where on earth, literally, that remnant Chinese rocket was going to hit. The result of that was no human deaths, but a $100 donation to a Search & Rescue team on the island.

Let’s do this again… with, this time, little chance of anyone getting clobbered by space junk.

You’ve heard me say for more than who-knows-how-many consecutive weekends… “No B.C. numbers to report, so we’ll wait for tomorrow…”

So… let’s make some good of it… here’s the contest:

Give me your best guess as to the total weekend numbers… new daily case counts for Saturday, Sunday and Monday combined… and, whoever is closest will win $100… donated, in their name, to their charity of choice.

To help you guess a little, here are the last several Sat-Sun-Mon totals:

May 22,23,24: 974
May 15,16,17: 1,360
May 8,9,10: 1,759
May 1,2,3: 2,174
Before that: 2,729

That’s a good-looking trend; may it continue.

Fire off your guesses and good luck – contest entries will be accepted till noon tomorrow.

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June 9, 2021

By |June 9th, 2021|COVID-19 Daily Report|1 Comment

While the effects of the Delta variant remain to be seen, there’s reason to be quite optimistic around here.

The usual timeline sees infections on day 1, a spike in hospitalizations 10 to 14 days later, and

deaths a week after that. Those are rough numbers, but purely from a “leading indicator” point of view, they’ve been pretty consistent.

One thing that’s emerging is that the May long-weekend didn’t cause any big outbreaks. We’re not seeing growing hospitalization numbers; on the contrary.

There are, at present, 195 people in B.C. hospitalized with C19. That’s the lowest number since Nov. 16th. Of those, only 47 are in the ICU, also the lowest since mid-November. And for the first time… More



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June 8, 2021

By |June 8th, 2021|COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19, Space & Astronomy|9 Comments

“What could possibly go wrong?” – famous quote, and not words that should be spoken out loud. It’s a rhetorical question, best left to your inner thoughts; when you speak it out loud, you’re daring the universe to answer: “Well… let me show you…”

In the midst of the optimism of re-opening and getting back to normal comes a curveball being thrown at the world… the Delta (formerly “Indian”) variant of C19.

To begin with, it’s undoubtedly more contagious than any predecessor. The original UK variant (now known as Alpha) is 50-100% more contagious than the original strain that dominated 2020. And Delta is 50% more contagious than Alpha. Let’s hope this frat-house-inspired naming convention never gets to Omega.

One positive is that, generally, the more contagious it is, the less harmful it is. That’s not for sure, yet… but quite likely, this strain isn’t going to cause disease any worse than the previous strains. It’s just that it’s much easier to catch. Indeed, all the little spikes we’re seeing in different places – little spikes for now, but we all know what that can grow into – are caused by upticks predominantly of the Delta variant.

So… vaccines… how much protection do they have against it?

To begin with… the vast majority of people who’ve become infected with Delta have had zero vaccinations.

With one dose – you’re not there yet; the one-shot effectiveness of Pfizer/Moderna/AstraZeneneca on Delta is only about 33%, compared to north of 60% for other variants. It’s the second dose that makes a huge difference in this case.

But, beyond that… in the U.K., only three people who’ve been fully vaccinated have been hospitalized as a result of Delta. Three people out of 40% fully-vaccinated people out of a population 66 million people equals one in 9 million.

So, there’s no guarantee you won’t catch it. You may well catch it and never know it. You may be exposed to it and never know it… or catch some mild symptoms. But the big takeaway: If you’re fully vaccinated, you have a one in 9 million chance of being hospitalized due to the Delta variant. Sure, those numbers will get worse… bit it’s a good starting point. The equivalent of throwing 9 dice onto the floor. As long as they don’t all land … [Continue Reading]

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June 7, 2021

By |June 7th, 2021|COVID-19 Daily Report|7 Comments

LottoMax has like $100,000,000 to give away tomorrow… but who cares! There’s far more excitement right here, trying to guess the weekend numbers!!

So… shout-outs to:

The pessimist award goes to Patti Tubbs with her guess of 766

The optimist award goes to Shalom Feigelstock with his guess of 317

The close-but-not-close-enough awards go to Asia Green (479) who missed it by 3 one way, and Elaan Bauder Gudlaugson (485) who missed it by 3 the other way…

And the winner is…

Well, to back up a moment… I never really clarified what I’d do in case of a tie… and especially in the case of a 3-way tie.

For today, there is indeed a 3-way tie. Three people guessed 480, and all three are 2 away from the correct answer of 482.

So… congratulations Sherry Keane! She was the first to guess 480, so she gets first prize! And I will award a second prize, to be split equally, between Melanie Segal and Andrew Brownsword – who also guessed 480… but after Sherry.

And if there’s a next time (yeah, there will be a next time) – the only person who’ll win is the person who guessed the answer first. I guess there can be ties if the answer is 100, and one person guessed 99 and the other 101… that’ll count as two wins. But duplicate guesses won’t count. In the future, only the first one gets it.

But today – all three of you, please send me your charities of choice!

Also interesting – but not surprising – I’ve attached a histogram of all the guesses. It’s not surprising to see a pretty even distribution… there’s definitely a bell-curve of sorts there. And it’s not surprising to see… the tallest column, the range of (475 – 525) – the one with the most guesses — that’s where the answer was.

There are two things I remember from stats class… one was the time a fly landed on the overheard projector – you know, the old-school ones where the transparency is on roll… and after you fill up the page with scribbles, you scroll it a bit… anyway, this fly had been bugging the prof for a while… and at one point it landed right in the middle of the transparency. He slammed his hand down on … [Continue Reading]

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June 6, 2021

By |June 6th, 2021|COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19|51 Comments

Happy Sunday!

You might think there’s nothing good about B.C. being the only province that doesn’t update C19 numbers over the weekend… but you’re wrong!

… because it means… contest time!

I’m not sure how long I can keep doing this, because at some point the numbers get too low… but that’s a good thing. I hope the “It’s not worth running a contest” thing happens sooner than later… but, until it does, we’re doing it again: Take a guess at what the cumulative (Sat/Sun/Mon) new daily cases will be – put your guess in the comments below – and whoever is closest will get (besides *coveted* bragging rights) $100 donated to their charity of choice.

To help you with your integral calculus, statistical analysis, regression… or just good old-fashioned, plain, intuitive guessing… here’s what the last several weekend totals have looked like… and please note the very-encouraging and consistent dwindling towards zero:

Apr 24,25,26: 2,729
May 1,2,3: 2,174
May 8,9,10: 1,759
May 15,16,17: 1,360
May 22,23,24: 974
May 29,30,31: 708

Guesses will be accepted till noon tomorrow. Henry, Dix, Horgan & their associates are banned… but anyone else can play!

Numbers will be released tomorrow at 3pm… and I’ll post the winner at 5pm.

Good luck!

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June 5, 2021

By |June 5th, 2021|COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19|0 Comments

There are lots of discussions going on with respect to what exactly happened to the flu this year. It was certainly expected that the social distancing and masking would have an effect, and that numbers would be lower… but nobody really expected it to be virtually zero. The number of pediatric flu deaths in the U.S. this season was exactly one (where it’s normally in the hundreds), and you can be sure that unfortunate kid caught it from a foreign traveller.

How do I know that? Because the flu, like C19, is a virus… and viruses need a breeding population of hosts that they can infect.

Unfortunate side-note for those of you who want to believe in Bigfoot or the Yeti or the Loch Ness Monster or the Ogopogo; perhaps the biggest show-stopper in there being a possibility of them existing is that you can’t have just one. You’d need a breeding population, and it’d have to be significant enough to perpetuate the species. They’d take up a lot of space, and there would be ample evidence (droppings, dwellings) to find, even if not the creatures themselves, whether on land or in the water. It’s not like “I saw *the* Ogopogo”; Lake Okanogan would have to have been teeming with them for centuries.

The masking, and sanitizing surfaces every 10 minutes, had a drastic effect. Flu probably arrived in North America on various airplanes, but died out with nowhere to go. No breeding population of hosts. In fact, so drastic was its demise that there are two common flu strains that may well be extinct. Around the world, there were zero cases reported of two particularly common strains; two that are always part of the annual flu-vaccine concoction. That, on its own, doesn’t yet mean they’re gone forever… but if they don’t show up next year or the year after that… well, it’s a virus. Unlike 200 BigFoots (Bigfeet?) that might be hiding in a cave somewhere in Sasquatch Park, there’s no hiding place for a virus. When the last one has no place to go, it’s gone forever.

It’s ironic that a couple of flu strains might be eradicated simply as “collateral damage”… while C19, with its variety of variants, is going to be around for a lot longer.

The bigger irony would … [Continue Reading]

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