By Horatio Kemeny|2021-09-10T20:00:35-07:00September 10th, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Follower Favourites, Politics, Business & Economics, Science of COVID-19, History|Tags: Vaccine, Canada, Ontario, Science, Research, News, Pandemic, Vancouver, Masks, Trump, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Numbers, Coronavirus, USA, Graphs, Statistics, COVID19, C19, BritishColumbia|9 Comments
First things first… the contest! It is indeed a good time to shut it down because now there are far more people guessing than reasonable guesses out there. Special shoutouts to Carey Brown and Kiyomi Hunter whose guesses of 88 missed by one. Also special shoutouts to Claudio Arato and Stephen Silver whose guesses of 86 also missed by one. Extra special shoutout to Lauren Faccin whose guess of 87 was bang-on, but unfortunately… she wasn’t the first to guess that.
That excellent guess was first posted by Sam Ari – so… congrats, Ari! And let me know to where you’d like the $100 donation directed!
It’s a good thing when we’re running out of room for guesses. The last twenty-four hour period saw a grand total of 20 new cases… a number so low it takes a lot of hindsight to find the last time… which was in July of… 2020. See? Good hindsight. Things are very much heading in the right direction. Around here.
But… on that note… a final word about our neighbours to the south…
The pandemic journey of what used to be the most powerful and respected nation in the world has been a bumpy ride, and it’s not over yet. It could be. It would be. For numerous reasons I’ve been hammering for 16 months, it most definitely should be… but it isn’t. It actually might have been… had the virus not adapted faster than the attitudes of so many people. There’s a chance it might have faded away, had the Rø remained what it was figured to be originally. Variants changed that, especially Delta… and there could be others, and hopefully they don’t run out of letters in the Greek alphabet to name them all.
Last week, the U.S. had 12,219 people hospitalized. Today, that number is 12,740. Last week, the U.S. had 3,522 in ICUs… and today, it’s 3,634. This doesn’t imply frightening, scary growth (yet…), but it certainly indicates things trending in the wrong direction. Just look at the U.S. graph of hospitalizations compared to Canada or any of the provinces… there’s a flattening, and then a slight bend up… and all of it driven by places with low vaccination rates. The lecture halls of the future studying this pandemic will see a lot of hands up; there will be a lot of questions. And the vast majority of them will begin with, “Why didn’t they…”
Some questions have no good answers. As much as I actually detest these words, sometimes they’re appropriate: “It is what it is.”
We’ve wrapped up the contest, we’ve wrapped up the provincial and Canadian responses, we’ve wrapped up cases/hospitalizations/ICUs/deaths, we’ve wrapped up vaccinations and we’ve wrapped up the U.S.
Only one thing left to wrap up. See you tomorrow.
Death and taxes aren’t actually the only certainties in life, of course… there are a few more… among them:
1. Have you ever had a cold?
2. Have you ever had the flu?
3. Are you presently alive?
The answer is 100% for all three, for everyone reading this… but if you want to argue it’s not, that it’s probably 99.999 something percent, then ok, I’ll mention that not everyone pays taxes either… exhibit A would be the former president of the U.S. and his entire organization… who are about to find out the hard way that you don’t mess with The Tax Man. Al Capone got away with racketeering and bootlegging and murder… for decades. But he couldn’t defend himself against the charges of tax evasion, and that’s what sent him to prison for the rest of his life.
But this article is neither about Trump nor his ill-fated organization. Rather, it’s a discussion about certainties, and what they look like going forward.
Colds are around. The flu is around. Measles and Mumps and Rubella are all around too, but we rarely worry about them… for good reason. They’ve been vaxxed out of our “worry zone”.
There are some important things to note going forward… and that is, that cases of C19 will come and go. Pockets of cases will flare up here and there, like that group of insane anti-vax moms in California responsible for a measles outbreak. Up next, the glorious state of Arkansas with its deplorable vaccination rates; bring on the completely preventable next wave of C19.
Actually, to clarify, we may see flare-ups of cases here too. Should we be concerned? At some point (and we’re at it, of very close to it…), the thing to watch is no longer cases. They become irrelevant. What becomes important are hospitalizations, ICU cases and deaths… numbers which have plummeted, and there’s every expectation they’ll remain low… because, again… you know… vaccinations.
This pandemic turns into an “endemic” in different places at different times. We’re pretty-much there now around here… because once you’ve done everything you can, and the support infrastructure is in place, there’s really not much else. As odd as it sounds, does it actually matter if you catch C19? If you catch it, but you’re asymptomatic and/or non-infectious to others? I’d never really thought of it before all this, but how many times have I had a cold or flu and not even known? Their presentation can also be so mild as to be asymptomatic.
So… with certainty: It’ll be around for a while, but if you’re fully vaxxed and/or fully immune for other reasons, you have little to worry about. The new seasonal cold will likely hit you harder, because for that one, you have no antibodies.
The one group that needs mentioning here are those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons and/or whose immune systems aren’t up to the task of reacting adequately to the vaccine… a group all of us become part of as we get older… which is why research into this will continue forever… or, until it’s eradicated from existence. We did it with smallpox… and we can certainly do it here too.
I’m overwhelmed by all of the messages I’ve received… thank you. I realize I said my last post is on Tuesday… and some took it to mean yesterday… but I meant next Tuesday – July 6th – the day the official State of Emergency is lifted. That being said, everyone in the news is saying the SoE ends tonight. What’s certainly true is that Phase 3 starts tomorrow… but that’s not necessarily tied to the SoE, which, according to the official government EmergencyInfoBC site… still says July 6th.
… so, guess what… one more week of my ramblings, because I think I have about another 6 days of “wrap-up” to provide… of the “broad brushstrokes” sort… and we can’t end all of this without one final “guess the numbers” contest over the weekend…
So, with that… a final word about vaccines and their effectiveness:
There’s an interesting sort of Darwinism that’s emerging from this pandemic… of the “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it” sort. To follow up on that well-known saying, I’ve added a corollary (n. a proposition that follows from (and is often appended to) one already proved) – which is, “you can take that horse’s head and jam it into the water and hold it there… but there are some stubborn old horses that’d rather drown than take a drink.”
I would hope nobody’s tried this experiment, and I should note… I’ve met a lot of horses in my time. Some are very smart. Some are as dumb as a mule… but, to be honest, perhaps all of them would be smart enough to take a drink if that’s what it’d take to not die. But humans, on the other hand… the sort that’d never admit they were wrong… that’s another story.
The data that has emerged is pretty straightforward.
In the U.S., there were 18,000 C19 deaths in May. Of those, around 150 (0.8%) were in fully vaccinated people. I don’t have the age or breakdown of those people, but I’m assuming age and compromised immune systems are part of it for some, if not most.
Also in May, in the U.S., there were 853,000 C19 hospitalizations. Of those, fewer than 1,200 (0.1%) were people who were fully vaccinated.
The U.S. is down to a few hundred deaths a day these days, and virtually all of them are people who are unvaccinated.
In English: Ninety-nine percent of people dying from Covid-19 are unvaccinated. Virtually all of those deaths are preventable.
In mid-January, 4,000 people a day were dying. The significant decrease began exactly at the time the vaccination campaigns began in earnest.
I’m really not entirely sure what more persuasive evidence someone would need. To me, and fortunately, many others… it’s all startlingly obvious.
What can you do…? You can lead a person to a vaccination clinic. But you can’t make them take it.
You know… it’s ok to be wrong. It’s ok to change your mind. As long as your fragile ego can take a hit, and as long as you have the capacity to do some critical thinking, if you haven’t gotten sick… it’s never too late. The overwhelming data coming from every trustable scientific source agrees. The guy in the basement with the red tinfoil hat disagrees.
Horses don’t always have choices, but humans do… and sometimes, they make the right choice. And sometimes, they let Darwin make it for them.
C’est la vie… or, in some unfortunate future cases… lack thereof.
A very memorable day here in B.C… the announcement that this is all pretty-much coming to an end; the official announcement that as of July 1st, we’re in Phase 3 and that the public health emergency will be lifted five days later.
Some notable changes, effective this Thursday:
– For the most part, masks will be optional… recommended, but not mandated
– No need to provide proof of vaccination anywhere
– Return to normal for personal indoor and outdoor gatherings
– For organized indoor gatherings, 50 people or 50%, whichever is greater
– For outdoor organized gatherings, 5,000 people or 50%, whichever is greater
– No capacity limits or restrictions on religious gatherings and worship services
– Fairs, festivals and trade shows – back to normal (with a plan in place)
– Canada-wide travel is ok
– No group limits for indoor or outdoor dining
– Normal liquor service, though no socializing between tables
– All indoor fitness classes allowed at normal capacities
– Gyms and recreation facilities, normal capacity
Given today’s new-case count of 29 and zero deaths and given the strong momentum still in place for vaccination (around here), it makes perfect sense. It’s exactly on track with what was optimistically expected… and all of this announced on what’s to be the last Dr. Bonny / Mr. Dix live 3pm briefing. I saw the first one, saw many in between, and, evidently, I saw the last one… though I didn’t know it at the time.
I started writing about this pandemic on March 17th, 2020. The Provincial State of Emergency was declared the next day, on the morning of March 18th. Accordingly, when the PSoE is lifted on Tuesday, I think that’ll be an appropriate finish line for me as well. A few more thoughts, one last contest… and, on Tuesday, call it a day. It’s Summer, and I’ve barely been anywhere for 18 months; time to get on with it and not have to be near a computer every day at 5pm.
This is all, in essence, the end of the pandemic… but it’s not the end of Covid, and there are a lot of variables that could cause wrinkles in the end-game… but the biggest game-changer… the one big, important piece… vaccines… will have a lot to say with respect to mitigating any sort of grand resurgence.
Sure… there will be pockets of outbreaks… but they’ll be dealt with swiftly. We may see an uptick in cases in the fall, but I suspect most people won’t know whether their sniffles and C19 or not; nor will they care. If hospitalization is needed, there will be plenty of beds and an awful lot of knowledge with respect to effective treatment. And if it’s a mild case… and if they’re vaccinated and everyone else around them is as well, that’s as much as any of us can do.
Beyond that, it’s pretty simple: Let’s get on with our lives.
It really is too hot to sit here any type too much; I hope you’re reading this in whatever version of “Ahhhh… nice and cool…” you’ve managed to find for yourself.
So… as I said… we’re down to incredibly low and optimistic numbers… to the extent the correct number was exactly guessed, and four other people were off by 1. Way to go Denise, Esther, Carey & Sharon… almost!
But congratulations Mark Johnson, who nailed the three-day total of 145 right on the nose… after changing his guess, having realized someone ahead of him had guessed the same. See? Good research pays off! Mark, please let me know where you’d like me to direct the $100 donation.
The last 24 hours saw 38 new cases… the lowest number since last August. And, looking over last August, that was probably also the last time the temperature exceeded the case count. That’d be a nice trend to start today… and especially heading into the fall; any day from now on where the temperature exceeds the case count will be a good one.
And given what the rest of the week looks like, that shouldn’t be too tough to achieve.
OK, back to the shade…
Let’s take a closer look at out neighbours to the south, where the overall single-jab vaccination rate is around 54% and stagnating…
The top-10 most vaccinated states are: Vermont, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire & New Mexico.
Vermont tops the list with a vaccination percentage of 73.1%, while New Mexico rounds out the top-10 with 60.8%.
The bottom 10 looks like this…
North Dakota, South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Idaho, Alabama, Wyoming, Louisiana & Mississippi.
The best of those worst-10 is North Dakota at 43.4%. The worst is Mississippi at 36.0%
That’s quite a divide… where the top state more than doubles the worst one.
Here’s another interesting stat about all of those states…
In the last presidential election, of the top-10, all of them voted Democrat.
Of the bottom-10, 9 of them voted Republican. The one that didn’t, Georgia, is so inwardly-horrified at the result that their Republican-controlled government recently disenfranchised more than 100,000 potential voters, striking them from the rolls… and this was after enacting a number of laws that can only be called “Voter Suppression”. Take a guess which voters are most affected.
None of this is much of a surprise, though the blatant starkness of it is a little eye-opening… but what’s the deal? The blue state/red state divisions largely precede the pandemic, so how does it necessarily follow that raving, unrelenting Trump supporters would also be the anti-mask/anti-vax crowd?
The answer is a bit more complicated than “They’re just a bunch of ignorant rednecks”. The answer, in fact, has a lot to do with distrust of the government. When you’re poor and/or uneducated and/or sick and tired of hearing lies about how the government is going to do so much for you (and then doesn’t), you end up jumping ship to the guy you can relate to… he’s one of us, loud, abrasive, calls it like he sees it, etc. He’s not cut from government cloth.
Which makes Trump all the worse. If anybody could’ve convinced that group about masks and vaccines, it would’ve been him. It could’ve and it should’ve been him. Notwithstanding the shitshow it took to get him elected, it’s like the universe said “Hmm… there’s going to be this pandemic, and a lot of Americans will lose their lives. At least, who could we put in power in the U.S. to mitigate that? Someone that people who’d generally ignore government advice actually listen to?”
Without a doubt, his handling of this pandemic will be what history judges him on, and it’ll be appropriately brutal. When all is said and done, countless American deaths that could’ve been prevented… a figure officially set at over 600,000 at the moment, but the real figure is already a two-comma number.
Trump likes to make shit up as he goes along, depending who he’s talking to. We know he quietly got vaccinated while at the same time telling everyone it’s unnecessary. And then, a couple of months ago, this magnificent quote: ““In a certain way, I’m the father of the vaccine because I was the one that pushed it.”
At least we can end this relatively sad commentary with a good laugh.
Summer is only one day old, but it’s certainly making a statement. Glorious warm sunshine… hopefully a continuing sign of things to come, and I don’t just mean the weather. Blue skies, calm seas, smooth sailing… pick your metaphor; they all apply.
I’ve replaced the usual graphs today with others that are pretty cool to look at… and that tell an interesting story. These are vaccination rates since March 1st… for Canada, the U.S., and the usual provinces we’ve been tracking. These graphs show the daily totals (how “tall” each line is) as well as the breakdown between first and second doses… first doses near the bottom, in the lighter colours… and second doses above them, in the darker colours.
I posted one of these graphs for B.C. recently, but here’s all of them… and what do they tell us…?
First of all, with respect to the Canadian ones – the national one and the individual provinces – you’ll notice that the tips of the lines mostly trend upwards or are, at worst, flat. The flatness of some of those lines, for the moment, has more to do with supply limits than demand shortages. You’ll also note the disparity between first and second doses… a pattern that’s mimicked across the country; sometime around June 1st, there began a big push towards second doses… and today, in all provinces, second doses make up the vast majority of vaccinations. Here in B.C., today… close to 80,000 jabs… of which less than 10,000 were first vaccinations.
It’s also interesting to note what the U.S. graph has to say; that they’ve been doing second doses for a long time, and continue to do so… but with diminishing demand. And first doses…? Today’s levels are less than half of what they were seeing in April.
I’ll keep some version of these graphs around from now on, because… unless things really slide backwards, the story is shifting away from new daily cases and hospitalizations and ICU admissions… and now it’s becoming all about how vaccinated we all are, how immune we all are, and how ready to get back to normal we all are.
On this beautiful day… when B.C. crossed the 1,000,000 fully-vaccinated threshold… when the pharmacy where I got my AZ shot two months ago finally got around to calling me for the follow-up.. “Yeah, no, I’m good… thanks anyway…” and when there wasn’t a single C19 death west of Manitoba… yep… it’s Summer… in more ways than one.
First things first… the contest! Congratulations to Shahar Ben Halevi! – whose guess of 231 was only two off the actual total of 229. Shoutout to Theresa Christina who guessed a few minutes later and was also only 2 off, but in the other direction, with her guess of 227. Shahar, let me know where you’d like it donated!
** EDIT ** Oops… ignore most of that last paragraph. Garry Saitz, congrats… 228 is closer to 229 than anything else. Shahar, I’m not going to pull a Steve Harvey here… we have two winners. Shahar, let me know. Garry… you too!
Secondly, to put to rest my decision-making with respect to dose two: My research, as I’ve written, has led me to think that, given the option, an mRNA vaccine for the second dose would be the way to go… if it was literally a choice, right at that moment. As it turns out, I wasn’t given the choice… I would’ve expected the pharmacy who gave me the AZ on Apr 22nd to have reached out by now, but they haven’t. The provincial system, however… the one I registered with ages ago – they did. And last week, booked me for an appointment for today. So… today I went, received my 2nd shot (Moderna) and, as far as I’m concerned, at least for now… that’s that. Almost exactly 15 months ago, I was writing pieces about how I expected vaccines would be available in 12 to 18 months. In hindsight, given my penchant for little contests, we could’ve held a pool where people guess, to the day, how long it would’ve been till vaccines show up. That would’ve been fun, and we could’ve raised a lot of money for charity. Oh well, a missed opportunity. Maybe next pandemic.
Finally… today, June 21st… often the longest day (ie most sunlight) of the year… the Summer Solstice, the first day of summer… has held, for the last 5 years, a more profound meaning. June 21st, 2016, was the day my dad passed away… and so now, every year, this particular day has a lot more meaning. It sometimes, appropriately, lands right on Father’s Day as well.
I wrote a lot about him five years ago… and, if you missed it the first time around, here you go:
Happy Summer everyone – it’s going to be a good one.