Texas Abortion Law Requires Civil Disobedience In Response

I’ve been ruminating about the new draconian Texas anti-abortion law we discussed recently. I’m deeply disturbed by it, and its potential for damage to young mothers & fathers. Not every act of fornication should result in progeny1 which is the long term plan of these Christian Taliban zealots.

Birth control should be free as well, I expect the Christian Taliban to start exerting pressure on this next.

Metaphorical Zygote

Quoting from Lawrence Tribe:

If you suspect that a Texan is seeking to obtain an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, not only will you be able to sue the provider to try to stop it, but if you succeed, you’ll also be entitled to compensation. (And what’s known as the litigation privilege would likely protect you from a defamation claim even if you’re wrong.)

I have not yet made the time to read S.B. 8 closely, but can reports be made anonymously? If so, every liberal minded person in the entire world should file a report naming some conservative woman, or the wife and daughters of a conservative man. 

If reports cannot be made anonymously, there still must be a concerted effort to gum up the works, to throw a wrench in the gears so that the machinery of repression cannot move freely. Brave and dedicated women2 could claim to have abortions, whether or not they did, and report each other. If hundreds of thousands or even millions of women are being investigated by Ken Paxton’s Uterus Police™, they won’t be able to process them all.

We cannot let this madness continue.

Planned Parenthood could use your donation too:

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new abortion ban into law

Sometimes referred to as the “heartbeat bill,” SB 8 is one of the most extreme abortion bans in the U.S. It would ban abortion in Texas at approximately six weeks — before most people even know they’re pregnant — with no exceptions for rape, sexual abuse, incest, and fetal anomaly diagnoses. For people with a regular menstrual cycle, that’s just two weeks after a missed period.

Abortion is still safe and legal throughout Texas and in all 50 states. Our health centers are open for patients to get the care they need, including medication and surgical abortion. Texas’ new abortion ban (SB 8) 8 is set to go into effect September 1, 2021, but we are now in court to challenge this extreme law.

 

(click here to continue reading Senate Bill 8 | Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, Inc..)

Maybe the lawsuits will nip this vile legislative cruelty before it spreads across the nation, but we need a Plan B too…

Footnotes:
  1. and yes, speaking from personal experience, I am glad I came of age in a time after Roe v. Wade was settled law but before this current crop of zealots became powerful enough to impose their will on a reluctant public []
  2. and men as their allies []

The Most Influential Spreader of Coronavirus Misinformation Online Is Joseph Mercola

Please avoid close contact with people who are sick

And speaking of that quack, Joseph Mercola, the NYT reports:

The article that appeared online on Feb. 9 began with a seemingly innocuous question about the legal definition of vaccines. Then over its next 3,400 words, it declared coronavirus vaccines were “a medical fraud” and said the injections did not prevent infections, provide immunity or stop transmission of the disease.

Instead, the article claimed, the shots “alter your genetic coding, turning you into a viral protein factory that has no off-switch.”

Its assertions were easily disprovable. No matter. Over the next few hours, the article was translated from English into Spanish and Polish. It appeared on dozens of blogs and was picked up by anti-vaccination activists, who repeated the false claims online. The article also made its way to Facebook, where it reached 400,000 people, according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned tool.

The entire effort traced back to one person: Joseph Mercola.

Dr. Mercola, 67, an osteopathic physician in Cape Coral, Fla., has long been a subject of criticism and government regulatory actions for his promotion of unproven or unapproved treatments. But most recently, he has become the chief spreader of coronavirus misinformation online, according to researchers.

The activity has earned Dr. Mercola, a natural health proponent with an Everyman demeanor, the dubious distinction of the top spot in the “Disinformation Dozen,” a list of 12 people responsible for sharing 65 percent of all anti-vaccine messaging on social media, said the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate. Others on the list include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a longtime anti-vaccine activist, and Erin Elizabeth, the founder of the website Health Nut News, who is also Dr. Mercola’s girlfriend.

“Mercola is the pioneer of the anti-vaccine movement,” said Kolina Koltai, a researcher at the University of Washington who studies online conspiracy theories. “He’s a master of capitalizing on periods of uncertainty, like the pandemic, to grow his movement.”

Some high-profile media figures have promoted skepticism of the vaccines, notably Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham of Fox News, though other Fox personalities have urged viewers to get the shots. Now, Dr. Mercola and others in the “Disinformation Dozen” are in the spotlight as vaccinations in the United States slow, just as the highly infectious Delta variant has fueled a resurgence in coronavirus cases. More than 97 percent of people hospitalized for Covid-19 are unvaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(click here to continue reading The Most Influential Spreader of Coronavirus Misinformation Online – The New York Times.)

Free speech certainly has its costs, letting evil people like Mercola spread their anti-vax garbage is one such charge. 

Suddenly, (Some) Republicans Are All In on the Vaccine

Susan Glasser, The New Yorker, reports:

Since the end of the Trump Presidency, Republicans have been ratcheting up the doom-and-gloom quotient in their rhetoric. By this spring, they settled on a narrative of permanent crisis—to be blamed on President Biden, of course. There was the Biden Border Crisis. The Crime Crisis. The Inflation Crisis and its corollary, the High-Gas-Price Crisis. The Critical-Race-Theory Crisis. Even, this week, the Ben & Jerry’s-Is-Mean-to-Israel Crisis. America under Biden, to hear them tell it, has become a hellscape of disasters. In June, the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, issued a letter to his colleagues. “Our country is in crisis,” he declared. “Republicans stand against the impending malaise and stand for a greatness that we reached just a few years ago.” The one crisis that Republicans have tended not to mention is the actual one—that is, the pandemic. When Republican politicians have focussed on covid in recent months, it’s often been to give Donald Trump credit for the vaccines, while simultaneously accusing the Biden Administration of forcing those same vaccines on unwilling Americans.

So it was more than a bit surprising to see some Republicans this week kinda, sorta, maybe embrace a different message. The Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise, the House’s No. 2 Republican, posed for a photo of himself getting a vaccine shot, many months after he was eligible, and urged others to do the same. “Get the vaccine,” Scalise said, at a press conference on Thursday. “I have high confidence in it. I got it myself.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a polio survivor who was never on board with his party’s vaccine denialists and anti-maskers, warned, during his own press conference: either get vaccinated or get ready for more lockdowns. “This is not complicated,” McConnell said. Fox News, which, along with Facebook, has been among the country’s premier platforms for vaccine disinformation in recent months, started promoting a new get-vaccinated public-service announcement. Its prime-time star, the Trump confidant Sean Hannity, stared straight into the camera on Monday night and said, “It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated.”

(click here to continue reading Suddenly, (Some) Republicans Are All In on the Vaccine | The New Yorker.)

Covid Vaccines

I dunno, can you really trust a Republican to do the right thing for humanity? Even once? For instance, Sean Hannity has already denied he told anyone to get vaccinated because, paraphrased since I’m not interested in looking at his face this morning, “I never told anyone to get vaccinated because I’m not a health care professional”. 

The cynical answer to this conservative flip-flop is that1 some GOP political consultant did the math and wrote a warning memo to members of the party who are able to read. If thousands, or millions of conservatives die then some close “purple” Congressional districts will vote Democratic members into office, not to mention Fox News ratings will tumble if their viewers are on respirators or in funeral parlors and unable to control the remote. 

The real question is will this new pro-vaccine message penetrate the conservative base’s consciousness? Honestly, the base has to be pretty gullible and easy to lead if they believed in nonsense like Obama is from Kenya, and Jade Helm, and that Hillary Clinton & Bill Gates has a secret pedophile ring in the basement of a Washington pizza restaurant, and whatever the gazillion other ridiculous conspiracies were. So maybe they will quickly forget months of these same talking heads arguing the exact opposite? Freedom! 

But influential falsehood spreaders like Tucker Carlson and Joseph Mercola haven’t switched yet, thus I’m not sure what Brittany Johnson2 of Little Rock, AR will do – will she continue sharing fake news about 5G cell towers and mRNA on Facebook? Or will she get a vaccine before she is hospitalized? Is she still going to mindlessly chant, “lock her up” at the next Trump rally? Or tell people that keys stick to her forehead?

Only time and hospital bed availability numbers will tell…

COVID19 Risk by county 2021 07 23
COVID19 Risk by county 2021-07-23.PNG via NYT

Footnotes:
  1. probably []
  2. a made up name []

I Got The Jabs!

2nd Jab Done!

Following up on an earlier lament, I was able to get my Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine last month, and I am past the “immortality” moment of full immunity.1

Yayyy!!

A photographer friend pointed me to vaccinespotter.org and I successfully booked an appointment at Mariano’s/Kroger in Lombard. 

I Got the Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 Vaccine Today

I drove out to Lombard twice, the second time stopping to smell the flowers at Lilacia Park, literally and figuratively. Lilacs only bloom for a short span of time each year; inhaling their delicious springtime aroma is one of the bonuses of living on this planet.

Lilac In Bloom

Footnotes:
  1. 2 weeks past the second dose []

It Is NOT against HIPAA to ask about covid vaccinations

HIPAA is woefully misunderstood, and I’ve encountered much wrong information about it during this pandemic. 

Eventually

winter birds, Cook County Forest Preserve

The Washington Post explains

Is it against HIPAA to ask about covid vaccinations? – The Washington Post:

HIPAA, also known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and its subsequently added Privacy Rule include provisions to protect a person’s identifying health information from being shared without their knowledge or consent. The law, though, only applies to specific health-related entities, such as insurance providers, health-care clearinghouses, health-care providers and their business associates.
That means that even if your friend, favorite restaurant or grocery store were to publicly share private details about your health, they would not be in violation of HIPAA because they aren’t one of the “covered entities,” Gatter said.

There are other federal and state confidentiality laws that may require employers and schools to protect your privacy. And, experts emphasized, there is nothing in HIPAA that bars asking people about their health — including vaccination status — or requiring proof that the information is accurate.
“It’s not really a prohibition on asking, it’s a prohibition against sharing,” said Kayte Spector-Bagdady, an associate director at the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine at the University of Michigan. The law, she added, “doesn’t mean you never have to tell anyone about your health information.”

HIPAA has become one of the “most misunderstood statutes in existence,” said Glenn Cohen, a Harvard Law School professor who is an expert on health law and bioethics. “People think it does a lot more than it’s actually doing.”

The misconceptions about the law likely stem from people widely using it in conversation as a “shorthand for privacy,” said Joshua Sharfstein, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins University. If someone is asked a question about their health that they view as intrusive, he said, they might say, “I can’t tell you because of HIPAA,” when what they actually mean is that they consider the information private.

Many people also seem to have a problem spelling HIPAA properly, and as one Twitter aficionado opined, perhaps this is a sign of long-haul COVID-19?

Scoring Vaccine Appointments Should Not Be Like Getting Tickets To A Popular Touring Act

No upcoming COVID-19 vaccine appointments available

No appointments available. Again.

I realize I am not the only resident of America still in need of a COVID-19 vaccine shot, but I wish it wasn’t so frustrating and tedious to get an actual appointment to do so. I mean, if I could book out the appointment 6 weeks from now, I’d be ok with that, at least I’d have a target date to look forward to.

Zocdoc.com, Walgreens.com and Albertsons.com all offer vaccine appointments within 25 miles, but they all require a lot of hoop-jumping for each check. Why can’t they keep track of me so I don’t have to click all the damn radio buttons each time?

Also, why is ZocDoc.com having such technical problems? Last night in the wee hours, I was able to book an appointment for Sunday afternoon at the city’s mass-vax FEMA-run site at United Center. This morning, I woke to the appointment being cancelled.

ZocDoc Failure “Your Appointment Could Not Be Scheduled"

Damn it!

Hong Kong and COVID-19

Please avoid close contact with people who are sick

America didn’t have to have so many people die, as the example of Hong Kong proves…

This is the new normal in Hong Kong — both very different from before the virus and very different from an American-style lockdown.

Subway workers clean handrails frequently. Restaurants are open, with tables spaced five feet apart. Diners are often given a small paper bag in which to put their mask — so it doesn’t infect the table, or vice versa

Entrance to Hong Kong is limited mostly to residents, all of whom are tested and quarantined, even if the test is negative. And residents wear masks despite 90-degree heat. “They’re so hot,” Adrienne says. “But it feels second nature to me at this point.”

The most important point: Hong Kong’s strategy is working extremely well.

It hasn’t reported a new homegrown case in more than two weeks. Over all, only about 1,000 people — out of 7.5 million — have tested positive. Only four have died.

Via NYT newsletter.

IllinoisHelps is now spamming my cell phone

Meanwhile, in one US area roughly the same population size as Hong Kong:

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 2,122 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 176 additional deaths.…Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 65,962 cases, including 2,838 deaths, in 97 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have processed 13,139 specimens for a total of 346,286.

If only the US had competent leadership, and a president who trusted science and data, and we had ramped up testing back in February (or even January!)

Mapping the Social Network of COVID-19 And Other News

Fascinating article from The New York Times:

Historically, scientists trying to anticipate the trajectory of infectious diseases focused on properties of the agent itself, like its level of contagion and lethality. But infectious diseases need help to spread their misery: humans meeting humans, in person. In the past decade or so, leading investigators have begun to incorporate social networks into their models, trying to identify and analyze patterns of individual behavior that amplify or mute potential pandemics.
Those findings, in turn, inform policy recommendations.

When does it make sense to shut down schools or workplaces? When will closing a border make a difference, and when won’t it? World health officials consult with social network modelers on a near daily basis, and Dr. Vespignani’s lab is part of one of several consortiums being consulted in the crucial and perhaps disruptive decisions coming in the next few weeks. On Friday, in an analysis posted by the journal Science, the group estimated that China’s travel ban on Wuhan delayed the growth of the epidemic by only a few days in mainland China and by two to three weeks elsewhere. “Moving forward we expect that travel restrictions to COVID-19 affected areas will have modest effects,” the team concluded.

“Today, with the enormous computing power available on the cloud, Dr. Vespignani and other colleagues can model the entire world using” publicly available data, said Dr. Elizabeth Halloran, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Washington and a senior researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “On the one hand, there is the rise of network science, and on the other, there is the enormous rise in computing power.”

click to continue reading Mapping the Social Network of Coronavirus – The New York Times:

Waiting for Baggage -TRI-X 400

Meanwhile, the federal government forgot to increase staffing at international airports such as O’Hare and Dulles and elsewhere, of course there was chaos and confusion and people standing shoulder to shoulder for hours. Jeez, wonder if there will be consequences?

O’Hare, DFW coronavirus: ‘Enhanced screening’ bring delays, crowds to U.S. airports – The Washington Post:

Airports around the country were thrown into chaos Saturday night as workers scrambled to roll out the Trump administration’s hastily arranged health screenings for travelers returning from Europe.
Scores of anxious passengers said they encountered jam-packed terminals, long lines and hours of delays as they waited to be questioned by health authorities at some of the busiest travel hubs in the United States.

The administration announced the “enhanced entry screenings” Friday as part of a suite of travel restrictions and other strategies aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Passengers on flights from more than two dozen countries in Europe are being routed through 13 U.S. airports, where workers check their medical histories, examine them for symptoms and instruct them to self-quarantine.

But shortly after taking effect, the measures designed to prevent new infections in the United States created the exact conditions that facilitate the spread of the highly contagious virus, with throngs of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder in bottlenecks that lasted late into the night.

“AT THIS MOMENT, HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE ARRIVING FROM NUMEROUS COUNTRIES ARE JAMMED TOGETHER IN A SINGLE SERPENTINE LINE VAGUELY SAID TO BE ‘FOR SCREENING,’” read a tweet from Tracy Sefl, who wrote that she waited for several hours to be screened at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

“Authorities are going to have to deal with the ramifications of the breakdown of whatever this system is supposed to be,” she wrote. “Not to mention needless exposure risks from containing thousands of passengers like this.”

Illinois authorities made it clear that this is 100% a federal problem

Lightfoot to Trump: ‘No one has time for your incompetence’ over O’Hare crowding as customs struggles to keep up with influx of international passengers – Chicago Tribune:

Beginning Saturday, processing through United States Customs was taking longer than usual inside the Federal Inspection Services facility due to “enhanced #COVID19 screening for passengers coming from Europe,” the airport said via Twitter. Angry international travelers also took to social media to express dismay at the handling of events, which caused thousands of people to stand in close proximity with potential carriers of COVID-19. As of Sunday morning, “O’Hare Airport” was trending on Twitter as a result.

“So last night as people were flooding into O’Hare Airport, they were stuck in a small area, hundreds and hundreds of people, and that’s exactly what you don’t want in this pandemic,” Pritzker said on the NBC News program. “So we have that problem. And then today, it’s going to be even worse. There are a larger number of flights with more people coming and they seem completely unprepared.”

Waiting at ORD
So things are going great!

Sick people across the country say they have been denied coronavirus test, despite doctor’s advice

Forgive Yourself Trump Tower

The Washington Post reports:

Many Americans who are sick and seeking a coronavirus test continue to be turned away, creating a vexing problem for patients and health officials as the virus spreads. The problem persists, doctors and patients across the country say, despite increased production and distribution of the tests in recent days.

At a time when U.S. fatalities from the virus have risen, there remain limited numbers of tests and the capacity of laboratories is under strain.
The constraints are squeezing out patients who don’t meet rigid government eligibility criteria, even if their doctors want them tested, according to dozens of interviews with doctors and patients this week.

The gap between real-life obstacles to testing and President Trump’s sweeping assurances that “anybody that needs a test gets a test” has sown frustration, uncertainty and anxiety among patients who have symptoms consistent with covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, but have been unable to find out whether they are infected.

(click here to continue reading Sick people across the country say they have been denied coronavirus test, despite doctor’s advice – The Washington Post.)

Having competent leadership really does matter. Trump’s people knew about the virus in early January, did nothing to ramp up the nation’s pandemic infrastructure, twiddled their thumbs, and now we are all paying the price, or about to.

If Trump had any love of America1 he’d resign in shame.

The vaccine won’t be available for a while in any case…

That Was What It Was For

 Los Angeles Times:

Nothing can stop a global outbreak in its tracks better than a vaccine. Unfortunately, creating a vaccine capable of preventing the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will probably take at least a year to 18 months, health officials say.

“That is the time frame,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee this week. Anyone who says they can do it faster “will be cutting corners that would be detrimental.”

While there are about 10 vaccine candidates in the works — and at least one of them could begin clinical trials in April — it would still take about three more months to conduct the first stage of human testing and another eight months or so to complete the next stage of the trial process, he added.

New vaccines require copious research and time-consuming testing that can cost hundreds of millions of dollars. There’s no guarantee of success, but even if everything goes well, the final product might not hit the market until after an outbreak has subsided.

Here’s a look at how vaccines are made and why the process takes so long.

 

(click here to continue reading Coronavirus vaccine: why will it take so long to create? – Los Angeles Times.)

Maybe We All Went Mad

Keep washing your hands, we are in for a long, bumpy ride…

Paul Krugman:

 Now, however, we face a much bigger crisis with the coronavirus. And Trump’s response has been worse than even his harshest critics could have imagined. He has treated a dire threat as a public relations problem, combining denial with frantic blame-shifting.

 His administration has failed to deliver the most basic prerequisite of pandemic response, widespread testing to track the disease’s spread. He has failed to implement recommendations of public health experts, instead imposing pointless travel bans on foreigners when all indications are that the disease is already well established in the United States.

 And his response to the economic fallout has veered between complacency and hysteria, with a strong admixture of cronyism.
It’s something of a mystery why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, normally a highly competent agency, have utterly failed to provide resources for widespread coronavirus testing during the pandemic’s crucial early stages. But it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that the incompetence is related to politics, perhaps to Trump’s desire to play down the threat.

According to Reuters, the Trump administration has ordered health agencies to treat all coronavirus deliberations as classified. This makes no sense and is indeed destructive in terms of public policy, but it makes perfect sense if the administration doesn’t want the public to know how its actions are endangering American lives.

 

(click here to continue reading Opinion | It’s a MAGA Microbe Meltdown – The New York Times.)

Footnotes:
  1. haha I know []

U.S. coronavirus testing threatened by shortage of critical lab materials

Fever Dreams

POLITICO:

A looming shortage in lab materials is threatening to delay coronavirus test results and cause officials to undercount the number of Americans with the virus.

The slow pace of coronavirus testing has created a major gap in the U.S. public health response. The latest problem involves an inability to prepare samples for testing, creating uncertainties in how long it will take to get results.

The growing scarcity of these “RNA extraction” kits is the latest trouble for U.S. labs, which have struggled to implement widespread coronavirus testing in the seven weeks since the country diagnosed its first case. Epidemiologists and public health officials say that the delayed rollout, caused in part by a botched CDC test, has masked the scope of the U.S. outbreak and hobbled efforts to limit it.

If enough processing kits aren’t available, the risk that testing will be disrupted is “huge,” said Michael Mina, associate medical director of molecular diagnostics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“RNA extraction is the first step in being able to perform” a coronavirus test, he said. “If we cannot perform this step, the [coronavirus] test cannot be performed.”

Qiagen, a major supplier of the kits, confirmed that its product is backordered due to “the extraordinary pace” at which the world has increased coronavirus testing over the last few weeks.

(click here to continue reading Exclusive: U.S. coronavirus testing threatened by shortage of critical lab materials – POLITICO.)

It’s almost as if having a malignant narcissist as chief executive is a bad idea…

How Long Will It Take to Develop a Coronavirus Vaccine

You Say You Want to Be Ordinary

The New Yorker:

With more than a hundred cases already discovered in the U.S., which had resulted in six deaths (the virus has since infected nearly four hundred people in the U.S., and killed at least nineteen of them), Trump was concerned. But he was also confused, despite having had several previous briefings with the Administration’s top health officials. Grasping for some good news, he pressed the executives to deliver a vaccine within a few months, at which point Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (N.I.A.I.D.), spoke up. “A vaccine that you make and start testing in a year is not a vaccine that’s deployable,” he said. The earliest it would be deployable, Fauci added, is “in a year to a year and a half, no matter how fast you go.”

(click here to continue reading How Long Will It Take to Develop a Coronavirus Vaccine? | The New Yorker.)

Never a good sign when incompetence is the first word that executive leadership brings to mind.

Remove

And private industry is not going to give away billions of dollars of R&D, only governments can handle that, and should handle projects of that size.

John Shiver, the global head of vaccine research and development at the multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi, which is developing a covid-19 vaccine, was at the meeting with Trump. “There was some confusion there,” Shiver said, that certain officials did not understand that “being in people,” as in human trials, is not the same as having a product. Clinical trials are conducted on healthy people, which is inherently challenging. “You certainly don’t want a vaccine that can make it worse,” Shiver said. “There have been some vaccine candidates historically that could actually enhance the disease.” Sanofi is working with the United States Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a sort of biomedical darpa, to advance a covid-19 vaccine based largely on the vaccine candidate it had developed for sars. Shiver told me that the authority doesn’t expect to have anything ready for human trials until much later this year. “It’s difficult,” Shiver said, “to see how, even in the case of an emergency, a vaccine could be fully ready for licensure in a year and a half.”

 
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (cepi), an Oslo-based nonprofit organization, was established at Davos, in 2017, to help the world prepare for a “disease X” pandemic. One of its aims is to dramatically hasten the process of vaccine development. To create a viable, scalable vaccine “takes vast amounts of funding and R. & D.,” Rachel Grant, the advocacy and communications director at cepi, told me. “It is a long and complex business. It’s all doable, science can meet the challenges, but there is lots of attrition” before any vaccine gets to the point of licensure. The problem is twofold. First, there may never be a market for a vaccine at the end of the development process, because the epidemic is contained, or never comes to pass. Then, traditionally, if there is an epidemic, it may take hold in a developing country where the costs of research and development cannot be recouped. “The resources and expertise sit in biotech and pharma, and they’ve got their business model,” Grant said. “They’re not charities. They can’t do this stuff for free.”

cepi, with funding from the government of Norway, the Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and several other countries (the United States is not among them), is trying to bridge the gap. The challenge of vaccine development is “what cepi was set up to solve,” Grant told me, “played out writ large in an episode like this.” Since the novel coronavirus emerged, cepi has ramped up its grant-making expenditures to more than nineteen million dollars. Two grant recipients—a Massachusetts-based biotech startup named Moderna and a lab at the University of Queensland, in Brisbane, Australia—have, remarkably, already developed a vaccine candidate that they will start testing in human trials in the next few months, and another biotech startup supported by cepi is not far behind. But, ultimately, to get three different vaccines through the final phase of clinical testing, Nick Jackson, cepi’s head of programs and innovative technology, told me, will require an estimated two billion dollars.

How Trump’s insecurity is making the coronavirus crisis worse

Pip checks out the N95 particulate respirator

The Washington Post reports:

Put President Trump in a room full of scientists, and he’s going to start to feel very insecure. Put him in a crisis he can’t boast his way out of, and things are going to go very badly.
That’s what we now face with the coronavirus. The crisis is not happening only in a foreign country, or in just one spot in America. It threatens to touch all of us. By all accounts, the president’s handling of it so far has been somewhere between awful and disastrous. Worst of all, from his perspective, it threatens the reality distortion field he works so hard to maintain. 

Trump is plainly more concerned with how the virus affects his public image than how it affects Americans’ health. He blurted out that he wanted to keep a cruise ship off the coast of California “because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship.”

But when Trump feels the need to remind you that he is related to a smart person, it’s pretty obvious that he’s afraid people might not think he’s smart enough.

(click here to continue reading How Trump’s insecurity is making the coronavirus crisis worse – The Washington Post.)

Scary. Scary times, scary man to be in charge, scary time to be alive.

Our lack of paid sick leave will make the coronavirus worse

A Little Blood in Our Eyes

The Washington Post:

The United States is one of the few wealthy democracies in the world that does not mandate paid sick leave. As a result, roughly 25 percent of American workers have none, leaving many with little choice but to go into work while ill, transmitting infections to co-workers, customers and anyone they might meet on the street or in a crowded subway car.

As a nation, in other words, we are sicker than we need to be. That reality could make a widespread coronavirus outbreak here worse than it would be in a comparable country that takes sick leave seriously.

The absence of paid sick days creates “a near-guarantee that workers will defy public health warnings and trudge into their workplaces, regardless of symptoms,” as Karen Scott, a doctoral student studying workplace issues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, put it recently in The Conversation. “In this way, a manageable health crisis can spiral out of control.”

The service industry — comprising the people who prepare our meals and care for our children — has one of the nation’s lowest rates of paid sick leave in the private sector at 58 percent. The CDC reports, for instance, that “1 in 5 food service workers have reported working at least once in the previous year while sick with vomiting or diarrhea.”

(click here to continue reading Our lack of paid sick leave will make the coronavirus worse – The Washington Post.)

I’m still rather blasé about covid-19, in general. However, the US is ripe for a major health disaster, especially after years of GOP cost cutting in areas like CDC and related budgets.

Having a robust health care for all citizens would help immeasurably.

Exploding Bomb Haymarket Riot 125

And retrain your brain to not touch your face:

Alarmist

Like all our habits, touching our face has been reinforced over time: It begins with an itch or an irritation, which feels better, temporarily, when scratched or rubbed. That reaction then becomes a tic, Sawyer said.
But passing unseen are the legions of germs living on your hands — picked up from your phone, keyboard, a doorknob or elsewhere — hitching a ride on the way to your throat, sinuses and lungs.

Not touching your facial mucous membranes, an area known as the “T-zone,” is perhaps the most important step you can take to prevent an infection, Sawyer said.
“It’s the one behavior that would be better than any vaccine ever created,” he said. “Just stop this simple behavior. Stop picking, licking, biting, rubbing — it’s the most effective way to prevent a pandemic.”
People are more likely to get the virus by picking it up from a surface and touching their face, than they are to breathe in droplets directly from someone who is infected, Sawyer said.

(click here to continue reading Coronavirus prevention: Stop touching your face – The Washington Post.) 

Medicare For All Pets

Pip Hanging Out By My Mac

Having had the pleasure to spend much of Friday at the vet, and enjoy many visits recently, I would sincerely like for one of the Democratic Presidential candidates to add Medicare For All Pets as a possibility. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, doesn’t matter, the proposal would get a lot of votes because pets are part of the family, and they need healthcare too. Insulin, for instance, is expensive, and it shouldn’t be. 

Needle Park