3 Things: Myths of Overnight Success, Herd Immunity, and COVID-19 Vaccine

[NB: I’ve spent several days drafting this post only to have today’s FDA’s pause on J&J vaccine throw a wrench in the works. I will try to pull something together about that issue in a separate post. / ~Rayne]

Friends and family tell me they are frustrated by people they know who are dragging their feet getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Some are actively resisting vaccination, refusing to get one.

Nearly all of this has been driven by misinformation, often been spread by well-meaning but skeptical folks. Anti-vaxx disinformation has been spread by those who have a vested interest in seeing Americans getting sick and dying, accepted by the same audience.

One friend told me a skeptical acquaintance explained, “I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I just don’t trust how fast this has been put together.”

Others have waved off the vaccine, saying they “don’t need a vaccine because we’ll reach herd immunity,” or “I already had COVID so I’m fine.”

We are never going to reach herd immunity so long as people refuse to be vaccinated.

And people wonder why CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky was so emotional a couple weeks ago about the need to continue infection prevention and the rate of vaccination.

The problem in my home state is evident in this profile piece (now paywalled) featuring Michigan residents in the 10th congressional district. You’ll recall Rep. Paul Mitchell who won in 2018 declined to run for reelection because of the political atmosphere. It wasn’t just the toxicity in Washington DC from Trump and his backup singers in the GOP-majority Senate, but back at home where constituents have become increasingly unmoored from reality.

Their part of the state is the worst for new cases and deaths; given how thinly populated the rural district is and how small these communities are, they have to know people who are severely ill and dying and yet they just don’t give a flying fuck.

There will be no reaching some of these folks, ever, but we have to reach folks who are on the fence if we are ever going to stop the spread of COVID including new variants.

~ 3 ~

Misinfo/Disinfo 1: The vaccine was developed too fast.

Truth: The mRNA vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s were at least 31 years in the making. Work on adenovirus-vector vaccines like Johnson & Johnson’s began in the 1950s looking at defenses against adenoviruses. These are the only two types of vaccines currently distributed in the U.S. under Emergency Use Authorizations.

Research for the COVID-19 vaccine began in 2002 with the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), caused by the coronavirus now known as SARSr-CoV. The epidemic which ran its course from 1 November 2002 – 31 July 2003, resulted in approximately 8,000 cases and nearly 800 deaths.

Research into Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), another coronavirus which is very similar to SARSr-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, also contributed to the body of knowledge. MERS epidemic resulted in 2,500 cases and nearly 900 deaths.

In total there were at least 12 years of research into similar coronaviruses before funding dried up because neither then-known coronaviruses were spreading.

In tandem with the research on coronaviruses, technology used for genetic sequencing and analysis improved exponentially in sensitivity, capability, and speed. Once SARS-CoV-2 was isolated and the unique spike protein identified, the vaccine research had most of what it needed to develop a trial-worthy vaccine candidate. The genetic sequencing in January 2020 couldn’t have done so quickly and in such detail in 2002.

The mRNA approach used by Pfizer and Moderna was first proposed in the late 1980s after more than a decade of conjecture; research into HIV and Ebola are among the diseases which contributed to the body of knowledge for these COVID vaccines. That’s more than 30 years of research leading up to the current vaccines.

If funding for research hadn’t stopped in the mid-2010s, COVID vaccines might have been delivered weeks or even months earlier than late October/early November last year.

~ 2 ~

Misinfo/Disinfo 2: Don’t need vaccination because of herd immunity.

Truth: We are nowhere near herd immunity. The safe approach to herd immunity also relies on vaccines.

While there are a number of ways this concept is being distorted, I ran into a situation last week in which someone I know who is a health care provider had begun to doubt the use of vaccines for COVID.

They’d been exposed to a European doctor’s claim that wearing masks and the vaccines themselves prevented our bodies from eliciting a natural immune response.

Ignoring, of course, the fact that nearly 600,000 Americans alone have died from the effects of their natural immune response to infection with SARS-CoV-19. That’s the disease, COVID – the response to the infection.

I went and did some digging to check this Euro doc’s credentials and lo, there it is: he’s a fucking DVM. A veterinarian who did some work on viruses in animals, with a handful of papers published a couple decades ago about viruses in donkeys. I won’t even name this bozo because I don’t want to give his nonsense any more oxygen.

In retrospect this guy is akin to the French researcher whose early, extremely small, and utterly lousy study was used to rationalize the use of hydroxychloroquine as COVID therapy. Poor credentials and bad track record combined with inadequate evidence, launched from overseas into American consumers’ social media – and they lapped up his misinfo and disinfo without any skepticism let alone the wherewithal to check credentials.

Just stop them. Cut them off as soon as they start talking about herd immunity.

That includes cutting off morons like Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott:

Nobody should listen to this stupid asshat when it comes to COVID-19 because he’s propagating false information when he should be turning this over to professionals with appropriate credentials.

I’ll let biologist Carl Bergstrom discuss the concept of herd immunity with regard to a pandemic in this Twitter thread:

Bergstrom distills the challenge:

“The key thing to note is that the herd immunity threshold is the point at enough people are immune (by vaccination or previous infection) to prevent a new epidemic from starting from scratch.

It is *not* the point at which an ongoing epidemic disappears.”

COVID will still be with us after a majority of the adult public has been vaccinated because children and unvaccinated adults will constitute 20-30% of the population while the herd immunity threshold for COVID as an airborne disease will be closer to that of other other airborne diseases like pertussis and measles. This means at least 90% percent of the public must be immune before the disease will stop spreading.

And with only 35.9% of the U.S. having had a dose of vaccine, there’s no way in hell any part of the U.S. is close to herd immunity – including Texas where as of today only 19.9% of residents have been fully vaccinated.

All of this assumes there isn’t a new strain mutating in an unvaccinated person which may bypass the existing vaccines. It’s urgent that we vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible to stem the spread of the disease before this can happen, setting off a new epidemic.

Anybody who is waiting for herd immunity while refusing to wear a mask and rejecting the vaccine is a nihilist wishing sickness and death on others if not themselves.

But don’t take my word for it; find virologists, epidemiologists, public health experts, and/or others with solid credentials who’ll explain why we need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

~ 1 ~

And then the excuse used by the oppositional defiant/libertarian/owning the libs crowd –

Misinfo/Disinfo 3: Getting vaccinated means submitting to the federal government which is taking away freedom by issuing “vaccine passports.”

Truth: NO. Fuck, no. The only thing being issued at vaccination sites is a record of vaccination. Vaccination records are shared with one’s doctor under HIPAA privacy regulations.

I am so disappointed with former representative Justin Amash on this point. It’s as if he’s forgotten universities and public schools have long required proof of vaccination for entrance, because education provided in a shared public space requires students who are not at risk of death from other students’ diseases.

It’s as if Amash has forgotten the Constitution is not a suicide pact, and that the nation’s founders lived in a world when travel was often restricted by epidemics like smallpox, measles, and yellow fever requiring mandatory quarantines.

Or that state and federal governments regularly require proof of baseline safety measures like passing vision and driver’s tests for a driver’s license.

Businesses and government functions should not be held hostage by a pandemic. They should be able to ask their employees and customers to act prudently to protect themselves and others, which may include providing proof of vaccination.

(Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis can pound sand with his ridiculous executive order banning “vaccine passports,” intended to prevent cruise ships requiring booking passengers to have proof of COVID vaccination. It’s as if he’s completely forgotten what happened to cruise passengers last year.)

Here’s a more personal example as a business case for required vaccination. My youngest contracted mild food poisoning from a chain restaurant’s takeout, but the first question posed by his employer and co-workers who all work in a facility which tests foods and pharmaceuticals, is whether he really contracted COVID since some symptoms like nausea may be present after infection with SARS-CoV-2. Imagine the repercussions to the supply chain if someone asymptomatic simply went to work in that environment.

My kid is taking the day off and getting tested for COVID to assure their workplace is safe, but imagine this happens again next week to a different employee, and the week after that to yet another. The cost to business and to workers could be staggering when simply requiring vaccination with proof could resolve the challenge.

And your own foods and drugs might also be safer for it.

Fortunately my youngest will be vaccinated soon; my oldest already is as of last week when Michigan opened vaccinations to all ages.

~ 0 ~

As of this morning we have lost 562,007 Americans to COVID – 476 died yesterday, the lowest number of daily deaths since last autumn.

Most of these deaths were not caused by UK variant B.1.1.7 which is now dominant in the US, nor by Brazilian variant P1, nor by South African varian B.1.351, all three of which appear to be more transmissible, and in the case of P1, more deadly, sickening younger people more often, and re-infecting those who already had an earlier strain.

Had we not mitigated the first strains of COVID with a combination of social distancing, mask wearing, increased hygiene, and lockdowns as well as vaccines, we would be on our way to several million dead.

But we are still on our way to that number if people do not continue mitigation measures and get vaccinated. Brazil’s 1,480 deaths yesterday alone, most caused by P1, offers proof.

206 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Wish that Mlive profile piece wasn’t behind a paywall. It’s so egregiously obvious when you see who’s refusing to be vaccinated and rejecting any further mitigation efforts that they are both white supremacists who think COVID won’t affect their people, and they’re Fox/OANN/Newsmax nutters.

    Meanwhile their sick neighbors’ butts are shipped by ambulance to hospitals in more urban areas like my county because their rural counties don’t have enough beds or the level of care necessary to save their lives. Gah.

    • Doug says:

      I am surprised that you are so hard on those who choose not to be vaccinated right now. Choosing not to be vaccinated doesn’t automatically mean that person is a racist Trump supporter. Choosing to be vaccinated right now means choosing to enter phase 3 of a vaccine trial. There is not yet a complete understanding of the long-term consequences of any of these new gene therapies, and there won’t be for a couple of years. Please consider that not everyone is willing to do that.

      As for protecting your neighbors, none of these vaccinations were tested for effects on transmissibility. It is not yet known whether they will prevent transmission. Their effectiveness, in fact, only measures symptom severity. It does not measure immunity. So when they say the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective, it does not mean that it is 95% effective in preventing the disease. It means that it is 95% effective in reducing symptoms.

      An interesting question is why the traditional vaccines (with the actual inactivated virus) that have been developed aren’t being offered. Some who are reluctant to get the gene therapy might opt for the traditional vaccination.

      • bmaz says:

        I am surprised you think we have ever been soft on idiots that wandered in from nowhere. Get your vax or STFU and stay away from me. Most people here do not suffer idiots lightly.

        • e.a.f. says:

          Doug, of course not all are Trump supporting racists.
          Some are Canadians. Some are very stupid, in my humble opinion. Covid kills and it kills a lot. The vaccine, well it seems to prevent the dying because once you have the vaccine and it is in effect, you don’t get Covid. The wold idea is for people to not get Covid and not die. Death is so final, its so expensive, its so unpleasant and then there is the “if you don’t die thing”. Its referred to as being a “long hauler”. Its not fun. In Canada we already have a fairly good number of people who are long haulers. They are constantly tired, can’t go back to work, can’t look after their children, can’t clean their homes, generally feel like shit.

          There are now people who are committing suicide because they can’t stand being “long haulers”. Being sick with covid is a painful experience, so I’ve read in news reports and seen on t.v.

          If you don’t have Covid you can’t spread it. In one gym in Quebec, one person manged to infect others and in turn they infected others. In the end, 350 people had Covid. The health care system isn’t going to be able to sustain this, if it keeps up. In Ontario, the government is having to move people to ICUs in other parts of the province because the I.C.U.s in major population centers are full.

          In British Columbia, they closed the ski resorts because people were going with Covid, which they weren’t aware of and acting like we didn’t have Covid in B.C. Result, it spread all over the province, when the newly infected skiers returned home.

          Covid kills. Death is not something you recover from. Its a rather permanent state. I’m tired of hearing businesses complain its closures are hurting their business and they’ll go bankrupt. if you don’t close you could be dead and I’ve seen people recover from bankruptcy but never from death.

      • Kenster says:

        Yeah, what bmaz said. Take your garbage and throw it in the trash. You are misinformed, dangerous and part of the problem, not the solution. Hundreds of millions of people have already taken the vaccine and are fine, including me. Just suck it up and get the vaccine.

      • Rayne says:

        First, my apologies to the rest of the community for what is about to follow.

        Oh Doug. You picked the wrong bitch on which to pull that guilt trip.

        >>I am surprised that you are so hard on those who choose not to be vaccinated right now.

        Really? Then you don’t know that I’m a Pacific Islander who has virtually no PI family because Europeans’ diseases wiped out at least 80% of my father’s people. That’s why I’m so fucking hard on people who choose not to be vaccinated during a pandemic – because it’s an exercise in privilege at the expense of others.

        >>Choosing not to be vaccinated doesn’t automatically mean that person is a racist Trump supporter.

        You must be having difficulty reading because I know I singled out upthread so-called liberal Robert Fucking Kennedy Jr. because of his anti-vaxx disinfo. My point about the anti-mask/anti-lockdown/COVID-is-a-hoax people in my state profiled in our mid-Michigan newspaper is that there is a strong overlap between being a Trumper and an anti-science idiot – the map of new cases bears that out.

        As does the recent story of the mask-less Allegan County meeting of 40 GOP members and approximately 10 attendees have gotten sick so far.

        >>Choosing to be vaccinated right now means choosing to enter phase 3 of a vaccine trial.

        No. Phase 3 began in late July and ended in late October/early November.

        We are in what might be called an informal Phase 4; the data from our vaccinations under Emergency Use Authorization is our moral duty to the poorer countries which have not yet gotten the vaccines. We can assure them we ate the dog food and proved it before insisting they accept it like the ever-colonizing vampires we are.

        >>There is not yet a complete understanding of the long-term consequences of any of these new gene therapies, and there won’t be for a couple of years. Please consider that not everyone is willing to do that.

        Right. Suddenly we’re all going to turn into werewolves because our DNA has been taught to tackle a single foreign protein. I call bullshit because the logic and science says otherwise. Meanwhile your body is subject to all matter of genetic changes from exposures to sun, air, food, chemicals –- even the electromagnetic frequencies your electronic device emits, which is known to be mutagenic and teratogenic and yet here you are.

        Your worries about what an mRNA or adenovirus-vector vaccine might do to you personally are completely irrational when we already know that COVID can and does cause permanent lung damage along with cardiac and vascular damage, causes cognitive impairment and neurological deficits in at least 30% of patients, and damages testicular tissue. Men also have worse outcomes on average than women.

        And nobody’s going to force you to take the vaccine. I’d rather not pay for your ass if you are also failing to take all due precautions to avoid getting sick. I’d also not rather have to expect children to suffer for your intransigence.

        >>As for protecting your neighbors, none of these vaccinations were tested for effects on transmissibility. It is not yet known whether they will prevent transmission. Their effectiveness, in fact, only measures symptom severity. It does not measure immunity. So when they say the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective, it does not mean that it is 95% effective in preventing the disease. It means that it is 95% effective in reducing symptoms.

        Again, you must have difficulty reading because there were quite a few news reports which not only shared the results of a CDC study of 36,659 vaccinated health care workers who’d received the mRNA versions. Here’s the results:

        … Of the 36,659 vaccinated HCWs, 379 (1.0%) tested positive for COVID-19 1 or more days after vaccination, 71% of them within the first 2 weeks after the first dose. Of the 28,184 HCWs who received their second dose, 37 (0.1%) tested positive, 22 of them 1 to 7 days later. Eight tested positive 8 to 14 days later, and 7 did so at least 15 days later.

        Source: CIDRAP: Risk of COVID very low in vaccinated medical workers: study

        Here, spend a little more time reading about transmission rates among 194,362 household members and 144,525 vaccinated health care workers:

        Effect of vaccination on transmission of COVID-19: an observational study in healthcare workers and their households
        Anoop S VShah, Ciara Gribben, Jennifer Bishop, Peter Hanlon, David Caldwell, Rachael Wood, Martin Reid, Jim McMenamin, David Goldberg, Diane Stockton, Sharon Hutchinson, Chris Robertson, Paul M McKeigue, Helen M Colhoun, David A McAllister
        medRxiv 2021.03.11.21253275; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.11.21253275

        The bottom line: mRNA vaccinated persons have an extremely low risk of getting sick with COVID and are also not carriers of the virus or causing outbreaks, though they are in high-risk positions with frequent, lengthy exposures to SARS-CoV-2.

        >>An interesting question is why the traditional vaccines (with the actual inactivated virus) that have been developed aren’t being offered. Some who are reluctant to get the gene therapy might opt for the traditional vaccination.

        Fuck no. Not with a novel virus. The Chinese have two inactivated virus vaccines. They are wholly unlikely to be approved here in the U.S.

        You know what’s an even more interesting question? Why are adenovirus-vector vaccines implicated in extremely rare clotting side effects, but mRNA vaccines are not?

        Just stay the fuck away from other people if you can’t be bothered with doing the homework or taking adequate precautions to protect others.

        And if you’re going to comment here, stick to the same name each time. Your first and last comment in January 2020 was under “Doug Reaves.” Revert to that or pick a more differentiated name because there’s more than one “Doug” or “Douglas” in this community.

      • Eureka says:

        …any of these new gene therapies…

        …the gene therapy…

        Hello, Doug: your disinformation trolling keywords here aren’t going to slip by, either.

        You know as well as we do that the mRNA vaccines do NOT constitute “gene therapy”, which refers to a treatment which modifies one’s DNA, to TL;DR it (see resources below, incl. where David Gorski of the Society for Science Based Medicine splits the anti-vaxxers’ hairs and misinfo/disinfo chains). [To TL;DR that, it’s all the “natural health” Mercola and WAPF folks pushing that BS — see also Forbes below, which also links the NLM on “gene therapy”: read that, too. Relatedly, NYT did a piece some time back linking these communities to Russian disinfo efforts as well.]

        But thanks for your “concern.”

        The latest antivax false claim: mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 are not vaccines but “medical devices” or “gene therapy” | Science-Based Medicine
        David Gorski on February 8, 2021

        The second is that mRNA vaccines are not “vaccines” at all, but rather “gene therapy”, which sounds more plausible if you don’t know molecular biology but is also very much incorrect.

        Covid-19 mRNA Vaccines Are Not ‘Gene Therapy,’ As Some Are Claiming
        Mar 17, 2021,10:41pm EDT

        • Eureka says:

          One way the RU(-backed) anti-American* propagandist trolls tango with these communities beyond general anti-vaxx/ anti-establishment shit-stirring is through white nationalists because of the (whole) milk obsession and greater persistence of lactase (_generally_, but neither wholly nor exclusively) in European-derived populations post-weaning _due to cultural practices_, not some evolutionary “superiority” as contrived by the supremacists who glom onto/Venn with these groups. NYT re-published a profusion of these ‘we rule the world because we can drink milk’ scientized (there are charts!) memes.

          *Repeated theme lately: they’d like to see America “quietly dissolve.” [More trolling, of course, in re the “quietly” part.]

          • P J Evans says:

            Not all people of European ancestry can drink milk, either. (Cheese and home=-made yogurt are usually safe.)

      • P J Evans says:

        It isn’t “gene therapy” – whoever told you that is ignorant.

        It’s training for your immune system, like every vaccine you’ve gotten from when you were born until you moved out of your parents house because you decided you knew more than they did. (and it beats getting the virus.)

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        “Choosing to be vaccinated right now means choosing to enter phase 3 of a vaccine trial.”
        Doug, this talking point is another zombie. No matter how many times scientists respond, it comes back. I got the J&J vaccine a week ago. I’d been trying to get an appointment for weeks and when this one opened up I jumped on it. Since then I have spent days in bed with migraines, and read all I could about venous sinus thrombosis. I had a clotting disorder previously, so I am keeping a close eye on my symptoms. I won’t panic–that’s not me–and my point here is simple: I would do it again. The risk for clotting with Covid is worse.

        You’re right; we are participating in a post-market phase-three with excellent observation and follow-up. I would rather take my chances with a paused vaccine than an unpaused virus. At least this way, I am protecting others, or will be soon.

  2. BobCon says:

    The latest poll I saw said vaccine acceptance was growing, which was good news, but the bad news was that the number of flat out refusers was roughly stable at 13%.

    What was also somewhat discouraging was the number who would be vaccinated but only if required held steady at 7%. The junk you cite that DeSantis and others are flinging is targeted at preserving the numbers in that subpopulation. DeSantis has never had a problem with employer drug testing even when there is no valid reason for it. He’s just trying to spread the disease.


    I will say that at the mass vax site my family has gone to, the mood was very good — I think the poll is right that most people are glad about getting their shots, it is just that the minority is still big enough to lead to some serious tragedies.

    • Rayne says:

      I worry that the loudest voices influence adversely the quietest ones — we’re not hearing enough from minority communities about vaccine uptake, while all the oxygen is sucked up by obnoxious Trumpers who are stuck in his continuing influence.

      I’ve gotten both of my Pfizer shots and each time there was a continuous flow of people, about 200 an hour processed, everybody in a relaxed mood. But I saw exactly 2 people of color though I can’t be certain with everyone wearing masks that there weren’t Hispanic/Latinx or mixed race persons who weren’t obviously non-white. That really bothered me and still bother me. What kept people of color away? Registering on line? Access to transportation? Timing of the event or its venue? No idea.

      But I can see those wretched rural white mooks whining in our local newspaper about their freedoms being taken by the state and the feds.

      • BobCon says:

        I will say that my mass vax site had a lot of African Americans getting shots and working there. It was in the heart of my city and access was easy, so that was probably a factor, although I have no idea what kind of breakouts there were by class within the African American community. My daughter’s school is about 75% kids of color and I know vaccination rates are climbing, but again I don’t know if that is representative of the overall city, since Covid shots are joining measles, mumps and the rest on the mandatory school list for older kids.

        • vvv says:

          I got the J&J a week ago at a large county site in a suburban civic center and the milieu seemed appropriately integrated consistent with the population.

          I found two things very amusing:
          1. It was all young folk working (20-30), National Guard and some civilian nurses, and so the music playing relatively loudly over the ceiling PA (and nicely squelching the cell phone jackasses) was all hip hop and soul;

          2. It occurred to me that the vaccine-skeptical are covid-curious.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            Hey vvv, you and I both got the J&J at the same time. How’s it going for you? Any side effects?

            • vvv says:

              None! But I gotta story – because I always gotta story.

              For the first three days I thought I had a side effect of smell – that I was smelling mice, kind of a hay smell.
              I even set a trap in my bedroom office.
              Come to find out my daughter got a batch of meal worms to feed her chameleon and didn’t clean the mealworm tank in her bedroom next door, and that’s what I was smelling.
              Made her clean that, and now everything is good. ;-D

              How about you?

              • Ginevra diBenci says:

                I got a headache the night I got the shot. The next day it was worse, but because I’ve had migraines since childhood I made no connection. Then came the “pause,” and the day after that I was really sick–dizzy, nauseated, pounding headache, vomiting. Because of my history of clotting/bleeding issues, I wondered if I should be worried. A call to my doctor yielded nothing, and I’ve felt fine (if exhausted) for two days now, so I’m going with coincidence.

                I love your mealworm-mice story! That could happen here too–my cats are too lazy to catch mice. Or chameleons.

                • vvv says:

                  FWIW, among my friends and family, those who got the Pfizer seemed to have the most side effects, but no one seemed to have them more than a few days: chills, muscle pain, headaches, fatigue …
                  A Brit friend is the only other person I know who got the J&J, and he only complained of a sore arm.

                  If I smell the mealworms again, I will volunteer to come over and hand-feed the chameleon to your cats.

                  Feel better!

    • gmoke says:

      If the bottom line is 13% refuse to be vaccinated and everyone else is, according to what I’ve read and heard, that will put us in herd immunity.

      But I could be wrong.

      • Rayne says:

        Nope. That won’t do it with an airborne disease. Need +90% of population vaccinated/immune and we still don’t have a vaccination for children under 12.

        • CCM says:

          Yes 90% would be great, but herd immunity is not like an on/off switch. Lower numbers could be a vast improvement

          • Rayne says:

            I don’t understand what you mean by “lower numbers could be a vast improvement.”

            Airborne diseases have higher R0, meaning higher immunity percentages are required. COVID’s R0 isn’t as bad as measles (R12-18) but the original variant was somewhere between R1.2-R5.9 depending on conditions. The more recent variants B.1.1.7 and P1 are likely to have higher R0 given their increased transmissibility. If the early herd immunity estimate was 82%, it’s now higher because of those variants.

            Without a higher percentage of immunity, the virus will continue to mutate among susceptible.

            Go big or get sick, and possibility repeatedly.

            • bmaz says:

              Haven’t the experts put it at +/- 75%? My spit take is that 60%-65% is quite possible, but beyond that will be a tough slog

              • Ginevra diBenci says:

                SPIT take? We’re in a pandemic here! Back of the envelope until we achieve herd immunity.

              • Rayne says:

                No, no, no…not you, too.

                Children 18 and under represent roughly 20-25% of the population, depending on which country one lives in. Without a children’s vaccine, we can’t get beyond 75-80% herd immunity if ALL adults were vaccinated. Perhaps that’s what you heard.

                But to achieve actual herd immunity with an airborne disease will require a higher percentage of immunity in the population because each infected person can infect more people than if the disease relied on human-to-human physical contact or fomite/surface transmission.

                Think of 100 people in a closed room with one sick person with a low R0 disease — something which requires physical contact with a sick person or a contaminated surface. We could keep nearly all of them from getting sick by vaccinating a small number closest to them if they are the barrier between the sick person and the rest of the room.

                But with an airborne illness? Nearly every single person in the room must be vaccinated to prevent illness from spreading, because they all share the same air space — a higher percentage of immunity is necessary.

                • bmaz says:

                  Well, thought we were supposed to follow the science. Dr. Fauci, taking kids into account, has said:

                  “The United States probably won’t reach herd immunity until children are vaccinated, Anthony Fauci, MD, said.

                  ‘We don’t really know what that magical point of herd immunity is, but we do know that if we get the overwhelming population vaccinated, we’re going to be in good shape,’ Fauci said Thursday during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “We ultimately would like to get and have to get children into that mix.”

                  Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he has estimated 70-85% of the population would need to be vaccinated or immune to reach herd immunity.”<

                  • Rayne says:

                    And we know Fauci has been conservative in his statements because he doesn’t want to freak out asshats any more than they already are. What he said in that hearing is what I’m telling you, but he’s couched in a way that they won’t shit the bed.

                    “The United States probably won’t reach herd immunity until children are vaccinated”

                    That’s because there will be a bunch of adults who refuse to get vaccinated, something like 10-15% — which gets us to 85-90%.

                    ‘We don’t really know what that magical point of herd immunity is, but we do know that if we get the overwhelming population vaccinated, we’re going to be in good shape,’

                    He doesn’t know that that the herd immunity percentage needed isn’t closer to 92-95% like for measles because the pandemic is nowhere near under control; we have new variants which are far more transmissible, so the “magic point” is not yet clear. The “magic point” may not be known until UK B.1.1.7, Brazil P1, and South African B.1.351 have completely run their course through the U.S.

                    What’s the “overwhelming population vaccinated” number, when there’s further qualification “vaccinated or immune,” and immune meaning people who can no longer get the disease even with possible reinfection by another variant? He’s only giving a conservative estimate.

                    ADDER: Perfect example of Fauci trying to be conservative and Jim fucking Jordan having a temper tantrum because there isn’t a number already set in stone.

                    The number is higher than Jordan’s going to want to hear, never mind the fact he already has plenty of freedom and doesn’t have to worry about being shot by cop for being brown.

  3. punaise says:

    Got my Pfizer #1 nearly two weeks ago when my age group opened up. For family reasons we spent the past weekend in deep Trump county: Bakersfield, CA (insert joke about the armpit of the state here – its not unwarranted for many reasons, but that’s another conversation). Apparently they are flooded with available doses based on demographic needs, but demand has not caught up to supply.

    Based on our limited anecdotal evidence, masking remains a political statement for some. It was a mixed bag in the few public areas we frequented. There were some folks on a fairly crowded hiking trail who clearly couldn’t be bothered to mask when crossing paths and probably sneered at us for doing so.

    • Rayne says:

      I’ve been surprised by the lack of development of an ad hoc “app” letting the public know where vaccines are available because the locals aren’t taking them. So far Twitter has filled the gap but if you don’t follow the right in-the-know person?

      Congrats on your vaccination, ditto to BobCon above. Looking forward to many more years of punny fun.

        • Tracy Lynn says:

          Bless you Punaise. Had an appointment for J&J – had to cancel at the last minute. In retrospect, that’s probably ok, as I fall into the age category of women who ended up with blood clots. But it still leaves me unvaccinated. Taking a look at those websites.

          • Eureka says:

            Hey Tracy Lynn — have you heard of findashot.org?

            Folks have told me they’ve had success with it (besides news reports).

            Last I knew it tells you which sites it’s checking for appointments (and those from which it may be blocked) and gives the time since last appt. found (from seconds to hours) and a distance, etc.

  4. P J Evans says:

    I got my first shot last Monday (Pfizer). I’d been waiting for it to be easier to get; there was little publicity locally about the megasites, and AFAIK from what I *saw*, none were closer than Dodger Stadium, though I’ve been told there were others in my area. That’s on the city/county/state. If it’s like this elsewhere, publicity would help a lot. Posters at drug and grocery stores, and at fast-food places and quick-shop places, would probably get to more people than whatever they’re using now.
    Among other refusal reasons I’ve seen: it contains “unborn baby parts” – another lie.
    as far as the vaccine passports – my mother kept records of what shots we got when, right up until we got out of high school. That’s a good start on a vaccine passport, and I’ve updated it as needed. I also tell my doc when I get vaccines. (I don’t record flu shots, but I do let him know.)

    • Rayne says:

      Congrats on your first dose, PJ. Hoping this next phase in which everyone is eligible does include more publicity and outreach.

  5. rosalind says:

    thanks for this, Rayne. in my 250k Pac NW County, current estimates based on supply it will take until end of summer to vaccinate 75% of the adults. my blue city is surrounded by scary proud boy, magats, and oath keepers, and likely a big chunk of the remaining 25% will refuse vaccinations. with demand far outstripping supply, people are having to drive 2-3 hours one way to find a dose. our one day a week “mass” vaccination center has been getting J&J, so waiting to hear if the State will be giving us any of the other two to substitute for now.

    i was able to snag a J&J a week ago only because our local paper has been doing incredible work digging out the weekly supply numbers and informing the public the day/time appt slots are opening up. even then, i barely got a timeslot cause you have to hit the button so damn fast.

    have already tired of vaccinated politicians, reporters, celebs whining about still having to wear masks. the Country is doing amazing work ramping up vaccinations, but we still have a long ways to go, no matter how many openings the Javits Center and Dodger Stadium have…

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, NPR’s vaccine tracker page shows WA about Sep. 19 for majority of residents vaccinated; I think Michigan is on track for Sep. 7. Could mean a slightly later start to school, or a strong push in August to get every kid 16 years old and up through college-age students vaccinated.

      I’m so worried about kids especially with P1 variant more likely to cause severe COVID in younger people. We’ve had far too many youngsters permanently damaged even though they had asymptomatic cases. Big mouths whine about masks and shots and shutdowns; then the GOP funds groups like Let Them Play to manipulate public sentiment so that kids end up back in classrooms and school sports far too early. One teacher-parent pushed back at the argument that the kids’ mental health was affected by staying home and lack of sports; she noted that the kids can see adults are idiots, that they’ve failed to protect kids from illness and from climate emergency, and that’s what’s really causing any mental health problems kids are having. I’m struggling with that, trying to wrap my head around what it will to do to society future that these kids felt so unsafe and betrayed by selfish and stupid adults. It’s going to be as damaging as COVID itself.

      Congrats on your vaccination. Very glad you were able to snag a shot.

  6. Lex says:

    Ah the Thumb. My grandparents retired there (got assigned a phone number in Tom McVeigh’s contact book as a welcome) and only Covid could make me happy that she passed in the fall of 2019. I’m so tired of the rank idiocy. I spend my days keeping the public safe from industrial Heath threats; I’ve risked my own life and health to do it in emergencies and now I only wonder why I should care?

  7. Ruthie says:

    I got my second Pfizer dose today! Whoopie! The euphoria is INCREDIBLE!!!

    My daughter, 22, just got her first shot. Unfortunately, my immune compromised son lives in Amsterdam where the pace of vaccination is painfully slow. He doesn’t think his medical condition will buy him an earlier slot, which sucks. He’s spent the last year basically alone, and naturally it’s wearing thin.

    We’ve all been super conscientious, not only for our own personal benefit but to protect others as well. The selfishness of those who refuse to wear masks and get vaccinated is staggering, and fills me with rage. Of my 10 siblings, most of whom I can just about tolerate, my favorite started with the vaccine hesitancy a couple of months ago and I practically hyperventilated I was so upset. I actually cried, and told her she should do it for my son, our elderly mother, and others like them. And her husband is a nurse who has worked with COVID-19 patients! Luckily, either I convinced her or her husband did, because she got the J&J vaccine.

    I’d be happy for the government to be as militant as epidemiologists/virologists advise.

    • Lawnboy says:

      Im a week into my first dose! And it feels great to be on the plan.

      But…we got a nutter in my family tree. She will NOT take the AZ. I tell her to pretend that we are on the Titanic, you know how that goes down (punaise). A life boat pulls up and calls your name.”Just one spot for Mrs.X”. Do you blow it off bc it’s the wrong colour dhingy? NO!!!!

      Get on the boat.

  8. Troutwaxer says:

    I got my first Pfizer shot last Friday and feel much better about life. I celebrated by attending a birthday party for my 90-year-old father who’s now had both his first and second shot.

    • Rayne says:

      That’s excellent news — both my inlaws and my parents are fully vaccinated, too, which is a real relief. Feels great, doesn’t it?

  9. Mart says:

    Listening to liberal radio a guest said no vaccine for her, came online too fast, bad things could happen. Host said yes, like thalidomide. I’m thinking for god’s sake, that was 1960. We didn’t have the technology to figure out what happened with thalidomide in pregnant women’s livers until 2009. The computing capacity in your phoned filled warehouses in 1960 FFS.

    I know dozens of folks not getting vaxxed. I tell them OWS is Trump’s greatest accomplishment, then go to their racist side telling them we all need to work together to stop the Kung Flu. Not working. Evangelicals are getting messaged in church. Get my 2nd Phizer jab Thursday.

    • Rayne says:

      Aggravates the hell out of me that one of the worst sources for anti-vaxx is so-called liberal Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — he’s one of 12 of the worst sources according to a recent study on anti-vaxx misinfo and disinfo, and he’s still on Twitter, not yet banned.

      Sadly, the way the J&J pause was handled will increase skepticism and validate (wrongly) that radio guest’s claim that “bad things could happen.” I know they wanted to handle this better than Germany did with AstraZeneca, but this wasn’t it.

      You can’t save them if they’re that far gone. Reach for the ones who are on the fence and haven’t decided. Hope knowing the vaccines were in the making for decades helps.

      • MB says:

        RFK Jr. is a former environmental activist (thereby nominally “liberal”) who has seemingly morphed into full-time anti-vax advocacy and conspiracy-mongering with a large social media following, despite his bans from FB and IG. Lending the family name to these “causes” is so unfortunate, imo.

        Propaganda is no longer in the exclusive domain of corrupt governments and large media organizations to purvey, but can now be effectively accomplished through individuals who are more than willing to exploit the available algorithms that social media companies provide…

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks for that, I failed to bookmark it when I read it a couple weeks ago. Just so hugely disappointed in RFK Jr. who’s anti-vaxx advocacy has led to many deaths from preventable infectious diseases even before this pandemic began.

    • skua says:

      Like thalidomide?
      What a garbage comparison they made.
      Thalidomide they ignored negative outcomes and pushed on towards their hoped-for profits.
      The COVID vaccines they’re constantly watching, evaluating data and fine tuning the advice.

    • Eureka says:

      As you said it didn’t work — and it generally does not — there’s one reason to drop the idea of making an appeal to racists by joining in the racism. Regardless, it’s debasing of the speaker and the targets to go the “Kung Flu” route: would you join in calling something the “N—– [insert noun]” or otherwise use the N-word in trying to convince a racist to take some action?

      Another thing I’ve heard repeatedly is that Trumpers/GOPers largely aren’t swayed by hearing that Trump got the vaccine (the former have their Q reasons…but ~ as Rayne notes we’ll never know the impact of forthrightness because of how the Trumps secretively handled it.). Check out what has worked with some GOPers, including advice from scientists, not pols, and simply noting that the vast majority of “doctors” would take the vaccine. Appeal to _appropriate_ authority while addressing genuine concerns seems most effective. How old fashioned.

      Frank Luntz’ reparations trail incoming:

      Dan Diamond: “About half of GOP voters tell pollsters they don’t want vaccine. But after two-hour focus group with @FrankLuntz, many hardcore Trump voters changed their mind. I watched them go from no to yes. Here’s how @DrTomFrieden, @GovChristie and others did it. [link]” [thread]
      9:44 AM · Mar 15, 2021

  10. Peterr says:

    Gotten both my shots and am doing well. Here in MO and KS, most of the hesitancy I see is not from African-Americans or Hispanic-Americans, but from NeoConfederate-Americans and a certain strain of Fundamentalists.

    Research methodology: compare the number of Stars-and-Bars decals on vehicle bumpers/windows at the local grocery store parking lots with the number on vehicles at vaccination sites (drive through lines or parking lots).

    Research observations: Not. Even. Close.

    Now admittedly, the N in this quick-and-dirty research study was quite small, and for any significant validity it would need to be replicated on a much larger scale. That said, I don’t think a serious survey would find anything different.

    All the PSAs in the world that are aimed at African-Americans are not going to get the NeoConfederate Americans to change their minds.

    • Rayne says:

      You know, I didn’t see any Trump or stars-and-bars flags in the parking lot before/after both of the vaccine events I attended. Huh.

      Glad you’re fully vaxxed, Peter. Must be great to know services will approach normal in the very near future.

      • Peterr says:

        I am cautiously hopeful about services approaching normal in the future, but I don’t know about the “very near” part. It still feels like we’re on the knife’s edge, and that things could go Michigan pretty damn fast almost anywhere.

        Both MO and KS are well below the national average in terms of people getting vaccinated, which doesn’t bode well either. The vaccination numbers for people over 65 are good, because the nursing homes are doing a great job with getting shots for their residents, but not so great for the general population.

        If Easter traveling — of which there was plenty — was going to spread the virus, we should start to see that in the numbers right about now.

  11. arbusto says:

    I got Covid from my grandson, who lives with me and my son-in-law. He lost a months pay at Raleys when the store shut down for decontamination then by exposure & finally catching it.
    My sickness was long and drawn-out, though thankfully not severe: chills, fever, no appetite and out of breath simply climbing stairs. I experienced after effects for three weeks. Lost 10 lbs from the Covid diet, so some good came from it.
    I’m the white guy in a Hispanic extended family (more family than my own). The family support to me and my grandson still boggles the mind, from multiple SMS get well wishes, care packages to pulse/blood ox monitor and thermometer.
    My Sacramento VA Dr. had me get a blood test and had results the next day and scheduled Pfizer innoc. asap afterword. Staff and nurses were helpful, proactive and highly professional.
    Had our first family get together in a year as all either got vaccinated or recovered from Covid. Met the newest addition, 1 year old Elaina, blackest hair and prettiest baby I’ve seen and that included my gran and great gran kids
    Wonder when TPTB get a handle on this plague, more people understand they in a society that’s close to implosion in no small part because of rightwing pettiness.

    At least I have family.

    • Rayne says:

      Glad you made it through COVID and that you’ve gotten vaccinated. I am so worried about reinfections with P1 variant.

      And seeing family again is the best.

      • arbusto says:

        Looks like 6 month vaccinations ’til hell freezes over or a vaccine is developed for the stupid. Surprised so many citizens failed in their duty to others.

        • Raven Eye says:

          Yeah. All that talk about “My rights!” and “My Liberty!” Freedom to infect?

          A lot of folks seem to skip right over the first sentence in the Constitution — and it doesn’t say a whole lot. But when you sit down and think about operationalizing it — it really is about duty.

          Last September, watching the streaming of the weekly County Commissioners’ meeting, one of the three made a comment with words to the effect of “You get vaccinated to protect yourself, not someone else”. I hope I get a chance to not vote for her next round.

  12. scribe says:

    “If funding for research hadn’t stopped in the mid-2010s, COVID vaccines might have been delivered weeks or even months earlier than late October/early November last year.”

    Part of the “Delay” was in doing actual testing on actual people, which takes time and cannot be rushed.

    But, also, consider this: if the vaccine had become available around Labor Day, how many of the 89,000 or so vote swing in key states that gave the election to Biden would have either voted the other way or stayed home, and how many more voters nationwide would have voted R? I speculate it’s fairly certain that today it would be a Republican lock on all Congress – maybe even filibuster proof – as the second Trump term rolled on. Recall, that in January even after his impeachment trial it looked pretty solid for Trump to be re-elected. The economy was strong, even booming, employment was as close to “full” as we’ve seen in a long time, and gas was 60 or 70 cents a gallon cheaper than today.

    Counterfactuals can be fun, but consider all the angles of the counterfactual first.

    • Peterr says:

      All true as far as you go, but you left out one non-trivial angle. You also need to consider how badly Trump would have screwed up the rollout of the vaccine before you speculate on his victory.

      Because you *know* he would have screwed it up.

      Imagine Trump cheering at a Labor Day approval of the first vaccines . . . and then imagine the frustration that would build by the end of September as people learned that there was no plan for actually getting them from the production plants to the people who needed them. Imagine the anger that would build by Halloween, as the screwups mount, as inequities emerge, and as corruption is uncovered (’cause you know that some of the Trump crowd would want to monetize this for their own benefit).

      You may be “fairly certain” about your scenario, but you may want to rethink it a bit.

    • Rayne says:

      “Part of the “Delay” was in doing actual testing on actual people, which takes time and cannot be rushed.”

      We’re talking years ago now, scribe. They had years to do this. What they didn’t have was money because Congress under a Black Dem president and Senate under GOP including McConnell.

      And I seriously doubt Trump would have been any less a malicious corrupt dickhead if he had the vaccine than Ron DeathSantis is with it now in Florida. It would have been sold to the global oligarchs first and then Team Trump would have found a way to deny blue states vaccine aid just as they did with PPE.

  13. scribe says:

    Also, on the mandatory vaccination angle: I have shot records showing inoculations for polio, cholera, smallpox, yellow fever, typhoid and who knows what else the Army demanded. Those were for international travel, long accepted as a part of international travel.
    On a domestic liberty basis, requiring shots for some government services (and maybe not for others) is a more nuanced problem and not at all clear-cut. Even Jacobson, the 1905 case about “mandatory” smallpox inoculation does not say the government may force you to take a vaccine (even in the face of something as virulent and fatal as smallpox). (Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11(1905)). Rather, it says that regardless of how deadly the disease and how great the social benefit of universal vaccination, the government must give you a choice and respect it. In that case, it was between taking the shot and a civil monetary penalty – not a criminal one. I suspect that when it reaches the Supreme Court, and it will and quickly, mandatory inoculation will not win.

      • BobCon says:

        Right wing state politicians are moving on laws to prohibit vaccine requirements by employers. SC is one example:


        You have to figure big employers like BMW are unhappy, but SC is basically telling them you’ll run your assembly lines the way we tell you to run them.

        I agree that it’s hard to say how the right wing court will rule. The shadow docket case you linked to shows even Roberts is getting jammed by the other five. They’ve got the numbers and they really don’t care anymore about anything.

        • Rayne says:

          BMW has spent a lot of money in SC on manufacturing facilities; they can afford to wave some money at politicians to make them back off. In fact this may well be what’s going on since Sen. Tim Scott is up for reelection. This may be a shakedown for money to the NC GOP.

          If they don’t, with all that the entire industry needs to do to switch over to electric from combustion? BMW might just go on hiatus and move production elsewhere safer. They sell more cars to China than they do in the US, IIRC, and they have production facilities there.

    • Peterr says:

      IANAL, but the argument that “the government must give you a choice and respect it” seems to be at odds with a ton of other laws and legal decisions.

      For instance, the government long ago decided that if you’re going to drive a car on public roads, that car is required to meet various safety standards and you have no choice about it – the danger to you and to the community takes precedence over your ability to choose otherwise. States have enacted various mandatory seat belt laws, none of which have been overturned by SCOTUS (despite numerous cert petitions asking for just that). In a related case that did reach SCOTUS, when Reagan tried to undo a NHTSA regulation requiring airbags or other automatic safety devices, SCOTUS unanimously upheld NHTSA.

      Similarly, there is the whole raft of vaccines that are required for attendance in school, dating back well before COVID-19. The lists of required shots differ from state to state, and so do the allowed exemptions. Various states and territories allow people to opt out for religious reasons, some for philosophical reasons, and all of them allow it for medical reasons. I don’t know the legal history here, but I can’t imagine that there have been no legal challenges to these laws.

      • P J Evans says:

        Vaccine requirements for school go way back. (I have the record my mother kept in a notebook. It’s a full page, starting with DPT when I was six months old, and going right up to the virus, as I update the list. Only leave out the flu shot.)

    • Rayne says:

      A lot of this ground with government-mandated vaccinations has already been covered for years. Parents and students deal with it all the time as states require compliance with a standardized schedule of vaccinations for children in public schools. Measles has become a rising threat because anti-vaxxers have been steadily pushing misinfo and disinfo, discouraging vaccinations and increasing the number of waivers until herd immunity collapsed during a recent outbreak — and for airborne measles, vaccination rates must exceed 92% to achieve herd immunity. California tightened its vaccine laws.

      As for private businesses: good luck telling them what they can/can’t require of employees when ensuring a safe workplace or consumer space or product is essential to their business model like health care, food service, transportation, etc.

      Any adult who falls outside that? I have no fucks to give. But I resent like hell when they arrive in my county’s hospital, taking beds and services locals need when they arrive sick because of the “hoax” they don’t believe is happening. They put my community at risk because of their stupidity.

  14. P J Evans says:

    In some areas they’re advertising the shots with “prevent ED” billboards – COVD-19 can cause that, because it loves blood vessels.

    • Eureka says:

      I was talking about that — the COVID-related ED in younger men — along with the ??s about COVID’s impact on spermatogenesis and such with a friend concerned about how a vaccine might affect her teen son’s fertility (a concern generated by exposure to fever swamps of misinfo/disinfo — they set hooks for everyone). But thankfully she appreciates science. And the more parents that get and live through a vaccine (series), I think the worries that some have and/or shift to their kids will wane.

      [This was after Pfizer had completed its bridge study in the 12-16 yo and said they’d seek an EUA for them but that news seems drowned by the J&J-related announcements. FYI for any concerned parent reading, while safety was of course addressed, the main concern among (pediatric) vaccine experts was whether it also would be _effective_ in tw/eens. And it was, for the relatively small sample size of a bridge study.]

  15. Geoguy says:

    Finally got my first jab the other day at a mega-site provided by one of the big health care systems. It was a 200 mile round trip but I’m good with that. It was ridiculously well run by the Air Force and FEMA; in and out in 45 minutes. There was no telling when I could get an appointment through our State Department of Health. Can’t wait for the second!

  16. posaune says:

    Family is now fully vaccinated. Son and spouse just got 2nd dose this week,
    so waiting the two weeks for full immunity. Son got his at Children’s Hospital — and were they ever professional: single lines separated, chair 6′-spacing, individual rooms, a hand held disposable timer for each child for the 15-min wait, and then a dedicated exit door leading to the parking garage. So relieved we’ve completed the shots, but somewhat worried about the variants. Still double-masking, distancing, ordering groceries by delivery. What a world!

  17. klynn says:

    Hub and I are done with our second Pfizer. About two weeks to go until immunity. Kids got there first shots this week. By the end of May our family will have full immunity.

    When our youngest got his first shot and was given a sticker. He said, “I want to preserve the sticker to show my kids one day and tell them my covid experience story and how a revolutionary vaccine saved the world. I’ve participated in something as big as, maybe bigger than, a moon walk with my Pfizer arm poke.”

    I noted how I loved that he was think of his future and future family. He replied, “ The vaccine will help protect my ability to have kids. Honestly, I’m surprised by male antivaxers- knowing what covid can do to males reproductive system.”

  18. joel fisher says:

    “We are never going to reach herd immunity so long as people refuse to be vaccinated.” The last 8 words were unnecessary. I don’t believe we are ever going to reach herd immunity, period. There is a sufficient crowd of morons and cynical GOP scum–the vaccinated Mr. Trump, and others–who, as you say, will use the vaccine issue to advance their own corrupt concept of “freedom” into the greater moron/evangelical community, and there will be enough of them to provide the virus with tens of millions of people to infect on an ongoing basis.
    But the other problem is this: the common cold. How have we not reached herd immunity to the common cold? Answer: it keeps changing just enough to avoid detection by our immune systems and, guess what, the common cold is caused by a Corona virus. Not as deadly, but mother nature is constantly rolling out new models. Thus, we will have to get used to the idea that an annual Covid shot is just part of the landscape, at least until there is some sort of universal–covering the current virus and all potential variants–vaccine. It follows, then, that electoral success is a must as a GOP House, Senate, or (shudder) President would never do anything to enforce vaccinations and might very well discourage them.

  19. Tom says:

    As you’ve probably learned from the Jake Tapper item on CNN yesterday, we up here in Canada are falling down on our vaccine distribution. The only family member who’s received a jab so far is my youngest daughter as she provides an essential service working with developmentally delayed adults. Right now I’m still waiting to hear back from my local pharmacy as to when they’ll have time to see me. I’m not sure what vaccine I’ll be getting but at this point I’d be willing take one from the Acme Corporation.

    The fears of the vaccine-resistant crowd seem oddly misplaced when there are so many other more probable risks in our daily lives. Myself, I worry more about taking a tumble down my basement stairs than I do about the adverse effects of any vaccine. Ditto for driving at night, or driving in the winter, or driving at night in the winter, or driving and seeing the massive grill of some honking big pick-up truck suddenly zoom up into your rearview mirror, or driving and watching obviously distracted drivers veer over the centre line as their car approaches you, or driving at any time of the day or season of the year and running into a distracted deer–or two or three or more–crossing the road in front of you. That’s what I worry about. Also, my kids asking to borrow money.

  20. skua says:

    What kinds of mental self-abuse are Trumpist using to ignore DJT’s (very late) endorsement of the COVID vaccines?

        • Rayne says:

          And yet he and his mean bimbo spouse hid from the public when they got their shots the first week of January. Kind of sends a mixed message.

          • skua says:

            If Trump gave a s*** about the lives of Americans he’d be making weekly, unambiguous statements urging people to vaccinate.

            • P J Evans says:

              If he were concerned about the rest of us, he wouldn’t have tried to shut down every agency that deals with things like the pandemic, and the co-op lab in Wuhan that figured it out.

            • Rayne says:

              His agenda was always about his own narcissistic ass and getting re-elected. It was never about protecting the American people as a whole, just his base. Kushner, by restraining COVID aid to blue states, furthered Trump’s interests. Team Trump literally wanted to kill people who weren’t going to vote for him.

              And now that his insurrectionists failed him, he feels no further obligation to them.

  21. Pete T says:

    Thanks Rayne – good stuff. Unfortunately we have one of those “wait and see” non vaxxers in close family. Time to have a family intervention of sorts and bring the hammer down. It would be an extreme 1 on X pile on where X is close to 10.

    Unless the world attains herd immunity, travel alone is going to keep this alive at some non zero rate.

    On a somewhat related note, have you (or anyone) given any thought to COVID becoming endemic and having to be treated with periodic – possibly annual – vaccination, kind of similar to the flu?

    I guess the lead time of having to guess on the flu strains to create an annual vax might be a bit more complicated for COVID.

    • Rayne says:

      We’re going to need boosters for the next handful of years I figure — we have to vaccinate the entire planet, eliminate any new strains which may bypass the first vaccines, and then we need to ensure the disease is not endemic in domesticated and wild animals, waiting to hop back to humans.

      I don’t think pet owners have thought this out yet. We know the virus can infect cats, dogs, minks, bats — what else?

      I’m also thoroughly annoyed about media figures disparaging “hygiene theater”; while there have been extremely few documented cases of COVID via fomite transmission, other diseases like influenza have dropped to almost nothing because of that theater, not just mask wearing. I say this because even in areas where anti-maskers live in concentrations, there’s almost nothing in the way of flu.

      I wish I could get my hands on comparative data for most common infectious diseases over the last 10 years because I’m betting the so-called “hygiene theater” along with mask wearing and social distancing made a serious dent in them. It’d be a shame if they rebounded when we are trying to recover from a pandemic.

      • e.a.f. says:

        In British Columbia, they advised we had little in the way of flu this past winter. I suspect its due to a lot of people not going out, wearing masks, socially distancing, and places cleaning cleaning cleaning. The hair salon I go to, its cleaner than some hospitals. You don’t touch a surface without a stylist cleaning it.

        I expect in the future, when we go for our annual flu shots, we’ll be getting booster shots for covid. My take on things is, Covid like Ebola will be with us forever, as is AIDs. Now all of that can be managed, but we will have to put in some real effort world wide.

        In British Columbia we have areas in the Fraser Valley where not every one has their children vaccinated with the usual and there are outbreaks of measles, etc. If things go the same way with Covid, we’ll never get rid of it. of course some people may change their minds about the vaccine once they see more and more people as long haulers, especially if they’re young people.

        Some religious (fundamentalist christian) groups have ignored the Chief Medical Officer’s declarations regarding gatherings and it doesn’t look like they’re going to change their minds.

        Currently in B.C. we have Ramadan and Vaisakhi. This is year two of no big celebrations but these religious communities are adjusting. No big parades for Vaisakhi, no giving out of food, etc. However, some young Sikhs in Vancouver have decided to celebrate Vaisakhi by volunteering at meal distribution centers for those who are food insecure.

        Mosques have adjusted. Breaking your Ramadan fast is not the same, but families are doing new and different things to ensure Covid does not spread.

        All over the world we’ve seen people arguing their “rights” are being violated by mask laws. My take on all of that is, if you don’t wear a mask you’re violating my right to live. If you give me Covid, I die so does the sibling. Might be some Supreme Courts will have to decide whose rights take priority.

        • P J Evans says:

          In the past, US courts have said that public health takes priority. But with the current lot of “conservative” (meaning reactionary) judges, that’s no longer a given, even though it goes back to the 18th century.

  22. madwand says:

    Local VA called me back in January and scheduled both shots in February 20 days apart. It was very organized, they showed a continuously running video, explaining the shots and possible reactions, while you waited for your shot and then you had a 15 minute waiting period after the shot for any adverse reaction. Done extremely well and I had a lot of confidence in it, which runs counter to the general reputation of VA hospitals and clinics. Many veterans of color getting the vaccine where I went. The VA then opened the clinic on a Saturday for local populations to take advantage, a nice touch.

    At the end I received a shot card, which is not very different than what you get in the military for overseas deployments. I view it as an entry card once we get rolling again and overseas travel becomes more probable. Carry it with your passport, it may keep you out of quarantining along with a current test. Military types are very used to the shot card, as they have had to prove, more than once, that they received a shot to prevent having to get a second one when the medical types failed to record it.

    Ron De Santis is off his rocker, not for the first time, about vaccination cards, the US CDC recommends travelers be to date on all vaccinations which are pertinent to the countries of travel. Obviously one would want to prove it if it became a barrier to entry.

    Welcome back Rayne.

  23. OldTulsaDude says:

    Herd immunity must be worldwide, not just a U.S.A. goal. Let’s do more to take care of those who have little.

  24. bloopie2 says:

    Off topic, but perhaps another way to save lives. Make police handguns Day-Glo orange in color while keeping their Tasers black in color. A bit harder to make that “mistake” again.

    And on topic, my spouse and I have received both Pfizer shots and are still taking the same precautions as before. We’re not desperate to go out bar-hopping, so why not?

    • Rayne says:

      Tasers aren’t necessarily black. They can be bright yellow. The bigger problem is firearms in the right-hand holster if a cop is right-handed, requiring unnatural left-hand or cross-body reach to pull a taser.

      • posaune says:

        maybe the holster for the dominant hand should by default be the taser. If the gun is needed, it will take another second to retrieve it cross-body. Might make them think. Maybe.

        • Nord Dakota says:

          I heard that this IS the standard as of recent years. No word as far as I know how the Mpls officer was wearing her gear.

  25. The Old Redneck says:

    There is some weird notion of strength or masculinity underlying this anti-vaxx current. Getting a vaccine means conceding that Covid could harm you if you don’t. That means you’re weak, or at least not invincible as you wish to be.

    I think of this every time I see that jackass Bolsonaro. He says Covid is nothing to worry about while it runs rampant through Brazil. Closer to home, think of Trump returning to the White House after getting world class treatment for Covid, and making a big show of taking his mask off for the cameras.

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      It’s not a macho thing but an ideology thing: John Galt didn’t wear a mask; neither did Jesus.

      • Rayne says:

        Sadly, the ones using John Galt as an example are likely not to realize Galt’s a fictional character written by a selfish old bat who not only had some weird thing with Alan Greenspan but lived out the last of her days on socialism, I mean, Social Security.

    • Rayne says:

      You know what’s weird? Same anti-mask/COVID’s a hoax/anti-vaxx dudes under the influence of toxic masculinity are likely to be affected worst by COVID because they have Low T.

      The irony.

      As for Bolsonaro: He’s cocky in part because he survived COVID, but that was the earlier strain. I wonder if it fried his cognitive powers as it likely did Trump’s, impairing his judgment even further.

        • e.a.f. says:

          could be that is how “mother nature” is going to cull the herd. If you’re too dumb to wear a mask or get a vaccine, should you really be reproducing?

          You’d think people would want to adhere to protocols and also get their vaccines to protect their families and friends. Just don’t get it when people ignore the science.

  26. John Lehman says:

    Welcome back Rayne.

    Month passed since our J+J shots,
    step-daughter, son-in-law and sister-in-law just got their second shots

    11yr old grandson is organizing a backyard water balloon party celebration…..
    expecting 80 F in Portland this weekend.

    …sometimes life is great.

    • Rayne says:

      If there’s an upside to this pandemic, it’s that many of us have been given a new perspective on the little things in life like tweenagers’ water balloon parties.

      Good to know that your family is fully vaccinated. :-)

    • blueedredcounty says:

      Very happy to see you back posting, Rayne!

      I got my first Pfizer shot on 3/24, my second is scheduled for 4/21. I’m in San Diego.

      A few weeks ago, there was a lot of frustration trying to get vaccination appointments because the county had expanded the eligibility criteria so it was wider than the state criteria. If you went to the county website to try to make an appointment, it would redirect to the state site and tell you that you weren’t eligible at this time.

      The trick was to go to one of the pharmacy sites, which would allow you to make the appointment but tell you if you didn’t meet local requirements, you would be turned away. I know this is anecdotal, but the method worked for myself, my sisters, and four friends – spread across multiple states (OH, WI, IL, and SoCal).

      I have a friend currently living in Germany who flew back to the US earlier this week to get vaccinated, because the roll-out in Europe is slower.

      I had to travel on business to India back in the late 90’s, needed a shit-load of boosters, and I still have that vaccination card. Now I have a second for COVID. People better get used to the fact that if they want to travel out of the country, they will be refused permission to board if they don’t have proof of vaccination and possibly a current negative COVID test. And whatever DeSantis has proclaimed isn’t going to mean squat in terms of the authority of cruise lines have to refuse boarding to passengers without the necessary paperwork. Especially when the vessels are flagged by foreign countries, and are bound for foreign ports.

      What I think is most amazing is how we have gone from no plan for how to get vaccines distributed back at the beginning of January, to where we are now. What a difference ten weeks (and a competent administration) makes!

      • Rayne says:

        Congrats on your first jab! Glad to hear your second is just days away!

        And yes, amazing that we’re this far given the foreshortened transition thanks to Emily goddamned Murphy-GSA administrator, and the utter lack of a program upon Biden’s inauguration. It’s messy as hell, but it’s really beginning to gather steam.

  27. harpie says:

    Hi Rayne! Nice to have you back!

    One Pfizer down, one to go! hooray!
    I will be the last adult in my immediate family to be vaccinated.

    • Rayne says:

      Continuing to wear a mask is prudent for two reasons — the first is that as long as we haven’t reached herd immunity, new variants which may slip by the vaccine may still spread. And in California, wildfire season will be horrid and the smoke will be awful. Stay safe.

      • P J Evans says:

        I am not looking forward to fire season. But there’s less to burn this year, after last year’s fires.
        Masks don’t help much with smoke.

      • e.a.f. says:

        I’m truly hoping parental unit nature is going to give us a break this summer with not too many forest fires. In British Columbia the thinking is, we may not have too bad of a fire season. Its sort of like, what is left to burn, and then I realize a lot. Not up for that. Lets hope California gets a break along with Oregon and Washington State. The left coast of North America deserves a break from forest fires this summer.

  28. dimmsdale says:

    Hi all, just checking in to say a big THANK YOU to Rayne (missed you!) and everyone who commented, for your numerous useful points. Got one friend who’s a “b-b-b-but we don’t know the long-term effects…” guy, who fortunately is taking every conceivable precaution to keep himself & everyone around him safe and distant; here in NYC the mask-wearing has if anything increased, anecdotally I’d put it at near 90% on public conveyances and on the street. Yes, it’s a bubble here, and my hat’s off to those of you forced to encounter “but mah freedumb” yokels on a regular basis (I’d be a ball of rage most of the time). Kevin Drum ran a post yesterday entertaining the idea of a national mask MANDATE for federal employees in the workplace; it’s an attractive idea but I wonder if it’s enforceable. (the idea of some sort of ‘reckless disregard’ lawsuit being brought against homicidal nincompoops like Roem and DeSantis is likewise attractive, but likewise problematic, I’m guessing?) Anyway, thanks again all, please stay safe.

      • P J Evans says:

        Bus system in L.A. has outside electronic signs that face coverings are required by federal law. Most people have them on before they get on, but a few are slow. They don’t seem to get that you can wear them all the time.

        • MB says:

          Last month I had the opportunity to ride a Culver City bus down Sepulveda from CC to Westchester, where I live, while my car was at the mechanic. There were pre-recorded announcements over the bus’ PA system every 5 minutes about the required mask usage. Everybody on the bus was indeed wearing a mask. There was a homeless female passenger on board who had a mask on, but it fit very loosely and quickly fell down below her nose. The bus driver actually turned around and addressed her directly to wear the mask over her nose, and she complied immediately. 30 seconds later the mask had slipped again. And when the pre-recorded mask announcement came over the PA for the 3rd or 4th time, this woman started to complain very loudly (to nobody in particular) “how many times do we have to listen to that?”

          There ya go…a little slice of pandemic life on L.A. area public transit system.

        • Rayne says:

          I can’t recall if public transportation was included in the Day 1 executive order or not — I do recall seeing there was a mandate for that.

          • P J Evans says:

            They were requiring it before, but they didn’t have the “federal law” bit. (Hadn’t been on a bus since mid-January. I use it to visit some of my doctors, being easier than dealing with their parking structure.)

    • Rayne says:

      I like Andi Zeisler and follow her along with her media outlet, Bitch Media. I agree with all she’s said except I don’t think the CDC handled the J&J situation well. It’s not unlike what happened in Germany with AstraZeneca’s vaccine — suspension of the vaccine March 15, not enough information shared with public about the reasons at the time — resulting in a slowdown of vaccine acceptance.

      • madwand says:

        Yep and I like her next to last sentence aimed at those critics of her getting the vaccine in the first place.

        “Science, unlike religion and some politicians, doesn’t pretend it’s infallible. And I don’t have any use for a know-nothing disguised as a know-it-all.”

  29. cpolblue says:

    I live in NW Indiana and just got my second shot last week. I mentioned to the woman giving it to me that I was dismayed about the number of health care professionals who weren’t getting vaccinated and she said she was one of them. “I don’t go anywhere,” and “My body can fight the disease,” were her explanations. So apparently there is no requirement here for providers to be vaccinated before dealing with the public?!?

  30. e.a.f. says:

    I’m getting my shot 18 April and am so looking forward to it. Haven’t been anywhere but to the grocery store once a month for over a year and ditto for the post office. No shopping for shoes, etc. ensured a good supply of booze prior to covid hitting our area in 2020. Still good, but getting low.

    In my opinion, there isn’t going to be “herd immunity”. We don’t really know how this will impact our health in the future. I’d like to see the end of the movie, so I’m going for the shot.

    One of my friend’s sons simply tells his buddies who don’t want a vaccine, COVID may cause erectile dysfunction.

    Some may argue one of the vaccines causes blood clots. Birth control pills increase your chances of blood clots much more than the vaccine and the birth control pills are still on the market. Given only a few people have had blood clots and over 500K have died due to Covid in the U.S.A., I’d take the vaccine.

    Its rather crazy in my opinion, that about 19K people died last year in the U.S.A. due to guns yet they have their knickers in a knot because of a few blood clot incidents.

    Get the shot. Covid kills. In Quebec one gym had a case of COVID and 350 people caught it from the one person, it moved that fast and thoroughly through the population.

    • The Old Redneck says:

      The women who got clots after taking the J&J vaccine were 18-48. My first thought was to wonder, being of childbearing age, whether they are using oral contraceptives.

        • bmaz says:

          Also, CDC/FDA could easily have merely “paused” application of J+J as to women under 50 while continuing apace for all others, if they had to pause anything at all (and I am not sure they should have at all).

          • e.a.f. says:

            I look at it this way, my chances of dying from a blood clot induced vaccine is way less than being murdered by a man who I know. the stats are there.

            In Quebec a couple of weeks go they had big marches, masked, because women were being murdered by their domestic partners at the rate of one a week. 8 weeks, 8 dead women. femicide has increased during covid and the governments haven’t done much about it. Usually in Canada the rate is one woman a week dies in the country because of a domestic unit or a former one, so 8 dead women in 8 weeks in one province is a big deal. I’d rather take the shot, even if they suspected there was a higher death rate. Its still lower than being murdered by a domestic unit or former domestic unit.

          • Eureka says:

            It’s true the pause may be — is — doing more harm than good, but J&J has a male case in their trial data so there’s no splitting this baby yet:

            At Wednesday’s meeting, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices learned that nine cases have been found among the 7.2 million U.S. recipients of J&J’s immunization, authorized in early March. Seven of those cases were reported to the government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, and two additional cases — including a 25-year-old man — were identified by J&J in its clinical trial data.


            Adding: haven’t seen anything else about this case so don’t know that this is a cis-male

  31. pdaly says:

    Hoping the hold on the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine distribution can be sorted out quickly. Clotting from COVID-19 infection among the general population is associated with a much higher risk than is clotting reported in the population of recently vaccinated. We need as many vaccine options as possible to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus before many more mutations occur. One and done can speed up the number of fully vaccinated people.

    In the long term there is a shortcoming to the J&J vaccine if we require repeated booster vaccines.

    There is a limited number of times the J&J vaccine can be used in the same person–maybe as few as TWO times due to the fact our immune system eventually recognizes and defeats the inactivated adenovirus that is used as the viral vector (the hollowed out suitcase that has been packed with DNA of the coronavirus spike protein). J&J would have to have new viral vectors picked out and be confident that most humans would not already have antibodies to that viral vector in order for the vaccine to work.

    Fortunately, our immune system does not learn to attack the mRNA vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer.

    Props to the indefatigable Hungarian scientist Katalin Kariko

  32. Alan Charbonneau says:

    My wife and I are nearing 4 weeks since dose #2 of the Pfizer vaccine. I only had a few mild symptoms the night of shot #1 and none after shot #2.

    As to the speed of the vaccine’s release, recall that many news reports said it might be a year or even several years before a safe and effective vaccine was available. As you point out, previous vaccine development and studies have enabled us to get a vaccine out much sooner than many people had expected, but that information was also known when the initial vaccine availability timelines were being discussed and, presumably, was taken into account.

    Ergo, people might reasonably think it’s rushed due to all of the tamping down of expectations. Hopefully, they’ll be persuaded otherwise and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. Some of the resistance to vaccination is due to ignorance, not bad intent (I don’t think you were suggesting otherwise)

    • Rayne says:

      ALL vaccines come with risks. ALL of them. No exceptions. When a foreign substance is introduced to the human body, we still cannot be 100.0% certain how each human body will react.

      Even the annual flu shot has come with risks though they are extremely small, ex. anaphylaxis in those which used eggs, ORS in some flu vaccines used in Canada. Some risks are so very small we can’t be certain they have anything to do with the flu vaccine at all (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK190013/). The mRNA versions look to be nearly as safe as flu shots.

      I’ll admit I was surprised the vaccine came when it did; I was extremely worried there would be pressure to shortcut Phase 3 trials to roll out the vaccine before Election Day. And though I was still surprised we had a vaccine before the end of the year (which was Fauci’s ballpark guesstimate), I completely buy into its having been tested adequately by its release in November — I was off by 1-3 months by my guesstimate.

      But we’re talking weeks to months, not months to years, which is why the skepticism makes no sense. I suspect we gained a lot of time with the speed that an isolated genomic sequence was delivered (thank you, China), for which the average person not in virology/microbiology likely has no feel. And it’s this along with the steps along the way CDC+FDA need to communicate more broadly to the public so they gain more trust in the vaccines.

      • pdaly says:

        Rayne, I meant to thank you earlier for putting all this together, the science of these vaccines and the current myths /excuses of the non-adopters.

        I’ve been fully vaccinated (Moderna) since the end of February.

        I try to avoid a stand off with people on the fence who tell me they’re concerned about the speed with which the vaccines came out. Instead, I agree with them: ‘Yes, these vaccines were completed in record time from when we first learned of COVID-19.’

        After validating their concern it is then easier to introduce the fact that the vaccines are built on valid science which is, as you point out, decades in the making and also that each of the vaccine trials included about 30,000 volunteers (per vaccine) instead of the usual number of about 300 volunteers needed to obtain FDA approval of a new drug.

        I also explain the Emergency Use Authorization tag is necessary to distinguish it from FDA approved drugs that require 6 months of monitoring volunteers. The monitoring period is shortened to 2.5 to 3 months for the EUA, because during a pandemic time matters–but that the majority of severe side effects, it they are to happen at all, usually occur in the first 2 to 3 months. That is why the FDA waited that long before issuing the EUA.

        Some are reassured by this.

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks, pdaly — this is what will likely reassure the health care worker who expressed their hesitancy to me, that the vaccines are still rigorously tested.

      • Eureka says:

        The other thing I don’t get about current hesitancy — and this may be another example of missing explicit communication — is partly addressed in the flip-side of the research on HCW you cited above: the vast number of folks vaccinated post-market far surpasses the general number of about three million doses after which vaccine experts breathe a proverbial sigh of relief as to rare side effects exposed by number (besides time). This according to Paul Offit, who says this stuff — these perhaps more arcane details that I think would reassure the public but don’t always make it to cable news show hits — regularly in interviews at places like JAMA Network and Medscape.

        When I share details like this with hesitant others, they’re palpably reassured. But where is this in the national (lay) conversation?

        Amongst the HCW and nursing home/residential facility folks who got the first doses post-EUA, I did understand some hesitancy, wanting to see how things played out (and as I’ve said before, those who suffered the most loss and betrayal in the hot fires of COVID also deserved the understanding. At the same time the rational amongst them had no real free ‘choice’ but to sign up post-haste, as things were acutely bad then) .

        But why it lingers, especially in those with access to info outside the echo chambers, is a bit mysterious to me.

        • pdaly says:

          Hi, Eureka. Good point about the difference in vaccine hesitancy now vs. mid-December 2020 when the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were first given FDA Emergency Use Authorization.

          One minor detail. The 30,000 ballpark number I used for vaccine recipients represents the volunteers in the vaccine trials, which may have included non-health care workers. This was before the health care workers and other front line workers as a group then started to be vaccinated (late December 2020).

          Now that we’re in mid-April the FDA has access to at least 7 months (or more ) of longitudinal data on the original volunteers.

          More recently, I’ve been fielding questions from vaccine-hesitant people who have heard something like ‘the Catholic Church has a problem with the use of aborted fetus tissue used to make the covid vaccine.’

          This is not quite true. The Catholic Pope, Pope Francis, encourages Catholics to receive the COVID mRNA vaccines to save lives. He obtained his first injection in January 2021. If a vaccine comes along that make no use of fetal cell lines, then I suppose the Church would suggest people choose among the options (assuming the people have a choice).

          As you suggest and as Rayne says above, time for the CDC and FDA do more public education about the science.

          • pdaly says:

            What I have read is that fetal cell lines from aborted tissue in the 1970s (yes almost 50 yrs ago!) were used to TEST the COVID mRNA vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna, but that the fetal cell lines were NOT used in the production of the vaccine that has been injected into the arms of people.

            I also read fetal cell lines, from aborted tissue in the 1980s (almost 40 years ago), are used to manufacture the ADENOVIRUS vector used in the J&J vaccine.

            No recently aborted fetus tissue has been used in any of the above vaccines.

            Minnesota’s Institute of Clinical Systems Improvement website:

          • Nord Dakota says:

            I live a block from the local cathedral and my roommate is Catholic (who tangles with the priests over abortion and birth control and sex generally). He says the priests (not sure about the bishop) locally are pushing the aborted babies narrative.

          • Eureka says:

            Your example about Pope Francis [and how his statements may calm and/or direct some Catholics wrt the vaccine(s)] reminds me of how in teaching introductory evolutionary theory, I followed a mentor’s technique of citing religious figures who acknowledge and are A-OK with the concept of evolution to forestall or soften that piece of resistance in some. Pope John Paul’s Papal Bull in 1995 was really important there, finding evolution compatible with the church’s teachings (so long as agency was left to God in the creation of the soul).

            This particular course met a Biology requirement so it attracted all comers, a wide audience not necessarily committed to the Modern Synthesis or the later, titular idea of Dobzhansky (that) “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution”.

            • Eureka says:

              *1996, I am having quite the edit-botch evening.

              This is a good brief summary of the history of Catholic Church statements on evolution and how most of MSM went nuts like Pope Francis said something way outside the park in his consistent remarks .

              Interestingly Bannon and his/related outlets were busy going to town on Pope Francis at the time, and while they are not mentioned here I can’t help but wonder if MSM was recapitulating their reactionism. The cited outlets surely seem guilty of the poor framing which they continue to this day and our detriment:

              Sorry, But Media Coverage of Pope Francis is Papal Bull
              By Elizabeth Dias October 29, 2014 11:52 AM EDT

              • pdaly says:

                I didn’t know you taught biology. The history of evolutionary theory is such a great topic whether discussing the scientific theories, the personalities of the competing scientists, or the intersection with politics.

                When Trump was interfering with the pandemic response and contradicting scientific understanding of COVID-19 mitigation strategies, I was reminded of Lysenkoism.

                • Eureka says:

                  Yes, past and perhaps future — am dealing with eldercare and other issues now/again that make it seem like taking care of a vent-/ PEG-/ etc.-dependent post-stroke family member at home was a walk in the park.

                  Wrt evolutionary theory, the personalities, and public events, I also liked how the Most Rev. Michael Curry — in his speech at Harry & Meghan’s wedding — invoked Teilhard de Chardin in a way that addressed (pwned, really) the undercurrents of racism to say (basically) we are all from Africa and the Royals wouldn’t be there (either) otherwise.

                  Good point about Lysenkoism. During the pandemic I’ve mostly been focused on the population/ quantitative genetics aspects, screaming, “This is not a Monte Carlo simulation this is real life!” as to viral (co-)evolution and the implications (**gestures at tragic mess all around**). Also about this all partly being a consequence of the failure to teach evolution in schools. Savage Librarian and I had a nice chat about that when my rant broke through to pixels here.

              • Rayne says:

                Keep in mind Bannon was trying to acquire an Italian castle for a fascist development camp, I mean, think tank. Bannon, alleged to be Catholic yet 3x divorced, had the support of right-wing elements in the Church opposed to Pope Francis.

                Thank God Bannon was arrested and indicted though narrowly pardoned by Trump; whatever he was cooking up was slowed.

                I really should write something about liberation theology and how it influences Francis in addition to his STEM background, while putting him at odds with the conservative fascist portion of the Catholic church, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get to it.

  33. Eureka says:

    OT for scribe and fellow interested trash talkers: Marvin “Leroy” Keyes died today.


    Fifty years from now we might have a similar story of how the Eagles _did_ tank properly, but lost their SB-winning head coach(-ing staff in near entirety), (manbaby) QB, AND THEIR PICK because Howie traded down [insert remaining pathologies and gripes]. But let’s hope that _that_ story begets no more Dancing Itos: I don’t think the life course of too-bad-we’ll-never-see-him-in-Eagles-green Kyle Pitts would go that way.

    And congrats on your Stillers’ forthcoming twice-annual Brownies-with-Clowney convention. /s

    • Rayne says:

      I’m skeptical given the preponderance of cases in women under 60. Could be birth control/HRT related, might not be — but when there’s a sizable number of complaints of side effects in women which correlate to phases of menstrual cycle, there’s probably one more piece missing in this puzzle.

  34. Eureka says:

    As an Asian American woman, I’ve realized no one is coming to save me | Opinion
    As an advocate for women’s safety, I fight for gun rights and want more self-defense tools in AAPI communities.
    by Annette S.L. Evans, For the Inquirer
    Published Apr 15, 2021

    I thought I was safe. I have always lived what seemed like a “nice life,” in nice neighborhoods — currently just outside West Chester — with a nice professional job using my nice professional degree.

    Even though I cultivated a second career teaching self-defense skills, my personal sense of danger was largely theoretical and revolved around being a woman. Recently, especially in the last year, I’ve learned how wrong I was — that it was my Asian hair and eyes more than my gender that would put me at very real risk, and that it is vital for me to share effective personal protection strategies with the AAPI community too.

    My feeling of racial belonging started changing when “kung flu” went from joke to popular vernacular during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. It lurched when my college roommate told me how a random white woman hurled racist insults at her and her daughter while they were shopping one day. As the wave of anti-Asian crime swelled in early 2021, I became increasingly concerned.

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t see much reaction yet in AAPI community but this piece will likely not have much support because of the gun rights promotion.

      Personally, I have enough to worry about with my AAPI family’s safety not to worry about one of them getting shot because they have a gun in their possession. ~sigh~

      • Eureka says:

        Well, yeah: I slapped that subhead in as a caveat.

        Most of the AAPI advocacy I’ve seen locally has focused on publicizing the violence (of speech and other acts) problem and reminding viewers/ readers that we are all a community and must confront all the racisms. In context, there have been a lot of specials, PSAs, editorials, and such about BLM and related issues, hosted/written by Black journalists, and it’s like AAPI public figures have stepped into that ever-more-welcome discourse space (albeit necessitated by horrible people and their actions) to claim their own and remind everyone, “Hello, we’re here too and this is what’s going on.” And allies of course. There was just another vigil last weekend.

        Community leaders/public figures resumed this year’s campaign coincident with the Chinese New Year. So by now’s come time for less-central takes, perhaps, like Evans’.

        • Rayne says:

          I re-read that piece after I had a little time to let my hackles down and it’s a bloody advertisement for her services masquerading as an op-ed. The AAPI community is giving her the cold shoulder, absolutely no mention of her across a list of nearly 200 people and organizations, more focus on mutual aid and other cross-community resources.

          Not hard to ignore her altogether when four southeast Asians were gunned down in Indianapolis, though, a month after the last mass shooting of Asian Americans and immigrants.

          • Eureka says:

            Ah, hijacking the cause, catching eyeballs made rapt by those who preceded her. Gotcha.

            I haven’t really had the tv news on all night (which I use as a barometer of public awareness), so don’t know how much the Indianapolis hate-crime aspect is addressed outside of twitter/online discussion.

            Either way this gun shit and general and targeted violence is out of control.

  35. Philip Jones says:

    Thanks Rayne. My wife and I are 70+ and we have had our 2 shots of vaccine here in the UK, the first in February. I had been sceptical about the ability to produce an effective and safe vaccine in such a short time-frame, but by the time the roll out started I was convinced. We were booked for the MSD one, which was fine with us but when we arrived they had Pfizer which needed to be used so we had that. It didn’t bother me which one. Our daughter in healthcare has had the MSD. My view has been to take whichever one is offered and tell that to everyone I know. As Rayne says there are rare adverse events with all vaccines – and all medicines for that matter. The benefits far outweigh the risks for the individual and it protects others.
    I confess I’m a vaccine believer. Both our children had all the vaccines available including Pertussis, about which there was a scare at that time, in my view because of one flawed report.
    Regulatory processes differ from country to country, but their reviews all point in the same direction even though there are differences on specific issues. It’s important to distinguish the wood from the individual trees.
    By the way, one of my first tasks after being appointed as a Microbiologist in the NHS was to supervise the de-commissioning of a redundant Smallpox Hospital. Enough said!
    Thanks again

      • Philip Jones says:

        The emergence of that that variant was a big wake-up call here. Despite relatively high take-up rates of vaccine compared to some countries we are nowhere near out of the woods yet. For example, my local hospital has seen increased admissions lately despite vaccination rates comparable to other parts of the UK. We all have a long way to go.
        (bmaz agreed it was ok for me to use my actual name in future posts).

  36. Bellringer says:

    My apologies for inadvertently posting my previous comment under “Philip Jones” rather than my registered name “Bellringer”. An honest mistake, though I realise a very annoying one.

    [If you would prefer your previous comment to appear under your pseudonym, let me know and I’ll address it and delete this comment. /~Rayne]

    • bmaz says:

      Naw, you are good, and thanks for the advisory! And, yes, get what shot you can; it is good for you and good for society.

      • Philip Jones says:

        Ive only made a couple of posts and if it’s ok I would actually like to post in my actual name in future. Is that a problem ?

        • bmaz says:

          Nope, not at all! All we ask is that people are straight up with who they are. And thank you for honoring that.

  37. Nord Dakota says:

    I found a January issue of the New Yorker I had forgotten to read, which had a long, long article about the pandemic including content about work that had been done prior to covid on mRNA vaccine technology. One bit in the article that caught my attention was that POLIO is asymptomatic or mild in something like 99% of infections. I had no idea this was the case.

    • P J Evans says:

      Cousin had polio, and came out of it with one leg slightly affected (no need for assistance). Now that he’s 70, not sure how he’s doing – but it was a mild case to start with.

  38. Nord Dakota says:

    SOME colds are caused be coronaviruses. Others by rhinoviruses. I once heard on the radio (NPR, must have been 20 years ago so not sure if still accurate) that immunity to a single rhinovirus lasts about 7years (but there are always new kids on the block).

    Definitely the case that at age 66 I rarely, rarely get sick, contrary to when I was a kid, a college student, parent of a child. (Although my kid never got sick, I was the one coming down with ear infections and strep and pneumonia. Really not fair!)

  39. Bobster33 says:

    Has anyone heard more information related to the J+J vaccine and the blood clots? I had heard that women who are susceptible to blood clots AND are on birth control may have an increased risk of developing blood clots. Since all of the incidents involved women of child bearing age, this may explain the problems. I recognize that it is early in the investigation, but I am curious.

    On a personal note, I got my first Moderna two weeks ago, my wife got J+J last week (she’s over 50 and not on birth control).

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