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This Is Bullshit: Silver Takes the Gold for COVID Guff [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Update at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

I’m sure my neighbors wondered what the hell was going on here Friday. The weather was nice enough that my windows were wide open exposing those within hearing to my vented spleen. There was so much crap in my social media I couldn’t help yell, “Bullshit, bullshit, absolute bullshit!” I can only hope they thought I was yelling about the Olympics.

What really set me off was dangerous twaddle from someone who should long ago have learned not to opine without data.

Because he refuses to stick to his lane using data to support his case, Nate Silver has become anathema, all of his own doing. His bullshit tweet Friday about COVID can get people killed if they pay him any heed at all.

No data offered here to support this swag – it’s pure opinion.

For the last couple of months we’ve known we haven’t been dealing with the same virus variant which began the pandemic; we’re now up against a far more transmissible version the features of which researchers are still analyzing.

In its pandemic coverage, the Washington Post reported the Centers for Disease Control acknowledged in an internal memo “the war [against COVID] has changed”:

… The document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold.

It cites a combination of recently obtained, still-unpublished data from outbreak investigations and outside studies showing that vaccinated individuals infected with delta may be able to transmit the virus as easily as those who are unvaccinated. Vaccinated people infected with delta have measurable viral loads similar to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant. …

In other words our past assumptions about SARS-C0V-2 no longer work; this isn’t a virus with a replication factor of R2 (in which one infected person infects two more on average) but an R-naught much higher.

Let’s revisit what was known at the end of June this year about the Delta variant in this explainer I’ve shared before:

It’s the change in charge and in the amino acid described in Rob Swanda’s video above which may be responsible for both the high level of virus load found in both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals. Think of the electrostatic charge as acting like a magnet, attracting more virus to receptors, combined with a change to the spike protein which may allow the virus to attack host cells more quickly and not be recognized quite as rapidly by vaccinated persons’ immune systems. You’ll grasp why vaccinated persons are infectious and spreading the virus along with unvaccinated carriers.

For another overview which offers a fairly basic explanation of the process by which viruses mutate and then disperse as well as an overview of the Delta variant, see this MedCram video from July 20:

If you watch this video, do pay special note to dates on materials cited. There’s one graph in particular addressing the spread of Delta in the UK based on data from June; the spread of Delta is so aggressive that data wasn’t accurate by the time of this video a month later.

This article in BBC provides a graph showing the trend from mid/late June in the UK; Delta’s spread continued along that rapid uptick, resulting in more hospitalizations though vaccinations kept the rate from matching the last COVID surge. The MedCram video (at 5:17) does attribute the increase to the Delta variant.

Note also the differences in population testing positive for Delta – now much younger – and the admissions. While vaccinated individuals are still unlikely to need hospitalization as documented outbreaks like that in Provincetown MA show, they can still get the virus. We still don’t yet know what the long-term repercussions are among vaccinated individuals who have asymptomatic or mild cases of COVID. We do know that previous variants have caused damage among infected individuals even though they had asymptomatic or mild cases, and younger people including children were among those who were injured.

But now that we know vaccinated persons can both be infected with Delta and spread it, vaccinated persons can’t simply “choose to live [their] life ~however [they] want under COVID” because they pose a danger to individuals who can’t be vaccinated or are immune compromised.

That’s someone like Montel Williams, living with a compromised immune system, fully vaccinated, did everything right to protect himself, and yet someone infected him through thoughtless carelessness:

Don’t listen to bullshit from unqualified hacks who don’t have skin in the game. Pay attention to credentialed virologists, epidemiologists, public health professionals who are on top of the data related to COVID and the peer-reviewed research about its variants.

Above all continue to wear masks and maintain some level of social distancing even if you’re vaccinated, not just because you may become mildly ill but because you may infect others who may not be able to be vaccinated — particularly children — or who may be immune compromised.

This tweet shows the difference between an infected young teen’s lungs and health lungs; imagine this happening to younger children, unable to be vaccinated while vaccines have yet to be approved for use among those under age 12:

Prevent this from happening to more children by encouraging vaccination. The sooner we reach 70% or more vaccinated, the faster we can halt the emergence of the next highly-transmissible and damaging SARS-CoV-2 variant.

UPDATE-1 — 2:40 PM ET 31-JUL-2021 —

When some denialist throws a 99% survival rate statistic in your face, sit them down and share this.

Oh, was I suppose to provide a trigger warning? COVID doesn’t provide them, oops.

The video above only addresses patients who’ve been hospitalized. At least one recent study suggests an average 13-14% of persons who recover from COVID have symptoms lasting weeks and months, some of which are debilitating and reflect permanent damage COVID does to the body.

Freedom. Woo. Choose to live your life however you want. Good luck getting out of bed freely after hospitalization, or keeping your job while suffering from brain fog and other cognitive impairment found in long COVID.

Three Things: Mary Had a Little Lambda [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Note the byline, thanks. Update at bottom of post. /Rayne]

It feels odd after nearly 18 months to spend so much less time reading and writing about COVID. I guess that’s what successful vaccine will do to a pandemic.

But the pandemic isn’t over, not by a long chalk. There are far too many vaccine-resistant individuals in the U.S. let alone the rest of the world for us to think we’re aren’t at continued risk, even those of us who are vaccinated. Every unvaccinated person at this point is an incubator for another variant which may succeed in evading our current vaccines.

Just get your damned shot or shots.

~ 3 ~

It absolutely amazes me how stupid the right-wing has become in this country. They cannot see Trump’s propaganda amplified by Qultists and the foreign-influenced anti-vaxx movement is literally sickening and killing them.

I wonder if this is unintended blowback, though. During the Trump regime we could expect the executive branch to act in a way which hurt minority groups the most when they intersected with Democratic voting and/or Trump’s personal pet peeves (ex. Puerto Rico where thousands died after Hurricane Maria – the same territory where a Trump-managed golf course failed).

Trump as well as Trump minions and supporters may have perceived the disease as one of blue states due to the early, deep impact on locations like New York City and Detroit. Trump’s familial henchman Jared Kushner didn’t want COVID aid to go to blue states because it was against Trump’s political interests (read: helping states with more minority voters).

But what if the right-wing has onboarded the flawed belief that COVID disproportionately affects blue states and minorities to the point that the right-wing feels they don’t need no stinking masks or vaccines? They’re white cis-het GOP voters, they are superior, they are unassailable.

Of course they aren’t and now they are dying from the Delta variant wave, in direct opposition to what a hostile foreign entity’s destabilization program might intend.

~ 2 ~

We’ve worked our way through a handful of SARS-CoV-2 variants, with Delta currently spreading like crazy across the country. This won’t be the last variant virus wave so long as less than 70-80% of the U.S. population is vaccinated.

There’s already another virus virologists, epidemiologists, and public health officials are watching closely to see if it is as transmissible as Delta or worse. Say howdy to Lambda, described here by scientist Rob Swanda.

It wouldn’t hurt to have an overview of Delta for that matter, with regard to its greatly increased transmissibility over previous variants’ mutations. Here’s Swanda’s Delta overview.

~ 1 ~

Media-disseminated disinformation and misinformation related to COVID is killing people, much of it focused on attacking the vaccines which prevent both its spread and severe infection. Joe Biden was too candid for Facebook’s taste when he said it’s killing people.

In this Twitter thread, Renee DiResta, an expert on disinformation and propaganda dispersion, looks at COVID anti-vaxx propaganda’s emergence from the earlier anti-vaxx movement which she has studied for years, and Facebook’s role in dissemination and force amplification.

Though DiResta says Facebook has improved while other media and key political figures continue disperse anti-vaxx nonsense, Facebook remains a distributor of anti-vaxx content. There’s no getting around this and Facebook only responds to accusations with defensiveness rather than offering measures to reduce anti-vaxx material in its platform.

There’s also no getting around Facebook’s resistance to criticism even from our representatives in Congress.

If any other consumer product played a role in the hospitalization of tens of thousands of Americans, hundreds if not thousands of deaths, and thousands of cases long-term disability, would the American people tolerate that product not being regulated?

Apart from guns, of course.

~ 0 ~

Continue to press your unvaccinated friends, family, associates, neighbors to get vaccinated. There’s no good reason to subject our health care professionals to this kind of trauma when this disease is preventable.

And continue to wear a mask in public settings even if you’re vaccinated. You’re not likely to spread the virus, but you may still get infected given the current prevalence of Delta and its much greater transmissibility. If you’re vaccinated your chances of needing hospitalization are extremely low, which is the entire point of being vaccinated. But since we don’t yet know what the long-term effects are of cryptic/asymptomatic/mild cases of COVID in vaccinated persons, it’s not worth taking the risk of future long-term disability.

UPDATE-1 — 10:30 PM ET —

The doctor who couldn’t offer vaccines to COVID patients before intubation has been harassed.


Our health care workers don’t deserve this kind of treatment when they are both doing everything they can and telling the public the truth about COVID.

And while Delta remains the prevailing variant responsible for new cases across the country, Houston Methodist Hospital reported a case of Lambda today. Still no more data as to whether Lambda poses a greater threat than Delta.