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Some Covid Links

Professor of medical microbiology David Livermore puts SARS-CoV-2 into historical perspective as he warns against the continuing disproportionate reaction to today’s virus. Two slices:

First, the long-established 229E common-cold coronavirus mutates to escape immunity from prior infection, so it’s predictable that SARS-CoV2 will do the same. Already over 20,000 SARS-CoV2 variants are known to us. The E484K (glutamate to lysine) change of the Brazilian and South African types, which reduces antibody binding by reversing a charge, has occurred repeatedly, including in Bristol. Banning travel won’t prevent local evolution.

Second, the belief that variants will be squeezed out globally is delusional. Some are widespread in their countries of origin and many countries do very little sequencing. Some US states, less perturbed than Boris’s government, are rapidly opening as their populations are vaccinated. Even much of Europe is less restricted than the UK, and the Brazilian and South African variants account for around five per cent of cases in France.


If we accept the limited victory offered by the vaccine, rather than holding out for an unattainable pipe-dream of Zero Covid, travel bans can be consigned to the scrapheap. And they should be, for they do great harm globally. Asides from separated ‘international’ families, the major losers from this are anyone unable to work via Zoom and without 80 per cent furlough pay. This group is as diverse as Caribbean hotel maids, Nepalese trek porters, Filipino cabin stewards, Thai bar hostesses, guides and souvenir vendors of every sort, along with swathes of bar and restaurant staff. Many families will be or have already been thrown into hardship by travel bans. Ruined safari lodges leave wildlife valuable only to poachers. Does all this harm count for nothing?

J.D. Tuccille warns that “after a year of lockdowns, travel restrictions, and surveillance justified on public health grounds, it’s likely that, rather than live up their liberating promise, health passports will become just another bureaucratic hurdle for people trying to go about their lives. For better or worse, though, the new credentials look destined to be part of the post-COVID-19 world.” And here’s his dismaying conclusion:

That’s the next concern. Having already expanded beyond air travel to encompass access to sports and concert arenas, it’s easy to see COVID-19 being only the first entry in credentials designed to be scalable. They can all be easily tweaked to record conformity with any imaginable public health requirement. Underground entrepreneurs certainly anticipate a large role for such documents—they’ve established a brisk business selling bogus vaccine certificates to buyers unable or unwilling to secure the real thing.

A year-plus into the COVID-19 pandemic, health passports are far too late to mitigate the damage done by lockdowns, surveillance, and travel restrictions. Even so, they’re almost guaranteed to be a part of the world to come.

David Henderson wonders where are all the behavioral economists and psychologists who, in normal times, never tire of warning people against being duped by the availability bias.

Here’s a new paper by John Ioannidis. And here are his conclusions:

All systematic evaluations of seroprevalence data converge that SARS‐CoV‐2 infection is widely spread globally. Acknowledging residual uncertainties, the available evidence suggests average global IFR of ~0.15% and ~1.5‐2.0 billion infections by February 2021 with substantial differences in IFR and in infection spread across continents, countries, and locations.

Robert Jackman understandably bemoans Covid-19 virtue signaling in television shows.

In this radio interview, Peter Hitchens decries the Covid-Derangement-Syndrome-driven servility of people to the state.

Will Jones weighs in against the notion that SARS-CoV-2 variants are a good reason to remain in a state of Covid Derangement Syndrome. A slice:

A Covid surge was, naturally, predicted by Government scientific advisers when schools went back on March 8. Has that happened? Not even a ripple. In fact, since mass testing in schools began in early March the positive rate has hit a floor of 0.4 per cent (presumably a lot to do with the false positive rate). Are any of these advisers embarrassed by their failed predictions that threatened the education of our children? If so, we’ve not heard.

Phil Magness asks this rhetorical question: “Guess which one of these 4 states the New York Times chose to feature in an article raising alarm bells about “rising cases.”

(Here’s the NYT ‘report’ to which Phil refers.)