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Some Covid Links

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The Wall Street Journal reports on the growing resistance to Covidocratic tyranny in Austria [2]. A slice:

“This is sheer madness: How long will we have lockdowns despite vaccination and despite all the restrictions we have put up with already?” said Elfi Cohen, a travel guide from Vienna who had to cancel all of her tours in the run-up to Christmas, the most lucrative season for her business.

Ms. Cohen will take her third coronavirus shot this week and so far has supported all measures, but is now losing hope that the pandemic can be managed with renewed restrictions, she said.

About two thirds of Austria’s nearly nine million residents are vaccinated, just under the average figure for the European Union but above the level in the U.S., according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data website. Yet its seven-day rolling average of new cases hit 1,531.7 per million people on Sunday, more than five times the U.S. level. Daily Covid-19-related deaths per million inhabitants hit a seven-day average of 4.88 on Sunday, according to the website, above the U.S., Germany, France and the U.K.

(DBx: To be certain that you don’t miss this last figure, I quote again: “Daily Covid-19-related deaths per million inhabitants hit a seven-day average of 4.88.” As a percentage of one million, 4.88 is 0.000488. The Austrian government is imprisoning that country’s entire population as it also demands that everyone be injected with a particular medicine when the seven-day average of Covid-19-related deaths, as a percentage of the population, is 0.000488. Why aren’t many more people up in arms about this madness?)

Writing in the Telegraph, Jonathan Sumption blasts the new wave of Covid tyranny now crashing over the European continent [3]. Two slices:

Across Europe, basic norms of civilised society are giving way to panic. The unvaccinated are being excluded from an ever-wider range of basic rights. Austria has criminalised them. Italy has stopped them doing their jobs. The Dutch police have fired on anti-lockdown demonstrators, seriously injuring some of them. We are witnessing the ultimate folly of frightened politicians who cannot accept that they are impotent in the face of some natural phenomena.

If lockdowns, forced closures of businesses and other brutal countermeasures work, then why are these countries on their fifth wave of the pandemic [4] and their third or fourth lockdown? How long must this go on before we recognise that these measures simply push infections into the period after they are lifted?

The logic of persisting with them now is that they can never be lifted. What were once justified as temporary measures to hold the position until vaccines were available are in danger of being forced on people as permanent changes to their way of life. Perhaps the ugliest feature of the crisis is the politicians’ habit of blaming others for the bankruptcy of their own policies. Opposition to vaccines is foolish. They are highly effective at preventing serious illness and death. But they are not as effective against infection or transmission as was once thought.

…..

Those who refuse to be vaccinated may be unwise, perhaps selfish. But if they are not even allowed to decide what medical procedures they will undergo and what drugs they receive into their own bodies, then there is not much left of their autonomy as human beings. The way is wide open to despotism and unending social discord.

The rest of us should look on and note how easily liberal democracy can be subverted by fear.

Toby Young reasonably warns that the rising “Covid vendetta will end in imprisonment for the unvaccinated.” [5] A slice:

If vaccinated people can transmit the virus, what is the point of banning the unvaccinated from bars, restaurants and other public places? You might as well ban people with ginger hair for all the good it will do.

Yet across Europe we see the unvaccinated being blamed for rising case numbers, with more and more restrictions being placed on their movements.

Vaccine passports and mask mandates are a great example of what’s become known as the ‘politician’s fallacy’, first identified on Yes Minister: ‘We must do something. This is something. Therefore, we must do this.’

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ted Rall – a man of the left – explains that the left, by supporting Covid mandates, betrays the working class [6]. Two slices:

I’m terrified of Covid-19 and have had four Pfizer [7] shots. I think everyone should get vaccinated. But it’s not the role of government to force people to make good health decisions—especially by threatening their ability to earn a living.

In heavily Democratic areas like New York, coronavirus politics leaves workers who won’t or can’t be vaccinated without advocates. Some labor unions, whose mission is to defend employees, are abandoning their members. Workers and their allies should stand behind workers—period. Solidarity means everyone in your class, regardless of how they vote or what they choose to inject. No one should threaten hardworking people with poverty for their personal medical decisions. And no one who self-identifies as being on the left should tolerate, much less sign on to, such a project.

…..

Registered nurse Donna Schmidt, 52, is on unpaid leave from her job at a Long Island-based healthcare system. She has both religious and scientific objections to Covid-19 vaccinations. “I’m not against vaccinations,” she told me. “Traditionally, the Covid-19 vaccine isn’t a vaccine. The CDC changed their definition of a vaccine. It’s truly gene therapy. The mRNA technology has never been used in human beings before.” A self-identified libertarian conservative, Ms. Schmidt says both major political parties have betrayed people like her.

Some of the mandates have been effective. According to the UFT, 97% of New York schoolteachers have received at least one shot. For many, however, it felt like coercion. “I had to do it for the finances of my family,” Queens elementary-school teacher Roxanne Rizzi, 55, told the Associated Press.

“There is a lot of hypocrisy going on among people of all political persuasions,” Ms. Schmidt says. “They support the vaccine mandate because the government and the media has done a good job of making people think this is the only way out.”

She adds: “Historically, government doesn’t give back power. What’s next?” Leftists used to make that argument.

Well, it’s okay because what killed this man wasn’t Covid – and as we all now know, avoiding suffering and death from Covid is the overarching goal of human existence [8].

As Jay Bhattacharya says [9] about this reality [10], these delays in the diagnoses of tumors in children are caused not by Covid-19 but, rather, by the lockdowns in (over)reaction to Covid-19.

Joel Zinberg argues that Biden’s abominable vaccine mandate “represents a dangerously expansive vision of federal power over public health. [11]” Two slices:

The Biden administration initially said that the federal government could not [12] and would not [13] impose a vaccine mandate. Yet when the president declared that his patience with the unvaccinated was “wearing thin,” the administration devised—in the words of chief of staff Ron Klain [14]—a “work-around.” OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS)—a rarely used rulemaking shortcut available when “necessary” to protect against a “grave danger” in the workplace. The standard required businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure that workers either get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.

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A general mandate seems unnecessary to protect most workers, for whom Covid-19 is generally a mild disease. The infection fatality rate for prime-age workers ranges from 0.01 percent for 25-year-olds to 0.4 percent for 55-year-olds. In fact, the danger of exposure to Covid-19 is far lower now, given the many new vaccines and therapeutics available, than when OSHA rejected the ETS last year. Currently 71 percent [15] of those 18 or older are fully vaccinated. Another 11 percent are partially vaccinated. If the mandate takes full effect on January 4, 2022, as planned, the figures will be even higher.

Alex Gutentag describes school closures as “a moral crime.” [16] (HT Jay Bhattacharya) A slice:

Because the academic and social progress of my students was at stake, I followed the COVID-19 data closely from the beginning. And I found that school closures were irrational and counterproductive. According to the most comprehensive studies to date, COVID’s survival rate among children and adolescents appears to be around 99.995% [17]. The child mortality figures for COVID are similar to the respiratory syncytial virus (about 500 [18] annual pediatric deaths), for which schools have never been closed. One Swedish analysis looked at COVID data from March to June 2020 when Swedish schools were open without masking. The analysis found that not a single child died [19] with COVID during that time period. A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that in California hospitals, COVID cases for children between May 2020 and February 2021 had been overcounted by 45% [20]. Several other studies found that children were far less likely [21] than adults to spread the virus [22], that the effectiveness of closures for containing spread was, at best, highly unclear [23], and that closing schools had no effect [24] on community transmission. Nor were closed schools linked [25] to lower COVID mortality.

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These learning losses represent years of life stolen. Literacy and education levels have been linked to longer [26] lifespans [27]. This correlation is not purely economic—better health is also associated [28] with the behavioral and social impacts of education. In addition to academic damage, childhood obesity, which has profound long-term consequences, also increased severely [29] when students were confined to their homes. According to CDC data, adolescent mental health visits to the ER increased by 31% [30] in the United States, and suicidal thoughts and attempts by teenage girls rose by over 50% [31] compared to 2019. So I was eager, as you might imagine, to get back to school in person. When we did return in April 2021, though, I found that the school environment had been transformed.

According to this report in the Daily Mail, humanity’s overreaction to Covid-19 is “causing democracies around the world – including US – to ‘backslide’. [32]