Britain’s Covid deaths are now double the Blitz’s

With Britain’s Covid deaths having passed 100,000, the prime minister exuded as much feeling as he could locate and told us he’s sorry for every one of them. And that he takes full responsibility. 

That led to the predictable flurry of reminders that the government’s bungled every chance it had to get on top of the disease, but he refused to discuss that. I’ll be kind and not list the screw-ups, I’ll just ask if the government’s trying to figure out what it could have done differently.

Umm, no. Taking responsibility for what’s happened didn’t mean Boris Johnson was going to take responsibility for doing anything better. His responsibility-taking went about as deep as the apology of a seven-year-old who’s been strong-armed: I’m sorry I called you a shithead (you shithead). (And next time I see you, I’ll remind you that you’re still a shithead.)

But it seems to have been enough. He hasn’t been sent to sit in the corner. He still gets his dessert. Even though until the government looks at the ways it’s screwed up, it’ll keep right on screwing up. But the pieties have been mouthed and we can all move on.

Twice as many people have died of Covid as died during the Blitz.

Irrelevant photo: A foggy morning.

 

Germany, vaccines, and the elderly

You may have read somewhere that Germany said the AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t effective in anyone over 65. To which Germany, along with AstraZeneca itself, says, “Bullshit.”

In slightly more diplomatic terms.

The first statement came from a couple of news stories that quoted unnamed sources. The second one comes from Germany’s health ministry, which said that whoever made the first statement seems to have mixed up “two things . . . in the reports.

“Around eight percent of the volunteers in AstraZeneca’s efficacy studies were around 56 and 69 years old and three to four percent are above 70 years old.

“However, this does not mean that it is effective only in eight percent of older people.”

Damn, even I could’ve worked that one out, and I have a certificate in mathematical incompetence.

AstraZeneca said more or less the same thing. Both refrained from adding, “You idiot.”

 

New vaccines

Russia has a second vaccine, EpiVacCorona, ready to go into production. It was developed in Novosibirsk, which has no bearing on the story but it’s such a great name that I just had to toss it in. 

Novosibirsk. 

Russia’s health regulator says it’s 100 percent effective in early trials.

*

In the U.S., Johnson & Johnson is expected to report the results of its vaccine’s trials next week. Judging by the way the letters vibrate in the articles I’ve seen, a lot is expected of it.

 

Other Covid treatments

If you’ve been reading about monoclonal antibodies–and hey, who doesn’t read about them late at night when you’re tired and want to distract yourself from the worries of the day?

Let’s start that over: If you’ve been reading about monoclonal antibodies and all the promises they dangle before us, here’s an update. Because vaccines aren’t the only game being played, even if it is the one playing on every TV in every bar in town.

Eli Lilly has been developing monoclonal antibodies, which it hopes will keep people who’ve been exposed to Covid from developing serious forms of the disease. They can be used on people who are already ill and on people who are at high risk of becoming infected.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has developed a similar treatment. 

They haven’t been widely used at this point because they have to be used early in the course of the infection and because they have to be infused in a hospital or a clinic. So basically, they’re clunky and they’re expensive. 

But now it looks like they might effectively prevent even a mild case of the disease, and Eli Lilly plans to ask for approval in the U.S. In a nursing home trial, they were 80% effective and there were no deaths in the group that received the antibodies. They were less effective for the nursing home’s staff than for residents, but that’s a statistical glitch: The study measured risk, and the residents were at higher risk than the staff.

That makes intuitive sense to me but don’t expect me to explain it. Certificate in mathematical incompetence, remember? World-beating mathematical incompetence.

It’s not clear how the antibody cocktails will be used, given that vaccines are available and easier to use. Possibly in nursing homes to combat outbreaks or for people with compromised immune systems, because they may not pull together a good immune response to a vaccine. And possibly not at all.   

It’s also possible that they’ll undermine the vaccines. The problem is that they target Covid’s spike protein and so do antibodies, so they could get in a vaccine’s way. That remains to be tested. 

63 thoughts on “Britain’s Covid deaths are now double the Blitz’s

  1. And on the local (ie, Queensland/NSW )news this morning, Mme Premier is to re-open the Qld/NSW border.
    I should probably buy a couple of rolls of t.paper, just in case the silly people in this town go mad again. Last time, a young woman with a FULL trolley of bottled water and loo rolls and frozen pizzas and a carry bag of other stuff was trying to balance another pack of loo rolls while she tried to get her car keys.
    Another time I might have offered to help…..

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  2. When Dear ex-Leader and his cronies got Covid, they received the monoclonal antibodies treatment and – huzzah ! – were immediately cured and rejuvenated. The treatment isn’t available to the rest of us poor plebes who might catch it and die.
    A week or so ago the US deaths surpassed all the US deaths in WWII.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Even in the Latin alphabet, I had to pick my way through the original name, letter by letter. It wasn’t until you said the magic name, Romanovs, that I could pick out Nikolai from the middle of it and hear it in my head. (I still like Novosibirsk better.)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The US now has more deaths from covid than soldiers killed in WWII! What will we compare the deaths to when they pass 500,000, 600,000, or 1 million? Still no action on far UVC lights. Vaccines are 19th century technology. Far UVC is 21st century technology. That is what we need. Kill the beasts before they get into hosts! Here is another analogy: Viruses are basically parasites, they live off of others. How do we get rid of parasites? You avoid where they are, like not swimming in water that has leaches in it (social distancing etc.) You pluck them off your body after they start sucking your blood (like antiviral medicines), You wear protective clothing so they can’t bite your bare skin (masks, PPP, etc.) or the best way is to kill the them in the infected water where the leaches are before they do any harm (disinfectants and far UVC lamps). The government thinking is still in the 19th century, that is the problem. It is only logical says Mr. Spock!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. and I have a certificate in mathematical incompetence. I am very sure I don’t want to see the certificates for what ever form of incompetence that some government leaders and some lemming followers have for this pandemic fluster cluck. Our new government here is picking up the pieces of our former governments lack of plan and interference. Oh you wanted notes on what has been ordered and what has been shipped. Do we really need enough vaccine for everyone ? Did I mention fluster cluck ? Yeah it is like that.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Well, so much for German efficiency! All that flying about, getting shot at by Spitfires and they still get beaten by a spiky little virus and entangled in a statistical spat over vaccines. I’m 64 and survived the blitz, so did my parents, so Yah boo sucks to Fritz! Do wish I was a bit younger and better on guitar though; “monoclonal antibodies” does sound like a great name for a group…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t know. It sounds to me like you’re trying to undermine Donald Trump’s claim that the only reason the vaccine was developed so quickly was because of his Operation Warp Speed. Hopefully all of these things together will finally get us out of this mess before we have to make any more comparisons with other death tolls.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Ellen, I also have a certificate in mathematical incompetence. lol.
    Yeah Boris – Not much more to say. What do about maria (aka boris), not quite the sound of music. So let us Move on as we brits do. Even if we take him up on his mistakes – that man has tough skin!

    monoclonal antibodies : is this what the ex president of the USA had? I think it sound like a good option to help those who get it. I wonder if we get in the UK. Oh Boris hear … the silent prayer.
    monoclonal antibodies are the same as the antibody plasma thingy.

    This oxford efficacy for over 65 years olds, well they didn’t test on human beings they only tested in the lab. But the UK health body that approved seem to think it is okay ? The USA are kindly trialling it out for the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • An article yesterday makes it sound like some official committee in Germany has now come out against the AZ vaccine for over 65s. They did include some in the study but added them late, so there’s less data than on younger people. At least as I understand it. The information’s been shifting so fast on Germany that I’m lost. It is being used here–someone in the village got it last week. He’s in his 70s.

      Monoclonal antibodies–yes, that’s what they gave Trump. They’re not widely available at this point. They’re sort of like plasma from people who’ve recovered, but they can be mass produced.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes monoclonal antibodies as you wrote are expensive and not readily available. And I wonder if there are sideceffects of inheriting the other perdons illnesses? Like years ago people got hepatitis c from blood transfusion because they weren’t testing donated blood.

        The AZ vaccine has no side effects the pifzer bionetic has side effects interns if a person has certain allergies

        Liked by 1 person

        • As far as I can figure out, no, this is very different than getting a blood transfusion. The antibodies are selected for their ability to attack this one virus and are then manufactured in large numbers, so it’s a very small and specific element from someone’s blood, far removed from the whole blood itself.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Good news. I just got called to go in on Monday next week. The rumor mill says they’ve switched from the Pfizer to the AstraZeneca. Have you been following the uproar in Germany over whether to use the AZ on over-65s? An article yesterday had some German agency–I’ve forgotten which one–taking the position that they shouldn’t. I’m completely lost. Maybe they are as well. I can’t tell at this point if the confusion is theirs, mine, or both.

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      • Go ahead with the Astra Zeneca vaccine. Antibody response was just as high in older adults in the trial. Because older adults in both vaccinated and control groups were more cautious and careful, fewer were infected, giving rise to less robust evidence of efficacy. I’ll be using AZ vaccine this morning in a care home as it is more “portable”.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Not long after I asked you that question, I heard I’m not sure who–professor someone–on Radio 4 explaining that Germany has a limited supply of AZ, so for them it makes sense to concentrate it on younger people. The data on them is better. They have plenty of the Pfizer, so they want to use that on older people since they have the data to support that. But as you say, the AZ vaccine’s more easily portable.

          I don’t know, mind you, if that matches with Germany’s explanation of its decision, but it does as least begin to make sense of it.

          Thanks.

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  8. Well, other people beat me to the “more deaths in less than a year than in all the years of the Second World War…” but the Johnson& Johnson vaccine is a disappointing (to me) 66% effective and Dr. Fauci is putting a good face on it by saying it prevents serious illness (i.e. hospitalizations). If I take a vaccine, dammit, I don’t want to get the effing disease. But such are our circumstances where a one-shot vaccine may seem good. And there have been years when flu vaccine efficacy was below 40%, so perhaps I shouldn’t be complaining…

    Liked by 1 person

    • When they started the vaccine search, 50% effectiveness was considered a good result. The first ones reset our expectations. I think the effectiveness against serious illness is higher than 50% (I’ll have to look up the figures). I know how you feel, though. I’m scheduled for I have no idea which vaccine on Monday, although there’s no knowing when I’ll get the second shot. Or what the effectiveness of a single shot of whichever one it is, is. Everything feels like a gamble these days.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Glad you’re getting one of them! Likely one of the 95 percenters. Since I wrote, the figures on the J&J look a bit better–and it’s only one shot. But it likely is much less effective against one of the mutations (SA?). Not sure.

        Liked by 1 person

        • If I understand it correctly all the current vaccines are less effective against the South African variant. I don’t think anyone knows how effective they are against the Brazilian one–it’s too new. So it’s less effective compared to itself, yes, but I don’t know that it’s less effective compared to the others. The older vaccines were tested before the new variants came along–I’d be surprised if they have figures on their effectiveness there.

          Liked by 1 person

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