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Friday, January 28, 2022

The first 100 days look pretty good, but the global pandemic rages on

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NY Times:

How Covid Upended a Century of Patterns in U.S. Deaths

excess deaths in US by year, highlighting 1918 flu and COVID
COVID trolls went nuts over this graphic. it spoiled their narrative.

The U.S. death rate in 2020 was the highest above normal since the early 1900s — even surpassing the calamity of the 1918 flu pandemic.

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LA Times:

Michigan’s outbreak has scientists worried COVID skeptics will keep pandemic rolling

When Kathryn Watkins goes shopping these days, she doesn’t bring her three young children. There are just too many people not wearing masks in her southern Michigan town of Hillsdale.

At some stores, “not even the employees are wearing them anymore,” said Watkins, who estimates about 30% of shoppers wear masks, down from around 70% earlier in the pandemic. “There’s a complete disregard for the very real fact that they could wind up infecting someone.”

Her state tops the nation by far in the rate of new COVID-19 cases, a sharp upward trajectory that has more than two dozen hospitals in the state nearing 90% capacity.

The nation is watching.

The insurrectionist party has not accepted defeat.

Frank Bruni/NY Times:

So Anthony Fauci Isn’t Perfect. He’s Closer Than Most of Us.

We owe him gratitude, not grief.

The phrases “public servant” and “public service” are exhausted to the point of meaninglessness. They’re tics. They roll off politicians’ tongues as readily as requests for money, suggesting that adulation and power aren’t the more potent draws to elected office. They’re invoked in regard to other government workers, as if decent paychecks and generous pensions weren’t a significant lure.

But if anyone ever deserved to be described in those terms, it’s Anthony Fauci. That was true before the coronavirus. It’s truer now — despite the times when he has revised his message on how to deal with it, despite assessments of the pandemic that didn’t bear out and despite Republicans’ efforts to use all of that to turn him into some bespectacled Beelzebub.

Shocker of shockers: Fauci isn’t perfect. But he has been perfectly sincere, perfectly patient, a professional standing resolutely outside so many of the worst currents of American life. More than that, he has been essential. We owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude, not the mind-boggling magnitude of grief that he gets.

If anything, that grief has grown more intense of late. It was on garish display during a House hearing just over a week ago, when Representative Jim Jordan, doing a fan dance for Fox News, tore into Fauci as a doomsday addict less intent on saving people’s lives than on scrapping people’s liberties.

Economist:

India is struggling with a catastrophic second wave

A return of the virus was inevitable. The government’s failures were not

A month is a long time, in pandemics as in politics. Until March, India was recording barely 13,000 new covid-19 cases a day, fewer than Germany or France and a drop in the ocean for a nation of 1.4bn. The caseload then began to tick gently upwards, until suddenly, late in March, it was rocketing. On April 21st India clocked 315,000 new positive covid-19 tests, above even the biggest daily rise recorded in America, the only other country to record such highs. In contrast to America, however, the pandemic’s trajectory in India is near-vertical (see chart 1). Its vaccination effort, albeit impressive in scale and organisation, is simply too late to change the course of the virus any time soon. “They said flatten the curve and we did,” laments a wry recent tweet. “We just put it on the wrong axis.”

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Guardian:

Israel and Chile both led on Covid jabs, so why is one back in lockdown?

Analysis: contrasting national outcomes highlight how easily UK could blow its chances

What is happening in Chile?

Chile is in the enviable position of having vaccinated faster than any other country in the Americas. More than a third of the country’s 18 million people have received at least one shot of either Pfizer/BioNTech or China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine. However, cases have soared to the point of overwhelming the health system and strict lockdown measures are back in place.

What went wrong?

The speedy vaccination programme appears to have instilled a false sense of security that led the country to ease restrictions too soon without people appreciating the ongoing risks. The country reopened its borders in November and in January introduced permits for Chileans to go on summer holiday. Without strict controls on people entering the country, and the lack of an efficient contact-tracing system, travellers may have brought infections back into the country that were not picked up.

The virus would have had more chance to spread when the schools reopened along with restaurants, shopping malls, casinos, gyms and churches. With transmission rates now so high in the country, a far greater proportion of the population will need to be vaccinated to get on top of the epidemic.

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Business Insider:

This millennial GOP congressman voted to impeach Trump. Now he’s trying to save his party from going off a cliff.

These are surreal times to be [Peter] Meijer. At 33, he is the eighth-youngest member of Congress and quick with references to the classic “Oregon Trail” video game. About a week before we met, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser suggested assassination as a way to remove Meijer.

“Ma’am, other than assassination, I have no other way … other than voting out,” Weiser told a woman at a North Oakland Republican Club inquiring about how to defeat the “witches in our own party.” “OK? You people have to go out there and support their opponents.”

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Bloomberg:

U.S. Says It’ll Send India Vaccine Materials, Boost Aid Finance

Earlier, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said the U.S. will consider sending India stockpiled doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine currently unapproved for use in the U.S.

“I think that’s going to be something that is up for active consideration,” Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” while cautioning that he didn’t “want to be speaking for policy right now.”



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