The Coronavirus/COVID-19 Thread

Must be hard. Where are you from?

Spiraling out of control:

Basically, this is what happens when politics considers campaigning as more important than keeping a rampant pandemic under control.

The city hopes to reopen vaccine centres, which were closed across the country at the end of the summer when they were deemed no longer necessary

Wishful thinking and the hope that good news bring voters prevailed…

Everyone, their dog and the partridge in the pear tree knew that autumn will bring a rise in cases, just like last year. Everyone, that is, except politicians and our anti-vaxxers.

There has been criticism of the new government that by allowing nothing comparable to take its place, a signal is potentially being sent out that the measures are no longer needed as the pandemic is under control, which is clearly not the case.

Uhm, well, the guys complaining are the ones that are still in power at the moment. There is no new government yet, so the old one is in caretaker position. But a little over a week ago the health secretary was still talking about lifting measures… What the hell is he yammering about. Could he maybe just do his frakking job instead!!!

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Meanwhile just across the border…

I honestly haven’t been keeping up with the EU situation very much. What’s your take on the Austrian situation? The case count graph in that article shows an incredibly steep climb there. And this is the response:

This is what’s happening locally, with a fair chunk being driven by infections in schools:

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It pretty much sucks. Central Europe is a hotspot.

Austria and Germany at the moment are in a similar situation, being among the European countries with the smallest percentage of vaccinated people. Basically we (I can hardly say they at this point) dropped the ball on that. Spring and summer, while it was quiet would have been the time to prepare for the wave everybody knew was coming. Neither country did. Instead a loud minority of anti-vax and anti-measure folks was coddled in fear of twitter posts…

In Austria the right-wing FPÖ (third strongest party in parliament) fished for votes by sounding the ‘COVID is either harmless or a lie by Big Pharma’ drum, the right-wing AfD in Germany did the same. And they succeeded.

While I am thoroughly sick of the expression ‘culture war’, this article has some points:

Sven Müller is proudly unvaccinated. He thinks Covid vaccines are neither effective nor safe but a way to make money for pharmaceutical companies and corrupt politicians who are taking away his freedom.

“They can’t break me,” said Mr. Müller, 40, a bar owner in the town of Annaberg-Buchholz, in the Ore Mountain region in the eastern state of Saxony where the vaccination rate is 44 percent — the lowest in Germany.

What the article misses (or doesn’t mention) is that the Ore Mountain region is the county with the highest rate of cases per 100k inhabitants.

But:
Every Monday, hard-line anti-vaxxers hold a small but noisy rally in the town center. This week, there were some 50 protesters, shouting slogans like “the vaccine kills” and raging against the government in Berlin, which they say is a dictatorship like Communism, “only worse.”

Meanwhile in Austria, the new measures are greeted by the FPÖ with the declaration that Austria as of now is a dictatorship.

Right now, a look at a map showing the case numbers shows that countries with a higher vaccination count are hit less hard than the ones with the lowest one (Hungary, Austria, Germany):

The ounce of prevention was shunned in the name of ‘freedomz!’ and now the pound of cure is coming.

The right-wingers got as much effects as they could out of common misperceptions. Even a vaccine that doesn’t guarantee 100 % protection helps, but by people like Mr. Müller it is declared as worthless. It’s the mindset that declares seatbelts as worthless because they don’t guarantee that one survives 100 % of all possible car crashs.

Apart from that it’s the mindset that puts one’s ‘freedomz!’ over other people’s lives. That would be my take on my southern neighbours.

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While we do have people like that here, the vast majority seem to have moved on without them. I think vaccine mandates have played a role in that, but we already had pretty good coverage (given when we got the vaccines in the first place) before those happened.

For example, recent kerfuffle at a University down the road:

What’s interesting there is that the student in question does not seem to be getting much support from his peers on campus, who are largely vaccinated already:

As per the head of the student union:

I think it’s likely some percentage of students on campus would not have bothered getting vaccinated if it hadn’t been mandated. But I also think that would have still been a small number (maybe 10-15%?)

Same where I am: most students learned the real value of being with friends and classmates as a part of learning and managing university when that was taken away from them with lockdown and 100% remote learning last year. They do not want to go back to that, and if that means getting vaccinated and wearing a mask to class, then so be it.

As of now, we have no vaccine mandates. And many seem to think (or at least propagate) that introducing such mandates are forbidden by the constitution.

That is wrong. Period.

Just as an example, every child that is to enter kindergarten etc. has to be vaccinated against measles. Western Germany had vaccine mandates for diphteria, scarlet fever and smallpox (until the latter one was lifted in the 80s after smallpox was more or less vanquished).

Eastern Germany had mandates for tuberculosis, whooping cough, polio, tetanus and diphteria in place, though I have to add that the German Grundgesetz (Constitution) obviously did not encompass the former soviet zone of occupation.

As of now, there’s a discussion going on to maybe put up a mandate for some occupational groups, namely doctors, nurses, school and kindergarten teachers… Basically groups where the contact to vulnerable people (elderly and sick) or people who can’t get vaccinated at the moment (especially children and people are unelegible due to medical reasons) is an unavoidable part of the job.

That should help, but to call it less than popular would be quite an understatement.

This is an interesting tracker, especially if you click on the “Active” filter:

I can’t say I’m altogether surprised that the Algoma public health region currently has ~10x the number of cases per capita than Toronto, despite the latter having a way higher population density. Also interesting to see how the current active cases break down by age bracket.

A little timeline with quotes on the situation Germany’s in:

  • on July 8th, the RKI (comparable to the CDC) warns that lower the vaccination numbers are in autumn the probable a lockdown or other measures will become and urges to use the summer to get more people vaccinated.

Politicians close vaccination centres, cause the current numbers (in summer) are so low

  • on July 17th the ministry for education and research publishes a report predicting a fourth wave beginning in October the will encompass an exponential rise in hospitalized people.

Politician are more concerned with campaigning; no reaction

  • on July 23rd on of Germany’s foremost experts on the virus publicly pleads for measures to rise vaccination willingness so drastic restrictions can be avoided when the heavy fourth wave slams in.

The candidate for a new anti-vax and ‘freedom’ party proclaims that people already die in droves due to vaccination and at least 25k will be killed by vaccine side effects before the end of September

Now we’re a hotspot and on November 10th the prime minister of Bavaria steps in front of the cameras to say that no one saw this coming and verbatim: ‘It’s impressive that all the virologists, epemiologists and scientists severely underestimated the impact and effect of this fourth wave’.

No, you moron! The scientists and literally everyone who didn’t spend the last year in a Sleeping Beauty-like coma did see this coming.

Does he really think that the common voter has a long-term memory that reaches less than three months back?

That wouldn’t be so maddening if it was a single case, but:

  • ‘I think that the current dynamic could not be foreseen’ (Bavarian health secretary)
  • ‘I was told that such a dynamic is unprecedented in this pandemic’ (Prime minister of Brandenburg on rise in cases that was exactly predicted)
  • ‘The experts didn’t expect the dramatic dynamic we are seeing now’ (Austrian chancellor, after his predecessor in office declared the pandemic as over, back in July)
  • ‘It is a tragedy that we were so unprepared for this situation’ (Green member of parliament, a few days ago)
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It’s sickening how often people mistake “I didn’t hear about it” (or, more often, “I chose not to hear about it”) with “No-one said it”.

Some people need a severe clue-batting.

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Along with the incredibly frustrating tendency for politicians (and the press) to parrot one another, often word for word in a there’s-strength-in-numbers lie. Notice the repetition of “dynamic”.

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As of this week, Germany has over 100,000 corona deaths.

This is a landmark I really could live without. By now the hospitals in my state have to ‘export’ patients into other states, because our ICUs are overloaded.

Not exactly calming news, but as usual life goes on…

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Very scary

Tonight we’ll hear if the Netherlands is going into a full lockdown again to try to prevent this situation from happening, as the partial lockdown we have now has no effect.

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Although it is in fact

I should add that this isn’t the situation in all of Germany. The state I live in is hit second-hardest, with only Saxony having even more cases.

The Northern areas of the country are doing quite well in comparison. So there are ICU beds available in theory. But while flying patients around is still possible, I’d prefer it not to be necessary.

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And the travel curbs are already too late if the aim was to stop export of the variant. Two cases here in Ontario in people who’d recently travelled from Nigeria, which is definitely not in southern Africa.

Frankly, travel bans is the easy way to appear to be doing something and a lot cheaper than helping provide vaccines to countries that don’t have enough.

From the Al Jazeera article:
The confirmed cases in Botswana, Hong Kong, and Israel were detected among travellers from South Africa.

From a Botswana news source:

According to the assistant minister, of the 15 cases still in Botswana, three showed mild symptoms while the rest did not. Eleven of the cases were vaccinated, while those unvaccinated did not show symptoms. All identified cases still in Botswana are in their final days of isolation and will be released soon, Lelatisitswe said.

It seems it’s not going to be a big threat. Let’s hope this strain will die off quickly.

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:crossed_fingers:

Although it’s still too early to tell yet - cases are being picked up around the world going back to before the discovery/announcement in S. Africa. It will, sadly, take a lot of people getting infected with this variant before we really know whether it’s a real threat. It certainly has the potential to be so, and Moderna is sounding caution over the effectiveness of their particular vaccine against this variant.

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Jab #4?
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