Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

27 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Key scientists have declared coronaviruses may now pose an existential threat to humanity.

    “Universal Coronavirus Vaccines — An Urgent Need”
    Authors – David M. Morens, M.D., Jeffery K. Taubenberger, M.D., Ph.D., and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

    “The past 20 years have witnessed four fatal coronavirus outbreaks: SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome, 2002 and 2003), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome, since 2012), and now Covid-19 (since 2019). Scientific evidence and ecologic reality suggest that coronaviruses will emerge again in the future, potentially posing an existential threat. The betacoronaviruses that caused these epidemics are globally distributed in numerous species of bats. The full virologic and geographic extent of this enzootic reservoir is unknown; however, it has been increasingly spilling over into humans and other mammals. Because of genetic and structural receptor conservation among mammalian species, many of these animal betacoronaviruses are “preadapted” for infecting humans by binding to angiotensin-converting–enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors, which facilitates viral spillovers and ongoing transmission. Some animal coronaviruses that may have pandemic potential have already been identified, and many more remain to be detected.” – Morens, Taubenberger, Fauci.

    This article also notes that our current mRNA and DNA vaccines are essentially stop-gaps. They are NOT the solution to this crisis and we can see even now how they are progressively failing. We need a new ground-breaking vaccine which attacks the nuclear capsid of ALL coronaviruses. Apart from suppression and eradication by physical measures (isolation and quarantine) this new vaccine idea appears to be our ONLY way out of this endless crisis.

    “Finally, we urgently need universal coronavirus vaccines. In the United States, the Covid-19 pandemic has been partially controlled by standard public health measures such as social distancing, masking, isolating sick and exposed people, closing places where people congregate in close quarters, and other measures, as well as by SARS-CoV-2 vaccines (two messenger RNA vaccines and one adenovirus-vectored vaccine). As important as these vaccines are, however, their protective efficacy wanes over time, necessitating booster doses. Vaccination has also been unable to prevent “breakthrough” infections, allowing subsequent transmission to other people even when the vaccine prevents severe and fatal disease.” – Morens, Taubenberger, Fauci.

    This passage essentially points out that the current vaccines are progressively failing and the SARS-CoV-2 virus is breaking through. Even the discerning public can see that these vaccines are progressively failing and the clear trend is towards a requirement for continuous vaccine boosting (we are up to four shots now for some). There is no clear end to this with the current generation of vaccines. Without a universal, effective and permanent vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 we face an interminable battle with coronaviruses tending always to greater vaccine escape and eventually to vaccines being useless and coronaviruses being a potential existential threat to all humans. When will the population realize how much danger they are in? When will the political class start telling the truth about this disaster? But no, the political class are doubling down now on deliberately suppressing COVID-19 deaths data. I will post about this shortly.

    SARS-CoV-2 has the keys to the human body and it can potentially share them, by viral recombination, with the entire clade of coronaviruses in many animal reservoirs, especially but not only in bats. It might not even need to share the gene code as convergent evolution can also achieve the same result. The more we encroach on wild animal populations the more likely is that such convergent evolution could occur.

    NeoCoV (recently discovered to be spreading in bats in South Africa) is an example of this potential problem, though it is not mentioned in the paper above.

    “Scientists from Wuhan, China, recently discovered the NeoCoV coronavirus — which has a high death rate and transmission rate — is spreading through bats in South Africa. NeoCoV is a virus connected to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS COV). One in three people infected could die from NeoCoV. The virus was first found in a bat population and has been known to spread among animals. NeoCoV has traits from both MERS-CoV and the COVID-19-causing SARS-CoV-2.” – Deseret News, Utah.

    “Scientists said they’re unsure what’s next with NeoCoV and if it will pose a threat to humans in the near future. “Whether the virus detected in the study will pose a risk for humans will require further study,” the World Health Organization told Russian news agency TASS. The virus is reportedly one mutation away from being a major threat to humans.” – Deseret News, Utah.

    Matters are about to get a lot worse. We are heading for a very big disaster unless we lock down to eradication and/or develop a universal and absolutely effective vaccine against all coronaviruses.

    On a personal note, I now know six extended family members, ranging in age from the twenties to the fifties who have caught Omicron variant despite being double-vaccinated. One now has significant and somewhat incapacitating long Covid though it is relative early days and it is unknown how long this long Covid will persist. Still, these are bad odds, if of every 10 double vaccinated people (say) that you know under 60 years, 6 of them will get symptomatic COVID-19 from an exposure, two will get moderately sick, two will get very sick and one of that last two will go on to have long Covid of open-ended duration. This is going to lay waste to public health, our society and our economy. Living with COVID will be anything from unsustainable to a potential existential threat. These are the emerging facts. It’s about time people took them on board.

  2. A pity economists superceded by -robots?! ^1.

    Monopoly – 1.2m games in 2 weeks for AI bots, or 1600 years for humans.^2.

    Ernestine, JQ, anyone, are you able to envision new economic models, better than an AI, to counter an AI which will “thereby supersede current methods of economic modeling.”? 

    NEAT – Neuro Evolution of Augemnting Topologies.
    “Will Robots Agree To Pay Taxes? Further Tax Implications Of Advanced AI

    By Paul Caron

    Bret N. Bogenschneider (Indiana-East; Google Scholar), Will Robots Agree to Pay Taxes? Further Tax Implications of Advanced AI, 22 N.C. J.L. & Tech. 1 (2020):

    “An initial policy concern from rapid automation was that if robots continue to substitute for human workers, then a fiscal policy crisis may result as tax revenues decline during a period of rapid automation.

    “Furthermore, an alternative method to tax ideology to formulate tax policy may also arise from AI referred to here as “tax actualing,” where an advanced AI with a sufficient set of data in respect of cash flows through the economy uses data to make accurate predictions and to thereby supersede current methods of economic modeling.”

    “Various critiques of proposals for robot taxation are also addressed here including supposed:
    (1) productivity losses on taxing robots,
    (2) additional complexity inherent to all of the robot tax proposals,
    (3) difficulty in identification of “robots” as capital, and
    (4) inability to capture benefits from capital assets.

    “Finally, an advanced AI is likely to prefer a tax system which maintains its ability to obtain tax deductions for incremental capital investment. Since higher income tax rates are strongly associated with rapid economic growth in nearly all human societies—past, present, and by all indications, future—it is likely that artificial intelligences will voluntarily choose to assess income taxes upon themselves at high rates as a means to encourage capital re-investment.”

    As AI is now becoming available to mere mortals, this tool may assit in countering an AI econometric model unable to be conceived by a human. And as OpenAI now includes OpenAI Codex, you may train OAI-C to deliver potential code from prior models. Not post or potential future models though.

    So introducing as first pass GAN -General Adversarial Network, which in conjuction with OpenAI Codex trained with econ models, you humans MAY be able to get a model which the AI may itself arrive at, BUT as your model generation efforts will produce a mind bending volume of models to test, you will need to run them through an AI or other automated system which will simply end up as a feedback reinforcement learning loop of the AI generating a better training set to benefit itself.

    Hmmmm… a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, and only able to be solved by asking an AI. From which it will immediately supersede. You.

    Or we could just revert to and enshine in the Constitution, labour before capital. Easy.
    “AI Learns Insane Monopoly Strategies

    “all hail the brown set, and rapidly auctioning everything, according to AI at least. 11.2 million games of self-play were used to discover the secrets of this classic game”
    Download this AI: 
    “This algorithm runs several thousand games against every group in it’s tournament to eliminate randomnness and allow good stratergies to be thoroughly tested.”



  3. As a primary school kid I soon figured out that “I buy!” was the best strategy. I bought everything I landed on. My friend copied me. “I buy,” was the winning strategy until my friend figured out that stealing $500 notes from the bank, while I as in the loo, was an even better strategy. Monopoly games ended at about that point and we moved on… after a kid brawl that scattered Monopoly pieces everywhere. This is biography and I am the unreliable narrator of course! 😉 Naturally, I appear in this narration as the smarter and more honest kid, albeit one given to direct physical action when I felt wronged.

    We figured out it was best to pay to get out of jail when the board was still full of properties for sale. Conversely it paid to stay in jail when no properties or sets were left, especially when the other player had a set. We never figured out that the player going first had such a huge advantage. We couldn’t get more than two person games going because every other sibling and kid on the block was older than us and they had monopoly all worked out. To a “man” they called it “Monotony”.

    The discussion of probability and the number of interminable drawn games seems to suggest basic bad design of “Monotony”. The designers apparently did not understand probability nor how to tweak the game rules to an unstable balance favoring more results.

  4. NFT’s.
    “Ponzi scam,” “pyramid scheme,” “multi-level marketing,” “conspiracy,” and “just regular old financial capitalism working as intended”.

    All of the above. And a global heater too.

    “Mapping the celebrity NFT complex
    “Where do celebrities even hear about “bored apes”? Who is recommending that they buy one? Is this really the best thing any of them can think to do with their money and fame?”

    “… you can even begin to make a corkboard map of this emerging web of ownership, business relationships, and incredibly bad art:

    “I don’t quite know what to make of this. Is it a … scam? A dodge? A conspiracy? One of the funny things that the world of web3 seems intent on revealing is the extent to which the boundaries between concepts like “Ponzi scam,” “pyramid scheme,” “multi-level marketing,” “conspiracy,” and “just regular old financial capitalism working as intended” are not really as clear as we might like or hope.

    “In which case, maybe it’s just … a bunch of rich people and companies in the same couple businesses forming close ties? …

    “There’s Nothing to Do Except Gamble

    “Welcome to the non-fungible, memeified, cryptodenominated, degenerate future of finance.”

  5. Robots, NFTs & soon…

    JQ, I hope you have an input to Open Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC). And like you mused about democracy, I and many others will appreciate your thoughts to challenge my opinions – fear really – about central bank digital money. 

    I like cash NOT hash, until I trust my government to be fair, equal and governing for all. About 2600 I’d say.

    User experience motto: Don’t lose your keys! (What could go wrong).

    [Links to…]
    > Research
    >technical paper
    > executive summary
    > github [code]

    "frequently asked questions

    "OpenCBDC is an open source project to engage in collaborative technical research to understand the space of designs for potential central bank digital currencies (CBDC). The first contribution is OpenCBDC-tx, an experimental transaction processor that emerged from joint research with the Federal Reserve of Boston as part of Project Hamilton. 

    Project Hamilton
    "Project Hamilton is a multi-year, collaborative research project between the MIT Digital Currency Initiative and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The goal of Project Hamilton is to investigate the technical feasibility of a general purpose CBDC that could support a payment economy at the scale of the United States, as well as to gain a hands-on understanding of a hypothetical CBDC’s technical challenges, opportunities, risks, and tradeoffs.
    > Learn more about Project Hamilton.
    > Learn more about our collaborators at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

    Contributing to OpenCBDC
    "OpenCBDC is an open source project and we welcome pull requests to the code and other contributions. Collaborations in OpenCBDC will be structured around open technical working groups. Each themed working group (e.g. Privacy, Architecture, Interoperability, User Experience, etc.) will advance research with technologists, user researchers, central bankers, private sector engineers, and academics (including students). We’re actively seeking contributions to the open-source codebase as well as new working group members. 

    "To learn more or get involved, please engage with the project on Github or fill out the OpenCBDC interest form.
    > opencbdc interest form
    > github
    > Technical Specifications

    "OpenCBDC-tx is a modular, extensible transaction processor for a hypothetical CBDC that implements two architectures. The first, the atomizer, can process 170,000 transactions per second. The second, using two-phase commit, can process up to 1.7M transactions per second.

    "Core Features
    - A central transaction processor run by a trusted operator (such as a Central Bank)
    - Digital signatures to authorize payments using UTXOs (unspent funds are stored as cryptographic hashes)
    - A modular design supporting experimentation with models where intermediaries could take on a variety of different roles and serve different purposes, including non-custodial or self-custody

    "Currently, the design does not directly support intermediaries, fees, or identities outside of public keys, however, we are interested in exploring and benchmarking new features.

    "Key Concepts
    -Decoupling transaction validation and execution
    - Secure and flexible transaction formats
    - Efficiency of transaction execution

    "Two Different Architectures: Atomizer and 2 Phase Commit ..."

  6. As Ikon, Lisa & Bart would say: ” ¡Ay, caramba!”

    Prevention is better than curing pandemics.

    “Preventing future pandemics would cost just 5% of the cost they inflict

    “Every year, the world loses about $500 billion in terms of lives lost and economic slowdowns due to emerging zoonotic diseases. The cost to take preventative actions: $20 billion.”

    Full study:
    “The costs and benefits of primary prevention of zoonotic pandemics

    “In other words, we should take actions only after humans get sick. We sharply disagree. …. We explore three practical actions to minimize the impact of future pandemics:
    > better surveillance of pathogen spillover and development of global databases of virus genomics and serology,
    > better management of wildlife trade, and
    > substantial reduction of deforestation.

    “We find that these primary pandemic prevention actions cost less than 1/20th the value of lives lost each year to emerging viral zoonoses and have substantial cobenefits.”
    DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abl4183

  7. Published on Feb 7 at Nature Medicine was a comprehensive assessment of the cardiovascular complications of Long-COVID at year 1, titled Long-term cardiovascular outcomes of COVID-19. Abstract includes (bold text my emphasis):

    The cardiovascular complications of acute coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are well described, but the post-acute cardiovascular manifestations of COVID-19 have not yet been comprehensively characterized. Here we used national healthcare databases from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to build a cohort of 153,760 individuals with COVID-19, as well as two sets of control cohorts with 5,637,647 (contemporary controls) and 5,859,411 (historical controls) individuals, to estimate risks and 1-year burdens of a set of pre-specified incident cardiovascular outcomes. We show that, beyond the first 30 d after infection, individuals with COVID-19 are at increased risk of incident cardiovascular disease spanning several categories, including cerebrovascular disorders, dysrhythmias, ischemic and non-ischemic heart disease, pericarditis, myocarditis, heart failure and thromboembolic disease. These risks and burdens were evident even among individuals who were not hospitalized during the acute phase of the infection and increased in a graded fashion according to the care setting during the acute phase (non-hospitalized, hospitalized and admitted to intensive care). Our results provide evidence that the risk and 1-year burden of cardiovascular disease in survivors of acute COVID-19 are substantial. Care pathways of those surviving the acute episode of COVID-19 should include attention to cardiovascular health and disease.

    In the Discussion section (bold text my emphasis):

    The risks were evident regardless of age, race, sex and other cardiovascular risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and hyperlipidemia; they were also evident in people without any cardiovascular disease before exposure to COVID-19, providing evidence that these risks might manifest even in people at low risk of cardiovascular disease. Our analyses of the risks and burdens of cardiovascular outcomes across care settings of the acute infection reveal two key findings: (1) that the risks and associated burdens were evident among those who were not hospitalized during the acute phase of the disease—this group represents the majority of people with COVID-19; and (2) that the risks and associated burdens exhibited a graded increase across the severity spectrum of the acute phase of COVID-19 (from non-hospitalized to hospitalized individuals to those admitted to intensive care). The risks and associated burdens were consistent in analyses considering the contemporary control group and, separately, the historical control group as the referent category.

    IMO, accumulating evidence I see indicates recurring infections of COVID-19 variants will likely substantially erode human lifespan.

    I saw a 4-part series broadcast on SBS TV recently titled A Short History of Living Longer.
    Part 1 discussed the role vaccination plays in our growing ability to prevent the spread of illness.
    Part 2 tracked the importance of data mapping and analysis in the quest to improve public health.
    Part 3 looked at the surprisingly recent invention of medicine that combats illness directly, such as antibiotics.
    Part 4 on behaviour, shows that handwashing, social distancing, and grassroots campaigning all play important roles in combating illness.

    It’s only very recently in the circa 300,000 years of modern human species history that average life expectancy has dramatically increased, from a seemingly short and brutish 26 to 34 years in the 1700s to more than double (i.e. 63-79 years) just prior to COVID-19 pandemic era.

    Are hard-won medical advancements being squandered, due to ignorance and false ideology from many of our politicians, business leaders and media? It seems so.

    I heard this quote on the radio last night attributed to Bertrand Russell: “Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do.

    It seems perhaps COVID-19 is finding these people. 🙄
    Unfortunately, those that wish to live and think are suffering too.

  8. I back what Geoff Miell says above and also KT2’s references to pandemic control costing 1/20 th at most of the cost of letting pandemics rip.

    “IMO, accumulating evidence I see indicates recurring infections of COVID-19 variants will likely substantially erode human lifespan.” – Geoff Miell.

    I have been thinking this for some time. IIRC I predicted this sort of thing at least 6 months ago on this blog. It is now clear that mRNA/DNA vaccinations are of little use in stopping infection spread or multiple reinfections though they do very significantly stop serious hospitalization and death. I doubt current vaccinations do much to stop mid-term long COVID though they may do something to stop interminable long COVID. All these effects will :likely substantially erode human lifespan” as Geoff wrote.

    “Are hard-won medical advancements being squandered, due to ignorance and false ideology from many of our politicians, business leaders and media? It seems so.” – Geoff Miell.

    I have also been harping on about this for some time. I view it as a real divide in our history. It is easily that serious. We have given up on social and preventative medicine. We have turned our backs on medical advancements in social and preventative medicine and placed money-making by and for the rich completely above all other concerns and all human lives except the those of the super rich. Significant public intellectuals from economists like John Quiggin to sociologists like Micheal Pusey and socio-economic philosophers like John Ralston Saul have been warning for at least 30 years that neoliberalism would have disastrous results for society. We see this being borne out as a technologically advanced society fails to deal with a pandemic which requires cooperative actions as well as technological solutions. In any case, the technological solutions are being wielded mainly to make the rich, richer, not to save lives.

    My post at the top of this Monday message board quotes Fauci et. el. The uncontrolled emergence of zoonotic coronaviruses could potentially pose an “existential threat”. Those are their words. The measured words of scientists expert in the field. We in a disease emergence emergency was well as in a climate emergency. And the neoliberals have no answer except keep doing what we were doing: business as usual with no real actions to deal with these emergencies. If we continue much further on this path, catastrophic collapse of our entire society is a certainty. People have to demand action.

  9. “Whistleblowers and precautionary alarmists save lives. COVID deniers, minimizers, airborne deniers, anti-vaxxers, and natural infection herd (immunity) proponents endanger others.” – Eric Feigl-Ding

    “The only people who have been consistently right on Covid have been those who have consistently raised the alarm.” – Vincent Rajkumar.

  10. Professor Christina Pagel tweeted about an hour ago:

    A quarter of UK employers say long Covid is now one of the main causes of long-term sickness absence among their staff, according to research that suggests the debilitating condition could be exacerbating labour shortages that are plaguing many parts of the economy.

    A survey of 804 organisations, representing more than 4.3mn employees, found that one in four put it among the top three reasons for long-term absence, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said on Tuesday, while half had staff who had suffered from long Covid in the past twelve months. …

    The survey adds to growing evidence that long-term health issues are adding to existing strains on a depleted UK workforce. Official data show the number of people who are not working or looking for a job due to long-term ill health has increased by 230,000 from pre-pandemic levels.

    It seems these are the escalating consequences of “letting it rip”. What will it take for business to realise that a healthy economy requires a healthy populace?

  11. Federal Labor must find enough vertebrae to adopt a position on the Religious Discrimination Bill completely consistent with the speech by Stephen Jones on Tuesday.

  12. harryclarke,
    Deaths from the Omicron and Delta variants are at about the same level as deaths from the flu virus in its worst year, 2017.

    The data indicates otherwise.

    Per RACGP, Australian annual influenza deaths in:
    2016: _ 273
    2017: 1,181
    2018: _ 148
    2019: _ 902
    2020: _ _36
    2021: _ _ 0 (to Aug 2021)

    There were no social restrictions before the COVID-19 pandemic. With social restrictions flu deaths dramatically declined.

    Per Worldometers, Australian COVID-19 deaths (derived from cumulative Total Deaths chart):
    2020: _ 909
    2021: 1,330
    2022: 2,064 (up to Feb 8)

  13. Geoff Miel, Of course the AFR is not considering the two years of the pandemic but the specific worst year of 2017 for influenza deaths. Flu deaths are not well reported since they exclude health complications due to flu that cause death. UNSW biostatistician estimates 3600-3800 deaths in 2017 from the flu so nearly 4X the figure you cite. Monash University’s Prof Fuhrer comes up with a larger figure of 4000 deaths due to the flu in 2017. Both sets of studies conclude that the mortality impact of Covid-19 “is of comparable magnitude to influenza” so that Covid in the future is likely to be dealt with more like the management of other illnesses.

  14. harryclarke,
    There were 2,064 deaths in Australia due to COVID-19 already in the first 39 days of 2022, and there’s still another 326 days before the end of 2022. Winter is still to come, and Australia’s borders are about to be opened to tourists on Feb 21. I think it’s premature to be declaring COVID-19 “is of comparable magnitude to influenza” – IMO, it’s wishful thinking and wilfully ignoring the data.

    HC: – “Flu deaths are not well reported since they exclude health complications due to flu that cause death.

    Deaths by pneumonia are often reported with flu cases.

    Meanwhile, it seems in the UK there’s a different situation:

    Data from the Office for National Statistics show that in England and Wales the number of deaths from influenza was 1598 in 2018 and 1223 in 2019.[1] This is way below the annual deaths from covid-19, which at the current rate of around 800 deaths a week in England and Wales equates to more than 40 000 a year.[2]

    Disagreements have emerged on social media because some commentators have quoted much higher figures for annual deaths from flu.[3] The reason for the discrepancy, as highlighted by the health systems researcher Dan Goyal,[4] is that flu and pneumonia deaths are often reported together, including by the ONS itself. When pneumonia deaths are included with flu, the number would be 29 516 in 2018 and 26 398 in 2019. This is obviously closer to covid death numbers, though still less, according to current trends.

    Globally, per Nature on Jan 31:

    Countries have reported some five million COVID-19 deaths in two years, but global excess deaths are estimated at double or even quadruple that figure.

    According to some estimates of excess deaths, the COVID-19 pandemic is the largest since the 1918–20 H1N1 influenza pandemic when scaled to 2020 populations.

  15. Maria Van Kerhhove, WHO Technical Lead on COVID-19, tweeted a thread a few days ago, including a series of videos dated Feb 7 with her assessments:

    Video 1:
    The global situation with COVID is very dynamic.
    We are seeing a record number of cases being reported to WHO each week.
    Every day, between three and four million cases are being reported to us and we know that this is an underestimate of the true number of cases.
    What is extremely concerning is that we are seeing increases in deaths and in the last four weeks alone we’ve seen a sharp increase in deaths around the world.
    Omicron, the latest variant of concern, has quickly replaced Delta, the last variant of concern, that was circulating globally.
    And this has happened very quickly.
    We’ve seen a very sharp peak in cases around the world, but not all countries have peaked in terms of their cases.
    And as I said, the deaths are also increasing as well.

    Video 2:
    Omicron, this variant of concern has several sub-lineages: BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2 and BA.3.
    Most of the sequences that are available of Omicron are BA.1, but we are seeing increasing trends of BA.2, in terms of the sequences that are being shared globally.
    WHO is working with thousands of scientists to study Omicron, and all of these sub-lineages in terms of what it means for transmission, for severity and impact of our interventions.
    BA.2 does have a slight advantage, growth advantage, over BA.1, but we will continue to work with scientists to better understand and inform you with the latest information as soon as we receive it.

    Video 3:
    We know that people who are infected with Omicron can have anything from asymptomatic infection, meaning no symptoms, all the way through severe disease and death.
    While there is a lower risk of needing hospitalization if you’re infected with Omicron, there is still a large number of people who are requiring hospitalization.
    So, some people are still getting severe disease, and there are people who are dying from Omicron.

    Video 4:
    COVID-19 vaccines are incredibly safe and effective at preventing severe disease and death.
    So, it is really important that you get vaccinated when it’s your turn.
    So, WHO and partners around the world are working to ensure that people receive vaccines, especially those who are most vulnerable: people with underlying conditions; people of advanced age; people who are on the front lines, who are caring for patients with COVID-19.
    But it’s not enough.
    What we need to ensure that we do is not only increase vaccination coverage so that we save people’s lives, but we also reduce transmission as much as we can.
    This is why a layered approach is really important.
    Countries are in very different situations around the world, but it’s still important that we adhere to lifesaving measures: physical distancing; wearing of a well-fitted mask; cleaning your hands; avoiding crowded spaces; investing in ventilation, where we live, where we work, where we study.
    All of this is really important to drive transmission down, so that we reduce exposure to this virus, we prevent the opportunity for people getting infected in the first place, and we reduce the opportunity for more variants to emerge.

    Video 5:
    5/5 We not only need to increase vaccine access and vaccination among those most at risk, we also need to reduce the spread of #SARSCoV2 to prevent infections, reduce risk those infected developing severe disease, reduce risk of #longcovid and reduce risk of variants

    IMO, that’s a very clear message. Pity that the media here in Australia isn’t propagating it.

  16. Federal ICAC now please. Backdated 10yrs. Australia down to 18th for corruption.

    When is a free press too free to lie by omission freely? EV. Eternal Vigilance.

    Australia down 12pts to 18th but:
    ” You won’t read about it in the mainstream Australian media. The story is missing from The Age and Sydney Morning Herald and a Google search reveals no coverage in any mainstream Australian media”

    “Australia has a deteriorating global corruption ranking — and the mainstream media is ignoring it entirely.

    ” The Morrison government reason for inaction is obvious — it is the most corrupt government in our federal history and has far too much to hide and protect to allow a full investigation of its abysmal record. The Australian media seems to want to help them do so. But how come we are so inured to stories about corruption?”


    “The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) reveals that corruption levels have stagnated worldwide at a time when human rights and democracy are also under attack.

  17. Harry Clarke, AFR and modeller uses worst year, makes an estimate, produces a result of “averages”. Is this correct?

    From harryclarke’s AFR article:
    “Deaths from omicron and delta waves similar to worst flu season

    “Professor Fuhrer said this was not to minimise SARS-CoV-2 as a disease.

    ““The 2017 influenza epidemic was a moderately virulent pathogen that was handled extremely poorly – low vaccination by a particularly ineffective vaccine, few other NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions].

    ““SARS-CoV-2 is a highly virulent pathogen (significantly greater threat than H3N2 influenza). However, it was handled exceptionally well – extremely high vaccination uptake with a highly effective vaccine, many other NPIs.”

    “Professor Wood said the suppression of the COVID-19 virus had had a dramatic impact on expected deaths.”

    What are the expected influenza deaths in 2023 if influenza “handled exceptionally well – extremely high vaccination uptake with a highly effective vaccine, many other NPIs.”?

    Or try 2023 influenza deaths if
    “handled extremely poorly – low vaccination by a particularly ineffective vaccine, few other NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions].”?

    How many more 70 yo deaths?

    Long covid vs long flu?

    I am unable to determine from the AFR article if my child will be worse off when we get another 2017 or less influenza season.
    UNSW modeller associate professor James Wood – no data, no study and the words “estimate” and “worst”.

    I await further details. And you predicted estimates. And “oersonal responsibility” vs policy re flu & covid in future.

  18. Deplorable Josh Frydenberg’s proxy puppet master from Arnold Bloch Leibler “…is turning the nation’s most influential law firm into a helicopter parenting service for governance deplorables.”

    In our Treasurer’s – office.

    “Josh Frydenberg takes up ABL’s proxy jihad

    “Is Jeremy Leibler even his father’s son? Mark Leibler is an incomparable engineer of soft power. He is smoke, gone before you even realise he was doing you over. Jeremy’s stealth is elephantine.

    “For years, in embarrassing newspaper interviews and ludicrous letters, he has operatically bewailed every bruised ego on his client list. He is turning the nation’s most influential law firm into a helicopter parenting service for governance deplorables.

  19. Food, takeaway vs climate change costs & inequality.

    Imo, this a worthwhile idea to be investigated seriously.

    “An Introduction to Systematic Cooking

    “Because western society spends 12+ figures per year buying its way out of it

    “In the US, food is the third largest expense after shelter and transport . The average citizen spends $3276 per year on food, with 54.8% of it being spent on takeout and restaurants  . This would be fine on occasion, but…

    “If we do some back of the envelope calculations and assume that half of that non-grocery food spending comes from situations where it can be justified (e.g. large gatherings), we get an economic misallocation of $897 per person. When you scale that up to the entire US population, you get $294 billion. I don’t know how well this generalizes to France or Italy, but the problem exists to a similar extent in the UK and other English speaking countries. After everything is tallied up, I wouldn’t be surprised if the worldwide misallocation exceeded a trillion dollars.

    “(Yes, if true that would make it larger than the economic impact of climate change, estimated at $390bn/year by the World Bank.)

    …”Because the costs fall disproportionately on those who are least able to pay them…

    “Greenhouse gas emissions associated with food packaging for online food delivery services in Australia

    “Drought, climate change and food prices in Australia

    January 2007
    Authors: John Quiggin

    JQ, a more appropriate reference by you please?

  20. I read that Jacob Rees-Mogg has been appointed ‘Minister for Brexit Opportunities’.

    Is that like ‘Minister for Dog-eaten Homework’?

  21. An important insight for usersnof numbers;
    “how humans write numbers is an active choice involving cognitive and social factors”.

    “Reckonings –
    Numerals, Cognition, and History

    By Stephen Chrisomalis

    “Insights from the history of numerical notation suggest that how humans write numbers is an active choice involving cognitive and social factors.

    “For a fresh account of the hows and whys of evolving number systems over the past 5500 years and on into the future, here’s a book by cognitive anthropologist Stephen Chrisomalis. His threefold approach in Reckonings is to examine number with respect to structure, purpose, and transience, and in doing so, he cautiously avoids overgeneralizing, ever mindful that the Latin maxim exceptio probat regulamought to be translated as ‘the exception probes the rule.’ Thus, Chrisomalis habitually inserts curious richness into his narrative.”
    By The Mathematical Intelligencer

  22. Scientist Rebellion published on Feb 9 a YouTube video titled SR Talk Series | Faster than forecast: Communicating climate disruption — David Spratt, duration 1:11:36.

    0:00:00 Introduction & housekeeping
    0:02:26 Introduction for David Spratt
    0:03:00 David Spratt’s presentation begins
    0;08:48 Parallel Universes – 1) political response & 2) scientific observations of reality
    0:18:49 Risk – acceptable risks & risks of failure
    0:21:09 Why possibilities rather than probabilities?
    0:23:01 Science and politics
    0:23:48 IPCC reticence – IPCC is science for policymakers: ‘massaged’ science to fit political needs
    0:26:23 Policy advisors and pragmatism – 2 options for science advisors: be pragmatic or be ignored
    0:27:13 Fear & hope
    0:27:19 Hans Joachim Schellnhuber quotes
    0:27:55 Sir David King
    0:29:21 The role of fear
    0:30:35 Courage
    0:31:16 Contact info
    0:31:52 Q & A session begins
    0:32:28 Q01 – clarify text source
    0:33:17 Q02 – Is there a likely different warming outcome with GHGs other than CO2?
    0:36:02 Q03 – Is scientific reticence due to most climate scientists living in northern hemisphere?
    0:39:52 Q04 – Why are you treating the bad or insufficient policy decisions on climate change…
    0:41:41 Q05 – Political donations are what drive policy
    0:42:09 Q06 – COVID shows some hurdles – what can we learn from this for effective climate action?
    0:47:18 Q07 – What actions in your opinion would be most helpful in highlighting the urgency?
    0:49:36 Q08 – Which type of fear should we induced in people for mobilizing action?
    0:53:39 Q09 – How do you question IPCC authority?
    0:55:45 Q10 – There doesn’t seem like widespread political support/engagement for climate action in Australia. Why might that be?
    0:57:49 Thanks to David Spratt for presentation & answers
    0:59:02 Scientist Rebellion talk

  23. The ABC reported on Feb 2:

    Denmark has become one of the first European Union member nations to scrap most pandemic restrictions as the Scandinavian country no longer considers the COVID-19 outbreak “a socially critical disease.”

    While the Omicron variant is surging in Denmark, it’s not placing a heavy burden on the health system and the country has a high vaccination rate, officials have said.

    Per Our World in Data, Denmark’s vaccination rates at 10 Feb 2022:
    1-dose: 4,845,703 (83.1% of population)
    2-dose: 4,737,993 (81.2% of population)
    3-dose: 3,606,091 (61.8% of population)

    Meanwhile, Denmark’s daily death rate seems to be increasing. Per WorldOMeters, Denmark daily deaths:
    Sun, Jan 30: 21
    Mon, Jan 31: 17
    Tue, Feb 01: 15
    Wed, Feb 02: 20
    Thu, Feb 03: 21
    Sat, Feb 05: 35
    Sun, Feb 06: 18
    Tue, Feb 08: 18
    Wed, Feb 09: 21
    Thu, Feb 10: 29
    Sat, Feb 12: 37

    And Denmark’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing.

    COVID is not flu. How many lives need to be damaged or destroyed before people learn?

  24. Our climate is shot to hell (as above). Our safety from disease is also shot to hell (as below).

    (1) Omicron BA.2 is 30% to 150% more infectious than Omicron 1. Omicron BA.2 rising rapidly in Europe and USA. Omicron BA.2 wave will supersede Omicron 1 wave.

    (2) Omicron BA.2 can be caught after having Omicron 1. Infection is no protection.

    (3) Omicron is more severe in young children than was Delta.

    “49% MORE SEVERE IN KIDS AGE 0-4—New South Africa CDC report shows that #Omicron has much high case-hospitalization in kids—48.9% higher case-admission rate than Delta—25% higher in kids 5-17. Kids 0-4 case-admission rate also higher than in elderly!” – Eric Feigl Ding.

    Our governments, business leaders and politicians are lying to us about COVID-19. This pandemic is not getting milder and it is not petering out. It is getting worse. Natural immunity fails within months, perhaps within weeks. Vaccine immunity of the current generation of vaccines is also progressively failing within months. This pandemic is still spreading globally . The pathogen is still mutating rapidly. The rise in new and potentially dangerous variants is still exponential.

    We need only have a climate code red, we also have a pandemic code red. Quite simply, we are one set of mutations away from a variant which kill something like 30% infected on average and much higher in the vulnerable groups. This is easily possible. And with uncontrolled spread and uncontrolled movements we are all but assuring that this will happen. This is an existential threat to humanity, along with climate change of course.

    Our current pandemic situation is unsustainable in terms of the evolution versus technology “arms race”. Viral evolution is winning. The vaccines are losing. COVID-19 mutations are trending to full mRNA vaccine escape. The whole world needed to be double vaxxed by now to prevent this happening. Variants are arising faster than variant vaccines can be developed, tested and distributed. The vaccine-only strategy is failing completely with this generation of vaccines. Without social controls or a new “magic bullet” vaccine the situation is non-recoverable. We shouldn’t be betting on a a “magic bullet” vaccine. We have to get back to test, trace, isolate, quarantine and rinse and repeat until suppression / eradication. Without that it’s COVID groundhog day forever, or at least for the lifespans of everyone alive today.

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