Sunday, October 24, 2021

Mysteries, Puzzles and the China Box

As much as I would like to write about something other than Covid it continues to be hard to ignore.

It persists in our lives every day.

Covid is also a subject that consistently results in more views when I write about it. This tells me that many are still very interested in seeing facts that they may not see elsewhere.

Winston Churchill was asked in 1939 what role the Soviet Union might ultimately play in World War II.

His reply has become a popular response over the years to other puzzling, mysterious, complex and hard to understand topics and questions.

"It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."

That statement could certainly also be applicable to Covid.

You could say the following quote might describe Covid even better.

"It's a mystery. Broken into a jigsaw puzzle. Wrapped in a conundrum. Hidden in a Chinese box."

Hidden in a Chinese box? So true regarding Covid.

These words were those of The Riddler in a Batman comic book, The Long Halloween.

Let's look at the puzzles and mysteries of Covid in this edition of BeeLine.

Oceania Now Has More Covid Cases Per Capita Than South America

For most of the pandemic Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific islands that comprise Oceania have had the lowest rates of Covid cases in the entire world.

South America has had some of the highest rates.

That has now changed. 

Oceania now has about 50% more cases per capita than South America.

Australia and New Zealand are both dealing with higher numbers of confirmed cases than any time during the pandemic.

This is despite the fact that both countries have had some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world and high vaccination rates.

Covid Infections-Vaxxed vs. UnVaxxxed in UK

The UK has much better national health reporting systems than the United States. This would seem to follow in that it has a national health care system under centralized control of the UK government.

Public Health England has a weekly Covid surveillance report in which it reports Covid infections by age and by vaccination status.

This chart shows Covid infections by age group and vaccination status from weeks 36-42 in the UK.


It shows that a large number of the Covid cases in the UK over the last 7 weeks have been among those under age 18 who were unvaccinated. Of course, the majority of those in this age group were ineligible for the vaccination. No one age 15 and under in the UK was fully vaccinated thru Week 42. Less than 20% of 16-18 year olds were fully vaccinated.

However, for those age 30 and higher, Covid infection rates are actually higher in those vaccinated than in those unvaccinated. These are infection rates per 100,000, not absolute numbers, since the vast majority of those in these age groups are vaccinated. For those ages 65+ in the UK well more than 90% are fully vaccinated.

For context, consider that for those age 70-79 in the UK in weeks 38-41, there were 27,360 total Covid cases. 658 were unvaccinated, 24,916 were fully vaccinated, 227 were partially vaccinated, and 1,559 were unlinked meaning they did not have a Vax status. Of those with Vax status, 96.6% of the cases were fully vaccinated, .9% were partially vaccinated and 2.5% were not vaccinated.


What I find even more interesting about the chart above that shows trends over weeks 36-42 is that is appears that cases per 100,000 are generally increasing among the vaccinated while cases among the unvaccinated are decreasing among those age 30 and higher.

Why are we seeing this?

The same UK report does support the argument that vaccination may provide protection against death from Covid for older age groups.


However, it raises further questions about the potential benefit of the vaccine compared to the risk for those under age 50 as I have pointed out in these pages since the vaccination program began. The difference in risk of death for those vaccinated or not vaccinated for those under age 50 is almost indistinguishable.

For example, I wrote this on January 28, 2021 at a point that the vaccines has just been deployed for general use a month earlier and we were getting the first VAERS reports on adverse events.

Looking at the data, I would have a hard time recommending anyone under age 50 take the vaccine right now. This seems even more true for females. I just don't see the benefits outweighing the potential costs.

I can't say that subsequent data has made me change my opinion on the risk/benefit equation of vaccinations for those under age 50.

This is particularly true now for those under age 30 (particularly males) and the risks of myocarditis with risk apparently being higher with the Moderna vaccine. Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland have all suspended use of Moderna for those 30 and under until more research can be done.

Meanwhile in the United States we are now authorizing the vaccine for children as young as 5 years of age?

Why Are Deaths Among 15-44 Age Groups Rising in U.S. and Europe?

Deaths are rising among the 15-44 age groups in the United States and Europe in 2021 and it does not appear connected to Covid deaths.

This is a chart showing excess deaths in Europe in 2021 compared to the previous five years and the baseline.

Overall excess deaths in Europe are running just slightly lower in 2021 than 2020.


However, in ages 15-44,  deaths have been running higher all year and have increased substantially since the middle of the year.


Excess deaths in the age 25-44 age group also spiked shortly after the middle of the year. Note that U.S. data lags the reporting from Europe.


What is the reason for the excess deaths? Drug deaths? Suicides? Interventions due to Covid?

Another interesting factoid in the Europe data is that excess mortality in Europe for the first half of 2021 for ages 0-14 years was running below the baseline and below all of the previous four years. It increased above the baseline beginning in July but has not still not increased beyond the excess deaths levels in 2019.


Again, who can unequivocally state that that the benefits of vaccinating children exceed the short-term and long-term risks?

What is the "Best" Vaccine?

This question has been asked a lot since the three major vaccines in the United States were first introduced.

A research paper was published recently that looked at breakthrough infections in 620,000 U.S. veterans in the period February 1, 2021 to August 13, 2021.


That study found each of the vaccines had diminished efficacy over time.

Moderna held up the best over the period studied

Pfizer was next.

J&J/Janssen was effectively useless after five months.

Extrapolate those curves out a couple more months and you can understand why Boosters are being pushed so hard. 

In a normal world, a vaccine that is not at least 50% effective to prevent disease or transmission for at least one year would have never been authorized for use.

The China Box

Of course, the biggest mystery and riddle wrapped in the conundrum and jigsaw puzzle of Covid is how the country it all originated in has almost totally avoided its effects?

The United States has had 2,035x the number of cumulative cases that China has had Per Capita.

South America 1,313x.

Europe 1,260x.

World  461x.

Asia  251x.

Oceania  84x.

What is hidden in the China box????

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