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Flu vaccine to blame for Italy’s numbers? What about New York’s?

Italy is still withering away after almost 3 weeks of a complete shut down of their entire country.  As of this writing, they have 11,591 deaths and a deaths/million people of 192.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  How is it that after three weeks of a total shut down of their entire country and massive social distancing restrictions, they still have thousands of new cases a day (4,050 today) and almost a thousand deaths a day (812 today)?

Right?  Because total shut downs and massive social distancing restrictions is supposed to save us.  Those are the key to our salvation, and no other possible actions are open to us beyond locking everyone in their homes for 6 weeks to 18 months.  Right?

Right?

I have been following the story in Italy from the beginning, noting carefully that the first reported case of COVID in the United States occurred 10 days before the first reported case in Italy.  And yet, somehow, Italy was supposed to be our destiny.  Meanwhile, Germany and South Korea, with compatible starting points, and so on, were on an entirely different trajectory.  I have documented this all on this blog.  As of this writing, we are still tracking closely with Germany (deaths/million of 7) and South Korea still has the lid on things there (dpm 3).  SK never did a full lock down, and Germany only did a few days ago.

Notwithstanding the overblown comparisons to Italy, the question remains:  what the heck is going on with Italy?

That question remains today.

But now we have another question:  what the heck is going on with New York?  (and NYC in particular.)

From 1/3 to 1/2 of all the US deaths are occurring in one small section of the country.    The Seattle area, which does not have the population of NYC, still is no slouch when it comes to size.  In our country, the COVID’s first confirmed case was actually in Seattle, and the first outbreak of note occurred there.  As a consequence, I have been watching Seattle closely, as well.  The number of cases and deaths have tapered off in Seattle, even as they sky rocket in NYC.  What is going on in NYC?

Now, I know that I’m supposed to be a good little boy and mindlessly repeat the mantra that if we did nothing (as if we would ever do nothing lol) we would see all 400,000,000 Americans die from COVID.  Or some kind of nonsense like that.   One can believe we ought to do something without thinking the worst case scenarios are plausible.  And one can believe we ought to do something, even lock down the country and enact all the social distancing laws in the world, and still observe that something is VERY OFF in NYC.

If you chop NYC out of the picture, the overall view of the rest of the country looks entirely different if not even–gasp–manageable.  See [3/30/2020]  It sounds like we are expecting other hot spots to emerge, but I still contend that if we were going to see an ‘Italy’ in the US, it would have already happened.  However, we may be seeing it happen in NYC.

There are a variety of theories out there regarding both Italy and NYC.  I heard one today for Italy that has me wondering.

Italy, apparently, went with a new flu vaccine recently, called VIQCC.  More information is available here.  Is it possible that the reason why Italy is having such a problem is because their newish flu vaccine protected against the flu, but made them vulnerable for the unthinkable–a novel coronavirus?

There are already murmurs out there that those who took the flu vaccine appear to have been more vulnerable to COVID-19.  Whispers, really.  Rumors, you see.  These are the sorts of things one does not say loudly.  With our entire establishment invested whole-hog in the ‘vaccinate-for-everything-or-you-are-a-bad-person’ mentality, at every level, it would have to be the bravest of souls to follow up that lead, let alone admit it in public.    There is already an established pattern of offering only the most muted discussion about dangers or over-estimates on efficacy when it comes to vaccines for fear that people may begin to doubt the official line, so I can’t even imagine the level of institutional resistance there would be if it became apparent that a flu vaccine vastly exacerbated a pandemic.  The fire and brimstone would be biblical.

To be absolutely clear (having had plenty of experience with establishment drones piling on me for merely asking questions) I am not at all saying that I believe this is the case.  What I am saying is that at present, what is going on in Italy is inexplicable.   How do you quarantine the entire country for three weeks and still have an out of control outbreak?  It demands an explanation.

If we have reason to believe that NYC invested heavily in vaccinating using one of these ‘cell based’ vaccines whereas other regions did not, this might be something that the powers that be need to follow up on ASAP.   The coincidence would just be too much.  Lives, as they say, hang in the balance.

If you reply to this as an establishment drone, save your breath.   But if anyone has actual data or information that can confirm or disconfirm this line of inquiry, I’d appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

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    • Stathei on March 31, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Please be sure that if there is any connection to the flu vaccine it will by studied. You don’t believe that every medical professional in the entire world is in a conspiracy to protect the finances of the companies that make flu vaccines, do you? Probably. If you do, “save your breath” in any reply to me.

    I think the only plausible explanation is that people are just not obeying social distancing guidelines. They only work if everybody, or nearly everybody, follows them to the letter. Germany vs Italy – which country do you think is following these rules more closely?

    I work in a hospital and people who definitely know better are breaking the guidelines continuously, either chatting to friends up close or eating together across the table in the cafeteria. If we won’t do it properly, who will?

    • Anthony on March 31, 2020 at 9:18 am
      Author

    It doesn’t have to be a conspiracy.

    I’ve got news for you, Stathei. Medical professionals aren’t the only smart people in the world. And, if you were as smart as you think you are, you would know that many innovations throughout history emerged from insights that came from outside conventional routes. Moreover, the people within a system can’t, or won’t, always see what is obvious to those outside the system. You may wish to read Thomas Kuhn’s “The Copernican Revolution.” I wonder if the book “The Black Swan” is especially appropriate in today’s context. There are many books that talk about this. It may be time to expand your mind, Stathei!

    “I think the only plausible explanation”

    Evidently, you aren’t looking at the big picture enough. That’s a great hypothesis, but it clearly doesn’t align with the facts. Italy went on lock down weeks ago (March 10thish). I documented the very day, here:

    https://sntjohnny.com/front/the-coronavirus-inconvenience-a-single-person-or-lock-down-an-entire-country-you-decide/3896.html

    Germany waited almost 2 weeks (March 22ndish)

    https://www.dw.com/en/what-are-germanys-new-coronavirus-social-distancing-rules/a-52881742

    We know that the first case of COVID in Germany (Jan 26) was before Italy’s (Jan 29).

    So, COVID has been percolating in Germany longer than in Italy with Italy have 12 full days of draconian lock downs before Germany followed with similar measures. It can’t a case of who is following the rules better, because Germany did not even have the rules in place yet. Germany would not have such rules in place for a substantially long time, twice as long as the average of 5 days for incubation period and plenty of time for the exponential growth that accompanies the r naught of the virus when not mitigated (we are told, around 3.)

    So, that’s a great hypothesis if you are completely entrenched in your way of thinking (“The Copernican Revolution” strikes back) but it is patently absurd if you are looking at the matter objectively.

    I’m willing to cut you a little slack. I understand you may be into things neck deep over there on the east coast right now, and not able to also survey where things are elsewhere. You may not actually know what is going elsewhere in the world on this. As just a place to begin bringing yourself up to speed, I find this to be a helpful starting point.

    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

    Feel free to run some of your hypotheses through the facts and see if they survive.

    • Stathei on March 31, 2020 at 9:45 am

    I know you don’t really think I need you to tell me what is going on in the world, SJ, but thank you. I am sure you are just pretending to be a patronizing dick.

    Even before social distancing there were major cultural differences at play – Italians tend to kiss when they meet, Germans hate that stuff, Italians tend to be in close touch or living with grandparents and extended family, Germans not so much, many more houses in Germany have a single occupant than Italy, and on and on. Because it is an exponential spread, even a minor difference in behavior early on makes a MASSIVE difference in the ultimate numbers so it is not surprising that the experience of the two countries is radically different.

    You will know when I am up to my neck because I will be doing something more useful than flapping my gums at you.

    • Anthony on March 31, 2020 at 10:18 am
      Author

    Well, if you already know these things then you should make an effort to show in your remarks that you know them. As I just demonstrated, your original theory was nice, but it couldn’t be true.

    Now, we see that you’ve done gotten yourself into another informal logical fallacy, “moving the goalposts.” You went from, “I think the only plausible explanation is that people are just not obeying social distancing guidelines” to “major cultural differences”

    So there ARE other plausible explanations after all!?!?!? Maybe we might consider the possibility that our own cultural differences might justify the more ‘German’ approach rather than the Italy? OH NO LOOK WHAT YOU DID! You just veered into an argument that flatly undermines your first one. LOL

    Anyway, I am well aware of these new explanations, and still others that you haven’t invoked. For example, Fauci (is he respectable enough for you?) has said that Italy might be explained by the disproportionate number of tourists from China (and beneath his breath, the ‘hug a Chinese person’ campaign of early February.

    And my point would be if you’re going to shut down my country and confine millions of people to their homes and destroy millions of jobs, effing theories are not good enough. Bring me facts and evidence and demonstrable and/or falsifiable propositions.

    We now have ample evidence from around the world that there are other outcomes besides Italy’s. But even compared to these, Italy is clearly an outlier. It is becoming clear that NYC is an outlier, too. No one gets to tell me they are going to apply policy to me just because Italy and NYC are nuts when there is no particular reason to think that I have a similar context as them.

    Try listening for once: I am not saying there isn’t a reason to think I (and the rest of the country for that matter) will end up in a situation like Italy or NYC’s. I’m saying YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE IT. Finding out why Italy and NYC (and maybe Spain, I guess) are having problems whereas other areas such as SK, Germany, and now Washington State, have things stabilized, would go a long way in providing that data.

    You don’t get to shut down the world for mere plausibilities. Sorry, you don’t.

    • Stathei on March 31, 2020 at 10:39 am

    I don’t think you are listening SJ, all the cultural differences I mentioned were forms of social distancing.

    Anyway, Fauci is respectable enough for me (except when he has to pause from reality to lick Trump’s balls so he keeps his job), and since you are quoting him I assume he is good enough for you too. Modeling this disease shows us that the health care system WILL get completely overwhelmed, even with social distancing, and Fauci thinks there will be tens if not hundreds of thousands dead before this is over.

    What is it that you think we should be doing differently, SJ? You have been saying a lot without telling us exactly what Dr. SJ would do different to Dr. Fauci. I am all ears.

    • Anthony on March 31, 2020 at 10:54 am
      Author

    lol forms of social distancing. Man, you are desperate. Yes, I suppose running around hugging Chinese people could be construed as a violation of social distancing, too. LOL. Man, you establishment types are a riot.

    I’m not really interested in talking about models. As I said:

    “But if anyone has actual data or information that can confirm or disconfirm this line of inquiry, I’d appreciate it.”

    The specific context had to do with a particular flu vaccine. “Flapping your gums” about completely unrelated issues is indeed what you are doing, and not the sort of thing I wanted to waste my time with.

    As for what we should be doing differently, I have answered that numerous times on this blog, going back all the way to the beginning. It is kind of like criticizing a book or a movie without actually reading or watching it. More to the point, my suggestions are not mine alone. There are actually a number of people even you would consider reputable (at least under normal circumstances) which recognize the validity of them. Instead of rudely criticizing me when you haven’t even taken the time to find out what I really think (remember that time you expected to find me freaking out about the end of the world but it turned out to be the opposite?), maybe you should “see the movie.”

    And then post in the appropriate place, instead of derailing this post, which, you recall, I asked for a specific kind of answer.

    I have grouped all my posts for you, if you are inclined:

    https://sntjohnny.com/front/categories/coronavirus

    Just remember, my tolerance for assholes is extremely low these days. If you aren’t going to reply to them in good faith, then be prepared for my reply.

    • Anthony on March 31, 2020 at 11:10 am
      Author

    Ironically, my views on models are similar to what Fauci said in a recent interview:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00n3m-1nn0c

    Skip to the 3:59 mark.

    And, also ironically, my suggestions have been very similar to Fauci’s in some regards. It is clear to me that if we had not had such a piss poor testing situation to begin with, both Fauci and Birx would have pursued the SK route in the US. Even in this interview, Fauci is recommending for elsewhere in the country measures he doesn’t recommend for NYC. That is, the NY metro area is, even in his view, unique for some reason.

    My hope is that when our testing regime picks up, we’ll see some sanity extended into the rest of the country… before the country is permanently broken, of course.

    • Anthony on March 31, 2020 at 12:14 pm
      Author

    Dude. You even posted on one of the posts where I spell out my recommendations. Looks like you didn’t actually read that post before you commented.

    https://sntjohnny.com/front/what-we-need-are-more-sick-people-the-smart-way-to-handle-the-pandemic/3946.html

    • Stathei on March 31, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    I CONFESS! I did not read all of your three thousand word treatise! But I am not guilty of the crime of assholery (in this post, at least). Can you please summarize what you think we should be doing for those of us who have stuff to do?

    • Stathei on March 31, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    OK I have read it now, here is the part that we are talking about:

    1. Isolate and quarantine the old and the vulnerable.
    2. Test liberally and often, even when symptoms are not being shown. Quarantine anyone who tests positive. This flattens the curve, but does not pussy-foot around the fact that we all know everyone is going to get it. So, we LET people get it, but on a measured pace.
    3. Local governments should beef up their capabilities significantly, without waiting for things to get ‘hot.’
    4. When people get sick, throw EVERY conceivable and available treatment at it. [Once we have identified the winners, obviously that’s what we go to first.]
    5. Otherwise, in areas where there are not many cases, carry on as business as usual.

    1. We are doing that.
    2. Not enough tests to make that viable so a non starter. We have to work with what we have. Asymptomatic people transmit it.
    3. Not sure what this means but I think this is happening.
    4. We are doing that, emphasis on “conceivable”. It is the virus that kills, not as you incorrectly stated in another post, superinfection with bacterial pneumonia. Superinfection is closely looked for and treated appropriately. You really have no clue what you are talking about when it comes to medicine and clearly think doctors are idiots.
    5. Wow. Stupid. These areas will become hotspots before your “beefed up local governments” can react.

    Thank god no one is listening to Dr. SJ. Italy would look like heaven by comparison to the hell he would visit upon us.

    • Anthony on March 31, 2020 at 2:24 pm
      Author

    “crime of assholery”

    Well, if there was any doubt before, this did it:

    5. Wow. Stupid. These areas will become hotspots before your “beefed up local governments” can react. […] Thank god no one is listening to Dr. SJ. Italy would look like heaven by comparison to the hell he would visit upon us.

    We can either have a conversation, or you can be a jackass. I’m not going to waste my time with you if all you want to do is be a jackass. Please choose and tell me what you have chosen. You are sending mixed messages, and I haven’t the time for it.

    “2. Not enough tests to make that viable so a non starter. We have to work with what we have. Asymptomatic people transmit it.”

    Not a non-starter, today. I have talked about the lack of testing on numerous occasions. Fauci himself has said that now that our testing capabilities are coming online we should start customizing our approach based on region, etc. I have already written several places that I didn’t mind the approach we were taking until we learned more and it was short term. You must not be following things as closely as you suggest, because my position here is perfectly compatible with what the big dogs have said. The only difference is that I said it first. 😉

    “4. We are doing that, emphasis on “conceivable”. It is the virus that kills, not as you incorrectly stated in another post, superinfection with bacterial pneumonia.”

    That was about the spanish flu in particular, and even then, I did not say it as though the spanish flu itself could not kill. Feel free to actually quote what I said and where. If my statement is unclear in the original, I don’t mind clarifying. Is that too much of a courtesy for you to extend? (It may be best to post this accusation of yours on the post in question; here it seems like an unnecessary distraction, all the more since it appears to not be true.)

    And no, we were not. Again, I have to wonder if you are following things as closely as you say. South Korea was using hydroxychloroquine and other treatments right from the ‘get go.’ We have only begun ramping up our use of this. The FDA had to suspend its own policies in order to allow the medical establishment to use it for this purpose. Drug companies are only now ramping this up.

    “5. Wow. Stupid. These areas will become hotspots before your “beefed up local governments” can react.’

    Yea, I hear you talking, but the problem is that this is the opposite of what the experts are actually saying. One could only make this argument 2-3 weeks ago, before we had our expanded testing. However, now our testing is taking off. Soon, we’ll be doing serology tests on a large scale, too, and we’ll be able to know who had it and is no longer infectious. The knowledge gained by this will help us act with far more precision and will allow us to prevent hotspots from becoming hotspots at all. This is not even controversial.

    In case anyone is wondering, Stathei has drawn my recommendations frmo this post:

    https://sntjohnny.com/front/what-we-need-are-more-sick-people-the-smart-way-to-handle-the-pandemic/3946.html

    Which was a week ago. In that same post, I say things which completely repudiate her accusations here. For example:

    “Contrary to what some people may think, I have not objected to the quarantine and stay at home orders in principle. I don’t object to the ‘flattening the curve’ argument. However, details matter, and so do limits.”

    And

    “The ‘flattening the curve’ argument is a great theory, and I will even say has merit,”

    Along with many, many other examples I could given. Your remarks, Stathei, are completely disingenuous. Yes, I know that I write lengthy posts. However, I don’t make you read them. But if you’re going to comment on them, fairness demands that you do.

    • Stathei on March 31, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    2. We still have nowhere near enough tests to make a dent and even if we did the task of rigorous contact tracing of every single positive result is beyond us. We would also need to test all the contacts of the positive patient, then all the contacts of the positive contacts, etc. in an ideal world. The new rapid tests will be very helpful for case by case management when we get them in quantity but I think it will be a long time before it affects the course of the pandemic significantly.

    4. You specifically said

    “Even antibiotics had not yet been discovered yet in 1918. The knee-jerks blurt out “BUT ANTIBIOTICS DON’T WORK ON VIRUSES” failing to understand how people tend to die from influenza (and other diseases too, for that matter). The diseases inflict initial damage, but because of other underlying conditions, weakened immunities, and so on, which make them vulnerable to secondary infections, and it ends up being these that kill them, not the influenza directly.”

    Which seems to indicate that you think antibiotics will be effective in reducing the death rate from COVID-19, and therefore that you must think that people with COVID-19 are dying from superimposed bacterial pneumonia, which is likely a very small minority in reality.

    I’m not sure what the statement about the FDA has to do with what I said in 4. but there you go. You don’t address the fact that you appear to consider all doctors to be imbeciles who can’t think outside the box when I know for a fact that if it was possible that hitting the patient with a wet fish was effective we would all be doing it. I find your remarks about the medical profession to be personally offensive, particularly under current circumstances.

    5. I absolutely stand by this statement. As far as being a jackass, you might want to check the way you talk to me and others who dare to disagree with or even question you. I’m happy to be civil if you do the same in return but that would be very boring and no fun for either of us.

    • Anthony on March 31, 2020 at 4:03 pm
      Author

    “2. We still have nowhere near enough tests to make a dent and even if we did the task of rigorous contact tracing of every single positive result is beyond us.”

    You keep talking as if the 330,000,000 of us are a homogeneous lump concentrated in a tiny geographic area. Who is ‘we’? The entire US? To the contrary, different regions have different capabilities, so on and so forth.

    I also don’t think we’re clear on what we’re arguing about. Since I don’t object to short term lock downs, what exactly is it you are mad about.

    “Which seems to indicate that you think antibiotics will be effective”

    No, that’s you reading into it. While there is dispute as to just how many people died in the spanish flu due to secondary infections rather than the flu itself, there is no dispute it was substantial. The POINT of my making this comment was perfectly plain within the post itself, which was only that we have tools at our disposal today that just didn’t exist at the time, or were vastly inferior if they did.

    “You don’t address the fact that you appear to consider all doctors to be imbeciles”

    Yea, because it was stupid.

    What I actually said comports perfectly with the pattern of facts.

    “I’m happy to be civil if you do the same in return but that would be very boring and no fun for either of us.”

    Right. Because we all remember just how civil you were in your first remarks after being gone for so long. Give me a break.

    • Anthony on March 31, 2020 at 4:07 pm
      Author

    “Even antibiotics had not yet been discovered yet in 1918. The knee-jerks blurt out “BUT ANTIBIOTICS DON’T WORK ON VIRUSES” failing to understand how people tend to die from influenza (and other diseases too, for that matter). The diseases inflict initial damage, but because of other underlying conditions, weakened immunities, and so on, which make them vulnerable to secondary infections, and it ends up being these that kill them, not the influenza directly.”

    I am happy to amend this to

    “Even antibiotics had not yet been discovered yet in 1918. The knee-jerks blurt out “BUT ANTIBIOTICS DON’T WORK ON VIRUSES” failing to understand how people tend to die from influenza (and other diseases too, for that matter). While in many cases, the flu certainly does kill outright, in many other cases, what happens is that the diseases inflict initial damage, but because of other underlying conditions, weakened immunities, and so on, which make them vulnerable to secondary infections, and it ends up being these that kill them, not the influenza directly.”

    • Stathei on March 31, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    Fair enough. And I do apologize for my initial post after the long break. I am sorry, I was wrong and I won’t do it again. But you have to admit, you do enjoy our fights. I know I do.

    • Anthony on March 31, 2020 at 5:24 pm
      Author

    🙂

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