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Covid-19 #29: Gazing Into the Abyss, Again

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1 hour ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

A lot of data, yes, but not to the scale afforded by 160 million doses, surely (and real-life 'uncontrolled' samples are good to have compared to previous studies).

 

The problem is that the 160 million doses aren't being given with a good control group, so you won't be able to generate any additional and comparable efficacy data.  You can't determine efficacy in the absence of a control group.  For example, just because you have 10 (or zero or whaterver) infections in the vaccinated group doesn't mean anything because there may be 10 (or zero or whatever) infections in a comparable unvaccinated group too.  It's too difficult to try and tease out the rates of infection between the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups from large aggregate data.  The 160 millions doses population is good for looking for rare side effects, and it will be of great interest to modelers that are involved in virus forecasting.  

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When it is said that the majority of most at risk population has already been vaccinated, I disagree.  Millions of f2f frontline workers, the very ones who keep this country running, have not yet had vaccinations.  Yet there they are, checking out your coffee and groceries, checking out your shampoo at the drug store (not being pharmacists, they aren't at the top of the priority list), doing work on your house and vehicles, caring for your pets, teaching your kids, nannying your kids, etc., etc., etc.

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5 hours ago, ljkeane said:

They actually haven't I think. It's a little bit unclear because it was joint press conference with the MHRA and JCVI but I think it was the JCVI (the body responsible for advising on general vaccine strategy etc) who said they're going to try to 'offer an alternative vaccine' to under 30s. The MHRA hasn't actually restricted it to over 30s so if there isn't another one available people under 30 will still get Astrazeneca.

Thanks.  I was just reading the main headlines, so I did wonder whether I was missing stuff!

1 hour ago, Mudguard said:

But as far as I can tell, there really isn't anything special about that J&J vaccine that would give it any longer term efficacy than the others. 

Interesting.  Did J&J do it from a marketing point of view then?  (i.e. easier to sell a 1-dose jab?).  I know J&J are testing a 2-dose solution also but why didn't they do that originally?  Unless, they don't think it will boost the efficacy much.  And while it may increase the durability, nobody knows how durable a vaccine is at approval anyhow, so why bother worrying about that.

9 hours ago, JoannaL said:

Could this side effect also be an issue for other vector vaccines (sputnik, J&J)? long answer... but it may be possible

Apparently they added that in the J&J clinical trials there were a few people that developed blood clots, but numbers were way too small to jump to any conclusions.

It would have been better if they could have concluded that certain demographics were more at risk of this thing, rather than saying everyone was.  But its probably the same reason as the J&J thing.  It is more prevalent in younger women but given the small numbers, they can't say it is statistically significant.  Yet.  I imagine there will be another press conference in a few weeks with a further update.

What i'm most curious about is treatment right now.  There has been fatalities but I wonder are the medical people reasonably confident that they can treat this thing, if diagnosed in time.  That would be reassuring.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Mudguard said:

The issue with new variants popping up is a problem regardless of whether you go with the one shot approach or two shot standard dosing interval approach.  With the two shot approach, you have a larger population with zero protection, and this population will get infected at a much higher rate than a population that has received one shot that confers 70-80% protection.  The best way to reduce the likelihood of a new variant popping up is to reduce the number of infected people, and that generally means vaccinating as many people as fast as possible, if you have a vaccine with good one shot efficacy, which we do.  Every time the virus makes a copy of itself there is a chance that a mutation is introduced, which gives rise to a new variant. 

Most of the time, this will be a useless mutation. The real question is if having a lot of people with just 1 shot and a slightly lower protection will increase the odds of having a nasty mutation that might evade vaccines. With all the recent reports, I think this might not be very risky, but that's still something to ponder.

Edited by Clueless Northman

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4 hours ago, Chataya de Fleury said:

Not to mention that some - perhaps many - of us generally enjoy outdoor dining rather than indoor dining, when possible, will continue to wear masks in public places, feel more comfortable with six feet of distance rather than three, and work from home more than an office. 

Positive thoughts!!!

I would certainly be pleased if the work / office balance remained in place indefinitely and I think it will. I’m hoping for something like a 3/2 or 4/1 office days to home days ratio indefinitely. Though I’m averaging probably only like 2 office days right now and that has certainly not been a major hardship.

A lot of people were already doing a good bit of telework but now everyone who works in an office has gotten a taste. This situation went on far too long to put that genie back in the bottle. If it had been just for a few weeks like most people initially thought we might have reverted back to the mean, but I think that some degree of regularly WFH is probably how it’s going to be from now on. A lot of big, influential companies are going to stick with that model and maintaining a flexible WFH policy is going to become a fixture for attracting and retaining talent for those working in fields where it is possible.

it makes childcare easier, it makes commuting less soul crushing if you have to do it less. That also enables people to live a little farther out if they want to opt for a lower cost of living. Better for the environment too, if massive office buildings can cut back on resource usage because less people are there at a given time and, of course, less people on the roads.

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Posted (edited)

WFH blasts apart the myth of presenteeism. And it has all the benefits SJohn lists BUT unless you have a magically altruistic employer, it places all the infrastructure burden, including logistics and  co$t, on the employee. Sure, office energy expenses are down while my utility bills are up. I also had to purchase and set up a home office without subsidy or reimbursement - desk, chair, printer, second monitor (and no office supply cabinet to raid). Of course I was a new hire but most of my team was in the same boat. They were able to bring their office monitor home, but not their desk and chair. And one had to seriously upgrade her internet to be able to keep up with Teams and VPN access etc. 

During the great TP crisis/hoarding I joked it was because most people had no idea how much they'd need for lockdown/stay at home due to generally using the facilities at work (water/sewer is another utility bill that has gone up).

We've had a year to confirm it's doable. It's time to make it sustainable and equitable. 

Edited by kairparavel

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2 minutes ago, kairparavel said:

WFH blasts apart the myth of presenteeism. And it has all the benefits SJohn lists BUT unless you have a magically altruistic employer, it places all the infrastructure burden, including logistics and  co$t, on the employee. Sure, office energy expenses are down while my utility bills are up. I also had to purchase and set up a home office without subsidy or reimbursement - desk, chair, printer, second monitor (and no office supply cabinet to raid). Of course I was a new hire but most of my team was in the same boat. They were able to bring their office monitor home, but not their desk and chair. And one had to seriously upgrade her internet to be able to keep up with Teams and VPN access etc. 

During the great TP crisis/hoarding I joked it was because most people had no idea how much they'd need for lockdown/stay at home due to generally using the facilities at work (water/sewer is another utility bill that has five up).

We've had a year to confirm it's doable. It's time to make it sustainable and equitable. 

I have been saying this for a year.  Honestly, from an employer perspective though it makes more sense to have an office available to provide those things. You get the benefit of certain economies of scale, etc.  That was part of the genius of the industrial revolution. Office work is coming back. This is not a bad thing. Also, not sure that wfh reduces greenhouse/commuting expenses.   At least where the cities to which commuting occurred were walkable, you are replacing walking trips for lunch, drugstore etc. with car trips.  

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43 minutes ago, kairparavel said:

WFH blasts apart the myth of presenteeism. And it has all the benefits SJohn lists BUT unless you have a magically altruistic employer, it places all the infrastructure burden, including logistics and  co$t, on the employee. Sure, office energy expenses are down while my utility bills are up. I also had to purchase and set up a home office without subsidy or reimbursement - desk, chair, printer, second monitor (and no office supply cabinet to raid). Of course I was a new hire but most of my team was in the same boat. They were able to bring their office monitor home, but not their desk and chair. And one had to seriously upgrade her internet to be able to keep up with Teams and VPN access etc. 

During the great TP crisis/hoarding I joked it was because most people had no idea how much they'd need for lockdown/stay at home due to generally using the facilities at work (water/sewer is another utility bill that has gone up).

We've had a year to confirm it's doable. It's time to make it sustainable and equitable. 

My wife complains about this all the time. The fact that we are footing the bill for internet access and the cost of office furniture and running two computers all day - as well as A/C or heat all day when if we were both at an office we would turn those off or set them at a minimum while gone.

I do understand and agree with all of this in principle, but I like working from home at least a couple of days a week enough that I don’t personally care about these added costs.

In our case the internet argument is a wash because we have the same internet speed we have always had because we have been streaming TV for years. Definitely sucks to have to buy some furniture and supplies but now we have them and we won’t need to buy them again for a long time. I did buy a laptop too, but I also kind of just wanted one.  A work issued one was made available to me and I used it for a while but it was such a pain in the ass to have to ask permission and get unneeded help to install anything that I just wanted rid of the damn thing and to have a machine over which I was king. 

all that said, I’m still pretty sure these expenses (minus perhaps the laptop) will not significantly exceed what I will save in gas money and vehicle wear & tear. If someone were to work from home 2 days a week indefinitely who used to commute 5 days a week, they’d save roughly 100 round trips per year. I def understand the argument that WE are now paying for things that used to be just part of the deal, but I don’t feel as though the burden outweighs the perk. Admittedly I’m also scared that someone will rock the boat making demands for WFH subsidies and it’ll be ALRIGHT EVERYONE BACK TO THE OFFICE! :uhoh:

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9 minutes ago, S John said:

My wife complains about this all the time. The fact that we are footing the bill for internet access and the cost of office furniture and running two computers all day - as well as A/C or heat all day when if we were both at an office we would turn those off or set them at a minimum while gone.

Tip of the iceberg my friend. . 

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As I mentioned in the Canadian Politics thread, 60% of indigenous peoples in Canada (over the age of 18) have received a first dose of vaccine, and in some parts of the North it’s over 70%. As a result, new infections have dropped by 85%. Second doses will be starting for them soon.

Since for the longest time all we got was Pfizer and Moderna, the Moderna vaccine was used because it’s easier to deal with than the Pfizer, as many communities are in isolated parts of the north.

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4 hours ago, Clueless Northman said:

Most of the time, this will be a useless mutation. The real question is if having a lot of people with just 1 shot and a slightly lower protection will increase the odds of having a nasty mutation that might evade vaccines. With all the recent reports, I think this might not be very risky, but that's still something to ponder.

I think the risk is real as the example of Manaus, Brazil shows. A large percentage (what I read: 50%) of the population there got infected during the first wave last summer. And now the virus has mutated due to evolutionary pressure into a nastier variant (P1) to overcome the antibody protection. I am sure scientists are studying this case very closely, given the circumstances which make the city like a laboratory (large population, quite isolated from other population centers, large part with prior immunization due to antibody development from first wave). 
 

People might call me pessimistic but Manaus is real.

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this is an interesting article talking about risk/benefit analysis for AZ for different age groups, quoting data from the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication.
Basically it's almost always better to take the vaccine, unless you're 20-29 y.o. AND live in an area with really low incidence.

https://today.rtl.lu/news/science-and-environment/a/1702234.html

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6 minutes ago, Filippa Eilhart said:

this is an interesting article talking about risk/benefit analysis for AZ for different age groups, quoting data from the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication.
Basically it's almost always better to take the vaccine, unless you're 20-29 y.o. AND live in an area with really low incidence.

https://today.rtl.lu/news/science-and-environment/a/1702234.html

That's a good summary.

The EMA suggested yesterday that each country should take its own approach to this.  Mainly because the prevalence of the disease makes a big difference.  I believe the UK expressly used those figures in that link to decide that those younger than 30 can be given a different vaccine.  So in most European countries, it probably does make sense to use it on all ages (given the higher prevalence of the disease).  But each country has a different definition of appropriate risk.

6 hours ago, Arakan said:

People might call me pessimistic but Manaus is real.

Are you suggesting that COVID could mutate into something that the vaccines wouldn't be able to handle?  And vaccine makers wouldn't be able to modify the vaccine to deal with this future new variant?

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23 minutes ago, Padraig said:

Are you suggesting that COVID could mutate into something that the vaccines wouldn't be able to handle?  And vaccine makers wouldn't be able to modify the vaccine to deal with this future new variant?

Of course not. But there is an attitude among many people that as soon as vaccination is „done“ (the current process) everything will be back to normal. IMO this is a false sense of security. 

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48 minutes ago, Filippa Eilhart said:

this is an interesting article talking about risk/benefit analysis for AZ for different age groups, quoting data from the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication.
Basically it's almost always better to take the vaccine, unless you're 20-29 y.o. AND live in an area with really low incidence.

https://today.rtl.lu/news/science-and-environment/a/1702234.html

I just came to post those graphics myself. I think those are the exact ones that were used in the MHRA/JCVI press conference yesterday so they should be using the most up to date data too.

I did also see someone mention on twitter that those are the risk levels to consider on an individual level (and obviously it's almost always better to get the vaccine) but you also need to consider the risk to other people you present if you're unvaccinated. As someone in my 30s I'd rather not get covid but I'm not hugely concerned about getting it, I really don't want to get it and then give it to someone vulnerable though. So I'd probably still get the Astrazeneca vaccine if I was in the under 30s group in the UK and it was the vaccine offered to me.

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8 hours ago, S John said:

My wife complains about this all the time. The fact that we are footing the bill for internet access and the cost of office furniture and running two computers all day - as well as A/C or heat all day when if we were both at an office we would turn those off or set them at a minimum while gone.

I do understand and agree with all of this in principle, but I like working from home at least a couple of days a week enough that I don’t personally care about these added costs.

In our case the internet argument is a wash because we have the same internet speed we have always had because we have been streaming TV for years. Definitely sucks to have to buy some furniture and supplies but now we have them and we won’t need to buy them again for a long time. I did buy a laptop too, but I also kind of just wanted one.  A work issued one was made available to me and I used it for a while but it was such a pain in the ass to have to ask permission and get unneeded help to install anything that I just wanted rid of the damn thing and to have a machine over which I was king. 

all that said, I’m still pretty sure these expenses (minus perhaps the laptop) will not significantly exceed what I will save in gas money and vehicle wear & tear. If someone were to work from home 2 days a week indefinitely who used to commute 5 days a week, they’d save roughly 100 round trips per year. I def understand the argument that WE are now paying for things that used to be just part of the deal, but I don’t feel as though the burden outweighs the perk. Admittedly I’m also scared that someone will rock the boat making demands for WFH subsidies and it’ll be ALRIGHT EVERYONE BACK TO THE OFFICE! :uhoh:

However, if there is no subsidy you run the risk of making workplaces inaccessible unless you are already wealthy. I know when i started my current job I couldn’t have afforded to shell out for new office equipment, higher electricity bills etc. I was very fortunate in that my employer offered to cover expenses for WFH equipment (there was an upper limit but I can’t recall what) but I know not everyone was so fortunate. I’d also add though that the expenses were paid after you had already bought the equipment so i’d have been dipping into overdraft territory if i’d had to do that.

They don’t give any subsidy for electricity bills etc. but luckily i’d worked there long enough to have made more substantial savings than I had when I started so i’m able to afford that.

I do ultimately enjoy working from home and would like to continue but I think there are definite steps that should be taken to ensure WFH is not unduly burdening employees. 

 

There is also the toll on mental health, especially where you live alone*, however that is a bit more tied to the combination of WFH and lockdown. I’d like to hope once things open up again WFH will allow for a better work life balance that won’t leave people feeling so isolated.

 

*I’m naturally quite solitary and i don’t so much miss people as i realise i’ve regressed terribly with my social skills over the past year and have had a lot of difficult moments of crippling loneliness. I also realised recently i’ve started talking to myself which i guess is a result of having no one else to talk to for so long. 

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1 hour ago, Filippa Eilhart said:

this is an interesting article talking about risk/benefit analysis for AZ for different age groups, quoting data from the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication.
Basically it's almost always better to take the vaccine, unless you're 20-29 y.o. AND live in an area with really low incidence.

https://today.rtl.lu/news/science-and-environment/a/1702234.html

Interesting. Australia's advisory body on vaccines has just recommended to the Government that people under 50 be given the Pfizer vaccine. This a major blow to our vaccination rollout, already well behind schedule, as AZ is the only vaccine being manufactured locally and was expected to be the one that most Australians received. It's also a worry for me personally as I'm over 50 and now feeling a bit of that 'vaccine hesitancy' about the AZ vaccine - particularly as we have no active community cases in my city and have just moved to 100 % capacity for cinemas and theatres, so the chance is of contracting covid is currently low.

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It's going to be very difficult for people without the resources of living alone or in a large house, like poor kids graduating from college, to find jobs and fund working at them from home, when home is an already over-crowded space, with family -- often extended -- to an over-crowded apartment with multiple roommates.  People who live in such conditions as so many on this forum do who already are in large houses with enough space for an office and the resources to equip an offices as they like, and who can take coffee breaks on their patio overlooking their back yard, don't seem to understand what it is like for younger, le$$ privileged.  The kind of work one must do in entry positions that will lead to promotion and bigger pay and responsibility and more achievement will be permanently out of reach for anyone not to born to having those things already, such as law firms.  Shades of of life in the centuries prior to WWI and II. 

But that's all right.  Colleges and universities, particularly those that serve the less wealthy, are shutting down left and right.  Too many people in college already, right?  Goes naturally with the latest rethug drum beating that we must restrict the vote because too many people voting are not the right kind of voters.  Which is what their sorts have been saying in England and the US since no matter how far back one goes to look.  In the south here, they managed to make that work until the War of the Rebellion too.  A few wealthy people controlled all the political activity and decisions for everybody else, who were called 'mudsills.'

 

 

 

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I just want to take a short stroll through some vaccine history.

Do you remember a while ago I mentioned that I watched an interview with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, where he said he didn’t think that any AZ doses should be allowed to be exported to Canada or the EU, and he actually blamed Canada (and Australia, iirc) for the fact the US blocked exports of vaccine, because Canada did that during the H1N1 pandemic? Canada, the country with almost no vaccine manufacturing capability?

I’ve been arguing with Conservative idiots on Facebook, and decided to track down that story, something I meant to do at the time and never got around to doing.

It turns out that Canada was at the very least a month behind the world in rolling out the H1N1 vaccine. If you go back and read the stories about that pandemic, it turns out that Western nations had ordered almost all the world’s supply of flu vaccine ahead of time, leaving virtually nothing for the rest of the world. It reached the point where Indonesia refused to provide the WHO with viral samples and urged other Asian nations to do the same, because, of course, the WHO determines what the flu vaccine is going to be from early monitoring.

Things were so bad the Canadian government placed it’s vaccine order with a Canadian producer (yes, we do have some vaccine manufacturing, I assume that was Sanofi or the company Sanofi bought) and as a result we were more than a month behind other countries like the US, Australia and China. A record number of people got H1N1, 3.5 M people, and there were, wait for it, 428 deaths. Think of that when someone says Covid is just the flu.

So once again I am gobsmacked at the basically false information spread by an American to justify the blocking of vaccine exports. The US was vaccinating more than a month before Canada started. I can’t find a story confirming Harper blocked the export of the Canadian-made flu vaccine, but the order was placed in Canada because of fears other countries would block exports or seize shipments to Canada. I assume the US wasn’t exporting any vaccine back then, either, and I did see references in stories that the US was having production problems.

In the meantime, the action taken by Indonesia started a series of talks between nations led by the WHO with regard to how vaccines would be distributed during future pandemics. The talks broke up numerous times without any agreements being reached. I didn’t read years forward, but I assume these talks led to the formation of COVAX.

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16 hours ago, Mudguard said:

The problem is that the 160 million doses aren't being given with a good control group, so you won't be able to generate any additional and comparable efficacy data. 

Yes, I understand all this, and also that any interpretation of the data will be semi-quantitative at best. At the same time, you have a chance to slice and dice that large sample size into subsets that are typically difficult to obtain in any control sample. I guess we'll see in the future what data miners were able to do with this huge dataset.

Moving on, I was surprised to see this study (by microsoft, but across markets):

Quote

According to the study, almost two-thirds of the more than 31,000 full-time employed or self-employed workers across 31 markets said that they were “craving” (yes, craving) more in-person time with their teams and 37% of the global workforce complained that their companies were “asking too much of them” when out of the office.

Not the latter part, but the former.

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