Mom says she’s getting her Covid-19 vaccination next week. She lives in Oakland, so maybe California is getting its vaccine act together. I told Mom I’ll believe it after she gets the shot. Not that I don’t trust my mother, but the US Covid-19 vaccine rollout has been flawed and now it’s the last thing on anyone’s mind.
How could Covid-19 vaccine be the last thing on anyone’s mind? In case you missed it, after Spain celebrated Dia de los Reyes on Wednesday, Trump led an insurrection at the US Capitol. To judge from US headlines I see, I’d have thought the Covid-19 pandemic was pretty much over.
On the sixth of January, Trump’s “Stop the Steal” insurgents swarmed the Capitol to interrupt the certification of President-elect Biden’s election. Certification is the final formality before Biden is inaugurated in ten days. By late Wednesday, the Capitol was cleared of insurgents and, by early Thursday morning, congress completed its certification. By Thursday, House Speaker Pelosi was calling for Trump’s removal from office.
The world gasped at the breach in democracy. Everyone was watching. Even our local storekeepers, who were kind enough to ask Brad and me what in the actual fuck was going on. It sounds nicer when they ask that in Spanish.
Here in Barcelona, news of Trump’s insurrection brought back fond memories of the long ago Catalan independence movement.
As the world gasped, Spain was battening down the hatches for Tormenta Filomena. To judge from Spanish headlines, I also might have concluded the Covid-19 pandemic was over.
Spain’s weather has been unseasonably cold. I can make that claim with some authority since I spent winter in Spain last year. Filomena blanketed Madrid with snow, which is unusual but not unheard of. The capital had about 20 cm of snow, shutting down its airport and halting train service.
The bad news is that even though it’s snowing throughout Spain, Covid-19 restrictions prohibit travel to ski slopes. The good news is that the Madrid government’s snow restrictions should bring down its Covid-19 reproduction rate R.
If Filomena dumped snow for another week, the conservative Madrid government could continue its snow restrictions and R would drop below one just as Covid-19 vaccinations ramp up.
I’m jesting, of course. A little. It turns out that public health officials are getting better at imposing Covid-19 restrictions that work because they have more data.
Closing schools and universities, which is what Madrid has ordered because of snow, correlates well with lower Covid-19 R. If Madrid’s R does drop next week, it may be that what its conservative government needed to do all along to improve Madrileños’ compliance with Covid-19 restrictions was to re-brand the restrictions as “snow days” or “enjoy your family week.”
Here in Barcelona, the independence movement complained that Madrid got all the snow while Barcelona was left with none. The snow protests turned violent.
Okay, now I am jesting. But it’s nice to know people have a little sense of humor left, even if it’s at the expense of Trump’s inexcusable insurrection.
Here in Catalonia it actually has been very quiet after Three Kings Day. This was the scene last night in Gracia.
That’s a Saturday night. Woo-hoo!
Like the US, the Covid-19 vaccine rollout here is slow.
Please welcome the latest member of the Covid-19 family of charts, the vaccination rollout chart. Averaging the first 13 days of Catalonia’s vaccine administration, the region will achieve herd immunity in about four years. At least the curve is going in the right direction. I’m debating how soon to call my healthcare provider about availability.
In the first 3 weeks of US Covid-19 vaccine administration, about 2% of the US population has been vaccinated. At that rate, it will take about 2-1/2 years to reach herd immunity. Too bad Trump isn’t paying attention. Vaccinations need to go 5x – 10x faster. In ten more days, Biden’s team will take over the US vaccination charge.
Sorry to harp on this, but the “let the virus burn” argument to achieve herd immunity has many flaws. Besides assuming an unacceptable number of fatalities is a price that must be paid to save the economy, proponents discount the danger of mutations. Last week I blogged about the rising reproduction rate R of emerging Covid-19 strains.
This week, with confirmed worldwide cases approaching 90 million, new Covid-19 mutations now appear to be a source of Covid-19 reinfection.
The good news on the new UK and South African strains of Covid-19 is that lab tests indicate vaccines will continue to be effective against emerging strains. As I also noted last week, Dr. Bell from Oxford expressed concern about about how much the Spike protein changed in one of the recent South African mutations. Pfizer said this week that it doesn’t think that will be a problem for its vaccine.
- An inflatable Christmas tree costume is the likely source of a Covid-19 outbreak at a San Jose, California hospital. The costume was worn at a Kaiser hospital E.R. holiday party. 44 staff members have tested positive for Covid-19 and one has died.
- UK approved two anti-inflammatory drugs, tocilizumab and sarilumab, for treatment of severe Covid-19. In a study of 800 combining the anti-inflammatory drugs with dexamethasone, mortality rates for ICU patients dropped from 36% with dexamethasone alone to 27%. The combination also reduces hospitalization time by about a week.
- A 56-yo Florida obstetrician died two weeks after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine. With about 19 million doses administered worldwide, it’s more and more likely deaths after vaccination are coincidental. In this case, the man had unusual symptoms before suffering a stroke. The CDC is investigating.
- Taiwan went 8 months without reporting a single new case of Covid-19. The 8 month streak ended at the end of December after a woman had close contact with a New Zealand cargo plane pilot who tested positive after flying in the US.
- New US Covid-19 cases surpassed 300,000 per day and US Covid-19 deaths topped 4,000 per day during the past week.
My news feeds were swamped with news of Trump’s insurrection this week. I think that’s the right way to end this week’s post.
I write this for sanity, not for money. And to create a record of living through a pandemic. If you like it, please pass it on to friends and family. For more frequent Covid-19 updates, follow me on Twitter. It’s a million times nicer there now that they shut down Trump’s account.