31 January 2021 – Sunday – #132

Here’s a sample of how Barcelona is suffering during the current Covid-19 restrictions.

Barceloneta beach, 29 January 2021. Low mask compliance on the beach.

This is actually my contribution to Covid-19 misinformation. The photo does not present a typical January day in Barcelona. The weather most of this month has been cloudy and in the single digits (centigrade), so a representative January photo would show an empty beach with a few bundled up souls walking along its border. At the end of last week, though, Mother Nature gave the city a glimpse of the warm beach days that lie ahead.

So, maybe this image isn’t misinformation. Maybe it’s kind of a metaphor. January was not only a stormy month for weather in Barcelona, but also a stormy month for Covid-19 everywhere. It’s not just that the world surpassed 100,000,000 Covid-19 cases. The world’s economies are sick, too. But In the middle of the worst of Covid-19, the world is getting glimpses that better days are ahead, glimpses that Covid-19 vaccines will help both the world’s bad health and its faltering economies.

The US economy had its worst year since WWII, shrinking by 3.5%. There’s no question Covid-19 caused the downturn and no question why President Biden is focused on vaccinations.

“There’s nothing more important to the economy now than people getting vaccinated.”

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

Things were even worse in Spain where the 2020 economy contracted 11%. Covid-19 decimated Spain’s economy in the worst pull back since its Civil War. Because tourism made up nearly 10% of Spain’s economy in 2019, it’s easy to understand the why the 2020 contraction here is so severe compared to the US.

Parenthetically, it’s nice to use decimate in its original sense, to reduce by one tenth.

The good news? Fourth quarter 2020 US results showed growth of 4%, indicating that a properly stimulated world economy is poised to come back strong. The most recent survey from the National Association for Business Economics, for instance, shows optimism in US businesses for healthy growth this year. According to the survey, “69% of panelists [are] expecting GDP to expand by 3.0% or more.”

On the other hand, there is a lot of risk in this predicted economic growth. The pandemic has thrown global supply chains into disarray. During the initial lockdowns last year, trade slowed dramatically. By summer, unpredictability in consumer demand drove unpredictable demand for shipping containers. Work-at-home consumers needed fewer fashions and more computers. In the confusion, container prices have risen as availability dropped, leading to shipping inflation.

At virtual Davos World Economic Forum, bankers said remote work is fraying corporate culture. They were both impressed at how well staff improvised remote work processes last year and concerned whether their at-home organizations will become less effective this year.

“It will increasingly be a challenge to maintain the culture and collaboration that these large financial institutions seek to have and should have.”

Barclays Chief Executive Jes Staley

Then there’s the vaccination forecast risk, the promise that vaccines will restore health this year. Optimistic 2021 economic growth assumptions rely on vaccines to quell Covid-19 outbreaks. The forecasts may end up being correct, but things aren’t off to a great start. There are three big risks. One is whether the world can make enough vaccine, another is the best way to prioritize it until everyone gets their shots, and now, with a plethora of infections driving more mutations, we have to wonder if the virus will obsolete the vaccines.

How bad was Trump’s US Covid-19 vaccine distribution plan? Two weeks after Trump left office, it’s clear he didn’t have one. As a result, vaccine has been going to richer neighborhoods with low infection rates instead of poorer neighborhoods with high infection rates. The evidence in Eric Feigl-Ding’s thread is clear.

Twitter thread about Covid-19 vaccine distribution in US.

The vaccination problems in Spain have been due to reductions in vaccine supply rather than misallocation. Catalonia’s mid-month drop in vaccinations was, as I noted last week, due to supply problems at Pfizer and Moderna. With both those companies ramping up production again, the wild card in Europe right now is AstraZeneca, which just got European approval for its two-dose viral vector vaccine, but already appears far behind on its supply commitments for next month.

Percentage of Catalonia population with first and second doses of Covid-19 vaccine. Source: Catalan News.

The problem with supply unpredictability is that local public health authorities have to speculate on how many doses to allocate for first shots so there will be enough for second doses. In the chart above, it’s clear that first doses of Covid-19 vaccines have slowed down since mid-January, first as CatSalut, Catalonia’s public health authority, managed supply reductions and then, when more supplies arrived, as it prioritized timely second doses.

The world doesn’t need to have vaccine shortages at all. If we re-worked patent law and changed the risk-reward structure of the pharmaceutical industry, we could leverage worldwide manufacturing to produce lots and lots of vaccine right now. This is yet another good example of the problem of relying on existing free market capitalism infrastructure during a pandemic. We’re protecting $US billions of profits of individual firms at the expense of both millions of lives and $US trillions of worldwide GDP.

While it’s great to have the Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines in arms, more vaccines would help smooth supply and diversify risk as Covid-19 mutates. Both US approved vaccines use mRNA technology, a new technology that is running into scaling problems in manufacturing.

[Patrick Boyle, an R&D executive at Ginkgo Bioworks,] singles out polymerases, a type of enzyme, that convert DNA to mRNA and ingredients used for making lipid nanoparticles as some of the most critical raw materials for the vaccines. He also says manufacturers need better access to a rare substance called vaccinia capping enzyme (VCE), which helps keep the mRNA from degrading and gives it a deceptively human appearance to prevent cells’ protein-making machinery from rejecting it. Boyle’s team has calculated that making the 10 pounds of VCE needed to generate 100 million mRNA vaccine doses would overwhelm the limited capacity of bioreactors (containers used to carry out biochemical reactions) and cost $1.4 billion.

Scientific American, “New COVID Vaccines Need Absurd Amounts of Material and Labor,” 4 January 2021.

What other Covid-19 vaccines are in the works? Unfortunately, Merck’s two viral vector vaccines candidates did so poorly in trials that early last week it shut down development entirely and will turn its attention to Covid-19 treatments.

However, by the end of last week, as I was taking photos at the sunny Barceloneta beach, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson announced good results in their phase 3 trials. Both vaccines have mundane refrigeration requirements and well-understood production processes compared to the new mRNA vaccines.

Novavax announced its recombinant protein technology was 89% effective in its Covid-19 vaccine trial. The effectiveness dropped to 60% in South Africa where 90% of cases are the new South African strain of Covid-19. Effectiveness in South Africa dropped more, to 49%, for participants with HIV. The company may need more study results before applying for regulatory approvals.

The J&J Covid-19 vaccine is a one-dose viral vector technology. While its 72% overall effectiveness may seem low compared to other vaccines, whose effectiveness was measured between 89%-95%, no study participants in the J&J trial died or required hospitalization after four weeks of building immunity.

That suggests that while less effective vaccines don’t completely protect against Covid-19 cases, they significantly reduce Covid-19 morbidity and mortality. J&J is studying how much additional protection a booster may provide.

There are many other Covid-19 vaccine candidates from pharmaceutical companies in India and China. Unfortunately, there still is not enough data reported to know how well any of these works. If countries like UAE, which is rolling out at least three different vaccines, collect useful data, it may inform regulators elsewhere about the effectiveness of these vaccines.

AstraZeneca published enough results to win approval in UK and EU last week, but needs to re-run its trial for US approval. As mentioned above, it already has run into production problems and won’t deliver as promised in Europe next month.

Part of the reason Novavax and J&J vaccines may have measured lower effectiveness is that they were tested later than the mRNA vaccines, when there were more strains of Covid-19 in circulation.

New strains of Covid-19 emerging in UK, South Africa, California, and Brazil call into question whether virus virulence will outpace vaccine effectiveness. Moderna has seen the effectiveness of its Covid-19 vaccine drop from 95% to somewhere between 80%-90% against the South African strain of Covid-19. 80%-90% is still good, but may provide fodder to anti-vaccine messaging, something along the lines of, hey, wait for the really good vaccine. While Moderna is working on a third booster shot specifically for this strain, it’s important to point out that 80%-90% is plenty good enough to stop the pandemic.

The uncertainty created by the South African strain is likely to repeat with emerging strains as long as worldwide infection rates are high. For instance, the new Covid-19 strain detected in Manaus, Brazil appears to transmit 3x faster than the UK variant and may be responsible for excess mortality levels in the Amazon city that are significantly higher than excess mortality levels elsewhere.

The uncertainty of vaccine effectiveness will repeat with each new strain. Messaging will get muddled. The important point is that, regardless of strain, even some protection will reduce morbidity and mortality.

This brings me to another problem, the messaging about and reporting on Covid-19 vaccines. J&J stock plunged after it announced its vaccine trial results, presumably because it didn’t meet the 90%-95% effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines. But if all we had was enough J&J vaccine to give everyone in the world one dose, the worst case would be that the Covid-19 pandemic effectively would be over with a smattering of mild cases here and there.

Here’s an excellent thread on the implications of Covid-19 mutations for both vaccines and treatments.

Kai Kupferschmidt thread on how Covid-19 mutations may require adjustments to vaccines and treatments.

Here’s another good thread on why letting a virus run wild is such a bad idea (lots of death, lots of mutations) and why vaccinating everyone in the world is all that matters (no more deaths, no more severe cases, no mutation that shuts down the world again).

Finally, here’s a good report from California last week on how the Biden team is ramping up Covid-19 vaccine administration once supplies come online. FEMA will set up 100 vaccination centers and has requested 10,000 soldiers to staff these centers.

The real problem is that Covid-19 vaccination programs should have geared up six months ago and on a worldwide basis. Vaccinating the US population is a good thing, but if the rest of the world doesn’t get vaccinations, new Covid-19 strains may require new rounds of masking, lockdowns, and vaccinations. Turns out we’re all in this together.

A reminder: we don’t need vaccines to stop Covid-19. Masks, distancing, and hand washing still works. Containment is still important to not only save lives, but to reduce mutations. In fact, China and Taiwan, two countries that contained Covid-19, had positive economic growth in 2020. Covid-19 containment pays off.

We are not out of the woods with vaccines yet, but there is more than a glimmer of hope.

Covid bits.

Remember to wash your hands, keep your distance, and wear a mask. Actually, make that two masks. Experts now are recommending two masks to counter new strains of Covid-19 that are much more contagious and, in some cases, more deadly.

Let’s try that again.

Remember to wash your hands, keep your distance, and wear TWO masks.

Today I’m ending with Caitlin Doughty’s look at Covid-19 in LA. You might know Doughty for her Ask a Mortician channel on Youtube. Here she explains how skyrocketing deaths have affected the funeral business and suggests what the government do to help.

I write this to share a record of living during the Covid-19 pandemic. If you like it, please send a link to friends and family. For more frequent Covid-19 updates, follow me on Twitter.

24 January 2021 – Sunday – #131

Most of the Covid-19 news is in the US this week, but Covid-19 also has its share of news in Spain, Catalonia, and Barcelona. The door on the corner Catalan restaurant Can Saia has been closed all week with a handwritten sign that reads “Closed until further notice, sorry for the inconvenience.”

Can Saia closed until further notice.

I’m hopeful, of course, that Can Saia’s closure is temporary. Eduard, the chef there, likes to serve fresh food and I assume it’s just not worth his time to shop and cook until he can open for a full lunch and full dinner. Plus he drives an hour each way to and from his restaurant. Under current restrictions, he’d be spending more time in his car than serving food.

In other Barcelona news, my friend M. came in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19, so M. is in isolation for ten days. Our chats about Covid-19 testing protocol reminded me that if you’re exposed to Covid-19, wait 5-7 days to get a test. The El País article from last month on Covid-19 transmission offers good graphics on why it’s best to wait a few days for a test and why a cheaper and faster antigen test is more useful than a more accurate and expensive PCR test.

Duration of positive Covid-19 tests for PCR, antigen, and antibody tests. Source: Nature.

I think M. will be okay. He’s young, healthy, and the rest of his immediate family has cleared Covid-19 unscathed. Still, there’s a bit of HIV / AIDS PTSD for me, remembering young, healthy friends who vanished so quickly during the 1980s and 1990s.

The good news in Catalonia is that the Christmas and New Year’s wave of Covid-19 seems to have peaked about 10 days after Three Kings Day. Catalan public health imposed more Covid-19 restrictions the day after, on 7 January 2021. The latest restrictions look like they are paying off, although hospitalization and infection rates are dangerously high at the moment.

Covid-19 Outbreak Risk (blue) and Reproduction rate R (yellow) through 22 January 2021. Source: Catalan News.

The race in Catalonia and Spain is between the spread of the new, more virulent strains of Covid-19 and the ramp up of vaccinations. Three Spanish regions, Madrid, Basque Country, and Valencia, have imposed additional Covid-19 restrictions as their infection rates skyrocket. Seems likely that the skyrocketing rates are due, in part, to the new B.1.1.7 variant from the UK which is 30% more deadly and 70% more transmissible than previous Covid-19 strains.

The new strain wouldn’t be so scary if Catalonia were vaccinating people faster. Last week the region vaccinated fewer people than the week before. It’s hard to know whether that’s because of supply issues (Pfizer says it temporarily reduced supply to supplement long-term production capacity) or local administration issues. At a great almuerzo yesterday, my friend Joanmi said the former was to blame. It makes more sense that something happened to reduce the supply than to reduce administration capacity.

The big, big, big news last week was in the US. After the failure of Trump’s insurrection at Congress that left five dead (coincidentally on Three Kings Day), he left the White House of his own volition, allowing President-elect Biden to become President Biden without further incident last Wednesday.

This chart sets the stage for President Biden’s Covid-19 challenge. It should be no surprise that Trump’s promise that there would be plenty of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of February was another of his false promises.

US Covid-19 case timeline leading up to Biden inauguration. Source: Financial Times.

Hours after his inauguration, Biden signed several executive orders that reversed Trump policies. With respect to Covid-19, Biden mandated masks in all federal buildings and created the position of Covid-19 response coordinator, a position that will report directly to the president. The administration is sending Dr. Fauci to attend WHO meetings next week and proposing economic measures to protect people from evictions, place a moratorium on student loans, and provide US$1.2T in stimulus funds. That was day one.

On the day after the inauguration, Biden signed even more Covid-19 executive orders. These orders establish Covid-19 related transportation rules, provide FEMA support to states, and start a process of building vaccination centers around the US. As I read details about Biden’s executive orders, I wondered why Trump hadn’t signed similar orders. After all, if there’s one thing everyone knows about Trump, it’s that he loved signing executive orders in front of an audience.

Well, turns out that Biden administration officials have found that Trump didn’t seem to think much about Covid-19. He left behind very few Covid-19 plans and a vaccine distribution system that’s “worse than we imagined.” The Tiberius vaccine tracking system operated from the Pentagon lacks the information to manage supply and demand. As a result, the Trump’s HHS recommended broadening vaccine eligibility to increase demand in January. States followed the recommendation, but now there’s not enough vaccine to meet demand in many locations.

“There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch.”

Biden administration source on Trump’s Covid-19 vaccine distribution plan. Source: CNN.

The reason the Trump administration wasn’t willing to share Covid-19 information with the incoming Biden administration has become clear: there was nothing to share.

Dr. Fauci’s interview with Rachel Maddow last week covers a lot of important Covid-19 topics. It’s like the White House Covid-19 information dam broke. Here Fauci describes to Maddow how different the Trump administration was from the other five he’d worked for previously.

Dr. Fauci describes to Rachel Maddow how Trump distorted and discounted science.

I commend the entire interview, especially the segments on additional Covid-19 vaccines in the pipeline and therapeutics in development to treat the disease.

I don’t want to imply that scientists got everything right. Recent reporting on the CDC finds plenty of problems in its Covid-19 response, especially with respect to testing. Unfortunately, because of Trump’s political interference, which started well before the pandemic, it will be difficult to parse what parts of the US Covid-19 failures were due to institutional issues at CDC, FDA, and HHS, and what parts due to Trump’s interference.

Trump has left states with no good way to plan for vaccinations because the Federal government can’t predict supply and track demand. California public health officials, for instance, say it will take until June to vaccinate Californians over 65. The state can only count on receiving 400,000 to 500,000 doses per week because that’s what it’s been receiving, but even that’s not certain.

Trump’s Covid-19 legacy also includes dissuading people from taking Covid-19 vaccines or, if not dissuading, than at best not promoting vaccines as an important way to contain the Covid-19 in the US.

Likelihood to take Covid-19 vaccination by US county. Source: MIT Technology Review.

Eyeballing the distribution of people in the US who say they’ll get a Covid-19 vaccine, it looks like a pretty good overlap with people who voted for Biden rather than Trump.

Compared to the rest of the world, Spain and the US are doing better than most countries in Covid-19 vaccinations, as this Bloomberg world vaccination map shows.

Covid-19 vaccinations to date by country. Source: Bloomberg.

The problem is that doing better than most countries right now translates into somewhere between two or four more years of vaccinations to achieve herd immunity.

As of last night, 63 million people have been vaccinated worldwide. Very roughly, the world is about 1% of the way to herd immunity after a month. At the current rate, it will take eight years for herd immunity. In other words, the world needs to deliver Covid-19 vaccines about 10x faster for herd immunity next year.

While I’m on the world stage, a couple of shining stars in Covid-19 management have slipped up lately. Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga decided to promote domestic tourism last fall. Travel related Covid-19 cases appear to have jumped three times, so the travel discounts were discontinued last month.

China is having its worst Covid-19 outbreak since March. New cases are running in the low hundreds per day. By comparison, the new US cases of Covid-19 are running about 2,000 times higher even though the US has about 1/4 the population of China. In front of New Year celebrations, China is stepping up Covid-19 testing in an attempt to bring new cases back down to zero.

Still, since May, the worst days for Covid-19 in Japan and China are better than the best days in Spain and the US. Leadership and government have made a difference in Covid-19 responses.

Covid bits.

Now that Biden has reintroduced expertise to the White House, it’s worth noting one of the many moving performances during his inauguration. Here’s a great musicological examination of Lady Gaga’s performance of The Star Spangled Banner.

The metaphor is clear. Expertise matters for great performance, even in a piece of music as mundane as a national anthem, and Biden wants the White House to deliver the way Lady Gaga delivered.

Here’s another expert performance that’s gone into distribution from the White House website.

The White House Twitter account has useful information again.

Thanks for reading. I write this to create a record of living during the Covid-19 pandemic. If you like it, please pass it on to family and friends. For more frequent Covid-19 updates, check my Twitter feed.

17 January 2021 – Sunday – #130

Mom got her first Covid-19 vaccination. She reports no side effects. That makes me happy.

I’m starting to notice other signs that Covid-19 vaccinations are happening in the wild. For instance, details are emerging on how each of the counties in the San Franscisco bay area will administer Covid-19 vaccinations. I also got a notice from my previous healthcare provider in New York City that it is giving Covid-19 vaccinations to people over 75 and certain essential workers. Friends are even posting in my social media streams about getting vaccinated.

While these reports are heartening, after a month of vaccinations, the US vaccination rate is still about 3x – 5x slower than it needs to be for herd immunity this year. 25 million doses have been distributed, yet only about 8 million have been administered. The ramp up problems seem to be primarily in Washington, DC. Here are two examples, one about distribution partner problems, the other about vaccine supply problems.

West Virginia has outperformed other states in Covid-19 vaccinations, delivering 90% of the doses it received. It’s also the only state that didn’t follow a federal recommendation to coordinate vaccine distribution and administration for long-term care and assisted living facilities with CVS and Walgreens. Why? Because neither CVS nor Walgreens have a significant footprint in West Virginia.

Instead West Virginia built its Covid-19 vaccine distribution and administration network with small local providers that had existing relationships with these facilities. Because its providers are small, they are more flexible and responsive.

“When [the Covid-19 vaccine] got here, we already had pharmacies matched with long-term care facilities, so we were already ready to have vaccinators and pharmacists ready to go into those facilities and start providing first doses.”

Krista Capehart, Director of Regulation, West Virginia Board of Pharmacy

Other states following the federal recommendation have been slowed down as they negotiate with large corporations to adapt to local needs. The federal recommendation was appropriate for scale and simplicity of state-level contracts, but required many new local business relationships and failed to anticipate idiosyncratic “last mile” issues.

On the supply front, Operation Warp Speed said it was holding doses of Covid-19 vaccine in reserve to make sure there were enough for second doses. The reserve was a prudent way to make sure there would be enough for second doses in case of vaccine manufacturing hiccups.

After the second week of US vaccinations, there had been no vaccine manufacturing hiccups. With manufacturing scaling up, President-elect Biden’s Covid-19 team requested that the Trump administration release its Covid-19 vaccine, allowing states to widen vaccine eligibility and increase vaccine demand. Two weeks ago, the Trump administration balked at Biden’s request and said Biden’s team didn’t know what it was doing.

Then last week the Trump administration reversed itself and said it would release its Covid-19 vaccine reserve. The only problem? Turns out there was no reserve. As the Washington Post was reporting that the Trump administration didn’t realize it already had shipped its Covid-19 vaccine reserve, Pfizer released a statement that it was ready to ship second doses.

If you’re confused about Covid-19 vaccine supplies, imagine public health administrators trying to determine vaccine allocations in their state.

In a nutshell, these examples show how poorly Covid-19 supply chains are being managed. Not that I would expect supply chains to scale to millions of daily doses without a hiccup, but everything in the US seems to be broken from manufacturing predictions to distribution systems to local administration plans. The amount of finger pointing is inversely proportional to the quality of federal coordination.

After his inauguration next week, President-elect Biden will refresh the US Covid-19 vaccine program. He announced the US will set up 100 vaccination centers, deploy FEMA resources, and reimburse states 100% for any National Guard expenses to operate state vaccination programs. In addition, he will invoke the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of not only vaccines, but also vials, needles, and other vaccination items.

I’m optimistic about Biden’s chances for success. Unlike Trump, who promised 100 million doses by the end of 2020, and then promised 20 million doses, and then delivered about 3 million doses, Biden is holding his team accountable for 100 million doses in his first 100 days in office. Biden also got a gift when Twitter closed Trump’s account. Misinformation has dropped by 73% in the week since the closure and that will take friction out of Covid-19 public discourse.

The US isn’t alone in its vaccine woes. Spain’s Covid-19 vaccinations started three weeks ago and most Spanish regions are having trouble administering anywhere close to 100% of the Covid-19 vaccine doses they received. Only five regions have injected more than 80% of doses received.

To its credit, though, the region of Melilla delivered 102% of Covid-19 vaccine doses it received. Before you jump to the conclusion that there is an accounting error, Melilla has found it can get six or seven doses from a vial, one more than the five doses a vial is supposed to contain. These “bonus” doses have been observed elsewhere and are a good sign that, when vaccinations do ramp up, there will be more doses available than predicted.

Unfortunately for me, Catalonia is administering only 66% of the doses it has received. At least that’s better than Madrid at 51%. I have to wonder if the Spanish capital used its political clout to receive proportionately more doses only to find it couldn’t administer them. Color me skeptical.

With Spain and other European countries failing to administer all the doses they receive, it’s probably the right time for Pfizer to reduce its projected European shipments while it adjusts manufacturing processes to boost output.

Parenthetically, it looks like my advice last week to help Madrid reduce Covid-19 worked. I suggested that if Madrid’s conservative government re-branded Covid-19 restrictions as “snow days,” it might get better compliance and drive down its Covid-19 reproduction rate R. Conservatives seem to stomach restrictions due to weather better than restrictions due to a virus. The weather cooperated and Madrid closed schools until tomorrow for “snow.” Time will tell if R drops as a result of “snow days.”

Covid-19 vaccinations are not the end of the pandemic. At a financial conference last Wednesday, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel noted that Covid-19 will become endemic, saying “SARS-CoV-2 is not going away.” Science Magazine suggests Covid-19 will follow the course of other coronaviruses.

Science Magazine says Covid-19 won’t go away after vaccinations.

Living with Covid-19 requires science and medicine to manage the virus. I’ve noted previously that the current high levels of infection enable significant Covid-19 mutations. By March, experts expect new highly contagious strains of Covid-19 to dominate US cases, driving up total expected deaths in the US to a million. New strains may require adjustments to existing vaccines and may reinfect people previously infected by a different strain.

Even after herd immunity is established worldwide, there will continue to be cases of Covid-19. It is heartening to know that the Biden administration will fund development of Covid-19 treatments.

Dr. David Kessler explains plans for a US antiviral program.

In the years before the entire world achieves herd immunity, air travel continues to provide a good vector for outbreaks in regions that haven’t been vaccinated and for individual cases in regions that have. My friend Nicole returned to Spain from the US recently and said that, while negative Covid-19 tests were required for flights, no one actually checked her paperwork. High tech companies are working on a Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI) to protect travelers, but it’s anyone’s guess whether the travel industry will adopt the technology.

My friend Shane works in the travel industry. He noted that even if air travel is safe again, business has learned to operate successfully without it. Since business travel subsidizes personal travel, if businesses decide not to resume travel to pre-Covid-19 levels, consumers should expect higher travel prices to compensate. Higher prices, in turn, mean that not only will business travel contract, but personal travel as well.

My friend Deborah works in commercial real estate. As with travel, Deborah noted that even if offices are safe again, many businesses have learned to operate successfully without them. She expects it will take years and a lot of creative deal making to redeploy existing inventory.

Then there’s the issue of what the Covid-19 pandemic has done to women. In the latest US labor report, 140,000 people lost jobs. Well, actually, 156,000 women lost jobs and 16,000 men gained jobs. The Covid-19 pandemic has reversed gains women have made in the labor force. Whether women can regain jobs lost during the pandemic probably depends on how day care and schools evolve as herd immunity is reached.

I have to comment on political developments in the US. Trump has become the first US president to be impeached twice. In my opinion, he should be impeached for allowing 400,000 Americans die from Covid-19, but insurrection at the Capitol is a clearer case for the Senate to adjudicate on a constitutional basis.

One of the political features of the insurrection at the US Capitol was the sequestration of members of congress.

Republican House members refused to wear masks. Many members in the room tested positive for Covid-19 afterwards. Democrats were furious. Here is Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Georgia) response.

I hope Biden finds a way to push Covid-19 past partisanship. Trump made Covid-19 a political issue and it cost 400,000 lives.

Things with Covid-19 are still bad.

Covid-19 is so bad in Los Angeles, it’s taking on toll of reporters.

Sara Sidner reports on Covid-19 parking lot funerals in Los Angeles.

Covid-19 bits.

Here’s some fun advice on stopping the spread of Covid-19 while making speech less dangerous.

I write this for my sanity and to make a record of living in the time of Covid-19. If you find it useful, please pass it on to friends and family. For more frequent Covid-19 updates, follow me on Twitter.