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The Worldwide Consequences of Incompetent and Immoral Leadership
#1
Wink 
On the Cardboard, we discussed the great disparities in countries' responses to Covid. Some, like New Zealand and Taiwan were able to almost completely contain Covid with a combination of their governments' competence and responsible citizens. Almost all other countries in the world were more successful than the United States -- most European countries, most Asian countries -- had much fewer cases and fatalities as a percentage of their population.

A few countries stood out as being the most miserable failures, and having some of the worst case rates -- the United States, Brazil, and the UK. And, not surprisingly, all their leaders had similar responses to Covid, claiming it was "just a flu", undermining health initiatives, providing false health information (I think all three claimed hydroxychloroquine as "miracle cures”), demanding regional governors "liberate" their societies instead of using government action to contain Covid. Both Trump and Bolsonaro attacked the press whenever they presented facts contrary to their fictions, and claimed newspapers were full of "fake news." And not surprisingly, all three of those leaders -- Trump, Bolsonaro, and Johnson -- contracted Covid themselves, despite the fact that the United States and the UK are two of the wealthiest, most technologically advanced nations in the world. Trump and Johnson, two of the most powerful men in the world, both were hospitalized!

I and others on the Cardboard warned of these leaders' incompetence and failures -- that ignoring the science, behaving greedily and shortsightedly, by falsely calling their actions "liberating" societies and foolishly shooting for "herd immunity" through rampant infection would give the virus more chances to mutate and make it more difficult to contain.

And now look at the consequences of the "herd immunity" approach. The virus has mutated to the point where the vaccines we have created are far less effective.

Additionally, the US withdrew from the WHO and took an "America First" approach to international cooperation. I warned on the Cardboard how foolish and harmful this approach was. The US should never have withdrawn from the WHO (it has rejoined since Jan 20), it should never have disbanded its pandemic team on the National Security Council (it re-added it since Jan 20), it should have been part of the Covax initiative to help poorer countries (it joined since Jan 20). Why? Not only is it the morally right thing to be an ethical leader of the world, it was always in our best interest. I warned on the Cardboard that we cannot follow so selfish, so isolationist, so nationalist, and so short-sighted an "America First" policy because the virus could mutate in the developing world and make our vaccines less effective. I think I even specifically mentioned Africa as the kind of place it could mutate.

And look what has happened. 

Where are these mutations? The UK mutation. The Brazilian mutation. The Los Angeles (LA) mutation. What are those countries? The UK, Brazil and the US. Who were their leaders? Johnson, Bolsonaro and Trump. The three world leaders of the irresponsible “herd immunity” rampant infections went 3 for 3 getting sickened by Covid themselves and went 3 for 3 being the source of new mutations (the LA, UK and Brazilian strains). And then there is the South African mutation, in a developing country left alone to fend for itself by an "America First" world lacking in global leadership.

We are still learning what the consequences of these mutations will be. So far, our existing vaccines seem to be effective against the UK mutation, but most are already doing much worse against the S African mutation. We do not know yet how they will do against the Brazilian mutation.

You might think we will be fine, because there is still partial effectiveness by these vaccines, and mRNA vaccines can be tweaked rapidly to be re-formulated for new mutations, like an annual flu shot.

But consider these problems:
1) What happens when the S African strain mutates further and looks even less like the original strain? There is no help coming to S Africa. Covid will continue to rage there, and as Covid rages in Africa, so too will it continue to mutate even further. The S African strain will mutate more and more, and become even less similar to the original strain, and to our vaccines.

2) The world does not have enough vaccine for itself. Even if the US and Europe achieve herd immunity by the end of 2021, they will have achieved herd immunity to the original strain. Current estimates are that it could take the developing world until 2023 or 2024 to achieve herd immunity, if ever. What does that mean? The virus mutated enough to become a problem in less than a year. Without help, the virus will mutate all over the developing world in 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond. One plane trip could bring a new mutation -- unlike any we've seen so far -- from anywhere in the world to the US.

3) Doctors say we can just have annual boosters, like we do for the flu. But does that mean no one gets the flu? No, there are good years and bad years. If we play that game of annual boosters, some years we will manufacture the right strains and contain it, other years we will guess wrong, just as we do for the flu, and we will have bad years for Covid. Some years a new strain will only be discovered after we've designed the booster. A bad year could mean a year where the elderly have to isolate themselves all winter long.

These are the consequences for all of humankind based on the decisions made by Trump, Bolsonaro and Johnson in 2020. These are the consequences of blind nationalism ("America first"), deception ("it's just a flu/hydroxychloroquine is a miracle cure"), greed ("liberate the economy"), and incompetence (the numbers of people dead, the unknown millions who will have long-term damage).

As Fauci said, the decreased efficacy of the vaccines against the mutations is a wake up call. All of humankind needs to take Covid more seriously. We need to stop politicizing masks.We need to stop politicizing "re-opening"/"liberating" and recognize when leaders restrict activities, it's not because they are "dictators" -- and certainly those who disagree should not plan kidnappings or attempt coups. We need to stop lies (that masks make things worse or that there is a miracle cure or that it's just a flu). We need to work together with other countries in the world, and we need to help the developing world. The US needs to lead a world-wide mobilization to make sure every country in the world has PPE and masks. Our society needs to set an example for all nations in terms of how a peaceful democratic society can positively work with social distancing and, when needed, government restrictions, and wear masks,and vaccinate with integrity and without lies or cronyism. The US needs to lead a world-wide mobilization to get every person in every country in the world -- rich or poor -- vaccinated. And the US needs to lead the world in many other ways -- in technologies, global cooperation, in truthful information sharing. 

If we do not change our course even more decisively, there is a "bad case" scenario that will last many years. I think there will be better testing, therapeutics, and hygienics, so I don't expect the US will have direct casualties like the past year again, but I could see a future where in "bad years" with a novel mutation (like years where there is a mismatch in the flu vaccines), it'll mean many more elderly die, and a changed way of life, especially for the most vulnerable. Until Covid is defeated globally, a novel mutation in a non-"America First" country would be just one plane trip away from another winter of increased deaths for the elderly, losses for the travel industry, and precautious across society until another booster is distributed.
 
Although this is a "bad case" scenario, if 2020 taught us anything, it is that we cannot just hope this doesn't happen. We need to lead and stop it from happening.
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#2
California had the fifth strongest economy in the world before the pandemic. Newsom touted that often. The US is a republic, where many powers and authority are disseminated to the local governments such as the state. If any place should have been ahead of the pandemic, it should have been California. Instead, California has the worst Covid problem in the country, and close to the worst in the world. LA County is especially a disaster. Other states are doing much much better, and certainly other counties are.

So, blame Trump. I get it.
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#3
(02-01-2021, 09:29 AM)cardcrimson Wrote: California had the fifth strongest economy in the world before the pandemic. Newsom touted that often. The US is a republic, where many powers and authority are disseminated to the local governments such as the state. If any place should have been ahead of the pandemic, it should have been California. Instead, California has the worst Covid problem in the country, and close to the worst in the world. LA County is especially a disaster. Other states are doing much much better, and certainly other counties are.

So, blame Trump. I get it.
California is far from the worst state in the country. In fact, we're pretty average. In deaths per million, California is 33rd. In cases per million, California is 24th. Get your stats straight. 

States do not have the resources to prevent the spread of any viral pandemic. Viruses do not respect borders when people can cross state lines. Only Hawaii and Alaska have some semblance of that type of control.

Federal leadership was needed, and it didn't happen. In fact, the feds sabotaged most of the management of the pandemic, refusing for months to even acknowledge there was a pandemic. It wasn't only Trump that wanted nothing to do with this, but also Stephen Miller, who was the real power in the Trump White House. Miller is a true racist and fascist, and he had Trump wrapped around whatever appendage you chose to name. 

There are plenty of competent people in both political parties who could have done a reasonable job of leading on this, but they were not in decision making positions in the Trump administration.
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#4
"3) Doctors say we can just have annual boosters, like we do for the flu. But does that mean no one gets the flu? No, there are good years and bad years. If we play that game of annual boosters, some years we will manufacture the right strains and contain it, other years we will guess wrong, just as we do for the flu, and we will have bad years for Covid. Some years a new strain will only be discovered after we've designed the booster. A bad year could mean a year where the elderly have to isolate themselves all winter long."

Well, the Flu vaccine is usually 50 - 55% efficacious. We're in much better shape with these mRNA vaccines. The real issue is trying to distribute them worldwide. They are expensive relative to Adenovirus based vaccines and they require special handling not available in the Amazon or in inner continental Africa. Influenza continues to be a scourge year after year, decade after decade. I think we can minimize Covid 19 after 2 to 3 years. Just in time for the next SARS virus to emerge.

Moderna is currently working on an mRNA flu vaccine. If we can get 95% efficacy on every strain of Flu with the speed that mRNA vaccines can be produced, we have a chance to greatly reduce the spread of Influenza as well.
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#5
Fair enough, I hadn't checked the latest data in a few weeks. Currently, California is the fifth worst in the country by death rate per 100k, and the 17th highest at the case rate--both over the last 7 days. A few weeks back, California was running over 100 cases per 100k, leading the country and much of the world. Amazing how much better the numbers are since the 20th. . . .
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#6
(02-02-2021, 12:31 PM)cardcrimson Wrote: Currently, California is the fifth worst in the country by death rate per 100k, and the 17th highest at the case rate--both over the last 7 days.

Currently, California is 18th best among the states & DC by death rate per 100K in the US over the course of the disease.
No doubt we'll fall as the deaths keep coming from our high case rate.
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#7
(02-03-2021, 09:16 AM)M_T Wrote:
(02-02-2021, 12:31 PM)cardcrimson Wrote: Currently, California is the fifth worst in the country by death rate per 100k, and the 17th highest at the case rate--both over the last 7 days.

Currently, California is 18th best among the states & DC by death rate per 100K in the US over the course of the disease.
No doubt we'll fall as the deaths keep coming from our high case rate.
I have been using the seven day rolling average to gauge the current situation. What happened a year ago is somewhat irrelevant.

Here's the link: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker...klast7days
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#8
Today's numbers matter today, but this isn't a batting average.  Those that died a year ago are still dead. Here's the link https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker...thsper100k
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#9
Using the batting average example. Would you put in right now, a guy that started the season hitting around 300, though is now batting below 200. Newsom started okay (notwithstanding the whole "we'll flatten the curve in two weeks" bs), but now he's failing miserably. Time to bench him.
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#10
the 7 day tracker has the most room for error with many places taking several days to weeks to mostly report their cases.

Probably better to look at a lagging 7 day tracker that doesn't include the last week.  Or maybe a lagging 14 day.

The full year, while MT has a point, I would say skews how California is handling it now or recently.

Anyway, which stat you choose just depends on what you want to argue, I guess.
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