Friday, September 18, 2020

The next virus: Monkeypox?

 while checking StrategyPage for updates on Central Africa/DRC, to see how their Ebola epidemic is going on (112  cases, 25000 vaccinations to stop the spread), and a Covid outbreak in a refugee camp (not much detail given), I noted this observation.

September 9, 2020: In Congo medical authorities reported a monkeypox outbreak in the has so far infected 141 people and killed ten. All 141 cases are confirmed cases. Monkeypox has symptoms similar to the small pox virus, though far less severe.

I never saw this disease in Africa, but I remember reading about it when there was an outbreak in the USA back in 2003, due to imported animals from Ghana... actually these imported animals gave the MP to prairie dogs, and the people who bought prairie dogs for pets got infected, usually via cleaning the cages when you had a small wound for the virus to enter, or by being bitten by the Prairiedog.

in other words, you can get it not just from monkeys but from small rodents.

However that epidemic was not spread person to person.

there was also an outbreak in the UK from patients who caught it in Nigeria back in 2018, that spread to a health care worker who got it because of inferior quality protective gloves.

and last year there was one case in Singapore, brought in from Nigeria. The article includes this nice illustration about the disease:

CDC discusses the ongoing epidemic.

. Usually only spread via close contact with infected animals, although a few cases of human to human transmission have been reported in those in close contact with someone with lesions or maybe from close contact from respiratory spread. There is treatment, but usually prevention by small pox vaccination is the way to stop transmission... 

ironically, since smallpox has been eradicated, people no longer receive small pox vaccine, so now are vulnerable to smallpox's weaker cousins in the pox family. This might explain why the public health authorities are seeing periodic outbreaks of money pox in various African countries.

so how many cases are we talking about?

OutbreakNews says over 2500 cases since July.

presumably this is not going to cause a major outbreak, but it does show how diseases can move from animals to humans and spread quickly if not stopped.

Personally, I'm more worried about bird flu, (H5N1 avian influenza virus) which has killed a couple hundred people in Asia who were in close contact with chickens etc., but luckily has not taken the last step that makes it possible for human to human transmission.

and all the conspiracy types who think that because a "war game" simulation was done for a covid type virus last year, that this was related to the covid outbreak: 

well, all I can say is that a similar "war game" was done about bird flu a couple years ago. And bird flu is a lot more dangerous and has a higher mortality. 

And for all the hysteria and conspiracy theories on covid, the dirty little secret is that it is too weak to be a deliberate bioweapon release, since the morality is low, not to mention it killed quite a few Chinese (how many? who knows. They are keeping it secret). 

However, the good news about covid is that it has given the world expertise on how to handle the next outbreak, so if a lethal disease should again jump from animals to human, people will be prepared.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

reopening mail service and schools

Mail delivery here was very slow, and so was the various courier services. Part of the problem? Quarantine checkpoints, and decreased hours when offices were open.

This affected import and export trade, but since our rice deliveries are done by our own truck, it only stopped deliveries for a month then slowed it down because the usual three hour drive was increased by a three hour wait at the checkpoint. (food deliveries are a priority here).

Manila is still partly shut, but things are improving.

For overseas mail, the USPS shut down in April according to this article at the VOA. and yes, our mail was also affected by the virus shutdowns.

for over seas mail: the problem? No airplanes.

and even the courier services (Fed Ex, etc) had limited service.

well finally last week the postal service reopened, so I can send back a check sent to me from the USA in February that deteriorated so much in transit (3 months) that the bank couldn't read it.

This should, of course, make me prefer direct deposit

and indeed, most of our OFW use Wells Fargo or similar services to send money home.

but then I remember when an earthquake near Taiwan cut a major internet cable, and we were offline for weeks. And not just earthquakes, but terrorism, sabotague or acts of war.

hmm...  Bezos' satellite internet system prevent such a thing in case China decides to isolate the Philippines?

then all we'd have to worry about is a Carrington event strength solar flare.

In other news: Schools are reopened, part time, with distancing and some classes on line. 

I even heard the music of the daily exercize class this morning that is held in the plaza nearby. So things are opening slowly.

But until there is a vaccine, the economy won't reopen completely.

this article has a summary of all the jobs lost: Tranportation, service induestries, shops, etc. were affected.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Guess who is pushing disinformation?

 In a previous post, I wondered how much of the anti vax and other disinformation about the covid epidemic might be pushed via other countries.

At the time I had no evidence, but now the WaFreeBeacon has an article about election interference by other countries, including this snippet:

Iran's efforts include amplifying anti-Trump voices in its state-controlled news outlets and creating false online personas to elevate similar material.
Both Facebook and Twitter have moved in recent months to remove a litany of false accounts that they say were controlled mainly by Iran, Russia, and China. These countries have promoted disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic and critiques of Trump's response.

well, duh. 

the UKGuardian (left wing) article back in July noted the same thing. 

Though US officials have warned before about the spread of disinformation tied to the pandemic, they went further on Tuesday by singling out a particular information agency that is registered in Russia, InfoRos and that operates a series of websites –, and – that have leveraged the pandemic to promote anti-western objectives and to spread disinformation.

this Russian disinformation is not new: CBS story in May 2019 (!) also notes the Russian information war promoting anti vax propaganda. This article notes how it is causing people to hate measles vaccine, and adds this:

According to Axios, however, misinformation about vaccines is not the only threat, as Russia is focusing on spreading misinformation around health care issues ahead of the 2020 election.


CornellAllianceForScience notes the sites behind the anti vax conspiracy theories (the article is about the linking of the anti vax types and the anti GMO types with with 5G paranoia).

 a similar article about the anti everything type conspiracy groups can be found on this Australia news site

We’ve heard a litany of conspiracy theories since the pandemic began, but where exactly are they coming from and to what extent are they organised?
From anti-5g articles to fabricated stories about vaccination trials, Russia is using bots, state media and troll farms to cultivate a disinformation narrative during the pandemic.
But Russia is far from the only country that’s using social media to spin the truth, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The Chinese Communist Party is also using social media to paint a positive image of its government and to heap blame on the United States for the COVID-19 crisis, researchers at ASPI have found...

he gives an example of a US Vaccination program that they claimed killed five people in the Ukraine, something that did not happen but originated in a pro Russian site in the Ukraine. 

“You see a lot of people repeating it on Twitter, or whatever and they have no idea that it originated from a pro-Russian Ukrainian separatist group,” Thomas said. “They just remember they saw somewhere that Ukrainian soldiers died in a vaccine trial and they just repeated it,” she added. But what are these countries hoping to achieve? COVID-19 is the latest issue that has been weaponised by Russia to sow discord in the West, according to Dr Graham.

italics mine.

I see the Russian propaganda being believed on the right, including right wing Catholic sites who should know better: but the anti vax propaganda has always been believed by the extreme left: so what you have here is a convergence of anti science between the naive paranoid on both sides of the political spectrum.

and given the Russian (and Chinese) moves to give vaccine to poor countries, one wonders if a lot of their disinformation is being pushed to make money and geopolitical points.

More here about China's push and how they will use it for political influence

Seven vaccines being tested in western countries, three are completing phase 3 tests. Includes links

Sunday, September 13, 2020

History Guy: Remember the fire fighters



at 12 minutes, they talk about the volunteer fire fighters in the USA.

when I lived in rural PA, the fire department was down the street. It was a volunteer company, with a very VERY loud siren. When it went off, you got out of the street so that those speeding there would not have to slow down so they could get there in time.

They even had a large "cherry picker" that would reach to the 4th floor, which made me wonder where they would use it (the highest building in town was 3 stories). But then a neighbor's house was on fire, and it spread up the wall from the kitchen to the attic: The cherry picker extended the firemen over to the second floor to squirt the water directly on the fire (the house had a garden that made it hard to get closer on the ground with a truck, and entering the house to go up to the attic would have been dangerous).

Because every small town had a small company, often a larger fire called in for help from all over. So six companies came to fight the fire when the mini-mall in the next town caught fire (near the huge nursing home complex where I worked).

We had to evacuate the patients, many of whom were bed ridden, from the building closest to the mall, and close the windows to protect them.
The minimall included sports stores (with bullets and black powder for hunters that made it dangerous... luckily they kept the fire from that end of the minimall, but it mean that the offices in the other end of the minimall were all destroyed)... this was an "electrical fire" (not arson, just ignore that the minimall owner had just testified against a crooked judge the week before).

the volunteers did a lot of practice: and yes, some got injured, usually minor, but one of my friends got a minor back fracture when he fell off a roof. No, he wasn't fighting a fire, but they were using the ladders and shovels and picks to remove snowpacks from roofs to prevent the roofs on the old poorly built houses in the area from collapsing.

The fires in California are scary: I lived in New Mexico the year that Los Alamos burnt, and there were half a dozen other fires, including one in our area.

The local Apache had a hotshot team that would fly out to help fight forest fires, and would literally stay in the area for weeks on end.  Often they would see us to fill up their medicine supply: usually just normal over the counter medicine. And some of them were women...LINK

so when I condemn the elite white snowflakes setting fires and destroying lives, you can see why I get annoyed. 

Spoiled rich kids destroying stuff in the name of political correctness get their photos in the newspapers: Fire fighters are lucky to get noticed at all.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

everyone wants the vaccine

Bbc summary

British drug manufacturer AstraZeneca, which has the licence for the Oxford University vaccine, is ramping up its global manufacturing capacity and has agreed to supply 100 million doses to the UK alone and possibly two billion globally - should it prove successful. Clinical trials were paused this week after a participant had a suspected adverse reaction in the UK.
Pfizer and BioNTech, who say they have invested more than $1bn in their Covid-19 programme developing an mRNA vaccine, expect to be ready to seek some form of regulatory approval as early as October this year. If approved, that would mean manufacturing up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and potentially more than 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021. There are around 20 other pharmaceutical companies with clinical trials under way.

Everyone wants the vaccine, so the UN is trying to make sure poor countries get it quickly.

The article goes into the various types of vaccines being made, and then into the logistics on who should get the shot first.

here is a list of the various vaccines in the UK, including a discussion on how the vaccine will stop the virus.

UK vaccine orders

In the US, the quick relase of the well tested vaccine is opposed by a sophisticated propaganda why would Kamela Harris oppose the US vaccine?

Politics of course.

Phase 3 tests of thousands is almost done on half a dozen western vaccines, and it looks good. One person might have had a side effect, which is hyped all over the press, but the good antibody and T cell immunity found from the vaccine is barely discussed.

What is behing the rejection of a vaccine? superstition and paranoia.

My son is sceptical about the US vaccine because he is convinced Trump is releasing it early for political reasons... but then he tells me that the Russian vaccine works.

So much for science... fully tested western vaccine (tens of thousands in the phase3 testing) is presented as bad, while the untested (well, actually tested on 67 people in phase two testing) Russian vaccine is ok?

One wonders how much of the anti vax movement which is pushed on the internet is pushed by some with a larger agenda.

After all, misdirecting rage and distrust against the vaccine because Trump will benefit China and Russia... by making the public health (recommended by the CDC experts, not Trump, who merely followed their advise) response the problem, not the Chinese policies of coverup that left the virus lose on the world...and of course now both Russia and China have untested vaccines to give out to poor countries (see we are your friends)...Russia is even offering to send cookbook instructions to Brazil and the Philippines so we can make our own version of their vaccine.

This has big geopolitical implications.

One wonders how many of the videos out there pushing conspiracy theories are influenced by Russia (or China). 

Others, of course, are pushed by people whose websites offer snake oil cures and over priced survivalist gear for you to buy.


Joe Biden's coronavirus adviser Dr. Vivek Murthy says the candidate has "already started" work on his plan for expanding testing, building contact tracing capacity and distributing a vaccine.

Translation: The plan is to criticize the vaccine via their minions in the MSM so people distrust any of the six different vaccines, but voila, once Biden is elected, he will wave a magic wand and everything will be done and you will be saved (translation: instantly the plans developed by professional scientists and experts in the logistics of mass vaccine projects under the Trump administration will be implemented but Biden will take credit for it.)
Thousands will die because of this politically inspired delay, or because the antivax propaganda will scare people by hyping  the possibility of a rare side effect, but never mind: Once Biden is elected everyone will trust the government again...
It's politics. Remember this when the headlines shout if someone dies of something probably unrelated but the death could be spun as vaccine related. (Remember how the fish tank cleaner chloroquin overdose death was hyped? One expert at Yale said this could have saved tens of thousands if it had been used properly.... Same here).
Duh. All the concerns will disappear if Biden wins, (and if he loses, there are plans by some groups to start a civil war.)

of course, not all the hype is by Democrats: 

The anti vax greenies of the left have hated modern medicine and vaccines for years, but now this conspiracy theory is being pushed on the right wing trad Catholics and the back to nature "air conditioners are a sin" Francis Catholics.  

That feisty Jewish Carpenter said render to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God's, but hey, that doesn't stop nincompoops from using religion to push their agenda.

 And since both the Russians and the Chinese would benefit from the western vaccines being delayed, one does wonder if Russian or Chinese bots/ social media posts/ emails/conspiracy videos are behind a lot of this disinformation...

Friday, September 11, 2020

september 11

Yes some of us remember.

One of my med school classmates was in the Pentagon and helped triage casualties there.

The Campers in California were rescued

There was a heroic rescue of over 200 campers caught in the midst of one of the California fires.

................ has more details:

More than 200 campers were trapped near a boat dock on Shaver Lake in California's Fresno County over the Labor Day weekend, encircled by flames and a blinding wall of wildfire smoke....Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joseph Rosamond, piloting a California Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook, had already made the decision to try to put his helicopter down close by the desperate campers on Sept. 5. So had CWO 5 Kipp Goding, pilot of a California Guard UH-60 Black Hawk, who had linked up with Rosamond's aircraft and was trailing him to the scene, weaving through peaks rising to 7,000 feet and then dropping down to a valley leading to the dock...
Emergency crews on the ground from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, radioed to Rosamond that it was too risky. The Creek Fire in the Sierra National Forest was out of control and they should put down at a nearby ranch miles away and wait for the smoke to clear, they were told...

italics mine. 

and not just one time: They returned twice to get everyone out: 214 people were rescued, some badly burned.

this was done at night.

the pilots used night vision goggles to let them see despite the smoke.

if you read my previous post about helicopters, you know that it is dangerous trying to pilot in an area with poor visibility: but add to this wind currents due to the irregular terrain and the fire updrafts.

And once they landed, to get everyone out, they essentially overloaded the helicopters so they could get everyone out...

The article mentions the names of not just the pilots but the names of the crews who risked their lives in the rescue.

on the Chinook:

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joseph Rosamond, the pilot.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brady Hlebain, the Chinook's co-pilot,

Sgts. George Esquivel, flight engineer.

Cameron Powell, flight engineers on the Chinook, 

Black Hawk crew: 

CWO 5 Kipp Goding, pilot 

Warrant Officer 1 One Xiong 

\Chief Warrant Officer 2 Irvin Hernandez.

Thank you for your service.




update (9 17)

ThatAin'tHellBlog reports the 7 Nat Guardsmen received the  Distinguished Flying Cross

Thursday, September 10, 2020

family news

The shops etc. Are open but when I went to the bank I found we now need face shields. No, wearing a mask and protecting eyes with glasses is not enough now.

30pesos, no problem, but the store and palenke is 2 blocks down and it is already almost 90 degrees. 

Here elders are honored, so they left me in, but I was so flustered I forgot to step in disinfectant before entering, but I did get my hands sprayed with alcohol and my temperature checked.

I am not sure why we need to step in diinfectant...this was done at airports a couple years ago when there was an epidemic of foot and mouth disease in cattle here in Asia. But covid spreads via air, but maybe because it settles down in dust and there is a lot of dust on the streets.

In the meanwhile, we caught two mice in my room. So this morning, when the dogs were barking like mad, I thought they were trying to catch a mouse... but no, it was a frog. When I tried to rescue the frog, it scurried through a hole in the wall, presumably where he got in earlier.

Since my cat Petunia had kittens on my bed, she is outside or staying in the cat' s room, the spare bedroom we use to store junk. The dogs kill kittens, usually when they lrave the nest to wander around, so she only has one of her three kittens left alive. Sigh. I now feed her on the windowsill...she eats there with her almost grown kitten, along with at least one visitor cat. I know it is a visitor because our senior tomcat, Pepper, gets into fights with him at night, to keep him away from Petunia and Mamacat, both of whom will be going into heat now that their latest batch of kittens have left the nest.

In the latest covid news out of Wuhan, they found quite a few cats tested is thought the cats caught it from their owners, not vice versa.

And in other covid news, there were 260 (?) Cases and one death out of the 450,000 who attended the Sturgis rally. Lots of hatred on twitter against them, for not wearing masks... 

However, no reports of spread among the "mostly peaceful" rioters who presumably didn't spread it because they wear masks and of course the fires they set presumably prevent the virus from spreading.

keeping Mama Mary safe with mask and face shield.