Covid-19 information

Almost all new cases are 'delta' variants.

Table of contents

  1. A UK study says Omicron infections are just as dangerous than earlier variants, but a South African study says Omicron infections are much less dangerous. Here's how to reconcile those dueling studies. (tl;dr: it's mostly bad news.)
  2. The Sinovac vaccine from China is probably not very effective against Omicron. Pfizer (and presumably Moderna) are better.
  3. The new CORBEVAX / BECOV2 protein subunit vaccine from Baylor U. in Texas [2] is not yet approved in the USA, but it is already in production and use in India.
  4. References for Burton op-ed, Washington Times, Dec. 27-28, 2020: “Do the math!”
  5. Vaccine technical information (many links)
  6. The WhiteBoard Doctor medical education YouTube channel is terrific
  7. WND: Scott Atlas is wrong, by Dave Burton, Sept. 2, 2020
  8. Worldometers tracks Covid-19 case and fatality counts, globally
  9. Vaccine rollout progress at OurWorldInData
  10. NEW!  Your booster should be Moderna, even if your original jabs were Pfizer or (especially!) J&J
  11. CDC Covid Data Tracker
  12. Johns Hopkins U. COVID-19 Content Portal and Dashboard
  13. U.Minn CIDRAP Covid-19 site
  14. Covid-19 phylogeny and variant tracker
  15. Deseret News: The dysfunctional American regulatory state, by Sally Pipes
  16. LOS: Understanding “comorbidities”
  17. StatNews: “Long Covid” puzzles doctors
  18. The high prevelance of lingering symptoms
  19. Estimated relative risks of various common activities
  20. WaPo: CDC says most infections were via asymptomatic/presymptomatic spread
  21. Beware of the Simone Gold disinformation video
  22. Covid-19 far more deadly than people like Simone Gold claim
  23. The vaccines protect against infection, not just against symptomatic illness (though less effictively with Omicron)
  24. The Facts about the COVID Vaccines and Fetal Cell Lines, by Isaac Schorr, National Review
  25. Investigational Covid-19 treatments
  26. What the Coronavirus Variants Mean for the End of the Pandemic, by Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker
  27. Misrepresenting VAERS: No, the vaccines are not killing thousands of people
  28. I don't like shots, by my wise friend, Paul “Skip” Stam, Carolina Journal
  29. @buzzhollandermd (Buzz Hollander, MD) is a great Twitter account to follow for balanced, up-to-date information about Covid-19 and the vaccines.
  30. Want to help? Enroll in a clinical trial! Find one here.

Burton op-ed references, Washington Times, Dec. 27-28, 2020

Do the math! “Died with covid” means “died from covid” (usually)

These are the references for my Washington Times guest “analysis/opinion” column (Sunday Dec. 27 online, Monday Dec. 28 in print, archived here, pdf here). 

  1. The current U.S. population is about 332 million:
  2. In normal times, the U.S. records an average of about 230,000 deaths per month:
    That is about 230K/332M = 0.07% of the nation's population.
  3. Worldometers U.S. Covid-19 statistics (Mondays):
    Total deaths as of 2020-12-21: 327,448
    Total deaths as of 2020-12-14: 308,298
    Average deaths/day over week of Dec. 15-21: (327,448-308,298)/7=2736
    Total cases as of 2020-12-14: 16,947,548
    Total cases as of 2020-12-07: 15,415,382
    Average cases/day over week of Dec. 8-14: (16,947,548-15,415,382)/7=218,881
    Total cases as of 2020-11-30: 13,965,681
    Average cases/day over week of Dec. 1-7: (15,415,382-13,965,681)/7=207,100
    Average cases/day over two weeks: (16,947,548-13,965,681)/14=212,990
    Daily deaths as a percentage of cases 1 week prior: 2736/218,881=1.25%
    Daily deaths as a percentage of cases 2 weeks prior: 2736/207,100=1.32%
    Daily deaths as a percentage of cases 1 to 2 weeks prior: 2736/212,990=1.3%
    Latest U.S. totals (as of 8:30 a.m., 12/23/2020):
    Cases: 18,687,330
    Deaths: 330,841
    Recovered: 10,948,136
  4. U.S. Covid-19 Case Fatality Rate (CFR), calculated over entire pandemic = 330,841 deaths / (10,948,136 recoveries + 330,841 deaths) = 2.93% (as of 12/23/2021)
  5. From CDC data, here's a spreadsheet of seasonal influenza statistics for the last ten flu seasons. The average Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) was 0.121%
  6. The U.K. government reports that 88% of Covid-19 deaths occur within 28 days of diagnosis.

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Vaccine technical information:

● There are hundreds of Covid-19 vaccines under development, in nine broad technology categories. As of Dec. 2020, several dozen of them are in clinical trials, and an early few are now in use. If you want to understand more about them, I highly recommend this in-depth Tweetorial by Florian Krammer

Tweet #1:
Tweet #138 (last tweet):
Unrolled thread, in several formats:
‣ (best, if you block ads)
    (or saved as pdf)

He also has some other, related, tweetstorms, here:

● The Milken Institute has two similar Covid-19 vaccine tracker web sites:
‣ (This site is just about vaccines.)
‣ (This site also has information about non-vaccine treatments being developed and/or tested.)

● Here's a very easy to understand educational “Tweetstorm” about the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna; sorry about the gratuitous foul language:
Tweet #1:
Tweet #37 (last tweet):
Unrolled thread, in several formats:

● RNA biologist Rob Swanda has created a series of excellent educational videos about Covid-19 vaccines, on his YouTube channel. Currently, there are eight videos averaging about 2.5 minutes each, in English, plus versions in several other languages. 

● The WhiteBoard Doctor YouTube channel has an excellent video playlist about Covid-19 vaccines (and many other playlists about other Covid-related topics). 

● Belgian biochemist Jan Boddaert has written some very educational Quora answers about Covid-19 and related topics. 

The Telegraph reports on efforts to develop a vaccine which will be invulnerable, or less vulnerable, to being rendered ineffective by virus mutations.

● There is, arguably, an ethical problem with some of the Covid-19 vaccines, because some of them were developed using fetal cells, from aborted babies. National Review has been on top of this issue. Here are two of their articles, reporting that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines do not use fetal cells (except that both companies used the nearly fifty-year-old HEK 293 cell line for testing; it is very widely used, worldwide, for testing developmental drugs, without endangering patients):
But here's a very informative (yet concise) article reporting that AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson unfortunately do use fetal cells more extensively, albeit from cell lines which are several decades old:
However, contrary to some internet rumors, fetal cells are not used for the production of those vaccines  Correction: Most traditional vaccines are made from the vaccinated-against contagions, and the J&J and Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines are made from genetically modified adenoviruses. Unlike mRNA jabs, vaccines which are made from viruses are cultured in cells, and the cells used to culture the J&J and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are from two fetal cell lines. AstraZeneca uses the HEK 293 cell line, which is derived from embryonic kidney cells from a 1973 abortion. J&J uses the PER.C6 cell line, which is derived from fetal retinal cells from a baby aborted in 1985. Technically, the cells aren't from aborted babies, but they're replicas of cells from aborted babies.
There are no cells (of any kind) in the vaccines, themselves, but those cell lines are used in the vaccines' manufacturing process. Here's an article about it from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Science Magazine also had some details in a June, 2020 article.
Because of moral concerns w/r/t J&J and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, the USCCB and several other Christian organizations recommend Moderna or Pfizer. Fortuitously, as it happens, those vaccines are apparently more effective (and perhaps safer), anyhow. (Aside: I got the Moderna jab.) 

● The CDC's Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People are imperfect.
1. They recommend that everyone continue to wear masks unless everyone in a gathering has been fully vaccinated. Actually, a gathering in which just ONE person, or in which people from just ONE household, lack immunity, but everyone ELSE is immune, should also be safe to meet without masks or other special precautions.  UPDATE: Unfortunately, the Delta and Omicron variants have rendered this no longer accurate.
2. Someone who has fully recovered from Covid-19 at least one month earlier is probably about as safe from reinfection as is someone who was vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine (though it's not known how long the immunity will last). The CDC recommentations do not mention that fact.
3. The CDC says that you're considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the last jab for the two-dose mRNA vaccines (Moderna & Pfizer), which is about right. But they also say that you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is wrong. Two weeks after the second jab, Pfizer & Moderna vaccinations are believed to be approximately 95% effective at preventing ANY Covid-19 infection (and nearly 100% effective at preventing the most serious Covid-19 illness). But at only two weeks after the Johnson & Johnson jab, its effectiveness at preventing moderate to severe disease is only around 60%, and its effectiveness at preventing mild but communicable disease is probably even less. Yet the CDC is pretending that it's as effective as Moderna & Pfizer. That's clearly wrong. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has some advantages, but it takes much longer than two weeks for it to reach maximum effectiveness, and even then the protection is not as complete as the protection from the two-dose mRNA vaccines.

The “WhiteBoard Doctor” YouTube channel

The WhiteBoard Doctor medical education YouTube channel has an amazingly comprehensive collection of high quality educational vidoes about every aspect of the Covid-19 disease, vaccines, and treatments.

WND: Scott Atlas is wrong, Sept. 2, 2020

Scott Atlas could not have been more wrong in his advice to America's leaders.
by Dave Burton 

Worldometers Covid-19 site

Worldometers tracks Covid-19 case and fatality counts, globally and by country

Vaccine rollout progress at OurWorldInData

The vaccination campaign (with Pfizer & Moderna vaccines) began in the U.S. December 20, 2020. OurWorldInData graphs the progress (and globally). (Bloomberg also has a page.) Compare that graph to the Worldometers graph of Covid-19 case counts, to see the effect. 

Your booster should be Moderna
(even if your original jabs were Pfizer or [especially!] J&J)

NEW!  The data we now have indicates that Moderna is the best booster shot, no matter what original vaccine you got (unless you got Moderna and had an unpleasant reaction to it). If your original jab was J&J (or AstraZeneca, or Sinovac) then it is especially beneficial to make your booster an mRNA jab: preferably Moderna, though Pfizer is also good.

CDC Covid Data Tracker

The CDC tracks many Covid-related statistics on their Covid Data Tracker site. 

Johns Hopkins U. COVID-19 Dashboard

The JHU COVID-19 Content Portal and COVID-19 Dashboard have global & per-country statistics and distribution maps for cases (188M as of 7/14/2021), deaths (4.0M as of 7/14/2021), and vaccine doses administered (3.49B as of 7/14/2021).

U. Minn. CIDRAP site

The University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) Covid-19 web site has a wealth of information. 

Covid-19 phylogeny and variants

Nextstrain nearly all new U.S. Covid-19 infections are now Omicron variants (of which there are many) tracks Covid-19 strains on their “genomic epidemiology” web page. Hover your mouse cursor over the graphic for information about the particular mutations which characterize each strain.

Axios has a simple, informative page about the current Covid-19 variants of concern and interest. Nearly all new U.S. Covid-19 infections are now “Delta” b.1.617.2 strains (which include all the AY.{number} sublineages, such as AY.3, AY.4, AY.12, AY.25, AY.26, etc.), or Omicron.

On the ETH Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich university) covSpectrum site, you can see how the “Delta” (India) variants have spread, and became the dominant strains of Covid-19 (until Omicron) in the U.S. (and most other countries). Delta and Omicron strains now account for >99% of all new Covid-19 infections.

The CDC also has an informative web page about Covid-19 variant classifications and definitions

Deseret News: The dysfunctional American regulatory state

COVID-19 has shown us how dysfunctional the American regulatory state can be
by Sally Pipes   (archived here

LOS: Understanding “comorbidities”

COVID comorbidities are not analogous to car crashes: Debunking the 6% mortality claim 

StatNews: “Long Covid” puzzles doctors

Some Covid-19 patients remain sick for many months, and nobody knows why. In some cases, Covid-19 damages lungs, heart and/or brain. In others, the disease, itself, lingers. Explanations for long Covid remain elusive. 

The high prevelance of lingering symptoms

In Feb. 2021 The Jerusalem Post reported that nearly half of people who have mild or moderate Covid-19 nevertheless still have symptoms six months later, and an Oct. 2021 study from Penn State confirmed that finding. (Since most infections now are mild cases, in people who already have partial immunity, I suspect that percentage has decreased, but it is still worrisome.) Other studies find that Covid-19 can cause harmful “rogue” immune system responses (autoimmune disorders), as well as lasting lung damage, and damage to both the brain and the heart. A frighteningly high percentage of Covid survivors suffer significant long term neurological or mental problems [2][3][4][5a,5b][6a,6b][7a,7b][8][9a,9b]. Even mild cases often cause detectable chronic cognitive diminishment

Estimated relative risks of various common activities

Here's some expert opinion about relative risks of catching/spreading Covid-19 through various activities. 

(Unfortunately, they left out a few important high-risk activities out, such as having a plumber or cleaning service in your home, or riding a train, subway or bus, while unvaccinated.)

Most Covid-19 cases were contracted from a person without symptoms

WaPo: People without symptoms spread virus in more than half of cases, CDC model finds

The tl;dr version is this: a CDC study estimates that more than half of Covid-19 cases were contracted from someone who was asymptomatic or presymptomatic. That's based on a computer model, but it is consistent with anecdotal evidence.

(That's why people without symptoms need to wear masks, and practice “social distancing,” unless they have some means of being certain that they are not infected... e.g., they've already been vaccinated, at least a month ago, and they have no symptoms.)

Beware of a widely circulated disinformation video by Dr. Simone Gold

She has created a small organization she calls “America's Frontline Doctors.” I analyzed her startling claims, in depth, and found that her talk is full of misinformation and terrible advice.

Here's my critique of her video.

Covid-19 far more deadly than people like Simone Gold claim

Scammers & crackpots like Simone Gold, Jon Rappoport, Joe Mercola, Sherri Tenpenny, Peter McCullough, Andrew Wakefield, Alex Jones, and Robert Kennedy Jr., have been spreading a wide variety of lies to dissuade people from getting life-saving Covid-19 vaccinations. One of those lies is the claim that the overall 2020 U.S. death rate was down, compared to 2018 and 2019. Actually, the overall death rate was dramatically higher in 2020.

Another lie is the claim that the vaccines are killing large numbers of people. Actually, although there have been a handful of deaths which might have been caused by vaccinations, getting vaccinated is provably at least 1000 times safer than getting the Covid-19 illness. Eventually, you will probably acquire SARS-Cov-2 antibodies, one way or another. The question is whether you'll get them from the disease, which has about a 1% infection fatality rate, and a high rate of lasting, severe side-effects, or from vaccination, which is at least 1000× safer.

Dr. David H. Gorski, MD, PhD, a/k/a “Orac,” has prepared a detailed rebuttal of disinformation from Peter McCullough et al, who falsely claim that Covid-19 vaccination is deadly.

Another hoax survival rate stats of those lies is the claim that “the CDC” says that Covid-19 “survival rates” are extremely high except for those over the age of seventy: 99.997% for those under age 20, and 99.98% for those aged 20-49. In fact, the CDC has never said any such thing, and the numbers are provably nonsense. I found the source of that lie: it was invented by Mr. Steve Stewart, of Tallahassee, FL, who runs “a commercial marketing and printing business.”

The vaccines protect against infection, not just against symptomatic illness

Another lie sometimes repeated by scammers & crackpots like Simone Gold et al is that the vaccines only prevent symptomatic illness, not the spread of the disease. That's nonsense: although the vaccine trials mainly tested for prevention of symptomatic illness, we have conclusive proof that they prevent most infections, entirely.

UPDATE: That is no longer true. Unfortunately, neither vaccination nor previous Covid-19 infection reliably prevent Covid-19 infections with recent strains of the disease. However, they apparently do somewhat reduce the risk of infection, and they clearly reduce the severity of infections, and the the risk of severe illness or death. (The best are probably the bivalent boosters from Moderna and Pfizer.) 

The Facts about the COVID Vaccines and Fetal Cell Lines

National Review: For pro-life Americans, the scientific facts behind the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines production should guide their decisions, By Isaac Schorr, December 20, 2020.

See also the bullet point, above. 

Investigational Covid-19 treatments

• Regeneron's monoclonal antibody (“MAB”) infusion is currently the leading therapeutic for treating Covid-19, though it is currently in short supply.

• Merck has a new antiviral drug in trials called molnupiravir, which they say looks very promising.

• “Inhaled budesonide (Pulmicort), a steroid generally used to treat asthma, dramatically reduced the need for hospitalization in COVID-19 patients within a week of symptom onset, a small randomized trial in the U.K. found.” (apparently confirming an earlier study).

Detailed information from Prof. Paul Marik, MD, of Eastern Virginia Medical School and the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), on the “MATH+” and “I-MASK+” treatment protocols, incorporating steroids and/or ivermectin, and several other therapeutics. (Note that, despite the similarity of names, the FLCCC is a legitimate, respected organization, nothing at all like Simone Gold's deceptively-named “America's Frontline Doctors” crackpot anti-vaxer group.)

fluvoxamine might be helpful, too.[2]

• A nitric oxide nasal spray called SaNOtize also shows promise. Lucia has a discussion of it.

Vitamin D might be of slight benefit. Maybe.

• Steve Kirsch's article on other investigational Covid-19 treatments is the most comprehensive I've seen:

• As mentioned above, the Milken Institute web site catalogs treatments as well as vaccines. At this writing, they list 331 treatments, in development, investigation, or use.

What the Coronavirus Variants Mean for the End of the Pandemic

This is a very educational article by Dhruv Khullar, in The New Yorker, March 7, 2021

Misrepresenting VAERS: No, the vaccines are not killing thousands of people

Dr. David Gorski debunks the anti-vaxer lie that vaccines are killing lots of people.

This was my attempt to make the same point, using math.