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Rant: One Jab to Rule Them All

I monitor the COVID scene pretty closely. I read the stats, I read research papers, and I read the stuff that Twitter and Facebook won’t let you post, even though I have to turn my crank filter up a little. (These days, my crank filter is usually at 5 or 6 just reading local Arizona headlines.) I read news that disappoints me, if it makes a good case. Last week, a columnist I follow pointed out that studies showing that ivermectin works against COVID tend to come from places where parasites are endemic. Knock out the parasites (which is what ivermectin definitely does) and you have people better able to mount a robust immune response against COVID. So maybe ivermectin isn’t an antiviral after all. (The long-form piece from which the analysis came is well work a look, even if it’s a slog.)

That said, I am appalled at the willingness of MDs and hospitals to stand around and wait for people to die, when a course of ivermectin costs almost nothing and as best I can tell (MDs won’t talk about it) the human formulation of ivermectin has few side effects taken at established doses. So why not try it?

Nobody can tell me. And nobody can explain the slobbering, twitching, eyes-rolled-back-in-the-head fury tantrums people in the mainstream media throw when anybody with a platform suggests it. I have a simple question: Will it hurt? If so, how?

Nobody can tell me. Er…nobody will tell me. At this point, I don’t think I need to be an MD to know the answer. It won’t.

I think I know something else. I think I know why the media is doing all that slobbering, apart from the fact that they’ve had lots of practice and are mighty good at it. Stand by. I’ll get to that. In fact, that’s the whole point of this rant.

But first, let’s talk about the new antiviral pill that Pfizer has ready to roll, pending FDA approval. Pfizer is claiming that its new drug, Paxlovid, cuts hospitalizations and deaths by 90%. Even the Washington Post is bullish on Paxlovid.

So why hasn’t the FDA granted Pfizer an EUA allowing the drug to go on the market immdiately? The drug companies had such good results that with FDA approval they ended the tests early.

Still no pills. It’s possible that Pfizer is arguing with the FDA and the Biden administration about pricing. You know damned well the pills won’t be cheap. New drugs never are.

In the meantime, I stand scratching my head over news that in the world’s most heavily vaccinated countries, new cases and hospitalizations are off the charts. One might almost begin to entertain a certain sneaky but unavoidable suspicion that the vaccines don’t really work. Sorry: A vaccine that protects for four or five months (if that) doesn’t work. And then there’s the question of what “protection” actually means. Recall the stealthy walk-back by the CDC of what the vaccine is capable of doing. They silently erased the statement that the vaccines grant immunity to SARS2 from their web site, replacing the word “immunity” with the non-technical term “protection.” The next step was to state that the vaccine doesn’t prevent infection, but merely makes the infection less dangerous. Oh–the vaccine doesn’t keep the vaccinated from spreading the disease. So…what does it do again?

Gibraltar is 118% vaccinated (the number includes non-Gibraltar Spaniards who commute to their jobs on the island nation) and the virus is eating them alive. Ditto Ireland, with 91% vaccinated. How is that possible?

Still no EUA and no pills. And I have a theory as to why: Treating COVID-19 patients as soon as symptoms appear will end the pandemic. If you get the virus, you get natural immunity. Eventually, people capable of spreading infection become so sparse that the virus has nowhere to go that it hasn’t already been.

And that’s good, right? End the pandemic with (ok, sure, expensive) pills?

Depends. I’ve identified something about the pandemic that I call the “One Ring Effect.” Sauron sank so much of his power into the One Ring that destroying the One Ring ended not only his power, but Sauron himself. Ever since the vaccine was first available, it was sold as The One Solution. It soon became forbidden to talk about treatment or natural immunity. The media, government, Big Medicine and Big Tech all were screaming that THE VACCINE IS THE ONLY THING STANDING BETWEEN US AND DEATH!!!!!

Taking Ireland and Gibraltar into consideration, well…no. And hell no.

If Pfizer’s pills work (and from what I see online I suspect they do) those pills can stop a SARS2 infection in its tracks, before the infection becomes serious enough to warrant hospitalization but after natural immunity develops. It might take six months or a year, but it will reduce the virus from a death-threat to a minor nuisance. Get symptoms, get tested, get pills, get over it. No more pandemic.

Now, if the vaccine didn’t stop the pandemic but pills do, then all that screaming was for nothing. Government at all levels will lose face to a degree history has never before seen. The public will realize that they’ve been fooled by people who claim to be experts but are just power-drunk political hacks, who poured all their power into The One Vaccine. Those little Frodo Pills threw the pandemic into the volcano, greatly diminishing the power of governments to bulldoze a country into totalitarian mandates that do nothing but generate ill-will.

Governments will not like this. And since the mainstream media are mostly government cheerleaders in ugly clothes, they won’t like it either. There will be other consequences too, but I’ve made my main point: The pandemic was to a great degree about power. The powerful don’t want it to be over. They oversold themselves as protectors. This is why there was so much slobbering over HCQ, ivermectin, and almost anything else that was a possible treatment. From gormless mask-fetish busybodies in grocery stories all the way up to the highest levels of government, SARS2 provided a sense of power and meaning. People who have little power and no identifiable meaning in their lives just love it and want it to last forever.

Bring ’em on, FDA. Those pills will change the world. Oh–and they will change you, too. Get used to it.


Ok, this was a rant. You know what a rant is, right? (I don’t do them often enough to have a reputation for them.) I am not an anti-vaxxer. Carol and I have had our shots. Angry or accusing comments will be nuked without regret.

19 Comments

  1. Eric says:

    I’ve heard (via comments on Astral Codex Ten) that the FDA approval delay might be manufacturing-related. YMMV.

    1. I read him semiregularly but don’t always read the comments. And yes, I would believe that, but let’s see how long it takes for the facts to emerge. Synthesizing what might turn out to be billions of pills of a novel organic molecule might take some time to set up.

      Or here’s hoping.

  2. James Strickland says:

    Point of fact: at least in Colorado, what I read is that 80% of cases are unvaccinated people.

    1. Keith says:

      I have heard from a resident of Germany that the cases there are approximately evenly distributed across the population, not concentrated on the unvaccinated. I do not know how accurate the information she is getting is.

      If it is even approximately correct, that seems to be a remarkably different experience than what we are told is happening here in the US. If the difference is true, it would be very interesting to learn the reason for the difference. And if the difference is not true, it would be very interesting to learn which government is lying, and why.

    2. That could be good news. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when 90%+ are vaccinated. Sooner or later you run out of unvaccinated people, like they’re doing in parts of Europe, but the cases keep on coming.

      Down here, Arizona either isn’t tracking the vacc status of new cases, or they’re unwilling to release that data to the public. They revamped their COVID dashboard fairly recently (breakthrough cases are a relatively recent thing) but provide no numbers about that. I know some medical people here, and they’ve told me that our hospitals are no fuller than they usually are. Some of the higher hospital usage around the country may include the backlog of medical procedures that were sidelined when the lockdowns began.

  3. Bucky says:

    Be fair. Not everyone is able to master the intricacies of epidemiology with a few weeks of online research. My impression is that the US “leadership” has opted for clear messaging, even if it sacrifices depth. I guess that can come off as patronizing, but it doesn’t necessarily imply bad faith.

    1. I’m trying to be fair, but remember that it’s a rant. And I think some of my questions are worth taking seriously: If Ireland and Gibraltar are fully (or more than fully) vaccinated, why are they still seeing so many more new cases? From what I’m reading this is going on all over Europe. I see three possibilities, and invite your opinion:

      1. The vaccine doesn’t really prevent infection.
      2. The tests we’re using generate a huge number of false positives.
      3. Some combination of 1 and 2.

      I’m not sure American authorities have managed clear messaging, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I would grant them a lot more leeway if they would just say “We don’t know” now and then, when we really don’t know. The CDC has already walked back most of the original claims for the mRNA vaccines. What bothers me more is that they’re unwilling to admit that they were wrong.

  4. Tom Hanlin says:

    Regular odd conspiracy theories have become a feature of this blog. It’s no longer bookmarked here.

    1. Well, before you go, please describe what conspiracy theories I’m featuring here. Note that I said not one word about the claims that the vacc is killing people. That’s a conspiracy theory. The numbers from other countries are real, as best I know. The slobbering fury against (especially) HCQ and ivermectin is real, and inexplicable, since at least HCQ (I’m tentatively setting IVN aside as a viable treatment) has some reasonable research behind it. The evidence for IVN has been a little weak, but I fail to see why pharmacists should have the right to refuse to fill a real prescription from a licensed MD, just because they happen to think it doesn’t work. Neither drug is a controlled substance, and both are well understood. Until Pfizer is allowed to release its pill, there will be NO at-home treatments for the disease. My objection to monoclonal antibodies is that they must be administered via IV at a hospital or clinic, which runs the risk of spreading virus to other patients. If a pill can cure it at home, a pill should cure it at home.

      Our inexplicable unwillingness to treat the disease is appalling to me. That may well be a conspiracy, and it’s not a theory. What I’m posting here are some of the things that I can’t figure. I freely admit that I don’t trust governments. I’ll hazard a guess that you do. We can agree to disagree on that.

      So. –73– and all that. Good luck, and you’re welcome back any time.

      1. Michael Black says:

        At least twice you’ve referenced “Epoch Times”. A couple of times last year I got the paper in the mail, and incredibly weird collection of news stories. Junk.

        You’ve gone on about masks, but offered no alternative. How are people supposed to have a sort of normal life and not stay six feet apart?

        Everyone hypes the parasite drug, but never mentions how a parasite drug is supposed to fix a virus. It sounds like you’re now saying “it can’t hurt”, but you don’t say that about masks.

        You see all these stories that don’t get coverage, but you should try being immunocompromised. A footnote to most stories at best. I didn’t get priority, I didn’t get the doses four weeks apart (it was almost four months) and there’s no reason to get a third dose till January, when the drug that dimishes my immune system is weakest.

        I’ve stayed in for 20 months, except walking Pokey and the medical appointments.

        Too many of your stories sound just like the conspiracists.

        1. Sure there’s BS in The Epoch Times. There’s also BS in the NYT, WaPo, the Chicago Trib, and, well, every other news source you could name. The challenge is to spot the BS. I read broadly with my crap detector dialed up to 10, and try very hard to see what actually exists, and not what one political faction (or two, or five) wants me to see.

          I’m no longer bullish on ivermectin. There’s ongoing research, and I will revisit the question periodically. I’m willing to change my mind when the facts make it necessary. Now that I’m retired, I can budget more time to research. When it’s research into something that might conceivably kill me, I budget a lot. (In truth, I’d really rather be programming, or writing silly stories.)

          I’ve explained at length why masks are worthless: Because it would be logistically, economically, and politically impossible to police a masked population to ensure that the masks are of a type known to be effective, and that the masks are worn correctly. If a significant number of people are wearing what are about as effective as screen doors at blocking viruses, they might have a false sense of security. Given how far aerosols can fly (especially when driven by jets at the edges of masks) I’m not sure social distancing is effective either.

          It’s unfortunate but I think true: There are often no good solutions to problems like viral transmission. There are often no solutions at all. We do the best we can. Carol and I take an OTC zinc ionophore (quercetin) and supplement zinc (and copper) every day at the advice of our MD. Sure, it may not work. My research shows me that the combo is used to treat mild cases in some countries in Europe. I don’t see evidence of side effects (we have copper chelation covered) and it’s not expensive, so we do it.

          I don’t link articles that are paywalled, so this by itself puts a slant on what people read here. I’d be willing to pay for individual articles from the major papers (using something like my old “article gumball machine” concept) but the papers won’t consider it. You get all or nothing.

          Anyway. Persevere. You have special issues that I don’t pretend to understand. Good luck. I appreciate your caring enough to comment, and wish you nothing but the best.

        2. Keith says:

          I’d like to offer a gentle reminder to Michael Black in regard to this statement: “Everyone hypes the parasite drug, but never mentions how a parasite drug is supposed to fix a virus.”

          Please remember that it is extremely rare that a drug does only one thing in the body. Often, those other things are undesirable side effects.
          However, it happens often enough that it shouldn’t surprise us that a drug that was developed to treat one condition turns out to be an effective treatment for another, apparently unrelated condition. If we close our minds to that possibility, we could be ignoring something that could be very beneficial.

          I am not claiming that ivermectin is a good treatment for Covid. I also do not rule out off-label use of it to try to treat Covid while we try to learn more about it.

          The point is that it could be premature to conclude that ivermectin is useless for treating Covid, based only on that its original use was to fight parasitic worms. It seems from your statement that you might have done just that. Please review in your mind whether that actually is what you did. Just for yourself — no need for a public response. I would not be posting this publicly if I knew of a way to write to you directly.

  5. Mapleton Reader says:

    Concerning Gibraltar and Ireland
    1. Worldometer shows that Gibraltar has had 5 deaths attributed to Covid since Mar 1, 2021, a death rate of 0.01%. One source said that 85% of the 34,000 population was fully vaccinated by April with a second peak in July and now again in Nov/Dec. Not sure of the booster status but it seems reasonable that the vaccines do wear off within 6-8 months. However, the small number of deaths so far is encouraging. We’ll see what the latest peak does.
    2. Ireland reported that from 1-Apr-2021 to 20-Nov-2021 they had 680 Covid deaths of which 352 were considered fully vaccinated (51%). The mean (median) ages were 80 (81). Of the 352 deaths, 238 were reported as having underlying medical conditions. Again lots of breakthrough cases, but age and prior medical conditions seemed to be a factor. My math says 0.005% death rate among fully vaccinated people (using a population of 5 million. (https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/surveillance/vaccinationstatusweeklyreports/Death%20and%20Vaccination%20Report.pdf)

    My conclusions are that
    a) Covid vaccinations, with all their issues, are still quite useful (almost amazingly so) in preventing deaths from covid. Most of the medical authorities recognize the vaccines limitations (breathrough infections and likely need for boosters). The elderly and those with medical conditions may not be helped as much by the vaccines. I halfway expect that with ongoing mutations of the covid virus, that we may be looking towards yearly flu and covid shots.
    b) The last I heard was that the Pfizer pill was about $700 per course. The cost for the Pfizer vaccine is $19.50 with the US pandemic discount (which is currently paid for by the government). It is clear to me that prevention is the more cost effective than the cure, but it is great to have both.

    Happy Thanksgiving, we still have much to be grateful for.

  6. Michael Black says:

    The immunocompromised suffer twice, more likely to get sick, and the vaccine less effective. I’ve been vaccinated twice, and have proof, but if I caught the virus, I assume I’d be counted as a “breakthrough” rather than unvaccinated.

    Even steroids compromise the immune system. The drug I get every six months really does it.

  7. Bob says:

    there are a lot of parallels between the response to the Covid and the climate debate. On climate, the preferred response is wind and solar power and electric cars even though their technology is not sufficient to solve the problem and widespread adoption is going to lead to huge problems.

    similarly, with Covid, the response is forced vaccination and total lockdown if that does not work. That also causes huge societal problems.

    both issues are highly politicized and any deviation from the party line is dealt with harshly. in both cases, IMO the proper response is to take it slow and study the problem and then deploy well designed responses. but the proponents think that the only way to deal with it is on emergency basis.

    yet another variant (YOV) has appeared today. I’m afraid we’re going to go down the same path as before.

  8. […] Rant: One Jab to Rule Them All – Jeff Duntemann’s Contrapositive Diary […]

  9. Mapleton Reader says:

    Concerning “Why do doctor’s and hospitals stand around and wait for people to die? … What’s the harm (with ivermectin)?”.

    These statements raise the needle on my own BS meter for two reasons:
    1) The first statement is sensational and a bit inflammatory. Jeff mentioned in past blogs that if someone is trying to make you mad or upset, be wary of being played. Assume that this statement is true (about doctors waiting for people to die from covid). I can think of at least two reasons why doctors would do this a) a proven cure or palliative is not available and b) fear of malpractice in prescribing off label drugs or medical procedures. (see https://www.mcguirewoods.com/news-resources/publications/health_care/Off_Label.pdf).

    2) The “what’s the harm” statement presupposes that there is a benefit, though a proof is not explicitly stated. In other words if one disagrees with the statement they are put on the spot to not only prove no benefit, but also to an extent prove why it is harmful, a daunting undertaking and one that most people do not have the time or patience for. I’ve seen too many fad diets, investment advice, political debates, and so forth that use statements similar to this to sway people opinions.

    Here is what I have learned so far (still learning) about ivermectin.
    Merck (original manufacturer of ivermectin) doesn’t recommend the drug for covid treatment for three good reasons (google Merck, ivermectin, covid). Past studies that showed good results were flawed (google recent Atlantic article on covid and ivermectin). Other studies had too small a data set or confounded results and could not show statistical significance. Jeff mentions another article in this post where there is an alternate reason for its effectiveness(?) that is not covid related. Promising meta studies are skewed by outlier points (the good studies that were flawed – remove those studies and the benefits go away). Anecdotal success studies (India) cannot be disentangled from confounding procedures put in place to control covid. At this late date into the pandemic, something should have been found to confirm ivermectin as a miracle(?) drug, but nothing. Either this is a giant conspiracy or more simply and likely, ivermectin just isn’t that good at fighting covid. Still awaiting definitive data.

  10. Here’s a story that illustrates what I object to: A man comes down with COVID. They give him remdesivir…and nothing happens. His wife asks the hospital to administer ivermectin. The hospital refuses. His wife goes to court. The court issues an injunction allowing his wife to bring in a physician to administer ivermectin. The physician does. Despite the hospital screaming and yelling and slobbering on the floor, the patient immediately improves. Without that court order, the patient would almost certainly have died.

    They not only stood around waiting for the patient to die, they did everything in their power to prevent further treatment (with a cheap and pretty benign drug) that ultimately allowed him to live. This is evil. We need to pass a national Right to Try law with serious teeth, up to and including jail terms.

    https://www.theepochtimes.com/dying-covid-19-patient-recovers-after-court-orders-hospital-to-administer-ivermectin_4130754.html?utm_source=News&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=breaking-2021-12-1-4

  11. Amy says:

    You’re under the impression that the objective of the health care system in this country is to treat sick people and make them well.

    It’s not.

    The objective of the health care system in this country is to extract money from sick people and put that money in the pockets of billionaires, not letting them die (because dead people pay for no health care), but not letting them get well either, so they have to keep paying for treatment in perpetuity.

    Given that perspective, the vaccines make perfect sense. Especially if the vaccines don’t “completely” work (thus requiring more treatment to be paid for), or if they wear off (and thus require periodic boosters). Cha-CHING!

    Anything that would change that would put less money in the pockets of those billionaires, and, of course, they can’t have that.

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