Israel sees 70% spike in number of seriously ill COVID patients within a week

‘It’s an unpredictable and unstable situation,’ says immune system expert Prof. Cyrille Cohen, urging lawmakers to ‘actively encourage herd immunity among the vulnerable’

Authors:  Times of Israel June 2022

The number of coronavirus patients in serious condition in Israel reached 140 on Friday, marking a near 70% rise since last week, with health experts warning that the current situation was “unstable.”

While Israel has seen rising infection numbers for a few weeks, a rise in seriously ill patients marks a real concern as the country deals with the spread of the new variant BA.5, with experts warning that hospitals may need to reopen COVID wards. The number was up from 85 seriously ill patients on Friday last week.

Some 7,313 Israelis tested positive for the virus on Friday, the Health Ministry said. The reproduction number (R) stood at 1.31 as of Friday. The figure measures how many people each coronavirus carrier infects on average, with any number above 1 meaning the spread of COVID-19 is increasing. It first began to rise above 1 in mid-May, having stayed below that threshold for nearly two months.

The death toll stood at 10,882, including six fatalities over the past week.

“The data definitely indicates that the disease is active in the community,” immune system expert Prof. Cyrille Cohen of Bar Ilan University told the Ynet news site.

“The real indication is the number of patients in serious condition because we know much of the morbidity is not detected as people don’t go and get tested, and that should also be taken into account,” he said.

“The thing that determines the policy is not necessarily the number of confirmed patients but the condition of seriously ill patients. We need to understand whether they are experiencing the disease in a more severe way — and whether we will need to get ready to reopen COVID wards this summer,” he added.

Despite the warning, Cohen said it’s too early to know the severity of the variant that mutated from Omicron, known as BA.5, and whether or not it will develop into a new wave.

“We don’t know exactly what this wave will look like and whether we can call it a wave at all,” he said. “We are following the events in Portugal because variant BA.5 is the dominant one there and because its population is similar to Israel in size with many people vaccinated, even more so than in Israel.”

Cohen noted that morbidity and mortality rates rose in Portugal at the same time the BA5 variant started spreading.

“We need to realize that’s going to happen here as well,” he said, urging lawmakers to take action. “It’s an unpredictable and unstable situation regarding COVID. It will take months and even years before there is a significant decrease and we reach a more predictable scenario. But one must also be careful with making estimations,” he added.

Cohen said the effort should be concentrated on “actively encouraging herd immunity among the vulnerable and older population” by “calling people who haven’t received the vaccine and encouraging them to get it.”

He also advised wearing masks in crowded places like on buses and at shopping centers.

On Wednesday, coronavirus czar Prof. Salman Zarka said the new variant BA.5 is quickly gaining traction and is more resistant to vaccines than previous strains.

“The BA.5 strain currently accounts for about 50 percent of patients,” he said. “The strain caused relatively mild illness among young people, but we can see a rise in hospitalizations.”

He said BA.5 was replacing Omicron as the dominant variant, and that it will continue to gain ground.

Israel scrapped its indoor mask requirement in April as infection numbers dropped off sharply. Outdoor masks have not been required since April of last year.

Salman Zarka also said Israelis may soon be able to be officially recognized as COVID-19 patients based solely on a home test, under certain conditions, while at the same time the Health Ministry was working to expand test facilities.

Mask mandate and use efficacy in state-level COVID-19 containment

Authors: Damian D. Guerra, Daniel J. Guerra doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.05.18.21257385

Abstract

Background Containment of the COVID-19 pandemic requires evidence-based strategies to reduce transmission. Because COVID-19 can spread via respired droplets, many states have mandated mask use in public settings. Randomized control trials have not clearly demonstrated mask efficacy against respiratory viruses, and observational studies conflict on whether mask use predicts lower infection rates. We hypothesized that statewide mask mandates and mask use are associated with lower COVID-19 case growth rates in the United States.

Methods We calculated total COVID-19 case growth and mask use for the continental United States with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. We estimated post-mask mandate case growth in non-mandate states using median issuance dates of neighboring states with mandates.

Results Case growth was not significantly different between mandate and non-mandate states at low or high transmission rates, and surges were equivocal. Mask use predicted lower case growth at low, but not high transmission rates. Growth rates were comparable between states in the first and last mask use quintiles adjusted for normalized total cases early in the pandemic and unadjusted after peak Fall-Winter infections. Mask use did not predict Summer 2020 case growth for non-Northeast states or Fall-Winter 2020 growth for all continental states.

Conclusions Mask mandates and use are not associated with slower state-level COVID-19 spread during COVID-19 growth surges. Containment requires future research and implementation of existing efficacious strategies.

Peer-Reviewed Studies Confirm Vaccine/Mask Mandates Did Not Stop COVID Spread In Schools & Universities

Authors: Enrico Trigoso The Epoch Times  June 3, 2022

During the Covid-19 pandemic, school and university administrators have dogmatically, and in many cases forcefully implemented mask and vaccine mandates with the intention to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV2, however, these policies haven’t had much effect, according to recent peer-reviewed studies.

research paper published on May 18 underscores the deficiencies of current mask and vaccination mandates, as these policies did not contain the spread of SARS-CoV2 at Cornell University.

Despite the university having required masks on campus, isolation, and contact tracing within hours of any positive result, the paper recognizes that: “Cornell’s experience shows that traditional public health interventions were not a match for Omicron. While vaccination protected against severe illness, it was not sufficient to prevent rapid spread, even when combined with other public health measures including widespread surveillance testing.”

Another study found that secondary transmissions were “markedly lower in school compared with household settings, suggesting that household transmission is more important than school transmission in this pandemic.”

Toward the end of the semester in 2021, the almost completely vaccinated Cornell University shut down its campus due to a surge in COVID cases.

Mask mandates have failed to control the spread of infection in schools, as this analysis of schools with and without mask mandates demonstrates. Prior studies have demonstrated that COVID vaccines do not prevent the spread of transmission,” Dr. Sanjay Verma told The Epoch Times, referring to the May 18 study.

Dr. Verma, a cardiologist practicing in California who has seen a spike in heart problems since mass vaccine implementation, thinks that the mask and vaccine mandates were not the best way to handle COVID.

“There was little, if any, emphasis on other more effective mitigation efforts: Ventilation-filtration, exercise, weight loss, and personal responsibility would be far more effective.”

“So these school and university mandates beg the question: what are they hoping to achieve?” he asked rhetorically.

Former Pfizer VP Michael Yeadon, a toxicologist and allergy/respiratory research expert, maintains that since the infection fatality ratio (IFR) of COVID-19 has not been high, the vaccines should not have been mandated, and that the masks were known to be useless in stopping respiratory viruses from previous scientific literature.

It was known long before COVID-19 that face masks don’t do anything,” Yeadon said in a statement he sent to The Epoch Times.

“Many don’t know that blue medical masks aren’t filters. Your inspired and expired air moves in and out between the mask & your face. They are splashguards, that’s all.”

“This is a good review of the findings with masks in respiratory viruses by a recognized expert in the field. No effect,” Yeadon added. “Neither masks nor lockdowns prevented the spread of the virus. [Here is] a review and summary of 400 papers.”

“We know from recent research that COVID vaccines increase the risk of myocarditis, especially in males 16–29 years old,” Dr. Verma further noted.

“The putative and unproven benefits of such school and university policies need to be balanced with the very real risks (no matter how rare they may seem). Also, we must not forget that CDC data reveals zero excess deaths in 0–24 [year olds] in 2020 and 2021 compared to prior years. The overall hospitalization rate and IFR for this age group are very low and do not seem to warrant such mandates, which seem to be ineffective in stopping the spread anyway. Public health officials would better serve the public by emphasizing N95 masks for all high-risk individuals, ventilation-filtration improvements, exercise and weight loss, and isolating when symptomatic.”

Another study from May 25 found “no significant relationship between mask mandates and case rates,” after replicating a “highly cited CDC study showing a negative association between school mask mandates and pediatric SARS-CoV-2 cases,” with a larger sample of districts and a longer time interval.

A New WHO COVID Report Once Again Proves Sweden Right

Authors: Ian Miller ‘ Substack, MAY 25, 2022

Throughout the pandemic, Sweden has faced an enormous amount of criticism and international pressure due to their willingness to stick to established public health principles and pre-pandemic planning.

Instead of following the incessant, anti-science groupthink that became part of a virus-induced political religion, Sweden chose instead to not impose the strict lockdowns that Dr. Fauci recently claimed were not tried in the US.

Sweden never mandated masks be worn in indoor public spaces, correctly identifying the lack of evidence supporting their use.

They kept schools open in defiance of teacher’s unions and politically motivated “experts” in the United States who advocated for a policy with zero benefits and tremendous harms.

Essentially, Sweden followed the actual science and not The Science™, with the requisite trademark and capital letters. That would include the guides that were prepared prior to the panic, inaccurate modeling, political motivations and crisis obsession took over.

Even last year it became readily apparent that no one in the media or public health establishment was willing to discuss the inarguable reality that Sweden’s results were no worse than many countries across the globe — and significantly better than many, many others.

In general, comparisons have been mainly focused on COVID specific outcomes, but now the World Health Organization, fresh off demanding authoritarian powers over sovereign nations whenever they deem necessary, has released a new report on their estimates of excess mortality.

Excess mortality is simply the number of deaths above the expected rate in a given country in a specific time frame.

Excess mortality captures all of the outcomes in a country — it’s not limited to COVID related metrics or any other specific cause.

For that reason it can often be a better indicator of the true cost of the pandemic, whether that be COVID mortality or the consequences of lockdowns, hospital policy or mental health breakdowns.

The WHO report contains many illuminating statistics from the first two years of the pandemic which illustrate that Sweden’s approach was undoubtedly the correct one; once again contradicting the expert derived “consensus” that advocates for endless restrictions on normal life.

Sweden’s relative success is easily visible when comparing thirty European countries in estimated excess mortality rate per 100,000:

Sweden ranks 25th out of the 30 countries.

24 countries had a higher excess mortality rate per 100,000.

In summary, Sweden, the country that eschewed strict lockdowns, had some of the lowest mask usage anywhere on earth, kept schools open and society functioning as much as possible, and had one of the lowest rates of overall mortality of any country in their region.

While a single graph or chart may not necessarily disprove pro-mandate arguments, this one comes remarkably close.

If lockdowns, masks and other restrictions were as important as experts and politicians preach that they are, these results should not be possible.

Countries like Germany, Portugal and the Czech Republic were all praised for having “science based” responses with strict lockdowns, and extremely high rates of mask compliance.

Portugal’s vaccine success

Germany’s “Master class in science communication”

The Czech Republic’s “Lifesaving lesson to wear masks”

Sweden vastly outperformed each of them.

But let’s dive in a bit deeper.

One of the more common refrains from mask advocates is that US states such as New York, New Jersey and others have poor cumulative results because they weren’t aware early on that masks “work,” so their policies were adjusted and spread was successfully reversed by mask mandates and other restrictions after the first wave.

However, Sweden shows the exact opposite.

Restrictions in Sweden for the entirety of 2020 and 2021 were consistently among the least authoritarian and invasive when compared to other western countries.

Once again, if mask mandates, lockdowns and strict vaccine based policies were so important and effective, we’d expect the outcomes in 2021 to be worse in Sweden, as most of the world experienced increased spread with more transmissible variants.

Instead we see the exact opposite:

Black bars indicate the 2020 rate in each country, while the orange bars are the 2021 rates.

In many European countries, excess mortality became significantly worse in 2021 despite the arrival of vaccines, the ingrained evidence-free belief in masks and widespread discriminatory vaccine passport policies. Sweden had the exact opposite results, with significantly lower rates in 2021 despite their “lax” rules.

Comparing the 2021 numbers exclusively also highlights Sweden’s success:

Although the determination of pro-mandate fanatics to exclusively compare Sweden to other Scandinavian countries is nonsensical, the 2021 excess mortality rates show Sweden with lower numbers than both Finland and Denmark.

Their numbers were also lower than a number of other countries that imposed mask mandates and strict vaccine passports like Ireland, Portugal and Greece.

Revisiting the overall chart from 2020-2021, it’s important to highlight several other countries that had much stricter rules than Sweden:

France, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy all had lockdowns, varying levels of vaccine discrimination, mask mandates and strict entry requirements.

All fared worse than Sweden.

The lockdown and mask apologists simply offered no explanation for this.

Oh sure, there are excuses and misdirections, but no actual explanations.

Yes, Sweden had higher cumulative rates than the other Scandinavian countries, but viewing them in context shows how similar they actually were, outside of Norway, which was essentially a global exception.

Norway, however, had significant rates of spread in late 2021 that would not be counted until the 2022 data is in.

In general, the Scandinavian countries were more lax than most of continental Europe regardless.

More importantly, the broader context of Europe shows how successful Sweden’s policies actually were.

Here are several notable countries and how much higher than excess mortality rates were from 2020-2021:

  • Czech Republic 229%
  • United States 163%
  • Italy 147%
  • Spain 106%
  • United Kingdom 100%
  • Germany 96%
  • Portugal 71%
  • Greece 63%
  • Netherlands 57%
  • Belgium 35%

All of these countries had much harsher restrictions than Sweden with significantly worse results.

No matter how hard they try, every available piece of data and evidence continues to contradict the assertions made by incompetent experts desperate to protect their disgraced reputations and future grants.

Masks, lockdowns and strict discrimination at nearly every indoor business were all proven to be completely ineffective, both at reducing infections and overall mortality.

Sweden’s willingness to follow science and not The Science™ meant that they limited the negative impacts of COVID while avoiding higher numbers of deaths from other lockdown-derived consequences.

The vast majority of mainstream media outlets have no interest in covering these results because it contradicts the policies they’ve strongly advocated for and consistently promoted.

CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times and many other mainstream left wing publications did their best to ensure that corporations, politicians, teacher’s unions and other decision makers had the cover to enforce seemingly endless mandates.

Disturbingly, toddlers are still masked in New York City, which appears to be heading back towards mask mandates and vaccine passports (now with boosters!).

School districts across the United States have already decided to mandate masks due to a slight increase in cases.

These policies will now be an endless, reoccurring threat in anti-science areas like Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

All based on the lie that masks work. A lie that Sweden helps expose.

Correlation Between Mask Compliance and COVID-19 Outcomes in Europe

Authors: Beny Spira Published: April 19, 2022 DOI: 10.7759/cureus.24268


Abstract

Masking was the single most common non-pharmaceutical intervention in the course of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Most countries have implemented recommendations or mandates regarding the use of masks in public spaces. The aim of this short study was to analyse the correlation between mask usage against morbidity and mortality rates in the 2020-2021 winter in Europe. Data from 35 European countries on morbidity, mortality, and mask usage during a six-month period were analysed and crossed. Mask usage was more homogeneous in Eastern Europe than in Western European countries. Spearman’s correlation coefficients between mask usage and COVID-19 outcomes were either null or positive, depending on the subgroup of countries and type of outcome (cases or deaths). Positive correlations were stronger in Western than in Eastern European countries. These findings indicate that countries with high levels of mask compliance did not perform better than those with low mask usage.

Introduction

Universal masking has been introduced during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic at an unprecedented global scale as an important tool to curb viral transmission among potential susceptible persons. Face masks still are one of the most significant and controversial symbols in the fight against COVID-19. Two large randomised controlled trials about mask effectiveness performed during the pandemic came out with mixed results [1,2]. Several studies that analysed the effect of masks on the general population (ecological studies) have concluded that masks were associated with a reduction in transmission and cases [3-7]. However, these studies were restricted to the summer and early autumn of 2020. From March 2020 onwards, country after country instituted some form of mask mandate or recommendation. The stringency of these measures varied among the different countries and they, therefore, resulted in different proportions of mask compliance, ranging from 5% to 95% [8]. Such heterogeneity in mask usage among neighbouring countries provided an ideal opportunity to test the effect of this non-pharmaceutical intervention on the progression of a strong COVID-19 outburst.

Materials & Methods

Study design

This analysis aimed to verify whether mask usage was correlated with COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Daily data on COVID-19 cases and deaths and on mask usage were obtained for all European countries. The rationale behind the choice of European countries for comparison was fourfold: (1) availability and reliability of data; (2) a relative population homogeneity and shared history of epidemics (comparing countries from different continents may bring too many confounding factors); (3) similar age stratification and access to health assistance; and (4) divergent masking policies and different percentages of mask usage among the different populations, despite the fact that the entire continent was undergoing an outburst of COVID-19 at the time period analysed in this study.

Inclusion criterion

Data were collected from the following Eastern and Western European countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland. The inclusion criterion was a population size higher than one million people.

Data retrieval

Data on morbidity, mortality, and mask usage were retrieved from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington [8]. Data from IHME were downloaded on 14th February 2022. IHME mask data sources are the Delphi Group at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland COVID-19 Trends and Impact Surveys, in partnership with Facebook, Kaiser Family Foundation, and YouGov COVID-19 Behaviour Tracker Survey (https://www.healthdata.org). Data on vaccination were obtained from Our World in Data (OWID) [9] on 4th April 2022.

Statistical analysis

Data from 35 European countries on morbidity, mortality, and mask usage during a six-month period were collected and analysed. Spearman’s correlation analyses and Shapiro-Wilk normality checks were in JASP (version 0.15; University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands) [10] and linear regressions in Wolfram Mathematica 13.0 (Wolfram Research, Inc., Champaign, Illinois) [11].

Results

This brief communication reports the correlation between the proportion of mask usage in the population and the number of cases (per million) and deaths (per million) from October 2020 to March 2021 in 35 European countries (Table 1). For this analysis, all European countries, including West and East Europe, with more than one million inhabitants were selected, encompassing a total of 602 million people. All analysed countries underwent a peak of COVID-19 infection during these six months (Figures 12). The average proportion of mask usage in the referred period was 60.9% ± 19.9%, slightly higher in Eastern than in Western Europe (62.1% and 59.6%, respectively). However, the level of mask compliance was considerably more homogeneous in East (SD = 13.4%) than in West European countries (SD = 25.4%).

CountryAverage mask usage1Cases/millionDeaths/million
Albania53%40990679
Bosnia and Herzegovina40%430781738
Bulgaria55%464051784
Croatia29%600391334
Czechia52%1374942418
Hungary77%647042064
North Macedonia67%520481413
Poland72%579661315
Romania81%428981121
Serbia54%64829521
Slovakia76%1283261779
Slovenia69%1011981879
Belarus55%25595149
Estonia64%78525639
Latvia64%52493972
Lithuania74%756641252
Republic of Moldova66%480451102
Ukraine67%34298686
Austria55%56237959
Belgium71%669051135
Denmark14%34942312
Finland46%12252100
France76%58354928
Germany57%29671791
Greece84%23722745
Ireland71%40270587
Italy91%543101223
Netherlands51%68009596
Norway29%1534075
Portugal84%700561397
Spain95%55480968
Sweden5%70356759
Switzerland53%62669927
United Kingdom62%576891363
Northern Ireland68%545671039
Shapiro-Wilk p-value20.0560.0040.693
Table 1: Proportion of mask usage and the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths per million throughout the 2020-2021 late fall and winter (1st October to 31st March) in Europe.

Percent of the population reporting always wearing a mask when leaving home.

Shapiro-Wilk test for normality.

Mortality-from-COVID-19-throughout-the-pandemic-in-East-European-countries.
Figure 1: Mortality from COVID-19 throughout the pandemic in East European countries.

The area between vertical black bars corresponds to the period analysed in this study (1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021). Data were downloaded on 14 February 2022 from Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

Mortality-from-COVID-19-throughout-the-pandemic-in-West-European-countries.
Figure 2: Mortality from COVID-19 throughout the pandemic in West European countries.

The area between vertical black bars corresponds to the period analysed in this study (1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021). Data were downloaded on 14 February 2022 from Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

Surprisingly, weak positive correlations were observed when mask compliance was plotted against morbidity (cases/million) or mortality (deaths/million) in each country (Figure 3). Neither the number of cases nor the proportion of mask usage followed a Gaussian distribution (Shapiro-Wilk p-values were 0.004 and 0.0536, respectively). A Spearman’s rank test was applied to quantify the correlation between mask usage, cases, and deaths (Table 2). The positive correlation between mask usage and cases was not statistically significant (rho = 0.136, p = 0.436), while the correlation between mask usage and deaths was positive and significant (rho = 0.351, p = 0.039). The Spearman’s correlation between masks and deaths was considerably higher in the West than in East European countries: 0.627 (p = 0.007) and 0.164 (p = 0.514), respectively. This difference could be associated with the fact that the most populous countries are located in West Europe. However, the correlations did not significantly change when the seven countries with populations > 20 million were excluded from the analysis (cases rho = 0.129 (p = 0.513); deaths rho = 0.375 (p = 0.049)). Analyses of other sub-groups, such as countries with populations smaller or higher than six million, higher than 10 million, or higher than 15 million, were also evaluated. None of these tests provided negative correlations between mask usage and cases/deaths.

Correlation-between-average-mask-compliance-and-cases/million-(A)-or-deaths/million-(B)-in-35-European-countries.-
Figure 3: Correlation between average mask compliance and cases/million (A) or deaths/million (B) in 35 European countries.

Each dot represents a country. The blue line represents the fitted regression line and the areas above and below indicate 1 σσ (yellow), 2 σσ (green), or 3 σσ (red). 

TerritoryMasks x casesMasks x deaths
All Europe0.136 (0.436)0.351 (0.039)*
Eastern Europe10.130 (0.606)0.164 (0.514)
Western Europe20.05 (0.848)0.627 (0.007)*
Table 2: Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient rho (p-value) between mask usage and COVID-19 cases or deaths.

1 Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine.

2 Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland.

* Statistically significant.

Discussion

Mask mandates were implemented in almost all world countries and in most places where masks were not obligatory, their use in public spaces was recommended [12]. Accordingly, the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as other public institutions, such as the IHME, from which the data on mask compliance used in this study were obtained, strongly recommend the use of masks as a tool to curb COVID-19 transmission [8,13]. These mandates and recommendations took place despite the fact that most randomised controlled trials carried out before and during the COVID-19 pandemic concluded that the role of masks in preventing respiratory viral transmission was small, null, or inconclusive [1,2,14,15]. Conversely, ecological studies, performed during the first months of the pandemic, comparing countries, states, and provinces before and after the implementation of mask mandates almost unanimously concluded that masks reduced COVID-19 propagation [3-7,16]. However, mask mandates were normally implemented after the peak of COVID-19 cases in the first wave, which might have given the impression that the drop in the number of cases was caused by the increment in mask usage. For instance, the peak of cases in Germany’s first wave occurred in the first week of April 2020, while masks became mandatory in all of Germany’s federal states between the 20th and 29th of April [5], at a time when the propagation of COVID-19 was already declining. Furthermore, the mask mandate was still in place in the subsequent autumn-winter wave of 2020-2021, but it did not help preventing the outburst of cases and deaths in Germany that was several-fold more severe than in the first wave (Figure 2).

The findings presented in this short communication suggest that countries with high levels of mask compliance did not perform better than those with low mask usage in the six-month period that encompassed the second European wave of COVID-19. It could be argued that some confounding factors could have influenced these results. One of these factors could have been different vaccination rates among the studied countries. However, this is unlikely given the fact that at the end of the period analysed in this study (31th March 2021), vaccination rollout was still at its beginning, with only three countries displaying vaccination rates higher than 20%: the UK (48%), Serbia (35%), and Hungary (30%), with all doses counted individually [9]. It could also be claimed that the rise in infection levels prompted mask usage resulting in higher levels of masking in countries with already higher transmission rates. While this assertion is certainly true for some countries, several others with high infection rates, such as France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain had strict mask mandates in place since the first semester of 2020. In addition, during the six-month period covered by this study, all countries underwent a peak in COVID-19 infections (Figures 12), thus all of them endured similar pressures that might have potentially influenced the level of mask usage.

Conclusions

While no cause-effect conclusions could be inferred from this observational analysis, the lack of negative correlations between mask usage and COVID-19 cases and deaths suggest that the widespread use of masks at a time when an effective intervention was most needed, i.e., during the strong 2020-2021 autumn-winter peak, was not able to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Moreover, the moderate positive correlation between mask usage and deaths in Western Europe also suggests that the universal use of masks may have had harmful unintended consequences.


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Speech Therapist: 364% Surge In Baby And Toddler Referrals Thanks To Mask Wearing

A speech therapist says that mask wearing during the pandemic has caused a 364% increase in patient referrals of babies and toddlers.

Authors: by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News, SUNDAY, JAN 30, 2022 – 03:50 PM

Jaclyn Theek told WPBF News that before the pandemic, only 5 per cent of patients were babies and toddlers, but this has soared to 20 per cent.

Parents are describing their children’s speech problems as “COVID delayed,” with face coverings the primary cause of their speaking skills being seriously impaired.

As young as 8 months old, babies start learning how to speak by reading lips, a thankless task if parents and caregivers smother themselves with masks to comply with mandates.

“It’s very important kids do see your face to learn, so they’re watching your mouth,” said Theek.

The news report featured one such mother, Briana Gay, who is raising five children but having speech problems with her youngest.

“It definitely makes a difference when the world you’re growing up in you can’t interact with people and their face, that’s super important to babies,” said Gay.

According to Theek, since the pandemic, autism symptoms are also skyrocketing.

“They’re not making any word attempts and not communicating at all with their family,” she said.

As we previously highlighted, Forbes deleted an article written by an education expert who asserted that forcing schoolchildren to wear face masks was causing psychological trauma.

A study by researchers at Brown University found that mean IQ scores of young children born during the pandemic have tumbled by as much as 22 points while verbal, motor and cognitive performance have all suffered as a result of lockdown.

Michael Curzon noted that two of the primary causes for this are face masks and children being atomized as a result of being kept away from other children.

“Children born over the past year of lockdowns – at a time when the Government has prevented babies from seeing elderly relatives and other extended family members, from socialising at parks or with the children of their parent’s friends, and from studying the expressions on the faces behind the masks of locals in indoor public spaces – have significantly reduced verbal, motor and overall cognitive performance compared to children born before, according to a new U.S. study. Tests on early learning, verbal development and non-verbal development all produced results that were far behind those from the years preceding the lockdowns,” he wrote.

Perhaps all the virtue signalers who think of themselves as such morally upstanding people for wearing masks will change their behavior given they are literally contributing to causing major cognitive problems in children.

Or maybe they simply won’t care, given that the mask is now a political status symbol above anything else.

Delta variant likely to bring a fall and winter of masks, vaccine mandates, anxiety

Authors: Rong-Gong Lin II, Luke Money Fri, August 20, 2021, 8:00 AM

The rise of the Delta variant has upended previous optimistic projections of herd immunity and a return to normal life, with many health experts believing mask mandates and tougher vaccine requirements will be needed in the coming months to avoid more serious coronavirus surges.

While there are promising signs that California’s fourth COVID-19 surge may be starting to flatten, the fall and winter will bring new challenges as people stay indoors more often and vaccine immunity begins to wane.

The rapid spread of Delta among the unvaccinated — and the still relatively small number of “breakthrough” cases among the vaccinated — shows that significant increases in inoculations will help stop the spread. In fact, officials are now preparing to provide booster shots to those who already got their first series of vaccinations, saying the extra dose is needed to keep people protected.

Still, “the vaccines themselves are not going to likely be sufficient. And during times of increased transmission, we’ll need other tools available to protect all of us — and particularly those who, at this time, can’t be vaccinated, like our children,” said UC San Francisco epidemiologist Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo.

California is in a better position than other states because of relatively higher vaccination rates, and there is little appetite for a return to stay-at-home orders. But in settings where more people gather, strategies that can be used to keep COVID-19 controlled include ensuring people are either vaccinated, have a recent negative coronavirus test or both, Bibbins-Domingo said.

“There will be a time when we have our masks off again as transmission goes back down. But I think we’re going to have to be prepared that if we’re in an environment when there’s more virus around, that it is sensible that we have another layer of protection — and that will be masks,” Bibbins-Domingo said. “And I don’t think we’re going to be totally throwing our masks away anytime soon, frankly.”

Policies like mandatory masking and requiring vaccines or regular testing in workplaces “are going to be very important if we are ever going to get over this pandemic,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, a medical epidemiologist and infectious-diseases expert at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

It was once thought that as soon as 70% to 85% of a population was vaccinated, communities would reach a high enough level of herd immunity that the threat of COVID-19 would be mostly behind us. Now, “that’s out the window,” Bibbins-Domingo said, and computer models suggest the coronavirus will be with us for the foreseeable future. “Almost certainly, we’ll be dealing with it this winter.”

How long the pandemic will last depends on any new variants that emerge, the ability to adapt the vaccines to them and temporary measures that may be needed to tamp down surges, Bibbins-Domingo said.

There are several key factors that have altered what we previously understood about COVID-19 and underscore just how far off the end of the pandemic still is.

The first is the emergence of the Delta variant — at least twice as transmissible as the previous dominant variant, Alpha, and capable of producing a viral load up to 1,000 times greater in the upper throat.

“The big challenge with Delta is that it’s so much more transmissible than the original strain. … And really, this is possibly an unprecedented change in terms of the amount of the” shift in the so-called R-naught, or the basic reproductive rate of the coronavirus, Shane Crotty, a vaccine researcher at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, recently told a forum at UC San Francisco.

Originally, a person infected with the ancestral strain of the coronavirus spread it to 2.5 other people on average. But the Delta variant is estimated to spread to five to eight other people. That means that within 10 cycles of transmission of the virus, in a population with no immunity to the virus, instead of fewer than 10,000 people being infected, more than 60 million will be infected, Dr. Carlos del Rio, an Emory University epidemiologist and infectious-diseases expert, said at the same UC San Francisco forum.

This is why vaccine mandates will become more important, especially at places of employment, del Rio said. “I think the going phrase that we’re hearing over and over is: ‘No jab, no job.’ And I think mandates are going to make a big difference,” he said.

Second, breakthrough infections — in which fully vaccinated people become infected with COVID-19 — are still uncommon but no longer rare. “I think vaccinated persons are much safer than unvaccinated persons, but they’re not completely safe. Breakthrough infections occur often enough with Delta that you will see them,” del Rio said.

While a vaccinated person with a breakthrough infection can transmit the virus to others, he or she is likely to be infectious for a significantly fewer number of days, del Rio said. “And therefore your contribution to transmission is much lower if you’re vaccinated than if you’re not.”

And that’s why wearing masks indoors remains important. Del Rio said many infectious-diseases doctors never stopped masking indoors, even after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it wasn’t necessary for fully vaccinated people.

Vaccinated people with breakthrough infections have much more mild illnesses because the body is already equipped to defend itself against the virus and likely can avoid lung illnesses or hospitalization, said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, a deputy health officer for Orange County. But without prior immunity, the virus can lodge deeper into the body and cause more severe illness, eventually making it very difficult to breathe.

In Los Angeles County in April, fully vaccinated people accounted for 5% of all coronavirus cases; by July, they accounted for 30%. But fully vaccinated people, who now account for 55% of L.A. County residents of all ages, continue to be well-protected against hospitalization.

Unvaccinated older adults — age 50 and above — are 12 times more likely to be hospitalized than their vaccinated counterparts, and unvaccinated younger adults are 25 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who are fully vaccinated in that age group.

For More Information: https://news.yahoo.com/delta-variant-likely-bring-fall-120056591.html

Most face masks won’t stop COVID-19 indoors, study warns

Authors: by John Anderer

New research reveals that cloth masks filter just 10% of exhaled aerosols, with many people not wearing coverings that fit their face properly.

WATERLOO, Ontario — N95 or KN95 face masks may be the best way to avoid COVID-19 during crowded indoor events. That’s the recommendation from a new study reporting most cloth masks just don’t do the job when it comes to stopping the spread of coronavirus within enclosed spaces.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo simulated a person breathing in a large room with a cloth face mask on. Despite wearing a mask, the study finds a large buildup of aerosol droplets suspended in the air. Besides raising awareness on the vulnerability of certain face masks, these findings also emphasize the need for proper ventilation indoors. More ventilation means less of a chance for potentially viral aerosols to linger around.

“There is no question it is beneficial to wear any face covering, both for protection in close proximity and at a distance in a room,” says study leader Serhiy Yarusevych, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering, in a university release. “However, there is a very serious difference in the effectiveness of different masks when it comes to controlling aerosols.”

Studies continue to show that aerosols exhaled by infected individuals can indeed infect others with COVID-19, even if someone is standing more than six feet away.

For More Information: https://www.studyfinds.org/face-masks-wont-stop-covid-indoors/

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

A collection of articles and other resources on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, including clinical reports, management guidelines, and commentary.

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)     VACCINE RESOURCES     VACCINE FAQ https://www.nejm.org/coronavirus

All Journal content related to the Covid-19 pandemic is freely available.

For More Information: https://www.nejm.org/coronavirus

COVID-19 false dichotomies and a comprehensive review of the evidence regarding public health, COVID-19 symptomatology, SARS-CoV-2 transmission, mask wearing, and reinfection

Authors: Kevin EscandónAngela L. RasmussenIsaac I. BogochEleanor J. MurrayKarina EscandónSaskia V. Popescu & Jason Kindrachuk BMC Infectious Diseases volume 21, Article number: 710 (2021) 

Abstract

Scientists across disciplines, policymakers, and journalists have voiced frustration at the unprecedented polarization and misinformation around coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Several false dichotomies have been used to polarize debates while oversimplifying complex issues. In this comprehensive narrative review, we deconstruct six common COVID-19 false dichotomies, address the evidence on these topics, identify insights relevant to effective pandemic responses, and highlight knowledge gaps and uncertainties. The topics of this review are: 1) Health and lives vs. economy and livelihoods, 2) Indefinite lockdown vs. unlimited reopening, 3) Symptomatic vs. asymptomatic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, 4) Droplet vs. aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2, 5) Masks for all vs. no masking, and 6) SARS-CoV-2 reinfection vs. no reinfection. We discuss the importance of multidisciplinary integration (health, social, and physical sciences), multilayered approaches to reducing risk (“Emmentaler cheese model”), harm reduction, smart masking, relaxation of interventions, and context-sensitive policymaking for COVID-19 response plans. We also address the challenges in understanding the broad clinical presentation of COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and SARS-CoV-2 reinfection. These key issues of science and public health policy have been presented as false dichotomies during the pandemic. However, they are hardly binary, simple, or uniform, and therefore should not be framed as polar extremes. We urge a nuanced understanding of the science and caution against black-or-white messaging, all-or-nothing guidance, and one-size-fits-all approaches. There is a need for meaningful public health communication and science-informed policies that recognize shades of gray, uncertainties, local context, and social determinants of health.

For More Information: https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-021-06357-4