Thursday, September 24, 2020

Six Months Is More Than Enough

Here's a good (anti-)joke for you: What do Julius Caesar and America as we knew it have on common?  Both died on the Ides of March (aka March 15).

What is the cruelest April Fools joke in all of recorded history? "Fifteen days to flatten the curve", which began on March 16, 2020 (and by it's very own definition, should have ended April 1, 2020.)  

And six months later, in most of the country we are still not anywhere close to being back to normal, despite having "flattened the curve" months ago.  Not the New Abnormal, but rather the true normal.  America is almost a completely different country now than we were just a little over six months ago.

Keep in mind that the original strategy of "flatten the curve" was a very modest and short-term one:  to slow the spread of the virus just enough so that the same number of patients will arrive at the hospital but staggered out over a longer period of time rather than all at once, so hospitals would not be overwhelmed.  DONE.  Then by early April, in a swift moving of the proverbial goalposts and mission creep, the strategy morphed into a suppression and elimination ("zero COVID") strategy.  Which is unrealistic once the proverbial horse is out of the barn, of course. Ditto with trying to suppress it until the vaccine, which may take years or never come at all, and will most likely not be the silver bullet that people hope it is.

All at a truly massive social and economic cost, the likes of which have not been seen since the 18...nevers.  For a disease which, for the most part, is in the ballpark of a strong seasonal flu in terms of deadliness and overall severity.  We may very well see that lockdowns and related measures will have actually caused more deaths than COVID itself ever could, making the "cure" far worse than the disease.

In any case, there were really only two choices:  transmission now, or transmission later.  Or more likely, a bit of both.  And may countries got the worst of all worlds by choosing lockdown. When it comes to viruses, you can run, but you can't hide.  At least not for very long, as nature always finds a way, even if such ways may not always be fully understood.  The ox may be slow, but the Earth is very patient indeed.

Thus, as the ever-insightful Dr. John Lee notes, the only viable strategy at this point is learning to live with the virus, kinda like we do with the flu and stuff like that.  That way the pandemic will simply end the same way others before it have ended, with herd immunity and attenuation (weakening) of the virus itself, after circulating so much. Meanwhile, as we noted in a previous post, we have also learned how best to treat the disease and prevent the very worst outcomes for the most part.  And the virus is currently fizzling out on it's own all over the world as we speak, including the USA, as we are already in the endgame now.  ("Casedemics" from increased testing, false positives, and lagged legacy deaths notwithstanding.)

Apparently a lot of people don't like the term "herd immunity" because it contains the word "herd".  No problem, we can simply call it "collective immunity", "community immunity", "collective resistance", "community resistance", "heterogeneous group resistance", "saturation", or perhaps our favorite, "The Final Countdown", named after that famous Swedish song from the 1980s.  Either way, it is not a "goal" so much as an inevitable fact, kinda like gravity.

Thus, it's long past time to lift or phase out the many authoritarian restrictions (which were largely ineffective) put in place that would've been unthinkable as recently as February 2020.  That is not to say that people should not continue taking precautions to one degree or another, but the time for such top-down coercion has come and gone long ago.

Let America Be America Again!

Monday, September 14, 2020

What If The Cure For COVID-19 Already Existed For Decades? (Part Deux)

DISCLAIMER:  The following article references third-party sources and is intended for general information only, and is NOT intended to provide medical advice or otherwise diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, including (but not limited to) COVID-19.  Consult a qualified physician before beginning any sort of treatment or prophylactic regimen and/or if you know or suspect that you currently have COVID-19.  Anyone who takes or does anything mentioned (or alluded to) in this or any other TSAP article does so entirely at their own risk and liability.  The TSAP thus makes absolutely no warranties, express or implied, and is not liable for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, consequential, or punitive damages resulting from any act or omission on the part of the reader(s) or others.  Caveat lector.

This is the updated, refined, and abbreviated Part 2.  For the original Part 1, please see here.

What if the cure for COVID-19 already existed, not just recently, but for decades?  What if the death toll past, present, and future could be or have been reduced to a mere tiny fraction of what it is and is predicted to be without it?  What if it was such a game-changer that it would make vaccines and expensive new drugs obsolete, to say nothing of returning very quickly, seamlessly, and fearlessly to the "old normal" that we all miss so much now (that is, if we would have ever even departed from it at all)?  And what if it consisted entirely of relatively safe and cheap generics and nutritional supplements all along?

Sounds too good to be true, right?  Well, apparently it is true after all, despite all the best efforts of hyper-partisan lockdown enthusiasts, Big Pharma, and their government enablers to suppress and sabotage it.  More and more doctors and scientists all over the world are learning about it every day, in fact.

First, let's define the term "cure" for the purposes of this article.  We do not mean a "silver bullet" type of treatment in the same way that antibiotics singlehandedly cure bacterial infections, since this type of virus, like the common cold and flu, is really defeated by our bodies' own immune systems.  Usually that does the job just fine, but clearly not always.  Sometimes it needs a little help from outside.  Thus, we define a "cure" as any treatment protocol that reduces the death rate and/or hospitalization/ICU rate dramatically (by at least 50%) compared to no such treatment, and can thus be considered a game-changer.  Anything that can save that many lives and/or free up that many hospital resources would indeed be a game-changer by definition.

There is in fact already such a certain alternative treatment protocol that has gotten such a bad rap in the mainstream due to grossly improper use (and its infamous guilt by association with certain politicians who promoted it) that some countries and states have even banned it (or at least a key component of it) despite its rather promising effectiveness in saving lives when used early, properly, and under the advice of a qualified physician.  For example, Switzerland briefly banned it and subsequently lifted the ban, effectively creating a natural experiment, and the results speak for themselves in terms of death rates (which rose fourfold during the ban and then dropped back to what they were before the ban when it was lifted).  And the Brazilian state of Para saw death rates plummet after introducing it, while India's rather low per capita death rate (despite their epidemic being out of control for months) can also perhaps be explained by such treatment.

In fact, it seems to be one of the strongest factors in predicting a country's (or region's) per capita death rate, especially after adjusting for the average age of the population.  Meanwhile, the presence or relative stringency of lockdowns generally shows no clear correlation and in fact, within Europe and within the USA, a rather perverse correlation with death rates.

So what is this treatment protocol?  There are several variants, but the one that seems to be the best of all is the one developed and further refined by a group of Swiss doctors, and is as follows in their words:

Treatment protocol

Prophylaxis

  1. Zinc (50mg to 100mg per day)
  2. Quercetin (500mg to 1000mg per day)
  3. Bromhexine (25mg to 50mg per day)
  4. Vitamins C (1000mg) and D (2000 u/d)

Early treatment

  1. Zinc (75mg to 150mg per day)
  2. Quercetin (500mg to 1500mg per day)
  3. Bromhexine (50mg to 75mg per day)
  4. Vitamins C (1000mg) and D (4000 u/d)

Ancillary (prescription only)

  1. Hydr*xychlor*qu*ne (400mg per day)
  2. High-dose vitamin D (1x 100,000 IU)
  3. Azithromycin (up to 500mg per day)
  4. Heparin (usual dosage)
          Note: Contraindications for HCQ (e.g. favism or heart disease) must be observed. 
          Addendum: Other prescription drugs with first reported successes in the early medical treatment of Covid-19 are ivermectin (read more) and favipiravir (read more).
          Their original protocol prior to August 5, 2020 did not include Bromhexine, but that was added due to recently mounting evidence that it is at least as much of a game-changer as HCQ if not more so.  While it is typically used as a mucolytic expectorant for coughs and chest congestion, apparently it can also incidentally prevent the virus from getting into our cells in the first place, thus rendering the virus impotent in the face of treatment.  While Bromhexine is available over the counter (OTC) in most countries worldwide including the UK, EU, Australia, Mexico, and much of Asia, it is unfortunately still not available yet in the USA as the FDA has yet to approve it, so Americans would likely have to stick to the original five-component version for the time being unless they are currently abroad.  That is probably why most Americans have probably never even heard of it.

          So how does the whole thing work?  This synergistic cocktail does the following, in their own words, with linked citations:
          Mechanisms of action 
          Zinc inhibits RNA polymerase activity of coronaviruses and thus blocks virus replication. Hydr*xychl*roqu*ne and quercetin support the cellular absorption of zinc and have additional anti-viral propertiesBromhexine inhibits the expression of the cellular TMPRSS2 protease and thus the entry of the virus into the cell. Azithromycin prevents bacterial superinfections. Heparin prevents infection-related thromboses and embolisms in patients at risk. (See scientific references below). 
          See alsoIllustration of the mechanisms of action of HCQ, quercetin and bromhexine
          The Swiss doctors do note that early treatment is best, ideally before hospitalization, as is prophylactic use for high-risk and high-exposure persons.  The sooner, the better.  If taken too late, such as when already in critical condition, its usefulness is quite limited.  But even if already hospitalized, better late than never.

          So exactly how successful are we talking here?  Again, in their own words: 

          Treatment successes

          Zinc/HCQ/AZ: US physicians reported an 84% decrease in hospitalization rates, a 50% decrease in mortality rates among already hospitalized patients (if treated early), and an improvement in the condition of patients within 8 to 12 hours. Italian doctors reported a decrease in deaths of 66%.

          US physicians also reported a 45% reduction in mortality of hospitalized patients by adding zinc to HCQ/AZ. Another US study reported a rapid resolution of Covid symptoms, such as shortness of breath, based on early outpatient treatment with high-dose zinc.

          Bromhexine: Iranian doctors reported in a study with 78 patients a decrease in intensive care treatments of 82%, a decrease in intubations of 89%, and a decrease in deaths of 100%. Chinese doctors reported a 50% reduction in intubations. Bromhexine is a mucolytic cough medication.

          Vitamin D: In a Spanish randomized controlled trial (RCT), high-dose vitamine D (100,000 IU) reduced the risk of requiring intensive care by 96%. A large Israeli study found a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and covid-19 severity.

          Pretty impressive, right?  Let those numbers sink in for a moment.  Talk about a game-changer!

          And if one still needs to be hospitalized, they go on to recommend that ventilators be avoided as much as possible as they tend to be counterproductive, and opt instead for the far less-invasive high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) to deliver live oxygen therapy.

          The very most impressive part of all is actually the recently-added Vitamin D component, high bolus doses of which appear to nearly abolish the risk of ICU admission (96% reduction) and death (100% reduction) entirely when given to hospitalized COVID patients.  And lower doses can be also used for prophylaxis and early treatment as well, of course.

          (Courtesy of Swiss Policy Research.  Worth reading in full from the original source.)

          A word of caution about HCQ:  While it seems to work very well when used early, properly, and under the advice of a qualified physician, that does NOT mean that anyone should just take such heavy artillery willy-nilly.  Ditto for azithromycin or any other antibiotic.  These powerful drugs can have serious side effects when taken improperly, excessively, or when medically contraindicated, which is why they are still prescription-only in most (but not all) countries even after decades of being on the market.  Don't hoard them either, since plenty of non-COVID patients also depend on these medications as well.  Don't take (H)CQ with any drug that prolongs the QT interval either. And unless you really, really want to win a Darwin Award, do NOT ingest any fish tank cleaner just because it happens to be related and has a similar name!  When in doubt, stick with Quercetin and zinc, with of course plenty of vitamin C and D as well to further boost the immune system and synergize with the former.

          (Quercetin, a naturally occurring plant bioflavonoid found in various foods, is readily available as a nutritional supplement in numerous stores nationwide and worldwide.  The TSAP likes to affectionately call it "Vitamin Q". And no one would dare to ban that, of course, since doing so would just give the game away at this point.  They'd rather simply ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist.)

          And of course, for any critical cases, we know now (through clinical trial and error) that there are always corticosteroids to fall back on as well, particularly dexamethasone, and possibly inhaled ones like budesonide as well.  Their effectiveness in saving lives is apparently good but limited.  Given that they inherently suppress the immune system, they should NOT be given early, only for cases that are bad enough that respiratory support is needed.  That is, steroids are used to quell the dreaded "cytokine storm" of severe inflammation that occurs when the body basically nukes itself in a desperate (and counterproductive) attempt to rid it of the virus.  The fact that it took months to figure that out really speaks volumes.  And it is practically the only thing that both pro-HCQ and anti-HCQ studies seem to agree upon.

          (The jury is still out on whether early budesonide use specifically has any additional benefits.)

          But wait, there's more.  As of September 9, 2020, there is a new hypothesis, the bradykinin hypothesis, which posits that the main way that COVID-19 kills is via a bradykinin storm rather than a purely cytokine storm, though the two storms are likely intertwined.  If that's the case, then there are various additional existing drugs that target the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), and it also further strengthens the case for Vitamin D (which can apparently quell both kinds of storms) as a treatment and prophylaxis, for which evidence continues to mount as we speak.

          There is also another treatment and prophylaxis protocol worth considering by Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai involving Vitamin A and iodine/iodide as well as Vitamins C and D to build up one's immune system as well.  And this was deduced way back in March!  Please do be careful with Vitamin A though, since unlike with C and D, it is fairly easy to overdose on.  Ditto for Lugol's iodine solution as well.

          Bill Sardi also has his own take as well, also recommending Vitamins A, D, and zinc, selenium, as well as resveratrol and inositol.  He also notes that Glycyrrhizin, found naturally in licorice, is very promising as it has been found to have antiviral properties against many viruses, including the original SARS coronavirus whose RNA is 80% similar to SARS-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

          Also, please note that the TSAP is NOT a Trump-supporting party, in fact we despise him and want him to lose the 2020 election.  But as we know, sometimes a stopped clock can be right twice a day in regards to HCQ, albeit with the truth being a bit more nuanced.  And he could partially and belatedly atone for some of his misdeeds with the simple stroke of his executive pen, namely by passing an emergency use (if not permanent) authorization for the importation, manufacture, and use of Bromhexine.  If countries as strict as the UK and Australia can approve it long ago for OTC use, surely we can do the same over here.  And also, make low-dose HCQ OTC (or at least behind the counter) as well, like several countries already do, perhaps subject to rationing.

          (And, of course, Trump can also use the Defense Production Act to force the production and distribution of PPE to hospitals, albeit belatedly, so nurses don't have to keep reusing PPE.  And then he can go do us all a YUUUGE favor and RESIGN.)

          Nutrition in general seems to play a key role in who survives COVID and who doesn't.  And not just Vitamin C and D--there several other important nutrients worth considering as well.  For example, glutathione, and the supplement N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is a key precursor to glutathione, also seems to have rather promising effects as well.  NAC is also a good liver detox and hangover cure as well, which is probably what it is most famous for.  Selenium, and also EGCG from green tea, look rather promising as well.  A multivitamin supplement containing both selenium and its synergistic "buddy",  Vitamin E, would likely be good to take daily.  And, of course, as noted earlier in this article, whatever you do, don't forget the zinc!

          In fact, we will go out on a limb and make the following extremely audacious claim:  Had the United States government (as well as other countries) decided instead to avoid lockdowns and shutdowns entirely, let the virus run its course, and simply made all of the aforementioned drugs in this article readily available for free or cheap from the start to all those who needed them, especially for high-risk and high-exposure groups, while also recommending and providing the general population with vitamins A, C and D, Quercetin, zinc, et al., we would very likely have saved a LOT more lives at a tiny fraction of the cost.  And of course, no collateral damage either.  But that would have made far too much sense, of course.

          Thus, the cure has apparently been right under our noses all along.  It is long past time to stop playing politics and put it to good use, ending this nightmare once and for all.  So what are we waiting for?

          Stay healthy everyone,

          The True Spirit of America Party

          Wednesday, September 9, 2020

          The Electoral College's Dirty Little Secret

          Psst....wanna know a dirty little secret about the Electoral College?

          As I noted in a previous post back in 2016, one of the reasons the Founders, especially Alexander Hamilton, designed the Electoral College was as a supposed fail-safe to prevent a dangerous and unqualified demagogue (especially one with foreign entanglements) from becoming President of the United States. (The 2016 election most ironically proved otherwise) Hamilton basically laid out the Federalist case for the Electoral College thusly, albeit combined with the sort of sneering elitism that even the most rabid Trump supporters would ironically claim to dislike today.

          But there was also a much darker reason behind the creation of the Electoral College.  To put it bluntly, it was explicitly designed to protect--wait for it--SLAVERY.  In fact, that was the only way to get the Anti-Federalists in the southern slave states to sign on to the Constitution at all.  That is why less-populous states get a disproportionately large amount of electoral votes (since slave states often had as many slaves as free citizens and each slave only counted as 3/5 of a person in the census and was not allowed to vote).  And to this day, the Electoral College remains a bastion of white (sorry, "rural") privilege for the same reason.  Not all that surprising, really.

          Thus, the Electoral College is obsolete and currently serves no useful purpose anymore.  In fact, the winner-take-all aspect, over and above the small state bias, was the primary reason Trump won the 2016 election despite getting nearly 3 million fewer votes than Hillary, so it actually does more harm than good to this country.  Allocating electoral votes proportionally in each state instead of winner-take-all would go a long way to fixing it, and indeed Hillary would have won the electoral vote by changing just this aspect of the system.  It would also make it harder to effectively cheat as well.  But it would not solve all problems, and would in fact create a new problem--third-party candidates throwing the election into the House of Representatives when no one gets 270 majority--unless candidates with a de minimis amount of the popular vote (say, 5%) are then denied any electoral votes and/or only the top two or three candidates actually counting. 

          Therefore, all things considered, the very best and simplest solution is to abolish the Electoral College altogether, and elect the president by straight national popular vote going forward.  And yesterday is not soon enough, since it clearly gives Trump an unfair advantage this time as well.

          Of course, abolishing it entirely would require a constitutional amendment, and would thus be quite a long shot indeed, but there is a way to make it irrelevant by 2020.  The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is the way to do it, making it so that that only the winner of the national popular vote would win 270 electoral votes and become President, while still technically keeping the Electoral College in place.  Sign and share!

          Sunday, September 6, 2020

          Dear Illegitimate Son Of SARS

          Dear Illegitimate Son Of SARS,

          Look, you had a fairly long run, and a higher "score" (death toll) than the skeptics predicted (though still far less than the doomsayers originally predicted), but we know you are falling away and falling apart now as we speak.  You are getting progressively weaker and weaker just as more and more people are becoming immune to your nasty ravages.  And we have learned through trial and (mostly) error the best ways to treat the patients you so ruthlessly target.

          From the get-go, you primarily picked on people that couldn't defend themselves very well, which is the mark of the coward.  In that respect you are far closer to a nasty seasonal flu than to the 1918 pandemic flu that you seem to idolize and aspire to be like.  Even children can easily quash you quite well, apparently.

          And unlike your daddy, you couldn't even manage to stay on the UK's infamous High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID) list for very long, getting kicked off of the list before you even really got started.  So much for being a chip off the old block!

          You are a stealthy little bugger, we will grant you that.  But we know your game now.  You may have called most of the world's bluff at first, but when Sweden and Belarus both called YOUR bluff very early on, as did Japan and Taiwan, that was the beginning of the end for you.  Come to think of it, quite a few (though far too few) other countries did as well.

          Even your fairly high body count may be less than meets the eye, along with all of the collateral damage that went along with you.  You are essentially taking credit for a good chunk of the damage and death that the lockdowns and their enthusiasts have wrought.  There is no way that you alone could have possibly turned one of the most vibrant and prosperous cities in the world into a burned-out empty shell without the unwitting help of its mayor (and the governor too).  Notice that I didn't even need to mention that city's name for the reader to know exactly which one.

          And now, you seem to following in your daddy's footsteps just like in 2003.  An honest chart of your "progress" bears an uncanny resemblance to SARS-1 in terms of the patterns: first the higher latitudes in the spring (Europe, Canada, and Northern USA), then the lower latitudes (Sunbelt Spike, and tropical countries) in the summer, then simply phasing out entirely.  In other words, you do not seem to be aging very well at all, both literally and figuratively, and your days are numbered (no matter how much the powers that be may want to drag you out indefinitely to further exploit you for their own machinations).

          As the lyrics to a famous Swedish song go, "It's the final countdown"-- for you, that is. 

          Face it, you're washed up.  You bit off far more than you could ever possibly chew, and now you are choking on it.   Now go back to the pit (or lab) from whence you came!

          Sincerely,

          The True Spirit of America Party

          P.S.  Don't forget to give special "thanks" to your common cold cousins, the Gang of Four:  229E, OC43, NL63, and HKU1.  Without previous exposure to them to provide some degree of immunity to you, you really could have been a contender.  You may very well luck out and end up like them instead of going extinct like your daddy.  But truly OC43 will always be the OG.

          Saturday, August 22, 2020

          The TSAP's Current Position On Vaccines For COVID-19

          Until recently, the TSAP has taken no official position on vaccines.  We have generally supported the concept as a rule.  We are NOT an anti-vaccine group by any stretch of the imagination, and still not.

          But when it comes to a hastily-made COVID-19 vaccine, one that may very well be made mandatory at some point for practically everyone, we must note that there are new nuances to consider now.  We know that hastily-made vaccines in general carry unacceptable risk, with the 1976 swine flu vaccine debacle being the most infamous example.  Rushing vaccines to market before they are proven safe and effective is inherently unethical and foolish.  Worse still, making such vaccines mandatory, especially when the virus is clearly already on the run and circling the drain as we speak (as natural herd immunity is right around the corner if not already present) is a massive and unnecessary government overreach where the ends do NOT justify the means.

          Even if the virus was still completely out of control for the foreseeable future, we have already noted that better treatment of patients while allowing herd immunity to develop naturally would be far more effective and timely than any vaccine, if we ever even get a vaccine that works at all, that is.

          Make no mistake, we do NOT oppose the development and marketing of safe and effective vaccines with no funny business.  But anything beyond that is a no-go for us, plain and simple.

          We absolutely oppose any attempt to create "immunity passports" or "vaccine passports" of any kind as well.  That is just far too Orwellian and potentially nefarious for us, especially for a disease whose actual infection fatality rate turns out to be in the same ballpark as seasonal flu.  And those who then reply "well, maybe we should make flu shots mandatory for everyone too!" are ironically SOOOO close to actually getting the point.  There is, after all, a reason we as a society have chosen not to do so--yet.

          And while we support Universal Basic Income (UBI), we do NOT support Australia's plan to cynically use such a thing as a cudgel to economically coerce people to receive such hastily-made vaccines (i.e. no vaccine = no job and no UBI).  Not only is that highly unethical, but it is also a gross perversion of the very concept of UBI, which is supposed to be unconditional with no strings attached by definition.  And this is in a country that has just recently brought back even more draconian lockdowns to a good chunk of the country, despite very little problem with the virus.  It's almost like Australia was never really able to completely shake its history as a penal colony.

          And finally, quite frankly, the whole idea of us all having to somehow put up with this inane and insane New Abnormal indefinitely until the vaccine (which may never work or never arrive) is widely available, is itself a form of social and economic coercion.  We believe that making civil rights, normal economic activity, and normal social interactions somehow contingent on nearly everyone receiving a vaccine is an unprecedented and unacceptable act of coercion.  Fortunately, at least some pundits are gradually walking back that idea, but it remains to be seen whether enough government officials will as well.

          By the way, have you seen the ever-insightful author Ellen Brown's latest articles on the topic?  She is clearly one of US, basically.  And we are indeed honored to have someone like her on essentially the very same wavelength as the TSAP in that regard.

          Thursday, August 20, 2020

          Dear Donald, Stop Sabotaging The US Postal Service!

          Dear Donald J. Trump,

          We know you are deliberately sabotaging the United States Postal Service, which until just a week or two ago has been the wonder of the world, in order to sabotage mail-in voting and thus desperately attempt to rig the election in your favor since you know you will lose otherwise.  BIGLY.  Sad.  It is so transparent what you are trying to do, and the delays and errors caused by wilfully and unnecessarily tampering with our mail system are more than a mere inconvenience.  People's lives literally depend on the USPS functioning properly even in normal times, let alone during a pandemic.  In fact, such deliberate tampering with the mail system is literally a FEDERAL FELONY OFFENSE, as if you really needed to make your miles-long rap sheet even longer.  Seriously.

          Thus, we at the TSAP hereby demand that you do all of the following yesterday:
          1. Reverse the cynical "Friday Night Massacre" firings of the top brass at the USPS, and replace the current Postmaster General with a non-crony non-campaign donor.
          2. Restore full funding to the USPS.  If your GOP refuses or drags their feet, use your executive pen to do so in the meantime.
          3. Do us all a YUUUGE favor and RESIGN. 
          4. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
          Sincerely,

          We the People of the United States of America

          Friday, August 14, 2020

          The TSAP's Updated Position On Face Mask Mandates

          DISCLAIMER:  The TSAP still encourages everyone to continue observing official mask mandates in public places at the national, state, and/or local level, for as long as those mandates are still in effect, and does NOT promote or condone any civil disobedience in that regard.  Choose your battles very wisely, and don't be a Karen or Kevin either way (with apologies to people who actually have those given names.)

          NOTE:  The following shall fully supersede any positions taken or advice given prior to August 1, 2020, and shall remain in effect until further notice.

          As we now finally enter the endgame of the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA, and face mask mandates are now entering in their third, fourth, or even fifth month in many places, we at the TSAP feel it is time to start talking about how long these mandates shall last, and to what extent, before they are ultimately phased out.   Yes, you read that right.  There, we finally said the heresy out loud now, and we don't regret it.

          While the TSAP has enthusiastically supported fairly broad mask mandates from late April onwards, that support was predicated on these policies being temporary, logical, and nuanced.  We have never supported permanent mask mandates (or ones that last until that ever-elusive vaccine), nor have we supported ones that apply to any places that are both not open to the public and and not workplaces (such as private residences and exclusive members-only clubs).  Nor have we supported any outdoor mask mandates that last for more than two weeks, unless an exception is made for situations where six feet of distance is possible to maintain between people.  And we have opposed all mask mandates that apply to children under two years of age, and have not (yet) taken a position on whether children between the ages of two and ten years of age should be required to wear masks in public either.  And penalties for individuals, if any, should not exceed a small civil fine similar to a parking or traffic ticket, with no criminal record.  After all, for most people, not wearing a mask is no more dangerous to others than speeding is.

          We have generally considered New York State's mask mandate, and later California's, to be a good model for the nation.  In contrast, the local ones in Miami and Broward County, Florida, are too broad and harsh by our standards.  But even the very best of such mandates should still ultimately have a sunset clause.

          Our current position is the same as before, with the following changes:
          1. All broad mask mandates should sunset no later than January 1, 2021 at the latest, or six months after they began, whichever occurs first.  Even in areas currently designated as "red" zones (i.e. characterized by seriously widespread community transmission of the virus).
          2. In areas that are currently designated as "yellow" or "green" zones, all broad mask mandates should sunset no later than November 4, 2020 (i.e. the day after Election Day).
          3. Narrow mask mandates, covering only very selected situations such as inside retail shops and/or public transit, can last beyond the end of broad mask mandates, but after November 4, 2020 shall sunset no more than an additional 90 days later in any case.
          4. Until the November 2020 election is over, masks should remain mandatory at all election locations and on all public transit, even if masks are no longer required elsewhere.
          5. Going forward, all new broad mask mandates imposed after August 15, 2020 should only be imposed on areas with seriously widespread community transmission of the virus.  Otherwise, no new mask mandates.
          Of course, in the event of a severe second wave in the winter, these mandates may very well need to be reimposed, and nothing written here shall preclude that, but the TSAP doubts very much that will happen, since "herd immunity" is likely to be reached nationwide by then if it hasn't already.  Yes, really.

          As for children under the age of ten, the TSAP now believes that after August 15, 2020 they should be completely exempt from any mask mandates, with the possible exception of public transit and within 100 feet of a polling place, in which case only children under the age of two should be exempt.

          Furthermore, deaf people and those communicating with them, and anyone for whom wearing a mask is medically contraindicated, should also be automatically exempt from such mandates.

          Face masks do work to an extent in slowing (not stopping) the spread of the virus when used properly, though their effectiveness has likely been overstated and they should not be regarded as a talisman or a substitute for social distancing and hygiene, but as an additional modest layer of protection when they are widely used by the vast majority of people.  They protect those around the wearer more so than they do the wearer.  The "effect size" of universal mask wearing is relatively high when there is a high level of widespread community spread of the virus (i.e "red" zones), while it becomes practically negligible when the level of community transmission is at a very low baseline level (i.e. "green" zones).  And outdoor transmission is relatively rare with or without masks, while at least 99% of transmission occurs indoors.  Thus, the TSAP's nuanced position makes sense now.

          Interestingly, none of the Nordic countries (including Sweden) ever saw the need to mandate the use of face masks, nor did the Netherlands, and yet they did not do any worse overall in terms of the the pandemic compared with other European countries that did (often belatedly) require them.  On the other hand, all of the East Asian success stories did involve widespread mask wearing, though not every country required it and often it was voluntary.  So unlike lockdowns, which turned out to be unequivocally counterproductive and thus worse than useless, the jury is basically still out on the effectiveness of mask mandates when looking at the international evidence.

          (The debate on masks, after all, is well over a century old.  Really nothing new under the sun here.)

          Make no mistake, mask mandates are NOT lockdowns, and are nowhere near as bad.  After all, the TSAP supported them as a way OUT of lockdown.  But they do come with their own downsides too, and as the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years, they don't exactly age very well either.

          UPDATE:  It looks like there is yet another nuance to the centuries-old debate about the effectiveness of masks.  That is, the latest theory is that even though masks (especially cloth masks) are only partially effective as PPE and source control, they do likely reduce the viral load, which while it can still be somewhat infectious it would would make the wearer and those around them less sick and less likely to die than receiving a higher dose of the virus.  A lower dose of the virus is easier for the immune system to knock out quickly before it gets bad, while still enabling the infected to build some immunity going forward.  After all, "the dose makes the poison", and indeed the etymology of the word virus comes from and old word for "poison".  Another way to potentially reduce viral load is to gargle with an alcohol-based mouthwash regularly.   That said, these nuances do not materially change the TSAP's position, and in fact reinforces our middle-of-the-road approach.

          Of course, to avoid further concentrating one's own potential viral load, be sure to change or clean your mask very regularly, and don't wear it 24/7 with no breaks.  Fresh air is also a good thing too, after all.  That is, use common sense!

          And this begs the question once more to the lockdown enthusiasts who at first opposed masks but later embraced them:  if masks are so effective, why did we even lockdown at all?  Seriously, why did we?

          Sunday, August 9, 2020

          What If The Cure For COVID-19 Already Existed For Decades?

          DISCLAIMER:  The following article references third-party sources and is intended for general information only, and is NOT intended to provide medical advice or otherwise diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, including (but not limited to) COVID-19.  Consult a qualified physician before beginning any sort of treatment or prophylactic regimen and/or if you know or suspect that you currently have COVID-19.  Anyone who takes or does anything mentioned (or alluded to) in this or any other TSAP article does so entirely at their own risk and liability.  The TSAP thus makes absolutely no warranties, express or implied, and is not liable for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, consequential, or punitive damages resulting from any act or omission on the part of the reader(s) or others.  Caveat lector.

          For a more succinct and updated version of this article, please see Part 2 here.

          What if the cure for COVID-19 already existed, not just recently, but for decades?  What if the death toll past, present, and future could be or have been reduced to a mere tiny fraction of what it is and is predicted to be without it?  What if it was such a game-changer that it would make vaccines and expensive new drugs obsolete, to say nothing of returning very quickly, seamlessly, and fearlessly to the "old normal" that we all miss so much now (that is, if we would have ever even departed from it at all)?  And what if it consisted entirely of relatively safe and cheap generics and nutritional supplements all along?

          Sounds too good to be true, right?  Well, apparently it is true after all, despite all the best efforts of hyper-partisan lockdown enthusiasts, Big Pharma, and their government enablers to suppress and sabotage it.  More and more doctors and scientists all over the world are learning about it every day, in fact.

          First, let's define the term "cure" for the purposes of this article.  We do not mean a "silver bullet" type of treatment in the same way that antibiotics singlehandedly cure bacterial infections, since this type of virus, like the common cold and flu, is really defeated by our bodies' own immune systems.  Usually that does the job just fine, but clearly not always.  Sometimes it needs a little help from outside.  Thus, we define a "cure" as any treatment protocol that reduces the death rate and/or hospitalization rate dramatically (by at least 50%) compared to no such treatment, and can thus be considered a game-changer.  Anything that can save that many lives and/or free up that many hospital resources would indeed be a game-changer by definition.

          There is in fact already such a certain alternative treatment protocol that has gotten such a bad rap in the mainstream due to grossly improper use (and its infamous guilt by association with certain politicians who promoted it) that some countries and states have even banned it (or at least a key component of it) despite its rather promising effectiveness in saving lives when used early, properly, and under the advice of a qualified physician.  For example, Switzerland briefly banned it and subsequently lifted the ban, effectively creating a natural experiment, and the results speak for themselves in terms of death rates (which rose fourfold during the ban and then dropped back to what they were before the ban when it was lifted).  And the Brazilian state of Para saw death rates plummet after introducing it, while India's rather low per capita death rate (despite their epidemic being out of control for months) can also perhaps be explained by such treatment.

          In fact, it seems to be one of the strongest factors in predicting a country's (or region's) per capita death rate, especially after adjusting for the average age of the population.  Meanwhile, the presence or relative stringency of lockdowns generally shows no clear correlation and in fact, within Europe and within the USA, a rather perverse correlation with death rates.

          So what is this treatment protocol?  There are several variants, but the one that seems to be the best of all is the one developed and further refined by a group of Swiss doctors, and is as follows in their words:
          Treatment protocol
          1. Zinc (50mg to 100mg per day)º
          2. Hydr*xychl*roqu*ne (400mg per day)*
          3. Quercetin (500mg to 1000mg per day)º
          4. Bromhexine (50mg to 100mg per day)º
          5. Azithromycin (up to 500mg per day)*
          6. Heparin (usual dosage)*
          *) Prescription only (in most countries)
          º) Also prophylactically (for high-risk persons) 
          Note: Quercetin may be used in addition to or as a replacement of hydr*xychl*roqu*ne (HCQ). Contraindications for HCQ (e.g. favism or heart disease) and azithromycin must be observed. Treatment duration is five to seven days. Prophylactic treatment requires lower doses.
          Their original protocol prior to August 5, 2020 did not include Bromhexine, but that was added due to recently mounting evidence that it is at least as much of a game-changer as HCQ if not more so.  While it is typically used as a mucolytic expectorant for coughs and chest congestion, apparently it can also incidentally prevent the virus from getting into our cells in the first place, thus rendering the virus impotent in the face of treatment.  While Bromhexine is available over the counter (OTC) in most countries worldwide including the UK, EU, Australia, Mexico, and much of Asia, it is unfortunately still not available yet in the USA as the FDA has yet to approve it, so Americans would likely have to stick to the original five-component version for the time being unless they are currently abroad.  That is probably why most Americans have probably never even heard of it.

          So how does the whole thing work?  This synergistic cocktail does the following, in their own words, with linked citations:
          Mechanisms of action 
          Zinc inhibits RNA polymerase activity of coronaviruses and thus blocks virus replication. Hydr*xychl*roqu*ne and quercetin support the cellular absorption of zinc and have additional anti-viral propertiesBromhexine inhibits the expression of the cellular TMPRSS2 protease and thus the entry of the virus into the cell. Azithromycin prevents bacterial superinfections. Heparin prevents infection-related thromboses and embolisms in patients at risk. (See scientific references below). 
          See alsoIllustration of the mechanisms of action of HCQ, quercetin and bromhexine
          The Swiss doctors do note that early treatment is best, ideally before hospitalization, as is prophylactic use for high-risk and high-exposure persons.  The sooner, the better.  If taken too late, such as when already in critical condition, its usefulness is quite limited.  But even if already hospitalized, better late than never.

          So exactly how successful are we talking here?  Again, in their own words:
          Treatment successes 
          Zinc/HCQ/AZ: US physicians reported an 84% decrease in hospitalization rates, a 50% decrease in mortality rates among already hospitalized patients (if treated early), and an improvement in the condition of patients within 8 to 12 hours. Italian doctors reported a decrease in deaths of 66%. 
          Bromhexine: Iranian doctors reported in a study with 78 patients a decrease in intensive care treatments of 82%, a decrease in intubations of 89%, and a decrease in deaths of 100%. Chinese doctors reported a 50% reduction in intubations.
          Pretty impressive, right?  Let those numbers sink in for a moment.  Talk about a game-changer!

          And if one still needs to be hospitalized, they go on to recommend that ventilators be avoided as much as possible as they tend to be counterproductive, and opt instead for the far less-invasive high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) to deliver live oxygen therapy.

          (Courtesy of Swiss Policy Research.  Worth reading in full from the original source.)

          A word of caution about HCQ:  While it seems to work very well when used early, properly, and under the advice of a qualified physician, that does NOT mean that anyone should just take it willy-nilly.  Ditto for azithromycin or any other antibiotic.  These powerful drugs can have serious side effects when taken improperly, excessively, or when medically contraindicated, which is why they are still prescription-only in most (but not all) countries even after decades of being on the market.  Don't hoard them either, since plenty of non-COVID patients also depend on these medications as well.  Don't take (H)CQ with any drug that prolongs the QT interval either. And unless you really, really want to win a Darwin Award, do NOT ingest any fish tank cleaner just because it happens to be related and has a similar name!  When in doubt, stick with Quercetin and zinc, with of course plenty of vitamin C and D as well to further boost the immune system and synergize with the former.

          (Quercetin, a naturally occurring plant bioflavonoid found in various foods, is readily available as a nutritional supplement in numerous stores nationwide and worldwide.  The TSAP likes to affectionately call it "Vitamin Q". And no one would dare to ban that, of course, since doing so would just give the game away at this point.  They'd rather simply ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist.)

          And of course, for any critical cases, we know now (through clinical trial and error) that there are always corticosteroids to fall back on as well, particularly dexamethasone, and possibly inhaled ones like budesonide as well.  Their effectiveness in saving lives is apparently good but limited.  Given that they inherently suppress the immune system, they should NOT be given early, only for cases that are bad enough that respiratory support is needed.  That is, steroids are used to quell the dreaded "cytokine storm" of severe inflammation that occurs when the body basically nukes itself in a desperate (and counterproductive) attempt to rid it of the virus.  The fact that it took months to figure that out really speaks volumes.  And it is practically the only thing that both pro-HCQ and anti-HCQ studies seem to agree upon.

          (The jury is still out on whether early budesonide use specifically has any additional benefits.)

          Also, please note that the TSAP is NOT a Trump-supporting party, in fact we despise him and want him to lose the 2020 election.  But as we know, sometimes a stopped clock can be right twice a day in regards to HCQ, albeit with the truth being a bit more nuanced.  And he could partially and belatedly atone for some of his misdeeds with the simple stroke of his executive pen, namely by passing an emergency use (if not permanent) authorization for the importation, manufacture, and use of Bromhexine.  If countries as strict as the UK and Australia can approve it long ago for OTC use, surely we can do the same over here.  And also, make low-dose HCQ OTC (or at least behind the counter) as well, like several countries already do, perhaps subject to rationing.

          (And, of course, Trump can also use the Defense Production Act to force the production and distribution of PPE to hospitals, albeit belatedly, so nurses don't have to keep reusing PPE.  And then he can go do us all a YUUUGE favor and RESIGN.)

          In fact, we will go out on a limb and make the following extremely audacious claim:  Had the United States government (as well as other countries) decided instead to avoid lockdowns and shutdowns entirely, let the virus run its course, and simply made all of the aforementioned drugs in this article readily available for free or cheap from the start to all those who needed them, especially for high-risk and high-exposure groups, while also recommending and providing the general population with vitamins C and D, Quercetin, and zinc, we would very likely have saved a LOT more lives at a tiny fraction of the cost.  And of course, no collateral damage either.  But that would have made far too much sense, of course.

          Thus, the cure has apparently been right under our noses all along.  It is long past time to stop playing politics and put it to good use, ending this nightmare once and for all.  So what are we waiting for?

          UPDATE:  As of August 25, 2020, and again in September, the Swiss doctors have since updated their treatment protocol with some new nuances added, and clearer distinctions between treatment and prophylaxis.  They also add Vitamins C and D as well to both treatment and prophylaxis.  As an aside, they also now add that ivermectin and favipiravir may also be rather promising treatments as well (though note how they do NOT mention Gilead's overpriced blockbuster drug remdesivir, which quite honestly is at best just another Tamiflu but with more side effects). The basic idea here is the same though.  To wit, in their own words below:

          Treatment protocol

          Prophylaxis

          1. Zinc (50mg to 100mg per day)
          2. Quercetin (500mg to 1000mg per day)
          3. Bromhexine (25mg to 50mg per day)
          4. Vitamins C (1000mg) and D (2000 u/d)

          Early treatment

          1. Zinc (75mg to 150mg per day)
          2. Quercetin (500mg to 1500mg per day)
          3. Bromhexine (50mg to 75mg per day)
          4. Vitamins C (1000mg) and D (4000 u/d)

          Ancillary (prescription only)

          1. Hydr*xychlor*qu*ne (400mg per day)
          2. High-dose vitamin D (1x 100,000 IU)
          3. Azithromycin (up to 500mg per day)
          4. Heparin (usual dosage)
          Note: Contraindications for HCQ (e.g. favism or heart disease) must be observed. 
          Addendum: Other prescription drugs with first reported successes in the early medical treatment of Covid-19 are ivermectin (read more) and favipiravir (read more).
          And there you have it.  Note that while HCQ and azithromycin have been demoted to merely "ancillary", that is probably because of the addition of Bromhexine, which again is unfortunately still not available in the USA at all except in small clinical trials.  (WTF are they waiting for?)  So to any Americans reading this, if your doctor says that you need HCQ and/or azithromycin, then you probably really do, and should thus take it without delay.

          There is also another treatment and prophylaxis protocol by Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai involving Vitamin A and iodine/iodide as well as Vitamins C and D to build up one's immune system worth considering as well.  Please do be careful with Vitamin A though, since unlike with C and D, it is fairly easy to overdose on.  Ditto for Lugol's iodine solution as well.

          NEW UPDATE: As of September 9, 2020, there is a new hypothesis, the bradykinin hypothesis, which posits that the main way that COVID-19 kills is via a bradykinin storm rather than a purely cytokine storm, though the two storms are likely intertwined.  If that's the case, then there are various additional existing drugs that target the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), and it also further strengthens the case for Vitamin D as a treatment and prophylaxis, for which evidence continues to mount as we speak.

          In fact, the Swiss doctors just recently added a very high-dose bolus of Vitamin D to the ancillary category of their protocol, based on the very promising results of a recent randomized clinical trial in Spain.

          Nutrition in general seems to play a key role in who survives COVID and who doesn't.  And not just Vitamin C and D--there several other important nutrients worth considering as well.  For example, glutathione, and the supplement N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is a key precursor to glutathione, also seems to have rather promising effects as well.  NAC is also a good liver detox and hangover cure as well, which is probably what it is most famous for.  Selenium, and also EGCG from green tea, look rather promising as well.  And, of course, as noted earlier in this article, whatever you do, don't forget the zinc!

          Stay healthy everyone,

          The True Spirit of America Party

          Friday, July 31, 2020

          A Better Way To Solve The Mother Of All Fiscal Cliffs

          With the extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits set to expire today, combined with the income tax deadline that just recently passed (July 15), the country faces the mother of all fiscal cliffs.  As a result, the money supply would shrink in August, and millions of Americans would have less money to spend right while the eviction moratorium expires and several months of their rent effectively becomes due all at once.  And the timing could not be worse, given the fact that the GDP apparently shrank by nearly a third (32.9%) in the second quarter of this year, the worst quarter in American history (and even worse than the European average now!), while any hope of recovery is currently sputtering now at best.

          That is, the US economy literally shrank by a greater annualized percentage in just three months than in the entire four years (peak to trough) from 1929-1932, the worst of the Great Depression, when GDP shrank by 30.5%.  Let that sink in.  Meanwhile, the UK is currently experiencing their worst recession in at least 300 years.  Now that really says something!

          Thus, a very, very big stimulus is necessary right now to prevent a long-term, full-blown depression of epic proportions.  Depressions are fundamentally caused by a shortage of money.  After all, GDP is literally just a spending measure, and most of that is consumer spending and government spending.  The caveat, of course, is that not even all the money in the world could fill (and can barely even briefly paper over) the inherently massive hole left in a shuttered-by-fiat economy until after the economy is fully reopened, at least not for very long.  Thus, the TSAP recommends the following steps be taken, yesterday:
          • Expand the $600 per week to ALL Americans period, not just those receiving unemployment benefits, no strings attached.  Anyone with an SSN or ITIN gets it.  Maintain such payments until at least December 2020.
          • Create a permanent UBI for all Americans, of $230 per week ($1000 per month) for adults and half that amount for children and young people under 18, for when the temporary extra $600 finally expires.  Again, no strings attached.
          • Pass the HEROES Act and all of its associated stimuli, not the cheap Republican knockoff version.  After all, without essential workers, civilization would have collapsed by now, so it is literally the LEAST we can do to thank them.
          • Extend the eviction moratorium until September 1 or until enough of the funds from the above are disbursed into the pockets of the people so they can pay enough to avoid eviction, whichever occurs later.  Consider also cancelling (and directly compensating with federal funds) landlords for all past due rent dating from March 1 until August 1.
          • More funding to shore up small businesses, which are the very bedrock of the economy.
          • Keep the US Postal Service running with whatever federal funds are necessary.
          • Increase aid to the states, and funding for hospitals as well.  And while we're at it, implement Medicare For All as well.
          • Three words:  Green New Deal.
          • And of course, DON'T shut down again!
          As for the so-called National Debt, that is really a non-problem for a Monetarily Sovereign government like our federal government, since they can literally just print the money.  And right now we have far more to worry about from deflation than we would from inflation.  Even if inflation did occur, all the federal government would have to do is resolve the shortages in goods and services that caused it, by directly purchasing such goods and services at a premium and selling (or giving) them at a loss.  And failing that, the FERAL Reserve (which, we gotta say, has been doing the heaviest financial lifting in terms of shoring up the economy just enough to prevent a total collapse thus far) can always raise interest rates and/or the reserve ratio (both of which are at rock-bottom levels), sell bonds to shrink its massive balance sheet (Quantitative Tightening), and/or drain and sterilze excess bank reserves if and when the "inflation dragon" ever does rear its ugly head at some point.  Thus, it would really be a non-problem.

          So what are we waiting for? 

          Tuesday, July 28, 2020

          The Only Way Out Of The Pandemic In One Piece

          As time goes on and the endgame of the COVID-19 pandemic is now coming into focus, it is becoming increasingly apparent that not only do lockdowns not work very well and in fact do more harm than good, but that there is really only one realistic way out of this nightmare at this juncture.  And that way out will ultimately come about sooner or later, via a combination of three things:
          1. "Herd immunity", which simply means that a large enough percentage of the population has become at least relatively immune to the disease (either via natural infection and/or mass vaccination) so as to quash the epidemic and keep it from taking off again in the near future.  The former route is far more likely in the near term than the latter, and the herd immunity threshold (HIT) is most likely far lower than was originally believed, and many states and countries are likely already there by now.
          2. "Attenuation", which really is just a fancy way of saying that the virus becomes weaker over time, losing its "mojo".  There is some evidence that this process has already begun at least several weeks ago.  Especially if combined with herd immunity, the virus may eventually become the new common cold, if not phase out entirely.
          3. Better early treatment of patients with the disease.  This cannot be overstated, as we have learned a lot about how to treat such patients, and most importantly what NOT to do, through trial and error (sadly, mostly error).  Now if only the feds were use the Defense Production Act to force production of PPE for hospitals rather than focus on often counterproductive ventilators.
          These three things are, of course, all a result of the widespread circulation of the virus, which of course came at a very heavy price in terms of human lives.  But once the proverbial horse is out of the barn, as it has already bolted long ago, such a thing is inevitable sooner or later.  Especially with the prospect of a safe and effective vaccine likely years away.

          Sweden, as we know, understood this very well from the start.  It is really a shame how most other countries did not, and some still seem not to for whatever bizarre reason.  Instead, they mocked Sweden's moderate mitigation strategy and attempted to suppress the virus all the way to zero via lockdowns and mass quarantines, often belatedly.  Those that acted too late basically trashed their economies for nothing while inadvertently creating a Sweden-like herd immunity scenario anyway (albeit often with far more excess deaths), while those that acted early seemed to dodge a bullet, only to see a resurgence (or extra legs) of the virus later.  Basically, as the now-famous Swedish epidemiologist Anders Tegnell predicted, a year from now (if not earlier) we will see that practically all countries and states will end up the same way (within error bounds) regardless of what strategies they pursued, a few lucky (or unlucky) outliers notwithstanding.

          In other words, the virus is in the wild and has been for a while now, so shutting down again will only delay the inevitable, and drag it out that much longer and more painfully.  So don't do it again!

          That said, we should also note that the TSAP unequivocally does NOT support the practice of "corona parties" or any other deliberate or grossly negligent mass infection-inducing behavior.  This virus is, at best, extremely difficult to control.  Just because most people will inevitably be exposed to the virus at some point does NOT mean that anyone should willingly and unnecessarily tempt fate in any way.  And even though the virus is relatively harmless to most people, that clearly does NOT mean that it is for everyone, and there are of course documented cases of people dying or suffering irreversible damage from it at surprisingly young ages.  This is still a potentially dangerous and deadly virus, after all.  So seriously, live your life, "keep calm and carry on" as the old saying goes, but please do take precautions, avoid large crowds, and don't be stupid and reckless about it!  Young people, this means you too.

          UPDATE:  Some pundits apparently still believe in a "Zero Covid" strategy in which no level of the virus is tolerated, assuming that it can actually be truly eliminated via suppression measures.  The problem with that quixotic, ivory-tower idea is twofold--first, even if possible, we missed our chance to do it many months ago, and secondly, any attempt to do so now will only drag it out and prolong the pain by further delaying herd immunity.  With plenty of collateral damage too.  And we would basically have to live like the unfortunate folks in Susan Cooper's Orwellian-style dystopian novel Mandrake for the foreseeable future, a truly disproportionate response to a disease whose deadliness is most likely in the range of seasonal flu to medium pandemic flu.  And with most likely zero lives saved as a result.  Fortunately, we will likely reach herd immunity and/or attenuation of the virus sooner than expected, if not already there, so it won't be long before this debate becomes academic.

          And sorry, but moving the goalposts does NOT really furbish the "Zero Covid" strategy one bit, which is still just as ridiculous as a "Zero Flu" strategy.  After all, there was a reason we were able to (relatively) tame the flu over time without eradicating it, and that reason was via the three aforementioned factors:  herd immunity, attenuation, and improvements in treating patients.  We'd be wise to learn from history.