Saturday, November 14, 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic Has A Kill Switch. Let's Use It, Yesterday!

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.

What if there was a way to end the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic quickly and harmlessly, within a matter of a few weeks at most, without resorting to lockdowns or shutdowns of any kind, and without the need for any sort of vaccine?  Eradication of this soon-to-be-endemic virus is of course practically impossible since that train has left the station long ago, but it can be quite easily reduced to a mere nuisance like the common cold or seasonal flu going forward.  

Of course, in the long run, both "herd immunity" and attenuation (weakening) of the virus itself will do the trick, as an inevitable result of mass natural infection, and we're already pretty damn close, but what do we do in the meantime to make this a far less risky proposition since the virus is, you know, rather nasty and even deadly for some people?  Enter antiviral prophylaxis of some sort.  According to a very good model originally designed for pandemic influenza, this will not only "flatten the curve", but actually CRUSH the curve down hard, more so and faster than even the very best vaccines ever could, as the latter take too much time to roll out en masse and kick in.  And a solution couldn't come soon enough.

So what would this prophylaxis be?  Here is our "kill switch" to sharply reduce not only bad outcomes such as deaths, but also viral transmission as well:
Really?  Sounds too easy, right?  We thought so too at first, but the evidence just keeps on piling up.  These things all enhance the immune system, tone down the body's harmful overreactions, and/or directly neutralize the virus itself.  And they are safe enough to recommend to the general population, not only those who are designated as "high risk" or "high exposure" (though certainly a fortiori for such folks). And they, among other things, all featured quite prominently in a previous article we wrote about treatment and prophylaxis for COVID-19.  And of course, they also work for many other viruses in general as well.  It is amazing how many people are deficient in many of these nutrients, and also how many of the various symptoms and after-effects thought to be linked to the virus itself may actually be the result of such deficiencies at least in part.

That alone should keep the vast, vast majority of COVID patients out of the hospital.  And for any severe cases that still occur, we already know how to easily treat the most likely complications of secondary bacterial infections, cytokine storms, and blood clots, using antibiotics, corticosteroids, and blood thinners.  And we also know now that ventilators kill more people than they save, and that less invasive means of oxygen therapy work quite well in fact, especially if you don't lay the patients on their backs.  In other words, this is actually a very manageable disease, and the specious idea that it is somehow unmanageable is simply a self-fulfilling prophecy driven by panic and misinformation (if not outright disinformation).

For example, check out the recently updated MATH+ protocol (for hospitalized patients) and the new I-MASK+ protocol (for early treatment and prophylaxis) both from the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC).  And see also the recently updated protocol by the Swiss Doctor as well.

To further out-ninja this virus, redirect it away from vulnerable people, and reduce the herd immunity threshold and overshoot, we should take some lessons from the countries that had very low death rates without (or independently of) lockdowns:
  • Wash your hands, don't touch your face, cover coughs and sneezes, stay home if sick, avoid people who are currently sick, and all that jazz. Vulnerable people should avoid crowds as much as possible.  You know, common sense, basically.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently, including your phone.
  • Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate indoor spaces as much as possible.
  • Do temperature checks to enter public buildings and workplaces, and perhaps for public transportation as well.
  • When doing contact tracing, do backward rather than forward tracing.  That works much better given the stochastic nature of this virus.
  • When it comes to gatherings of any kind, remember that SIZE MATTERS, as the risk of virus exposure and spread increases exponentially with the number of people present.  This is especially true in enclosed spaces for prolonged periods of time.
  • Use face masks judiciously, not superstitiously.  They are filters, not barriers.  Change/clean them as frequently as possible so they don't backfire and become fomites (germ carriers).
  • And most importantly, take the proper precautions to stop the nosocomial spread of the virus within hospitals and nursing homes, which account for the lion's share of deaths in many countries, but some countries managed to solve nonetheless.
In other words, take the same precautions you would if you found out that there was a flu outbreak and/or a norovirus outbreak in your neighborhood, community, or workplace.  Because the way it spreads is similar to both types of viruses--and like the latter one, don't neglect the fecal-oral route of transmission.

Of course, thus far we are referring to the actual pandemic, that is, the one that actually produces significant excess deaths.  We haven't discussed how to also quash the massive testing "casedemic" that has been superimposed on top of it.  Here's how to tackle that one going forward as well:
  • Reduce the cycle threshold for PCR testing to 30 for standard sensitivity, and perhaps 35 for high sensitivity testing.
  • Confirm all positives with a retest before reporting results, especially positives with a cycle threshold >25.
  • Test sensitivity is rather overrated, apparently, at least in terms of a tradeoff with speed and frequency.
  • Do not include positive antigen (i.e. rapid) tests in reported "cases" unless also confirmed by PCR.
  • Do not mix in positive antibody test results as new "cases", as that is comparing apples and oranges.
  • Do not count multiple positive tests of the same individual as separate "cases", unless they are at least several months apart.
  • Consider restricting virus testing to symptomatic individuals only, except in very sensitive environments such as hospitals and nursing homes.
  • Report COVID hospitalizations as such only if the patients are there because of the virus (think CLI, ILI, shortness of breath, and/or pneumonia), not just because they tested positive after being admitted for something unrelated.
  • Make sure all deaths designated as COVID deaths really are from COVID. That is, no motor vehicle accidents, gunshot wounds, alligator attacks, deaths of despair, etc. with merely incidental positive tests.
  • Report cases by specimen date and deaths by date of death.
And just like that, goodbye pandemic!  And by ending lockdowns and other restrictions and going back to true normal sooner rather than later, we will also prevent any further collateral damage that is the actual root cause of so many excess deaths and so much misery we have seen so far this year.

And there you have it.  Consider this our silver bullet, and golden ticket out of this horrible nightmare for good.  Yesterday is not soon enough.  So what are we waiting for?  Let the real healing begin!

UPDATE:  After perusing some of the links in this article, the reader may wonder why we did not list bromhexine as a treatment and prophylaxis despite it looking rather promising.  The reason is simply because it is unfortunately still not available in the USA, despite it being safe and readily available OTC in almost every country in the world.  And this article is written primarily for an American audience.

One can also add resveratrol to the list as well, as it helps normalize the immune system, and was also found to show effectiveness against a far deadlier member of the coronavirus family, namely MERS.

As for long-haulers (those suffering from longer-term COVID after-effects), many of the reported symptoms sound a lot like those of deficiencies in several of the aforementioned key nutrients, particularly Vitamin D (in general), Vitamin B1 (dysautonomia and recurring fevers), and zinc (loss of smell and taste).  Correcting these deficiencies would likely work very well to promote healing.  And according to Dr. Dmitry Kats, there is also at least anecdotal evidence as well that Niacin (Vitamin B3) can be beneficial as well in healing from remnant COVID damage, which is not really surprising given how well it works to treat acute COVID (as he discovered in his RCT study).  Apparently, a good chunk of Long COVID can be considered a virus-induced form or offshoot of pellagra (niacin or NAD+ deficiency), and many of the symptoms of both match up, thus curable with niacin.

As for prophylactic nasal sprays, some are in development as we speak, though not yet commercially available.  Until then, fortunately there is already one that is likely to block the virus while yielding additional health benefits in the meantime.  It is called Xlear, a natural, drug-free saline nasal spray with xylitol and grapefruit seed extract.

See also "A Rational Path Forward" by the folks at Rational Ground as well.

Friday, November 6, 2020

You Lost, Donald. Accept it.

Dear Donald J. Trump,

Look, we all know you lost the election despite all of your skulduggery thus far. Not even your crony Postmaster General could save you from humiliating defeat.  You almost had it in the bag, but now it is all slipping away as we speak.  And having the GALL to actually go to court to attempt to stop legitimate ballot counting from continuing just because you aren't getting your way, is NOT a good look for you at all.

NO ONE likes a sore loser, Donald.  Your already tarnished image will only get that much more so if you continue with this infantile tantrum and charade.

On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden will take your place as President of the United States of America, and you will have to step down whether you like it or not.  If you refuse, Biden will just have you escorted off the premises by the Secret Service like they would any trespasser, and perhaps even the men in the white coats will cart you away as well.  In fact, "5150 at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" kinda has a nice ring to it.  You can do it the easy way, or the hard way, so you might as well start cleaning out your desk now.  Sad!

As you famously like to say, "YOU'RE FIRED!"  And don't let the door hit you on the way out, loser.

We The People 

UPDATE:  As of November 7, 2020, the election has now been called in favor of Biden.  Even Fox News admits it now, as it can no longer be denied anymore.

Congratulations, President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris!  You did it!

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Difference Between Naive and Stupid

Well, it's official.  Several European countries are now back to lockdown once again.  It seems nearly every country not named Sweden or Belarus is blindly copying one another to one degree or another now just like before.  And even on this side of the proverbial pond, there are still plenty of folks eager to copy them if allowed the chance.  They clearly didn't learn the first time that lockdowns simply don't work, and do far more harm than good on balance.   

The first time they did it, they were naive at best, but the second time is just plain stupid.  The first time was an argument from ignorance, while the second time is an argument from thick-headedness.

Hey geniuses, wanna know why you are getting a second wave of the virus now?  Let us count the ways:

  1.  You are testing much more than during the first wave, often many times more.
  2.  You are using such a high PCR cycle threshold that creates far too many false positives.
  3.  You are still quite liberal with what you define as a COVID death.
  4. "Mitigation fatigue" is all too real, and viruses gonna virus regardless.
  5.  And last but not least, your lockdowns the first time merely postponed the inevitable.  Really.  Whether you shaved off a little bit from the first wave (like the UK) or nearly suppressed the first wave entirely (like Czechia), guess what?  You are getting right now exactly what you had postponed earlier, except now during flu season.  A real genius move, guys. 

And before you say "But Sweden is getting a second wave too!", take a look at the hard data on Worldometer or Our World In Data.  Cases are apparently way up in recent weeks, yes, but hospitalizations are only modestly up, and deaths are still largely crawling along the baseline, having had no excess deaths since July and on track to have a below-normal flu season.  Whatever their second wave, it does not appear to be particularly deadly, and they are currently in a much better position than nearly all the rest of Europe as they head into winter.

UPDATE:  And yes, COVID-19 apparently does have a strong seasonality to it in both the USA and Europe, which is of course a double-edged sword.  As for Sweden, deaths are apparently up, but still no excess deaths since all-cause mortality remains largely in the normal range per EUROMOMO.  After all, "excess" is relative.  And also, where did the flu go?  It seems that in practically every country, including Sweden, it seems to have mysteriously vanished for some reason.  Things that (should) make you go, hmmmm.

As for Finland and Norway, who still have some of the lowest COVID death rates in the Western world, keep in mind that both countries were actually LESS stringent than Sweden for the majority of the pandemic (i.e. from May until early November).

The UK's Lockdown 2.0 and the subsequent perpetual lockdown-in-all-but-name appear to have not done a lick of good at all in terms of the number or timing of COVID cases, hospitalizations, or deaths.  It appears to be at best irrelevant to the virus, if not perverse.

Banning all or practically all mixing between households, especially at this very late stage of the pandemic, is utterly risible if it weren't so tragic.  News flash, for most of the pandemic there has been, and still is today, far more transmission within households than between them, and not primarily driven by children or asymptomatic spread either.  Once the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, such government overreach is simply a cruel joke.

And meanwhile, several US states are in fact backsliding towards lockdown once again, with practically all states except Florida and South Dakota tightening restrictions at least somewhat since September.  Riddle me this:  if it worked so well the first time, why are we doing it again?  If it did NOT work the first time, why are we doing it again?

In fact, going into the holiday season, Florida is actually doing better than the national average now in spite of barely any restrictions since September 25, and both North and South Dakota have peaked and declined organically since mid-November despite mild/late (ND) or no (SD) restrictions, around the same time as the stricter Midwestern states.  California, on the other hand, is not doing so hot at all.

Even Georgia, notably first out the gate to lift restrictions and reopen in general and also first out the gate to reopen schools statewide, was not the disaster that was predicted, and seven months later they are....average compared to the rest of the country.  And sadly while both Dakotas are now cumulatively among the top ten worst states in terms of deaths per capita, the timing of their admittedly severe but very late outbreaks and decline of same does not show any relevance to policy measures.

JANUARY 2021 UPDATE:  Looks like Sweden did unfortunately have low to moderate excess weekly deaths for several weeks in a row in late November, December, and early January per EUROMOMO.  But they still had far less than they did during their first wave and significantly less than most European countries did during their second wave, especially the UK (again), Spain (again), Belgium (again), Italy (again), France, Portugal, and much less than Czechia and Slovenia as well.  And it began much later as well.  2020 seems to have been Sweden's worst year for all-cause deaths since 2012, and fairly comparable to 2015, while some other countries in contrast had their worst year in decades.  And it looks like Sweden's second wave is almost over now, with cases now plummeting despite it being the middle of winter.  Meanwhile, Florida and California are both shaping up to be about average among US states on a cumulative basis despite taking polar opposite approaches to their epidemics, kinda like how Sweden and France are both around the European average as well.  As the old saying goes, that's why you never call the winner at halftime.

Regardless of what NPIs were done, it appears that the winter wave is now in rapid retreat worldwide in nearly every country, well before the vaccines would have had much if any effect.  Reducing the cycle threshold for PCR testing and/or making testing more targeted per revised WHO guidance has likely played a role in many countries and US states, but enough naturally-acquired herd immunity to bend the curve down has also most likely been achieved as well.

Note that other endemic coronaviruses (i.e. common cold viruses) tend to peak seasonally in January or so and then sharply decline afterwards.  Thus, the decline of this virus will most likely continue through the spring and summer as well, give or take a possible March secondary peak in some places perhaps.

(And again, where did the flu goHmmmm....)

So what do you call it when you do the same thing over and over and expect different results?