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1 hour ago, RickinSTL said:

I'm 48 and my wife is 49.  Both of us fall into the "essential worker" tier in Illinois.. I haven't gotten a flu shot in almost 25 years... We both got our first dose of the Pfizer Vaccine Tuesday.. 

Nice.  Got my second dose last Friday.  Lets just say plan to do nothing for a couple days after.  Headache was rough the first day about 2 hours after the shot.  Lymph nodes swelled as well and some nausea.  Second day was fever and headache with joint and muscle ache and chills.  I held off as long as I could before taking tylenol not wanting to interfere with the vaccine.  Third day was more of the same but much less, took tylenol that morning and was good after that.  Only other thing I noticed was being tired but having a hard time sleeping.

I am 41 and pretty good immune system, rarely get sick.  Neighbor of mine is older and had a headache and arm ache from the first one and second was about the same.  I am just glad I planned for down time as I honestly was in bed a good portion of the two days afterwards.

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Well, today's messaging from Fauci and Walensky is anything but encouraging or words that might lead to local officials easing restrictions or the CDC greenlighting cruising.  In fact, quite the opposite and, IMO, intended. According to these now public faces of the Biden administration's COVID experts, the rate of decline in new infections is slowing so, don't break out the Champaign just yet ..... or worse, don't start relaxing mitigation measures or letting the cruise industry get back to producing billions in global economic activity.

Here's the basis of that. Epidemiologist think that the UK variant is going to become the dominant strain in the US. It has risen from 1% of new cases to 10% here. The UK variant is more transmissible because it spends more time in the human host compared to the original strain (13d v. 8d). Ostensibly, that leads to one person infecting more people that they come in contact with, IOW R(0) rises. So, R(0) must be rising, right? Is R(0) rising?

I track three sources of data that are the basis for R(0) - the most reliable measure of trends in circulating virus; when it's below 1.0 it can be present but it is not increasing in sero-prevalence (% positivity). All of them are in agreement: the presence of the virus is declining*. There may be local increases but these are few and far between. Check your state here:

https://epiforecasts.io/covid/posts/...united-states/

* This data is collated and presented at this website on a weekly basis and is current as of 02/20/2021. The CDC does not get anymore accurate data than what the states report and they will report week-ending data for 02/26/21 tomorrow. Wslenski is shamefully premature and probably wrong in suggesting that circulating virus "could be" on the rise.

Are deaths and hospitalizations rising? Nope...... and these two metrics are the best and most important measures of COVID disease burden.

https://covidtracking.com/analysis-u...19-data-feb-25

So, what is this, people? If I can go out and show that today's statements made by Fauci and Walensky are at best premature and at the worst, blatantly wrong and misleading how much confidence should Americans have in what they're selling? Is there any doubt why people are still scarred and won't go out? Why the CDC is holding out on allowing cruises to operate from US ports causing billions in losses to this industry? Any doubt why we will continue to have these unnecessary measures being foisted on us by local officials? To bring that point home, an article popped up in my local Sun Sentinel around 2p today. The author interviewed a handful of vaccinated people in S FL asking them if their behavior was going to change after they got vaccinated and as more Floridians got their shots? Everyone of them said they were still concerned about getting COVID and still wouldn't go out or socialize much ...... face palm follows. Once people buy into how they should behave, it is really hard to change that unless and of course you aren't following this advice like sheep.

 

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What I just said ..... stop worrying about extremely unlikely COVID risks. This is a Bloomberg opinion piece that's paywalled but is free content here:

https://tylerpaper.com/ap/commentary...88d89ab63.html
 
Props to Matt's mention of the July 2020 study that showed cruise ships were pretty safe places to be. That study got absolutely ignored in the rush to hammer and scapegoat the cruise industry. So wrong!
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Back on the positive side: got my 1st jab of the Pfizer yesterday.  Feeling a little run down, achy and a headache, but given my autoimmune disorder, it's actually a far better outcome than I expected.  I was shocked how well organized and seamless the whole thing was once I got the appointment.  It was given in a "mega site" in Edison, NJ.  The administrative/registration end was run by the National Guard while Robert Wood Johnson medical staff did the vaccinating and post vax observation.  It was 11 minutes from door to needle.  I literally spent more time in observation (15 minutes) than I did waiting and taking care of paperwork.  Knocking on every piece of wood within reach, but it seems like they're starting to get the system down pat up here! 🤞 

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56 minutes ago, SpeedNoodles said:

The 911 center is still being told we won't get them until May.  Cuz, really, who needs anyone to answer 911?

Hoping to be a beacon of hope: my original appointment date was April 16th until I got a text on Sunday that there were appointments available this week for me. 🤞

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According to reports in the UK the new strain found in New York is the one to watch. 

So US reports are saying UK strain is the worst and UK reports are saying its the New York one!!!

So each is accusing the other of having the worst strain, guess this is one title no one wants to win lol

The only fact that matters is the fact there are now vacccines out there and most sensible people are getting them. Are they going to be 100% successful? Not a chance!! I mean the flu jab isnt 100% , we just need to try and focus on each day without thinking to far into the future because everything could change again in months to come

 

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15 hours ago, JeffB said:
What I just said ..... stop worrying about extremely unlikely COVID risks. This is a Bloomberg opinion piece that's paywalled but is free content here:

https://tylerpaper.com/ap/commentary...88d89ab63.html
 
Props to Matt's mention of the July 2020 study that showed cruise ships were pretty safe places to be. That study got absolutely ignored in the rush to hammer and scapegoat the cruise industry. So wrong!

I'm sorry your use of facts to debunk the official narrative is clearly not kosher in some way. 😉 Keep it up !

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As far as the news reports go on which one is worse and if an existing vaccine works... well throw reading or watching them in the trash. Simply put the news is about ratings and big scary headlines makes most people interested in them. I can barely stand to watch the local weather with the oversensationalization and living in tornado alley is something you have to do sometimes.  That and I feel like I need to get tickets to all the "events" that seem to be popping up. 

 

Save yourself a major headache and an ulcer and watch and read less news about current events that are major headlines. 

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On 2/27/2021 at 5:30 AM, mattymay said:

What about the Californian devil strain? 

image.thumb.png.43515234a8f0b7326a3caa52564e622e.png

Not sure if this is tongue in cheek or a serious question. I'm going with the later .......

This stuff is interesting tm me, may not be to others but I post it here mainly because there is so much misinformation about the SARS-2 variants, what they actually are, whether vaccines will be compromised by their appearance or whether or not they evade detection and produce more serious symptoms. The authors of the article where this chart appeared, along with being frankly honest about the risks a handful of variants present to controlling the virus, is that a mutation process known as "convergent evolution" dictates that more worrisome SARS-2 variants will be few instead of many. In practical terms it means that variants found in South Africa may be of the same lineage than those found in Brazil. The implication is that vaccines can be tweaked to handle just a few lineages containing multiple variants and will work fine against all of them. Something I took from this chart is that out of the hundreds of variants (not all of them are shown here) only 6 of them are of concern to scientists studying them and 1/2 of these come from the same lineage.

Click image for larger version  Name: Genome.JPG Views: 15 Size: 87.6 KB ID: 1730181

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Obviously good news on the vaccine front today.  After what seems like the 15th approval in a long list of news of, "it's approved", the J&J vaccine will begin distribution from manufacturing sites tomorrow. 

  • It's a one shot vaccine with trials underway to determine if two shots of it are better. Trials are also underway for teens.
  • It's a "cold virus analog" carrying the SARS-2 spike protein that stimulates a protective immune system response.
  • This, unlike the mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, is a prototypical vaccine similar to AZ's and both the Russian and Chinese versions or your annual flu shot.
  • The biggest advantage is that it can be stored in a fridge for up to 60d.
  • Side effects are comparable to the Pfizer and Moderna shots - arm soreness, flu like symptoms.
  • It's considered 85% effective in preventing serious disease and death v. all 6 of the troublesome variants that I posted about above.
  • It's 66% effective when moderate disease is included - the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines never included moderate disease in their trials.
  • Comparing the effectiveness of the 3 isn't possible due to trial designs.
  • Don't refuse one to wait for another you think is better. Take whatever is available as soon as it becomes available to you.
  • 20M doses immediately available for distribution, 100M "by summer."

If I've got this right, the US will have enough vaccines distributed by the end of May to have inoculated everyone over 18 who accepts it.
When herd immunity is reached depends on the rate of vaccine acceptance. Obviously, the more people that refuse the vaccine for non-medical reasons, the later herd immunity will be reached. Anywhere close to 60% gets us there by the end of April.

But still we have this pessimistic messaging that I've derided elsewhere:

“This is exciting news for all Americans, and an encouraging development in our efforts to bring an end to the crisis,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “But I want to be clear: this fight is far from over,” he added, encouraging people to stick with masks and other public health measures.

Look, I'm not a virologist, an epidemiologist or an expert on this but everything I read, you know, the scientific facts, tells me that providing pessimistic messaging like this is counterproductive and encourages and continues the fear factor that is keeping people tethered to their homes and avoiding social contact while public health officials refuse to ease mitigation measures.

FACT:

  • You can't get COVID from touching a surface yet we persist with this sanitizing of surfaces in public venues.
  • The risk of getting COVID outside, even in congregate settings, is lower than being involved in a serious car crash with injuries.
  • Do we stop driving? Nope.
  • Are there places where COVID mitigation measures include no public gatherings of more than X number of people and masking outdoors? Yes, a lot of places.
  • In a gathering of vaccinated people, no one needs to mask or distance yet, in FL, because of the kind of messaging coming from Biden among others, fully vaccinated retirees living in community settings, won't play cards, dance or gather with each other.
  • In their "golden years" they are sacrificing what is most important for their mental health, face-to-face socialization. Ridiculous.

I'm more reluctant to discard masking and distancing for the unvaccinated under 65 crowd when out and about although I can make a case for that based on risk/benefit analysis. It's not because I think increased disease burden in the US will occur in this population. It won't. I do think the potential for increasing new cases and positivity counts is real. There was an article yesterday at the Points Guy website that said, "the one number to watch for the restart of cruising is (absolute) case numbers. I'll get to why that's wrong in a subsequent post.

 Of course, people in the under 65 age cohort will mostly be asymptomatic or have a cold. But, if this population pursues testing and because of it case numbers rise there's a problem with that. The problem is that public perceptions and how PH officials view this will harden, e.g., the CDC won't green light cruising from US ports. The MSM will augment the fear factor by reporting the rising case numbers as a new wave of the virus - the fifth!

An increase in case numbers/positivity (sero-prevalence) will prompt a refusal to ease mitigation measures, mobility restrictions and restrictions to congregate settings. People will continue to needlessly stay home, won't shop, won't eat out, won't socialize, won't gather responsibly. Stoking the fear factor will increase pressure from the public to keep unnecessary mitigation measures in place - and for Pete's sake, don't let cruise ships operate. Everyone will nod their heads in agreement. 

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Why is the Points Guy wrong about calling the number one thing to watch to signal a restart of cruising is new case numbers. Well. he's right in one sense since too many simply don't understand the science and the facts. But Public Health Officials deciding on what metrics should guide easing of mitigation measures should look at R(0) or the number of people one infected person then infects others. When that number is <1.0, the virus is receding, circulating and increasing when it's > 1.0. This is a graphic depiction of R(0) by state followed by a listing of each state's R(0). If I counted correctly, 3 states have increasing numbers of cases (R-0 >1.0) https://epiforecasts.io/covid/posts/national/united-states/

If you want to dig into this and see national data current through today go here: https://epiforecasts.io/covid/posts/national/united-states/

A couple of take-aways from these charts: R(0) at the second link shows a real and forecast upward trend - this is where Fauci and Walenski are getting information to suggest that new cases may not be declining as fast as 2 weeks ago or are rising. There are multiple caveats to the data. If the testing circumstances change (e.g., less aggressive testing, more aggressive testing) it affects the reliability of the data sets rendering forecasts unreliable. So, I take with a grain of salt Fauci's and Walenski's warnings on Friday and Biden's pessimism on Saturday evening.

That is because, in the US, as vaccines become available, public health resources are being diverted from testing sites and moved to vaccinations sites - less testing is happening. As well, fewer people are requesting to be tested. I'm more inclined to look at data 7-14d ago as being more reliable than the last 7d. IOW, the trend in virus circulation is downward and will stay that way as long as getting vaccines into peoples arms is front and center.   I'd add that augmenting the R(0) metric with hospitalizations and deaths - both declining in absolute terms and trending downward in rate terms - supports the take that the virus is receding not that it is accelerating or will accelerate. 

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15 hours ago, SpeedNoodles said:

I don't see the point about complaining that public areas are being disinfected more often.  There are certainly other diseases and problems that could be mitigated by excellent sanitation (hello, Norovirus).  

Yep - Its been almost a year since we sailed Liberty of the Seas. It was the last Liberty cruise before everything shut down.   Under the threat, that ship was super clean - never saw so much attention to cleaning detail on a ship before.  We sailed with all our family and no one picked up the common cruise crud, nor did we hear fellow passengers coughing and sneezing as much as past cruises.  In discussing the additional cleaning protocols with the Johnny Rockets manager, he thought the protocols were a lot of work but felt they should have been done all the time.  The food service industry is amazing when you think of how many vectors there are to get sick, yet for the most part, there aren't a lot of wide spread sickness breakouts unless one of the "rules" is bent or broken.

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14 hours ago, SpeedNoodles said:

I don't see the point about complaining that public areas are being disinfected more often.  There are certainly other diseases and problems that could be mitigated by excellent sanitation (hello, Norovirus).  

I don't disagree with this, after all, influenza has been absent this flu season mostly because of mitigation measures such as sanitizing surfaces. Both H1N1-influenza and norovirus are both known to be transmitted by fomites - the epidemiologic term for fingers > touch a contaminated surface > touch mucous membranes (mouth, nose eyes) > develop disease symptoms (fever, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea).

My point was that it is now within the body of SARS-2 scientific knowledge that SARS-2 is not transmitted via fomites. Public health officials have advanced the notion that hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, sanitizing surfaces with products like Clorox or Lysol is an effective mitigation measures for stopping the spread of the virus from the beginning and continue to emphasize it now. It isn't and amounts to little more than virtue signaling. Masking and distancing to stop the spread of the virus by it's primary mode of transmission - airborne droplets and aerosols - is very important.

While there is no doubt that increased sanitizing of surfaces in public areas has decreased disease from viruses spread by this mode of transmission, emphasizing it as a effective mitigation measure for COVID is counter-productive. That is because people learn it doesn't help and that develops mistrust to public health guidance and fuels antipathy toward measures that do work.       

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15 hours ago, SpeedNoodles said:

I don't see the point about complaining that public areas are being disinfected more often.  There are certainly other diseases and problems that could be mitigated by excellent sanitation (hello, Norovirus).  

Right? This reminds me of our sailing on Rhapsody in 2017. The previous sailing had a small norovirus outbreak (20-30 cases). As a result, the ship underwent thorough cleaning for the remainder of that cruise, additional deep cleaning of common areas post-cruise (I believe it may have delayed the cabins being ready/opened), and the staff was continually cleaning "high-touch" items during out cruise. (hand-rails, elevator controls, etc.) and hand sanitizing protocols at dining entrances. I appreciated the efforts and it certainly didn't dampen my enjoyment. 

What was perplexing was the "grumpiness" of some people entering the WJ at the thought of having to use the hand sanitizer. The constant cry of "But I just washed my hands!" at the poor young lady holding the sanitizer was pathetic. How is she supposed to know and confirm that?

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What can we take from RCL's announcement that Odyssey will sail from Haifa on May 21st as Matt just posted on the front page?

Well, if ports in FL and TX can lead the way in getting their COVID numbers right, we could see those ports getting sequentially greenlighted by the CDC. This thinking based on the experience in Israel may not translate to the US but I could see the CDC looking regionally and locally with lifting sailing restrictions instead of lifting the restrictions entirely. 

Besides that? Getting on an RCL  cruise ship that's debarking from just about anywhere is going to require a vaccination. 

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57 minutes ago, JeffB said:

Besides that? Getting on an RCL  cruise ship that's debarking from just about anywhere is going to require a vaccination. 

^^^THIS!

That was my immediate takeaway from the news the morning. We’re good to go! Hubby should be getting his this month and I might have to wait till May, but as soon as our borders open, we are masked and ready! 

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13 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

^^^THIS!

That was my immediate takeaway from the news the morning. We’re good to go! Hubby should be getting his this month and I might have to wait till May, but as soon as our borders open, we are masked and ready! 

@Lovetocruise2002 spotting coming soon to the US border

Episode 9 Marty Mush GIF by Barstool Sports

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"EU Announces Plan for Vaccine Passports."

It's coming. Cross boarder EU travel is going to be available at some point when objections to the discriminatory nature of these things either get sensibly over-come or simply rolled over despite those objections. It's not clear in the article how US citizens who have been vaccinated will be treated. Looks like for now, anyway, it's EU passport holders who will be getting the green light.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/europes-covid-passports-coming-to-an-airport-near-you-in-march

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