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You're welcome ...... it is near impossible to remain positive about an end to or reasonable control of the pandemic being bombarded with the fear and dire consequences media narrative.

I posted elsewhere about this as related to what I consider an irresponsibly unnecessary announcement about the likely need for boosters by the Biden administration. 

COVID data, IMO, is uniformly unreliable for the purpose of both assessing and formulating PH policy when this is being done by amateurs at our level, including the media.  Epidemiology and virology are immensely complicated fields where absolutes rarely exist. 

I do think the CDC has data and hard working people who interpret it. The problem is that policy formulation has been corrupted by a number of factors, one being politics. Another is incompetence in both interpreting what hard working people who do know stuff are telling the deciders and the decider incompetently turning that into policy and messaging. 

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14 minutes ago, JeffB said:

You're welcome ...... it is near impossible to remain positive about an end to or reasonable control of the pandemic being bombarded with the fear and dire consequences media narrative.

I posted elsewhere about this as related to what I consider an irresponsibly unnecessary announcement about the likely need for boosters by the Biden administration. 

COVID data, IMO, is uniformly unreliable for the purpose of both assessing and formulating PH policy when this is being done by amateurs at our level, including the media.  Epidemiology and virology are immensely complicated fields where absolutes rarely exist. 

I do think the CDC has data and hard working people who interpret it. The problem is that policy formulation has been corrupted by a number of factors, one being politics. Another is incompetence in both interpreting what hard working people who do know stuff are telling the deciders and the decider incompetently turning that into policy and messaging. 

I also thank you for being a ‘test case’ for us. Your on scene contemporaneous reporting is giving me lots of insight and boosting my confidence that cruising is back to stay! 

You are right! Expert opinions, facts, science and data are unfortunately being manipulated and muddied by political and personal agendas. The so-called fair and balanced media are the worst offenders! Trust in what are supposed to be apolitical organizations is eroded….it’s a shame.
 

 

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I don't want to be dismissive of the dangers of SARS2 - it's a nasty virus, no question, and is among the worst the human race has encountered.

But, early and retrospectively, global PH response to the virus has been a disaster.....the one highlight being operation Warp Speed using a public/private model to develop mRNA vaccines that will turn out to be akin in value to humanity to Salk's development of the polio vaccine. 

When the available data is viewed in the proper context and in its entirety, devoid of the shameful politics and media drumbeat of fear good things begin to appear. For nations that didn't impose draconian mitigation measures that we're devastating to, in particular, the travel and leisure sector of the global economy, so damaging to human interactions, what's now on the plates of these nations, in varying degree, is figuring out how to live with and manage this thing.

Perceptions of risk are much greater than actual risks in the whole. It is those wrong headed perceptions of risk that are holding back moving forward not the actual risks of COVID. 

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The last thing I want to add about Carnival...

They are operating within the framework and guidance of the CDC Conditional Sail Order.

Choosing the 95/95 vaccinated path and skipping a simulated test cruise did not absolve Carnival from the CSO.  Choosing 95/95 vaccinated simply means they were able to skip the simulated voyage and carry on with the rest of the CSO.  The CDC embraced Carnival's approach.  

If it isn't working, the CDC CSO guidance has a significant role in that. 

  • For ships with at least 95% of crew and 95% of passengers fully vaccinated, cruise ship operators, at their discretion, may advise passengers and crew that they do not have to wear a mask or maintain physical distance in any areas. Confirmation that 95% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated must be made available to CDC upon request.

  

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As an example of what I'm talking about - perceptions v. reality and the manipulation, often intentional, of the former - there is this from the respected Economist that appeared in it's Expresso AM news feed of top stories:

A new study by Oxford University found that the Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine’s efficacy against symptomatic infections dropped to 75% after 90 days, compared with 85% two weeks after a second dose. The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, also showed that the efficacy of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab declined by 7% over the same period.

Sounds bad, right? You might conclude vaccines don't work which is exactly the concern I voiced yesterday about the irresponsible headline announcements yesterday that boosters will start to be administered in September. But these percentages are out of context. What are the actual numbers? I don't know them and I believe they are out there but not being disclosed publicly for political reasons. 

First, the terms efficacy (determined by controlled studies) and effectiveness (what's actually happening on the ground) are frequently conflated. We can't compare these two figures because they are not released side-by-side.

Second, if the efficacy is reduced, in the case of the Pfizer vaccine, from 85% to 75% (a 10% reduction) what are the actual numbers in the study. Let's say 1000 people were in the study, all vaccinated, and the accepted percentage of vaccinated people that actually develop symptoms is around 2% (and that's a high benefit of the doubt number). Given that figure, 20 vaxed people developed COVID symptoms (not hospitalized or dead and that figure is less than 1%). The study demonstrated a 10% reduction in efficacy or 2 more people got symptoms. TWO!!!

The bull-shit narrative emerging in the US, partly from misguided analysis of studies in Israel due to the same misleading errors, is that the vaccines aren't working that well and to contain the virus we need boosters. What? This is so horribly wrong that it defies credibility. 

Look, I think the study authors know this, the Israeli's know this. The US government's PH authorities? They know it but instead choose to encourage or at least allow without rebuttal the misleading press releases. The typical basis attributed to liberal governments like the Biden administration, is paternalism ...... the tendency to believe the government knows best and the details are two complex for Americans to understand. Bull-shit on that one too.  

I can only speculate the reasons but I suspect they involve convincing the public to not let their guard down. To get vaccinated. They've done just the opposite. The CDC, where this non-sense is coming from, has, for the most part become irrelevant - no one is listening to them despite the fact that there are honest, hard working people there who are probably being ignored.

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11 minutes ago, twangster said:

The last thing I want to add about Carnival...

They are operating within the framework and guidance of the CDC Conditional Sail Order.

Choosing the 95/95 vaccinated path and skipping a simulated test cruise did not absolve Carnival from the CSO.  Choosing 95/95 vaccinated simply means they were able to skip the simulated voyage and carry on with the rest of the CSO.  The CDC embraced Carnival's approach.  

If it isn't working, the CDC CSO guidance has a significant role in that. 

  • For ships with at least 95% of crew and 95% of passengers fully vaccinated, cruise ship operators, at their discretion, may advise passengers and crew that they do not have to wear a mask or maintain physical distance in any areas. Confirmation that 95% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated must be made available to CDC upon request.

  

See my facts on the ground numbers on day 19 of my B3B wrt the infection rates on board Celebrity Equinox. Equinox is operating under similar COVID health protocol choices as Carnival .... the exception is no mask required on board Equinox. TBC, this is not an endorsement of a no-mask policy on board a cruise ship with nearly all vaccinated guests. Mask mandates on board are being implemented for other reasons that I elaborated on elsewhere.

But, I take your point. I'll believe it when I see it but my hope is that Carnival and NCL have the same or a lower COVID infection rate than what is being experienced industry wide and that rate is already exceedingly low in almost every mix of layered mitigation measures.

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21 minutes ago, JeffB said:

But, I take your point. I'll believe it when I see it but my hope is that Carnival and NCL have the same or a lower COVID infection rate than what is being experienced industry wide and that rate is already exceedingly low in almost every mix of layered mitigation measures

With pre-cruise testing like it is, I think you'll see similar numbers across all cruise lines, no matter the on board protocols

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I’m thinking it would be revealing if the infection numbers on all ships are similar. We know from what we’ve seen so far that there are few cruises with zero cases aboard. I’m hoping the numbers are especially similar on ships with entirely different protocols regarding masks. That should indicate whether masking is necessary or not. Also, if ships with 100% vaccinated start seeing similar breakthrough numbers on board, it would  indicate that the cruise lines are successfully managing the disease as well as possible…and bolster the claim that cruising is safer than Main Street. But, we really don’t have a comparison. There is no mandated testing in all public settings. Imagine if everyone was tested as often as those boarding or working on a cruise ship. IMO those numbers would be significant.

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On 8/19/2021 at 12:00 PM, BrianB said:

I'm hoping the numbers are especially similar on ships with entirely different protocols regarding masks.

I think your hope will be reality.

Earlier today and for a sports blog I post on, I looked at the question of masking K-12 in the public schools. I found a web site that publishes excess mortality secondary to the pandemic. Schools being congregate settings I think you can draw the same conclusions from this analysis for cruise ships. Here's what I found. 

I'm always looking for clean data. It is that kind of data that should guide SARS2 public health policy at the federal, state and local level. It's been a while since I have visited this chart - excess mortality. From the link I provided below:


Excess mortality is a term used in epidemiology and public health that refers to the number of deaths from all causes during a crisis above and beyond what we would have expected to see under ‘normal’ conditions.1 In this case, we’re interested in how the number of deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic compares to the deaths we would have expected had the pandemic not occurred — a crucial quantity that cannot be known but can be estimated in several ways.

Excess mortality is a more comprehensive measure of the total impact of the pandemic on deaths than the confirmed COVID-19 death count alone. It captures not only the confirmed deaths, but also COVID-19 deaths that were not correctly diagnosed and reported2 as well as deaths from other causes that are attributable to the overall crisis conditions.

While the raw number of deaths helps give us a rough sense of scale, this measure has its limitations, including being less comparable across countries due to large differences in populations.

A measure that is more comparable across countries is the P-score, which calculates excess mortality as the percentage difference between the number of deaths in 2020–2021 and the average number of deaths in the same period — week or month — over the years 2015–2019


I cant cut and paste the chart here on the lap-top I have available to me on the cruise ship. The link below should take you directly to the chart of P-Scores. It's in interactive chart. I set the chart up to display the P-Scores for the US, Israel, UK and Sweden. I've created a table to show excess mortality defined by P Scores (a P-Score of 100% is double the period 2015-19)

April 2020 January 21 April 21
UK 76% US 52% US 4%
Sweden 47% Sweden 30% IS 3%
US 45% UK 25% Sweden -8%
Israel 5% Israel 17% UK -18%

The dates I chose are for obvious comparative reasons - height of the pandemic, Introduction of vaccines, one year later. The chart goes out to August 18th and excess mortality has remained with the country ranges for April getting no worse or no better. The important point here is that vaccines drove excess mortality in the right direction to exceedingly low numbers of excess deaths compared to the peak of the pandemic.

A conclusion I can draw from the P-Scores is that management of COVID either in early intervention of care and in hospitalized COVID patients is very effective. A P-Score analysis renders looking at new case numbers a pretty much useless undertaking. Nevertheless, it appears in the US anyway, that it is new case numbers erroneously driving public health policy and the re imposition of various mitigation measures without any significant PH benefits. The mask mandate debate for K-12 ..... the side that is demanding them - is an example of the illogical reasoning behind the demands for masking kids in classrooms.

I believe this logic applies to Carnival's mask mandate, something IMO is unnecessary. Carnival's consideration for a mask mandate is admittedly probably based on the potential for liability. That takes us right back to the idiocy of the CDC's recommendations on masks indoors regardless of vax status that put Carnival in a difficult position. 

https://ourworldindata.org/excess-mortality-covid

** the link may take you to the excess mortality section but won't retain my country selections I used on the chart. You may have to redo those. The visuals in this chart are stunning wrt the conclusions that can be drawn from them.

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On 8/19/2021 at 4:09 PM, JeffB said:

As an example of what I'm talking about - perceptions v. reality and the manipulation, often intentional, of the former - there is this from the respected Economist that appeared in it's Expresso AM news feed of top stories:

A new study by Oxford University found that the Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine’s efficacy against symptomatic infections dropped to 75% after 90 days, compared with 85% two weeks after a second dose. The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, also showed that the efficacy of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab declined by 7% over the same period.

Sounds bad, right? You might conclude vaccines don't work which is exactly the concern I voiced yesterday about the irresponsible headline announcements yesterday that boosters will start to be administered in September. But these percentages are out of context. What are the actual numbers? I don't know them and I believe they are out there but not being disclosed publicly for political reasons. 

First, the terms efficacy (determined by controlled studies) and effectiveness (what's actually happening on the ground) are frequently conflated. We can't compare these two figures because they are not released side-by-side.

Second, if the efficacy is reduced, in the case of the Pfizer vaccine, from 85% to 75% (a 10% reduction) what are the actual numbers in the study. Let's say 1000 people were in the study, all vaccinated, and the accepted percentage of vaccinated people that actually develop symptoms is around 2% (and that's a high benefit of the doubt number). Given that figure, 20 vaxed people developed COVID symptoms (not hospitalized or dead and that figure is less than 1%). The study demonstrated a 10% reduction in efficacy or 2 more people got symptoms. TWO!!!

The bull-shit narrative emerging in the US, partly from misguided analysis of studies in Israel due to the same misleading errors, is that the vaccines aren't working that well and to contain the virus we need boosters. What? This is so horribly wrong that it defies credibility. 

Look, I think the study authors know this, the Israeli's know this. The US government's PH authorities? They know it but instead choose to encourage or at least allow without rebuttal the misleading press releases. The typical basis attributed to liberal governments like the Biden administration, is paternalism ...... the tendency to believe the government knows best and the details are two complex for Americans to understand. Bull-shit on that one too.  

I can only speculate the reasons but I suspect they involve convincing the public to not let their guard down. To get vaccinated. They've done just the opposite. The CDC, where this non-sense is coming from, has, for the most part become irrelevant - no one is listening to them despite the fact that there are honest, hard working people there who are probably being ignored.

I read this report and the figures you quote are for the delta variant. The oxford vaccine was down in the low 60 % mark if i remember correctly. This is why they are saying booster is needed, simple fact vaccine was for covid type 1 ( chinese ) we are now on type 4 ( delta) the report i read mentioned the worry about future variants and how ithings could get a lot worse! 

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4 hours ago, Ray said:

I read this report and the figures you quote are for the delta variant. The oxford vaccine was down in the low 60 % mark if i remember correctly. This is why they are saying booster is needed, simple fact vaccine was for covid type 1 ( chinese ) we are now on type 4 ( delta) the report i read mentioned the worry about future variants and how ithings could get a lot worse! 

Correct ...... from about the June time frame, people I trust with enough background in the sciences I talk with, felt that boosters would be needed before the end of the year. This position was based on a very detailed understanding of how RNA amino acids substitute. There is a pattern to this process. 

Some of you may have heard of the term, "gain of function" experiments where specially equipped labs modify a virus to predict future transmissibility and lethality. That's what the Wuhan lab was involved in that started this pandemic. It's legitimate science when done safely. Multiple public and private agencies around the globe were involved in these studies. Scientific papers began to emerge in June predicting the need for a booster. 

I have no problem with boosters. I have no problem with Pfizer and Moderna advocating for them. The miracle of the mRNA vaccines is that they can be updated easily - in weeks - at scale when mutations demand it. The process to do that for typical viral vector vaccines takes a year.  Sure, it can certainly be about money. I don't care. In defeating this thing I don't care how much it costs or who profits. 

The problem I have with the Biden administration announcement was that it was not presented in enough detail to make it clear the benefits of getting started now, logistically, so as to be prepared to distribute boosters at scale in a time frame that made sense .... the end of the year. I just did that in an understandable and simple way that makes sense and doesn't allow for people to take a position that vaccines don't work.

 Instead what we got, IMO, was fear producing narrative augmented by the media as well as an underlying message that vaccines don't work. This approach stems from a decidedly liberal administration with a paternalistic view towards its citizens. I don't like that approach at all.

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