Information That May Be Important In Controlling The Coronavirus

Up until this point, one of the ways that people have been checked to see if they have the coronavirus has been with temperature scans. If they have no temperature, it is assumed that they are not carrying the virus. Well, there is some new information about the virus that puts that test in a different perspective.

On Thursday, Just The News reported the following:

Coronavirus infections among Navy personnel have been harder to spot because symptoms among sailors are different from those in the general population, a four-star admiral warned.

Admiral John Aquilino, who commands the U.S. Pacific Fleet, sent the warning this month in a memo to commanders throughout the Navy. The memo described the fleet’s findings on how COVID-19 has presented among sailors.

“While the symptoms largely mirror [Centers for Disease Control] findings there are differences, possibly owing to our younger demographics, a healthy cohort, and rapid medical care,” Aquino wrote in the April 20 unclassified memo viewed by Just the News.

Noting that the CDC names fever as the most common first symptom of COVID, Aquilino wrote that the Pacific Fleet found that among infected sailors, fever appeared last.

“In order of reporting, the symptoms most often reported by sailors are: cough, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, loss of taste/smell, difficulty breathing, and finally, fever,” the admiral wrote.

As opposed to a common assumption that COVID-19 presents first in a way others can detect, Aquilino wrote, sailors’ symptoms are less obvious.

“As our initial symptoms may only be noticeable to the individual sailor, immediate reporting of symptoms to the chain of command and medical department is essential,” Aquilino wrote.

Early reporting will help stop the virus from spreading through ships and work spaces, the commander wrote. The key, he said, is for crews to self-monitor and report health issues as soon as possible.

This may explain why some of our ships have had outbreaks of the virus–it is probably not unusual for a sailor to have a headache or muscle aches after a hard day of work.

If You Don’t Get The Result You Want, Change The Way You Count The Numbers

On Thursday, The Daily Caller posted an article noting that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shifted the way deaths from COVID-19 are counted in the United States to include both “confirmed” and “probable” cases.

The article explains:

“A confirmed case or death is defined by meeting confirmatory laboratory evidence for COVID-19,” a statement posted on the CDC’s website reads about confirmed cases.

For probable cases, other evidence for the virus is considered, even if the individual who died had no testing to confirm COVID-19.

“A probable case or death is defined by meeting clinical criteria AND epidemiologic evidence with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID-19,” the CDC website reads.

The other two criteria for a “probable” COVID-19 death are, “meeting presumptive laboratory evidence AND either clinical criteria OR epidemiologic evidence” or “meeting vital records criteria with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID19.”

The change in counting could have big consequences for the overall number of cases considered in the United States, changing the number by the thousands.

The only way to come close to judging the number of coronavirus deaths will be to go back to the records in the future to see the normal statistics on death from other causes during the months of February, March, and April and compare it to those months this year. For instance, if there is a 30 percent drop in cancer deaths this year, it might be because those deaths were classified as coronavirus deaths. That may be the only way we can get figures that are even close to accurate.

 

A Different Take On The Coronavirus

Michael Fumento posted an article at The New York Post yesterday about the coronavirus. He believes, based on the behavior of viruses in the past, that the number of cases of the virus will peak quickly and then subside.

The article notes:

More than 18,000 Americans have died from this season’s generic flu so far, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2018, the CDC estimated, there were 80,000 flu deaths. That’s against 19 coronavirus deaths so far, from about 470 cases.

Worldwide, there have been about 3,400 coronavirus deaths, out of about 100,000 identified cases. Flu, by comparison, grimly reaps about 291,000 to 646,000 annually.

China is the origin of the virus and still accounts for over 80 percent of cases and deaths. But its cases peaked and began ­declining more than a month ago, according to data presented by the Canadian epidemiologist who spearheaded the World Health Organization’s coronavirus mission to China. Fewer than 200 new cases are reported daily, down from a peak of 4,000.

Subsequent countries will follow this same pattern, in what’s called Farr’s Law. First formulated in 1840 and ignored in ­every epidemic hysteria since, the law states that epidemics tend to rise and fall in a roughly symmetrical pattern or bell-shaped curve. AIDS, SARS, Ebola — they all followed that pattern. So does seasonal flu each year.

Clearly, flu is vastly more contagious than the new coronavirus, as the WHO has noted. Consider that the first known coronavirus cases date back to early December, and since then, the virus has ­afflicted fewer people in total than flu does in a few days. Oh, and why are there no flu quarantines? Because it’s so contagious, it would be impossible.

As for death rates, as I first noted in these pages on Jan. 24, you can’t employ simple math — as everyone is doing — and look at deaths versus cases because those are ­reported cases. With both flu and assuredly with coronavirus, the great majority of those infected have symptoms so mild — if any — that they don’t seek medical attention and don’t get counted in the caseload.

Furthermore, those calculating rates ­ignore the importance of good health care. Given that the vast majority of cases have occurred in a country with poor health care, that’s going to dramatically exaggerate the death rate.

The article adds:

Like the flu, the coronavirus is afflicting high-risk groups: the elderly, those with ­underlying health conditions like diabetes or heart disease and those with compromised immune systems. Are there exceptions? Sure. But that’s the case with almost every complex biological phenomenon of the kind.

More good news. This month, the Northern Hemisphere, which includes the countries with the most cases, starts heating up. Almost all respiratory viruses hate warm and moist weather. That’s why flu dies out in America every year by May at the latest and probably why Latin America has reported only 25 coronavirus cases. The Philippines, where I live, has about a third of the US population, but it’s so damned hot and humid here, so far we have had no confirmed cases of internal transmission.

Pray for warm weather soon. Meanwhile, keep washing your hands.

The Washington Post And The Truth

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff posted an article at Power Line Blog about a recent article in The Washington Post. The article totally misrepresented what President Trump said at the recent press conference held at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The article reports:

In this article (the article in The Washinton Post),David Nakamura of the Washington Post ridicules Trump’s presser. That’s okay with me. Aspects of Trump’s performance invited ridicule.

Unfortunately, Nakamura also provides a false account of the substance of Trump’s remarks. The headline of his story asserts that “Trump second-guess[ed] the [medical] professions.” In the body of the story Nakamura goes further, claiming that the president “repeatedly second-guessed. . .the actual medical professionals standing next to him.” (Emphasis added)

Trump did no such thing. In fact, he did the opposite. He deferred to the medical professionals.

Nakamura cites no example of second-guessing. I watched the full presser and heard none.

The article concludes:

Nakamura also fails to note that Trump lavishly praised the U.S. medical experts dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. He called them the best experts in the world, and said that public health officials in other countries are relying heavily on them.

Trump made this statement repeatedly, so Nakamura couldn’t have missed it. He chose, however, to exclude it from his story. Why? Almost certainly because it didn’t fit Nakamura’s claim that Trump is “second-guessing the professionals.”

Nakamura is serving up fake news, and not for the first time.

The American news media gave up the illusion of fairness a long time ago. I believe that false reporting such as in The Washington Post is one of the main reasons the country is so divided. Americans who read The New York Times and The Washington Post have not seen a fair representation of President Trump. They are not acquainted with either the economic numbers or the efforts to deal with the coronavirus that began in January. They are reacting to second-hand gossip that they are reading in the newspaper. People who don’t read those newspapers have a much better grasp of the Trump administration and its accomplishments that those who do. The conflict between fact and bias is one source of the current division in our country. We got along much better when we had a more neutral news media.

Some Interesting Facts About The Coronavirus

Yesterday BizPacReview posted an article about a report by the New England Journal of Medicine about the coronavirus.

The article reports:

The report, published Friday and authored by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., H. Clifford Lane, M.D., and Robert R. Redfield, M.D., notes that there are no known cases of children younger than 15 being infected with the respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus.

Fauci, a member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, joined the experts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pen the editorial citing a study which “detailed clinical and epidemiologic description of the first 425 cases reported in the epicenter of the outbreak.”

“The median age of the patients was 59 years, with higher morbidity and mortality among the elderly and among those with coexisting conditions (similar to the situation with influenza); 56% of the patients were male,” the article stated.

“Of note, there were no cases in children younger than 15 years of age,” the piece continued. “Either children are less likely to become infected, which would have important epidemiologic implications, or their symptoms were so mild that their infection escaped detection, which has implications for the size of the denominator of total community infections.”

The editorial went on to note the percentage of identified cases and that the contagious virus may “ultimately be more akin” to a case of influenza.

Much of the information the mainstream media is providing on the coronavirus is simply false. The President’s task force has been working to contain the virus since January. Preventing people traveling from China to America from entering the country has probably avoided a serious epidemic. Think of the tourists in our major cities that might have been carrying the virus if the travel ban had not been in place.

This is essentially another flu. We need to wash our hands, take care of ourselves, avoid people who are sneezing and coughing, stay home when we are sick, and generally exercise common sense. Chicken soup is also a wonderful idea if you are feeling under the weather.

Meanwhile, stay safe and stay healthy.

Why Border Security Matters

Yesterday Fox News posted an article about a recent drug seizure at the Arizona border.

The article reports:

A drug bust last year was hailed as the largest fentanyl bust in U.S. history—254 pounds seized at an Arizona border crossing.

The seizure came as the scourge of fentanyl continues to fuel the opioid epidemic, ravaging communities across the U.S. while killing tens of thousands of people.

“Fentanyl also continues to be a tremendous problem, contributing to 68,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2018,” Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Congress in November. He said CBP’s seizures of fentanyl rose by 30 percent in fiscal year 2019, totaling 2,770 pounds.

Fentanyl comes from China. Often it is smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico by drug cartels involved in a violent war with Mexican police and military forces.

The historic 254-pound bust was just one of a half-dozen big fentanyl busts recorded by law enforcement in recent years, a tally shows.

These six busts have led to the seizure of some 818 pounds of fentanyl–enough to kill 229 million people, according to authorities.

The article lists the six major drug busts. Please follow the link above to the article to see the details.

On March 22, 2019, I Heart Radio reported:

A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows how the opioid epidemic has ballooned over the past six years. The report found that from 2011 to 2016, the number of overdose deaths from the synthetic opiate fentanyl has risen by over 1000 percent.

The CDC says that in 2011 and 2012, around 1,600 people died each year from a fentanyl overdose. The number of deaths rose to 1,900 in 2013, but in 2014 officials saw the number of fatalities jump to 4,223. In 2015 the number of deaths nearly doubled to 8,251, and in 2016 there were another 10,000 deadly overdoses, bringing the total to 18,335 for the year.

The massive spike in fentanyl-related deaths was seen mainly in men. Up until 2013, the number of men and women who overdosed on fentanyl was about the same, but in 2014 the numbers began to diverge, and in 2016 there were three times as many men killed from an overdose as women.

Fentanyl is now considered the deadliest drug in America and is responsible for 29% of all overdose deaths in the nation.

Border security matters.

A Little Perspective Please

As the coronavirus spreads, we need to put the threat into perspective. This is a serious virus, and people have died after contracting it, but how does this compare with the basic American flu season?

CNS News reports:

As explained by Johns Hopkins Medicine, COVID-19 is “caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.” The flu is “caused by any of several different types and strains of influenza viruses.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 45 million cases of the flu in the United States during the 2017-2018 influenza season. Among those cases, 810,000 people had to be hospitalized.

During that season, 61,000 people died from the flu.

…As of Feb. 25, the World Health Organization (WHO) said there were 80,239 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 34 countries. 

The WHO also reported that there have been 2,700 deaths from COVID-19.

As of Feb. 25, there were 54 COVID-19 cases in the United States but no deaths reported.

The coronavirus is a serious health concern. However, I am tired of watching news anchors with their hair on fire claiming we are all going to die and that it’s President Trump’s fault. These are the same people who criticized President Trump when he limited travel to America from China in January. That alone has probably prevented many cases of the virus in America.

Meanwhile, wash you hands. Stay away from sneezing and coughing people. Get enough sleep, and take your vitamins. Hopefully the coronavirus will be similar to the flu and will be seasonal.

 

Good News About Life Expectancy In America

CBS News posted an article today stating that the average life expectancy in the United States has increased for the first time in four years.

The article reports:

Life expectancy in the United States is up for the first time in four years.

The increase is small — just a month — but marks at least a temporary halt to a downward trend. The rise is due to lower death rates for cancer and drug overdoses.

“Let’s just hope it continues,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees the report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The article notes:

Cancer is the nation’s No. 2 killer, blamed for about 600,000 deaths a year, so even slight changes in the cancer death rate can have a big impact. The rate fell more than 2%, matching the drop in 2017.

“I’m a little surprised that rapid pace is continuing,” said Rebecca Siegel, a researcher for the American Cancer Society.

Most of the improvement is in lung cancer because of fewer smokers and better treatments, she said.

Also striking was the drop in drug overdose deaths that had skyrocketed through 2017. The death rate fell 4% in 2018 and the number of deaths dropped to about 67,400.

Deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers went down. However, deaths from other drugs — fentanyl, cocaine and meth — continued to go up. And preliminary data for the first half of 2019 suggest the overall decline in overdose deaths is already slowing down.

It’s still a crisis, said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University researcher. “But the fact that we have seen the first year where there’s not an additional increase is encouraging.”

The article concludes:

Nationally, for all causes of death, more than 2.8 million Americans died in 2018. That’s about 26,000 more than the year before, the CDC report found. The number went up even as the death rate went down, because the population is growing and a large group consists of retirement age baby boomers.

Hopefully we can find a way to stem the plague of illegal drugs in America.

We Need To Re-evaluate Vaccine Requirements

There have been stories in recent years that childhood vaccines may cause autism. I have no idea whether or not this is true. My children were routinely vaccinated in the 1970’s with no ill effects, but I have no idea if today’s vaccines are the same as the ones given to my children. However, as more and more people decide to decline vaccinations for their children because of fear of autism, we need to look at the consequences of that decision (for all of us).

The New York Post posted an article today about measles in America.

The New York Post reports:

America has charted 387 cases of measles across 15 states since the beginning of the year — the second-highest number of reported infections since the disease was declared “eliminated” in 2000.

The number was topped only once before, in 2014, when 667 cases were reported by the same date.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s graph of year-over-year cases — updated every Monday — shows that 2019 passed last year in terms of outbreaks as of March 28. There were 372 cases confirmed by this time in 2018.

The states that have reported cases are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Outbreaks — defined as three or more cases — are ongoing in California (Santa Cruz and Butte County), New Jersey, New York (Rockland County and New York City) and Washington, according to the CDC.

Rockland County has banned unvaccinated minors from public spaces. The recurrence of measles in America is the result of two things–parents who refuse to vaccinate their children and travelers who brought the disease to America from foreign countries such as Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines, which currently have measles outbreaks.

We need to find a way to make the vaccine safer (divided into more doses?) to assure parents that it is a good idea to vaccinate their children. This is a public health issue. The other aspect of this measles epidemic is that we need to make sure we control our borders to insure that immigrants are not bringing diseases into this country that have been eradicated. We need to question both legal and illegal immigrants about their health history.

Yes, The Drug Companies Do Not Always Act In The Best Interest Of The Consumer

On Wednesday Reuters reported that Michael Babich, former chief executive of Insys Therapeutics Inc (INSY.O), pleaded guilty on Wednesday to participating in a nationwide scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe an addictive opioid medication and has agreed to become a government witness.

The article reports:

Prosecutors allege that from 2012 to 2015, Kapoor, Babich and others conspired to pay doctors bribes in exchange for prescribing Subsys, an under-the-tongue fentanyl spray for managing severe pain in cancer patients.

Fentanyl is an opioid 100 times stronger than morphine.

Prosecutors said Insys paid doctors kickbacks in the form of fees to participate in speaker programs ostensibly meant to educate medical professionals about Subsys that were actually sham events.

Prior to working at Insys, Babich had worked at Kapoor’s venture capital firm.

Insys in August said it had agreed to pay at least $150 million as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. The company has said it has taken steps to ensure it operates legally going forward.

On November 29, 2018, The New York Times reported:

A class of synthetic drugs has replaced heroin in many major American drug markets, ushering in a more deadly phase of the opioid epidemic.

New numbers Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017, a record. Overdose deaths are higher than deaths from H.I.V., car crashes or gun violence at their peaks. The data also show that the increased deaths correspond strongly with the use of synthetic opioids known as fentanyls.

Since 2013, the number of overdose deaths associated with fentanyls and similar drugs has grown to more than 28,000, from 3,000. Deaths involving fentanyls increased more than 45 percent in 2017 alone.

The article includes a number of graphs showing the increase in drug overdoses in recent years and the role that fentanyl  has played in that increase.

This is only one aspect of the opioid epidemic, but at least some action has been taken on this aspect.

 

One Weapon In Fighting The Opioid Epidemic

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today about an agreement reached between Aetna Insurance and Abbot Laboratories.

The article reports:

Aetna (AET) agreed Tuesday to cover a chronic pain device from Abbott Laboratories (ABT) that acts as an alternative to potentially addictive opioids.

The decision extends coverage of Abbott’s dorsal root ganglion neurostimulation pain therapy to an estimated 22 million Americans living with chronic pain. By stimulating the dorsal root ganglion, a structure along the spinal column, Abbott’s device can mask pain.

“While Medicare already covers our DRG system, it’s encouraging to see payers like Aetna review the clinical data and outcomes, then choose to provide access to DRG stimulation for their members,” Keith Boettiger, vice president of Abbott’s neuromodulation business, said in a written statement.

…Neuropathic pain conditions are some of the most prevalent and under-treated forms of chronic pain in America, Abbott says.

These patients often try various medication, opioids or surgery to no end. Amid the opioid epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration is pushing for medical devices to help combat the crisis. An estimated 116 people died every day in the U.S. in 2016 due to opioid-related overdoses.

Many of the people in America who are addicted to opioids began that addiction after being prescribed the drugs for pain. When the prescription ran out and they could not refill it, they turned to street drugs, which were cheaper and available. Unfortunately, there are no controls on street drugs, and they are sometimes laced with fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2016, lab-made fentanyl helped kill over half of the people who died of opioid overdoses.

Finding a way to combat chronic pain without opioids is one step in dealing with the opioid epidemic in America. Kudos to Aetna in taking a step in that direction by covering the DRG system.

Not Really A Surprise

The American Spectator posted an article today that tells us everything we already knew about ObamaCare. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just released a report about uninsured Americans.

The article reports:

Anyone with the intestinal fortitude to subject themselves to the legacy media will have seen countless “news” stories about the devastation wrought by President Trump’s “sabotage” of Obamacare. A typical headline appeared a couple of weeks ago in the Washington Post: “Americans are starting to suffer from Trump’s health-care sabotage.” This work of fiction claimed that the number of working-ageAmericans without health insurance had risen to 15.5 percent, a 3 point increase since 2016. But a report just released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), says the real number is 12.8 percent — exactly what it was in 2015.

…NBC recently reported that the total number of uninsured Americans rose by a preposterous 3.2 million in 2017. According to the CDC, however, “There was no significant change from the 2016 uninsured rate.” The percentage is, like the working age statistic, precisely what it was in 2015. NBC, parroting the Post, based its uninsured propaganda on an unreliable source.

There are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating ObamaCare. The first is that is was never about health insurance–it was about giving government control of a major sector of the American economy and a major sector of people’s lives. We have seeen how well socialized medicine works in Britain when a child isn’t even given a chance to leave the country to receive alternative medical care that could possibly save his life. ObamaCare was a planned failure that would lead to socialized medicine in America during the presidency of Hillary Clinton. We have dodged that bullet (at least temporarily).

The major change that occurred to ObamaCare this year was the end of government subsidies to insurance companies and changing rules for insurance pools to make it easier for people to get health insurance in various groups. The real answer to health insurance is the free market–let companies compete without being over-regulated and let people know how much they are actually paying for healthcare services. It would also help to end ObamaCare completely. In order to end ObamaCare completely, the Republicans would have to learn how to get their message out over the din of the mainstream media. They would also have to develop a spine.

The article concludes:

A multi-year study dubbed the “Oregon Health Experiment,” whose results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May of 2014, has demonstrated that health outcomes for Medicaid patients are no better than those enjoyed by the uninsured. Scott Gottlieb, the current Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, summarized various Medicaid studies in the Wall Street Journal and also concluded that being covered by Medicaid is demonstrably worse for your health than having no coverage at all.

The CDC report doesn’t weigh in on this issue, of course. It just attempts to show us where the uninsured rate was and where it is now. But that is damning enough. It not only shows that the projections originally touted for Obamacare were wildly off the mark — it was supposed to have brought the non-elderly uninsured rate down to 7.6 percent by 2016 — it demonstrates that the Democrats and their media co-conspirators have been lying about what the real uninsured numbers are as well as President Trump’s role in their mythical increase. Not that this is new. The Democrats and the media have been lying about Obamacare from day one.

As more Americans realize that the media has been lying to them from the beginning, we may have a chance to get rid of ObamaCare. Until then, we are stuck with it.

Medical Expenses Of The Elderly

Friday’s Wall Street Journal (I am not linking to the article because it is subscribers only) contained an article entitled, “Commonly Used Medicines Send Seniors to Hospitals.”  The article reports on a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that an estimated 99,628 hospitalizations every year of people 65 years and older are linked to adverse drug events such as allergies and unintentional overdoses. It further reports that nearly half of those hospitalized were age 80 or older. The drugs responsible were not high-risk medications–they were commonly used diabetes pills and blood thinners.

Maybe we need to rethink the way we handle medical care for seniors. Is there a way to make the commonly used drugs safer, for example bottles that somehow remind the person to take their medicine and let them know if they have already taken their dose for the day? I have no idea if that is possible or already in existence, but certainly drug safety might be one way to seriously cut medical expenses for everyone.

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