RJ HARRIS: COVID REPORT FROM TRUSTED SOURCE


ONE

The labor shortage in America is adversely affecting our economy. This is particularly true in healthcare. The "Great Resignation" has created the greatest nursing shortage in US history. The US has clocked two consecutive all-time record highs for the percentage of workers quitting within a single month, 2.9% for August and 3.0% for September (the data are released on a two month delay). This coincided precisely with an onset of highly prominent vaccine mandate announcements made within the private and public sectors. 

California set a series of statewide mandates, most of which were announced in August with enforcement to begin in late September and October. August was indeed the first month in which this topic made it into mainstream media coverage.

 Historically, upswings in resignations have correlated with commensurate upswings in hiring. As businesses hire more, workers have freedom to shop around. However, we are not seeing that this time around, with total hires increasing by 7.5% between Mar – Sept 2021 and quitting increasing by 24.3% during that same period, an unprecedented threefold difference.

 Looking at two states who are handling mandates very differently – Colorado enacted one of the strictest vaccine mandates while Arizona became the first state to enact a private sector ban on vaccine mandates. Colorado subsequently broke it's record for highest quit rate ever recorded with 3.4%. What is unusual about the new record high is that it coincides with a still relatively high 5.9% unemployment rate. Normally, elevated unemployment and people voluntarily jumping ship don’t go hand in hand.  For example, when Colorado’s unemployment rate was at 5.9% in January 2003, the quit rate was 2.6% and it was 2.7% in January 2014, another month with 5.9% unemployment. In September, Colorado shattered it's record with a quit rate of 4.7%. Meanwhile, Arizona experienced a decline in their quit rate moving from July to August, and it did so by the greatest margin in America. The quit rate continued to decline in September. Out of the 50 states, Arizona is demonstrating the country's strongest employment data by standing against vaccine mandates. 

72% of unvaccinated workers who were surveyed by Kaiser vowed to quit rather than be vaccinated. This poll was conducted from October 14-24, so they are not included in the above data. 

Take Home-

There is no doubt that the vaccine mandates are contributing to unemployment rates and to the ongoing Great Resignation. We are suffering from an historically severe nursing shortage. The vaccine mandates will only make matters worse.

TWO

The new Merck drug named molnupiravir, while expensive, reduces the chances by 50% that a patient with Covid would need to be hospitalized. None of the nearly four hundred patients who received molnupiravir in the initial trial went on to die, and the drug had no major side effects. The U.K. just became the first country to approve molnupiravir.

Molnupiravir is—and is likely to remain—effective against all the major current and future variants. Instead of targeting the coronavirus’s spike protein, as vaccine-generated antibodies do, molnupiravir attacks the virus’s basic replication machinery. The spike protein mutates over time, but the replication machinery is stable. Merck began bolstering its manufacturing capacity long before the Phase III trial confirmed how well the drug worked. Normally, a company assesses demand for a product, then brings plants online slowly. For molnupiravir, Merck has already set up seventeen plants in eight countries across three continents. It now has the capacity to produce ten million courses of treatment by the end of this year, and at least another twenty million next year. It expects molnupiravir to generate five to eight billion dollars in revenue by the end of 2022. It recently granted royalty-free licenses to the Medicines Patent Pool, a U.N.-backed nonprofit, which will allow manufacturers to produce generic versions of the drug for more than a hundred low- and middle-income countries. As a result, a full course of molnupiravir could cost as little as twenty dollars in developing countries, compared with around seven hundred in the U.S. 

Take Home-

This new Merck Covid pill is a game changer. It could empty the hospitals of Covid patients and, hopefully, allow us to stop thinking lockdowns and masking are a permanent part of the American way of life. It's being used in Britain and expected to be approved for emergency use authorization before January 1st.

THREE

Sweden has suffered almost 1,500 confirmed Covid deaths per million people, which is lower than the European average (1,800).

The UK — which has endured three national lockdowns and several regional fire-breakers — has recorded 2,100 per million, for comparison, while Belgium and Italy both have rates above 2,000. The US rate is roughly 2,500 Covid deaths per million.

When looking at excess mortality during the pandemic, Sweden ranks just 21st out of 31 European countries with 5% more deaths since March of last year than would be expected. Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain, on the other hand, have each suffered around 10 per cent more deaths than average during Covid.  

Statisticians say excess mortality is the most accurate way to measure the toll of the pandemic on health because it accounts for testing disparities between countries and includes knock-on fatalities. 

Sweden also has a lower infection rate currently than most EU nations, with just 100 per million people testing positive daily compared to 800 in Austria, nearly 700 in Belgium and Ireland, and 500 in the UK. 

One important takeaway from Sweden's voluntary lockdown system was that it shows the power of people's ability to make behavioral changes as they see fit to do so. Sweden didn't have a government-enforced lockdown. It didn't need one! It had a type of voluntary lockdown that was well-adhered to.

What we've learned from Sweden is that people's voluntary behavior can get countries over a Covid peak without mandated restrictions. 

Notably, Sweden's economy bounced back faster than any other country in the EU. 

There are violent protests in the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany. Citizens are rightly objecting to more useless lockdowns and proposed forced vaccination for all citizens. Sweden has avoided all of this and has the lowest Covid infection rate in Europe.

TAKE HOME  

It's not too soon to declare the Swedish experiment of protecting the elderly and the vulnerable with only VOLUNTARY masking and VOLUNTARY vaccination, with NO lockdowns, NO school closures, and NO autocratic crippling of businesses and the economy as a success. It should be a model for the rest of the world. 


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