Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
The West is being left behind as it squanders Covid-19 lessons from Asia-Pacific
France and the Netherlands broke their own records over the weekend, reporting the highest numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

In the United States, there were more new positive cases in the White House on October 2 than in the whole of Taiwan, after President Donald Trump became the second G7 leader (after Johnson) to test positive for Covid-19. Despite his illness, Trump has continued to downplay the severity of the virus and potentially endanger the health of those around him, holding a campaign rally on Monday.

Seven months after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic, life is closer to normal in the Asia-Pacific region thanks to the basic lessons of epidemiology: clear communication, quarantines, border controls, aggressive testing and contact tracing, Kenji Shibuya, the Director of the Institute for Population Health at King's College London, told CNN.

European countries with successful pandemic responses, like Germany, have taken this approach.

But experts say Spain, the US and the UK are seeing cases skyrocket, and cracks appear in the political and public consensus, after they opted to prematurely re-open their economies without heeding those rules.

But instead of taking stock of their failures and looking at a sustainable way forward, an Anglo-American narrative has grown, suggesting it is too late to try to emulate Asia-Pacific nations, said Dr. Tim Colbourn, a global health epidemiology and evaluation lecturer at University College London. Libertarian think-pieces, open letters and politicians across the Atlantic have advocated -- with little scientific merit -- for governments to "give up restrictions and let it [Covid-19] spread" for the sake of the economy, Colbourn said.

This is a maddening idea to the vast majority of health professionals and scientists, who point to Covid-19's high fatality rate and its long-term effects on survivors.

"When countries [like the US and UK] experience declining life expectancy, it really should be a red flag," said Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Deteriorating health in populations has electoral consequences, McKee told CNN -- adding that historically, those factors caused "populism and then you get state failure."

Achieve herd immunity by "protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it," WHO director-general says
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus criticized proponents of the herd immunity approach to Covid-19 yesterday, saying it was “not an option” for the pandemic.

Tedros explained that herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination. “For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of the population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated,” Tedros said. “In other words, herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.”

“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic. It is scientifically and ethically problematic.”

Allowing the virus to circulate unchecked "means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death,” Tedros said.

Man who dismissed Covid-19 and then survived it says he is an example for doubters
For months, Tony Green was skeptical that the threat of Covid-19 was real. Then he hosted a small family gathering in June where everyone got sick.

Green told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday that he sees himself as example to others.

"We have to be the example to, I guess, bring awareness (of what can happen at a small gathering)," he said. After all six people -- Green, his partner and their parents -- at the weekend event got sick, eight more people in their families tested positive, bringing the total to 14.

Green, who lives in Texas, ended up in the hospital and doctors saved him from a having a stroke, he said. He was better in a few days.

His father-in-law was hospitalized and seemed to be getting better. But he turned very ill, very quickly and he stayed a ventilator for six weeks. He didn't survive.

Eric Trump may not *get* the whole Covid-19 vaccine thing
Eric Trump, son of President Donald Trump, is not a doctor. Or an infectious disease expert, And it shows.

See, either Eric Trump let the biggest cat out of the bag ever -- that the President was given a "vaccine" for Covid-19 -- or he is simply confused about the difference between medicines designed to help mitigate the course of the virus and an actual vaccine.

See, we know that the President received several therapeutics designed to help him deal with the virus. Those included the anti-viral drug remdesivir, a steroid known as dexamethasone and experimental antibody cocktail produced by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron.

He was not, as far as we know, administered a "vaccine" of any sort. Even if he had been, vaccines are meant to keep someone from getting sick, not help you once you are sick. (The flu shot, for example, is given as a preventative, not as a treatment.)

Eric Trump's confusion about all of this could well stem from his father's touting of the Regeneron antibody cocktail as something more than just a therapeutic treatment. "To me it wasn't therapeutic -- it just made me better, OK?" Trump said of Regeneron's antibody cocktail in a video released last weekend. "I call that a cure."

Trump can call it whatever he likes. But the reality is that we do not yet have a vaccine -- much less a cure.

And once we do have a vaccine, which Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said recently could be as soon as November or December, it will be months before we get anything close to the necessary number of people vaccinated to return to some semblance of normal.

"By the time you get enough people vaccinated so that you can feel you've had an impact enough on the outbreak, so that you can start thinking about maybe getting a little bit more towards normality, that very likely, as I and others have said, will be maybe the third quarter or so of 2021. Maybe even into the fourth quarter," Fauci told Dr. Howard Bauchner, the editor in chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, in late September.

The problem is that (lots and lots) of people listen more to Donald and Eric Trump than to Dr. Fauci. Which puts the onus on the President and his son to be very clear -- and careful -- with their words. Which, of course, they are not.


Coronavirus Vaccine Makers Are Not Mass-Slaughtering Sharks
Some coronavirus vaccines rely on a shark-based product, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get immunized.

Several companies in the race for a coronavirus vaccine have stumbled upon a new and unexpected hurdle: activists protesting the use of a substance that comes from sharks in their products.

The oily compound, called squalene, is churned out by shark livers and has immunity-boosting powers, which has led several companies to use it as an ingredient in vaccines. A group called Shark Allies has mounted a campaign calling on the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory bodies to halt the sourcing of the compound from sharks, warning that mass distribution of a coronavirus vaccine could require harvesting tissue from more than 500,000 sharks.