David Brooks | The Great Unmasking – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

For millions of Americans, the next six months are going to be great. The power Covid had over our lives is shrinking, and the power we have over our own lives is growing. The image that comes to mind is recess. We’ve been stuck emotionally indoors for over a year. Now we get to sprint down the hallway and burst into the playground of life.

People in large parts of the world will still be enduring the ravages of the pandemic, but those of us fortunate enough to be in countries where vaccines are plentiful will be moving from absence to presence, from restraint to release, from distance to communion. Even things that didn’t seem fun are going to be fun. Not being able to get the bartender’s attention because the bar is packed — that will be fun! I’m a Mets fan, but going to Yankees games will be fun! (As long as they lose.) Going to age-inappropriate concerts will be fun! I don’t care if Generation Zers don’t want to sit next to some damn boomer at their Cardi B concert. I’m going anyway.

David Lindsay: This is an awkard time, when things are getting better, but in CT, ony 50% are fully vaccinated, and people are still getting sick, even a few are dying.

Here is a comment I liked, and comment to it which I also agree with.

John Brews

John BrewsSanta FeMay 27

The problem with unmasking is that it makes the unvaccinated unmasked indistinguishable from the vaccinated unmasked. That can lead to greater exposure of masked and unmasked unvaccinated. And, of course, only 95 percent (or less) of vaccinated folk are strongly immune. So they should wear a mask, but they do not know they are not strongly immune. Altogether the unmasking is ill advised, and making a jubilant celebration of it is juvenile.

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JJohnFloridaMay 27

@Julia Let him wear it forever. As we go on with our lives. There is risk in practically anything we do, but some level of risk has to be accepted in order to have any kind decent life and happiness. Some people will never be happy because either they don’t understand statistics or can’t accept any risk (speaking specifically in regard to Covid risk to the vaccinated – miniscule risk of anything serious happening)

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Mike DeWine | Ohio’s Vaccine Lottery Is Working, Writes Gov. Mike DeWine – The New York Times

Mr. DeWine, a Republican, is the governor of Ohio. He recently created a lottery for vaccinated Ohioans.

This essay has been updated to reflect news developments.

At the pandemic’s start, all governors faced a question: How do you make decisions without a road map?

My approach to the pandemic reflects what I’ve learned in over 40 years of public service. Throughout my career, I have made my share of mistakes. They usually come from not seeking out experts in the field and not following my instinct.

So, as the pandemic has evolved, I have consulted frequently with current and former governors, local health commissioners in Ohio, mayors and other elected officials. Our team has sought advice from medical and scientific experts in Ohio and across the country.

Those conversations informed some tough early decisions: In early March 2020 we ordered the closure of the Arnold Sports Festival before a single coronavirus case was confirmed in Ohio. Ohio was also the first state to announce the closure of schools for in-person learning. These choices seem obvious now, but at that time we were guided only by the question, How many people will die if we don’t do this?

The decision to create Vax-a-Million, which is a chance for vaccinated adults to win one of five $1 million prizes and for vaccinated 12-to-17-year-olds to win one of five full-ride scholarships to any Ohio state college or university, came about like those other pandemic decisions: out of necessity.

My wife, Fran, and I had visited over 40 vaccination sites across the state, talking to Ohioans about what persuaded them to get the shot. Many couldn’t wait to get vaccinated. Others were so opposed that we had no hope of convincing them. There was a third group that did not have strong feelings about the vaccine. Many people were just not in a hurry. This was the group where I knew we had an opportunity.  . . . “

Nicholas Kristof | How Biden Can Help Vaccinate the World – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Let’s begin with a quick quiz question: What’s the highest-return investment you can think of? Private equity? A hedge fund?

Here’s something with a far higher return: a global campaign to vaccinate people in poor countries against the coronavirus.

So far the United States and other Group of 7 “leading” countries haven’t actually shown leadership in fighting the pandemic globally. American vaccine nationalism means that we are hoarding both vaccines and the raw materials to make them, in ways that lead to unnecessary deaths abroad and also undermine our own recovery.

“It’s a huge moral failure of the G7,” said Esther Duflo, an M.I.T. economist and Nobel laureate in economics. “We’re so focused on our own problems that we can’t see beyond.”

Abhijit Banerjee, her husband and fellow Nobel laureate in economics at M.I.T., added that because of the risks of variants emerging from poor countries, “It’s not only a huge failure, but I think it’s going to come back to haunt us.”

This is not, of course, primarily about money. It’s about lives. It’s about the trajectory of humanity. But for those who weigh costs to orient their moral compass, a new paper from the International Monetary Fund offers numbers that underscore the importance of investing in global vaccines.  . . . “

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

I have read perhpas from Edward O Wilson, that there is a growing concensus that the the proper number of humans on the planet for a sustainable system is probably about 4 billion. Since we are at 7.8 billion humans now, (headed to 10 or 12 billion), and in the middle or beginnning of the sixth extinction of other species, losing 1 or 2 billion humans could be a weird blessing for the future of life on the planet, unless we can come up with a more civilized way to bring down overpopulation, over pollution, and the despoiling of the planet. I find that the argument by Nicholas Kristof fails to address this elephant or perhaps tiger in the room.

Opinion | Brazil’s Covid Inquiry Reveals Bolsonaro’s Mismanagement – The New York Times

Ms. Barbara is a contributing opinion writer who focuses on Brazilian politics, culture and everyday life.

“SÃO PAULO, Brazil — It’s not often that a congressional inquiry can lift your spirits. But the Brazilian Senate’s investigation into the government’s management of the pandemic, which began on April 27 and has riveted my attention for weeks, does just that.

As the pandemic continues to rage through the country, claiming around 2,000 lives a day, the inquiry offers the chance to hold President Jair Bolsonaro’s government to account. (Sort of.) It’s also a great distraction from grim reality. Livestreamed online and broadcast by TV Senado, the inquiry is a weirdly fascinating display of evasion, ineptitude and outright lies.

Here’s one example of the kind of intrigue on offer. In March last year, as the pandemic was unfurling, a social media campaign called “Brazil Can’t Stop” was launched by the president’s communications unit. Urging people not to change their routines, the campaign claimed that “coronavirus deaths among adults and young people are rare.” The heavily criticized campaign was eventually banned by a federal judge, and largely forgotten.

Then the plot thickened. The government’s former communications director, Fabio Wajngarten, told the inquiry that he didn’t know “for sure” who had been responsible for the campaign. Later, stumbling over his words, he seemed to remember that his department had developed the campaign — in the spirit of experimentation, of course — which was then launched without authorization. A senator called for the arrest of Mr. Wajngarten, who threw a contemplative, almost poetic glance to the horizon. The camera even tried to zoom in. It was wild.

That’s just one episode; no wonder the inquiry holds the attention of many Brazilians. So far, we have been treated to the testimonies of three former health ministers — one of them had major issues with his mask, inspiring countless memes — as well as the head of Brazil’s federal health regulator, the former foreign minister, the former communications director and the regional manager of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

The upshot of their accounts is obvious, yet still totally outrageous: President Jair Bolsonaro apparently intended to lead the country to herd immunity by natural infection, whatever the consequences. That means — assuming a fatality rate of around 1 percent and taking 70 percent infection as a tentative threshold for herd immunity — that Mr. Bolsonaro effectively planned for at least 1.4 million deaths in Brazil. From his perspective, the 450,000 Brazilians already killed by Covid-19 must look like a job not even half-done.  .. . .”

Sema K. Sgaier | Meet the Four Kinds of People Holding Us Back From Full Vaccination – The New York Times

Nicholas Konrad/The New York Times

Dr. Sgaier is the C.E.O. of Surgo Ventures, a nonprofit organization focused on using data to address health problems, including Covid-19.

“Getting everyone vaccinated in the United States has become much harder now that demand for the Covid-19 vaccine is flagging. America’s vaccination strategy needs to change to address this, and it starts with understanding the specific reasons people have not been vaccinated yet.

The conventional approach to understanding whether someone will get vaccinated is asking people how likely they are to get the vaccine and then building a demographic profile based on their answers: Black, white, Latinx, Republican, Democrat. But this process isn’t enough: Just knowing that Republicans are less likely to get vaccinated doesn’t tell us how to get them vaccinated. It’s more important to understand why people are still holding out, where those people live and how to reach them.

Why are people where you live still not getting vaccinated? Select your state below.      . . . . “

Opinion | How to Talk to Someone Who Doesn’t Want the Vaccine – The New York Times

Dr. Gagneur is a neonatologist and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Sherbrooke. His research has led to programs that increase childhood vaccinations through motivational interviewing. Dr. Tamerius is a former psychiatrist and the founder of Smart Politics, an organization that teaches people to communicate more persuasively.

“The difference between people who eagerly want the Covid-19 vaccine and people who are hesitant is not as great as it may seem. Most vaccine holdouts are not anti-vaxxers or conspiracy theorists.

Before you demand that your loved ones get a shot, know that not all conversations are created equal. Research shows that many common persuasive styles — commanding, advising, lecturing and shaming — not only don’t work but also often backfire.

To help you learn the basics of a method that works, we’ve created a vaccination chatbot based on the principles of motivational interviewing, a research-backed approach for encouraging people to get vaccinated that’s used by health care professionals to harness people’s innate drive for change.  . . . “

A Misleading C.D.C. Number – David Leonhardt – The New York Times

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines last month for mask wearing, it announced that “less than 10 percent” of Covid-19 transmission was occurring outdoors. Media organizations repeated the statistic, and it quickly became a standard description of the frequency of outdoor transmission.

But the number is almost certainly misleading.

It appears to be based partly on a misclassification of some Covid transmission that actually took place in enclosed spaces (as I explain below). An even bigger issue is the extreme caution of C.D.C. officials, who picked a benchmark — 10 percent — so high that nobody could reasonably dispute it.

That benchmark “seems to be a huge exaggeration,” as Dr. Muge Cevik, a virologist at the University of St. Andrews, said. In truth, the share of transmission that has occurred outdoors seems to be below 1 percent and may be below 0.1 percent, multiple epidemiologists told me. The rare outdoor transmission that has happened almost all seems to have involved crowded places or close conversation.

Saying that less than 10 percent of Covid transmission occurs outdoors is akin to saying that sharks attack fewer than 20,000 swimmers a year. (The actual worldwide number is around 150.) It’s both true and deceiving.   . . . “

Rich Countries Signed Away a Chance to Vaccinate the World – The New York Times

“In the coming days, a patent will finally be issued on a five-year-old invention, a feat of molecular engineering that is at the heart of at least five major Covid-19 vaccines. And the United States government will control that patent.

The new patent presents an opportunity — and some argue the last best chance — to exact leverage over the drug companies producing the vaccines and pressure them to expand access to less affluent countries.

The question is whether the government will do anything at all.

The rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines, achieved at record speed and financed by massive public funding in the United States, the European Union and Britain, represents a great triumph of the pandemic. Governments partnered with drugmakers, pouring in billions of dollars to procure raw materials, finance clinical trials and retrofit factories. Billions more were committed to buy the finished product.

But this Western success has created stark inequity. Residents of wealthy and middle-income countries have received about 90 percent of the nearly 400 million vaccines delivered so far. Under current projections, many of the rest will have to wait years.  . . . “

David Lindsay: This is a tough problem, and I quake at trying to master all the issues. My gut tells me that the United States should have included standard language from the Gates Foundation, keeping some rights to all of its patents and any research and product that came of its 8 billion dollar investment in rapid vaccine development. Tne drug companies should be allowed large paybacks, for a limited time and amount, and then be by contract, limited to what the Government sees as fair and responsible for taking care of the international pandemic, since Americans are not safe until we do so. Since the Trump administration did not include any such language in its contracts, it gets messy, but we do have the War Production Act, which gives the government great powers in what is determined to be a national emergency.

Melinda Gates Interview: Coronavirus, Masks and Inequality – The New York Times


“As the valedictorian of her Dallas high school, Melinda Gates delivered a graduation speech that included a quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived,” she told her classmates, “this is to have succeeded.”

Decades later and billions of dollars wealthier, Ms. Gates says the quote is still ringing in her ears. “That’s been my definition of success since high school,” she said. “So if I have an extra dollar, or a thousand dollars, or a million dollars, or in my case, which is absurd, a billion dollars to plow back into making the world better for other people, that’s what I’m going to do.” “

David Lindsay:

Back in 1996, I ran Derric Computer, and was helping a customer with his home office. He complained that he had to buy and use Microsoft Windows, because he despised Bill Gates, who was the richest man in the country, and had never given a cent to charity. We verbaly pissed on Bill Gates together, and it was a bonding experience. However, Bill has rehabilitated himself. We had no idea how strong a philanthopist he would become, in partnership with his wife, Melinda French Gates. Their story is exemplary, and I’m saddened to hear of their divorce. I am confident that their partnership in philanthropy will continue unabated.

Can You Have Alcohol After the Covid Vaccine? – Anahad O’Connor – The New York Times

“After a long year and a lot of anticipation, getting the Covid-19 vaccine can be cause for celebration, which for some might mean pouring a drink and toasting to their new immunity. But can alcohol interfere with your immune response?

The short answer is that it depends on how much you drink.

There is no evidence that having a drink or two can render any of the current Covid vaccines less effective. Some studies have even found that over the longer term, small or moderate amounts of alcohol might actually benefit the immune system by reducing inflammation.

Heavy alcohol consumption, on the other hand, particularly over the long term, can suppress the immune system and potentially interfere with your vaccine response, experts say. Since it can take weeks after a Covid shot for the body to generate protective levels of antibodies against the novel coronavirus, anything that interferes with the immune response would be cause for concern.  . . . .”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Thank you Anahad O’Connor, for an excellent wake up reminder, that we have to be vigilant, if we like our alchohol too much. I am disappointed by the NYT commenting blogosphere today, as so many attack you for being down or causing stress. Hark, perhaps you have struck a nerve. It is not just in Russia, that many people drink regularly, and sometimes to excess. I have to monitor my own behavior, as Professor Moody desccribed fighting Voldemort, “with constant vigilance.” Two terrific but alcoholic parents are clear indicators that I fall in that half of the US, and probably world population, that is very easily addicted to sugar based products, that include sweets, alcholic beverates, opiods and niccotine. There was an astonishly good book about this by a researcher, called “The Hidden Addiction,” by Dr. Janice Phelps and Dr. Alan Nourse. All these dangerous but popular products have a commen source of molecules, belonging to the sugar family. I’m so sorry that so many here attack you for presenting life-protecting information, as if you were out to take away the punch bowl just as the party got cooking. However, more often than not, that is what responsible people, reading the science, should do more often, and I thank you for the clarity of your reporting. I just measured 1.5 ounces, and it is easily half of what I thought it was. Your new fan, David. David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.