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Omicron may be headed for a rapid drop in Britain, US

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Scientists are seeing signals that COVID-19′s alarming omicron wave may have peaked in Britain and is about to do the same in the U.S., at which point cases may start dropping off dramatically.

The reason: The variant has proved so wildly contagious that it may already be running out of people to infect, just a month and a half after it was first detected in South Africa.

“It’s going to come down as fast as it went up,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.

At the same time, experts warn that much is still uncertain about how the next phase of the pandemic might unfold. The plateauing or ebbing in the two countries is not happening everywhere at the same time or at the same pace. And weeks or months of misery still lie ahead for patients and overwhelmed hospitals even if the drop-off comes to pass.

“There are still a lot of people who will get infected as we descend the slope on the backside,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, which predicts that reported cases will peak within the week.

The University of Washington’s own highly influential model projects that the number of daily reported cases in the U.S. will crest at 1.2 million by Jan. 19 and will then fall sharply “simply because everybody who could be infected will be infected,” according to Mokdad.

In fact, he said, by the university’s complex calculations, the true number of new daily infections in the U.S. — an estimate that includes people who were never tested — has already peaked, hitting 6 million on Jan. 6.

In Britain, meanwhile, new COVID-19 cases dropped to about 140,000 a day in the last week, after skyrocketing to more than 200,000 a day earlier this month, according to government data.

Numbers from the U.K.’s National Health Service this week show coronavirus hospital admissions for adults have begun to fall, with infections dropping in all age groups.

Kevin McConway, a retired professor of applied statistics at Britain’s Open University, said that while COVID-19 cases are still rising in places such as southwest England and the West Midlands, the outbreak may have peaked in London.

The figures have raised hopes that the two countries are about to undergo something similar to what happened in South Africa, where in the span of about a month the wave crested at record highs and then fell significantly.

“We are seeing a definite falling-off of cases in the U.K., but I’d like to see them fall much further before we know if what happened in South Africa will happen here,” said Dr. Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at Britain’s University of East Anglia.

Dr. David Heymann, who previously led the World Health Organization’s infectious diseases department, said Britain was “the closest to any country of being out of the pandemic,” adding that COVID-19 was inching towards becoming endemic.

Differences between Britain and South Africa, including Britain’s older population and the tendency of its people to spend more time indoors in the winter, could mean a bumpier outbreak for the country and other nations like it.

On the other hand, British authorities’ decision to adopt minimal restrictions against omicron could enable the virus to rip through the population and run its course much faster than it might in Western European countries that have imposed tougher COVID-19 controls, such as France, Spain and Italy.

Shabir Mahdi, dean of health sciences at South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand, said European countries that impose lockdowns won’t necessarily come through the omicron wave with fewer infections; the cases may just be spread out over a longer period of time.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization said there have been 7 million new COVID-19 cases across Europe in the past week, calling it a “tidal wave sweeping across the region.” WHO cited modeling from Mokdad’s group that predicts half of Europe’s population will be infected with omicron within about eight weeks.

By that time, however, Hunter and others expect the world to be past the omicron surge.

“There will probably be some ups and downs along the way, but I would hope that by Easter, we will be out of this,” Hunter said.

Still, the sheer numbers of people infected could prove overwhelming to fragile health systems, said Dr. Prabhat Jha of the Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

“The next few weeks are going to be brutal because in absolute numbers, there are so many people being infected that it will spill over into ICUs,” Jha said.

Mokdad likewise warned in the U.S.: “It’s going to be a tough two or three weeks. We have to make hard decisions to let certain essential workers continue working, knowing they could be infectious.”

Omicron could one day be seen as a turning point in the pandemic, said Meyers, at the University of Texas. Immunity gained from all the new infections, along with new drugs and continued vaccination, could render the coronavirus something with which we can more easily coexist.

“At the end of this wave, far more people will have been infected by some variant of COVID,” Meyers said. “At some point, we’ll be able to draw a line — and omicron may be that point — where we transition from what is a catastrophic global threat to something that’s a much more manageable disease.”

That’s one plausible future, she said, but there is also the possibility of a new variant — one that is far worse than omicron — arising.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Maria Cheng And Carla K. Johnson, The Associated Press

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Alberta

This is not just another protest – Freedom Convoy is heading to Ottawa

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Millions of Canadians are wondering exactly what is happening on the highways leading to Ottawa.  An overwhelming amount of traffic is forming, not only on the highways, but also in social media, and on websites dedicated to the “Freedom Convoy”.
It appears the federal government’s decision to implement a vaccine mandate for truckers has hit a nerve with Canadians opposed to the mandating of vaccines to treat covid.  What started out as a cross country rally by truckers aiming to make a statement in Ottawa has exploded into a national and international phenomenon as people from around the world are turning their eyes to Canada to see more and more of the videos, posts, news articles, and podcasts focussing on opposition to mandating health restrictions.
Images of flag-waving Canadians lining up on overpasses to cheer on the truckers which started to trickle out on the weekend, are now flooding the internet.  Videos of trucks blowing their horns at intersections and overpasses are being heard in homes across the country and increasingly around the world.
Just what do all these protestors want?  One explanation comes from the GoFundMe page set up to help support the expenses truckers and supporters are encountering on their trip to Ottawa. That fundraiser easily blew through its initial goal of $3,000,000.00 on Monday morning.  The message from fundraiser organizer Tamara Lich begins with these comments:
To our Fellow Canadians, the time for political over reach is over.  Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods.  Canadians have been integral to the fabric of humanity in many ways that have shaped the planet.

We are a peaceful country that has helped protect nations across the globe from tyrannical governments who oppressed their people, and now it seems it is happening here. We are taking our fight to the doorsteps of our Federal Government and demanding that they cease all mandates against its people. Small businesses are being destroyed, homes are being destroyed, and people are being mistreated and denied fundamental necessities to survive. It’s our duty as Canadians to put an end to this mandates.  It is imperative that this happens because if we don’t our country will no longer be the country we have come to love.  We are doing this for our future Generations and to regain our lives back.

As of Monday morning, a facebook page called Convoy To Ottawa 2022 is already closing in on 400,000 followers.  The group is quickly becoming a favourite place for supporters to share their photos, videos and supportive messages.
Here’s a sample of posts and videos streaming in from across the county beginning with videos from the west coast and the east coast posted on Sunday.  The beginning stages of this convoy seem to show there’s already a groundswell of support.  It the momentum continues throughout this week as the convoy approached Ottawa, this may culminate in something Canadians have never seen before.
From a facebook post by Jon Lively
The number of trucks and light vehicles slow rolling out of the east and west coast’s today is astonishing. And the turnouts to wave them off were incredible.
I’ll admit, I live in a constant state of skepticism to avoid disappointment. But what I’m seeing today sends chills down my spine and brings tears to my eyes. It feels very real.
Regardless of what happens in Ottawa next week, this movement has me feeling a little prouder to be Canadian. I needed that in a bad way. I think we’re all feeling that.
I had people message me today who were in the various reception parties in BC and Alberta and they said it was very emotional. Many tears were shed. I understand why.
This is the most encouraging thing any of us in Canada have seen in two years. The love and unity is palpable.
Thank you to everyone involved. Behind you all the way❤️.

Sunday morning in Vancouver

Sunday morning outside Vancouver

Sunday morning at Abbotsford, BC.   Amazing turn out In Abby this morning!  Video from Shari Decker

 

Freedom Convoy to Ottawa coming through Langley, BC, at the crack of dawn on Jan 23, 2022.  Video from Jacob Lequijt

 

Highway 2 North Lacombe overpass just after 10 PM Sunday night

Joining the convoy from Aluc, New Brunswick on Sunday afternoon.  Video from 91.9 The Bend

A message from Ontario police Constable Erin Howard representing “Police On Guard”

From Acheson, Alberta (West Edmonton)

Leaving Calgary Monday morning.

 

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Corporate Capture & Youth Checkout: The Covid Scorecard

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The decade past has witnessed a Great Realignment. (Mind we said realignment, not reset.) The election of Barack Obama through Donald Trump and Covid-19 has seen a tectonic shift in the plates beneath society. Alliances have been broken. Power has shifted. Loyalties have disappeared.

The result is a new coalition, a cult alliance of tech, knowledge-based industry, culture and corporatism. Under cover of social unrest and virus paranoia these former antagonists found common cause in punishing the middle and lower classes of society for not acknowledging their elevated, superior status. (Translation: they voted for Trump.)

These woke apostles are unapologetic. Through censorship, cancel culture and financial, leverage they’ve created an oligopoly unabashed in bare-knuckled self-interest. And to constantly remind you that they’re in charge.

To understand how revolutionary this alliance is one need only recall the dirigiste fervour of the 1960s. While it seemed to everyone at the time that society might tip in the maelstrom of riot and protest, the corporate side never blinked. They viewed the Weathermen and the Red Brigade as fringe outfits that would never see power. They held to the status quo (or privilege in today’s CRT newspeak.)

That has changed, because of writers such as French socialist economist Thomas Piketty. Thanks to him Corporate America is now obsessed with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), not shareholder value. It is dominated by HR departments deeply committed to radical notions of social justice and racial equity. Inspired by the example of Michelle Obama, they’ve made Wall Street into Woke Street.

As we wrote in February of 2021 “the New Left now ruthlessly employs Big Tech, Wall Street and the media against its idealogical enemies— including some of its former allies… the Democratic Party of 2021 has morphed from brave to slave, dedicated to intellectual conformity, not contrary opinions. Gone are the civil libertarians like (William) Kunstler. In their place are AOC and her brigades of SJWs purveying hate-speech laws and attacking deniers of the “true climate religion”. First amendment rights have been replaced by cancel-culture indictments.”

Jordan B. Peterson, who recently resigned his tenured position at University of Toronto, describes the corporate submission: “What in the world is wrong with you? Can’t you see that the ideologues who push such appalling nonsense are driven by an agenda that is not only absolutely antithetical to your free-market enterprise, as such, but precisely targeted at the freedoms that made your success possible?

“Can’t you see that by going along, sheep-like (just as the professors are doing; just as the artists and writers are doing) that you are generating a veritable fifth column within your businesses? Are you really so blind, cowed and cowardly?”

While this corporate surrender has transpired, another schism has developed under cover of the Covid-19 pandemic panic. Its effect could be just as enduring. This one is based on age.

The group in society most vulnerable to the ravages of the pandemic is the 55+ cohort, the aging Boomers— the same one orchestrating the reaction to the virus. They are also the most afraid of its impact on them personally. It would be no exaggeration to say those health concerns have been reflected in the overbearing lockdown, mask, distancing and detention policies used against the virus. The generation that once worshipped free speech was quick to abandon civil liberties in its panic to save its own hide.

But younger generations who are far less vulnerable to the virus are tired of being participants in the psycho-dramas of aging the Boomers and their death phobia. And they’ve reached their end. They now flock to clubs, arenas and stadiums to see their friends. They know some of them will get sick, but 99.99 percent of them will be fine even if infected.

They are dismissive of the political shell game of their elders and the autocrats of Big Health. And, as we can see from one of the major sports, they’re headed in a new direction.

NHL players, God bless ‘em, have recognized that old people’s worries are not their worries. For months the league has gone with the Covid catechism to please politicians. Players were ordered to be vaccinated. Anyone testing positive from the wonky PCR test was sidelined. Even asymptomatic players. Games were played with undermanned rosters.

With 100 percent vaccinated, the league still saw 70 percent of players test positive. So the NHL now says “No more”. Only players who show symptoms will be removed from play. Excellent athletes are not 81-year-old U.S. senators shaking in their Depends.

With the accepted narrative now collapsing— Britain has abandoned the mask and lockdown mandates— more jurisdictions will do contrition for overshooting the mark. Dottering Joe Biden can talk about belatedly sending out 400 million masks, but he’s lost the room. Under 50s have moved on.

The only question is how long the ESG folks propping him up will wait before he’s sent overboard. While health is important, everything is second to their power.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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