Prepper News Update July 30

Vaccines Less Effective Over Time

The FDA has found that the effectiveness of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine drops by about 19 percent to 84 percent over six months.  That’s far better than the Chinese vaccine, which apparently drops below 50 percent after six months.  The news may worry the vaccinated, but Pfizer’s shareholders are probably celebrating.  This news could mean they get to sell booster shots.  According to the wall Street Journal, Pfizer expects to make $33.5 billion selling the vaccine this year.

The Best Places for Survival

A study published in the journal Sustainability rated the top places to survive the collapse of society are island nations in this order: New Zealand, Iceland, the UK, Tasmania, and Ireland.  These countries were chosen for their ability to grow food, protect their borders from mass migration, and maintain their electrical grid.  My guess is that the U.S. failed on the second point, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your retreat a “collapse lifeboat” within the U.S. 

The article is an interesting read for the serious prepper while the actual journal article goes into detail on the problems of a complex society and says it has determined “human civilisation that is in a perilous state, with large and growing risks developing in multiple spheres of the human endeavour.”  While I do not agree with many of the assumptions and predictions of the paper, it is still worth reading and provides many ideas worth considering.

Flashpoints and Future Wars

We’ve talked previously about rising tensions between China and Taiwan and its allies, and how this could result in a war. Here’s an interesting article on flashpoints for World War Three, and Taiwan ranks at the top.

The Slippery Slope: Where do the Mandates End?

First it was mask mandates. Then it was business closures. Now the government is forcing people to get the vaccine. Wher does this pattern of abuse lead us?

Webster defines mandate as “to officially require something; make (something) mandatory” and by as “an official order to do something.”

America was founded on freedom and liberty and the concept that the powers of government are limited. Nowhere in the Constitution is the president or the executive branch given the power to force people to get vaccinated, and the CDC is part of the executive branch. Yes, in 1905, the Supreme Court allowed fining someone $5 for not taking the vaccine, but it also allowed reasonable exceptions. Citizens have a fair bit of leeway in deciding how they behave, and forcing someone to get a vaccine is probably illegal.

Most Americans don’t like to be told what they must do. It sticks in our craw and causes people to resist. It would not surprise me that there are people who would have taken the vaccine if made available but who chose not to do so because they felt they were being forced to do so.

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Many Vaccines Less Effective with Delta Variant of COVID-19

Perhaps people would take the Delta variant of COVID-19 more seriously if they called it COVID-21. Its causing another wave in much of the world.

The good news is that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the U.S. continue to drop, even as the Delta variant is becoming the dominant strain in the U.S. For those that haven’t been following the news, the COVID-19 mutation known as Delta caused the surge of cases and so much death in India and is far more transmissible. More good news is that both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines appear to be quite effective against Delta.

The bad news is that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is marching across the world, and Chinese vaccines appear to be less effective against this mutation. Multiple countries are experiencing surges as this article reports “examples from several countries suggest that the Chinese vaccines may not be very effective at preventing the spread of the virus, particularly the new variants.”

A vaccine that is 51 percent effective is still better than no vaccine, and China vaccinated 500 million people in a single month. But that may only cut the path of COVID-19 in half. If another outbreak develops or the country increases its lockdowns and shutdowns to prevent the spread, it could exacerbate supply chain problems and cause costs to rise. Shipping delays already plague key Southern ports in China. COVID-19 could increase the backlog.

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Prepper Diary March 17: We get a Cold Snap for St Patrick’s Day

Despite the recent warm weather, we find that winter is not over as temperatures turn colder and fog heralds the arrival of rain and snow.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! My wife is making corned beef for dinner tonight, and I am very much looking forward to it. We will also have soda bread scones and it would not surprise me if she makes cabbage. She briefly bemoaned the lack of green beer, but that I will not miss.

The Weather Turns Colder

While we are not getting the two-to-four-feet of snow they had in Colorado and Wyoming, it has turned colder and wetter, making things damp and chilly with an occasional coating of fog. These are the blah days of March, when it is neither roaring like a lion nor mincing like a lamb. 

We knew winter was not over, but that doesn’t mean we were looking forward to its return. Making matters worse, it is the time of year to do our taxes, something I never enjoy. Thanks to our move, it is often taking three weeks to get mail forwarded from our old address to our new P.O. box. That means our incoming tax documents are late. Ah, the joys of paperwork.

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COVID-19 Increases in Europe Despite Continued U.S. Decline

Just two months ago, the U.S. was seeing COVID-19 cases grow at 9 percent per week. In the past week, the U.S. has seen growth of 1.4 percent. Meanwhile cases across Europe are climbing.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to slow in the U.S. with hospitalizations down about 70 percent from their peak, cases in Europe increased 9 percent over the past week. The big question is whether a similar increase lies in the future for the United States.

According to the WHO, its new variations of the virus that are causing the European increase, as reported in this article from the Associated Press:

The variant first found in the U.K. is spreading significantly in 27 European countries monitored by WHO and is dominant in at least 10 countries: Britain, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Israel, Spain and Portugal.

It is up to 50% more transmissible than the virus that surged last spring and again in the fall, making it more adept at thwarting measures that were previously effective, WHO experts warned. Scientists have concluded that it is also more deadly.

In reality, the difference in numbers may related to the greater success with vaccination in the U.S. The European Union, as we have reported before, was slow to order vaccines and is lagging the U.S. in both vaccine availability and the number of people being vaccinated per day.

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COVID-19 Cases Level Off as Vaccination Accelerates in U.S.

As the decrease in COVID-19 cases levels off and some worry that social distancing has been relaxed too early, vaccination ramps up.

After dropping for the better part of two months, the number of COVID-19 cases has leveled off in the U.S. Hospitalizations continue to drop, which is good news, and stand at 47,352. In the past 24 hours, there have been 50,925 new COVID-19 cases and 1,129 COVID-related deaths reported in the U.S.

Globally, there have been more than 114 million cases and 2.5 million deaths. The average number of cases reported daily is around 350,000. So while COVID has retreated, it has definitely not disappeared.

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COVID-19 Cases Drop 39 Percent in Two Weeks

Is the plunging number of new COVID-19 cases part of a normal peak and valley, or is the vaccine pushing numbers down?

What was once a map red with COVID-19 hot spots on the New York Time’s interactive COVID-19 page is now soft oranges and pale yellows as the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to decline.  We recently reported that new cases had declined 30 percent over a two-week period.  The latest two weeks have seen a 39 percent decline. In fact, after peaking on January 8 at around 260,000, the 7-day moving average of new cases in the United States is now less than 95,000, the lowest it has been since the first week of November.

Hospitalizations and deaths are also dropping in the U.S., although those curves are lagging.  In the past 24 hours, there have been 63,850 cases reported, 1,080 deaths, and 67,023 people are hospitalized.  That is 60,000 fewer hospitalizations due to the coronavirus than we saw at the peak.

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The Storm Bloweth Over and Ammo Prices Continue to Rise

We’ve weathered he winter snow, now we have to deal with high ammo prices. It may be time to roll our own.

The winter storm has come and gone, but after snow two out of the three previous days, it has piled up and may well remain until we experience a melt up this weekend.  In fact, we now have the deepest snow we’ve had all winter and the longest cold spell yet.  Our wood stoves were struggling to keep up.  When we wake up it is 64 or 65 in the main rooms and the temps slowly rise to 70 or 71 if we are lucky.  We didn’t have any of those days like we had over Christmas when the indoor temperature reached 75. I expect part of the blame is due to the high winds, but I also blame the high moisture content of the wood.  It not only burns slower, we have to leave both dampers open wider and more heat goes up the chimney.

My big Fisher stove burns best with five or six pieces in it, so it chews threw wood at a rapid pace.  We are making frequent trips to the wood pile.

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After Weeks of Growth, COVID-19 Cases Show Significant Decline

After increasing rapidly for three months, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. took a sudden downturn this past week. Is it the vaccine or just another wave?

In a reversal that probably surprises many who expected a New Year’s surge of Coronavirus cases, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in the United States took a sharp downward turn in the past week.  After peaking at more than 280,000, the country’s 7-day moving average has dropped to 219,000, a decrease of more than 20 percent. Deaths, which are a lagging indicator, appear to have leveled off.

In he U.S., which has a total of 23.9 million cases, 169,641 were reported in the past 24 hours. There were also 1,730 deaths reported for a total of 397,612.

Like the U.S., the UK has also experienced a steep decline in reported cases, while cases in Germany, Italy and much of Europe continued their multi-week drop.  We can see in the declining growth rates shown in the week-over-week table below:

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COVID-19 Cases Rise in U.S. as Vaccination Program Kicks Off

As the vaccine starts rolling out around the country, numbers continue to rise, possibly as a result of Thanksgiving.

As Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines rolls out to healthcare workers across the U.S., followed next week by residents at nursing homes and other elder-care facilities, one can’t help but think it is in the nick of time as there were more than 1.5 million cases reported across the country in the week ending December 14.

One of them was my pregnant daughter, who only took the test because there were 56 reported cases at her fiancé’s employer, and he worked closely with people who were known to be positive. He tested negative, but she tested positive.  So they tested him again – still negative.  As a result, she has no idea how she became infected.

Being pregnant complicates medical care, and COVID-19 is no exception.  As soon as her OB/GYN found out, he wanted her to go to the hospital, even though she had no symptoms.  They ran a bunch of tests, decided the baby was fine, and sent her home with ab oxygen monitor and instructions to come back if the readings fell below a certain level.

It’s hard for her to decide if she has symptoms, because so many of them are symptoms you would experience in the last month of pregnancy, including being tired.  But she is home quarantining for at least two weeks.  Most importantly, they want her to be negative by the time she has the baby, which is expected in early January, so it will be touch and go.

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