Deaths linked to the B.1.1.7 variant are rising, but questions remain about what is causing them.
The news is sobering, but complicated. Scientists have released the data behind a British government warning last week that the fast-spreading SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 increases the risk of dying from COVID-19 compared with previous variants. But some scientists caution that the latest study — like the government warning — is preliminary and still does not indicate whether the variant is more deadly or is just spreading faster and so reaching greater numbers of vulnerable people.
The latest findings are concerning, but to draw conclusions, “more work needs to be done”, says Muge Cevik, a public-health researcher at the University of St Andrews, who is based in Edinburgh, UK.
Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said preliminary data from several research groups suggested that B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, was spreading more quickly than previous variants and was also associated with a higher risk of death. On 3 February, researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) released an analysis1 of some of those data, which suggests that the risk of dying is around 35% higher for people who are confirmed to be infected with the new variant.
In real terms, that means that for men aged 70–84, the number who are likely to die from COVID-19 increases from roughly 5% for those who test positive for the older variant, to more than 6% for those confirmed to be infected with B.1.1.7, according to the analysis. For men aged 85 or over, the risk of dying increases from about 17% to nearly 22% for those confirmed to be infected with the new variant. The analysis has not been peer reviewed.
Other groups are also studying whether B.1.1.7 and other new SARS-CoV-2 variants are more deadly than earlier versions of the virus....[ ]
The mass-marketing of interracial relationships, particularly white women with black men, has become so ubiquitous and so militant, even the least observant members of our culture have begun to notice. Walking through a mall recently I noticed three large marketing images of couples in three different stores. Two of the three were interracial couples, depicting a white woman and black man; the third couple was white. Perhaps what struck me as most peculiar was the fact that the city where I was shopping, whites make up about 97% of the population, blacks are less than 2%. I wondered if the purpose of “diverse” advertising was to sell more products, or really to indoctrinate, to condition, and signal how “progressive” they are.
Based on small glimpses of culture, one might assume half or more of all relationships involve some sort of race-mixing. If a person who had no information about the US or Europe were to see our television, magazine, billboard, and storefront advertisements, he might assume there were virtually zero normal white men anywhere to be found. The combination of white women with black men is hands down, the most common mixed-race couple depicted in advertising; that combination will be the focus of this essay.
I thought about the probability that two of the three advertisement couples I saw in the mall that afternoon were there by mere coincidence. Between men and women, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and “other,” there are 25 possible combinations of couples. Twenty of which are interracial. Here are the possible interracial combinations.
Mixed-Race Couple Combinations
White women: black man, Asian man, Hispanic man, other man.
White men: black woman, Asian woman, Hispanic woman, other woman.
Black man: Asian woman, Hispanic woman, other woman.
Black woman: Asian man, Hispanic man, other man.
Asian man: Hispanic woman, other woman.
Asian woman: Hispanic man, other man.
Hispanic man: other woman.
Hispanic woman: other man.
If the “diversity” in advertising was truly about appealing to the greatest number of customers or potential customers, showing white women with black men at such a high level, seems to be a very odd strategy. To focus so much on one combination, while ignoring so many others – there simply must be some other goal beyond selling merchandise.
There is a notable and interesting body of research on interracial relationships and marriages, it is not exhaustive by any means, but we can synthesize the available data to form an accurate view of such relationships. Pew Research 2012 conducted a large study of interracial marriage that provides a considerable amount of data. Since 1980, the total percent of interracial marriages has risen from 3.2% to 8.4%. Of new marriages, the rate rose from 6.7% to 15.1%. In 2010 the most common intermarriage was white/Hispanic, at 43.3%, other mixed at 30.4%, white/Asian at 14.4% and white/black, the least common, at 11.9%. Not all interracial relationships, of course, are marriages, but we can use the marriage data to reasonably extrapolate the information to the wider society and relationships....[ ]
Amid the dire Covid warnings, one crucial fact has been largely ignored: Cases are down 77% over the past six weeks. If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we’d call it a miracle pill. Why is the number of cases plummeting much faster than experts predicted?
In large part because natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing. Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.
Now add people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and the figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March.
There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life....[ ]