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Super-cold or a silly headline?

In Australia, there seem to be a bunch of articles talking about “super-colds”. Please stop calling them this. They are just colds caused by one or…

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In Australia, there seem to be a bunch of articles talking about “super-colds”. Please stop calling them this. They are just colds caused by one or more of the many known respiratory viruses. Which now includes SARS-CoV-2.

As Australia opened up and we started sharing each others’ physical spaces and air spaces once again. So to did our viral overlord passengers begin to be transmitted in greater numbers. Apart from influenza viruses – it turns out these are highly dependent on the latest shiny version being introduced from overseas. It also turns out that the immunity we develop to the current flu virus after infection or via vaccination may be a lot better than we tend to hear each year in the winter flu stories.

SARS-CoV-2 was never the only virus in town

Those other endemic (always around, often peaking and troughing and causing a spectrum of outcomes) respiratory viruses had been ticking along all the time.

Although Australia had a number of lockdowns, there were still frontline workings out and about, there was grocery shopping to be done, and there were children in childcare. All those people came back to the safety of their unmasked, physically proximate households to share with those they lived with, what their airway cells had acquired while out.

Viruses were picked up because they were wearing inefficient masks or wearing them ineffectively, or maybe they were working too close to others or sharing stagnant air with an infected person – there are many ways other viruses could spread – but when you understand that they all have an airborne component to their transmission – then its easy to see that we create and maintain the problem, as humans usually do.

These airborne respiratory viruses cause a spectrum of outcomes after infection. They may not cause anything to happen – no signs or symptoms – an asymptomatic infection. They may cause colds or in some cases more severe respiratory diseases requiring hospitalization. They may also put so much stress on a system with underlying disease(s) that they trigger other problems in the heart or brain. Some of those with severe diseases will die. Heard this story before? Recently? Yeah. Most of the time these non-SARS-CoV-2 infections don’t lead to severe disease. And that is usually the case for SARS-CoV-2 as well. But sometimes they do. And when we have a lot of infections, that “sometimes” becomes a much bigger and badder number and becomes harder to overlook.

Pandemic and endemic viruses everywhere

Right now we have lots of acute respiratory tract infections going around – coughs, sneezes, runny noses, wheezing, asthma attacks, sniffles, tiredness, headaches (also gastro viruses).

You can see in the data from the eastern state of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia that at the moment (2022; Figure 1 green lines) there are rising numbers of influenza A virus cases, adenovirus cases, parainfluenza virus cases, RSV cases, human rhinovirus (HRVs) cases, human metapneumovirus (HMPV) cases and enterovirus cases.

Nothing in this signals a hugely dramatic difference from the average of 2016-2019 except for HMPV and perhaps the HRVs being more active earlier than usual (similar to a 2020 pattern). There are lots of viruses around.

Figure 1. The number of positive PCR test results for influenza and other respiratory viruses at sentinel New South Wales (NSW) laboratories, January 2020 to 3 April 2022. This graph is from the NSW COVID-19 weekly data overview for Epidemiological week 14, ending 9 April 2022.

And of course, there are a lot of SARS-CoV-2 around (Figure 2) compared to any other year since 2017 as well.

Figure 2. Weekly counts of unplanned Emergency Department presentations for coronaviruses and SARS, 2022, compared to the same week in the previous 5 years

For those of us with lots of COVID-19 vaccines +/- an infection, a new SARS-CoV-2 infection is likely to be much milder than it was. So with this virus also rampant everywhere, it’s not possible to say what we have without getting a sample collected and sent for a laboratory test. You could also get a rapid antigen test which tells you very little if negative, and something useful if positive. But we know that these tests can and do miss early infection. That matters if you want to catch the infection early for whatever reason. If you want to know if you are infectious – then a SARS-CoV-2 positive RAT result can tell you that. But it can also miss some of those cases.

What’s so super about these colds?

As far as we know, nothing. There are a lot of just normal old colds out in the community right now. Just how many will vary with where you are in the world, how and whether you locked down and so on.

From what I see in terms of colds around me, there are definitely a pretty sizable and significant number of distinct viruses co-circulating. But that’s not new.

How long is this thing gonna last?

You may end up with a cold that seems to “go on forever” rather than the 1-2 weeks most last for. The chances are that you are getting consecutive infections; one different virus after another after another. Because what they cause often feels indistinguishable, it all just seems like one long bout. This super-cold concept is really just about there being a high viral burden in the community.

This cold will be the death of me!

Different viruses can hit harder than others. More cell damage, more inflammation – a more general feeling of being under the weather. And viruses can be more active some years and quieter the next (presumably because lots of people were immune after infection). Some viruses change quickly or may have changed suddenly through sheer chance. Some of us don’t mix with others a lot, so we may not be infected by virusX for many years and our community to it will have waned so that when we do get it, it hits hard.

This year, you may have been hit with one of the bad ones and feel like you got a worse cold than ever before. It’s possible you may even feel worse with the next one. Or the first virus may set up some wheezing that the next one exacerbates. Or brings a cough that wasn’t; there with the virus infection. You get the picture. It can be a mixed bag.

But overall are these colds this year all worse than before? Probably not. In my opinion, it’s much more likely to be a simple mix of having lots of viruses around all at once, that the strength of our specific immunity to these critters has tapered off over the past two years but also perhaps just forgetting what colds feel like while we so successfully kept them at bay.

Super-colds? Nuh. Lots of colds? More than likely.

What can you do about it?

And while I know how y’all feel about masks, they do work. If you want to save yourself some illness and dodge one of two of what’s going around this year, get yourself a well-fitting P2/N95 face mask and wear it so that your mouth and nose are covered and the nose wire is fit snugly against your nose. You can test it by fit checking (can also see if you can taste or smell sprayed aerosols).

Masks keep you safer from the infections around you and they keep others safer from you if you are shedding a virus. So whether it’s a super-cold or a silly headline, there are things you can do to avoid the many viruses that are around in increasing numbers as we head into winter.

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The post Super-cold or a silly headline? appeared first on Virology Down Under.

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China Suggests It Could Maintain ‘Zero COVID’ Policy For 5 Years

China Suggests It Could Maintain ‘Zero COVID’ Policy For 5 Years

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

China has suggested it will…

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China Suggests It Could Maintain 'Zero COVID' Policy For 5 Years

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

China has suggested it will maintain its controversial ‘zero COVID’ policy for at least 5 years, eschewing natural immunity and guaranteeing repeated rounds of new lockdowns.

“In the next five years, Beijing will unremittingly grasp the normalization of epidemic prevention and control,” said a story published by Beijing Daily.

The article quoted Cai Qi, the Communist Party of China’s secretary in Beijing and a former mayor of the city, who said that ‘zero COVID’ approach would remain in place for 5 years.

After the story prompted alarm, reference to “five years” was removed from the piece and the hashtag related to it was censored by social media giant Weibo.

“Monday’s announcement and the subsequent amendment sparked anger and confusion among Beijing residents online,” reports the Guardian.

“Most commenters appeared unsurprised at the prospect of the system continuing for another half-decade, but few were supportive of the idea.”

Although western experts severely doubt official numbers coming out of China, Beijing claimed success in limiting COVID deaths by enforcing the policy throughout 2021.

However, this meant that China never achieved anything like herd immunity, and at one stage the Omicron variant caused more more coronavirus cases in Shanghai in four weeks than in the previous two years of the entire pandemic.

Back in May, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus suggested that China would be better off if it abandoned the policy, but Beijing refused to budge.

As we previously highlighted, the only way of enforcing a ‘zero COVID’ policy is via brutal authoritarianism.

In Shanghai, children were separated from their parents in quarantine facilities and others were left without urgent treatment like kidney dialysis.

Panic buying of food also became a common occurrence as the anger threatened to spill over into widespread civil unrest.

Former UK government COVID-19 advisor Neil Ferguson previously admitted that he thought “we couldn’t get away with” imposing Communist Chinese-style lockdowns in Europe because they were too draconian, and yet it happened anyway.

“It’s a communist one party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought,” said Ferguson.

“And then Italy did it. And we realised we could,” he added.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Tue, 06/28/2022 - 18:05

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No sign of major crude oil price decline any time soon

Bullish pressure on crude oil markets doesn’t seem to be easing Crude oil prices fell last week, notching their second weekly decline in the face of…

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Bullish pressure on crude oil markets doesn’t seem to be easing

Crude oil prices fell last week, notching their second weekly decline in the face of concern that rising interest rates could push the global economy into recession.

Yet the future of crude oil still seems bullish to many. Spare capacity, or lack of it, is just one of the reasons.

The global surplus of crude production capacity in May was less than half the 2021 average, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Friday.

The EIA estimated that as of May, producers in nations not members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) had about 280,000 barrels per day (bpd) of surplus capacity, down sharply from 1.4 million bpd in 2021. It said 60 per cent of the May 2021 figure was from Russia, which is increasingly under sanctions related to its invasion of Ukraine.

The OPEC+ alliance of oil producers is running out of capacity to pump crude, and that includes its most significant member, Saudi Arabia, Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva told Bloomberg last week.

“Some people believe the prices to be a little bit on the high side and expect us to pump a little bit more, but at this moment there is really little additional capacity,” Sylva said in a briefing with reporters on Friday. “Even Saudi Arabia, Russia, of course, Russia, is out of the market now more or less.” Nigeria was also unable to fulfil its output obligations, added Sylva.

Recent COVID-19-related lockdowns in parts of China – the world’s largest crude importer – also played a significant role in the global oil dynamics. The lack of Chinese oil consumption due to the lockdowns helped keep the markets in a check – somewhat.

Oil prices haven’t peaked yet because Chinese demand has yet to return to normal, a United Arab Emirates official told a conference in Jordan early this month. “If we continue consuming, with the pace of consumption we have, we are nowhere near the peak because China is not back yet,” UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said. “China will come with more consumption.”

Al-Mazrouei warned that without more investment across the globe, OPEC and its allies can’t guarantee sufficient supplies of oil as demand fully recovers from the pandemic.

But the check on the Chinese crude consumption seems to be easing.

On Saturday, Beijing, a city of 21 million-plus people, announced that primary and secondary schools would resume in-person classes. And as life seemed to return to normal, the Universal Beijing Resort, which was closed for nearly two months, reopened on Saturday.

Chinese economic hub Shanghai, with a population of 28 million-plus people, also declared victory over COVID after reporting zero new local cases for the first time in two months.

The two major cities were among several places in China that implemented curbs to stop the spread of the omicron wave from March to May.

But the easing of sanctions should mean oil’s price trajectory will resume its upward march.

In the meantime, in the U.S., the Biden administration is eying tougher anti-smog requirements. According to Bloomberg, that could negatively impact drilling across parts of the Permian Basin, which straddles Texas and New Mexico and is the world’s biggest oil field.

While the world is looking for clues about what the loss of supply from Russia will mean, reports are pouring in that the ongoing political turmoil in Libya could plague its oil output throughout the year.

The return of blockades on oilfields and export terminals amid renewed political tension is depriving the market of some of Libya’s oil at a time of tight global supply, said Tsvetana Paraskova in a piece for Oilrpice.com.

And in the ongoing political push to strangle Russian energy output, the G7 was reportedly discussing a price cap on oil imports from Russia. Western countries are increasingly frustrated that their efforts to squeeze out Russian energy supplies from the markets have had the counterproductive effect of driving up the global crude price, which is leading to Russia earning more money for its war chest.

To tackle the issue, and increase pressure on Russia, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is proposing a price cap on Russian crude oil sales. The idea is to lift the sanction on insurance for Russian crude cargo for countries that accept buying Russian oil at an agreed maximum price. Her proposal is aimed at squeezing Russian crude out of the market as much as possible.

So the bullish pressure on crude oil markets doesn’t seem to be easing.

By Rashid Husain Syed

Toronto-based Rashid Husain Syed is a respected energy and political analyst. The Middle East is his area of focus. As well as writing for major local and global newspapers, Rashid is also a regular speaker at major international conferences. He has provided his perspective on global energy issues to the Department of Energy in Washington and the International Energy Agency in Paris.

Courtesy of Troy Media

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WTI Extends Gains After Unexpected Crude Draw

WTI Extends Gains After Unexpected Crude Draw

Oil prices are higher today following relatively positive news from China (easing some of its…

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WTI Extends Gains After Unexpected Crude Draw

Oil prices are higher today following relatively positive news from China (easing some of its COVID quarantine restrictions), Macron-inspired doubts over the ability of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to significantly boost output, and unrest in Ecuador and Libya helped lift prices.

“We’re in the crunch period, it’s hard to see any meaningful price relief for crude,” said John Kilduff.

There’s a lot of strength with China relaxing its Covid restrictions and starting its independent refiners, “we’re going to have another chunk of demand for crude oil,” as China relaxes its Covid-19 restrictions.

With no EIA data released last week due to a "systems issue" (they have issued a statement confirming that the data - and the newest data - will both be released tomorrow), the only guidance we have for now on the past week's inventory changes is from API...

API (last week)

  • Crude +5.607mm

  • Cushing -390k

  • Gasoline +1.216mm - first build since March

  • Distillates -1.656mm

API (this week)

  • Crude -3.799mm

  • Cushing -650k

  • Gasoline +2.852mm

  • Distillates +2.613mm

Crude stocks unexpectedly fell last week, almost erasing the major build from the week before (according to API). Gasoline stocks rose for the second straight week

Source: Bloomberg

WTI was hovering around $111.75 and pushed up to $112 after the unexpected crude draw...

Finally, we note that the tight supply situation in oil (especially European) is revealing itself in the WTI-Brent spread, grew to $6.19, the widest in almost three months.

“European demand will remain robust, especially as natural gas supplies run out, while the North American demand for crude is weakening,” said Ed Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda.

This is not good news for President Biden as prices are rising...

And his ratings are hitting record lows.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/28/2022 - 16:37

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