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What effect will lunar new year have on COVID spread in China? Our modelling shows most people have already been infected

There have been concerns that lunar new year may cause the current wave of COVID infections in China to spread much further and faster. But the worst has…



China stuck rigidly to a zero-COVID policy until December 2022. This included travel restrictions, mass testing and mandatory quarantines. The rapid lifting of this strategy led to a surge of COVID infections across the country.

There have been concerns that the Chinese lunar new year travel in January may cause this wave of COVID to spread much further and faster, with significant numbers of hospital admissions and deaths.

Lunar new year involves hundreds of millions of people travelling across the country, and is considered to be the world’s largest annual migration event.

So how have things been tracking in China, and how will lunar new year trips affect COVID transmission? Our modelling may provide some clues.

This year lunar new year fell on January 22, though population movements for the celebrations began on January 7 and will run until February 15. Domestic travel was expected to peak around January 19.

According to estimates from the Chinese Ministry of Transport, the total number of lunar new year travellers is expected to have increased by 99.5% over the same period in 2022 and returned to 70.3% of what it was in 2019.

Through WorldPop, a research group based at the University of Southampton which maps global population distribution for health and development, we have continued to analyse population movements and their relationship to COVID transmission throughout the pandemic. Our earlier research indicated that lunar new year movements contributed significantly to the initial spread of the virus in January 2020.

This new wave has largely been driven by the omicron sub-lineages BA.5.2 and BF.7. We used an epidemiological model to simulate the transmission of these omicron variants across 339 areas in mainland China from November 1, 2022 to February 28, 2023.

Read more: COVID is running rampant in China – but herd immunity remains elusive

This work has not yet been peer reviewed but our model estimated changes in the number of susceptible, exposed, infectious and recovered or isolated people within each area and their daily movements between areas. We incorporated numerous different sources of data, including intracity and intercity mobility data, vaccine uptake data by province, and COVID-related search index data on the Chinese internet search platform Baidu.

An important element of our model is the R value, which indicates how many people on average one infected person will infect in a susceptible population. We estimated R using reported case information and other data.

We compared the results of our model with online survey data on COVID infections, and we tested different R values and epidemiological parameters to better assess the uncertainties around our estimates.

Past the peak

Baidu searches with the term “fever” showed that most Chinese areas reached a peak in searches around December 20.

Baidu searches for ‘fever’

Changes in the Baidu search index for the term ‘fever’ in 255 Chinese areas relative to the mean level of the search index in August – October 2022.

Based on this and other data, and an R value of 10, further adjusted by intracity mobility data, our model estimated that COVID infections nationwide peaked around December 26 to 28. At that time, roughly 4.2% of the Chinese population were probably infected, as shown in the figure below.

Estimated COVID infections in China

Estimated daily COVID infections in China from November 2022 to February 2023, under different reproduction numbers. The shaded area shows the period of the lunar new year migration.

We also estimated that infections in 76% of areas peaked in December and 21% between January 1 and 10. The remaining 3% would reach the peak after January 10.

By December 31, we believe 73%–79% of all people in China would have been infected in this wave.

Estimated infection peaks by area

Estimated peak date of COVID infections in each area under an R value of 10.

Our estimates under an R value of 10 are consistent with the recent reports released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reported that the positive rate of COVID tests peaked between December 22 and 27 across the country. China passed the peaks of fever-related outpatient visits for both rural and urban areas (peaked on December 23), emergency department visits (January 2) and admission of severe cases (January 5).

Our results are also consistent with the findings of recent online surveys on COVID infections conducted in different provinces. For example, the Sichuan CDC in the western province of China reported that the overall infection rate of its residents had exceeded 80% by January 1, with a peak between December 12 and December 23. And Henan province in central China reported that its infection rate was 89% by January 6, after peaking on December 19.

So what about lunar new year?

Since most cities are estimated to have passed the peak of infections before January 10, and the majority of the population has already been infected, we expect the lunar new year travel will have a limited impact on the trajectory of COVID transmission in this wave across the country.

Of course, there may be subsequent waves of infections, for example in summer, due to waning immunity and the possible emergence of new variants.

Read more: COVID: what we know about new omicron variant BF.7

We intend to refine our analysis with the latest data and publish a full report setting out our research in the coming weeks. But it’s important to note that at this stage, this work has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Whatever the precise estimates this and other models generate, it’s clear there are significant risks of severe disease and death among vulnerable groups such as the elderly. There’s also high pressure on health services, and relatively inadequate healthcare resources in rural areas. Measures like increased vaccine uptake in older people will be vital to ensuring the impact of COVID in China is reduced in future waves.

Shengjie Lai receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the EU H2020, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. We collaborated with the School of Population Medicine and Public Health at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in this study. The authors thank Dr Michael Head for providing insightful comments to improve this study and report.

Andrew J Tatem receives funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the EU Horizon 2020 program and the National Institutes of Health.

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As We Sell Off Our Strategic Oil Reserves, Ponder This

As We Sell Off Our Strategic Oil Reserves, Ponder This

Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog,

One of Biden’s answers to combating…



As We Sell Off Our Strategic Oil Reserves, Ponder This

Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog,

One of Biden's answers to combating higher gas prices has been to tap into America's oil reserves. While I was never a fan of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) program, it does have a place in our toolbox of weapons. We can use the reserve to keep the country running if outside oil supplies are cut off. Still, considering how out of touch with reality Washington has become, we can only imagine the insane types of services it would deem essential next time an oil shortage occurs.

Sadly, some of these reserves found their way into the export market and ended up in China. We now have proof that the President's son Hunter had a Chinese Communist Party member as his assistant while dealing with the Chinese. Apparently, he played a role in the shipping of American natural gas to China in 2017. It seems the Biden family was promising business associates that they would be rewarded once Biden became president. Biden's actions could be viewed as those of a traitor or at least disqualify him from being President.

The following information was contained in a letter from House Oversight Committee ranking member James Comer, R-Ky. to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen dated Sept. 20. 

"The President has not only misled the American public about his past foreign business transactions, but he also failed to disclose that he played a critical role in arranging a business deal to sell American natural resources to the Chinese while planning to run for President.”

Joe Biden, Comer said, was a business partner in the arrangement and had office space to work on the deal, and a firm he managed received millions from his Chinese partners ahead of the anticipated venture. While part of what Comer stated had previously been reported in the news, the letter, cited whistleblower testimonies, as well as emails, a corporate PowerPoint presentation, and a screenshot of encrypted messages. These as well as  bank documents that committee Republicans obtained suggest Biden’s knowledge and involvement in the plan dated back to at least 2017.

The big point here is;

  • The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which was established in 1975 due to the 1973 oil embargo, is now at its lowest level since December 1983.

In December 1975, with memories of gas lines fresh on the minds of Americans following the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, Congress established the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). It was designed “to reduce the impact of severe energy supply interruptions.” What are the implications of depleting the SPR and is it still important?

The U.S. government began to fill the reserve and it hit its high point in 2010 at around 726.6 million barrels. Since December 1984, this is the first time the level has been lower than 450 million barrels. Draining the SPR has been a powerful tool for the administration in its effort to tame the price of gasoline. It also signaled a "new era" of intervention on the part of the White House. 

This brings front-and-center questions concerning the motivation of those behind this action. One of the implications of Biden's war on high oil prices is that it has short-circuited the fossil investment/supply development process.  Capital expenditures among the five largest oil and gas companies have fallen as the price of oil has come under fire. The current under-investment in this sector is one of the reasons oil prices are likely to take a big jump in a few years. Production from existing wells is expected to rapidly fall.

The Supply Of Oil Is Far More Constant And Inelastic Than Demand

It is important to remember when it comes to oil, the supply is far more constant and inelastic than the demand. This means that it takes time and investment to bring new wells online while demand can rapidly change. This happened during the pandemic when countries locked down and told their populations and told them to stay at home. This resulted in the price of oil temporarily going negative because there was nowhere to store it.

Draining oil from the strategic reserve is a short-sighted and dangerous choice that will impact America's energy security at times of global uncertainty. In an effort to halt inflationary forces, Biden released a huge amount of crude oil from the SPR to artificially suppress fuel prices ahead of the midterm elections. 

To date, Biden has dumped more SPR on the market than all previous presidents combined reducing the reserves to levels not seen since the early 1980s. In spite of how I feel about the inefficiencies of this program, it does serve a vital role. It is difficult to underestimate the importance of a country's ability to rapidly increase its domestic flow of oil. This defensive action protects its economy and adds to its resilience. 

Biden's actions have put the whole country at risk. Critics of his policy pointed out the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was designed for use in an emergency not as a tool to manipulate elections. Another one of Biden's goals may be to bring about higher oil prices to reduce its use and accelerate the use of high-cost green energy.

Either way, Biden's war on oil has not made America's energy policies more efficient or the country stronger.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/25/2023 - 18:30

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The Disinformation-Industrial Complex Vs Domestic Terror

The Disinformation-Industrial Complex Vs Domestic Terror

Authored by Ben Weingarten via,

Combating disinformation…



The Disinformation-Industrial Complex Vs Domestic Terror

Authored by Ben Weingarten via,

Combating disinformation has been elevated to a national security imperative under the Biden administration, as codified in its first-of-its-kind National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, published in June 2021.  

That document calls for confronting long-term contributors to domestic terrorism.

In connection therewith, it cites as a key priority “addressing the extreme polarization, fueled by a crisis of disinformation and misinformation often channeled through social media platforms, which can tear Americans apart and lead some to violence.” 

Media literacy specifically is seen as integral to this effort. The strategy adds that: “the Department of Homeland Security and others are either currently funding and implementing or planning evidence–based digital programming, including enhancing media literacy and critical thinking skills, as a mechanism for strengthening user resilience to disinformation and misinformation online for domestic audiences.” 

Previously, the Senate Intelligence Committee suggested, in its report on “Russian Active Measures Campaigns and Interference in the 2016 Election” that a “public initiative—propelled by Federal funding but led in large part by state and local education institutions—focused on building media literacy from an early age would help build long-term resilience to foreign manipulation of our democracy.” 

In June 2022, Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced the Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act, which – citing the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report – would fund a media literacy grant program for state and local education agencies, among other entities. 

NAMLE and Media Literacy Now, both recipients of State Department largesse, endorsed the bill. 

Acknowledging explicitly the link between this federal counter-disinformation push, and the media literacy education push, Media Literacy Now wrote in its latest annual report that ... 

... the federal government is paying greater attention to the national security consequences of media illiteracy.

The Department of Homeland Security is offering grants to organizations to improve media literacy education in communities across the country. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense is incorporating media literacy into standard troop training, and the State Department is funding media literacy efforts abroad.

These trends are important for advocates to be aware of as potential sources of funding as well as for supporting arguments around integrating media literacy into K-12 classrooms. 

When presented with notable examples of narratives corporate media promoted around Trump-Russia collusion, and COVID-19, to justify this counter-disinformation campaign, Media Literacy Now president Erin McNeill said: “These examples are disappointing.”

The antidote, in her view is, “media literacy education because it helps people not only recognize the bias in their news sources and seek out other sources, but also to demand and support better-quality journalism.” (Emphasis McNeill’s)

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/25/2023 - 17:30

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Disney World Event Gives Florida Gov. DeSantis the Middle Finger

Walt Disney’s CEO Bob Iger has shown no willingness to back down in the face of the governor’s efforts to campaign against diversity training.



Walt Disney's CEO Bob Iger has shown no willingness to back down in the face of the governor's efforts to campaign against diversity training.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made Disney World, one of his state's largest employers, the target of his so-called war on woke. 

At the root of the dispute are former Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Free Report CEO Bob Chapek's remarks opposing the Republican governor's new law, which limits the ability of educators to discuss gender identity and sexual orientation with children.

Labeled the Don't Say Gay bill, the law met with huge pushback from Disney employees, who had criticized Chapek for initially not speaking out against the bill.

That led the then-Disney boss to take a direct stand against the governor's actions, which in turn led DeSantis to strip the company of its special tax status.  

DON'T MISS: Huge Crowds Force Disney World to Make Big Changes

DeSantis has decided to use Disney as the center of his political-theater culture war because it's an easy, and nonmoving, target. The company can't pack up Disney World and move it to New York, Massachusetts, or some other liberal bastion, so it mostly has to take whatever the governor dishes out.

But while DeSantis wants to use Disney as a target, he's mostly playing to the cameras; clearly, he's not actually looking to take down the largest single-site employer in the U.S. Disney World generates tens of thousands of jobs, pays the state a lot of money. and brings in billions of tourism dollars -- many of which are spent outside its gates in the broader Florida economy.

Image source: Shutterstock/TheStreet Illustration

Disney CEO Iger Uses Actions, Not Words

Disney CEO Bob Iger understands that actions speak louder than words and words can come back to haunt you.

The returned Mouse House boss has not called out DeSantis, nor did he fight the governor's takeover of its Reedy Creek Improvement District.

On paper, Disney World appears to have lost its right to self-govern. That's true, but it doesn't mean much because it's not as if the state -- even DeSantis's handpicked cronies who now oversee the former Reedy Creek Improvement District -- intend to actually get in Disney's way. The company prints money for the state.

So, that's why Iger -- who had publicly spoken against the Don't Say Gay bill when he was a private citizen and not Disney CEO, has not called out DeSantis. A speech decrying the governor's actions, pointing out that they “put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy,” as he said before taking the CEO job back, would not help Disney.

Instead, Iger has let his company's actions speak. 

Disney World plans to host a "major conference promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the workplace" at the Disney World Resort this September, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Disney Boldly Challenges DeSantis

Disney World will host the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit in September.

"The largest LGBTQ+ conference in the world, with more than 5,000 attendees every year. It brings together executives, ERG leaders and members, and HR and DEI professionals and experts -- all working for LGBTQ+ equality," the event's organizer, Out & Equal, said on its website. 

"Over more than 20 years, Summit has grown to become the preferred place to network and share strategies that create inclusive workplaces, where everyone belongs and where LGBTQ+ employees can be out and thrive." 

The Tampa Bay Times called simply hosting the event "a defiant display of the limits of DeSantis’s campaign against diversity training."

Disney World has hosted the event previously and the company has a relationship with Out & Equal going back many years.

Instead of giving a speech and becoming even more of a right-wing-media talking point, Iger showed his employees where Disney stands through his actions. It's a smart choice by a seasoned executive not to become an actor in DeSantis's political theater.

The Florida governor wants to be perceived as battling 'woke" Disney without actually hurting his state's relationship with the company. The newspaper described exactly how that works when it looked at the new government powers the state has taken from the theme park giant.

The subsequent legislation left most of Disney’s special powers in place despite the governor’s attempt to dissolve the district. The conservative members the governor appointed to the board hinted at the first meeting of the new board that they would exercise leverage over Disney, such as prohibiting COVID-19 restrictions at Disney World. But legal experts have said that the new board’s authority has no control over Disney content.

DeSantis wants a culture war, or at least one that'll play out in the media. Iger knows better and has played the situation perfectly.   


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