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an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"[T]he gap between Covid-19 mortality and overall excess mortality has proved remarkably, and mystifyingly, persistent...."

Writes David Wallace-Wells, in "Why Are So Many Americans Dying Right Now?" (NYT).

[A]lmost every week for more than six months, the agency has calculated that total excess mortality was 50 percent larger than and often almost twice as large as the number of official Covid-19 deaths.... What are the hypotheses? 

The first is delayed care [caused by the pandemic]....

A second hypothesis is about the indirect effects of pandemic restrictions... social isolation, anxiety... unemployment, which can worsen a wide range of conditions, as well as, potentially, suicide and homicide and even car accidents and overdoses....

A third hypothesis is that Covid-19 infection does harm to the body that can linger after recovery for some people....

If you are waiting for "a fourth hypothesis, the vaccine," I can tell you it is not in this article. The vaccine is mentioned but not as a possible cause of the excess deaths. But Wallace-Wells discusses a subset of the "third hypothesis" as "another hypothesis":

Another hypothesis is that Covid infection damages immune function in some patients in a long-lasting way....

So the damage to the immune function, if any, is presumed to come from the disease and not the vaccine. Wallace-Wells notes that there is "a lot of contestation and pushback against — and contextualizing," but only about the effect of the disease. Questioning the vaccine cannot even be a hypothesis. He proceeds to talk about how our emotions drive our thinking on the subject:

Among the many lessons of the pandemic, for me, has been how much more complicated and baffling disease severity and death are.... how simplistic it often feels to apply a single cause of death.... Yet we’ve wanted stories we drew from the pandemic to be straightforward and legible, no matter how messy and nuanced so many cases turned out to be....

Does this want cause you to exclude the complicating factor that is the vaccine? As I write this, I am feeling the fear of questioning the vaccine. 

Here's the parenthetical in the article where Wallace-Wells excludes the vaccine:

If long Covid or post-acute sequelae were primarily responsible [for the excess deaths], we might expect to see a spike in non-Covid excess deaths at some interval following each particular wave of infection — perhaps a few weeks or perhaps a few months later. (If vaccination risk was playing a role, it might create the same pattern, but that’s not what the curves show.) 

There is also the idea that the excess mortality is really made up of deaths from Covid that were not registered as Covid deaths because they died at home and why test for Covid when the death certificate can say heart disease?

Throughout the pandemic, about 20 percent of in-hospital deaths have been attributed to Covid-19, compared to barely 2 percent of deaths at home. If you roughly triple the share of at-home deaths attributed to Covid — still well short of the share in hospitals — you make the Covid death toll a bit larger but almost entirely eliminate the excess excess gap. And if you adjust it to match the share of deaths attributed to Covid everywhere but homes — hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes — you actually overshoot the gap....

That sounds quite plausible, but I note the emotion in my desire to embrace it. It's the most comforting thought. People who died were old and already in bad health, and Covid knocked them off relatively peacefully. They died at home. And they were expected to die. They'd reached the end of their life. Nothing strange is going on. Rest easy.

"Where does this leave us?," the last paragraph of the article begins. And here comes the one other mention of the vaccine:

More Americans are still dying than expected, which means at some point the United States may have to reset its expectations for how many will die in a given year at least a bit higher. The country long ago walked away from most mitigation measures beyond vaccination. (And even there, booster uptake has been quite low.)...

You can see that the reference to the vaccine is entirely positive. The only fault is only in us: We're not continuing to take it.

"I think we’re probably going to be embarrassed by the pandemic, every kind of reaction to it and the way it’s sort of defined our time."

"To me, it’s already sort of becoming an embarrassing topic, and you can feel people not wanting to talk about it.... I feel embarrassed about being a little irrational about certain topics and the politicization of every single thing that happened in that whole time period, where how people handled their own health was a political topic. And that just doesn’t make rational sense. Also, how every single thing in our lives — even what music we listen to and what art we see — you have to align yourself with a certain political agenda. I think that will eventually feel embarrassing, or it’ll hopefully turn into something else, because I feel like there’s no end to that thought process. It makes people go a little crazy and become conspiracy theorists or just totally isolated from all of their friends."

Writes the essayist/novelist Natasha Stagg, one of many contributors to "Future Cringe/One day we’ll look back on this moment and wonder: What were we thinking?" (NYT).

I love the big question, what are we doing now that we are going to be embarrassed/ashamed of in the future? I noticed this question when I was a child and heard things said about people in the past, as if those people were benighted and ridiculous. We are those people to people somewhere out there in the future. How can I avoid being looked at by them the way people today are looking at the people of the past?

One answer is to be more charitable to the people of the past. Realize that some day you'll be in their position, and don't you want those future people to be charitable toward you? Embarrassment is over-worried about. Maybe those people in the future are looking back at us and laughing about how prudish and uptight we were to think of them feeling embarrassed about us. That is, one day we'll look back and be embarrassed the we were embarrassed.

Paradoxically, the avoidance of embarrassment is the most embarrassing thing of all. Worrying that you will cringe is unnecessary pre-cringing. 

As I've said, I've thought about this question since I was a child. I was, I think, too influenced by the vision of "Future Me" feeling embarrassed about whatever it was I was considering doing now. But I agree with the writer, Natasha Stagg, that we ought to get some perspective on our narrow-minded irrationality, and I don't think I'm being inconsistent. I'm for individuality and freedom.

"I was persistent, even pushy. I said the uncomfortable things, that Covid was more like HIV than the flu, that Covid was never going away..."

"... that we shouldn’t have to keep tiptoeing around the normalcy fairytale. I referred to all the research showing that we would have to invest heavily in HEPA filtration, even upper room UVGI down the line if we wanted our daughter to stay in school. As Kraken began spreading, I put my foot down and said if our school didn’t bring masks back, we would have to homeschool her.... Finally, I told him neither one of us would ever be able to live with ourselves if she developed a chronic illness because we were too weak to stand up for her health...."

From "We Convinced Our School to Bring Back Masks/Here's how we did it," by Jessica Wildfire (OK Doomer).

Via Metafilter, where somebody says: "I believe the point the article's author is making is that a lot of information is coming out that covid has a permanent or semi-permanent affect on immune systems.... Covid seems to be an immune-affecting disease. Like HIV...."

"'Died Suddenly'? More Than 1-in-4 Think Someone They Know Died From COVID-19 Vaccines."

Rasmussen reports.

The documentary Died Suddenly has been criticized as promoting “debunked” anti-vaccine conspiracy theories but has been seen by some 15 million people.

Forty-eight percent (48%) of Americans believe there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, while 37% think people who worry about vaccine safety are spreading conspiracy theories. Another 15% are not sure.

The political breakdown is interesting:

More Democrats (85%) than Republicans (63%) or those not affiliated with either major party (64%) have been vaccinated against COVID-19. More Republicans (60%) than Democrats (44%) or the unaffiliated (43%) think there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. However, there is less political difference in the number who suspect someone they know might have died from vaccine side effects – 33% of Democrats and 26% of both Republicans and the unaffiliated. 

Rasmussen downplayed the most significant discrepancy — there are 27% more Democrats who say they know someone who "might have died from vaccine side effects." That's a lot of political difference, especially since the difference seems to go in the opposite direction from the support for the vaccine, with Republicans much more likely to be worried about vaccine safety and to have resisted getting the vaccination. 

Now, maybe it's that Democrats tend to know more people who've taken the vaccine or to know more people who've died recently. Maybe Democrats simply know more people. Maybe Democrats have more of a tendency to interpret the question differently.

When people you know die, do you know why they died? There may be cultural differences about conveying the cause of death. When do you just absorb the news of the death and figure it must be from one of those things that kill people — old age, drugs, suicide, heart trouble? If you do that, then if someone asks you do you think it could have been a side effect of the vaccine, you might easily and without thinking much, say, sure. It might not mean you're particularly concerned about the vaccine. 

Another way to look at this is that supporters of the vaccine may think of course some people are going to die from it but, overall, more lives will be saved, so what's important is for everyone to do their part and contribute to the general good by getting the vaccine as prescribed. Yes, you might be one of the unlucky ones who dies because of the vaccine, but you'll never know if you would have been one of the unlucky ones who dies because you did not get the vaccine, so please just cooperate and accept the vaccine.

I would guess that Democrats are more likely to have that attitude, and that might mean that even when they hear of deaths that they think could be traced to the vaccine they tend to continue to think that there are no "legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccine."

"Sam, born during a Texas covid surge in July, 2020, is typical of what some experts are calling an 'immunity gap.'"

"He was cared for at home by his father for his first eighteen months, so he avoided the usual viral infections of infancy. When he started day care this year, his immune system was fairly naïve to infections, except for those covered by his vaccines. So, like many kids his age... he is getting all of them now. Before covid, the cohort of kids under age one would be exposed for the first time each winter. This year, a much larger cohort of kids—not just kids in the first winter of life but also older toddlers like Sam—are getting their first infections. For the millions of children whose important kid work—learning, development, and play—is being interrupted by back-to-back infections, the medical response feels terrifically inadequate...."

From "The Post-COVID 'Immunity Gap' Continues to Pummel Pediatric Wards/While hospitals struggle to find room for young patients, parents have few options for O.T.C. medicines to soothe their sick children" (The New Yorker).

"I changed the door panels on an old 56 Chevy, and replaced some old floor tiles, made some landscape paintings, wrote a song called 'You Don’t Say.'"

"I listened to Peggy Lee records. Things like that. I reread 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' a few times over. What a story that is. What a poem. If there’d been any opium laying around, I probably would have been down for a while. I listened to The Mothers of Invention record Freak Out!, that I hadn’t heard in a long, long time. What an eloquent record. 'Hungry Freaks, Daddy,' and the other one, 'Who Are the Brain Police,' perfect songs for the pandemic."

That is what Bob Dylan (says he) did during the lockdown.

Let's all read "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" for Bob.

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work 'em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow. 

As for Zappa, he was alerting us to "The emptiness that's you inside" ("Hungry Freaks, Daddy") and raising the question whether the people we know are melted plastic and soft chrome ("Who Are the Brain Police?").

The perfection for the pandemic of "Brain Police" must have to do with the long middle section repeating "I think I'm gonna die" and "I'm gonna die." It's interesting to picture Bob grooving on that and thinking How eloquent... perhaps while laying floor tiles.

Althouse and Meade text, just now, about Biden's announcement that he will end the Covid 19 emergency on May 11th.Damar Hamlin, hit in a football game, goes into cardiac arrest, some people are bringing up the Covid-19 vaccine, and we are told those people are deplorable.

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