Back by popular demand! We didn’t intend on being a “news blog.” We started doing this when we were one of the first western publications to ring the alarm bells on COVID back in January 2020 when the mainstream media was seemingly dropping the ball. It seemed like the New Year was a good time to end this project, but so many of you loved it that we’ve brought it back. Expect twice-weekly roundups of news that’s relevant to preppers, sans political agenda, etc.
January was eventful. We had an insurrection on January 6th. There’s too much to cover on this, so here’s a series by investigative journalists at ProPublica. Make of it what you will. The National Guard is going to keep 7,000 troops in the Capitol through mid-March.
Redditors took down a billion-dollar hedge fund by mass-purchasing GameStop stock (GME). Hedge funds and retail stock brokerage companies like Robinhood fought back by limiting retail purchases of the rallying stock, but it appears the Redditors are still victorious. AMC, a company which was has been made all but defunct by pandemic restrictions, has been buoyed by these same irrational but generous Redditors.
An undertaught prep for all preppers: building up non-retirement savings. Having an emergency fund inures households to unanticipated financial emergencies. Sudden income reductions impact 25% of US households each year. Here’s a study on Family Financial Health that details the benefits of non-retirement savings from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
The world has over 103.5 million COVID cases. The world has added over 19.8 million cases in a month. There have been over 2.2 million deaths in total. The US has over 26.7 million cases, growing by 6.3 million in a month. Over 452,000 Americans have died—we’ve had 100,000 deaths in the month of January alone. The US has gained over 107,000 new cases since yesterday, which is an improvement from our winter peak of 250,000 cases per day. The US still leads the world in case growth and number of deaths.
The CDC predicts over 62,000 deaths in the next three weeks. Considering that we had ~100,000 deaths in the month of January, I’d say the CDC model is undershooting the mark. We are experiencing a current drawdown from the winter peak, but a 4th surge is not implausible.
Californians can sign up for vaccine eligibility notifications. That won’t help much if folks are blocked from the sites–Protesters at Dodger Stadium caused a shutdown of one of the largest mass vaccination sites in California:
It's bad enough for individuals to refuse #COVID19 #vaccines for themselves. But forcing a mass vax site to shut down, knowing it means vaccines may go to waste, is criminal. Call it pandemicide.https://t.co/p7oXabhIxl
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) January 30, 2021
Escape variants will keep vaccine-makers on their toes:
Dr. Anthony Fauci says the increasing spread of coronavirus mutations means vaccine makers must be ready to make new shots to stay ahead. Fauci says it's important to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible. https://t.co/t7fQo2B3Ly
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 29, 2021
To drive home that point, the Novovax COVID vaccine is less effective against the South African COVID variant B.1.351:
This is not great news: Novavax's vaccine has an efficacy of nearly 90 percent in Britain, but in South Africa — where the variant less susceptible to vaccines is circulating — the efficacy dropped to just under 50 percent.https://t.co/uP0NnrvSaE
— Apoorva Mandavilli (@apoorva_nyc) January 28, 2021
Countering variants involves vaccinating as many people as possible as quickly as possible to prevent the variants from emerging in the first place. Considering that only 100 million have been vaccinated across the globe (leaving a mere 7.5 billion left to go), the next best thing is to update the vaccine. Vaccines can be updated in various ways, but it’s likely that the spike protein mutations will be targeted in the immediate future. Moderna has already begun work on updates for the B.1.351 variant.
Moderna might be providing this updated vaccine as a booster, and will be conducting safety trials on these boosters:
I'd also note that Moderna is investigating the effects of an *additional* booster shot in case needed against new variants. So it's possible that we'll eventually wind up with people getting 3 doses of mRNA vaccines. pic.twitter.com/HxQPf1bNtQ
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 26, 2021
The South African B.1.351 variant is already in a few US states. Another concerning variant from Brazil is also in the US.
The supply chain is still experiencing pandemic shocks. Shipping container costs have nearly doubled. Unsurprisingly, prices of goods are rising. Scores of container ships are stuck in bottlenecks off the coasts waiting to unload.
Johnson & Johnson has a COVID vaccine now. The bad news is that it’s only 66% effective. The good news is that it’s a one-shot deal.
China says anal swabs are more accurate for COVID testing than oral swabs. I say no thank you.
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