Vaccines are not the answer

sciencemag.org

A grim warning from Israel: Vaccination blunts, but does not defeat Delta

In Israel, the current surge is so steep that “even if you get two-thirds of those 60-plus [boosted], it’s just gonna give us another week, maybe 2 weeks until our hospitals are flooded.”

By Meredith Wadman,  Aug. 16, 2021

Medical staff at a COVID-19 isolation unit in Ashkelon, Israel, last week. Officials worry a steep surge in cases will soon fill Israeli hospitals.  Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua/Getty Images

“Now is a critical time,” Israeli Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz said as the 56-year-old got a COVID-19 booster shot on 13 August, the day his country became the first nation to offer a third dose of vaccine to people as young as age 50. “We’re in a race against the pandemic.”

His message was meant for his fellow Israelis, but it is a warning to the world. Israel has among the world’s highest levels of vaccination for COVID-19, with 78% of those 12 and older fully vaccinated, the vast majority with the Pfizer vaccine. Yet the country is now logging one of the world’s highest infection rates, with nearly 650 new cases daily per million people. More than half are in fully vaccinated people, underscoring the extraordinary transmissibility of the Delta variant and stoking concerns that the benefits of vaccination ebb over time.

The sheer number of vaccinated Israelis means some breakthrough infections were inevitable, and the unvaccinated are still far more likely to end up in the hospital or die. But Israel’s experience is forcing the booster issue onto the radar for other nations, suggesting as it does that even the best vaccinated countries will face a Delta surge

“This is a very clear warning sign for the rest of world,” says Ran Balicer, chief innovation officer at Clalit Health Services (CHS), Israel’s largest health maintenance organization (HMO). “If it can happen here, it can probably happen everywhere.”

Israel is being closely watched now because it was one of the first countries out of the gate with vaccinations in December 2020 and quickly achieved a degree of population coverage that was the envy of other nations— for a time. The nation of 9.3 million also has a robust public health infrastructure and a population wholly enrolled in HMOs that track them closely, allowing it to produce high-quality, real-world data on how well vaccines are working.

“I watch [Israeli data] very, very closely because it is some of the absolutely best data coming out anywhere in the world,” says David O’Connor, a viral sequencing expert at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Israel is the model,” agrees Eric Topol, a physician-scientist at Scripps Research. “It’s pure mRNA [messenger RNA] vaccines. It’s out there early. It’s got a very high level population [uptake]. It’s a working experimental lab for us to learn from.”

Israel’s HMOs, led by CHS and Maccabi Healthcare Services (MHS), track demographics, comorbidities, and a trove of coronavirus metrics on infections, illnesses, and deaths. “We have rich individual-level data that allows us to provide real-world evidence in near–real time,” Balicer says. (The United Kingdom also compiles a wealth of data. But its vaccination campaign ramped up later than Israel’s, making its current situation less reflective of what the future may portend; and it has used three different vaccines, making its data harder to parse.)

Now, the effects of waning immunity may be beginning to show in Israelis vaccinated in early winter; a preprint published last month by physician Tal Patalon and colleagues at KSM, the research arm of MHS, found that protection from COVID-19 infection during June and July dropped in proportion to the length of time since an individual was vaccinated. People vaccinated in January had a 2.26 times greater risk for a breakthrough infection than those vaccinated in April. (Potential confounders include the fact that the very oldest Israelis, with the weakest immune systems, were vaccinated first.)

At the same time, cases in the country, which were scarcely registering at the start of summer, have been doubling every week to 10 days since then, with the Delta variant responsible for most of them. They have now soared to their highest level since mid-February, with hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions beginning to follow. How much of the current surge is due to waning immunity versus the power of the Delta variant to spread like wildfire is uncertain.

What is clear is that “breakthrough” cases are not the rare events the term implies. As of 15 August, 514 Israelis were hospitalized with severe or critical COVID-19, a 31% increase from just 4 days earlier. Of the 514, 59% were fully vaccinated. Of the vaccinated, 87% were 60 or older. “There are so many breakthrough infections that they dominate and most of the hospitalized patients are actually vaccinated,” says Uri Shalit, a bioinformatician at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) who has consulted on COVID-19 for the government. “One of the big stories from Israel [is]: ‘Vaccines work, but not well enough.’”

“The most frightening thing to the government and the Ministry of Health is the burden on hospitals,” says Dror Mevorach, who cares for COVID-19 patients at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem and advises the government. At his hospital, he is lining up anesthesiologists and surgeons to spell his medical staff in case they become overwhelmed by a wave like January’s, when COVID-19 patients filled 200 beds. “The staff is exhausted,” he says, and he has restarted a weekly support group for them “to avoid some kind of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] effect.”

To try to tame the surge, Israel has turned to booster shots, starting on 30 July with people 60 and older and, last Friday, expanding to people 50 and older. As of Monday, nearly 1 million Israelis had received a third dose, according to the Ministry of Health. Global health leaders including Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, have pleaded with developed countries not to administer boosters given that most of the world’s population hasn’t received even a single dose. The wealthy nations pondering or already administering booster vaccines so far mostly reserve them for special populations such as the immune compromised and health care workers.

Still, studies suggest boosters might have broader value. Researchers have shown that boosting induces a prompt surge in antibodies, which are needed in the nose and throat as a crucial first line of defense against infection. The Israeli government’s decision to start boosting those 50 and older was driven by preliminary Ministry of Health data indicating people over age 60 who have received a third dose were half as likely as their twice-vaccinated peers to be hospitalized in recent days, Mevorach says. CHS also reported that out of a sample of more than 4500 patients who received boosters, 88% said any side effects from the third shot were no worse, and sometimes milder, than from the second.

Yet boosters are unlikely to tame a Delta surge on their own, says Dvir Aran, a biomedical data scientist at Technion. In Israel, the current surge is so steep that “even if you get two-thirds of those 60-plus [boosted], it’s just gonna give us another week, maybe 2 weeks until our hospitals are flooded.” He says it’s also critical to vaccinate those who still haven’t received their first or second doses, and to return to the masking and social distancing Israel thought it had left behind—but has begun to reinstate.

Aran’s message for the United States and other wealthier nations considering boosters is stark: “Do not think that the boosters are the solution.”

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Energy budget must be balanced

theconversation.com

Earth’s energy budget is out of balance – here’s how that’s warming the climate

Our climate is determined by these energy flows. When the amount of energy coming in is more than the energy going out, the planet warms up.

By Scott Denning

You probably remember your grade school science teachers explaining that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. That’s a fundamental property of the universe.

Energy can be transformed, however. When the Sun’s rays reach Earth, they are transformed into random motions of molecules that you feel as heat. At the same time, Earth and the atmosphere are sending radiation back into space. The balance between the incoming and outgoing energy is known as Earth’s “energy budget.”

Our climate is determined by these energy flows. When the amount of energy coming in is more than the energy going out, the planet warms up.

That can happen in a few ways, such as when sea ice that normally reflects solar radiation back into space disappears and the dark ocean absorbs that energy instead. It also happens when greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere and trap some of the energy that otherwise would have radiated away.

Scientists like me have been measuring the Earth’s energy budget since the 1980s using instruments on satellites, in the air and oceans, and on the ground. It’s an important part of the new climate assessment from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released Aug. 9, 2021.

Here’s a closer look at how energy flows and what the energy budget tells us about how and why the planet is warming.

Balancing energy from the Sun

Virtually all the energy in the Earth’s climate system comes from the Sun. Only a tiny fraction is conducted upward from the Earth’s interior.

On average, the planet receives 340.4 watts of sunshine per square meter. All sunshine falls on the daytime side, and the numbers are much higher at local noon.

Of that 340.4 watts per square meter:

  • 99.9 watts are reflected back into space by clouds, dust, snow and the Earth’s surface.
  • The remaining 240.5 watts are absorbed – about a quarter by the atmosphere and the rest by the surface of the planet. This radiation is transformed into thermal energy within the Earth system.

Almost all of the absorbed energy is matched by energy emitted back into space. However, a residual now accumulates as global warming. That residual has increased, from just under 0.6 watts per square meter at the end of the last century to 0.79 in 2006-2018, according to the latest data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The vast majority of that is now heating the oceans. While it might sound like a small number, that energy adds up.

Illustration of how energy flows to Earth's surface and away from it.
Earth’s energy budget. New measurements shows the accumulated residual has increased. NASA

The atmosphere absorbs a lot of energy and emits it as radiation both into space and back down to the planet’s surface. In fact, Earth’s surface gets almost twice as much radiation from the atmosphere as it does from direct sunshine. That’s primarily because the Sun heats the surface only during the day, while the warm atmosphere is up there 24/7.

Together, the energy reaching Earth’s surface from the Sun and from the atmosphere is about 504 watts per square meter. Earth’s surface emits about 79% of that back out. The remaining surface energy goes into evaporating water and warming the air, oceans and land.

The residual between incoming sunshine and outgoing infrared is due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide in the air. These gases are transparent to sunlight but opaque to infrared rays – they absorb and emit a lot of infrared rays back down.

Earth’s surface temperature must increase in response until the balance between incoming and outgoing radiation is restored.

What does this mean for global temperatures?

Doubling of carbon dioxide would add 3.7 watts of heat to every square meter of the Earth. Imagine old-fashioned incandescent night lights spaced every 3 feet over the entire world, left on forever.

At the current rate of emissions, greenhouse gas levels would double from preindustrial levels by the middle of the century.

Climate scientists calculate that adding this much heat to the world would warm Earth’s climate by about 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3 C). Preventing this would require replacing fossil fuel combustion, the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, with other forms of energy.

Earth’s energy budget is at the heart of the new IPCC climate assessment, written by hundreds of scientists reviewing the latest research. With knowledge of what’s changing, everyone can make better choices to preserve the climate as we know it.


Read more: IPCC climate report: Profound changes are underway in Earth’s oceans and ice – a lead author explains what the warnings mean


This article was updated Aug. 9, 2021, with details from the new IPCC report.

Disclosure statement

Scott Denning has received funding from NOAA, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the US Department of Energy.

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Ice Cream becomes controversial

Ben & Jerry’s Israel Boycott

The Ben & Jerry’s controversy isn’t about ice cream. It’s about terrorism and bigotry and the worst type of double standards that demonize the Jewish homeland and the people who live there.

Reprinted from Daily Alert, July 29, 2021

    • Ben and Jerry’s Rejected Pro-Peace Alternatives to Israel Boycott – Shiryn Ghermezian
      Susannah Levin, a graphic designer for Ben & Jerry’s for 21 years, told StandWithUs on Sunday that when she learned that the company was considering divesting from the West Bank, she proposed an alternate plan to a company executive. Levin suggested supporting a grassroots organization that promotes peace and coexistence, or backing Israeli and Palestinian educational organizations fighting hatred and incitement. She also proposed opening a partner shop in Ramallah and Jewish West Bank areas for both Palestinians and Israelis.
      Levin quit after the company moved forward with boycotting Israel. Since then, she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received. “People are calling me a hero. I’m just a Jew. I’m a person with some integrity. I decided to start speaking up because…I want people to know that other Jews or other people who care deeply for the Jewish people, you can speak up….Maybe I had an effect. At least I know that they heard something from the other side.”  (Algemeiner)
    • The Ben and Jerry’s Dispute Isn’t about Ice Cream – Dan Schnur
      The Ben & Jerry’s controversy isn’t about ice cream. It’s about terrorism and bigotry and the worst type of double standards that demonize the Jewish homeland and the people who live there. It’s the latest front in the ongoing battle that uses the threat of economic boycott and sanctions to pressure Israel into agreeing to empower its enemies and expose its citizens to an even greater threat of danger and death. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    • BDS and Jerry’s – Editorial
      We’re not clear how exactly removing Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from grocery stores in the West Bank will benefit the Palestinians. The move appears to be primarily an act of guerrilla theater and a demonstration of base prejudice. The most common expression of anti-Semitism is the application of double standards to Jews and the Jewish state.
      There is no comparison between Israeli policy in the West Bank and the practices of the world’s greatest human rights abusers. Unilever happily does business in Northern Cyprus, occupied Tibet, and Xinjiang, home to Uyghur concentration camps. We won’t hold our breath for the ice cream boycott of China. But hey, there are no Jews in Xinjiang. We urge friends of Israel and the Jewish people to vote with their spoons. (Washington Free Beacon)
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Haredim don’t represent Judaism

blogs.timesofisrael.com

God doesn’t wear a Borsolino

Let’s not allow the Haredi community to kidnap the Judaism, which belongs to the entire Jewish people. That would be a tragic theft. The idea that haredi’ut defines Judaism is historically false and religiously wrong — and it does violence to our Jewish identity. The truth is that many of the central practices of the Haredi community run squarely against what God, the Torah, and the talmudic rabbis demand of Jews, and what will sustain Israel going forward.

Eugene Korn
Eugene Korn
Times of Israel, July 14, 20121

God may be in Bnei Brak, but He is also in Israel’s policy-making government offices, pushing justice, fairness, and well-being for the entire Jewish people

In her July 9 blog post, Shulamit Magnus pronounced that the staunch secularist, Avigdor Liberman, is “doing God’s work.” The finance minister has decreed that Israel will no longer give child care subsidies to families in which one parent does not hold paid employment of at least 24 hours a week. The measure targets the Haredi sector — specifically married men who claim to study Torah all day. If Liberman’s plan holds, the families of such kollelniks will be denied these subsidies.

Magnus’ formulation accomplishes a quiet, but highly significant, linguistic and conceptual shift. Note that she did not argue on nationalist grounds that extending state subsidies to kollel families is unfair and wrong, she did so on religious grounds. God may be present in the study halls of Bnei Brak, but God is also present in the Knesset and government offices that make policy for the Jewish state. God is at work in these “secular” ministries because of the Torah’s commitment to justice, fairness and the welfare of the entire Jewish people. Tsedek, tsedek tirdof! (“Justice, justice you shall pursue”) commands the God of Israel.

In other words, Haredim and their politicians should not define Judaism for us. There is a widespread dangerous illusion, particularly among secular Israelis, that even if you do not agree with Haredim, they ”keep Israel Jewish,” and so the Jewish state should accede to some of their demands. This is a bit like Golda’s myopic statement, “I don’t go to shul, but the shul I don’t go to is Orthodox.”

Let’s not allow the Haredi community to kidnap the Judaism, which belongs to the entire Jewish people. That would be a tragic theft. The idea that haredi’ut defines Judaism is historically false and religiously wrong — and it does violence to our Jewish identity. The truth is that many of the central practices of the Haredi community run squarely against what God, the Torah, and the talmudic rabbis demand of Jews, and what will sustain Israel going forward.

The Mishna (Avot 2:2) cites R. Gamliel, who counsels Jews to combine Torah study with a worldly occupation, warning us that not having an occupation brings about sin. Elsewhere, the Talmud (Kiddushin 29a) quotes Rabbi Yehuda: A father who does not teach his son a trade in effect teaches him thievery because when a person has no profession he is likely to turn to stealing. Maimonides concurs, adding that one who studies Torah exclusively and lives on handouts “profanes God’s Name” (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Talmud Torah 3:1). It is important to recognize that the talmudic rabbis and those thereafter worked for a living. For example, Shimon ben Shetach was in the flax tradeR. Yehoshua was a tailor, Rashi was a vintner, Rambam and Ramban were physicians, and the Chofetz Chaim ran a store. So working Israelis who contribute to Israel’s social and financial structure are the ones following Jewish tradition and doing a religious deed, while Jews who refuse to work are bringing sin to Israel. The Talmud (Yoma 86a) condemns the Torah scholar who buys merchandise and pays later, because it appears to others that he is taking without paying. That scholar, says the Talmud, cannot repent for his sins because, through his behavior, he has caused people to despise the Torah. If so, what are we to say of the current practice of some Jews who benefit from government defense and subsidies, but pay no taxes and do not contribute to larger Israeli society? Judaism demands that those who take also give, that those who benefit also contribute.

Last week’s Torah reading provides another essential criterion of correct Judaism: “Will your brothers go out to war while you remain here?” asks Moses rhetorically (Bamidbar 32:6). He was stunned by such an irresponsible request by the two tribes that asked to settle on the other side of the Jordan River, and would not countenance some Jews risking their lives, while others remained comfortably ensconced in their safe homes, far from the battlefield.

Judaism demands that all of us defend our people. It is more than a civic duty; it is a religious obligation. Jewish religious law is clear: when the people of Israel fight an existential defensive war (“milkehemet mitsvah”) everyone—without exception—must fight. Even a bride is required to leave her chuppah to contribute to the national defense. So when Israelis serve in the IDF, they should understand their service not only in nationalist terms, but also as a truly Jewish religious act, a mitzvah.

The Mishna also demands that Jews not separate themselves from society (Avot 2:4). Being a responsible and integral part of the Jewish collective is a religious and moral imperative. Maimonides even rules that someone who separates himself from the community has no share in the world to come. Ultimately, the Talmud and the traditional rabbis categorically rejected Shimon bar Yochai’s model of leaving the community to live a solitary life in a cave and learning Torah to the exclusion of any practical knowledge. They knew that such monastic isolation serves only yourself, not God. Separatism is a selfish sin.

This is not a new insight. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook understood it 100 years ago when he claimed that the early secular halutzim were doing holy work by returning to the land God promised them, and that religious quietists who stayed in the study halls of the diaspora were actually contravening God’s plan for His people.

Similarly, all Israelis today — religious and non-religious alike — should appreciate the dedication and toil of those who serve in the IDF and those in government who demand fairness and justice in Israeli society. They are “doing God’s work,” whether or not they wear kippot. And as the prophet Micha tells us, following God’s demands does not mean growing payot, wearing long coats, or voting for religious parties. God’s work means doing justice, being compassionate, and acting humbly before God.

Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn is the former Academic Director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding in Jerusalem, and senior research fellow at Bet Morasha of Jerusalem’s Institute for Religion and Society. His forthcoming book, “To Be a Holy People: Jewish Tradition and Ethical Values” will appear in 2021.

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who is getting sick from COVID

jpost.com

Who is most likely to develop severe COVID-19 even after a second jab

“Overall, we can say that the main thing is that these are not healthy people,” Brosh told The Jerusalem Post in an interview. “Almost all of them (96%) had comorbidities: heart disease, lung disease, renal disease, dementia, cancer, or other common ailments. So, people who get breakthrough infections and are admitted are sicker than a usual person.”

.By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN   JULY 14, 2021
Reprinted from Jerusalem Post

Older individuals with many underlying medical conditions and immunosuppression are more likely to contract coronavirus and would develop a severe case of COVID-19 even after being fully vaccinated, according to a world-first study conducted in Israel.

A minority of vaccinated individuals will contract coronavirus and a small percentage of those will end up hospitalized because of the virus. This is called a breakthrough infection.

But who are these people?

A team of Israeli doctors led by Prof. Tal Brosh, head of the Infectious Disease Unit at Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital, studied 152 fully vaccinated patients from 17 hospitals who developed COVID-19 more than seven days after they received their second vaccine dose and required hospitalization before the end of April.

The cohort was small because not many vaccinated people who contract coronavirus develop a severe infection, as the vaccine is 97% to 98% effective against the standard variant – and is proving to be almost as effective against the Delta variant. So far, despite a rapid spike in coronavirus cases in Israel, the number of serious cases seems to be climbing slowly.

“Overall, we can say that the main thing is that these are not healthy people,” Brosh told The Jerusalem Post in an interview. “Almost all of them (96%) had comorbidities: heart disease, lung disease, renal disease, dementia, cancer, or other common ailments. So, people who get breakthrough infections and are admitted are sicker than a usual person.”

Of those who ended up in hospital, 38 had what were defined as “poor outcomes,” meaning they were mechanically ventilated or had died.

Specifically, 71% had hypertension; 48% diabetes; 27% congestive heart failure; 24% chronic kidney disease; 24% chronic lung disease; 19% dementia; and 24% cancer. Only 6% did not have any underlying medical condition.

Moreover, the study showed that 40% of patients were immunocompromised.

“If your immune system does not function well, you are at higher risk for not developing protection from vaccination,” Brosh said, adding that some 35% of patients had no detectable antibodies – meaning they had failed to mount an immune response to the vaccine.

The median time that elapsed from the second dose to hospitalization was 40 days. The median age of the patients was 71. In most cases the source of the patient’s infection was unknown.

Brosh said that although this study was conducted when the Alpha variant was active in Israel and the majority of cases had that virus strain, he said it is likely that the characteristics still apply currently – to those who are infected with the Delta variant that now accounts for more than 90% of infections in Israel.

He said that the Delta variant seems to break through the vaccine more than its Alpha predecessor, but it is still unclear if the variant causes more severe infections – despite some suggestions of this by the Health Ministry.

Still, he said there is an important message that the public should heed:

“If you are older and have comorbidities – and definitely, if you have a lot of comorbidities – or are immunocompromised, you cannot assume you will be well protected by the vaccine,” Brosh said. “When there is a lot of transmission in the community, you should take care of yourself.”

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End pandemic now

studyfinds.org

COVID-19 cure already discovered? Ivermectin ‘can end this pandemic’

“We did the work that the medical authorities failed to do, we conducted the most comprehensive review of the available data on ivermectin,” says Pierre Kory, M.P.A., MD, president and chief medical officer of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), in a media release. “We applied the gold standard to qualify the data reviewed before concluding that ivermectin can end this pandemic.”

 

Reprinted from Study Finds, July 8, 2021

WASHINGTON — A COVID-19 treatment capable of ending the pandemic once and for all may already be available for use. A team of researchers, including three U.S. government senior scientists, are calling for governments around the world to start treating coronavirus patients with ivermectin. Their findings reveal the drug not only prevents people from contracting COVID, but also defeats the virus and saves lives.

“We did the work that the medical authorities failed to do, we conducted the most comprehensive review of the available data on ivermectin,” says Pierre Kory, M.P.A., MD, president and chief medical officer of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), in a media release. “We applied the gold standard to qualify the data reviewed before concluding that ivermectin can end this pandemic.”

Researchers conducted a comprehensive review of 27 reports from clinical, in vitro, animal, and real-world studies. These include 15 randomized controlled trials, which are the preferred scientific method of the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the European Medicines Agency.

Those findings reveal treating COVID-19 patients with ivermectin resulted in large drops in coronavirus deaths. The recovery time from an infection and the time it takes to clear COVID from someone’s system also saw significant reductions among patients on ivermectin.

Additionally, three randomized controlled trials and five observational controlled trials which included nearly 2,500 healthy participants discovered using ivermectin noticeably reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Many countries are already using ivermectin, but why not everywhere?

Study authors note that several regions globally now recognize this drug as both a powerful vaccine and treatment for COVID-19. The countries of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Mexico, and India have all approved ivermectin’s use during the pandemic, according to the team. Researchers add their findings show that immediate global distribution of ivermectin will likely lead to “rapid population-wide decreases in morbidity and mortality.”

So the question is, why aren’t doctors in the United States and elsewhere using ivermectin to treat COVID patients in 2021? Study authors don’t have an answer for that, but are urging doctors everywhere to demand that local and national health officials add ivermectin to the list of approved coronavirus treatments right away.

“Our latest research shows, once again, that when the totality of the evidence is examined, there is no doubt that ivermectin is highly effective as a safe prophylaxis and treatment for COVID-19,” adds Paul E. Marik, M.D., FCCM, FCCP, founding member of the FLCCC and chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

“We can no longer rely on many of the larger health authorities to make an honest examination of the medical and scientific evidence. So, we are calling on regional public health authorities and medical professionals around the world to demand that ivermectin be included in their standard of care right away so we can end this pandemic once and for all.”

The findings appear in the American Journal of Therapeutics.

About the Author, Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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Israel threatened by Arab citizens

mailchi.mp

Efraim Karsh: Israel’s Arab Citizens Are the “Main Danger” to Its Future

Comprising roughly one fifth of the population, over the past quarter century Israeli Arabs have increasingly come to adopt a Palestinian identity, “reject Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state,” and employ “both violent and … sophisticated means to achieve this goal.”

by Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Webinar,  July 6, 2021

https://www.meforum.org/62483/karsh-israels-arab-citizens-are-the-main-danger

Efraim Karsh, editor of the Middle East Quarterly and director of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies, spoke to a June 7 Middle East Forum webinar (video) about the growing radicalization of the Israeli Arab community.

According to Karsh, the “main danger to Israel’s continued success, or even existence over the long run,” is posed not by Iran or the myriad armed Islamist proxies operating along its frontiers, but by Arab citizens of Israel. Comprising roughly one fifth of the population, over the past quarter century Israeli Arabs have increasingly come to adopt a Palestinian identity, “reject Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state,” and employ “both violent and … sophisticated means to achieve this goal.”

Israeli Arabs increasingly “reject Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state.”

Israeli Arab radicalization is not based on economic grievances. Then-outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “improved the lot of the … Israeli Arabs over the last decade by a huge margin,” with Israeli Arabs becoming more “[integrated] in Israeli society” and enjoying improved “economic and social wellbeing.”

Although the “historic roots” of Israeli Arab radicalization can be traced back to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the emergence of the PLO in the 1960s, what really jumpstarted the process was the 1993 Oslo Accords. The Oslo process “brought the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] into Israel’s politics.”

Ahmad Tibi (right) with Yasser Arafat

PLO chairman Yasser Arafat addressed Israel’s Arab population, which he called the “the 1948 Arabs,” by citing Quranic verses to incite them against the Jews and promising to put them “on top” of their oppressors. A new generation of Arab Israeli leaders and newly formed Arab Israeli political parties (e.g. Balad and Ta’al) openly embraced Arafat and mirrored PLO talking points by calling for Israel to become a state of “all its citizens” – code for “the end of the Jewish state.” Ta’al leader Ahmad Tibi even served formally as Arafat’s advisor. A 2006 “Future Vision” paper published by a committee of the heads of Israeli Arab municipalities referred to the state of Israel as “colonial” implant and demanded state recognition of “Palestinian Arabs” in Israel as “an indigenous national group” with a formal “right to veto” laws. A recent anti-Netanyahu demonstration In Tel Aviv’s Habima Square had “PLO flags there by the dozens, [but] not a single Israel flag.”

The escalating demands of Israeli Arabs have gone hand-in-hand with “growing violence” by Israeli Arabs “every time” Israel has come to blows with its adversaries. The 11-day Israel-Hamas war in May witnessed Israeli Arab violence on an unprecedented scale. As Hamas was firing thousands of missiles into Israel, Jews were attacked in the streets of demographically mixed Israeli cities that were “supposed to be showcases of coexistence,” said Karsh. “Synagogues were torched, about a dozen,” and ” hundreds of shops [and] private houses were ransacked.”

The violence underscored not only that Israeli Arabs are growing “more nationalized, more radicalized, [and] more Islamized,” but also that Hamas has supplanted the PLO as the lead influencer inside Israel.

Mansour Abbas

Karsh was scathing of the inclusion of Israel’s Islamic party, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Israel’s new governing coalition. Even if the pledges of its leader, Mansour Abbas, to “use the Israeli system” to advance Israeli Arab interests are genuine, “pragmatism is not to be confused with moderation,” he said. “Pragmatist means ‘I’m not going to achieve my goal by beating my head against the wall time and again’,” and plenty of “pragmatists” went on to become some of history’s worst offenders. “Hitler was a pragmatist up to a point – he got Czechoslovakia without firing a single shot.”

Going forward, the IDF must “prepare for a multi-front war” in which Israeli Arabs join Hamas and Hezbollah in attacking Israel. There are “half-a-million illegal weapons in Arab neighborhoods” by Karsh’s estimation, and collecting them will entail a major IDF operation involving “house-by-house” searches.

Meanwhile, Jewish Israelis must set clear “red lines and rules of the game” regarding Arab Israelis, welcoming their integration into society with full rights but steadfastly emphasizing that “Israel is a Jewish state … [and] there is nothing you can do about it.”

Marilyn Stern is communications coordinator at the Middle East Forum.

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COVID-19 has serious consequences

healthline.com

Vaccine Side Effects vs. COVID-19 Damage? There’s No Comparison

While the vaccines’ side effects are mild and short, the damage caused by COVID-19 can be long lasting and even fatal.


Experts say that even the rare cases of heart inflammation from COVID-19 vaccines pale in comparison to the damage the actual disease can cause. Morsa Images/Getty Images
  • Experts say that the mild and rare side effects from COVID-19 vaccines are nowhere near as serious as the potential damage the disease itself can cause.
  • They say that the long-term consequences of COVID-19 can include increased risk of stroke, lung damage, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
  • They add that there have been reports of rare cases of Bell’s palsy developing from COVID-19 vaccines but that the rate appears to be lower than that of the general population.

Which would you rather have: muscle fatigue or permanent lung damage?

Would you prefer mild, short-term inflammation around the heart or severe damage to that organ that could lead to heart failure?

Would you rather have moderate pain in your upper arm for a few days or increase the possibility of developing Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease?

These are just a few examples of the stark contrast between the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and developing the disease itself.

While the vaccines’ side effects are mild and short, the damage caused by COVID-19 can be long lasting and even fatal.

As of this week, more than 330 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, and nearly 158 million people here are now fully vaccinated.

So far, the most common physical reactionsTrusted Source to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, nausea, sore throat, diarrhea, and vomiting.

There have been some reports of rare but more serious side effects from the vaccines.

In late June, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcedTrusted Source that there’s a rare but “likely association” between the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines and a higher risk of heart inflammation, particularly in adolescents and young adults.

These include cases of myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, which is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart.

In both, the body’s immune system causes inflammation in response to an infection or some other trigger.

Through follow-up, including medical record reviews, CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials have confirmed 518 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis.

But these conditions have produced mild cases, with no deaths or lingering issues reported.

The people who develop these conditions usually return to normal daily activities in just a few days when their symptoms improve, but they’re advised by CDC officials to speak with their doctor about returning to exercise or sports.

The CDC continues to recommend Trusted Source COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone 12 years old and older, given the risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe complications.

Dr. Stuart Berger, a pediatric cardiologist and medical director of the pediatric Heart Center at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, told Healthline that the vaccines are quite safe.

The heart inflammation tends to occur in men ages 16 to 24. Berger noted that the CDC is looking at some 500 cases out of more than 170 million vaccinated people in that adolescent and young adult demographic.

“That puts it at .00025 percent. That is very rare,” he said. “From what we know, it is actually less common than myocarditis in the general population.”

On the other hand, even if you survive COVID-19, the disease can do permanent damage to the heart.

Imaging tests taken months after recovery from COVID-19 have shown lasting damage to the heart muscle, even in people who experienced only mild COVID-19 symptoms.

This may increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future.

The type of pneumonia often associated with COVID-19 can also cause long-lasting damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The resulting scar tissue can lead to long-term breathing problems.

Even in young people, COVID-19 can causeTrusted Source strokes, seizures, and Guillain-Barré syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis.

COVID-19 may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Other potential long-term effects of the virus include blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes, and psychological issues from being on a ventilator that include post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety.

Some early reports suggested that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could increase the chance of getting facial nerve palsy, also known as Bell’s palsy.

But the FDA doesn’t consider these reports to be more than the rate expected in the general population.

In Israel, where all residents are automatically a part of the national digital health registry system, some conclusions about the virus and the vaccines can be reached with early data.

In a recent studyTrusted Source, scientists in Israel looked at whether the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is associated with an increased risk of acute-onset Bell’s palsy.

In this case-control analysis, investigators concluded that there was no association between recent vaccination and risk of facial nerve palsy.

While science has shown these vaccines to be safe with few side effects, the rumors still fly, especially online.

You can read everything from “the vaccine can give you COVID” to “there are microchips in the vaccines” to “there are fetal cells in the vaccines.”

There’s no validity to any of these claims.

Neal Reddy, 19, a sophomore at Princeton University in New Jersey and survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is an intern at Teen Cancer America, which supports teens and young adults with cancer.

He said that he’s heard a variety of wild, unfounded rumors about the vaccines’ side effects.

“I see a lot of it on social media from people my age, the rumors about this and that,” said Neal, who wants to study medicine.

“There’s this idea among some in my age group that your own research on social media will enlighten you more than a scientific clinical trial,” he told Healthline.

Reddy added that some people in his age group even made a big deal out of the fact that one of the effects of the vaccine is a sore arm.

“Like that is a bad sign,” he said. “When I heard that mRNA vaccines were coming out, I was confident that this would be effective and with limited side effects.”

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