Sunday, 23 January 2022

Watching yesterday’s NSW presser


I worked out from the figures quoted in the presser, something they did NOT highlight, namely age of deaths:
  • 60+ yo = 88% of the deaths
  • 79+ yo = 72% of the deaths 
  • Under 30 yo = 2% of the deaths. 
  • PLUS: none of the under 30 were free of comorbidity.
Now, this has been the case since the very beginning of the pandemic. That it mainly affects the elderly. And those with comorbidities like obesity, high BP and diabetes. 

We knew this two years ago from Chinese data. However all around the world governments have acted as if we were all equally at risk. That was never so and continues not be to so. A counter argues that we shouldn’t downplay deaths of the elderly. But there is a difference. Which you can feel when you ask yourself how do you feel about the death of an 8 year old. It’s a tragedy, right? So sad. How do you feel about the death of an 80 year old? Well, she had a good life, right?  It is different. And we should have acted so, protecting the elderly and the vulnerable. 

Also the issue of comorbidity tends to be downplayed though maybe not as much as the age issue.

Downplaying the steep age curve of Covid effects, means governments close down schools. Making children the greatest victims of Covid. When they should be the least. They must be going to face-to-face teaching, and maskless. Stop the suffering of children! Get them back to school! (We’re closing them downs again here in HK, a really bad result of Zero Covid policy).

What they did highlight was to get vaccinated. Which is fair enough. Although NSW is 95% vaxxed so don’t know how much more they can do. Does “vaccines is the way out” make sense any more? When it clearly isn’t, at least by government actions which continue to tie us down. Like here in Hong Kong, where we are triple vaxxxed but locked down and schools closed again. Despite high vax rates. I just don’t believe that governments will ease — as they should — the restrictions we still live under.

Beijing lays down the law on Covid handling in Hong Kong, makes it a National Security issue

I wondered how long it would take to make Covid a “National Security” issue. 

And now we have it. This is not good.

Ta Kung Pao is now owned by the Liaison Office in Hong Kong,  innocent-sounding name for the reps of China Communist Party. So it’s the voice of Beijing.  No choice on the way we handle Covid. It’s Beijing’s. A skewering on One Country Two Systems.

I used to read and translate articles in the Ta Kung Pao back in the 70s, as part of Chinese language study. It was not then openly owned by Beijing but known to “reflect” China’s views and worth reading for that reason alone.

Queen Carrie goes full King Cnut: holding back the tide…


How will we go, trying to stop what seems now to be inevitable? Like King Cnut commanding the ride to stop? Especially people deciding not to test at home coz of the Really Bad that happens if you’re positive — Penny’s Bay quarantine, or at best, full-building lockdowns as above.
Bottom headline: the mainland is pressing on with Zero Covid, a policy that’s been abandoned everywhere. Save for: New Zealand, Western Australia and of course, us here in Hong Kong. 
Australia abandoned zero-Covid and Omicron is now plunging. Ditto US and UK, most of Europe. 

ADDED: And it doesn’t look too good in those locked down buildings:

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Crepuscular Candle

Burying the Lede

This is the *least* that happens if you have one positive test in a building

In coffee shop yesterday an impromptu chat with five folks, expat and local, a Cathay pilot, a Public Health student, a business guy, a retired engineers. 

Got around to discussing tests.  All had RAT kits at home. All said “don’t use them!”. IOW, we have educated middle class folks, all saying “don’t test”. 

If the result of a positive test were that you stayed at home for five days, people would test. If the result of a positive test is your whole apartment block locked down and you sent to Penny’s Bay Quarantine facility, well, who’s going to test?

Hammering Hong Kong Hamstercide | China's untenable Zero Covid policy | Vax protection

Dr John has a go at China. What happens when it opens up? Me: at coffee shop yesterday a guy who works in China says they’re going to keep borders closed until 2024 at least…. I guess we’ll see, in time. But meantime it’s going to hold for us here in Hong Kong. So no freedom for two more years? Sigh…

Back to Dr John: Gives is plenty of data showing: Vaccination doesn’t much stop transmission or catching Omicron. But are VERY effective at preventing hospitalisation. Up to 49 times less likely in those fully vaccinated. 

And: Omicron peaked in all places it started >4 week ago. Australia is a strange case with eastern states over the hump, but WA still locked down. What happens when they open the borders? 

All in the vid, with links given.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Hamstercide in Hong Kong. Our government has gone stark raving bonkers

To many in the West, this [killing house pets] will sound like an absurd overreaction. But it’s what happens when your goal is zero Covid. Policy ceases to be about proportionality — about balancing costs, risks, and benefits. It becomes about absolutes. If the goal is zero, you cannot take chances.

In many ways, the pet massacre is just the logical development of the other policies currently in place. There are total flight bans from multiple countries. A full three weeks in hotel quarantine for almost every visitor. Compulsory hospitalisation for weeks for anyone found to have Covid, even if asymptomatic, while anyone they’ve been in contact with gets chucked into quarantine. Ambush style lockdowns of buildings to carry out compulsory testing. Children separated from their parents, and held in isolation. 

Restaurants are currently shut in the evenings. Bars completely. Most sport or other leisure activities are shuttered. And today the government announced it was stopping face-to-face teaching in secondary schools. Primaries went about a week ago. This is the third school shut down since Covid began. Two years into Covid, and no one here can see a way forward. The goal is to reopen the border with the mainland, a goal which requires zero cases, but they don’t seem to have an exit plan either. Even if this current wave can be contained, and things slowly open up again, another will follow. Rinse and repeat, just with fewer rodents.

Maybe the hamsters are the lucky ones.

From What next after the Hong Kong Hamstercide, in UnHerd 

Spending $US 2 Billion on Discovery Bay, Hong Kong

Just to the left of the circled bit “We live here”, above, they’ll build 1,400 one-bedroom to four-bedroom apartments and some villas. That will add up to 5,000 people, 25% more to our current 20,000 population. 

$US2 Billion ($A3 Billion) is quite a bit to invest, isn’t it?  I mean, anywhere, right?

Thursday, 20 January 2022

“Under zero-Covid, vaccination rate doesn’t seem to matter” | A Letter (not mine)

 Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor recently asked, ‘Don’t we all want to see over 90 per cent of people getting vaccinated, which would help resume normal life, and create better conditions for reopening borders in the future.

However, with our present zero-Covid strategy, no matter how much of the population is vaccinated, a single untraceable case will bring the city to its knees. Does this sound like a new normal anyone wants to live in?
There has been considerable discussion over whether opening the border with the mainland or the rest of the world is the right strategy. Any doubts regarding Hong Kong’s strategic priorities were clarified by health minister Sophia Chan Siu-chee on Sunday; even if infection rates are brought under control, social distancing measures will still not be fully lifted in early February to avoid jeopardising the mainland border opening. This is something which history and the current Covid-19 situation on the mainland shows is unlikely.
Chan also made it clear that restrictions would be tightened in the future if cases re-emerged. There is no indication that a hypothetical 100 per cent vaccination rate would change this strategy one iota. 
Regardless of border openings, the right strategy for Hong Kong is certainly one where vaccinated residents who have done their civic duty can live their lives and send their children to school without fear of getting sent to quarantine, many simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If Hong Kong businesses cannot be assured of their future operations, particularly in those businesses where all patrons must be vaccinated, there is little light at the end of the tunnel. The government must concretely outline a way out of our present predicament, otherwise many businesses will never reopen, and countless people may soon leave the city.

“We’re not scare mongering! Really!” | SCMP

More scary headlines. But not scare-mongering!

The cull of innocent hamsters had some in this household crying yesterday. 

The bit circled: if you test positive, you and all your classmates and the teacher, or you and all your work colleagues, or you and all the other residents in your apartment block, all of you. will be sent off to quarantine in the Penny’s Bay facility. And it ain’t nice. So you gotta ask yourself what’s the incentive to self-test? I’ve got RAT kits, have tested once, negative. But I’m not going to again, unless forced to. Why would I? Why would anyone? If you’re triple-vaxxxed, Omicron is a minor threat to you and you are not a threat to others. (Testing would be done more readily if you were told to isolate at home if positive, instead of being immediately quarantined at Penny’s Bay).

I note the “Delta threat” in the headline. Whereas in other places Omicron is displacing Delta. Here it’s not being displaced coz Zero Covid policy. Meanwhile in other places, like US, UK, Omicron has spikd and case numbers are plunging. The figures at Our World in Data show hospitalisation and death rates at 10-20% what they were in the first Alpha and Delta waves. Australia is apparently stretched, bed-wise, but it’s a policy issue, mass testing, with positive RATs made to stay at home. Whereas the policy might be that the asymptomatic positives could be helping out in Covid wards. 

Bottom headline, above: Cathay Pacific are being pummelled again. Made the scapegoat of the government’s ruinous policies. Pilots I speak to here in HK say they feel like the government is trying to shut it down. Even though 20% or so is owned by China Southern airways. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just collateral damage. Whatever, they’re currently losing billions a month. How long can that go on for? Our favourite-est airline, may sink, courtesy toughest quarantine in the world. 

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Devil of a Kafka Trap


From tuition ban to Evergrande collapse, is China tripping over its chase for ‘common prosperity’? | SCMP

Article by Donald Low. Interesting two reasons:

1. It's in the South China Morning Post, Asia's prestige English language paper on China issues, Hong Kong-based — where we are assured by foreign media that free speech is dead, post Beijing's National Security Law — and yet it is criticising a key policy goal of Xi Jinping, to reach "common prosperity". The SCMP is thus far navigating those treacherous post-NSL shoals rather well.
Sure there's been arrests and closures: I keep hoping the other shoe doesn't drop and am heartened whenever I see robust articles like these in our local media.

2. Donald Low’s analysis may well be right. When you try to reduce inequality by giving a greater role to state enterprises, you end up "levelling down" (as Socialism does) rather than "levelling up" (as Capitalism does — or at at least tries to).

Click above photo to go to the article.

The panic goes on for we hamsters on the Zero Covid treadmill



More than travel sacrificed in quarantine measures

Djokovic | Deportation | Deception

I’ve covered this a few times because it’s more than an anti-vax tennis champ being kicked out of Australia. It’s a story of deception, hubris, politics, schadenfreude. 

One deception is of all the stories out there that Djokovic tried to enter Australia on false grounds, either without a visa, or that he lied in his visa application. Neither is true. And is in any case irrelevant to the ultimate reason the government gave for deporting him. 

Djokovic had a visa issued by the Australian government after he was granted an exemption from vaccine -- by two Australian Medical Boards, as prescribed in the laws of our country --  because he had had Covid within the prescribed time, and so had natural immunity.

And the alleged lie, disputed by Djokovic, is in any case irrelevant. Indeed the Australian government acknowledged this in its deportation statement. It conceded that Djokovic both (1) “poses no threat to the Australian community” and (2) That he “has a valid visa issued by the Australian government”. So, in sum and to repeat: valid visa and no threat. But heaps of tweets and stories out there ignore or deny this. They are deceptive.

The other deception is the Australian government. They gave him a visa. Then kicked him out. Basis bogus reasoning, the hubris of “the law is the law” until “the law isn’t the law, coz we don’t like it”.  Basis deceit, basic hubris and basic schadenfreude from those who want Djoko to suffer just as much as the rest of Australians have done, by blaming him, and not the government that led them to that suffering. Shame on ScoMo. Shame on the media who praise this authoritarian and deceptive ploy. Shame. 

Greenwald is a left-wing human rights lawyer who broke the Edward Snowden papers. His voice takes a bit of getting used to. Over time I’ve come to appreciate his integrity. He hews to the truth as closest he can get to it. His intro to the vid above:

Note that the Australian government, in deporting Djokovic, did not contend that he posed a threat to the public health due to a risk of transmitting COVID. The opposite is true: the government acknowledged that he qualified for a legal exemption from the vaccine requirement to enter the country given that he just contracted COVID as reflected by a December 16 positive test, followed by a negative test on December 22, and therefore has high levels of natural immunity. That is why he received a legal visa to enter Australia despite being unvaccinated. The proffered justification from Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who cancelled his visa and ordered him deported, was that Djokovic’s statements in April, 2020 implied that he was skeptical of vaccines, and the presence of someone in Australia who is viewed as an “icon” of personal choice would foster social disruption and “excite” anti-vaccine sentiments.

In other words, the principle just embraced by the Australian government and upheld by its judicial system (whose hands were largely tied due to the virtually absolute power vested in the government) is that anyone who has ever expressed any skepticism over vaccines in general, or the COVID vaccine in particular, can and should be denied entrance to the country and be prevented from pursuing their livelihood — even though the government admits they pose no threat to the public health by transmitting the virus to others. Immigration lawyers and civil liberties activists in the country are warning of the grave dangers posed to everyone from this precedent

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Hong Kong | Black | White


Click photo for more…

Dumping on Djoko


Paul C.W. Chan dumps on Novak, Boris and Carrie. I’m on side with criticism of Boris and the HK pollies. Blatant hypocrisy. But the Djokovic case is misrepresented. 
My comment at the site:

Phil C.W. Chan: The Australian government conceded Djokovic was "no risk" to the Austrlaian population and that he had a "valid visa" issued by itself, the government. They specifically conceded that.  The reason they gave for deporting him was they didn't like one mildly questioning tweet from April 2020, pre-vaccines and said he had "an open mind".  He is no anti-vax activist.  
Australian immigration lawyers and Human Rights activists have voiced serious concern about the "chilling effect" of a government deporting people whose views hey may not like. I'm triple Vaxxxed, Australian, but appalled and ashamed of our government's capricious politically-driven actions.  And shame on you, Chan, for egregiously misrepresenting that issue. (On Boris, btw, I agree…).  5m ago • Edited

ADDED: It’s also not true that the Federal Court “agreed” with the government’s stance. They simply found that the government had the power to deport anyone it wants to (a power restricted in only the most limited of cases) and specifically said that its judgement did not imply agreement with the government’s reasons. Chan is a lawyer and ought to get this. 

Monday, 17 January 2022

Michael Shellenberger On Homelessness, Addiction, Crime | Andrew Sullivan

This is a fantastically thoughtful article summarising Andrew Sullivan's talks with Michael Shellenberger and some others, including sharp insights from commenters across the country.

Shellenberger's "San Fran-sicko" is on my table, ready to be read.

“Hong Kong students lament UK Covid strategy” | SCMP

They don’t seem to understand that their treatment is the direct result of an explicit strategy. We do track and trace and quarantine in HK because we have a zero-Covid policy. The UK does not because it has not. These three students (how were they picked from the 16,000 in UK; because they fit the Post’s priors?) strike me as whingers. Note, buried at the end of the article, they were all fine after their brush with Omicron, which lasted a few days, with cold-like symptoms. These precious little things were “shocked” that people are not wearing masks in Britain. Again, it’s coz of the strategy, and that’s OK, Zoomer!

They’re looking forward to coming back to Hong Kong. Where they can be told what to do. 

Meantime in Hong Kong, will vaccinating 5-yo be a “path out of the pandemic”: No it won’t. Because we’ve heard that numerous times before and the goal posts have been shifted again and again. Not to mention: why vaccinate 5 yo? 

ADDED: Comments at the site are splitting 50/50 pro and con. The most popular at time of writing (17/1) is: 

Edward E.
"I had symptoms of a cold and after testing found I had Covid." And? Do you expect the government to send you groceries and paracetamol if you have a cold or flu? These students are just babies and have been mollycoddled by the nanny state. If you are really sick and need to go to hospital and 999 does not answer the phone, then you can complain. The UK government has done a great job developing and administering good vaccines quickly that really work and more people are vaccinated than in Hong Kong, especially vulnerable groups.

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Horse | Wedding | Chapel

Wedding at local multi-faith chapel, on my bike ride
Siena Park, Discovery Bay, Hong Kong

“Has the Great Barrington Declaration been vindicated?" | UnHerd

Has the Left finally woken up to the devastating costs of implementing lockdowns? In its first edition of 2022, the Observer carried a surprisingly balanced interview with Professor Mark Woolhouse, a member of Sage whose new book — The Year the World Went Mad — argues that long lockdowns promoted more harm than good and failed to protect the vulnerable. Its favourable reception appears to herald a new direction in the critique of Covid measures and policies on the Left; for the first time, the question of what really represented the collective good in the Covid debate has been put on the table by a mainstream left-liberal publication. More… [Web Archive]

Saturday, 15 January 2022

“Generation Z ‘overconfident about China, sees west as evil’” | SCMP

I’ve said something along these lines for years — that Chinese youth are hyper-nationalist and so, xenophobic. But it’s one thing for me to say it, sitting here, foreigner in Hong Kong. It’s another, and remarkable, for a senior academic at Tsing Hua University China, to say it. 

As Chinese youth have become more pro their government and policies, so the West views of China have become more negative. Yet the Chinese youth believe the opposite: that the West has a positive view of China. Not so. 

Both trends — Chinese yoof despising the West and the West hating on China — are pretty dangerous. Not just for the future, but, like, now. Xi Jinping’s government has fanned the anti-west feelings and is now incentivised to play to it, a nasty vicious circle. While what Trump started four years ago, seems to be working for Biden, Blinken & co. 

Friday, 14 January 2022

Australia made to look foolish over government's handling of Novak Djokovic visa

Australia made to look foolish. The ABC. Though I wonder. Kicking Djoko out is popular in Australia. And amongst his tennis colleagues, who have thrown him under the bus, more hope to them for a higher result. Except for Nick Kyrgios. 

The Guardian on this issue. Pointing out the danger and opaqueness of the government’s deportation order. 

Also, I’ve just seen a report in* criticising John McEnroe for supporting Djokovic, by claiming (Yahoo, that is), falsely, that Djokovic was trying to enter Australia illegally. He was not. He had a valid visa. Which was cancelled on arrival on opaque grounds, which the Guardian — a very lefty paper, let’s remember  — points out above is very dangerous. And which had made me wonder too — will Australia cancel someone’s visa simply because they disagree with a policy of the government? 
*ADDED: The article is headed “baffling defence of Djokovic”, when it’s not at all baffling. Macca is calling out the hypocrisy of the Oz government. Admitting he poses “negligible risk” to the Australian public (pretty much zero) but that he might “stir anti-vax sentiment”?? That’s how fragile we are now? At over 80% vaxxed already? Give me a break? Pure politics at play here. 

Novak, Novax, Novisa, No-sense

No-sense government. 
Novak had a valid Australian government-approved exemption from vaccination, issued by Oz government before he stepped into his plane. Because he'd had Covid, twice. 
He arrives in Oz and gets cancelled. 
By a government that does it in the “national interest”. Which seems a stretch. In particular his alleged danger to the Australian public, which in these days of rampaging omicron is surely moot.
Court finds in favour of Djokovic. ScoMo overturns it anyway. Cancels his visa. Rinse and repeat.
This is a monster own goal by ScoMo admin.*
Embarrassed for Australia. And even the ABC thinks so.

*Or maybe not. I’ve seen reports that 80% of the Australian public think Djoko should have been kicked out. Cause “no one is above the game”. But they seem happy for an Oz Minister to be above the law by exercising an arbitrary right of deportation over its own Federal Court 
Meantime Novak’s tennis playmates have thrown him under the bus. Preferring to criticise him, rather than a capricious government in no way “following the science” 



Thursday, 13 January 2022

Lex Fridman talks to Jay Bhattacharya. Focused protection v Lockdowns

It’s long, but worth every minute. 

"Zero-Covid goal not worth damage to children's learning” | Collin Levy, SCMP

Man, oh man. It’s what I’ve said in this blog for over a year now. That school closures are a bad idea, and that both “the science” and experience prove it. 

Collin Levy quotes some truly startling studies — from the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF no less —  that school closures will cost $US 17 TRILLION in lifetime earnings. Poorer countries like Bangladesh, Philippines and Panama are going to suffer worse and fall even further behind. Lockdowns are exacerbating inequality. (ADDED: School closures a disaster)

Hong Kong should not be closing schools again. We only are because we are slaves to Beijing’s draconian Zero-Covid strategy.

The Covid-19 story of the year is playing out in Hong Kong, and children again have a starring role. On Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced that all kindergartens and primary schools will be closed for on-campus learning until after the Lunar New Year. With experience as a guide, it will be much longer than that. 
The decision was made in pursuit of the city’s goal of zero-Covid, in an effort to please Beijing, where the party leadership is using any means necessary to keep coronavirus cases low in the run-up to the Olympics and the 20th National Congress later this year. 

But while China’s approach was wise before vaccines were available to save the lives of the vulnerable and elderly, that is no longer the case. The Omicron variant that’s spreading rapidly around the world appears to be less severe than previous variants, particularly for those who have taken an effective vaccine. [More…]

California study confirms: Omicron less severe and less deadly for all ages


Dr John gives good summary of world data. Click screenshot above for vid.
We here in Hong Kong persevere with zero-Covid policy, now closing schools again

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Sam Harris: Bubble Boy

First do listen to his podcast above, which you get to by clicking on the screenshot.

My comment at the site, below.

I was Harris supporter, I bought all his books, I subscribed to all his podcasts. I watched all his YouTubes. Until his reaction to the nomination hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2017.

WHO is only five weeks behind the data....