Sunday’s news links – Dec. 19, 2021

Union grocery workers reach tentative agreement, ending strike at Fred Meyer, QFC stores Oregon Public Radio

Kellogg’s workers will vote on another tentative deal, but the strike may still go on NPR

Opinion: 3 retired generals: The military must prepare now for a 2024 insurrection Washington Post

Three retired United States generals issue a chilling warning of a divided military and possible civil war with next attempted coup in 2024.

Hidden Pentagon Records Reveal Patterns Of Failure In Deadly Airstrikes NYTimes

The promise was a war waged by all-seeing drones and precision bombs. The documents show flawed intelligence, faulty targeting, years of civilian deaths — and scant accountability.

A Promising Court Victory for Mobile-Home Residents The New Yorker

Home care workers protest 24-hour work day in NYC Peoples Dispatch

White House not budging on Feb. 1 end to student loans forgiveness Politico

The Infrastructure Bill’s Hydrogen Funding Is a Big Win for the Oil and Gas Industry DeSmog

Biden Administration Considers Sending Ukraine Military Equipment Once Bound for Afghanistan WSJ

Two Former CIA Directors Call on Biden to Threaten Iran Militarily Intercept

China

China plays a crucial role supporting progress and sovereignty in Latin America Carlos Martinez

#COVID19

The U.S. experience: racism and COVID-19 mortality Economic Front

Are you searching for a way to highlight the negative consequences of racism? Try this: Justin M. Feldman and Mary T. Basset, in a recently published study, found that if everyone living in the United States, aged 25 years or older, died of COVID-19 at the same rate as college-educated non-Hispanic white people did in 2020, 48 percent fewer people would have died, 71 percent fewer people of color would have died, and 89 percent fewer people of color aged 25-64 would have died.

Moderna halts patent fight over coronavirus vaccine with federal government Washington Post

Here’s Why Rapid COVID Tests Are So Expensive and Hard to Find ProPublica

Epidemiologist says COVID-19 is airborne and it’s time to rethink measures CBC News

How well do the vaccines hold up against Omicron?

The vaccines do not protect against an infection with Omicron. From the perspective of transmissibility we are all not vaccinated. But the vaccinations still help.

The vaccines used in the ‘west’ were all based on the spike protein of the original Wuhan variant. The various antibodies the immune system has built against the spike proteins cover specific small regions of it. Many of these epitomes have changed with Omicron which has had 30 mutations within the RNA part of its genome that defines the spike protein. Some spike regions that could be attacked by antibodies against the original spike protein will no longer exist. New ones will have formed. That is why most monoclonal antibodies that have worked as therapy against the original spike will not help against Omicron.

However some of the various antibodies that were formed during vaccination will still be able to do their job. There are also the B-memory cells which have built those antibodies against the vaccine spike and which still exist in our bodies. B-memory cells ‘ripen’ over time and can then create more variants of antibodies as they did when they were first activated. There are also memory T-cells created against the vaccine spike which tend to attack on a wider range than antibodies and which do not care much about tiny mutations.

Even without a booster vaccine the first two shots have prepared the body for fighting the virus and will likely prevent a severe case of Omicron Covid-19 illness.

But any Covid-19 infection, even when ‘mild’, is still causing some violent symptoms and is putting the body through very high stress. Covid-19 is not a flu or a simple influenza. It is way worse. There is also long Covid which effects some 10% of all who had a Covid infection. It still causes serious symptoms up to a year after the infection and we have no therapy against it.

My advice to everyone is therefore to avoid an infection as much as possible. Mask up whenever you enter public transport or a building other than your home. Avoid being in crowds. Always seek good ventilation.

This too shall pass.

New vaccines will become available. Better therapies will be found. More people will be immunized.

The waves of Covid infections that come after this one will likely have lower peaks and look more like a typical seasonal influenza wave. Some people will still die from Covid just as people die each year from influenza. Covid is on its way to become a normal disease.

We will all have to get used to it.

Capitalists Are Dispensable, Laborers Are Not real world economics review (PDF)

See yesterday’s news links here


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