Covid-19 info, corporate cronyism, and some recomendations

In my last Corona virus update I presented optimistic projections about the pandemic from the CDC and why I feared they may be wrong yet again because I feared a worsening of the current pandemic  instead of an improvement. I truly hope I am missing something and would be pleased to to be wrong.

In this post I would like to present some information from recent viral research and corona virus case studies along with treatment options beside what Trump’s Warp Speed program is offering.

 I was recently doing my morning scan of covid websites and stumbled upon this graph which really caught my eye: notice that flat green line at the very bottom. That represents the death rate in Chiapas state compared to the death rates in all the other states.

This second image happens to be a graph of Mexico’s Covid deaths, state by state. It comes from Mexico’s Public health website which appears excellent but which limits inquiry from unregistered people like me.

The second image as I stated is the death rate per 100,000 before and after July 2020 after Chiapas sent out Ivermectin kits to their population . I was not able to ascertain whether this was to be  a prophylactic or a treatment trial but the effect is jaw dropping, over a 90% decrease in deaths. Correlation doesn’t always imply causation but what else could explain such a decline? I was able to find out the dose regimen which I present: It was a 5 day course of Ivermectin(a antihelminthic) given at 12 mg/day if you are less than 80 kg and 18 mg/day if over 80 kg(176 lbs). It appears Hydroxychloroquine was also given(?) as 400 mg BID for one day and then 200 mg BID for the next 4 days. That dosing regimen is also being trialed somewhere in Mexico currently I believe but I have no access to the results at the moment. The CDC has debunked these drugs early on but their recommendation was based upon a poorly structured trial with high does in animals and in hospitalized patients  with late stage Covid. This regimen is also being used in India at the moment but I have not investigated how that is working out yet. Unfortunately there is variability in how the tests were performed and until large double blind studies in a variety of patients are performed, the jury will remain out. The best anecdotal reports I have seen is when Ivermectin with or without zinc and with or without doxycycline and hydrochloroquine is given very early in the infection, it seemed patient outcomes were improved. What about antiviral drugs, like the “miracle” drug remdesivir?

Early on Remdesivir was purchased by the US government as a potentially landmark antiviral drug . It was administered to trump as you may recall. We purchased  the world supply of 500,000 doses at a cost of $ 2300/ea and the delivered cost to the patient was to be $3200 to $4100 for a 5 day course. This from NPR last year.  Remember that? The US government had already underwritten over $70 million given to Giliad in development costs and allowed Giliad to secure a patent to prevent open source use. As you may know, Remdesivir was a colossal and expensive DUD.  The trials were either poorly structured or worse. It seems every month or two there is a new miracle antiviral being touted. The latest is Molnupiravir from a Georgia company which allegedly kills the coronavirus at 99% when trialed  with ferrets and now is in human trials according to an Atlanta TV station. I personally hope for such an effective immediate treatment for Coronavirus as the most effective way to stop the Covid epidemic in its tracks but I’m not holding my breath.I do hope the ferrets are still doing OK.  I should mention a study involving mouthwashes containing cetylpyridinium chloride having strong antiviral properties in an inviro study. It was assumed it would be effective against covid-19 in their conclusions. It is present in a variety of mouthwashes, toothpastes and nasal sprays such as those made by Colgate, Crest and Sensodine among others. This seems to me to be a no brainer if you regularly use mouthwashes. Keep taking your Vit D.

 I bring these treatment options up  because of my skepticism about long term vaccine efficacy which has not been established because establishing such efficacy will require long term rigorous phase three clinical trials which were not done  by Trump’s Warp Speed program. Here are some of my concerns and I will try to use solid research already done to justify my concerns.

    There is a long established phenomenon of “Antibody  escape” which occurs when the virus “escapes” the antibody . There was some good work done recently  at the U of Washington at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center  in which they used convalescent plasma rich in antibodies which targeted particular regions of the Sars Coronavirus spike proteins. They tested all possible mutations in the spike proteins which could offer escape pathways to escape mutants. The surprise to me was that these escape pathways differed from person to person. Here is a statement from the paper:

The findings suggest that peoples’ responses to a vaccine that targets the spike protein are unlikely to be uniform, say the researchers. I guess that means vaccine efficacy may also be unlikely to be uniform.

I should note that this finding while worrisome is just released and not yet peer reviewed but there have been some SARS virus studies similarly done challenging viruses over a period of 5 months in which later versions of the virus became resistant to convalescent serum challenges. I  Do not recall which immune proteins were being tested and there are quite a few.  There is a case study out of Brazil again just released on 5 Jan describing a patient infected by the SARS corona virus who recovered only to be reinfected 5 months later by a variant and she became much more  deathly sick. It is studies and reports like this  with corona virus immune responses that make this observer concerned about long term efficacy of vaccines or reinfection after their initial episode. It is common knowledge that immunity from a corona cold virus doesn’t prevent getting another cold in the same cold/URI season.

Finally to close out this post I would like to state my preference for a particular vaccine. I base my decision on several factors. The vaccine is finishing up phase three trials and is the J&J vaccine produced and developed in Belgium and at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  It uses a tried and proven technology well researched and tested against the Ebola virus. Their proprietary technology is called ADVAC  and instead of using a grafted RNA  spike protein subunit like Pfizer and Moderna, it uses a common noninfective adenovirus in which no RNA is used. Instead it is DNA and it resides within the nucleus of the inactivated virus. After the corona virus invades the cell a process is initiated in which mRNA is elaborated to make the spike proteins that are released and which stimulate an immune response with a variety of immune cells. Among them are Helper and killer T cells,  and Beta cells. I assume a variety of neutralizing antibodies are also elaborated. The results using participants’ worldwide look promising so far and if I was betting on a horse race, J&J’s Ad26.Cov2.S vaccine would be my bet. It is a stable rugged vaccine and can be stored in any refrigerator. Best of all it is a one shot. Unlike Pfizer the J&J trials have included testing to include the elderly with and without a variety of comorbidities. Recall that Pfizer and Moderna stopped their trials at age 55 and now most vaccination programs are targeting the elderly as next in line after front line doctors and nurses. In other words they are vaccinating this group absent any phase three trials ever being done!!! And now there are reports out of Norway and elsewhere tying more than a dozen deaths of elderly over the age of 80 dying after receiving their second Pfizer poke. These reports need immediate investigation and not by Pfizer, to establish the level of risk/benefit of mRNA vaccines to the elderly. Good thing for Pfizer stockholders that their lawyers negotiated indemnity against lawsuits. I have also been hearing anecdotal reports that the second Pfizer shot has more unpleasant side effects. My prediction is that if Ad26.Cov2.S is as effective as its competitors and is priced properly it will out compete the fragile and less rigorously tested vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. I should also mention again that the Oxford Zeneca uses similar technology with a Chimp adenovirus. Stay well out there and use a real N95 or N99 mask like my SPERIAN valve mask. These variants from the UK and S Africa and Brazil are out to rumble and mean business!

Covid-19 info, corporate cronyism, and some recomendations

In my last Corona virus update I presented optimistic projections about the pandemic from the CDC and why I feared they may be wrong yet again because I feared a worsening of the current pandemic  instead of an improvement. I truly hope I am missing something and would be pleased to to be wrong.

In this post I would like to present some information from recent viral research and corona virus case studies along with treatment options beside what Trump’s Warp Speed program is offering.

 I was recently doing my morning scan of covid websites and stumbled upon this graph which really caught my eye: notice that flat green line at the very bottom. That represents the death rate in Chiapas state compared to the death rates in all the other states.

This second image happens to be a graph of Mexico’s Covid deaths, state by state. It comes from Mexico’s Public health website which appears excellent but which limits inquiry from unregistered people like me.

The second image as I stated is the death rate per 100,000 before and after July 2020 after Chiapas sent out Ivermectin kits to their population . I was not able to ascertain whether this was to be  a prophylactic or a treatment trial but the effect is jaw dropping, over a 90% decrease in deaths. Correlation doesn’t always imply causation but what else could explain such a decline? I was able to find out the dose regimen which I present: It was a 5 day course of Ivermectin(a antihelminthic) given at 12 mg/day if you are less than 80 kg and 18 mg/day if over 80 kg(176 lbs). It appears Hydroxychloroquine was also given(?) as 400 mg BID for one day and then 200 mg BID for the next 4 days. That dosing regimen is also being trialed somewhere in Mexico currently I believe but I have no access to the results at the moment. The CDC has debunked these drugs early on but their recommendation was based upon a poorly structured trial with high does in animals and in hospitalized patients  with late stage Covid. This regimen is also being used in India at the moment but I have not investigated how that is working out yet. Unfortunately there is variability in how the tests were performed and until large double blind studies in a variety of patients are performed, the jury will remain out. The best anecdotal reports I have seen is when Ivermectin with or without zinc and with or without doxycycline and hydrochloroquine is given very early in the infection, it seemed patient outcomes were improved. What about antiviral drugs, like the “miracle” drug remdesivir?

Early on Remdesivir was purchased by the US government as a potentially landmark antiviral drug . It was administered to trump as you may recall. We purchased  the world supply of 500,000 doses at a cost of $ 2300/ea and the delivered cost to the patient was to be $3200 to $4100 for a 5 day course. This from NPR last year.  Remember that? The US government had already underwritten over $70 million given to Giliad in development costs and allowed Giliad to secure a patent to prevent open source use. As you may know, Remdesivir was a colossal and expensive DUD.  The trials were either poorly structured or worse. It seems every month or two there is a new miracle antiviral being touted. The latest is Molnupiravir from a Georgia company which allegedly kills the coronavirus at 99% when trialed  with ferrets and now is in human trials according to an Atlanta TV station. I personally hope for such an effective immediate treatment for Coronavirus as the most effective way to stop the Covid epidemic in its tracks but I’m not holding my breath.I do hope the ferrets are still doing OK.  I should mention a study involving mouthwashes containing cetylpyridinium chloride having strong antiviral properties in an inviro study. It was assumed it would be effective against covid-19 in their conclusions. It is present in a variety of mouthwashes, toothpastes and nasal sprays such as those made by Colgate, Crest and Sensodine among others. This seems to me to be a no brainer if you regularly use mouthwashes. Keep taking your Vit D.

 I bring these treatment options up  because of my skepticism about long term vaccine efficacy which has not been established because establishing such efficacy will require long term rigorous phase three clinical trials which were not done  by Trump’s Warp Speed program. Here are some of my concerns and I will try to use solid research already done to justify my concerns.

    There is a long established phenomenon of “Antibody  escape” which occurs when the virus “escapes” the antibody . There was some good work done recently  at the U of Washington at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center  in which they used convalescent plasma rich in antibodies which targeted particular regions of the Sars Coronavirus spike proteins. They tested all possible mutations in the spike proteins which could offer escape pathways to escape mutants. The surprise to me was that these escape pathways differed from person to person. Here is a statement from the paper:

The findings suggest that peoples’ responses to a vaccine that targets the spike protein are unlikely to be uniform, say the researchers. I guess that means vaccine efficacy may also be unlikely to be uniform.

I should note that this finding while worrisome is just released and not yet peer reviewed but there have been some SARS virus studies similarly done challenging viruses over a period of 5 months in which later versions of the virus became resistant to convalescent serum challenges. I  Do not recall which immune proteins were being tested and there are quite a few.  There is a case study out of Brazil again just released on 5 Jan describing a patient infected by the SARS corona virus who recovered only to be reinfected 5 months later by a variant and she became much more  deathly sick. It is studies and reports like this  with corona virus immune responses that make this observer concerned about long term efficacy of vaccines or reinfection after their initial episode. It is common knowledge that immunity from a corona cold virus doesn’t prevent getting another cold in the same cold/URI season.

Finally to close out this post I would like to state my preference for a particular vaccine. I base my decision on several factors. The vaccine is finishing up phase three trials and is the J&J vaccine produced and developed in Belgium and at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  It uses a tried and proven technology well researched and tested against the Ebola virus. Their proprietary technology is called ADVAC  and instead of using a grafted RNA  spike protein subunit like Pfizer and Moderna, it uses a common noninfective adenovirus in which no RNA is used. Instead it is DNA and it resides within the nucleus of the inactivated virus. After the corona virus invades the adenovirus cell a process is initiated in which mRNA is elaborated to make the spike proteins that are released and which stimulate an immune response with a variety of immune cells. Among them are Helper and killer T cells,  and Beta cells. I assume a variety of neutralizing antibodies are also elaborated. The results using participants’ worldwide look promising so far and if I was betting on a horse race, J&J’s Ad26.Cov2.S vaccine would be my bet. It is a stable rugged vaccine and can be stored in any refrigerator. Best of all it is a one shot. Unlike Pfizer the J&J trials have included testing to include the elderly with and without a variety of comorbidities. Recall that Pfizer and Moderna stopped their trials at age 55 and now most vaccination programs are targeting the elderly as next in line after front line doctors and nurses. In other words they are vaccinating this group absent any phase three trials ever being done!!! And now there are reports out of Norway and elsewhere tying more than a dozen deaths of elderly over the age of 80 dying after receiving their Pfizer poke. These reports need immediate investigation and not by Pfizer to establish the level of risk/benefit of mRNA vaccines to the elderly. Good thing for Pfizer stockholders that their lawyers negotiated indemnity against lawsuits. I have also been hearing anecdotal reports that the second Pfizer shot has more unpleasant side effects. My prediction is that if Ad26.Cov2.S is as effective as its competitors and is priced properly it will out compete the fragile and less rigorously tested vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. I should also mention again that the Oxford Zeneca uses similar technology with a Chimp adenovirus. Stay well out there and use a real N95 or N99 mask like my SPERIAN valve mask. These variants from the UK and S Africa and Brazil are out to rumble and mean business!

Can Covid go Exponential from here?

(Coronavirus Update 14 Jan 2021)

 Hello folks. I just did an update less than a week ago and I do updates based upon anything new I might happen to unearth in regional, national and world news on Covid. I have recently returned to trying to watch this pandemic more closely since just after Thanksgiving when I noticed increases in cases worldwide. I follow Covid related information on the CDC and WHO websites. I also have access to some research abstracts from a variety of sources without pay walls  and on a variety of other websites that most of you may be familiar with such as woroldometer , The Covid Tracking project at the ATLANTIC, and particularly our excellent Wyoming Covid site: Tetonwy covid response overview. My wife opens that website every morning and she pointed out the recent jump in daily cases from about 12/day at Christmas to now over 60/day. That marks a 5X increase in about the last 2 or 3 weeks. I also happened to notice that Ireland in about the same time period experienced a 30X(!!!) jump in cases along with continued increases in the UK. This merits a graph:

Yowza! Our recent Wyoming spike bears a morphological similarity to this Ireland disaster spike but instead of 30X it is just 5X:

https://teton-wy-ema.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=74c5259d154446aa9afc5916ac67055e

I am sorry I can’t insert this graph but click it to view if you wish. Here is a headline on CNBC today that caught my eye along with a comment from Larry Kudlow, one of the resident economic geniuses in the Trump administration:

“Up to 30% of Americans may be infected with coronavirus by year-end,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb says.

White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Tuesday that the U.S. has “contained” the threat of a domestic coronavirus outbreak”, breaking with the warnings of officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have contained this, I won’t say airtight but pretty close to airtight,” Kudlow told CNBC’s Kelly Evans on Tuesday afternoon.

SO with this I decided to look at what data Larry Kudlow and Scott Gottlieb were referring to at the CDC  and I found this graph of current and projected cases.

The first thing I noticed was that it sure didn’t look like Ireland or Teton County and I wondered why. ….Text from the CDC website:

  • This week, CDC received forecasts of new reported COVID-19 cases over the next 4 weeks from 32 modeling groups that were included in the ensemble forecasts.
  • This week’s national ensemble predicts that 900,000 to 1,800,000 new cases will likely be reported in the week ending January 30, 2021.
  • The state- and territory-level ensemble forecasts predict that over the next 4 weeks, the number of new reported cases per week will likely decrease in 8 jurisdictions, which are indicated in the forecast plots below. Trends in numbers of future reported cases are uncertain or predicted to remain stable in the other states and territories. There are 32 models displayed here!

I wondered how they came to this prediction based upon what seemed to be happening not just in Teton County and Ireland but in England, Europe, and hot spots in the US like CA and AZ.  If you click on countries in Worldometer to check their cases graph, you will notice that even formerly well contained countries like Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden have exponential curves. Everything in these jurisdictions seemed to be going exponential;. By the way I need to insert a famous quotation from Albert Einstein which has been patently obvious for this whole pandemic:”The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

Gottlieb in that CNBC article said that about a third of the US has either had the vaccine, an asymptomatic infection or a symptomatic infection and with the hopeful increase in vaccine production we may be peaking based upon the cdc models.

So here is how I think the models break down (this from several sources and one recent blog:

10 million Americans have had asymptomatic covid

23 million have tested positive for Covid

5 million or more are immunized and more each day

And get this: 70 million have already had Covid with symptoms but decided not to get tested and ride it out.(????)

There. That’s your 1/3 that Scott Gottlieb is talking about. If his educated guesses are right you can make a plausible argument that the graph may be right. But I don’t buy it.

 Here is my take on this. Even if these numbers are correct this projection does not seem to take into account the variants of the Corona virus now starting to sweep the world: The UK and the S. African variants seem to be far more communicable (40-70%) than the Wuhan virus.  Increase in percentage is VERY IMPORTANT , as it is percentage increases or decreases that form the basis of exponential functions. I have read reassuring comments from a variety of political and media sources that it may be no more lethal even if it is more communicable.  Comments like this are absolutely nuts because just a 50% increase in communicability changes the shape of an exponential curve drastically in a short period of time. Another question I have asked but rarely answered is what does an increase in communicability really mean?  I have read that it may mean that the virus binds more tightly to the ACE Receptors primarily in the Respiratory tract. It probably also means that a smaller inoculum may be needed to induce disease in that case and just those two factors are enough to kickstart new and larger  outbreaks. If the variants bind more tightly in the lung will they bind more tightly in the heart or gut as well? Will that alter the percentage of people  becoming “Long Haulers?” These are just some of the speculative questions that occur to me.  Will the vaccines work as well on these new variants? Pfizer seems confident their vaccine will handle these few mutations so far elaborated by genomic testing. Well it turns out that there are not just single mutations on these viruses. The UK has had 23 and the S. African at least 21.(Sorry…lost that source).

Somebody else must have noticed these tidbits I am throwing out and questions I am raising and I am certain they have, but questions like these tend to undermine trust in the Trump Warpspeed Rollout. The Trumpian response to the epidemic has been botched from the very first press conference almost a year ago and trust is not a word that can be associated with his administration. “Mistakes have been made,” as the politicians love to say and of course I hope that a new administration might reduce the frequency of mistakes but there is a lot of complexity and unknowns around this pandemic and what we believe today may be rejected tomorrow. Think System theory also. The mistakes made have stemmed from structural failures of the entire system and not just individual mistakes.

  One of the long standing questions in epidemiology is why bacteria and viruses behave the way they do. Basically they are smart little buggers. Their goal like most of us is more reproduction. The more individuals they can infect, the more successful they become. If they become more lethal that becomes self defeating. If the host dies, they die. The host’s immune system fight back with antibodies to stay alive and kill the invaders which often prompts a retaliatory response from the microorganisms. And so it goes.But I digress………

    I will take up and elaborate  in future posts issues such as immune responses, new vaccine and treatment options , changes we need to make to our Public Health System as well as big picture questions I have covered for years about how this little detour in the trajectory of the civilization affects our future. Stay tuned.

 

Review of Far from the Madding Crowd

If you are romantic or a romanticist of enjoy a tumultuous romantic love triangle or quadrangle in this case, you will love this book. If you are a man who wonders about the structure within a woman’s mind, you may be mystified, bewildered and confused. But this book was written with a mystified, bewildered girl as the central character, written by a 19th century Brit and if there were  a world populated by many such women there would be many more men willing to give up the heterosexual life forever!.

 Bathesheba Everdene is her name and fickle is her game. On a foolish and cruel whim she sends an anonymous valentine to the local confirmed bachelor farmer, William Boltwood with only 2 words: Marry Me. Up until then Farmer Boltwood wouldn’t know a woman from a ewe and this card turns his life upside down as he turns into a lovesick maniac when he finds out who wrote the note, his next door neighbor, the aforementioned vixen Bathsheba, also a sheep farmer. Bathsheba is a hottie teenager with great managerial skills and diligence to succeed on her new inherited farm which of course only a man could handle but she proves to the serfs in the little  Southwest England burg of Weatherbury that a sheep farm and haying 1000 acres is woman’s work. We are introduced to a salt of the earth shepherd Gabriel Oak, who  falls for her hook, line and shepherd’s crook.   He woos her and has his hopes dashed but he stays on as hired help carrying his secret flame burning in his breast.

Boltwood, our love sick puppy, begs Bathsheba to marry him and she is almost persuaded to do so if for no other reason than to shut him up when a red coated blue blooded  soldier/lothario  by the name of Frank Troy sweeps her off her feet with ridiculous flattery and amazing swordsmanship and the knot is quickly tied. But it turns out he has been bonking a blonde maid, Fanny Robin, who he loves better. So much better that she gets a swelled abdomen leading to complications.  So Bathsheba’s marriage turns to sheep manure as he blows

her money on gambling and booze. I’ll stop now.  Hardy now has to decide if true love will ever come to Bathsheba or anyone else. The strong points are Hardy’s floral descriptions of Wessex(SW England) with its farms and fens and moors and horrific weather. If you love nature, you know Hardy by now. The characterizations are at times clear and brilliant and at times not so brilliant. Bathsheba Everdene at times is presented as a self assured independent level headed woman in full command of her life and at times a whako teenager with poor impulse control and terrible judgment.  I’d say the first half of the book is a solid 4 star read but Tom Hardy really ramps up the last half with crises and conflict enough to satisfy anyone who loves hopeless romantic entanglements. Five star for me. Disclosure: I am a sheep farmer which may have influenced my rating.                                                                                                          Addendum: The title comes from a line in Thomas Grays poem “Elegy in a Country Churchyard” which is a 5 star poem. The term refers to a life far from the bustle of civilization, preferably in a calm, private and rural setting.

Covid Vaccine Jan 2021 Update

Covid update  January 2021

 Well I’m back with an update to my last update and I think I may do this as needed as new facts emerge.

Since my last post my wife who is 63 and working as a nurse has received her Pfizer poke. She had no side effects whatever. She even joked that maybe she got a placebo. The politicians, and pharmaceutical pundits continue to hammer home the safety and efficacy of the vaccine which of course is still in question. Vaccine recipients continue to contract the Covid but I have not seen any ICU admissions noted in that small subset and immunity isn’t maximal for at least 4 wks post poke. Deaths are being reported in poke recipients some days later in previously healthy people  as well as anaphylactoid or anaphylactic reactions but Pfizer has denied any connection to their miracle drug. A recent death of a healthy 55 yr old OBGYN doctor from Miami is somewhat disturbing. He developed Immune thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP) a few days after his first shot and  has succumbed recently despite heroic attempts to save him. ITP is a rare disease (2.6 per 100,000)  where your platelet count drops precipitously. It often follows viral infections and may resolve spontaneously or become chronic. The doctor’s wife is blaming the Pfizer vaccine but don’t worry if you own Pfizer stock. They enjoy immunity from prosecution which was granted to them by the Trump administration. There have been vaccine disasters in the past. In the 1950’s Cutter Labs put out a flawed batch of polio vaccine to 120000 children. 40000 came down with polio, fifty five were paralyzed and 5 died. The so called killed vaccine hadn’t been killed after all during manufacturing. There have been many other similar stories with poorly tested drugs, Thalidomide being the most notorious. Granting indemnity to a globalized corporation is scandalous in this blogger’s opinion. Some older nursing home patients have also died following the shot but nursing home patients die all the time, right? In the absence of an autopsy  or other testing you can’t call it an adverse effect. So says Pfizer. It should be noted that after age 30 the body responds with lower immune responses following vaccination and right now many older folks are the tranche getting these shots despite the fact that people older than 55 were not part of the rushed 2 month Vaccine trials this past summer.  I have not yet seen any antibody response analysis in the older groups yet.  Clearly there are reactions to the vaccines but whether they are caused by the antigens in the vaccine or added adjuvants or even the virus carcasses used to carry the mRna protein units remains unknown. Pfizer had about 50000 enrolled in their trials as did Moderna but I could not  find the exact incidence of “adverse” reactions. Half of the group had salt water of course and adverse reactions to salt water tend to be pretty low. 

   I who am 76 have not been offered a vaccination but I am holding out for the time being until  efficacy/safety data becomes available and I want that data on all the current and proposed vaccines before I receive any shot.

A june 2020 article in Scientific American speculated on whether the  coronavirus vaccines might lead to ADE, (antibody dependent enhancement) which is a situation where the vaccine could in fact worsen the consequences of a covid infection. This has been reported in the Dengue Fever vaccines.  A recent paper in the J of Inf Diseases just 2 wks ago seems to discount that possibility but after a careful reading of the paper I am not so sure.

  The Long Haulers which are the Covid patients with persistent symptoms long after their infection are a growing concern. These are hapless people often with mild infections who develop all manner of symptomatology lasting months and months. These symptoms are varied and sometimes disabling. They include CNS manifestations like headaches, dizziness, “brain fog.”, and depression as well as fatigue, chest, somatic and cardiac pain, myocarditis and pericarditis, rhythm disturbances, as well as shortness of breath, chronic fatigue and the well publicized loss of smell and taste. Treatment has been disappointing and the whole syndrome is poorly understood. Chronic fatigue syndrome has been reported with other corona viruses like SARS and MERS as well as a variety of other virus types. I experienced  this about 25 years ago  for several months and disabling doesn’t even describe it! I have read 3 papers   that list the incidence as over 50% months after the infection. One Italian study said that only one in eight people were free of any persistent symptoms 2 months following. I have also seen a paper long since lost which said the long haul syndrome was far less common. I would be interested to see how common long haul is in vaccinated   folks especially those who get reinfected.

       Joe Biden intends to have 100 million Americans vaccinated in his first 100 days. Let’s say that the incidence of adverse reactions is 1 in a 1000. That means that 100 million people will yield adverse reactions in 100,000 folks if I did my math right. That would be a pretty high rate of adverse events which is way exceeding the incidence of say, influenza vaccines.   My final comment recapitulates my previous comment that each of us has to use our own metrics in deciding when and whether to get our shot. I will hold off as long as I can unless my personal situation changes.

The Pfizer Vaccine:To Take or NOT to Take: That is the Question

 I have studied and blogged about the Covid pandemic since early February and I have followed treatment and vaccine development with interest since then recommending tiered approaches of prevention and management to friends and family. The first tier is to build up your natural immunity with diet, exercise and vitamins and supplements thought to be useful. I have scoured the world literature and media reports and one does need to maintain skepticism no matter the source. Early on the WHO and the CDC issued misleading and entirely wrong assessments and recommendations and I relied upon European and Asian studies early on. It does appear that Vitamin D in 5000 units/day along with selenium and zinc confers resistance to Covid but this is not well supported by properly constructed US studies. There is no downside to their use in moderate amounts. There are many companies rushing their vaccines to market utilizing some tried and true vaccine technologies while others are using revolutionary genetic sequencing methods. Most companies use either  injection of messenger RNA of the Spike protein of the sars covid-2 virus. Pfizer and Moderna’’s trials use this technique.  Messenger RNA is very fragile and these RNA chunks are encased within a protective fatty shell or nanoparticle. They then get into your body’s cells and instruct your protein making machinery of ribosomes to make copies of the virus spike proteins which allow the body to recognize the real Covid invaders spike protein and thereby mount an immune response firing up the various components of the immune system.  This is a new technology and may have risks to some in our population such as those with autoimmune diseases, a class of diseases poorly understood. There has been a worry expressed about antibody dependent enhancement(ADE) in which the severity of a contracted disease is worsened by the vaccine itself. I will cover that in subsequent posts. The clinical trials were run by Pfizer and Moderna and were not large or lengthy. Only 95 cases of Covid occurred in the Moderna  trial and most were in the placebo group. Eight in the vaccine group contracted the virus. In the Pfizer trial eight people also contracted Covid as compared to 162 who got it in the placebo group. The PCR test used did not mention how many”cycles” were used in the run which influences  positive results. Side effects were  said to be minimal. The vaccines were not administered to all age groups and duration of immunity is unknown. The immunity does appear to last at least two months which is when the results were released. The Oxford(UK) AstraZeneca vaccine uses an inactivated Chimpanzee cold virus bonded to the mRNA spike protein. Participant numbers were small and only vaccinating those between 18 and 55(Moderna) and there was some question of dosing regimens. The most widely distributed vaccine is the Chinese vaccine by Sinopharma using traditional methods of an inactivated corona virus which has been given to over a million people. Unfortunately data on the efficacy is sketchy and hampered by poor US/China relations.

The Russian Sputnik vaccine also uses a human adenovirus bonded to spike protein. Results and efficacy is anecdotal and there was nothing resembling anything like a Phase 3 trial.

Novovax is a US company using a wacky idea of selecting the baculovirus, an insect virus to get the spike protein into Moth(!) cells who then produce the proteins which are somehow captured. This technique is called “protein subunit” technology. Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline are also using this protein subunit method.  Johnson and Johnson has a Phase 3 trial underway since September  and they have announced they are including Black, Hispanic and Native American as well as people with and without comorbidities . They also are offering it as a single dose injection.

  Here are my conclusions based upon preliminary reliable information. The trials are relatively small in extent and duration.  They are certainly RUSHED. The project is called Warp Speed. Duration and intensity of immunity is unknown. Not all age and racial groups both healthy and those with compromised health were tested nor were children, infants or pregnant women or patients on chemotherapy or immune rejection regimens. Could these RNA subunits provoke genetic mischief down the line?  Corona viruses are sturdy stable viruses but mutations in the spike protein or in the parent virus might  doom these vaccines requiring nimble  changes in their configuration. DNA is robust and RNA falls apart quickly so this is probably a safe new technology but there is no way to know for sure. One thing is certain. The companies are in it for the money. Billionaires are being minted daily under their roofs. These vaccines are not polio vaccines which were open source vaccines in the public realm. Unregulated profit driven proprietary vaccine development is problematic by its very structure. The US medical establishment is rushing new and expensive vaccines into distribution and not bothering to test inexpensive promising vaccines from other countries from non US companies. They are also not waiting on other vaccines from domestic companies. I plan on waiting.

UPDATE: Dec 28 2020): Since this initial post the Pfizer variety has been released and several million doses administered so far. There have been  some anaphylactoid and anaphylactic reactions  but to my knowledge no deaths. I have read that Pfizer will cost $40 for the 2 doses and both Moderna and AstraZeneca are considerably less.Astra Zeneca is said to cost $2 and  has waived obtaining a patent. Pfizer is patented. Duration of immunity remains unknown. Frontline medical people are prioritized as well as older people. People over 55 were not part of the Moderna Trials, nor were anyone under age 18 or people with comorbidities including pregnant women. There is a new variant originating from the UK which appears more infectious and does appear to infect children and young adults which is worrisome. Will the vaccine be effective or safe in these groups? Ideally all the vaccines need to be trialed on all population groups with an without comorbidities and followed for at least a year or two. That is a true Phase 3 trial!!! It also appears dosing regimens in Moderna and AstraZeneca have been shifting to find the sweet spot.  If you are vaccinated can you still transmit the virus ? . Likely not, but still an unknown.  Now perhaps the most worrying factoid: Pfizer negotiated a “Heads I win. Tails you lose” contract with the US Government.  That means  no legal liability  with their Covid vaccine.   Do the American people know that if the vaccine is ineffective or dangerous that they will have no legal recourse to sue Pfizer? It would seem that this needs to be understood before anyone presents their bare shoulder. To take or not to take. ?? Every person needs to decide for themselves based upon their heath risks.  Once all or most of the US companies have had  their vaccines approved and released to significant numbers of people and quality and duration of immunity established, I will seriously consider joining the line of willing guinea pigs. Until then, I plan on waiting.

Book Review of The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

Return of the native is my first Hardy book, I blog on Civilizations rising and falling,, economics and industrialism and energy issues and I felt I needed perspective of the world before and during  the early days of the Industrial Revolution. It may be a lousy reason to read Thomas Hardy,  you say. But  he returned in spades research material I was seeking and the book ended up being a great read with believable characters, honest description of rural life in the heathland of old Wessex, that area in south and west England now renamed.. I have lived most of my 7 decades without cable TV and have never seen a soap opera but if I had, I hope it would be as good as this book portrays relationships rising and colliding and conjoining. The characters are the beautiful sultry Eustacia Vye stuck in the boodocks and longing for love and city lights; Damon Wildeve, an engineer turned innkeeper who sometimes longs for Eustacia;  Idealistic Clym Yeobright who returns from a financially rewarding and unfulfilling career in Paris  to set up a radical school. Eustacia sees Clym as her ticket out of boring  but beautiful Egdon Heath. He moves in with his mother  and his cousin, Thomasin Yeobright, a sweet and substantial country girl. Clym is the returning native of the title. Egdon heath is the setting and so richly described that it becomes in effect a character in the novel. There are a variety of interesting locals with Diggory Venn a reddleman, who mines a red iron oxide clay used to mark sheep. Diggory is an important unassuming and generous character of remarkable competence who assumes increasing importance throughout the novel. The characters interact like shifting Venn diagrams of love relationships. Love won. Love’s labor lost. Love deferred. Early on I found Hardy slow going with long flowery descriptions of just about everything and everybody with a myriad of mythical allusions both Nordic and Greek but I found the poetic style started to  grow on me. There was not abundant dialog but what there was seemed honest and to the point. The second third of the novel started to pick up with startling plot shifts and drama. At times reading turned into page turning frenzy. I will spare the reader the gory details but the ending was satisfying and Thomas hardy likes to tidy up all the loose ends. His characterization was well done with fully formed  men and women having to face all  the trials that flesh is heir to but possessing wistfulness and an ability to get on with their lives. I am ready for more Thomas Hardy.

Review of The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells

Our Soon to be Uninhabitable Earth

      This blog post is a book review of The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells which if you read only one book this year about important topics like climate change, let it be this book.

     The title of the book is The Uninhabitable Earth, Life after warming” by David Wallace Wells. It was published in 2019 and judging by the comments, it created quite a furor, both pro and con. The book was preceded by a 7000 word article in New York Magazine on July 10. 2017.

    The Uninhabitable Earth is divided into four sections: Cascades, a 36 page overview of global climate change science and possible scenarios. This is a cogent summary of the books contents and the author’s conclusions and is compelling. The next section is  Elements of Chaos, which is a  specific listing of 12 elements that Wallace –Wells felt needed separate chapter headings. It includes familiar themes of hunger, ocean rise, melting of the icecaps, weather disruptions, wildfires etc. The next major section  is The Climate Kaleidoscope which is an excellent overview of cultural and intellectual dynamics underlying global climate change This includes the role of capitalism, technology and conventional Neo Liberal economic philosophy and various myths like the myth of “progress” in human history. It also describes the intellectual and emotional responses of a variety of authors and thinkers to the realities of climate change. I found this section exceedingly interesting because it dealt with people’s responses to the unfolding delamination of the industrial revolution taking place this century.

The final tiny section is called the Anthropic Principle which is an odd section that lays out the possibility that the science might be wrong or exaggerated and what do we as passengers of this Spaceship earth need to do to avert something that may or may not come to pass. It is his summary page but is by no means the end of the book. The next 66 page section is his “Notes” which might be the best section of the book because it is a scientific bibliography and his comments which I would urge the reader not to skip. In this notes section you will be introduced to poets like Robinson Jeffers and “reformed” environmentalists like Paul Kingsnorth with the Dark Mountain Project who have abandoned the environmental protest movements to save the world and who are now born again to try to live in a world in slow collapse while learning to adapt to the civilization that will emerge. Are they quitters? Naive? Or prophets? But I digress……. to the beginning.

  “Cascades”, the first section starts with this hook in the first sentence: “It is worse, much worse than you think.” This chapter is the core of the book in my opinion and includes events and facts that are beyond any dispute. Example: There have been 5 mass extinctions and four of the five have come as consequences of green house gas emissions leading to global warming. Only the Cretaceous extinction was a consequence of an asteroid altering the climate. None of these mass extinctions added carbon to the atmosphere at anywhere near the rate humans have been injecting into the atmosphere since the end of WW 2. He says the majority of the carbon dioxide emissions have occurred since the debut of Seinfeld and 85 % of all human emissions have happened since I was born in 1944. David hammers this point home again and again emphasizing that it is the rapidity of these emissions additions that is the crux of the problem and the cause of all the changes being wrought to the world’s climate. He also states that the level of atmospheric Co2 in the air is higher now than it has ever been in the last “ 800,000 years and perhaps the last 20 million years.” That sentence caught me as it did many scientists who have criticized the book. Which is it? 800,000 years or 20 million? Eight hundred millennia is bad enough if true but twenty thousand millennia is way more significant.

   The book is laden with a detailed litany of facts and figures and research laying out scenarios and consequences of our fossil fueled assault upon nature and the planet. The one number which has drawn the most attention has been the degree of warming by 2100. This has been estimated by the IPCC(UN International panel on Climate Change) studies most recently in 2018. This is due for an update in 2 years. These reports have been described as the gold standard. They are currently estimating a change of 3.2 deg C by 2100. Because that date is 80 years away both climate change deniers and some prominent climate scientists have questioned the number as too high. A greater number it should be noted have criticized the IPCC as too low!  Because of the underlying assumptions of the models, there is no way to know the future. Before starting this post I made an extensive review of scientific comments not only of David’s book and his New York article but of the IPCC studies. I ignored criticisms emitting from most politicians and corporate fossil fuel interests as baseless in most cases due to biased blatant self interest. Most studies have said that anything higher than 2 degrees C will be catastrophic for the planet. Some of the criticisms I read were clearly splitting hairs or quibbling with numbers too abstruse for us non climate scientists. I would urge the reader to concentrate on the facts beyond dispute such as: the planet is warming, emissions are increasing, plants, animals, fish and birds are dying , wildfires are growing, pollution is worsening , people are breeding and virtually nothing is being done to reverse these processes despite meaningless international agreements such as the Kyoto accords or the Paris Agreement.

 There have been pledges by some world leaders to be “carbon neutral” by specific dates such as 2050 or 2060. These leaders almost never lay out how that timeline will be reached except by stating bald nonsense that fossil energy will be replaced by “Renewable” energy, by “green” energy, by newer generation nuclear energy plants, by wind and solar, by carbon sequestration, by pie in the sky “geoengineering” projects and other carbon capturing schemes. Nowhere in this tower of babble do we hear of concrete immediate measures which could be enacted right now to curb emissions because change needs to happen RIGHT NOW. The fastest and most effective would be a carbon tax on all fossil sources. This would mean   a substantial gas and diesel tax, a tax on electricity from coal and gas and measures to mandate energy reduction measures across the economy such as raising insulation in buildings, mandating strict MPG standards in vehicles etc These measures have been tried and in some cases imposed but just as often rescinded. An attempt to raise the gas tax in France resulted in riots and Green  Green Washington State turned down a modest carbon tax proposal in 2018. These are among the facts elucidated in David’s book. Reading about all these good faith protests and proposals is a sorry experience of read it and weep.

      David Wallace-Wells near the end of the book actually expresses optimism that measures can be taken to keep global temperature below 2 deg C by 2100 assuming that people will finally wake up to the peril of doing nothing. Doom and gloom books almost always try to end on a hopeful note but this attempt at a happy ending really falls flat after reading the book.  I will let the reader draw their own conclusions.

     I will now have to levy my own criticism on this book because David left out perhaps the most important fact about global warming and climate change.

I assume he must know and understand the point I am about to make and omitted it because it likely would have torpedoed the publication. Here it is and it is bleak reality. The economy IS ENERGY and Energy, that is  FOSSIL ENERGY is the ECONOMY. Remove fossil energy and what do you get?  You answer the question. Wind and solar “renewable” will never replace Fossil energy at our current scale despite what Gretta Thunberg and AOC say . I have covered this so called migration to renewables in previous posts and will not bother to recapitulate my reasons. Hop on the gangplank my friend and enjoy your last trip on our fine new ship with a grand name, don’t you think? HMS Titanic. I like the way it rolls on the tongue. ……..

Now for my personal conclusions and predictions with apology to Davis Wallace-Wells . Leslie Gore said it best:” It’s my party and I can cry if I want to…….cry if I want to…cry if I want to…. You would cry too if it happened to you…”   This economic industrial growth party will be over when we run out of oil, gas and coal which should happen if we’re lucky before climate Armageddon. It will be only then that we can finally bury the Myth of Progress once and for all. No one in this country at least, is going to give up their F150s and their sprawling suburban paradise because of alarmist climate nonsense. The machine will just keep rolling along until the great derailment. Climate hysteria? Fake news pardner.

Should you take the New Covid VaCCINE?

 I

Should you take the Covid 19 vaccine?

 I have studied and blogged about the Covid pandemic since early February and I have followed treatment and vaccine development with interest since then recommending tiered approaches of prevention and management to friends and family. The first tier is to build up your natural immunity with diet, exercise and vitamins and supplements thought to be useful. I have scoured the world literature and media reports and one does need to maintain skepticism no matter the source. Early on the WHO and the CDC issued misleading and entirely wrong assessments and recommendations and I relied upon European and Asian studies early on. It does appear that Vitamin D in 5000 units/day along with selenium and zinc confers resistance to Covid but this is not well supported by properly constructed US studies. There is no downside to their use in moderate amounts. There are many companies rushing their vaccines to market utilizing some tried and true vaccine technologies while others are using revolutionary genetic sequencing methods. Most companies use either  injection of messenger RNA of the Spike protein of the sars covid-2 virus. Pfizer and Moderna’’s trials use this technique.  Messenger RNA is very fragile and these RNA chunks are encased within a protective fatty shell or nanoparticle. They then get into your body’s cells and instruct your protein making machinery of ribosomes to make copies of the virus spike proteins which allow the body to recognize the real Covid invaders spike protein and thereby mount an immune response firing up the various components of the immune system.  This is a new technology and may have risks to some in our population such as those with autoimmune diseases, a class of diseases poorly understood. The clinical trials were run by Pfizer and Moderna and were not large or lengthy. Importantly, the 95 % efficacy reported is a measure of “relative” not absolute risk. Example: over 99% of the participants in both vaccinated and placebo groups DID NOT get Covid. More in the placebo group did but the numbers were very small. Only 95 cases of Covid occurred in the Moderna  trial and most were in the placebo group. The PCR test used did not mention how many”cycles” were used in the run which influences  positive results. Was the cycle frequency the same in both groups? Side effects were minimal The vaccines were not administered to all age groups and duration of immunity is unknown. The immunity does appear to last at least two months which is when the results were released. The Oxford(UK) AstraZeneca vaccine uses an inactivated Chimpanzee cold virus bonded to the mRNA spike protein. Participant numbers were small and only vaccinating those between 18 and 55 and there was some question of dosing regimens. The most widely distributed vaccine is the Chinese vaccine by Sinopharma using traditional methods of an inactivated corona virus which has been given to over a million people. Unfortunately data on the efficacy is sketchy and hampered by poor US/China relations.

The Russian Sputnik vaccine also uses a human adenovirus bonded to spike protein. Results and efficacy is anecdotal..

Novovax is a US company using a wacky idea of selecting the baculovirus, an insect virus to get the spike protein into Moth(!) cells who then produce the proteins which are somehow captured. This technique is called “protein subunit” technology. Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline are also using this protein subunit method. So then what to think?

  Here are my conclusions based upon preliminary reliable information. The trials are relatively small in extent and duration.  They are certainly RUSHED. The project is called Warp Speed. Duration and intensity of immunity is unknown. Not all age and racial groups both healthy and those with compromised health were tested nor were children, infants or pregnant women or patients on chemotherapy or immune rejection regimens. Could these RNA subunits provoke genetic mischief down the line?  Corona viruses are sturdy stable viruses but mutation in the spike protein would likely doom these vaccines. DNA is robust and RNA falls apart quickly so this is probably a safe new technology but there is no way to know for sure. One thing is certain. The companies are in it for the money. Billionaires are being minted daily under their roofs. These vaccines are not polio vaccines which were open source vaccines in the public realm. Unregulated profit driven proprietary vaccine development is problematic by its very structure. The US medical establishment is rushing new and expensive vaccines into distribution and not bothering to test inexpensive promising vaccines from other countries from non US companies. I plan on waiting.

Hugh Owens MD,  Wilson

Book Review of The Story of More and Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

It has been a while since my last blog post in this second decade of the 21st century. We have all been occupied with the Covid 19 virus and finding time to read anything besides escapist literature has been difficult along with trying to keep a little subsistence farm afloat but winter has hit the Wyoming mountains early and with the landscape turning snowy dark and deep, I am finding time to reflect upon these changes to our region and the planet. This book by Hope Jahren PhD, a Minnesotan living in Norway was a pleasant perspective.

Hope Jahren PhD is an utterly engaging and easy to read author of scientific subjects. Her first Book “Lab Girl” was a NYT bestseller dealing with her scientific and teaching career.
The Story of More is her latest short book published this year(2020). The sub title”How we got to climate change and where to go from here” is in some ways incomplete but I’ll give you her slow to evolve conclusions: Burning fossil fuels releasing carbon dioxide is generating global warming. ‘’ll also give you her “where to go from here” segment: USE LESS and SHARE MORE.”:
The structure of the book is uniquely hers if not anthropocentric. She was born in 1969 in a small town in southern Minnesota whose economy had one big employer, the “Hog Kill”, a meat processor operating in a rural region encircled by Corn and soybean fields. She uses her 51 years to show how the world had changed in her 51 years. Early in the book she said we have 4 resources: “Earth, the sky, the ocean and ourselves”. This is not a unique idea as the ancients said the key elements were earth, air, fire, and water. Notice that the ancients did not consider “ourselves” an important element nor do I. I regard “ourselves” as part of the problem.
Hope breaks her book into 4 parts: (1)Life, who, how and where we are
(2)Food: for these inhabitants: grains, meat fish. (3) Energy: and its impacts on us and the planet and and (4) more impacts on same, including melting icecaps, rising seas, changing weather etc..
Her book is an extensive data recital of human resource consumption of the planet and the alterations it has induced. She uses no footnotes but offers a complete source list of her data at the end of the book, She includes no graphs or pictures which might have been useful. Her writing style is conversational and digresses at times into her upbringing and teaching and research career and unrelated topics such as her chapter on high fructose corn syrup and its impact on diet and health.
Her conclusions and recommendations at the end mirror the title. She says that the world population has doubled since she was born in 1969 and that it will probably “never have less than 7 billion people.” Her recommendation to solve these looming risks to the planet are an egalitarian sharing of these resources as a means of combating inequality of access to opportunity, health, education and communal happiness. It is a sunny view of life reflecting her optimistic outlook.
I feel that as a reviewer I must point out shortcomings and omissions in her treatise.
My biggest critique of her book is that while she has an entire section dealing with Energy, she misses its significance on how it altered the world in the last 250 years of the Industrial Revolution. She misses the WHY and HOW of the changes on the earth wrought by the availability of the unexpected but the all too brief energy bonanza of fossil fuels. For example the population explosion occurred first and foremost because of the availability of industrial food production, processing, and distribution of food and goods made possible by the concentrated energy of Oil, particularly diesel oil. She also makes the common mistake of how many of these fossil resources remain to be discovered and consumed as she conflates “resources” and “reserves.” Nowhere in the book does she address the Economy and the role of energy. Bluntly, Energy IS the Economy and energy consumption is the root of all the positive and negative changes it has made to the human civilization and the natural world. She may very well be aware of all of this but it is absent from the book. She entirely lacks an ecological perspective of the world and all its living components such as the concept of “carrying capacity” or “Overshoot and collapse.” Reference her statement that “The earth may never have less than 7 billion people.” Hope Jahren gets many factors well integrated into her arguments but her naively optimistic Kumbaya conclusions at the end of the book were unconvincing to this reader.

I include a review of Hope’s first book, Lab Girl because I regard them as companion reads.

Binging during the current Covid pandemic has been a popular pastime for many of us but instead of binging on Netflix I have been binging on Hope Jahren and it has been a wild ride indeed. I started with her newest book, the Story of More and moved backward to her wonderful wacky and informative Lab Girl. Lab Girl is a manic and compelling gallop through her varied and tumultuous and rich life, part memoir, part Botany textbook, part biography of her remarkable partner Bill(Bill WHO?).  She flits in and out and forward and back from her stolid  Norwegian Minnesota  upbringing at the knee of her scientist teacher father whom she adored. The book follows her journey through college at U of Minnesota to graduate work at Berkeley and a succession of teaching and research jobs  in Atlanta, Johns Hopkins ,Norway and U of Hawaii. In all of these places she sets up housekeeping in her self- constructed labs ably assisted by her pal, chum, research fellow, Bill the Armenian, as quirky a character as you are ever likely to meet.  The book is most remarkable for its unique structure of short chapters revealing detailed and fascinating vignettes of the secret life of plants overlaid upon her unpredictable and rash hijinks  in and out of her labs. I called her life a manic gallop and it becomes apparent that her mania is real because she is bipolar. She is also a genius at word and sentence construction explaining complex scientific matters to complexity of emotions all the while trying to prevail in a man’s world. She reminds me of Ginger Rogers who did every dance move of Fred Astaire but did it backward and in heels! There is little stability  and security in most of Hope’s life but somehow she wings it and manages to soar to the kind of heights only possible to a person who has total confidence in her abilities as a scientist,  a woman, and even a wife and a mother.

    One advantage of reading an authors’ book out of chronology is seeing the germ of the next book growing within the first. In her Epilogue she writes” Our world is falling apart quietly. Human civilization has reduced the plant, a four hundred million-year-old life form into three things: food, medicine, and wood. In our relentless and ever intensifying obsession with obtaining a higher volume, potency, and variety of these three things, we have devastated plant ecology to an extent that millions of years of natural disaster could not.” There you are: The Story of More. Lab Girl’s companion book. Read this 5 star book and The Story of More with or without your mask. Social isolation and distancing was never so much fun.