A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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Political obliteration: The Right sold out their base on sovereign borders and climate change

There are lessons for conservatives from this eclectic election in the most isolated state on Earth. It was historic, epic, and “A complete and utter landslide“. And the message is “borders”. Remember “Build the Wall?” Conservatives all around the world seem to have forgotten the power and appeal of being able to control who and which viridae, come across the border. If the Democrats in the US fortified the wall, they might not have to fortify election results.

It’s a complete blitz. | The West Australian

The election Saturday was a wipeout of legendary proportions among democracies anywhere. Only four years ago, the Liberals (conservatives, theoretically) were the ruling party in Western Australia. Today they hold but two, as in one plus one, seats in the lower house of the WA Parliament, out of 59. They may win 3. The Labor Party took 58% of the first preference votes (that’s almost unheard of). Labor will take the Upper House too. See: WA Election Results. Things are so extreme, the talk now is how the Parliament is not big enough to hold the Labor M.P.’s. The rooms are just not designed for one party having almost […]

In Peru, Ivermectin cut covid deaths by 75% in 6 weeks: cheap, safe and quite ignored

How many unnecessary deaths does it take til people get angry? Angry that the Chief Medical Officers and Health Ministers didn’t ask for studies to be done. Angry that most academics sat by and said nothing. And angry that the media just parroted the institutions.

One good antiviral changes everything. If the world had a safe cheap drug, we could not only reduce deaths and disability, but also slow the rate of mutation down and probably slow the appearance of new mutations down.

The Chamie-Quintero study from Peru shows the West could be only weeks away from reducing the Covid death toll if we used the safe cheap sheep-dip, lice-killing Ivermectin like less wealthy countries do.

A study across the states of Peru found that after Ivermectin was introduced, deaths started to fall about 11 days later, and within a month after that, deaths were down around 75%.

Ivermectin is a drug so useful early researchers got a Nobel Prize in Medicine for work on it. It’s so well known that in the last thirty years more than 3.7 billion doses of Ivermectin have been given out. It’s so safe we can use it on cats […]

Where are the deaths? Ten reasons the first and second Covid waves look so different

In Europe the second wave is setting new records for daily cases but not for deaths so far (thankfully). So the big question is whether this will stay the same or follow the case tally up.

It’s probably not an accident that infections are spreading fast in mid October. Not only was it late summer in Europe, but the virus has been spreading mostly through 15 to 24 year old healthy young people and when Vitamin D levels were high. But as the Northern Hemisphere tracks away from the Sun, vitamin D levels are falling, temperatures are dropping, and the sterilizing rays of ultra violet grow weak. And, as the days grow colder people gather indoors too. Viral doses are rising.

The enduring scandal of the epidemic is that there are so many ways to treat this virus but they’re not expensive enough for the TGA to recommend them. ;- )

Lots more cases but not many deaths

Exhibit One: The United Kingdom

Some people have used this graph to claim the virus poses no threat. But it isn’t that simple.

UK New cases and Worldometer Deaths graph. (Click to enlarge)

Ten reasons death rates were lower in Europe’s […]

Covid tricks — spikes block pain pathway — hiding the infection

Another day in the strange world of Covid

A new finding suggests Covid-19 doesn’t just bind to the ACE2 receptor, it also binds to a key pain receptor called neuropilin-1 receptor (NRP-1). This could explain why some people with a high viral load are asymptomatic and infectious but unaware they are unwell. It’s like the virus is arriving with it’s own morphine. In theory this might be a successful adaption from the virus’s point of view as it may increase the spread of the disease if infected people wander around able to shed virus for longer.

Despite being fed up with the WuFlu, the efficient perfidy is something to behold (at least to a microbiologist). It’s like a pocketknife.

On the down side, the virus may still be damaging tissues in this painless state, which might explain some of those findings of lung and heart damage even in mild or asymptomatic cases.

There is at least one potentially very nice payoff. The finding from the University of Arizona, may lead to the design of whole new painkillers based on the coronavirus spike that is “better than opioids”. The lead author says he has been contacted by people who had […]

Signs of life on Venus?

All around the world are dawning headlines wondering if we have founds signs of life on Venus.

Despite the hunt for life on star systems that are lightyears from Earth, it turns out there may be something on the Planet-next-door. “May” being the operative word. A team found phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus and can’t think of any other way it could have got there. Phosphine is considered to be a biomarker. And microbes on Earth would have no trouble making it, though none of them could easily survive on Venus where the atmosphere clouds and rain are nearly pure hot sulphuric acid.*

Scientists find gas linked to life in atmosphere of Venus

Ian Sample, The Guardian

Sara Seager, a planetary scientist on the study at MIT in the US, called the finding “mind-boggling”. She hypothesises a lifecycle for Venusian microbes that rain down, dry out and are swept back up to more temperate altitudes by currents in the atmosphere.

For 2bn years, Venus was temperate and harboured an ocean. But today, a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere blankets a near-waterless surface where temperatures top 450C. The clouds in the sky are hardly inviting, […]

Good news: masks, means more asymptomatic infections and less severe ones

It appears people who wear masks are much less likely to get severe infections

This will make some heads spin.

Child Wearing a a Mask. Author

Not only do masks reduce the odds of getting infected, but if people do get infected while wearing a mask — the severity of Covid is so much milder. With masks on, the odds of getting an asymptomatic infection improve. Masks don’t stop all viral particles but they stop the large droplet clusters, and thus reduce the viral load. If asymptomatic people get some protection (and we still don’t know for sure) it could solve so much.

Consider the two cruise ships where the asymptomatic rate varied from 18 to 81%:

One used masks and one didn’t:

In February, one of the first outbreaks of COVID-19 outside of China occurred on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan. Of the 634 people on board who tested positive, about 18 percent of infections were asymptomatic. In March, an Argentinian cruise ship found itself in a similar predicament, but of the 128 people on board who eventually tested positive, 81 percent were asymptomatic— Ghandi et al.

Nations that use […]

How to ignore 94% of Covid deaths?

Be wary of junk data and junk conclusions

Death data has become a political tool (stretched both up and down by vested interests). We’ve all heard of the motorcyclist who crashed into the Covid tally, and the payments for US docs. We know there’s junk data out there, but the suggestion we only count deaths “from” Covid, and not the deaths “with” Covid is unscientific in the extreme.

Stick with me. We all want WuFlu to be nothing, but scientists and skeptics need to pick their targets carefully. Don’t lose sight of the real scandal and the real solutions. It’s a travesty that people are dying while cheap vitamins and antivirals are being ignored. Let’s fight for Vitamin D, HCQ, Ivermectin, and all the other potentials like Interferon, Bromhexine, Melatonin, steroids, asthma drugs etc etc. But let’s not get distracted by a hopeful fantasy that the true US “death tally” is only 6% of Covid deaths in the US.

There’s an idea out there that only 9,680 people have died of Covid in the US, not 161,392 people. It’s because of this CDC quote:

“For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with […]

Even cough syrup might actually work against Coronavirus

I didn’t think cough syrups even worked against coughs, but one new paper suggests that bromhexine in common cough syrups reduces both Covid-19 rates of ICU and of mortality.

The era of antivirals has come, not that Big Pharma want you to know that cheap out-of-patent drugs might help. But for years we were told that medical science didn’t have an answer to viruses.

Bromhexine was patented in 1961 and is commonly found in OTC pharmacy cough syrups with names like Bisolvon, Robitussin, and Duro-Tuss (Wiki has a long list).

Theoretically Bromhexine sabotages one of our molecules — with the snappy name of TMPRSS2 (which is shorter than saying Transmembrane protease S2). A protease is a fancy pair of molecular scissors, it chops or tweaks the viral spike and if that doesn’t happen, the virus can’t get into the cell (at least not through its favourite path).

The nice thing about an antiviral acting against our molecules, rather than against the virus itself, is that it’s harder for the virus to mutate to get around it. That means it’s less likely the virus can develop resistance. The downside of targeting our own molecules is that it might fritz things up. […]

Reinfection and T cell immunity — does the common cold give us protection against Coronavirus?

The first case of a definitive reinfection was reported today

Before we look at whether a cold gives us protection let’s point out we don’t know how well a SARS 2 infection gives us protection.

A 33 year old man in Hong Kong was tested positive nearly five months after his first infection, and with a slightly different variant of the virus, so it’s very likely this was a second infection rather than a resurgence of the first. It hints that Covid may be a bit like the common cold, and our immunity may be partial and temporary which is not good news for the herd immunity idea and the vaccine plan, but it’s only one case. On the plus side, he had a three day fever, cough and sickness in March, but is asymptomatic this time, suggesting that maybe there is enough residual immunity to help him beat the second infection.

There have been other reports of people getting reinfected but none of the previous cases had genetic testing of both infections to show they were different. But 13% of 4,000 doctors who were surveyed in May (even at that early stage) believed that at least one of their […]

Australians wiped out the flu and avoided 50,000 other cases of sickness and disease

Lessons from Coronavirus

Lockdowns and border closures mean many diseases have been prevented

It’s peak season for flu here in Australia and there’s almost no sign of it. As Chris Gillham wrote here back in May, we know lockdowns stop viruses, because flu cases are 85% down. Now he shows that this extends to other diseases too, and Chris has used data from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System to calculate that just shy of 200,000 fewer Australians contracted any of the notifiable diseases in the first seven months of 2020 compared to the first seven months of 2019.

Is some of that disease burden just the price of holiday-makers bringing back diseases from overseas each year?

No one wants to stop the planes returning to the skies, but it begs the question — do we have to accept the onslaught of winter germs every year?

The answer may lie with other things we’ve discovered in the Covid pandemic too — that sick people should stay home from work and school, and that we have a lot of anti-viral tools we can use. Perhaps it’s time that travellers considered taking preemptive anti-virals, which might improve their holidays and also reduce […]