*** PLEASE NOTE ***





*** PLEASE NOTE *** I use no other social media, and my comment section here remains closed due to chronic harassment/repeat impersonations by a certain individual. Also, I rarely comment anywhere; when I do, only from this blog as "Chrysalis" or with my real name from email (see correct spelling my profile). If there is ever any question as to legitimacy, please contact myself or Mark via email or phone.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

When Black Friday Online Shopping Goes Awry ... :)


So I've been Black Friday online shopping like a mad woman, especially since my boss sent me a referral link to Rakuten and many of the stores they partner with were/are offering 10% to 15% cash back yesterday (and some through the weekend), instead of their usual 1% to 6% cash back - which of course is in addition to whatever sales they have going on.  


My boss has been using Rakuten for the past few years and says it's totally legit, she gets cash back regularly.

Along the way, though I usually don't click on click-bait "articles"  around the bottom of news sites, but I saw this one from investing.com about orders gone horribly wrong - "What I Ordered VS. What I Got" and had to check it out because the pictures said it all lol.

Some are from Amazon, but most are from Ebay, Wish.com, and AliExpress, so buyer beware at those site.


Now, with Amazon - they're actually pretty awesome - no one else even comes close.  They've only "done me wrong" one time, in fact, but it was a shipping-label mistake by the sender.  Instead of my usual subscribe-and-save shipment of dental floss, I got an 18 plus-size black jersey dress! LOL.  

(I'm sure that lady that was expecting the black dress got the bigger surprise when nothing arrived but an industrial-pack size shipment of dental floss lol.)


However, some tips about shopping Amazon ...


If you don't have Amazon Prime yet, I highly recommend it - not only is shipping free and faster, but they provide an extra guarantee with your purchases.


However and still - always, always, ALWAYS check the reviews - especially pictures sent in by people who have ordered and received the item.  


Note there are lots of Chinese sellers on there, and they are typically NOT Prime items and will take weeks to receive and you have to pay extra shipping - and this is when you run the most risk.  

Although truth be told, I did take the risk once and ordered some throw pillow covers from China,  and they actually came through beautifully, so not always a problem; however, I knew I was taking a risk and they weren't very expensive, so if it turned out badly, not much money was lost, either. 


Also note  - when checking the reviews, check not just the item, but the reviews for the actual seller.


Also note that sometimes sellers will switch the product description to a prior ad that had positive reviews - and you won't know unless you check the reviews with pictures, and you see it's a completely different item from the one you're trying to purchase. ;)


Lastly, folks - sometimes you just get what you pay for.  If something appears to good to be true for that price, it probably is. 


Anyway, without further ado, I give you the warning pictures of Black Friday orders gone wrong - safe shopping! 


Now, this first one, I'm not sure if the order was wrong or this person just didn't read the dimensions first, or perhaps her cat needs to got on a diet - regardless, pretty sure this isn't going to work ...





The "3-foot pool" - get it? 







Not to be outdone in the literality department is, of course, the "used chain saw" ...






Hm, Aladdin doesn't look to happy with his tiny magic carpet ...





You think the factory workers are trying to tell us something?  I mean, it is China ...





The rest need no intro ...




























Wednesday, November 25, 2020

'Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving ...

 

All the prep/pre-Thanksgiving work is done, with the main cooking still to come, tomorrow :)




Cornbread (for the stuffing), pumpkin pie, cranberry-brie tarts (first trial batch, as I hadn't made them before), and spinach-bacon-swiss quiche for breakfast :)

Happy Thanksgiving!


PS - I've since discovered that I have a couple more neighbors who'll be home alone and won't be traveling to visit family, this year, so good thing I always overcook - thus, I'll be dropping food off on doorsteps with an N95 mask and gloves, looking like some kinda early, crazy, surgical secret Santa, I don't know lol - but I'm in hopes it'll give a smile, anyway :)





Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Remember Wanda Dench, the Thanksgiving Grandma, Who Accidentally Texted Jamal Hinton to Dinner?

 You may remember Wanda Dench, the Thanksgiving Grandma, who in 2016, warmed our hearts, when she thought she was texting her grandson, but instead texted stranger, Jamal Hinton, inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner.  Jamal corrected the mistake, but then jokingly added, "Can I still get a plate, tho?"  lol.




Wanda told him he could, and that she was serious - come on for dinner - so he did - and they have had Thanksgiving together ever since :)




Well, some sad news on that front - Wanda's husband, Lonnie -  who always said the Thanksgiving prayer - passed away from COVID-19 this year :(




Wanda had a small thanksgiving this year, with just her daughter, grandson, and Jamal and his girlfriend - and a place set at the table for Lonnie.




Like I said below, no matter how isolated, lonely, bank-breaking 2020 may have been for you, there is always someone for whom 2020 was even worse. 

So get outside yourself - reach out to them, in some way, safely - let them know they're not alone?

Also remember that if someone else is experiencing good things, help celebrate and share in their joy :)

Either way, remember, thanksgiving isn't "all about us" - the spirit of Thanksgiving is about sharing what we have with others :)



Sunday, November 22, 2020

Lighter Posting This Week, So Sending My Happy Thanksgiving Thoughts Now :)



Good Sunday morning before Thanksgiving, to ya :)











In addition to Thanksgiving, this week also kicks off the busiest season for my work - which is transcribing interviews for an NYC independent marketing firm between pharma companies, key-opinion-leader clinicians, and payers/insurance companies, trying to get their final opinions in on new drugs are either studied or launched in the coming year.

Only just now are the interviews coming in for COVID treatment - and NOT the vaccines, just treatment or prep - sorry, nothing you haven't really heard of yet, so no "scoops" on anything.  Truth be told, I couldn't tell you even if there was, but there really isn't anything that isn't already public news ;)


And though we won't be having anyone in house for dinner, I will be cooking for some neighbors - a father and his three sons, his oldest being both a stellar football athlete AND scholar - who was just accepted to Boston College, University of Virginia, and Notre Dame based on academics, now weighing which football scholarship offering is the best option for him, at these schools, and he will be practicing on Thanksgiving day, then playing the following day.  

This is also the neighbor I've mentioned is first cousins with Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor's boyfriend. 

And let me tell you something - this man is the hardest-working father I have ever known.  

He's a former marine, and in a addition to his regular job, is also a football and basketball coach at a local Christian school, and shares custody of his three sons with his equally hard-working and absolutely lovely ex-wife, who coparent the boys amicably -  and he still finds time to scrape the ice of the windshields of his neighbor's cars before we wake up, and drops off firewood for us, like a secret Santa lol.

He does everything he could possibly do for his boys, running himself ragged, and he will have no time to cook, nor will he get to have his normal Thanksgiving with family, this year, as both he and his ex-wife do not want to risk COVID, with so much on the line for his son.  

Since I always overcook anyway, I am happy to make sure he and his boys, and his ex-wife, if she would like,  get a good, hot meal on Thanksgiving and share what we have with them :)


Now, I know that Thanksgiving, this year, is going to be a bit different for us all.  

And it's okay to be sad about that, to miss loved ones, feel a bit lonely - but that's the point, this year, the lesson.

It's times like these where we can't do what we want that should make us even more grateful for the good times, not taking them for granted, as we may have in times past.

And as someone once told me long ago, a though which got me through the darkest time in my life previously - never forget, as bad as you may feel and things might be for you, there is always somebody worse, believe me.

So this Thanksgiving, if you need you need to shed a tear for lost or far away loved ones, or more times past, do it - it doesn't make you weak or negative - it makes you human, and it reminds you not to ever take any of it for granted again.

However, when you're done shedding that tear, remember that things could always be a lot worse - so spend a moment in the spirit of Thanksgiving and grateful for those things, being grateful for what you still have, as well as being grateful and sharing the joy for good things that are happening to others   - believe me, you'll find more than you think  you do :)

Thus, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone - there's always light and joy somewhere, if you look - and if you look in the right places :)




If you're curious, here's what's on the menu ...


- Rosemary and sage brined turkey with cranberry sauce.

- Southern cornbread dressing/stuffing.

- Corn pudding (a Kentucky original).

- Brown-sugar roasted butternut squash.

- Green beans with bacon.

- Russet and sweet potato stacks au gratin.

- Pumpkin pie.

- Cranberry and brie tarts.


Happy Thanksgiving! 




Saturday, November 21, 2020

I'm Just Going to Say This One Thing Only About Residual Election Concerns ...


(*Edited - census bureau figures from census.gov added.)

If you haven't noticed, I haven't mentioned the election fight much, because I figured I'd just let it play out legally, fair justice or not.

Considering there's not been any evidence - well, that hasn't been investigated that turned out to be not at all what the "headlines" and captions on videos claimed they were - I figured Trump would eventually hang himself.

Especially considering there are Trump-supporting Republican election officials, circuit and federal judges, in many of these states, and accusing them of fraud/rigging/corruption wasn't exactly the smartest way to go.

Local people know their own better than Trump, and they don't much care for federal people accusing their own local Republican officials of fraud/rigging/corruption, nor calling even their local Republican officials who supported Trump (until now), "RINOs" and "CINOs."

In fact, what I predicted would happen has mostly happened - - because without legitimate evidence, Trump has lost over two dozen of his legal cases thus far.


Again - I am NOT saying that there aren't small pockets of election fraud, on BOTH political sides, actually, by personalities so inclined, but they are usually ferreted out by others in the community immediately, and are typically not widespread, and are thus not likely to affect the outcome in the larger election.


However, with regard to being down to the final wire, here, on certification, with just a few areas left, here's a novel idea - once again, why don't we return to trying to use our independent, critical-thinking skills and basic common sense, for a change - thus allowing me to say this ...


If you're a Trump supporter, you might be interested in the following census bureau figures regarding the black populations of the counties that Trump is still contesting,  not even counting those self-identifying as biracial ...


Detroit (Wayne County) - 82% black. 

Atlanta - (Fulton County) - 54% black. 

Philadelphia (Philadelphia County) - 42% black. 

Milwaukee (Milwaukee County) - 27.2% black.


Therefore, if you truly believe these final 4 areas of contention - with clearly higher-than-the-national average percentage of black people (also registered as Democrats) when compared to most other US cities  - would ever vote for Trump instead of Biden, would ever need to suppress the small number of votes that did arrive for Trump, or would ever suppress their own voters? 


Then you really are living in your own little world, and perhaps on another planet, and are in dire need of getting outside of your own little over-privileged, likely suburban or rural white community bubble, as well as you perhaps might be in need of antipsychotic medication and/or cult deprogramming? lol.





Instead, consider another possibility - that the voting suppression efforts going on might actually be instead from their accusers, trying to find more ways to silence their voices and votes? ;)



Because as sane, smart people have learned, over the past few years, when it comes to Trump, the only thing he's king of is projection - projecting his own misdeeds/efforts onto others to deflect off his own  - in other words, when it comes to Trump, the smeller is usually the feller lol.


Regardless of how many times Trump loses legally, there will be those that continue to support him because that is how dysfunctional family/group dynamics work, according to systems theory in psychology ...

According to systems theory in psychology, truth and facts don't matter, in dysfunctional families/groups - they need to believe what they need to believe, regardless of truth and fact, to receive certain perceived "family" benefits still, however small ...

... because the alternative - that what they did, supported, enabled, or otherwise went along with -  just because more in the family group need to believe it, rather than truth and fact -  is simply too threatening for their psyche to handle ;)







Friday, November 20, 2020

PS on Vaccine News ...



Now, look at Pfizer, trying to get FDA approval on emergency use of their vaccine, when we don't even know the full side effects or who is eligible yet lol.

Okay, but this is prevention, not actual treatment?

But heck, yeah, they gotta be the high-price setters -  knowing that even if others come in underneath, they'll still be able to give the most rebate kickbacks to the insurance companies, plus get to that big piece of the market-share/profit pie first, and to hell with whether or not its truly safe, I guess.

I mean, this is brand-new technology, mRNA treatment.  Five years from now, someone could develop a zombie-like appetite for human lungs, for all we know, or they care, at this point, just so long as they get to set the price and made a quick buck in the beginning lol

In addition to Moderna, AstraZeneca and DNA have released info on their vaccines, you see, and Pfizer wants first dibs on profit ;)

I don't know about y'all, but when the FDA, the CDC, the WHO, EMA and NICE, The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, The American Society of Infectious Diseases, Medscape, Nature Magazine  and my personal physician all agree and tell me it's safe to use, I'll consider it, but not until ...





White Supremacy Flyers/Fliers Found Outside Lexington Homes

(*In the U.S., either "flyers" or "fliers" are acceptable spellings.  The articles I read on this subject from the LHL and WKYT channel 27 spelled them "fliers.")


This is actually the second time this has happened, the first was in August - and the white supremacy group "14First" has publicly taken responsibility for them.  

The fliers/flyers were left in varying upscale suburban neighborhoods in baggies, weighted with rocks, particularly in the yards of Jewish, Muslim, and black families ...




PS - By the way,  not related - two days ago, some white dude -  that doesn't live in our neighborhood - got out of his SUV, bypassed all our neighbors, and came directly to our door and knocked, without a mask - never going to our neighbors to knock. 

We don't know him, he doesn't live here, and he wasn't wearing a mask, so we didn't answer, and he left - without knocking on anyone else's door.   

It could be nothing, maybe even just sales - but again, he didn't go to anyone else's door, he just left when we didn't answer.

Whoever you are, even if good intent - if you're not wearing a mask, this door doesn't open - sorry.

It's funny, just a year ago, before COVID, had someone knocked on a door with a mask on, we would've opened it.

Actually, let me revise that - if you're wearing a mask or gator with some scary sh*t on it, which may or may not include MAGA-related stuff on it - this door doesn't open either lol.






Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Empire Strikes Back: Pfizer's New Press Release (lol)


Updated x2 :)


As I mentioned in the below post, we knew this was coming - Pfizer has responded with more info, after Moderna's more complete press release, considering Moderna went ahead and answered more questions in their initial press release than Pfizer initially did.

Pfizer just announced their late-stage trial results proved their vaccine to be 95% effective (rather than preliminary phase 2 results of 90% initially reported), had no side effects, prevented both severe and mild forms of COVID, and had long-lasting immunity.


Hmm.   

Now, that's all very interesting - because not only does their own clinical trial phase 1 study at clinicaltrials.com list "fever" as the first primary outcome, but we've seen interviews on the news of people who were part of Pfizer's vaccine study, who said they had high fevers, felt like they got hit but a truck, or like they had a "bad hangover" for a few days?

Also interesting because Pfizer imagines they have a crystal ball and can predict "long-lasting immunity" after only six months, when they couldn't possibly know that yet, no one does lol

But that's big pharma for you ;)


IMO, this doesn't help Pfizer - it actually makes their claims look more dubious - so still leaning towards Moderna, then - sorry.  

But of course, my insurance would dictate which one we get anyway, based on who offered them the best contracting/rebates ;)


As for government intervention, the federal government can't dictate which vaccines or medications that private/commercial insurance companies and doctors choose, only for public insurance like Medicare and Medicaid. 


HOWEVER, what federal government can do, and will likely do - if they haven't already - is legally mandate COVID a protected class, like cancer or HIV are now, so that commercial insurance companies will be mandated to offer all options by law, they won't be allowed to exclude any vaccine options or medications that have been FDA approved. 


This means that all options will be available on Medicare and Medicaid at a similar price  - but not necessarily the same price -  contracting/rebates are still allowed and prices still vary, the price of drugs is just held within a range.


HOWEVER -  with private commercial insurance, just because private insurance is mandated to cover all options for a certain disease (like HIV) doesn't mean at the same price, and that they won't have restrictions and step edits to force you to choose the one they want you to - they can and most certainly will, putting so many restrictions and step-throughs in place that virtually no one will get the non-preferred brand.

So having different prices for things like this sounds good in theory for free enterprise, but look what happens in practice, in America ...


The "preferred" option on commercial insurance does NOT necessarily mean the most efficacious  drug, nor even what actual participating providers prefer to prescribe  - all that "preferred" means - all things being equal/having similar efficacy on vaccines/drugs in a larger population -  is that your insurance company will then choose a "preferred" medication based solely on the contracting/rebate deal the manufacturer gave your insurance company.



And guess which manufacturers usually wins the contracting deals - big pharma, because they can afford to offer the best financial rebates ;)

This is why doctors often get up in arms about not having control over what they want to prescribe for their patients' individual/personalized needs or other comorbidities you might have in addition to that diagnosis, being at the mercy of financial deals their private insurance companies made based on similar efficacy in a larger population trial.


Now, for a vaccine, this likely means, the "preferred" option will either be offered 'free' (or covered by your premiums already) or go on a tier 2 or 3, branded with a copay, and any other options (manufacturers who did not give them the best deal) will go on specialty tier at a premium coinsurance price - usually over $100, at the very minimum.

Thus, we are then at the mercy of which company offers the best contracting deal to our insurance companies, unfortunately, and will have no say, possibly with the option of paying more out of pocket if we want another "non-preferred" brand.  


See, that's the thing that people don't understand, when it comes to having subsidized/socialized healthcare - they hear the word "subsidized" and "socialized" and panic - but it doesn't mean "socialist" in the traditional sense, there are still choices and price variations. 

It's times like these, with vaccines, when having socialized healthcare can actually help you -  you actually get more choices - plus increase the likelihood you will get the best drug for your condition and background, rather than the cheapest drug to your insurance company.

If your condition is a government-protected class (i.e. cancer, HIV), on public healthcare, all choices are allowed at a similar price (but not the same price, contracting still applies), and your doctor and you get to choose what's best for you, not the government nor your insurance company, based on contracting deals  - though some restrictions may apply, i.e., attestation/documentation of your diagnosis may still be necessary, etc. 

If your condition is not a protected class, the government may not include that particular drug on their public insurance formulary, if the price is above a certain range, until the manufacturer lowers the price within what the government has determined to be a fair-market range. 

This is opposed to our current system of private insurance company getting to dictate the "preferred" drug - again, not based on the best efficacy for you, but based on the best financial incentives/rebates for themselves.

It doesn't make us socialists, to have just our healthcare subsidized/socialized - it puts the actual health needs of our population above the almighty dollar, ensuring all options are available to your doctors and to you, at an affordable price, keeping within a particular range the cost of healthcare - and manufacturer contracting/rebates still apply, so there's still price variation. 


EXAMPLE: Let's say you're pregnant and you want the vaccine to protect yourself and your unborn. You want Moderna's vaccine because of its extra focus arm testing on safety during pregnancy.


Both vaccines have similar efficacy - and both cost $500,000 per shot (I just made up that figure, which actually isn't beyond the realm of possibility with the price of current drugs today).

Pfizer offers your insurance company a discount of 25%, plus rebates of $1000 bucks per dispense.  Moderna offers them a 20% discount with $100 rebate per dispense. Your insurance company now chooses Pfizer's vaccine as the better deal. 

Now, what happens?

Well, you can get Pfizer's vaccine for "free" (covered under the premiums you already pay), but will have to pay $1000 coinsurance to get Moderna's vaccine on specialty tier. 

Now - what CAN happen is your doctor can appeal it and file a medical exception for you because you're pregnant, based on Moderna's clinical trial and the FDA-approved label, if it mentions something about safety for pregnant women, but it will be denied the first round, then a second appeal, and it will be a fight between your doctor and your insurance company, for a couple of months before it's approved, if it is.


Also - and I doubt this would happen with COVID vaccines, but it does happen with other drugs - some less ethical insurance companies could conceivably make you "step through" Pfizer's vaccine first, and fail it - meaning you caught COVID - before getting Moderna's.


That last one is a very remote possibility with COVID vaccines, because we would hope that insurance companies would do the right thing when it comes to COVID at least, but it does happen with other drugs, quite regularly.


Not to present insurance companies as the (only) bad guy, here - insurance companies are actually trying to help control the out-of-control, skyrocketing, price-gouging costs of  drugs, in this way - but also, let's face it, still make a profit.

However, IMO, everyone does not fit the general population that participated in the trial, people are individuals with other unique mix of conditions that should be considered, and thus, it is the providers and clinicians themselves who should be making these decisions on what's best for the patient, not finance people at the insurance company.


Now, when I said "government" above, I mean rational government officials working on a task force or committee and making these decisions as a team, who do not behave like communists, fascists, or monarchs.

However,  if your name is Trump, apparently you're allowed to peddle whatever brand you have hedge fund shares in yourself or who support you politically, using false facts to sell you on it lol. 

At present, however, Trump is taking credit for both via Twitter, though he literally had nothing to do with the development of either vaccine lol


PS - 11/20/20





Updated x2 :)


As I mentioned in the below post, we knew this was coming - Pfizer has responded with more info, after Moderna's more complete press release, considering Moderna went ahead and answered more questions in their initial press release than Pfizer initially did.

Pfizer just announced their late-stage trial results proved their vaccine to be 95% effective (rather than preliminary phase 2 results of 90% initially reported), had no side effects, prevented both severe and mild forms of COVID, and had long-lasting immunity.


Hmm.   

Now, that's all very interesting - because not only does their own clinical trial phase 1 study at clinicaltrials.com list "fever" as the first primary outcome, but we've seen interviews on the news of people who were part of Pfizer's vaccine study, who said they had high fevers, felt like they got hit but a truck, or like they had a "bad hangover" for a few days?

Also interesting because Pfizer imagines they have a crystal ball and can predict "long-lasting immunity" after only six months, when they couldn't possibly know that yet, no one does lol

But that's big pharma for you ;)


IMO, this doesn't help Pfizer - it actually makes their claims look more dubious - so still leaning towards Moderna, then - sorry.  

But of course, my insurance would dictate which one we get anyway, based on who offered them the best contracting/rebates ;)


As for government intervention, the federal government can't dictate which vaccines or medications that private/commercial insurance companies and doctors choose, only for public insurance like Medicare and Medicaid. 


HOWEVER, what federal government can do, and will likely do - if they haven't already - is legally mandate COVID a protected class, like cancer or HIV are now, so that commercial insurance companies will be mandated to offer all options by law, they won't be allowed to exclude any vaccine options or medications that have been FDA approved. 


This means that all options will be available on Medicare and Medicaid at a similar price  - but not necessarily the same price -  contracting/rebates are still allowed and prices still vary, the price of drugs is just held within a range.


HOWEVER -  with private commercial insurance, just because private insurance is mandated to cover all options for a certain disease (like HIV) doesn't mean at the same price, and that they won't have restrictions and step edits to force you to choose the one they want you to - they can and most certainly will, putting so many restrictions and step-throughs in place that virtually no one will get the non-preferred brand.

So having different prices for things like this sounds good in theory for free enterprise, but look what happens in practice, in America ...


The "preferred" option on commercial insurance does NOT necessarily mean the most efficacious  drug, nor even what actual participating providers prefer to prescribe  - all that "preferred" means - all things being equal/having similar efficacy on vaccines/drugs in a larger population -  is that your insurance company will then choose a "preferred" medication based solely on the contracting/rebate deal the manufacturer gave your insurance company.



And guess which manufacturers usually wins the contracting deals - big pharma, because they can afford to offer the best financial rebates ;)

This is why doctors often get up in arms about not having control over what they want to prescribe for their patients' individual/personalized needs or other comorbidities you might have in addition to that diagnosis, being at the mercy of financial deals their private insurance companies made based on similar efficacy in a larger population trial.


Now, for a vaccine, this likely means, the "preferred" option will either be offered 'free' (or covered by your premiums already) or go on a tier 2 or 3, branded with a copay, and any other options (manufacturers who did not give them the best deal) will go on specialty tier at a premium coinsurance price - usually over $100, at the very minimum.

Thus, we are then at the mercy of which company offers the best contracting deal to our insurance companies, unfortunately, and will have no say, possibly with the option of paying more out of pocket if we want another "non-preferred" brand.  


See, that's the thing that people don't understand, when it comes to having subsidized/socialized healthcare - they hear the word "subsidized" and "socialized" and panic - but it doesn't mean "socialist" in the traditional sense, there are still choices and price variations. 


It's times like these, with vaccines, when having socialized healthcare can actually help you -  you actually get more choices - plus increase the likelihood you will get the best drug for your condition and background, rather than the cheapest drug to your insurance company.

If your condition is a government-protected class (i.e. cancer, HIV), on public healthcare, all choices are allowed at a similar price (but not the same price, contracting still applies), and your doctor and you get to choose what's best for you, not the government nor your insurance company, based on contracting deals  - though some restrictions may apply, i.e., attestation/documentation of your diagnosis may still be necessary, etc. 

If your condition is not a protected class, the government may not include that particular drug on their public insurance formulary, if the price is above a certain range, until the manufacturer lowers the price within what the government has determined to be a fair-market range. 

This is opposed to our current system of private insurance company getting to dictate the "preferred" drug - again, not based on the best efficacy for you, but based on the best financial incentives/rebates for themselves.

It doesn't make us socialists, to have just our healthcare subsidized/socialized - it puts the actual health needs of our population above the almighty dollar, ensuring all options are available to your doctors and to you, at an affordable price, keeping within a particular range the cost of healthcare - and manufacturer contracting/rebates still apply, so there's still price variation. 


EXAMPLE: Let's say you're pregnant and you want the vaccine to protect yourself and your unborn. You want Moderna's vaccine because of its extra focus arm testing on safety during pregnancy. 


Both vaccines have similar efficacy - and both cost $500,000 per shot (I just made up that figure, which actually isn't beyond the realm of possibility with the price of current drugs today).

Pfizer offers your insurance company a discount of 25%, plus rebates of $1000 bucks per dispense.  Moderna offers them a 20% discount with $100 rebate per dispense. Your insurance company now chooses Pfizer's vaccine as the better deal. 

Now, what happens?

Well, you can get Pfizer's vaccine for "free" (covered under the premiums you already pay), but will have to pay $1000 coinsurance to get Moderna's vaccine on specialty tier. 

Now - what CAN happen is your doctor can appeal it and file a medical exception for you because you're pregnant, based on Moderna's clinical trial and the FDA-approved label, if it mentions something about safety for pregnant women, but it will be denied the first round, then a second appeal, and it will be a fight between your doctor and your insurance company, for a couple of months before it's approved, if it is.


Also - and I doubt this would happen with COVID vaccines, but it does happen with other drugs - some less ethical insurance companies could conceivably make you "step through" Pfizer's vaccine first, and fail it - meaning you caught COVID - before getting Moderna's. 


That last one is a very remote possibility with COVID vaccines, because we would hope that insurance companies would do the right thing when it comes to COVID at least, but it does happen with other drugs, quite regularly.


Not to present insurance companies as the (only) bad guy, here - insurance companies are actually trying to help control the out-of-control, skyrocketing, price-gouging costs of  drugs, in this way - but also, let's face it, still make a profit.

However, IMO, everyone does not fit the general population that participated in the trial, people are individuals with other unique mix of conditions that should be considered, and thus, it is the providers and clinicians themselves who should be making these decisions on what's best for the patient, not finance people at the insurance company.


Now, when I said "government" above, I mean rational government officials working on a task force or committee and making these decisions as a team, who do not behave like communists, fascists, or monarchs.

However,  if your name is Trump, apparently you're allowed to peddle whatever brand you have hedge fund shares in yourself or who support you politically, using false facts to sell you on it lol. 

At present, however, Trump is taking credit for both via Twitter, though he literally had nothing to do with the development of either vaccine lol


PS - 11/20/20





Now, look at Pfizer, trying to get FDA approval on emergency use of their vaccine, when we don't even know the full side effects or who is eligible yet lol. 

Okay, but this is prevention, not actual treatment?


But heck, yeah, they gotta be the high-price setters -  knowing that even if others come in underneath, they'll still be able to afford giving the most rebates on contracts, plus get to that big piece of the market-share/profit pie first, and to hell with whether or not its truly safe, I guess. 

I mean, this is brand-new technology, mRNA treatment.  Five years from now, someone could develop a zombie-like appetite for human lungs, for all we know, or they care, at this point, just so long as they get to set the price and made a quick buck in the beginning lol

In addition to Moderna, AstraZeneca and DNA have released info on their vaccines, you see, and Pfizer wants first dibs on profit ;)

I don't know about y'all, but when the FDA, the CDC, the WHO, EMA and NICE, The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, the American Society of Infectious Diseases, Medscape, Nature Magazine  and my personal physician all agree and tell me it's safe to use, I'll consider it, but not until ...



Tuesday, November 17, 2020

My Preliminary Thoughts on the Moderna Vaccine



I wrote my preliminary questions and concern on Pfizer's vaccine here (or 5 posts below). 

Moderna's clinical trial can be found here.   

Essentially, I have the same questions/concerns for Moderna as I have for Pfizer (see that post), other than those questions Moderna already answered for us, that Pfizer hasn't yet (but I'm sure they will).

Otherwise, just a brief comparison of what I noticed is is similar and what is different, based on just a quick glance of both clinical trials from clinicaltrials.gov and press releases: 


1.  Both use the mRNA (or messenger RNA) of SARS-CoV2 rather than the actual virus. 

 

2.  Both were open-label trials, tested in phase 1 in healthy adults, with an extensive exclusion list; however, Moderna allowed some other health conditions within specific parameters, in phase 1 (see below).  It is presumed both expanded their inclusion in phase 2 (results not yet published).  

3.  Both require cold storage (with Pfizer's cold storage requiring an unusual amount of cold - see below).


Again, off the cuff in a brief glance - what's different: 


1.  Pfizer's phase 1 trial was ages 12 and up, while Moderna's phase 1 trial was ages 18 and up.

 

2.  Pfizer's phase 1 trial contained 43,000 participants,  while Moderna's trial population contained 30,000 participants.

 

3.  Though Pfizer's phase 1 trial was larger by 13,000, Moderna's was more inclusive (see below) and more effective - Pfizer's press release from phase 2 trials say it's  90% effective, Moderna's press release says 95% effective.   

 

4.  Pfizer ruled out essentially anyone with any other health condition for phase 1, while Moderna's phase 1 trial allowed certain health conditions within specific parameters - i.e. renal disease with an eGFR of <60, COPD requiring medications, severe heart disease requiring medications or intervention - which essentially means if you have these diseases, but do not yet require intervention, you could be part of Moderna's phase 1 trial.  Also, you could be a recent smoker for Moderna's phase 1, but under 56 years of age. 

 

5.  Moderna's trial had an extremely careful focus on effects on reproductivity in both men and women, heavy emphasis on ruling out pregnant women - which is actually very, very wise, considering we don't know the effects of RNA therapies on reproduction yet. The reason for this is not because we have any evidence whatsoever that mRNA affects reproductivity, it's just that they're choosing to be safe rather than sorry - very smart. 

 

6.  Pfizer did not press release any information at all about the 10% of patients who failed the trial and contracted COVID anyway.  Moderna claims the less than 5% who contracted COVID contracted the mild form.

 

7.  Side effects for Pfizer's vaccine are preliminarily reported to be fairly significant - fevers, fatigue, aches from 2 days to a week, whereas Moderna claims less severe side effects that last a single day. 

 

8.  Pfizer's vaccine requires storage at -70 degrees Celsius, while Moderna's vaccine requires -20 degrees Celsius. This many not seem like a big deal to you and me at first, but it's a big deal for storage in pharmacies and healthcare facilities that are not equipped with cold-storage facilities to that degree - which means we will care, because this will incur an extra expense that will be tacked on to insurance bills.

 

 



I'm still concerned about the safety and tolerability of both, especially long term, and still have more questions - as I said, for those, see the post on Pfizer. 


It will also depend on what my insurance company allows (which essentially will boil down to contracting and who offers them the best contracts/rebates, unfortunately), and I would have to do more research, but if these were the only two options over time, I'm leaning towards Moderna - IF I eventually feel the vaccine is safe over time.


The reasons for this are not just better overall efficacy, but because Moderna had a more inclusive phase 1 trial from the get-go, still within specific parameters, but still turned out with better efficacy; they were extremely careful when it came to concerns about monitoring for any mRNA effects on reproductivity in both men and women, and were very specific in what type of COVID phenotype the participants who failed the trial contracted.


Above all, I admit, I may have a bias because Moderna isn't "Big Pharma" - they're a smaller company, which means they aren't privy to political investment and influence - at least not yet ;)


But again, same concerns/questions I had for Pfizer's vaccine still apply, before I do.



Sunday, November 15, 2020

Give It Up for The Tireless Josh Gates, America, for Entertaining Us All Throughout The Pandemic :)






BIG round of applause, for nonstop giving us fresh, semi-live shows and Zoom interviews, simply to keep us entertained throughout this entire pandemic, beginning on April 1st, on a live show on Discovery called "Josh Gates Tonight." 




When everyone else was airing reruns or took extended breaks, Josh was interviewing interesting people via Zoom from the beginning  - and even found a way to entertain us in his backyard, with a bullwhip, where he practiced using a bullwhip accurately, like his hero, Indiana Jones lol.  




He just started Season 2, two weeks ago, taking only a small break in between seasons. 

I posted about him in this post back in April, before I'd seen the live nighttime show, about his regular show called "Expedition Unknown," keeping me entertained during this pandemic - interesting topics, delivered with his stereotypical good nature and irrepressible optimism, with a side of goofy - good will just exudes off the man, as well as a great sense of humor :) 




He also avoids politics - though recently, just before the election, he made some little off-the-cuff joke hints of where he stood (and I breathed a sigh of relief, to be honest) - but not about anyone in particular or directly, so it's a good watch for everyone :)

He's recently increasingly caught the attention of the A-listers, during this pandemic  -  to the point where just a few days ago, Matthew McConnaughey and his son, Levi, were on the show, after Levi asked him to watch Josh with him, as he's a big fan - and also, Matthew was promoting his new book, "Green Lights." 




I'm not sure why, but I started calling him "Joshie" a while back, as a term of endearment and it stuck lol.  I think it went like this ...

 

My husband, Mark, was like, "Argh, There's nothing new on.  No sports, nothing.  Again.  Guess I'll be watching Michigan State games from the 90s. Again! Oh, wait, Josh Gates is on, his semi-live nighttime thing."

 

Me:  "Aw, good man, Joshie Josh - he never lets us down, tireless, and always entertaining.  Yes, let's see what misadventures he's getting into tonight."

 


Joshie Josh ... ????


Lol, yeah, I don't know why - but we just went with it -  so now Josh Gates is AKA "Joshie" around here.

So ... Go Joshie! lol

America loves you, I knew they would in time, once they "discovered" you :)

Thank you for entertaining us throughout all of this 2020 cray cray!  






Friday, November 13, 2020

Election "Fraud" Claims: Suburban Trump Karens VS. Karma (Also Named Karen?) :)


(PS Added, edited for typos/clarity) 


I just read some complaints from a few of the affidavits that the Trump campaign collected, according to the National Review (who received copies from The Blaze)The National Review, of course, is a conservative publication, started by famous U.S. Conservative, William F. Buckley.  I've also read complaints at other sites, both liberal and conservative.


Erm - these seem to be claims of mostly white suburban Trump women of "feeling outnumbered" and "mistreatment" by Trump poll workers by non-Trump poll workers - they are NOT voting irregularities.

(And I'm pretty sure the Democratic poll worker in hiding, right now, after being threatened with his life has his own story to tell about "mistreatment" and "harassment" could file an affidavit of his own - but even his affidavit wouldn't be a "voting irregularity," either.)



I am NOT saying mistreatment or harassment is okay, on either political side - but those are NOT voting irregularities.

I also am NOT saying that SMALL pockets of voter fraud didn't happen - on either side politically, with personalities so inclined.

What I AM saying is that filing affidavits to the Trump campaign about "feeling outnumbered" and "mistreated" may warrant an investigation into better working conditions for all poll workers -  on both political sides - but they do NOT constitute "evidence of voter fraud" - which is why Trump's lawsuits are going nowhere.

I am also saying that even if every single one of these voter-fraud accusations were true, they aren't widespread and very small - and thus not likely enough to change the  outcome of the election.



Again, we're still open to the idea that there was voter fraud, as Trump keeps claiming without evidence (which he has said before, during, and after both elections, including a task force in 2017 that he had to dismantle himself because there was no evidence of illegal voting fraud) - but we have yet to see even one piece of credible evidence that there were illegal votes and voter fraud. 

And the videos I've seen?

Well, the poll worker who supposed threw away a ballot was investigated, and it was found to be that he was doing exactly as instructed - he threw away the ballot instructions, which some people accidentally mailed back along with the ballot - he was NOT throwing away the actual ballot itself. 

Other videos I've seen aren't proof of anything - like the video of two men not in uniform picking up ballots and placing them in big canvas bags and putting them in an unmarked van that went viral.



Erm - FYI for idiots and other gullible people who don't do their homework in favor jumping to conclusions which support what they already want to believe ...

Here in Fayette County, at least, our 7 official ballot drop boxes were provided, monitored, and ballots were collected directly by our county clerk's office/election officials - who don't have or wear uniforms -  then postmarked by USPS.   (In fact, this is specifically why we chose the county clerk's drop box rather than a regular USPS box.)

Once again - as far as I am aware, here in Fayette County, our county clerk's office/election officials do not have or wear uniforms.  

Most importantly, note that the two non-uniformed men on that video neither broke in to the box, nor did they take the whole box  - they clearly had an actual key which opened it!



Even if it were the USPS collecting them, I can see where not wearing uniforms and being in an unmarked van would be wise, so not to draw attention to themselves, to avoid thieves and/or harassment from bystanders, so I don't blame them - as long as they had an actual key. 

Putting them in large canvas bags probably isn't the safest way to transport them, no, but that's actually what USPS uses to collect regular mail, plus I've seen plastic bins without lids for our group mailboxes at our apartment community, too.  


I'm not sure if the people sharing these videos are really this gullible and stupid themselves, or they just think/hope that we are lol.

Regardless, I haven't seen one video that shows what the click-bait title says it shows and that can't be otherwise explained and were legitimate  - plus they were all investigated, in these mostly Republican-administration states, who pretty much came to the same conclusion - they are proof of nothing and the videos do NOT show what the click-bait titles say/match the accusations.


If anyone has any credible evidence of actual voter fraud, rather than "they treated me very badly/they were mean to me," in true Trump fashion, we'll be happy to review it - but no one does.

Speaking of which, after reading many of these, they actually sound like a bunch of true Karens  - a "Karen" meaning a falsely entitled, over-privileged, bored, never-satisfied, gossipy, judgmental white woman from the suburbs, who complains to management over the tiniest slight - who are just mad they didn't receive special treatment and special poll-watcher/observer conditions, as white suburban women showing up to poll watch in inner cities.)

I recall being asked privately not to talk about the election anymore by several Trumper friends on Facebook (I'm no longer on FB, btw), and even some liberal friends who kowtowed to the others, and asked to post about "puppies and kittens" instead, to help unify - even posting to that effect  - and a couple even called us "snowflakes" and "whiners" and told us to "Suck it up, Buttercup - are you triggered?" and "get over it" publicly on Facebook -  just because we were still talking about the election loss on Facebook  - literally two days after the 2016 election.


I responded by posting a YouTube clip of the absurd song "Springtime for Hitler" from the musical, The Producers - and encouraging my liberal friends to "Dance with me, fellow peasants!  We, the court jesters, are being asked to entertain Trump Nazi royalty, and should comply! Dance, peasants! " LOL

It's no secret that I'm outnumbered as a liberal here, in Kentucky, as well as where I grew up (suburban Cincinnati) - and this was my way of making a joke out of the pressure to post about what the Trumpers stated they wanted to see (and those trying to kiss Trumper butt).

Well ... I thought it was hilarious, and so did my small group of liberal friends - not so much my Trumper friends (the ones who even understood the joke).

Needless to say, I'm no longer on Facebook, and I now have maybe two Trumper friends left lol - and I'm okay with that, actually :)

Not to mention, that was only two days after the election - and never were any lawsuits filed, Hillary conceded, and Obama turned over the keys to the White House shortly thereafter.

Though I'm NOT going to do the same and bully back/call names for people being sad or mad over the election, because I know what the loss feels like.

And that is because though I'm sometimes a smart ass, I'm still an advocate for basic human common decency, maturity, sympathy/empathy, and being the better person :)

However, I will say that this is more proof that bullies - when not projecting their own issues onto others entirely (no truth whatsoever in what they're bullying about) - otherwise often actually bully because know they struggle with the same issues they're bullying others about  - only 10 times worse, desperately trying to deflect attention off of it ;)


And I will add, speaking of Karens -  maybe this is karma for Karens - and that karma itself may be a Karen - because she's a real bitch, too, isn't she? :)

(However, Karma Karen is more fair and righteous, in her justice,  than a bunch of bored, wealthy, overprivileged, never-satisfied, judgmental, gossipy suburban white women, I'm sure  ;)


PS - 

Right after I wrote this, AP announced that the Trump legal team has withdrawn from Trump's Pennsylvania case, I guess the Georgia by-hand recount was completed (?) and Georgia was called for Biden, and we already knew Arizona was called for Biden this morning, and North Carolina was called for Trump - all three states will now need to be certified. 

That should end it.  


Trump Republicans, keep in mind that these were 3 separate states with Republican-led administrations and bipartisan election officials. 

Thus, there is no way all of these people - including registered Republican officials, many of whom supported Trump - would be lying on behalf of Democrats, I'm sorry. 


Whatever dubious deeds were done - IF there even were any - were clearly not widespread, and not enough to affect the election outcome - it is what it is, and Biden won - period.

And it is time - way past time - for Trump to concede.