Israel's rise in deaths

Delivered on By Justin Pyvis

Good morning! You know it’s election time when all the dirty laundry of the past few years is aired out to dry. Last week it was former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who reportedly texted an unnamed Liberal cabinet minister that ScoMo is a “horrible, horrible person”, to which the minister replied “Absolute psycho”.

But it got even juicier over the weekend when Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, via text message of course, apparently said the following about ScoMo back in 2020:

“He is a hypocrite and a liar from my observations and that is over a long time. I have never trusted him and I dislike how he earnestly rearranges the truth to a lie.”

It’s going to be… interesting to see how the Liberal party PR department handles this one three months out from an election.

Reading the tea leaves

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Note: Brent oil, gold bullion and iron ore prices are the second futures contract. Bond yields are 10-year Treasuries. The S&P500 is a snapshot 30 minutes before close.

The US S&P500 notched up its best week of 2022, closing Friday up 0.52% to finish 1.5% higher for the week. Markets were reassured with a series of positive earnings reports from Amazon, Snap and Pinterest, which helped allay broader tech concerns following Facebook owner Meta’s absolute shocker on Thursday.

Also helping boost sentiment was a much stronger-than-expected jobs report (+467,000 payrolls versus +125,000 expected), sending the 10-year Treasury yield above 1.9% to its highest level since December 2019.

Locally, the ASX200 gained 0.59% to notch up its biggest weekly gain since December, propelled by Amazon’s positive after-the-bell earnings report which eased fears of a tech-tagion after Meta’s horrific showing the day before.

Food for thought

More vaccinated than unvaccinated are getting sick but only because there are a lot more of them.
More vaccinated than unvaccinated are getting sick but only because there are a lot more of them. Source

Israel is currently going through its fifth and most deadly wave of the pandemic, leading some – such as our very own Clive Palmer – to claim that:

“And the other lies that are being told is that if you go to Israel today, 94% of all people in hospital have had the double jab. So it it doesn’t cut down on hospitalisation, it doesn’t stop you getting it, it doesn’t stop you passing it on.”

In Israel there are currently 513 unvaccinated, 131 partially vaccinated and 557 vaccinated seriously ill COVID-19 patients in hospital. The divide is even greater if we filter for only those aged over 60 (which make up 82% of hospitalisations), where the seriously ill number 390 unvaccinated, 109 partially vaccinated and 485 vaccinated.

In other words, 49.3% of the over-60s who are severely ill are vaccinated while just 39.6% are unvaccinated. It’s not as drastic as Palmer claimed but certainly appears to support his point, until you look at one more chart which shows that the over 60 population is almost 90% vaccinated.

When we adjust for the denominator effect (seriously ill patients per 100,000 people), the number becomes 403 unvaccinated, 128 partially vaccinated and just 35 vaccinated.

There are a few lessons we can take from these data, other the obvious insight that you may want to think twice before taking health advice from Clive Palmer.

Perhaps the most positive takeaway is that virtually no one under the age of 60 is seriously ill, which should give jurisdictions where the elderly are heavily vaccinated, such as Australia, the confidence to stay open: the existing vaccines are excellent at preventing severe disease.

But another other important insight is that existing vaccines – even booster shots – don’t seem to do much to prevent the transmission of Omicron. While some of that might be because Israel has a relatively low vaccination rate amongst the prime spreaders (those aged 20-49 are only ~76.5% vaccinated), recent studies suggest that even booster shots are “insufficient [for] prevention of symptomatic infection in otherwise healthy individuals”.

Bits and bytes

⛷️ Jakara Anthony won gold in the women’s moguls, becoming just the sixth Australian to win a gold medal at a Winter Olympics and first since the 2010 Vancouver Games.

📈 The Reserve Bank of Australia released its latest Statement on Monetary Policy showing that it now expects inflation to remain above 3% throughout 2022, peaking at 3.75% in the June quarter.

🔥 Another two bushfires are raging in WA’s south west and have so far burnt around 5,000 hectares, with warnings issue for Bridgetown-Greenbushes and Denmark and several shires.

⛸️ Host nation China took home its first Beijing winter Olympic gold medal in the short-track speed skating mixed team relay despite finishing third in the semi finals, after two teams were disqualified to send them through to the final.

🚛 GoFundMe will refund $9 million worth of donations made to Canada’s ongoing “Freedom Convoy 2022”, saying it violated its terms of service.

🔬 A paper published on a preprint server in May 2021 claiming ivermectin reduces COVID-19 hospitalisation by 52%-76% was withdrawn for “spreading misinformation… [as] part of, and justification for, a government program that unethically dispenses (or did dispense) unproven medication”.

🦗 Justin Langer resigned as coach of the Australian men’s cricket team after he was only offered a six-month contract extension.

🥶 The United States men’s soccer team coach admitted he “want[ed] it to be freezing” during his team’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras, which was played in St. Paul, Minnesota, where the temperature reached -17C.

🎠 Ever wanted to see Kim Jong Un riding a white horse? You’d be in luck – there’s now a North Korean propaganda movie for that.

✈️ Speaking of North Korea, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said of the situation in WA: “You can’t even travel around your own country… it’s starting to look like North Korea.”

🤷‍♂️ 2052? Federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham asked WA Premier Mark McGowan when he will open the state’s border: “The question of ‘if not now, when?’ remains. If not under these circumstances, under what circumstances?”

🌊 The SAS released drone footage of flood-damaged roads in Glendambo, SA.

🛑 Five of UK PM Boris Johnson’s top aides resigned within 24 hours of each other “following a week of turmoil at No 10”.

🏉 Wallabies captain Michael Hooper won the John Eales Medal (player-voted best and fairest) for a record fourth time.

🏄‍♂️ Kelly Slater won his eighth Pipeline Pro just six days shy of his 50th birthday and 30 years after he won it for the first time.

🎙️ Spotify “has quietly removed more than 110 episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast”, after a compilation emerged showing the influencer repeatedly using a racial slur.