Rubber Meets the Road.

Let’s start where I want to end this topic, and I know you won’t like me saying this. The pandemic is likely to swagger around more than anticipated. If we anticipated it to end sooner, if not early 2021, it bores disappointment. It’s just not the delay in rolling out the vaccine. Let’s see the multitude of issues why the pandemic is likely to last longer.

Vaccine Nationalism is an integrated world is unlikely to protect a nationality unless the borders are strictly closed. Well, any isolationism and walls are unlikely to stop the Humboldt of global integration. If the rich or the have (those with technology), are planning to cover their nationals, the virus is likely to linger longer in those deprived.

What are the consequences?

Most of us are aware of the new mutations in the virus that imposed an immediate lockdown in the UK. This mutant variant is secondary to the virus gaining survival by mutating and escaping. Such mutants are like to hamper our interventions right from screening to vaccination.

Is it a global vaccine rollout?

Of course nor, the vaccine rollout has started in the EU, UK, US, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, and a select few countries. However, several countries are lagging behind either because they have no funds or no technology or logistics to deploy a complex vaccine delivery program. Add to that the regular protagonist of the ‘conspiracy theory’ school, and you compound the problem to a level of practical reality.

Surprise – Many doctors are evading vaccine

I was surprised to see practicing doctors avoiding vaccines. This is not an isolated but a pervasive phenomenon. There are still lingering doubts about the virus getting integrated into the human genome, which is unlikely to happen. Another misconception is heavy metal contamination of the vaccine. You and I are more exposed to the unknown quantity of heavy metals in our produce from Mexico or the disposable material we are exposed to. First, I may disagree if such contaminations are possible with the vaccines, and even if those were, it is unlikely that you get a significant dose to perturb your system. Another misconception that is going around – that the vaccine is made in cow or pig. I just piety these folks who work on churning the rumors mills devoid of research, reasoning, and rationale.

The cold chain and logistics

It is a formidable challenge to manage the cold chain in a diverse world like ours, even if we presume that vaccination will be adopted uniformly. Having worked as a molecular oncology fellow, I know that especially the RNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer need a distinct cold chain, and any disruption is likely to compromise the efficacy of the vaccine significantly. Now consider the vast and remote corners where the vaccines have to be carried out if we were to target complete eradication of the virus.

These are not easily surmountable challenges and devoid of a strategy and execution plan that is customized to individual locales (countries, regions, etc.), it is unlikely to achieve the desired goal of covering 60%-80% population. If the virus lingers, it will mutate and likely stay with humanity for longer than the expected period of time. It will evade our detection gold standard, such as RT PCR. It may create resistance to drugs such as Remdesevir, or worst, become more aggressive and, last, render our vaccines useless. That’s why we vaccinate ourselves annually for flu.

Let us hope for the best.

Hope is not the best strategy; instead, hope is the worst strategy. A thorough understanding of the global target population dynamics vis a vis the vaccination program is required. Strategies alone cannot help; execution of the plan will be the harbinger to success. Until then…

I wish you all a very safe 2021!

Shashank Heda,

Dallas, Texas

The Culpable Trend Continues

Of course, we saw during Covid how China suppressed the Covid investigation, manipulated the data and cleared the crime scene.

Recently, I saw news that China is targeting a GDP of 8 and above fir 2021. It is no news that China is under severe debt, industry is recuperating to gradual recovery, (and of course it will be, because its global customers are still reeling under recession), and it has quadrupled its expenses during a time depleted revenue flow and persistent pressure of aggressive spending on aggressive militarization.

Credits: John H Tuckers, The Riverfront Times

Now comes the real news

It has suspended the regulating agency which rates the progress. And why not? It has to, if it needs to pain all hunky dory, like the old style communist propaganda.

Eventually, we know, with one stroke of Perestroika, the entire communist castle came crumbling down. It’s just a matter of time, such artificial models have no sustenance, they glitter like a nighttime bugs, and lose the flare with the arrival of twilight.

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

Chinese regulator suspends rating agency over Yongcheng default

Sleep Walking

Let’s scratch the surface

You all know how the bulls are raging on the stock markets globally. Most indices have skyrocketed while the economies of the world are reeling under covid.

Credits: Ben Carlson,

In a world full of non-ideal things, this one is no outlier, not because the markets display anomalous behavior but because the sentiments are so disconnected from the ground realities.

They say Covid is a disease of the affluent. Though I may disagree with that observation, however, stock market sentiments are the affluent’ sentiments. None of us want to see it lose, so we succumb to sentiments than the bottom line of individual companies comprising the index.

What’s so wrong if stocks are rising, especially in a sagging economy?

Absolutely a great question. Let’s understand the dichotomy and the disconnect. Presume my shares from a listed company shot up by 27% in the last nine months; obviously, I gained those. That offers a relative advantage over those struggling to survive and sustain.

However, let’s understand the stimulus bill. If only we have a great economy, ideally, we would not have the required stimulus. Interest rates would not have been low, millions would not have defaulted on their payments and mortgages, and unemployment would have been on the decline.

When the indicators are not connected with the ground reality, we are bound to land up in a ditch. Just imagine my leg is on the gas paddle, and I am pressing it hard; my car is cruising at astonishing speed, but the indicator says 22 mph.

When the indicators do not capture realities, we live in the castle, when the bourgeoisie falter, that revolutions are born. To douse the fire, we provide stimulus and subsidies. The vicious cycle keeps going endless while we churn a class of have-nots and increase the chasm with the have’s.

Global stock markets form K-shape as investors search for growth

Emergent Variants and Infectivity

SARS CoV2 is continuously mutating. However, at least three mutations are known to have an impact on various aspects of the pandemic. N501V1.0, B.1.1.7, and D614G each have an impact on the pandemic. These mutations may impact the diagnostic testing, severity, infectivity, efficacy of the vaccine, modulating the effect of medicines (such as Remdesivir) and finally, recalibrating the policies. Thus, the most appropriate action immediately after understanding the new variant is to evaluate the potential impact on public health. (898 words, reading time 4-5 minutes).

SARS CoV2 is continuously mutating. However, at least three mutations are known to have an impact on various aspects of the pandemic. N501V1.0, B.1.1.7, and D614G each have an impact on the pandemic. These mutations mat impact the diagnostic testing, severity, infectivity, efficacy of the vaccine, modulating the effect of medicines (such as Remdesivir) and finally, recalibrating the policies. Thus, the most appropriate action immediately after understanding the new variant is to evaluate the potential impact on public health.


Recently, at least two aggressive variants have been identified, one in the UK N501V1.0 and the other, B1.1.7 in South Africa. Multiple spike protein mutations define these variants. Apart from the nine mutations or 20 mutations on either of the variants. deletion 69-70, deletion 144, N501Y, A570D, D614G, P681H, T716I, S982A, D1118H. It has multiple spike protein mutations (deletion 144, A570D, deletion 69-70, N501Y, D614G, D1118H, P681H, T716I, and S982A).

D614G is increasing in frequency at an alarming rate”. It had rapidly become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 lineage in Europe. It had then taken hold in the United States, Canada, and Australia. D614G represented a “more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2 (

What are the implications for diagnosis, the severity of the disease, policies, infectivity, and efficacy of the vaccine?

  1. Diagnosis: Ideally, at least two epitopes are considered while designing an RT PCR test for SARS CoV2. One of the proteins is on Spike protein. If the mutation affects the exact domain as the epitope, there is a strong possibility of redesigning the primers for RT PCR. Labs should revisit their primer design if those are based on the S-gene.

Does that invalidate the Antigen based or Antibody-based test? Possibly the first one may need to be revisited closely. However, the antibody test may still be valid and relevant.

  1. Severity: Severity of the disease is depends upon intrinsic factors, whereas infectivity is based upon extrinsic factors, predominant amongst those are the avidity and affinity of the virus for the receptor ACE2, and priming of these receptors via TMPRSS also plays a significant role.

However, noteworthy amongst the intrinsic factors are the IFN genes. A down-regulation, Loss of heterozygosity, methylation, or other factors that reduce the expression is one of the major putative factors in the progression of severity.

  1. Policies and Complacency: Just today, I read the news that there are no new cases in Mumbai. Absolutely, hats off. Great achievement, but let’s not forget the empire strikes back. Right now, Mumbai and places like Mumbai have dismantled their Covid hospitals. We need to be prepared earlier or possibly better if the virus strikes back. These mutations come at a (mis) opportune time of vacations, Christmas and New year when the society wants to revile and enjoy with their near and dear ones.

Some communities are basking that Covid has disappeared from their communities. Often, mutations within the virus are likely to be highly deleterious, preventing the invasion of the virus into the host resulting in the purging of the population. Policymakers need to understand that selective mutation in the virus might have conferred a disadvantage to the virus, rendering the virus into oblivion. However, aggressive variants like the one from the Uk or South Africa, may rekindle the reinfection within the community. I will caution; kindly watch out; it’s not over. The enemy strikes best when we let our guards down, a perfect situation for a storm.

  1. Infectivity: R-actor will be affected since the new variant is more infective if not aggressive in severity. The new variant is estimated to increase the reproductive number (R) by 0.4 or greater, along with an estimated increase in the transmissibility by 70%. Those R factor reporters will be back into play. However, remember, the R-factor has less reliability. It’s not a game of statistics. The complexity is compounded by several factors. R factor experts should reinvent themselves.
  1. Effect on the Vaccines: it is too early to say if these variants are likely to affect the efficacy of the vaccine. If the mRNA vaccines are designed on the epitopes with putative mutants, it is likely to affect the vaccine’s efficacy. However, it is too early to say that.
  2. Effect on Medications: The D614G variant has a mutation that affects the action of the drug Remdesivir. The new mutants from the UK or South Africa may or may not have any impact on the known mechanism of the existing drugs.

In a nutshell:

SARS CoV2 is known to mutate at least once in two weeks, primarily because of three distinct mechanisms – a. the RDRP enzyme’s intrinsic vulnerability during replication resulting in proof-reading errors, b. host RNA-editing systems, which is considered as a defense mechanism, and c. existence of multiple lineages simultaneously in the same patient (

Another possible mechanism for the emergence of a variant is the persistent and prolonged infection, thus offering the virus an opportunity to evade the immune mechanism, called an immune escape. (

We have to revisit our primer design, severity, policies, and operational procedures, while the studies will unravel the impact on vaccine efficacy. R factor experts should consider renegade, relent, and renovate their R factor formulae and models to guide the policymakers and community.

Shashank Heda, MD
Dallas, Texas

How Can I Prevent COVID-19?

A Case of Complacency – Pachangas, Funerals, and Marriages

Well, you all know Salsas, the Mexican dance that enthralls all adolescents and adults. We Cha Cha and Pachanga are similar festivities that are celebrated amongst the Mexican, irrespective of their region. Before COVID and yes, despite COVID, Mexican families met to celebrate their family union, with dance, food, and music, to celebrate their families’ oneness and bondage.

These Pachangas that kept them together ultimately served the death notice via COVID-19. Pachanga’s and COVID-19 are rampant amongst the Spanish in Texas, and families are dying like flies. It’s tragic and painful, full of pathos to leave behind the loved one.

Funeral and Marriages:

People have been meeting over funerals in Dakotas, and that has lit the fire on COVID-19. Well, the stories are not very dissimilar in India. The only difference is that rather than being a departure, it is a union. People have been meeting over marriages and contracting COVID-19. Similar stories resonate here in the US amongst Indian families. Bored at home, people have started socializing, and the incidence of COVID has taken an upward trend.

Well, I need to tell you the story of a mother, a wife of a doctor who is deeply involved in the care of COVID. The doctor, his wife, and all the kids got COVID-19. How? The mother was always following cautions; however, on a specific business trip, she encountered a vendor without masks. Of course, he was asymptomatic. That rolled the story for COVID-19. Complacency, of presuming that the vendor is without symptoms and ok to have a meeting without a mask, started it all. As of now, the entire family of six is in the hospital, and if we are fortunate, will recover from COVID-19.

So these are three different stories from three continents. The first from the Mexico-US border (Southern Texas). The second from Russia, and the third from India.

Well, is Six feet enough? All these events are a clear indications that six feet is not enough. Let us stay secluded when the fire is engulfing the jungle.

How can I prevent COVID-19?

Well, reflections should help. These are the three distinct patterns, and we have to find a way. It is within your reach. Just that, it needs a determination to stay on course.

Three simple rules

  1. Stay away from gathering, shopping and any event
  2. Complacency and boredom is the killer
  3. Six feet is not enough, and wearing mask only offers partial protection.

Merry Christmas! 2020!

Celebrate Christmas in the company of your family bubble!

A Vassal Alliance

For decades now, Pakistan was a nuisance state with constant pain in the a.. for India. It has not yet realized the imbecility of its constant animosity with India. Consistently, it has eroded the nationals from the progress they deserved after dreaming of a promised land for their brethren. Today, as it stands, it is a failed state, just propped up and kept intact like a Chinaware, so that the fragments should not become a thorny issue from the breakaway remnant.


Pakistan cannot sustain the Air Force or the cost of retaining sustenance on the Army. Its Army is a state within the state. It has is a financing enterprise that has sustained and grown at the cost of the state and its people. It’s like a vulture, a parasite, that has turned a symbiotic relationship into cannibalizing its people.


Pakistan has ignored the very essence of its foundation – of safeguarding it Umma (brothers of Islam) by ignoring the atrocities in Uyghur. When a nation ignores its foundation to sustain its existence, it becomes a vassal state. That’s what Pakistan is for China.

China was no lesser with its covert intent. China has been no less irritant with a simmering border dispute that continually encroaches and nibbles India’s territory. I have echoed several aspects of China into several of my blogs. So, it’s worth redirecting the readers to those blogs. China is no dumb strategist. It knows the incompetence of a nation like Pakistan. However, the alliance is only to lockdown and engage India while China is pounding from the East. It knows Pakistan cannot bring significant traction to any incursions except as a nuisance that distracts India during a war. The same logic holds during peace. It provides succor and a sense of security for both the nations, especially when an alliance such as QUAD is developing in the South China Sea. QUAD is not the only alliance; we see the Five Eye, the Seven Eye, and the Nine Eye alliance and Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and Myanmar joining as subsidiaries in the South China Seas.

Now that Pakistan and China have joined hands, the nexus is out in the open. Glad that the unholy alliance between Pakistan and China has surfaced overtly. However, the coalition has its own weaknesses. It reflects India’s strength: it takes two nations (Pakistan and China) to counter India. However, Pakistan’s inherent flaws and the uneven relationship in their unholy alliance will not make this a successful collaboration.

A Road to Riches (for China) – The China Pakistan Economic Corridor


China and Pakistan conduct joint air drills — with eye on India

Kill Chain is not enough.

Future wars are unlikely to be physical. If one is worried about a nuclear war decimating the world, it is unlikely to happen, so is a full-scale fistfight. Future wars will be cyberwars, swiftly inundating the cyber-critical infrastructure, as well as paralyzing the network. It is not without reason that the US and the EU are opposed to the 5G belonging to Huawei of China.

Several espionages and attacks on the west are a drill to understand the weaknesses and understand the Western world’s readiness to deal with such attacks. In this article, I have talked about the cyberthreats and how their insipient potential as a weapon for future wars. (Word count 804, reading time 3-4 minutes).

After the Doklam and Ladhak standoff, it was apt that the Chinese army is more a paper tiger since the chinks in its armors were revealed. Several of China’s war capabilities are not enough to sustain a war that can last over a few weeks. Its aviation and air force is not at the level of war preparedness; its army is more paramilitary in nature that reports to the Communist Party and not the Govt., the retired soldiers are inadequately paid with resultant demoralization. Of course, it has a nexus of alliance where partners don’t trust each other (Russia has balked from giving its S400 technology to China. There are numerous examples of weaknesses. However, it is never a great idea to be complacent about adversaries’ weaknesses.

Cyber is definitely not the area where we see those weaknesses. Those are massive capabilities that have been built, and the multiple cuber attacks from the past are just an example of pf becoming battle hardy. It has a massive army of cyber warriors who are supported by the state (Govt.). It’s a huge complex multistory complex with several thousand workforces practicing daily warfare techniques.

Let’s turn towards North Korea. We all know how NK attacked Sony a few years back after Sony made a cartoon movie on its dictator, Kim Jong Un. There is no retribution, at least that I know about. Let’s visit Russia. If China and North Korea are so ahead in the cyberwar preparedness, Russia is a master. Their better side is commercial products such as Kaspersky. The stealth cyber technology is evident from the irregularly irregular attacks that they conduct at a frequency.

Recollect the recent killing of the nuclear scientist of Iran. A report from Guardian by Patrick Wintour states a “satellite-controlled smart system” was used remotely to identify and kill the nuclear scientist. He was killed using a gun that used AI and was Satellite operated. Not many may recollect the recent war in the Caucasus. Azerbaijan won the recent Nagorno Karabakh conflict after using Turkish made unmanned drones that destroyed Armenian fortifications. As Andrew North reports in Nikkie Asia Review, ‘Turkish-made combat drones have given the lowly-regarded Azeri military a potentially decisive edge, with Turkish arms manufacturers hoping for lots of new orders from around the world.’ Not sure if you recollect how Stuxnet was deployed to blow the centrifuges at the nuclear facility at Natanz, Iran. It that entire Nuclear facility was brought down by firmware grade malware that destroyed 984 centrifuges used at the nuclear facility.

Let’s visit the Kill Chain.

Lockheed Martin, a US-based company that is the manufacturer of the evolving F series of fighter planes, came up with the model of understanding Cyberattacks. It is a very well known model called The Kill Chain. According to the Kill Chain Model – Reconnaissance, weaponization, Delivery are the select few steps during a seven stage cyberattack. Cyber sleuths from private corporations follow this model to safeguard their assets. Understanding the Kill Chain provides robustness unseen in the industry.

What’s wrong with the Kill Chain?

Our Kill Chain model is not enough; we witness frequent attacks on industrial complexes and the State infrastructure. I am tempted to use the corollary to what Einstein said, to solve the problem, we need to see beyond how we created it. The solution is definitely not within the realms of technology, it is beyond that, but one thing is certain, if our understanding of Kill Chain is not safeguarding us and not deterring our adversaries, it is not enough. Otherwise, also, I would say, no one would fashion their best armor on display for the adversary to find gaps. Whether Kill Chain methodology is deployed or any other cyber warfare methodology, it is not enough.

Future wars are cyber wars, and we are not well prepared. Let’s understand that our Kill Chain model, based on threat driven approach, is not enough. Zero day attacks are a potential gap, that can be exploited. Not alone that, a well coordinated strategized attack and access to a system of least consequence, may pose a potential entry point and cascading of a full blown war.

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

US cyber-attack: US energy department confirms it was hit by Sunburst hack

A Strategic Imperative

While Trump was an incarnation and an expression of the neglect of the middle and lower class, it is undeniable truth that almost 48% or over votary supported his articulation of the global and national narrative.

The US is not alone, a similar phenomenon usurped is several parts of the democratic world, that almost jolted the liberal, inclusive, integrative and global view of ‘One World’. We saw the UK severing its ties with the EU, the rise of radical nationalists such as Bolsonaro in Brazil, Duterte in Philippines. Turkey, India and other democracies never lacked behind, not ignoring similar phenomenon occurring sporadically across the globe.

I label this as ‘Trumpism’, a neglect of a large swath of population that resulted in this atrocious expression and a wasted era due to disruptions and distractions. It was an imperative to attend to these class expression and address the yawning desire of the middle class.

Just imagine, regime change, imposing our model if democracy, super fast paced integration and globalization, industrialization and automation that snatched opportunities from the local (without an opportunity of retooling them), free trade organizations that worked to the contrary of the common interests, the wars, the focus on capitalist driven engine of growth etc. all paved a way for a divide. That divide created a chasm and disconnect between the strategy and the ground.

It was this gap that is being addressed by Biden. So if Jack Sullivan is being tapped into the policy making, it is but the right step to palpate and embed the class struggle. It is an imperative, if democracy has to sustain, it has to carry the class along with its strategic intent, not drag or neglect it. Ignoring so will result in coalescence of such chaos.

Hamiltonians, Wilsonian, Jeffersonian and the Jacksonian

Each of these represent an ideology, or instilling a gyroscope for American engagement with the global order, of thesis and antithesis, of a perspective and a narrative. However, each of these are negotiating, rather than establishing a model, that is vulnerable to global exigencies and factors beyond their control. These external factors will determine which ideology prevails and finally, as we all know, the story of success is written by the successor.

I will, at leisure, write more on these. Until then, stay tuned…

The Jacksonian Revolt

Biden’s ‘middle-class foreign policy’ departs from Obama and Trump

Defaults Rises in China

That’s interesting

That’s interesting, not because it is a sad news to see recessionary waves pounding the greatest economies, US and China, but because two diametrically differently managed nations having a shared problem. One with transparency and semblance of accountability, and the other with regimented control of blankets to hide the truth and facts.

Obviously, we all know that the US and China alone are not the struggling economies. Several leading economies are in doll-drums. It will take time to recoup and get the luster back and running. While that is being done, humanity is going to leave a lot of mess and loan to clear for the posterity and the future. Several unanswered questions are answered in S&P Global reference (cited below), like How big is the problem? 2. What’s behind that? 3. Where are defaults hitting? 4. Has the government stepped in? 5. And more broadly? 6. How did we get here? 7. What’s the impact of rising defaults? 8. How does bankruptcy work in China?

Posterity will always remind us how precariously and irresponsibly we operated the present (than future).

Pandemics, and wars come with a tag, a very costly tag of lives, economy and destructions. Of course, new opportunities too emerge that mandates remodeling. However, the key denominator being a least footprint from covid – lives, morbidity or dollars.

Those emerging and surging ahead their economies, started way back, as part of design when the pandemic was just setting un, while deniers and nay sayers were still ringing thalis or calling out conspiracy theories or adopting the antiscience approach with herd immunity. Whereas, shortsighted China was grabbing land, sea and expanding its BRI ideology.

Today, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia and several ‘Tiger Economies’ of the twentieth centuries are bouncing back. These ate the nations to watch, while others emulate their model their societies and restructure their economies.

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

Company defaults rise in China and US as global figure doubles

Paxton-Cruz Backdoor

Paxton and Cruz – backdoor to vertical mobility

Ken Paxton, the attorney general for Texas, filed a suit in the US Supreme Court for wrongly dismissing several million votes in four battleground states. Almost 17 Attorney Generals and over 107 elected congressmen supported the lawsuit. Ted Cruz, whom Trump had criticized as having a small phallus, also endorsed the initiative. Of note, the Supreme Court rejected citing lack of evidence and questioning Texas’s right to meddle in the elections of other states.

It is noteworthy to see the outcome since Trump often boasted of having appointed three judges to the supreme bench. Prima facie, I was annoyed with the congressmen, attorneys, Ken Paxton, and ridiculed Ted Cruz. However, let us reveal the facade and declutter the dynamics of those supporting such a frivolous suit. All these congressmen, attorneys, and senators knew there is no merit in the suit, then why did they support it?

The only reality is the greed to get reelected and upwards mobility in their legislative progression. I still remember when, in 2018, Trump tried to intimidate a few Senators. They said they stood by their conviction and declared they would not want to be reelected.

Is Trump that powerful?

Yes and no. Yes, because he has the support of a massive base of voters within the GOP, and No, because they all are enacting an act of support despite knowing the truth, just committed to their long term survival.

Two observations are still important –

  1. Despite Trump appointing the judges, they did not compromise their integrity. Processes and tacts were above personal obligations and affiliations.
  2. Trumpism, not Trump, is a throbbing phenomenon that cannot be dismissed. Politicians may exploit it, but they seem to show relative integrity in the light of the circumstances.

Are GOP the only lawmakers in the US who play this game? Is politics the only arena where such realty shows are played? Is US the only country where such tactics are in vogue? The answer is a Universal No. Such double standards are all pervasive, from politics, to business to daily living. Worst, academics too is infiltrated with such ‘Paxton-Cruz Backdoor’ phenomenon.