Confronting a 21st century pandemic with 14th century tactics
Depending upon which ‘fact’ you believe the covid pandemic has been with us for just over or just under two years. 21st century societies, especially those in the richer countries, pride themselves on their sophistication and ability to deal with any problem that arises with the technologies that have been (and/or are in the process of being) developed through the increase in scientific knowledge, a process that really took off towards the end of the 20th century. Indeed, such claims have been made ever since the climate emergency became more widely known and accepted by the majority of scientists but not by some world leaders nor many of the companies that have played (and are still playing) a major role in causing the problem in the first place. Technology, those climate deniers say, will always come up with a solution – even if not until the eleventh hour.
However, the first time this bizarre ‘theory’ is put into practice it falls far short of the over-riding solution it is supposed to be.
Most countries put their faith in a vaccine that would protect against the outbreak and it arrived, relatively, quickly. This was due to an unbelievably huge public investment into the work of private companies (who are now reaping the benefit with their huge profits – why wasn’t something written in the agreement that in return for the public investment the vaccines would be supplied at cost?) and the knowledge base that had been established over the last couple of decades. But when the vaccine arrived it wasn’t enough.
First the vaccine was just going to be for the most ‘vulnerable’ in society but it was no surprise that those countries that had the wherewithal to secure vaccines would soon roll out the programme to include the majority of their population. Now children as young as five are being vaccinated and it would be no real surprise if babies and infants are soon to be included as well. First it was thought that two injections would be sufficient but now third ‘booster’ shots are being given to many in the rich countries and there is already talk that a regular ‘top-up’ injection might be the way forward for the next few years, at least.
This selfish grabbing of as many vaccines as possible by a few countries means that even after two years of the pandemic the vast majority of the population of the world (i.e., those in the poor South) haven’t even had a single injection. That’s bad enough but what is worse is that it doesn’t even seem to be an issue at the moment. Government’s keep their populations ‘happy’ – or at least some of them – by pumping the stuff into their arms and the calls to extend the vaccination to those who really are now the world’s ‘vulnerable’ fall on deaf ears. As with compensation due to the consequences of the climate emergency all the promises have come to nought.
The fact that we are in the middle (or even just the start) of a pandemic which, by definition, effects every corner of the globe, seems to have been forgotten as well as the fact that the longer the virus is allowed to grow and mutate in huge parts of the world the more it is likely to come back (to the North) in a form which the vaccines won’t be able to combat.
Not only has the vaccine programme in the richer countries been a display of immorality and hypocrisy it also demonstrates that nationalism and tribalism is triumphant and concern for the really poor people of the world is non-existent.
Worse still it’s not really working. There may be various reasons for this, the unvaccinated are in the firing line at the moment, but the prime reason is that no country in the world has really developed a proper strategy to deal with a disease that will likely be with us forever so has to be managed rather than defeated. The military terminology used from the start has blinded people to the reality that there is no real winner in this case.
As the days pass more countries in Europe are re-introducing various restrictions and lock downs. In Britain the Buffoon has said that’s not going to happen there but there have been so many U-turns in the last 18 months the Government resembles a child’s spinning top – so no real guarantee for the near future.
In the very first posts in this series ‘The Journal of the Plague Years 2020-2?’ the question was asked whether we, as a society in general, had learnt anything since the Black Death of the 14th century or the Great Plague of London in the 17th. Then the response was to hide away and hope for the best and, in reality, that’s all we’re doing now.
No society in the world has really taken a pro-active approach to dealing with the virus in a manner which didn’t create collateral damage which could ultimately be more expensive in the long run.
The problem is that such a strategy (which needs a whole raft of measures which include, but are not restricted to, a functioning, reliable and trustworthy testing arrangement which includes viable and effective support for those with the virus to be able to, and encouraged to, isolate for the general good) is not really viable in a capitalist society which leaves everything to the ‘free market’.
Because of that the merry-go-round of lockdown to lockdown is more than likely to continue for some time yet and the last page of this ‘Journal’ will not be published until some time yet.
Vaccination programme (and now a pill) in Britain …..
First pill to treat covid gets approval in UK.
Covid jabs to be compulsory for NHS staff in England from April.
Pfizer says antiviral pill 89% effective in high risk cases.
AstraZeneca to take profits from covid vaccine.
Medication holiday may boost vaccine protection.
Covid-resistant people inspire new vaccine tactic.
It’s bad enough that the richer countries are hoovering up all the available resources of vaccines – leaving the poorer countries to just manage on the crumbs – but now there are threats being made if people don’t take extra vaccinations (when at first we were told that two would be sufficient). When is this going to stop? Get a covid booster jab or risk more restrictions, warns the Buffoon.
Merck v Pfizer: here’s how the two new covid antiviral drugs work and will be used.
Care homes: why mandatory vaccination could make staff shortages worse.
Making vaccination compulsory for NHS frontline workers likely to make patients suffer.
….. and the rest of the world
This is Pfizer. What’s the catch? They’ve earned billions in the last year or so – so why this generous, esoteric approach now? Pfizer to allow developing nations to make its treatment pill.
Novavax covid vaccine is nearing approval – but what impact will it have?
How the pandemic is faring in Britain …..
Covid makes Christmas ‘problematic’, says Jonathan Van-Tam as he warns ‘darkest months’ are ahead of us.
UK bucking trend of rising covid cases in Europe.
Will this mean the return of free dental treatment for all in the UK? I don’t think so. Why having bad oral health could raise the risk of covid.
….. and throughout the world
Some of the richest capitalist countries in the world and they still can’t get it right! Even when they’ve been hoovering up unbelievably high doses of vaccine. WHO warns Europe once again at epicentre of pandemic.
Belarus: how an unpopular government is struggling to manage the covid crisis.
Austria’s lockdown for the unvaccinated: what does human rights law say? [This might now be redundant in the case of Austria but such a situation is sure to arise somewhere in the world before the end of the pandemic.]
How Peru became the country with the highest covid death rate in the world.
WHO says it is very worried about Europe surge.
Long covid: my work with sufferers reveals that western medicine has reached a crisis point.
Vulnerability to the virus
Gene commonly found in south Asian people affects covid severity.
The future treatment of the virus
Promising covid treatments could be growing under the sea.
A nation (or, perhaps, even wider afield) of hypochondriacs?
Is the common cold really much worse this year?
More on ‘covid passports/passes’
Why covid passes are not discriminatory (in the way you think they are).
What happened to furloughed workers after the end of the Job Retention Scheme?
The cost of covid: what happens when children don’t go to school.
Obesity among children soars after lockdown – and yet the country is bemoaning the fact that there is a ‘shortage’ of crisps!
Calling children ‘vectors’ during covid-19 is turning into discrimination.
…. or not?
Young and ethnic minority workers were hardest hit at the start of covid, but not any more.
Poverty in Britain
England: Landlord possessions increase by 207%.
Cambs Universal Credit claimants ‘struggling to make ends meet’ after £20 cut.
Those continuing to profit from the pandemic – and often after huge public investment in research
This week Pfizer announced profits so far this year of $7.7 billion, 133% more than it made last year. And Moderna has made $7.3 billion in profit, after receiving over $10 billion of public funding for development and manufacture of its vaccine
This is a strange one
How creative industries could boost the economies of small islands crippled by covid.