The more we know the less we learn
One of the principal paradoxes of present day society is that the more we know the less we learn. The most obvious example of this is that although the fact that capitalism has not, does not and will not benefit the vast majority of the population of the planet that vast majority still allows capitalism to exist. We see it also in the approach, throughout the world, to the climate emergency and it has been demonstrated in countless ways in virtually every country in the world for the last couple of year – since it was recognised that the world was about to face a severe pandemic with the covid virus, news of which was becoming generally known exactly two years ago.
A pandemic such as covid-19 doesn’t respect borders and the very nature of the infection means that once you know of its existence – even if, at first, only in one place, one country (however far away it might be) it has already arrived. If this fact was not accepted two years ago it had been (at least by some of the ‘scientific community’) when the omicron variant appeared in Southern Africa at the beginning of December 2021. Many countries banned travellers from that part of the world but cases of the variant started to appear everywhere and now, in a very short time, the omicron variant is now the dominant one – kicking delta way off the stage.
However, the response to this new variant by the ‘richer’ countries of the world (and their populations) wasn’t that there should be an increased effort to make vaccines available to those in the poor parts of the world where vaccination levels barely reach into double percentage points but that the richer countries should vaccinate even more of their population (in terms of age) and more often. Now some people have received three vaccinations in less than a year and still there is no guarantee that this will suffice. And ‘they’ – the establishment who are bumbling their way through the crisis – wonder why there is an increasing number of people who are sceptical about accepting that they should be vaccinated at all.
So almost two years into the pandemic (that still has no visible end in sight) countries which should have been working in concert are continuing to ‘go it alone’ and do what seems to various government’s to be the most secure thing to do for their political futures – the ending of the pandemic not really coming into it. There’s still no strategy within country let alone on an international level.
Borders are closed to those from countries which are seen as posing a risk because infection rates are high yet that sort of statistic can change in a matter of days. It doesn’t have any real impact upon infection rates in country and is more to do with historic spats between countries than any idea of ‘following the science’. Such is the case of countries in Europe keeping out foreign visitors. Are we expected to believe that the closing of France to British visitors has nothing to do with Britain closing Britain to French visitors earlier in the year and the bitter wrangling that has been going on over Britain’s departure from the European Union for the best part of a year now?
At ‘best’ this is merely tribalism at worse it’s just a group of petulant children taking their ball away as they can’t get their own way. However, in the process more and more people are suffering – either directly from the virus or the increasing damage caused by the disruption to all societies due to poor leadership.
An extreme example of the pettiness of this approach (as well as the redundancy of narrow-minded nationalism) is demonstrated at present in the insignificant group of islands that sit on the Atlantic coast of Europe. There are supposed to be four ‘nations’ in the United Kingdom yet at the end of 2021 they are all following very distinctive and different approaches to the pandemic. Presumably they are all ‘following the science’ but that science is providing hugely disparate answers. Each of the ‘nationalities’ seek to show that they are the ones in control, they are the ones who decide, that they really ‘care’ for their populations. Therefore the message is far from clear and then there is surprise when people ‘break the rules’. (It should also be remembered that these restrictions are coming in at a time when reports of rule breaking by those in government during the course of last year are still fresh in people’s memories.)
The principal method most governments have used to gain compliance with their diktats is by creating a climate of fear – a fear of the ‘other’, the ‘foreign’, something which isn’t us. Mostly from outside of national boundaries but also, at times within countries. The problem isn’t so much that the government has failed to deal with the issue in a proper manner it’s that there are some within society who don’t tow the line and therefore put all of society at risk.
Some of those tactics may (possibly) have reduced infections but as they were not accompanied by a real strategic approach to the problem the possible breathing space they provided was wasted – and will be wasted in the future. Each time these tactics are introduced and fail the consequences for many become worse and the knock on effects will be seen for many years to come. Poverty, inequality on all kinds of levels, advances that have been trumpeted in recent years are all being lost and with the almost certain introduction of some form of ‘austerity’ that will follow the pandemic such ‘advances’ are unlikely to be regained any time soon.
This blog was asking in March of 2020 that, surely, there must be better ways to deal with a pandemic that was more efficient and effective than the tactics used seven hundred years ago when people were ignorant of what was happening and put much of their ills down to the will of whatever god different peoples believed in? But no, there isn’t.
With all the knowledge that has been accumulated over the centuries, with improvements in scientific knowledge and the techniques that exist to prolong life, with all the developments in technology, the world has proven itself to be as stupid and ignorant as we were in the 14th century when the Black Death spread through Asia and Europe.
The vaccination programme in Britain …..
A year of covid vaccines: how the UK pinned its hopes on the jab – and why those hopes are under threat.
Three ways to improve the uptake of Covid vaccines by ethnic minority groups in the UK.
….. and the rest of the world
Cuba’s covid vaccines: the limited data available suggests they’re highly effective.
US panel recommends J&J shots be sidelined after clot deaths.
Cuba defeats covid-19 with learning, science, and unity.
Experts identify 100 plus firms to make covid-19 mRNA vaccines.
The omicron variant
Vaccines should work against micron variant, WHO says.
Omicron study suggests major wave in January.
Omicron might evade antibodies – but that doesn’t mean you don’t have immunity.
Omicron: evidence shows it evades immunity from earlier infection more than other variants.
Omicron and covid boosters: everything you need to know.
The Omicron Shame: Why is the world punishing instead of helping Africa?
How effective are vaccines against omicron? An epidemiologist answers 6 questions.
Omicron is likely to hit deprived areas the hardest.
Omicron may not be the final variant, but it may be the final variant of concern.
South African and UK hospitalisation data: what it tells us about how deadly omicron is.
Why excess deaths have varied so greatly around the world during the pandemic.
The U.S. experience: racism and covid-19 mortality.
Other ways to deal with covid
Vaccines are necessary, but not sufficient without better healthcare and ventilation.
Rapid lateral flow home testing kits have run out on government’s website.
Do lateral flow tests detect omicron?
Covid-19 home testing kits: should we be worried about their environmental impact?
Britain’s drinking deaths rose at record rate in pandemic.
Covid litter: we mapped discarded masks and gloves in 11 countries with the help of citizen science.
Half the world’s people could be at greater risk of malaria if control efforts do not improve.
The impact of covid-19 on the mental health of children and young people in the UK.
The impact of school closures: why reception year is so crucial to a child’s development.
Some schools struggling to stay open as covid cases rise.
Where are all the missing hospital patients?
A year of covid: the evolution of labour market and financial inequalities through the crisis.
England hospital units may close as staff revolt over jab mandate.
How covid is transmitted
How the disease moves through the air.
Covid passes: they can’t prevent every infection but do make events safer.
Head to Head: the ethics of vaccine passports and covid passes.
Poverty in Britain
Ayrshire charity CHAP reports increased demand for debt advice.
21% and rising: fury grows as credit card rates hit new high.
Hazardous private renting conditions costing NHS £340 million a year.
Why working from home leaves the lowest paid at more risk of infection.
New report uncovers reality of being homeless and working in Britain.
Inflation is pushing people deeper into poverty.
2021 annual report on education spending in England – basically education has been hit with so many cuts over the years it’s not able to carry out the task it was designed to do.
227,000 households across Britain experiencing worst forms of homelessness.
Poverty in the World
One rule for us, a different rule for ‘them’
Downing Street Christmas party: political communication expert on four key takeaways from leaked Allegra Stratton video.
No 10 [Downing Street, the Buffoon’s official residence in central London] says garden photo shows PM and staff having work meetings.
Trump Scottish golf resorts claimed over £3 million in furlough.