Britain turns it’s back on the world with its vaccination programme

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Britain turns it’s back on the world with its vaccination programme

If you wanted to be generous, you could probably have said that any government would have had a problem facing the pandemic that hit the world at the end of 2019/beginning of 2020. Indeed, it was unprecedented – a word which has been so overused (as have so many others) in the, now, just under two years. But at the same time we were told (in Britain), over many years, that the government was prepared for such an event. It’s just that when covid arrived it was ‘the wrong type of pandemic’.

From the beginning we were faced with a government which had no idea what it was doing, had no strategy (and still doesn’t) as it bounced around from decision to decision. Supposedly, decisions made ‘following the science’, but in reality they’ve been clutching at straws when it comes to the action they’ve taken.

We’ve been struck by innumerable U-turns, so many it’s impossible for most people to give you an exact number. And after such a long time Buffoon and his government seem to have become accustomed to this way of doing things. Before any decision is made there’s speculation going on for days. There’s uncertainty. There are contradictory statements being made – even at the highest levels of Government. Nobody really knows what’s happening and when there is a decision made, few people in the country really understand what’s been decided.

And this is the case with the change in the vaccination policy which has taken place in the last few days.

12- to 15-year-olds will now be vaccinated as well as something like close to half the population, getting a third, so called ‘booster’, injection.

In a sense, this was bound to happen and should come as a surprise to no one. Not because of the science, not because of how it keeps people healthy. It’s because it’s playing to the audience.

In a country of rabbits people are looking for something, anything, which will assuage their fears.

And children getting vaccinated, older people getting a third ‘booster’ jab just panders to all those fears.

But what it doesn’t do is play any role in social justice with the recognition of the fact that there are still vast parts of the world where you could count the number of those who are fully vaccinated on the fingers of one hand.

Some scientists have been arguing against this extension to the very young and the so-called ‘vulnerable’, not on esoteric grounds (i.e., that it’s the ‘right thing to do’) but that vaccinating as many people as possible in the poorer parts of the world would be, ultimately, beneficial to all, even in Britain.

But even those arguments don’t go down well in a country which has reverted to simple tribalism and narrow-minded parochialism.

Rich countries take advantage of their wealth and their accessibility to vaccines and the rest of the world can just go hang. And that’s the situation we are in in Britain at the moment – a selfish little island nation scrambling for more and more vaccines and finding the weakest ‘reasons’ to justify their approach.

It’s been quite interesting the way the vaccine rollout started with the old and ‘vulnerable’ and the age has gradually gone down to include more and more people – with more and more spurious arguments to justify it. Yes, arguments can be made for vaccinating everyone on the planet but not the least vulnerable when there are still billions of people who won’t see hide nor hair of a covid vaccine needle until well into 2022 – at the earliest.

No doubt once the 12- to 15-year-olds have been given their one jab someone will start looking at extending the programme to even younger children. After all, it’s the really young, primary school children who have been the principal vectors for the annual flu outbreaks in the past.

What is also interesting (and important) is that the extended vaccination programmes will both be using the expensive and difficult to store Pfizer Biontech vaccine.

As time has gone by the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine has not proven itself to be any better than virtually all the other vaccines that are around. Each one seems to ‘shine’ during a different period in the life cycle of the virus and the battle against it. But what makes the Pfizer vaccine stand out is the smear campaign the company carried out (with willing accomplices such as the Zionist Settler State of Israel) to denigrate and create a climate of fear in many so that the cheaper, just as effective and more manageable AstraZeneca vaccine is being effectively shunned in the ‘civilised’ world.

So, in Britain, not only is the extension of the programme fundamentally immoral it also has the effect of, yet again, shovelling even more public money into the bank accounts of ‘Big Pharma’.

Vaccination programme in Britain ……

Take-up of second covid jab in England levelling off – concern as scientists say vaccinating adults is more important than inoculating children or booster shots.

Vaccine passports will make hesitant people ‘even more reluctant to get jabbed‘.

Mandatory jabs for health staff being considered in consultation.

UK scraps covid-19 vaccine deal with French firm Valneva – why would anyone be foolish enough to have any dealings with ‘perfidious Albion’?

….. for children ….

NHS planning covid vaccines for children from age 12.

Ministers could defy Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and go ahead with covid jabs for all 12- to 15-year-olds.

Covid-19: 12 to 15-year-olds to get ‘final say’ over covid jab if disagreement with parent occurs.

UK vaccine advisers ‘acted like medical regulators’ over covid jabs for children.

All children aged 12 to 15 in the UK will be offered one dose of the (surprise, surprise – the hugely expensive and not necessarily more efficient) Pfizer-BioNTech covid jab.

….. and/or boosters ….

Vaccine boosters are likely to increase protection against variants. Presumably, if you keep pumping all the available vaccine into the same arms you’ll eventually produce a super resistant race amongst the dead population from the rest of the world.

Britons with severely weak immune systems to be offered third covid jab.

No urgency on covid booster shots for healthy adults.

AstraZeneca bosses warn against rush for boosters.

Boosters not needed for all, says Oxford jab creator – send to countries in need, instead.

Covid booster vaccine roll out to begin next week – and the winner is ….. (surprise, surprise – again) the hugely expensive and not necessarily more efficient Pfizer formula.

….. and the rest of the world

Russia’s covid-19 response slowed by population reluctant to take domestic vaccine.

Third coronavirus vaccines aren’t ‘luxury boosters’ taken from people without their first, WHO Europe boss says – the ‘rich’ countries will always find a way to justify their greed and denial of a fair share to the rest of the world.

Why it’s time for the UK to start sharing its vaccine doses.

Israel was a leader in the covid vaccination race – so why are cases spiralling there?

Immunity?

Covid infections may give more potent immunity than vaccines – but that doesn’t mean you should try to catch it.

Four factors that increase the risk of vaccinated people getting covid.

How other countries deal with the pandemic

China crushes Delta spike after weeks of strict measures.

Against all odds: how New Zealand is bending the Delta curve – but for how long?

The ever changing virus

Covid variants: we spoke to the experts designing a single vaccine to defeat them all.

Mu: everything you need to know about the new coronavirus variant of interest.

Covid – effects on children

Long-lasting symptoms rarer in children than in adults.

The care home ‘crisis’

Volunteers may be required in staffing shortfall at English care homes.

Who is dying of covid?

Scientists are comparing the profiles of those who are dying with previous waves – here’s what they know.

What will happen in the winter?

Further lock downs unlikely but some winter restrictions are possible.

‘Collateral damage’

Front-line nurses did not receive the mental health support they deserved.

Poverty in Britain

One in three working-age families with children to be hit by cut to Universal Credit. This came from a report carried out by the Joseph Rowntree Trust. Constituency Analysis (this is an Excel file) and the Technical Appendix.

Cuts to housing benefits led to over 75,000 more overcrowded households during the pandemic.

School spending in England: trends over time and future outlook – briefing or full report.

Teachers gaming pupils’ A-level grades highlights need for fundamental change.

The effect of local housing allowance reductions on overcrowding in the private rented sector in England.

Schools in poorest areas of England to be worst hit by pupil premium change.

Ending universal credit boost will hit sickest areas the hardest.

The truth will out! Perhaps not

The Government’s refusal to make messages between ministers public is (perhaps) an indication of how thorough the inquiry into the dealing with the covid pandemic (supposed to take place some time next year, i.e., 2022) will be.

Attempt to force release of Johnson’s messages on covid in care homes fails.

British Medical Association (BMA) to issue damning critique of government over Covid crisis.

Travel tests

Ministers doing bare minimum to stop covid travel test ‘rip-offs’.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Pandemic – what pandemic?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Pandemic – what pandemic?

Surely pandemics of the past were nothing like the one the world is living through now. In previous pandemics news about what was happening on the other side of the world either just didn’t exist or would take some time to filter down to the vast majority of the population. With modern technology what happens in Australia and New Zealand, for example, can be known about almost instantly. However, the speed of communication is nothing if people don’t know how (or don’t want) to use that rapid sharing of knowledge to the advantage of all.

That means each country is following its own road with no concern for the long term, worldwide domination of the virus. The consensus now seems to be accepting that covid will be with us forever and that attempts to achieve and maintain a zero level of infection is unlikely – although China and New Zealand still seem to be sticking with their original ‘strategy’. If different countries are shooting into different goal mouths then it doesn’t bode too well for the future.

When it comes to vaccines the selfish, ‘western’, capitalist world continues to grab as much as possible for it’s own privileged populations – the UK just in the last day or so announcing that they had ordered (and paid for) 100 million doses of the very expensive and difficult to transport Pfizer vaccine. The fine statements made at the G7 meeting in June about sharing the available vaccines with the poorer nations on the planet are conveniently forgotten. In England children are being brought into the programme and third doses are being proposed for an, as yet, indeterminate section of the population.

So the chaotic situation that has dominated the last 18 months or so has morphed into surrealism. Life ‘goes on as normal’, people go on holiday, mass sporting events go ahead and it’s difficult to remember that the virus is still with us and we still lack a real strategy to deal with it.

As has been the case for a while now there’s a great dependence being placed upon chance, that the virus will not be as virulent if it returns in a major way in the autumn. But if things do turn bad later in the year there’s no strategy to deal with another major outbreak – so, basically, nothing’s been learnt since the beginning of 2020.

Many of the world’s ‘leaders’ (and probably a sizeable proportion of the populations in the richer countries) are like ostriches with their heads buried deep in the sand. Pandemic, what pandemic?

Vaccination programme in Britain …..

UK doctors alarmed at ‘shambolic’ roll-out of covid jabs for children.

Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) ‘largely opposed’ to Covid vaccination for children under 16.

Vaccinating teenagers is beneficial, even if their vulnerability to covid-19 is low – if you ignore the moral argument about what is happening (or not) in the rest of the world.

Oxford-jab chief criticises UK’s covid booster plan.

How will covid vaccines work on compromised immune systems?

Teenage jab roll out moving cautiously.

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine: rare blood clot syndrome has high mortality rate.

Should we tell stories of vaccine sceptics who have died of covid?

Is catching covid now better than more vaccine?

….. and the rest of the world

World Health Organisation (WHO) calls for moratorium on booster shots – is it justifiable?

How effective are covid-19 vaccines? Here’s what the stats mean … and what they don’t.

India is preparing for another covid surge but low vaccine coverage leaves it vulnerable

G7 nations will have stockpiled a billion spare covid vaccine doses by end of 2021.

India approves world’s first DNA covid vaccine.

After India’s brutal coronavirus wave, two-thirds of population has been exposed to SARS-CoV2.

Immunocompromised people make up nearly half of covid-19 breakthrough hospitalizations – an extra vaccine dose may help.

Anti-body testing

Antibody tests offered to public for first time. Is there a reason this wasn’t started a long time ago? The more information the better to deal with the pandemic, no?

The ever mutating virus

What happens if a far more lethal coronavirus emerges in pets?

SARS-CoV-2 mutations: why the virus might still have some tricks to pull.

New covid variants ‘would set us back a year’, experts warn UK government.

New wave of covid infections possible when schools and office workers return.

UK covid cases have fallen dramatically – but another wave is likely.

Jabbed adults infected with Delta ‘can match virus levels of unvaccinated’.

Self-isolation

Thousands isolated unnecessarily because of NHS covid app error.

Why are things so different in Africa?

The impact of covid-19 has been lower in Africa. Why?

What does China have to teach us?

From ground zero to zero tolerance – how China learnt from its covid response to quickly stamp out its latest outbreak.

China hits zero covid cases with a month of draconian curbs.

Hundreds quarantined in Shanghai as China nears 2 billion covid-19 vaccine doses.

British Trade Unions get to grips with the pandemic

Urgent call for covid-safe ventilation in schools.

‘Herd immunity’ – or not

Delta variant renders herd immunity from covid ‘mythical’.

Travelling in a time of covid

Ministers accused of destroying trust in England’s covid travel rules.

‘Collateral damage’

Private schools poised to widen lead over state pupils at A-level.

Covid is making a summer break something only the rich can afford.

Could NHS waiting lists really reach 13 million?

England’s pandemic crisis of child abuse, neglect and poverty.

Almost 1.2 million people waiting at least six months for vital NHS services in England.

Working from home has created an ‘overtime epidemic’.

A million jobs in peril as one in 16 UK firms say they are at risk of closure.

How the pandemic exposed the crisis in children’s social care. (Links to a podcast.)

Record number of young people wait for eating disorder treatment in England.

The pandemic transformed how social work was delivered – and these changes could be here to stay.

How decades of Neoliberalism left the NHS on the brink.

Poverty in Britain

The National Housing Federation released a report in July 2021 about the experiences of social housing tenants in claiming Universal Credit during the present covid pandemic entitled ‘Universal Credit: claiming during the coronavirus pandemic – A survey of housing association tenants claiming Universal Credit in 2020/21. In comes in two versions, the Executive Report and the Technical (full) Report.

Cuts to Universal Credit will leave children hungry.

Who’s making it big in Pandemic Britain?

Covid contracts: inquiry to look into use of WhatsApp, says Information Commissioners Office – they knew they were doing something illicit hence trying to do business through less traceable forms of communication.

‘Lost samples and late results’: the Tory donor, his son and their travel-test firms.

Church leader who sold £91 bogus covid remedy appears in court. This was first highlighted here about a year ago – so things aren’t moving particularly fast.

Mask wearing – after the pandemic?

Will mask wearing still be common in Britain after the pandemic is over?

Impossible to get the testing right – or how to make easy money

Anger at overflowing covid test drop boxes.

PCR tests for travel: Competition watchdog to investigate if excessive profits are being made.

Ministers face calls to intervene in ‘scam’ covid travel test system.

UK watchdog (Competition and Markets Authority – CMA) vows to help fight rip-off covid test firms.

Government warns covid test firms over misleading prices.

How are the ‘strategies’ working in other countries?

Has the Delta variant derailed Australia’s zero-covid strategy? (Podcast.)

New Zealand borders to remain closed for rest of the year.

Why I no longer think we can eliminate covid – public health expert.

New Zealand pandemic strategy in doubt amid Delta spread.

What will happen when it’s all over?

Plagues and classical history – what the humanities will tell us about covid in years to come.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The Landlord Parliament

Buffoons times two

Buffoons times two

The Landlord Parliament

by Nick Bano

[This article was first published on the Tribune website on 4th August 2021.]

115 MPs – 90 of them Tories – are landlords making thousands per year from privately rented properties. The housing crisis won’t be solved until that changes.

Last week, while MP Apsana Begum was defending herself against fraud charges relating to her socially-rented studio flat, a quarter of Conservative MPs were supplementing their salaries by renting out homes. openDemocracy analysis has found that 90 Tory MPs, including 27 percent of the party’s ministers or whips, had declared earnings of over £10,000 per year from rent. The law was treating one of the victims of the housing crisis with suspicion and contempt, while at the same time rewarding its beneficiaries with unearned profits.

On one level, it’s immediately obvious why the existence of landlord MPs is a problem. It offends against notions of independence. There is a whiff of the self-serving and the corrupt. It’s exactly why we have a register of members’ interests, why Jeremy Corbyn has rightly raised the scandal of Sajid Javid remaining on the payroll of private companies with an interest in the NHS, and why we’re aghast at the revolving door between local council seats and property development jobs.

But it’s too simplistic just to argue that some MPs are landlords, and that Parliament is going to look after its own. After all, as Tribune has repeatedly pointed out, housing makes up a massive part of the UK’s economy, and the government would have an interest in protecting that market regardless of any landlords in its ranks. This does not mean that openDemocracy’s findings are irrelevant, though. As a recent London Review of Books piece said about the housing crisis, ‘in the absence of global meltdown or a collective Maoist turn by […] renters, politics remains the only remedy,’ and it is therefore worth understanding exactly how and why this intersection between landlords and lawmakers is politically relevant.

Parliamentary business can have a dramatic effect on everyday reality and social attitudes. In the housing field, we see this through the changing language of the law. In 1977, at the historical high point of tenants’ rights law, a senior judge called Lord Justice Lawton said the following in an illegal eviction case: ‘the [landlord] at times seemed to be suggesting that this was a comparatively minor dispute between a landlord and a tenant. I emphatically disassociate myself from that. To deprive a man [sic.] of a roof over his head in my judgment is one of the worst torts which can be committed. It causes stress, worry and anxiety.’ Lawton was no comrade—at the beginning of his career he was an open member of the British Union of Fascists—but his attitude towards evictions reflected the legal and social reality of the time.

Contrast that with 2016, when Supreme Court judges Baroness Hale and Lord Neuberger wrote a judgement explaining that successive Conservative and Labour governments had since stripped away tenants’ rights by imposing laws that were designed to ‘[make] renting out a property a much more attractive alternative for owners.’ The Supreme Court was examining the relationship between today’s quick and easy evictions and human rights issues, and decided that Parliament’s erosions of tenants’ rights since the 1980s ‘reflect the state’s assessment of where to strike the balance between the [human] rights of residential tenants and the [human] rights of private sector landlords.’ In other words, Parliament had decided that these profitable short-life tenancies with ‘no-fault’ evictions are good enough for tenants, and the courts would not interfere with MPs’ decisions in that respect.

This gulf between judicial moods tells us two things. First, it shows the extent to which matters have moved on over the last 40 years. The Supreme Court’s easy conscience about evictions now chimes with the general tone of today’s landlords, judges, media, MPs, and even some tenants. Today, even during a housing crisis and a pandemic, we tend to talk about a landlord’s legal entitlement to ‘get their property back’ (although this phrase has always struck me as absurd in the case of buy-to-let homes). There has been a government-led project of commodifying and deregulating the housing market, and Parliament’s attitude towards landlords’ rights seems to have has become lodged in the public consciousness.

Second, in the 2016 case the Supreme Court effectively told us, ‘Yes, housing security is a very important human rights issue, but really it’s down to Parliament to decide what to do about it.’ The fact that such a heavy responsibility rests exclusively with Parliament means that we ought to scrutinise MPs very carefully indeed. ‘Which side are you on?’ is absolutely an appropriate question.

When we look at how housing law reform happens under parliamentary democracy, it becomes clear why the landlord-MP phenomenon is a genuine problem. One of the reasons rent controls remained in place for so long during the twentieth century was that a series of reports and inquiries found that there was a general consensus in favour of them, and rent controls were consequently re-enacted several times between the First World War and the 1970s. The current position is that there is fairly broad support for improving housing law, but the landlord lobby is standing in the way of the reforms that are needed to begin to tackle the crisis.

As a recent House of Commons Library briefing paper points out, many are urging the government not to delay in implementing its Queen’s Speech commitment to reforming the private rented sector, but the lone voice against reform comes from the landlords. The landlord lobby represents a tiny proportion of the population (about three percent), which means that government ministers are vastly overrepresented in that small, self-selecting group of people who rent out homes for profit. That also means the voice of the National Residential Landlords Association is a particularly powerful one when it speaks for so many members of the government, and we should bear this in mind when we see the Tories refusing to implement their own manifesto commitment.

It would, of course, be wrong not to acknowledge that 18 of Labour’s 199 MPs also declared a rental income, including shadow housing minister Lucy Powell, who lets a room to a lodger. ‘No idea where this list came from,’ she tweeted when this fact emerged. ‘I have a lodger. I’m not a landlord.’ But Powell is a landlord, and the fact that she has a lodger rather than a tenant is if anything an aggravating factor given that lodgers tend to enjoy even less housing security than private tenants. What’s particularly interesting is the defensive stance Powell took on the subject, refusing to acknowledge the economic relationship at play, and failing to see a conflict between rent extraction during a housing crisis and the interests of her constituents.

When thousands face eviction, soaring rents, and inadequate homes, it matters that the state’s managers are personally implicated in landlordism. It would go against these MPs’ own interests to unpick the ‘attractive’ and economically beneficial anti-tenant laws that are causing such a severe social crisis, and they hold the key to manipulating the social perception of landlordism. Given the scale of the crisis we face in housing, and the ambitious changes in law and attitude that we would need to solve it, the over-representation of landlords in the House of Commons is not something we can allow to go unnoticed any longer.

About the Author

Nick Bano is a housing and homelessness lawyer at Garden Court Chambers, and a member of Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth (HASL).