Britain staggers from one ‘lock down’ to another – but still no clear exit

More on covid pandemic 2020

Britain staggers from one ‘lock down’ to another – but still no clear exit

The Buffoon making another statement on a Monday afternoon (the 23rd November), preceded by speculation and false analysis. No wonder the 16-year old girl went on a killing spree in 1979 which led to the song ‘I don’t like Mondays’

Liverpool no-symptom, city wide mass testing ‘pilot’

This ‘pilot’ had picked up 700 cases with no symptoms in the first 10 days.

It was also claimed the mass-testing project in Liverpool offered hope for the whole of England.

However …

Evaluation after two weeks of the pilot

Quite a long analysis of the early stages (the first three days) of this project was published on 9th November. With that as a base what was the situation two weeks into the pilot?

(This is based upon personal experience at one location in the south of the city, with a visit on the very first day of the pilot and a second exactly two weeks later.)

The queues have disappeared. On the 6th November it took an hour and a quarter to go through the process, on the 20th just over five minutes.

There was no booking necessary at the time of the second visit. This requirement to book was dropped after about five days. There was no explanation of why.

Test results came back much quicker – about fifteen minutes the second visit. That was almost certainly down to such few numbers going through the centre rather than an increase in the efficiency of the testing process.

So what does this tell us and is all the news good?

Yes – and no.

The statistics from the Council webpage;

Liverpool mass testing update – 1pm 20th November 2020

  • 90,429 Liverpool residents tested using lateral flow
  • 59,326 Liverpool residents tested using PCR
  • In addition, 19,585 people from neighbouring areas have been tested using lateral flow
  • There have been 788 positive lateral flow tests – 580 of which have been Liverpool residents

These are bare statistics and don’t answer possible questions such as how many individuals appear twice in these numbers. But if we take the best case scenario as being 150,000, more or less, separate people that equates to roughly 30% of the population of the City.

When I visited the centre the second time, when there was only one person in front of me and no one behind, I was told it had been getting quieter day by day. That would seem to indicate that ‘first timers’ would have been few and far between and that most people attending in the second half of the programme would have been returnees. That would mean the percentage of individual people tested would not increase significantly the longer the scheme went on.

Is that considered to be a good percentage? I don’t know as no information has been given as to the hopes of those (in both local and national government).

On the 6th November there were only six centres in the whole of the city. Over the following days that increased into the teens, after a week into the twenties and the final figure of all the centres eventually opened was 37. Some of those last centres were opened just a matter of a few days before the ‘pilot’ was due to end – after 10-14 days in the original plan.

Why weren’t all the centres opened at the very beginning? Wouldn’t that, with the hype of publicity that accompanied the opening of the project have possible encouraged more people to attend as the testing would have been taking place much more locally?

After the first weekend the Council website was much more user friendly and gave a great deal of background information – as well as updating the numbers. The page with information and location of the centres also stated whether a particular testing site was busy or not. Also all the sites were open from 07.00-19.00, seven days a week. That should have been the case before the first person walked through the door.

Why was the system of booking changed to one of just turning up on spec? If it was to encourage more people to attend then that decision should have been made, again, before the first test took place. Was this is clash between national and local government – as the booking was made through the gov.uk website?

One of the problems with details having to be entered at the test centre is that those without Smartphones have to publicly give their personal details in order to register. So a potential privacy and data protection issue there.

But there are a number of the problems of this ‘pilot’ that were evident from the start. One of those was the doubt about exactly how long the pilot would last. There were conflicting messages about this. It was supposed to be for 10 to 14 days – itself vague. And even into the third week the pilot the website is only saying ‘the end of November’. But what day exactly? So a level of uncertainty and, as with the ‘leadership’ displayed at national level this lack of clarity doesn’t help instil confidence.

At the same time it was not made clear whether people should re-test or not. I personally thought the recommendation was every couple of weeks which would have been nye impossible for most people if the pilot had lasted the short time it was originally proposed. Even every five days (as suggested on the website at the moment) that would still have been pushing it for some people.

And the lack of information/propaganda is also missing. At the moment the centres are very quiet. This is a wasted opportunity. Instead of just making squadies bored stiff with having to process a handful of people each day why hasn’t there been/isn’t there now a campaign to get people who have already tested to go again? This is just a waste of capacity, a waste of resources and a potential loss of valuable information/data.

The Council could have been much more proactive in this matter, using the resources already accessible to the Council, e.g., email addresses from the paperless Council Tax procedure, as well as getting other social organisations throughout the city, e.g., housing associations, to use their database to inform and encourage as many people as possible to make use of the opportunity that has ben presented.

At the end of this pilot there will be a number of people who, when asked if they went to be tested, will reply ‘What test?’.

And will the results of the monitoring of this pilot be widely distributed? There is talk about he planning for multiple sites for a potential mass vaccination programme – surely there should be lessons from the testing pilot in Liverpool to make such an exercise as smooth as possible?

Even though Liverpool was supposed to be a ‘pilot’ the project had only been going for three days before the Buffoonette Matt Hancock announced that it would be established in other areas of England – and it seems the Welsh also wanted to get in on the idea with testing being opened up in Merthyr Tydfil, among other places, on 20th November.

What lessons, both positive and negative could have been learnt in such a short period of time (especially when the so-called ‘devolved nations’ don’t want to learn anything from what might have happened in England)?

Just from the picture at the head of the BBC article the indication is the Welsh have decided on a different approach, someone administering the test rather than it being self tested as in Liverpool. Was there a reason for this different approach – or was it just one group of politicians and scientists deciding on a method just because it wasn’t what had been used elsewhere?

More on ‘collateral damage’

NHS ‘workforce disaster’ threatens a million operations and could cost lives.

NHS patients at risk as Intensive Care Units (ICUs) routinely understaffed

Immunity?

Quarter of people may already be immune to coronavirus – even though many have never been infected.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This is a strange one. Shops warn of Christmas stock shortages as PPE shipments clog key UK port.

Government paying £1million a day to store mountain of PPE – but NHS staff still short on supplies.

How have other parts of the world managed the pandemic?

Lessons from around the world on fighting the covid ‘second wave’.

A celebrity obsessed society

Dolly Parton ‘honoured and proud’ to help covid-19 battle. As she said when interviewed, ‘I’m sure many millions of dollars from many people went into that’ – ‘that’ being a vaccine trial. So why does she get such exposure for donating three quarters of a million dollars?

She has a reputation for donating to ‘good causes’ so isn’t a tight arse – but she still has an estimated personal fortune of around $600 million so hardly having to make visits to the local food bank.

Big Brother is definitely watching you

Experts working inside Cabinet Office to sift through data that can inform policy-making. That’s your data, mainly knowing where you have been and are at any set time, through mobile phones. I’ll never understand why people are so keen to carry around their own personal tracking devices but would baulk at any of the wild conspiracy theories suggesting such devices would be secretly implanted into their bodies via any future vaccination programme.

And why is the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – basically a spy and listening organisation – considered to be so benign in Britain when it openly spies on its own citizens?

Test-track-trace

How the ‘world beater’ went wrong.

A covid ‘freedom pass’

It was first called a ‘passport’ now a ‘freedom pass’ – basically some form of certificate that you are covid free and therefore not a risk to anyone in order to return to some level of normality. The latest iteration is the new (i.e., not mentioned before) ‘two tests per week’ model. But, as with all these issues, it would only be available to those with a not inconsiderable amount of free cash as I can’t see such tests being provided to the mass of the population. Such perks will only be available to the rich – especially those who have made a fortune out of the lack of proper regulation and apportioning of lucrative covid related contracts.

Poverty in the United Kingdom

At the beginning of November a report was published on the extent of poverty in Wales.

60,000 Scots face poverty as result of Universal credit cuts – the figures will be much larger in the whole of the UK as Scotland only accounts for around a tenth of the total population.

Education of poorest pupils in England and Wales ‘suffers most during Covid isolation’.

The £20 weekly uplift must be extended to legacy benefits.

Disabled people left without ‘financial lifeline’ as 119,000 call for change.

2.5 million households worried about paying rent over winter, with 700,000 already in arrears and 350,000 at risk of eviction.

Anti lock down protests

One of the most disturbing things about how this present pandemic has worked out in Britain is not;

the total lack of strategy from the start (and even eight months in we are no closer to one);

the fact that the different devolved governments have, from the very start and keep on doing so to date, followed their own agenda to make a political point rather than to work in concert, to come to a consensus and help to speed the island through the problem at hand;

the fact that every thing has been ‘led by the science’ and then ‘not led by the science’ when it suits; the number of U-turns the Buffoon and his Government have made that make the rest of society dizzy;

the hypocrisy that has pervaded the whole issue from the beginning with their being ‘one rule for us and one for them’;

the level of corruption that has followed the awarding of contacts, the appointment of individuals or the loss to the public purse due to the lack of any monitoring which has allowed gangsters to feed at the trough normally reserved to the ‘elite’;

the level of fear that has been created in the country to cower people into submission;

the use of the statistics to, at first, prove one thing and then, later, to prove another;

or the fact that scientists seem to follow their own personal agenda rather than looking for a way out and hence doing perpetual damage to the reputation of what are amusingly called ‘experts’ for many years to come.

No! It’s the way that the vast majority of the British population seem to have accepted all this from a State and ‘political class’ that has proven, time and time again, to be untrustworthy, incompetent and not knowing the truth if it hit them in the face.

This unquestioning acceptance, pusillanimity and basically bovine response has permitted the ‘anti-vaxxers’, conspiracy theorists and the fascist right to dominate the anti-government reaction to the policies which restrict the free movement of people in a so-called ‘democratic state’.

Britain, in relation to it’s population, has one of the highest mortality rates in the world due to the covid virus. Lock downs (under whatever guise) and restrictions that have been introduced have not achieved their stated aim and any policies introduced are more of a knee jerk reaction to events that a considered, intelligent and reasoned approach to the problem.

The solution to the initial problem is now becoming an even greater threat to society than the pandemic itself.

The social-democratic, pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist left – as represented by the British Labour Party – has adopted the mantra of ‘too little, too late’. They want more restrictions on the workers yesterday. No wonder their being in power has often preceded fascist dictatorships – they basically prepare the ground for the more aggressive right.

Trade Unions have been no better and instead of fighting for the maintenance of jobs they aregue that billions of pounds from the people should be used to prop up failing capitalists businesses so they can continue to exploit workers.

The odious Thatcher (in the 1980s) said the government shouldn’t support ‘lame ducks’ in her attack upon nationalised industries yet organised labour seems to be hell bent on supporting any employer/company just to maintain the ‘right’ of the worker to be exploited. They are reminiscent of Crass, from the book ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist’ who thought that work was the most important thing, regardless of the pay and conditions that went with it.

In such a time of crisis as now the revolutionary left should be highlighting the issues that are a direct consequence of the capitalist system (exploitation of the world’s resources, whatever the adverse consequences; the thirst for ever greater rates of profit which involves the cutting of corners on regulation and safety; the movement of goods and people which is promoted for no other reason than to maximise those profits; the attacks on public health systems than makes them vulnerable to a crisis as they cannot adequately deal with everyday issues; or the institutions of government that are not prepared, either materially, philosophically or ideologically to respond to crises which effect the vast majority of the population) and taking the position of leadership which is not being given by the traditional ruling class.

Instead it seems to be hiding away, allowing capitalism to make a cats arse out of the situation and creating an opening for the populist, fascist right to take up the gauntlet.

Some information about protests in one city (Liverpool) in the last few weeks;

Anti-lockdown protesters clash with police as dozens arrested.

Police arrest 27 at anti-lockdown protest in Liverpool.

Thirteen arrests at Liverpool anti-lockdown demo.

There are a few points that come out of these demonstrations;

before the demonstration on 14th November the police declared tthey would be out in force and on the day the centre of the city was swamped with Police vehicles and officers – attempting to create a threatening atmosphere and climate of fear;

the police are openly saying they are using body cameras to identify, through facial recognition technology, those people out on the streets (also see GCHQ above); and

are already using Anti-Social Behaviour legislation to try to disperse the protestors (with more information of how it can be used).

Such tactics should concern those who believe in the right to protest.

Vaccines – the yellow brick road out of the chaos

The news of the last couple of weeks has been dominated by a number of potentially successful vaccine trials – that’s when there’s no speculation of how people will be able to survive Christmas in the ‘new normal’.

That has led to the NHS preparing dozens of covid mass vaccination centres around England. It is hoped that some information about the sorts of locations chosen will have been made from the experience of the Liverpool pilot mass non-symptomatic testing that took place in November. However, experience in Liverpool (see above) seems to have been replaced with hype and unless the number of sites isn’t increased hundreds of fold before the start of any mass vaccination programme it will mean that only those with their own private transport will be able to take advantage of the ‘miracle’ vaccines. Such a programme needs careful consideration before implementation but, I fear, playing to the crowd will be considered much more politically expedient.

One of the added problems is that one of the (potentially) first vaccines to be available needs to be stored in dry ice at temperatures of -75C therefore making it impractical in many scenarios – at local surgeries but more importantly in the poorer parts of the world.

Those who gain from a crisis

There’s been a lot of information coming out in recent days about the levels of corruption, toadyism and ‘old boy networks’ that have siphoned off huge sums from public finances.

Go-between paid £21m in taxpayer funds for NHS Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – and this came out due to a court case where various players were arguing that they should have been paid more. In this case the Government of the Buffoon insists ‘proper due diligence’ was followed.

Various points of view on this matter.

Watchdog urges government to ‘come clean’ over deals.

Hundreds of firms fast-tracked for lucrative covid contracts after tips from ministers and MPs.

PPE suppliers with political ties given ‘high-priority’ status

This corruption extended to the appointment of those to lead some of the top tasks used in the fight against the pandemic – this time bringing the Buffoon himself into the frame. And it wasn’t that we got the best – their track records being lamentable.

After the pandemic – what?

As there is supposedly ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ – but not yet – due to the announcements of the high success rates of (at the time of writing) three vaccines some are turning to how we should live AFTER the pandemic. Even in these early days there are attempts to change people’s behaviour based upon nothing but fear and the idea that ‘everyone’ has to protected and made invulnerable.

But it isn’t everyone.

Breathalyser-style covid tests and face masks should remain post-pandemic, says leading scientist.

Even before the first needle with a regulatory sanctioned vaccine in a phial behind it has punctured the skin of anyone (who will obviously be a citizen of the so-called ‘west’ let alone one of those billions who live in misery and poverty, mainly in the southern hemisphere) some scientist – who is either a direct employee of a major pharmaceutical company or who has, at some time in the past, received funding from such a company – comes out with the novel idea that society in the ‘rich’ northern hemisphere should accustom itself to using, on a regular basis, the expensive testing kits (whether they be effective or not) to counteract the possible consequences of covid-19 – although it will be given a much more attractive name in the post pandemic era.

Society (and homo sapiens) has lived with viruses and disease for millions of years and has suffered epidemics and pandemics innumerable times during those years. Many have died, most have survived. However, that was before the time of the monetisation of any crisis. Developing upon the fear that has been created – worldwide – by cretinous and inefficient capitalist governments to counter the pandemic pharmaceutical companies – and their tame, greedy, unprincipled ‘experts’ – are already looking to make money out of those fears and anxieties.

These proposals might be advertised as being ‘appropriate’ in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic but such ideas will be promoted well into the future – once we have returned to normality.

What a society we have allowed to exist?

This just panders to the idea, which is quite extensive in the supposed richer countries of the world, that we have the right to live forever, whatever the cost to society in general. We should, perhaps, accept that the right of some to exist forever will inevitably mean that many more will die prematurely.

More on covid pandemic 2020

The second lock down and the Liverpool pilot

More on covid pandemic 2020

The second lock down and the Liverpool pilot

It seems that the Government of the Buffoon is innately stupid. Even when they decide to do; something intelligent; something which others had been calling for for months; something which has strategic merit; and something which is a different approach to the tried and proven to be unsuccessful tactics of the past eight months they still manage to cock it up.

I’m talking, of course, of the pilot of the city wide non-symptomatic testing of as many people as possible in the city of Liverpool which began at midday on Friday 6th November (see below). (Arrangements have changed in the last week and it’s no longer necessary to book, you just turn up at any of these centres.)

But one of the most important things about this pilot is the word ‘pilot’ and what it signifies. My dictionary definition of this version of pilot states; ‘used in or serving as a test or a trial’, ‘serving as a guide’.

That implies that you run the scheme for a certain period of time, evaluate how it has gone – in both practical terms and in the results that were obtained, and then decide on the success (or otherwise) of the scheme and then introduce it (or not) in other areas.

But not the idiots who run Britain.

On the evening of Monday 9th November (three and a half days into the ‘pilot’) the office of the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock – one the of the Three Bellends (see below) – contacts 67 different local authorities (mainly in the North of England) stating that they would also be provided with resources for introducing such city wide testing.

Now I’m all in favour of such testing, have argued that it should have been introduced (or, perhaps, more importantly, ‘piloted’) many months ago and then, after proper evaluation introduced throughout the whole of the island of Britain. But you need information to anticipate any possible problems (as well as highlighting the positives) of such a scheme. This has never been done before on such a scale and teething problems are inevitable but what you get if 68 towns/cities are doing their own thing is 68 versions of chaos – and no lessons for the introduction in rest of the country that will inevitably follow in its wake.

I attended the first day of the test in Liverpool and wrote about the experience on this blog earlier in the week. The of the points made about that visit was that there was no obvious monitoring of the scheme and that those young soldiers inside the building were merely processing people and not noting down any problems or other issues which might have a bearing on the efficient extension of this scheme to other parts of the country. In fact, that blog post is the only thing I am aware of approximating an evaluation of the ‘Liverpool pilot’.

Being a good, responsible and caring citizen of the city of Liverpool I sent a link of my ‘findings’ to the City Council. I never even received an acknowledgement that my notes had been received. As there was no ‘feedback’ requested from participants and as there seemed to be no one monitoring what was happening in the (now) 17 centres throughout Liverpool I doubt whether the Labourites in charge if the city have a better understanding of the word ‘pilot’ (in this context) than the Buffoon down in London.

Politicians of all colours (being at foundation guardians of the capitalist system) follow the same trajectory in a crisis such as this present pandemic. Their principal aim is to come out of the situation making sure that any blame is placed somewhere else, anywhere apart form their own door steps. The consequences that such actions have on the majority of the population is irrelevant.

And don’t get me on the introduction of the ‘second lock down’ in England with its leaks, in-fighting, half truths, selective statistics, muddle guidance, uncertain longevity and possible end.

Was the country prepared for such a pandemic?

Not according to a former chief medical officer.

The present (and second of how many) lock down

To justify another lock down the Buffoon quotes frightening ‘statistics’ which predict virus deaths ‘twice as bad’ as spring.

And continues to stick to the fear factor when those ‘statistics’ are challenged. If you can’t keep them safe then keep them afraid.

Other figures suggest that the ‘second peak might have passed’. But the lock down stays.

Lock downs have been seen by many as just digging a hole from which it is almost impossible to escape. One suggestion is by dividing the population into two – with your house number determining your future.

Nationalism

I don’t understand the nationalists within Britain. For eight months the so-called ‘devolved administrations’, especially in Scotland and Wales, have made an effort to be different from what has been proposed in England. In some ways I can see their point, the Buffoon has never given the impression that he knows what he’s doing and his Government has made so many U-turns most people have lost count.

However, the reasons the nationalist have chosen different paths was merely to demonstrate, however illogically, that they were in control in their little patches of land. In the strategy documents produced in readiness for such as this present pandemic it was stated that the hope was all the 4 separate administrations would work in concert. That hasn’t happened yet.

But, all of a sudden, the Welsh first minister states that all the UK nations should work together in the weeks coming up to Christmas. I don’t really see, apart from a little bit of populist posturing, why Christmas should be any different from the rest of the year.

Then the following day the same Welsh first minister declares that GCSE and A-levels in Wales will be cancelled for 2021. Which is not the same in the rest of the UK and which will cause all kinds of problems and conflicts, if not treated very carefully, when it comes to University application time.

A report by the Institute of Government highlights how the childish squabbling of the Nationalists have not served the people throughout Britain at all well.

The spread of the virus

How the news was reported in the days before the second lock down.

Nearly 100,000 catching virus every day.

‘Second wave’ could last until April in ‘worst-case scenario’.

Understanding ‘aerosol transmission’ could be key to controlling coronavirus.

Coronavirus rules in England aren’t working, scientists say.

Does coronavirus spread more easily in cold temperatures?

Face masks

This was talked about at the very beginning of the pandemic, i.e., that face coverings cease to become effective if basic hygiene practices are not followed. But how many really people follow good practice? Face masks should be washed and tumble dried each day.

The poor suffering the most

Again one of those issues that have been reported on a number of occasions – but still worth noting. Despite protestations and false concern expressed by the Buffoon the pandemic still leaves poorer families £170 a month worse off.

But, it seems, more people have recovered their concern for the poorest in society. There was a ‘dramatic softening in attitudes’ even before the covid pandemic after years of Thatcherite sponsored selfishness and lack of concern for others. Also there’s a consequent increase in the desire to tackle the tax avoidance practised by the rich to pay for higher benefits.

Unemployment, yet to reach its peak, will also effect the young and those from ethnic minorities the most.

Another U-turn (this time on free school meals) which benefits many in the short term but which shys away from the main issue.

Redundancies at record level as pandemic takes further toll.

Food banks

Way back in 2012 a post on this blog considered that the aim of the Trussel Trust (the biggest charity operator of food banks in the United Kingdom) ‘to have a food bank in every town and city’ was a shameful goal for any organisation to have in one of the top five richest countries in the world. Such an aim is merely putting a sticking plaster over what is a suppurating wound of hunger for a significant proportion of the population. The fact that eight years on the demand for their services has increased many fold just goes to show that food banks are, in many senses, part of the problem and not the solution.

As with many consequences of poverty in Britain the covid-19 pandemic has not caused the problem – exacerbated it yes, but what it has mainly achieved is the uncovering of the full extent of poverty throughout the country. A recent report from the Trust observed that 2,600 food parcels provided for children every day in first six months of the pandemic.

Food banks are getting visits from the so-called ‘newly hungry’.

Increased control by the State

As has been stated here a number of times capitalist states will use any crisis to increase their control of the population. Measures might be introduced under benign circumstances but the problem is these measures, or more especially the laws that allow them, tend to stay for long after the initial cause is just a bad memory.

Such an example is Manchester University installing fencing around student accommodation – and in the process handing out public resources to private business – which sees the rightful and legitimate opposition from the students.

The university initially insisted it had written to students informing them about the construction, but has since acknowledged work began “ahead of the message being seen”.

What a bunch of wankers!

The privatisation of the pandemic and corruption runs rife

Over the last seven months unimaginable amounts of money have been thrown at the ‘private sector’ – whether to keep companies in business or the more important task of transferring monies from the public to the private purse. But the ‘private sector’ will never be up to dealing with such as a pandemic as the over-riding principle is always the maximisation of profit – which will always go against the public good. Even though the ‘private sector’ has shown itself wanting since the pandemic broke they will still be brought it to cover any cuts in the public sector which successive governments (of whatever colour) had introduced in the name of ‘efficiency’.

Whitehall scrambles private sector to avoid second wave disaster.

Not satisfied with taking the money being offered the gangsters of capitalism still believe they have to resort to fraud. £45m deal for NHS masks collapses amid fraud claims. The contract was still awarded even though the Government was warned, in June, that things were dodgy.

Labour demands answers from vaccine head over PR bill.

Although not directly a matter to do with the pandemic but a situation which prepared the country for getting itself robbed stupid once money really started to slosh around. This is a matter of Tory ministers directing monies to their patches so they can claim the credit for ‘improving’ their own area – whether that was a priority or not.

More on ‘collateral damage’

Mentioned in virtually all postings after we had been living under the pandemic for a few months it’s still worth re-iterating that the world still goes around even with the virus. The lack of a proper strategy generally, in all countries worldwide, means that the so-called ‘collateral damage’ keeps increasing.

50,000 cases of cancer left undiagnosed due to Covid disruption. And that could double within in year if the same approach is followed.

Some of these problems have been put down to the too simple message of ‘Protect the NHS’.

And with such situations comes the recriminations.

Another study has shown that a four-week cancer treatment delay raises death risk by 10%.

And a study from the United States indicates that a significant number of people who contract the virus also suffer mental health conditions in the aftermath.

Almost 140,000 patients waiting longer than a year for NHS treatment.

One rule for us – another for them

A crisis is an opportunity for the rich – even the most talentless.

While the rest of us are worrying about seeing relatives and job security, the super-rich are flying to party islands on private jets.

Cummins has got away with it for a while – will that continue (probably).

Test-trace-track

THE hot potato of the pandemic continues to be thrown up in the air.

England’s contact-tracing system needs better data handling to beat covid-19.

Prior to the announcement of the pilot in Liverpool (see below) it was stated that 10% of England’s population could be tested for covid-19 every week. To really get on top of the spread of infections in the UK many more people nationwide will need to be tested on a regular basis. But again the question has to be asked – What about the poorer parts of the world?

We were told suitably qualified personnel would staff the call centres. That doesn’t seem to be the case as teenagers ended up operating crucial parts of England’s test and trace system.

The NHS app evolves, this time sending more people into self-isolation. There are always problems when more people are told to do something which doesn’t make sense to them – and which might seriously effect their general well being. Perhaps a sledge hammer to crack a nut.

The debate about what happens to information gained by the app and how secure it is continues to run

And then sometimes it doesn’t work.

More than 7,000 of the app’s users were given the wrong self-isolation information due to a faulty update

City wide testing – the Liverpool ‘pilot’

This is one of the few good ideas that have come out of the ‘battle’ against covid-19. And Liverpool is a good choice as a pilot it being a medium sized city, a diverse population (in terms of age, ethnic variety and wealth). It could bode well as a way to deal with the virus – if it works.

The Army are supposed to be in charge of this (which started on 6th November) and everything will depend upon whether there has been local input to the locations of the testing centres or whether an outside organisation thinks it knows best. If it has been properly planned (and it is hoped that the planning for this began some weeks ago and not the day after it was announced) then it could be a way out of the total mess and chaos that has characterised the so-called war against this tiny virus. Obviously only time will tell. With the second national lock down having started on 5th November (so not much burning of the failed Catholic regicide in effigy this year) and due to last for a month – which coincides with the Liverpool pilot – then if positive results have not been achieved by the end of the 28 days then we are really snookered.

Some various news reports of what might be the most significant positive development for months.

Liverpool to pilot city-wide coronavirus testing.

New procedure offers results in just an hour, rather than the more usual 24 – 48 hours.

Up to 500,000 people in city will be tested in bid to measure feasibility of mass population screening.

Liverpool Covid tests will ‘open door to more routine way of life’.

But those frightened ‘scientists’ who can come up with nothing new – even though the old tactics have not shown themselves to be effective – try to pore cold water on the initiative.

Vaccine and immunity

A vaccine might be on the way – but don’t get too optimistic.

But another look at immunity might be more positive.

The big issue of recent days is the announcement of a ‘90% success rate vaccine’. Matt Hancock, who has been mercifully quiet recently, claims the credit and states that the NHS ‘is ready’ to introduce a mass vaccination programme when it is already pushed to the limit due to decades of cuts and financial neglect.

But after the euphoria of the announcement comes the cooler analysis. Good news yes, but …

‘Back to normal by spring’ – are we expecting too much from the first COVID-19 vaccines?

The ever expanding effects of covid-19

Look at your feet if you think you may have contracted the virus – for covid toes.

Reactions to Government policy

Pub renames itself The Three Bellends with dig at Johnson, Hancock and Cummings.

Not much fun being a mink in 2020

Denmark announces cull of 15 million mink over covid mutation fears.

And the Dutch mink don’t fare any better.

Fears over mutated covid virus from mink lead to Denmark travel ban.

No one, yet, has made any comment of whether the new vaccine which has been so trumpeted in the last couple of days, will be able to cope with the little present the mink have given the world.

Finally:

How the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha’s care about it’s subjects

William Saxe-Coburg and Gotha – the heir to the oppressive monarchy of Britain – contracted the virus earlier in the year but kept it quiet as ‘he didn’t want to worry the population of the country’. It’s good to know that some rich boy is really concerned about our well being.

More on covid pandemic 2020

Lock downs (under various guises) spread like a virus across the United Kingdom

More on covid pandemic 2020

Lock downs (under various guises) spread like a virus across the United Kingdom

Although it’s still unclear what the figures are really telling us (numbers mean nothing unless they are unpicked and put into the context of a particular situation) the chances are that Britain might well be moving into a ‘second wave’ of the covid-19 pandemic.

The problem with the figures is it appears that if anyone dies with symptoms of covid-19 then they are part of the number used to frighten people into accepting all the (increasing) restrictions under which a significant proportion of the population now have to live. What is not being clarified (at least as far as I can discover) is how many of these fatalities would have been classified as caused by other causes in previous years.

How may people are dying of influenza or pneumonia? We don’t know as those figures seem to have totally disappeared from the statistics. At the beginning of the pandemic many people, who might well have died as a consequence of covid-19 weren’t counted as such in the statistics as no one was available to state the actual cause of death. This was especially the case in care homes were the numbers of deaths started to overwhelm the system and covid appeared on fewer death certificates than might have been the case if staffing levels had been able to cope.

Now there might be a situation where covid is blamed for all such respiratory causes of death. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) mentioned this in one of their reports just over a week ago but I haven’t seen anything since (see below).

So ‘second wave’ or not? Perhaps the jury is still out on that one.

At the same time the very actions of the Governments of the 4 nations of the United Kingdom (as well as in most countries of the world) will have contributed to the ‘second wave’ if it ever does arrive.

They are following the science – then they’re not. They are introducing a lock down – and then they’re not. They have an effective test, track and trace regime – and then they don’t. They clarify matters – but people are still confused. They talk about following a similar and coordinated policy – then they go their own way. They make policies – and then they make so many U-turns that we all become dizzy. They say they have a strategy – but they don’t. Still, seven months since they started doing ‘something’.

As ‘something’ is all they have been doing. Just reacting to events as they have failed to have a proper strategy which will lead to certain actions that will have a real effect on the course of the virus but also to actions that will take society back to some semblance of normality.

Governments throughout the world resemble chickens with their heads cut off running around aimlessly rather than the sophisticated, modern leaders they constantly portray themselves as being.

But if the British Government, with the Buffoon at its head, has been inconsistent in its approach to the pandemic they have remained steadfast when it comes to its attitude to the poorest in society.

The way many Tory ministers and others have flocked to support the Government’s official position (notwithstanding the opportunist stance of some Conservative Members of Parliament who had gained their seats in last Decembers General Election in what was considered Labour’s heartland) over the issue of free school meals shows the true colours of these staunch representatives of wealth, privilege and guardians of the capitalist system.

After providing unimaginable amounts to private industry in the last seven months (and for how long in the future at the moment it’s impossible to say) they fight like a dog with a bone to not provide mere pocket change to provide meals to children in those times when they are not actually in school.

It’s their attitude and the way they fight to maintain what they see as a ‘principle’ which demonstrates the sort of people they are.

‘Scum’ is not a strong enough word to describe them.

Preparedness for the pandemic

Government did not have exact measures‘ for tackling Covid crisis. And blames Cummins’s interference for it.

How the State controls us

Scapegoats to frighten the masses – whilst the rich and powerful are never held to account.

Test, track and trace

Covid ‘test-and-release’ system for airlines ‘in place by December’ – if you believe that you’ll believe anything.

Test and trace forced to bring in untrained workers as system is overwhelmed.

The effectiveness of contact tracing apps – not just in Britain.

The ‘world beating’ test, track and race system? Buffoon admits failings as England’s covid contact-tracing system hits new low.

We may be living in ‘unprecedented and challenging’ times but the Government should still be following the rules – although they would love people to forget them. This time it’s all about privacy and the retention of personal information.

Instead of ‘everyone working together’ to ensure the country has a testing regime that works (let alone be ‘world beating’, the cretinous Buffoon’s boast way back in June) capitalism always looks to make money out of a crisis. This time it’s a high street chemist chain. A snip at £120 a time!

Test and trace workers report new problems with troubled service.

Patients discharged from hospitals without covid test results. Considered one of the contributory factors in the deaths in care homes in the spring some people don’t seemed to have learnt from that experience.

Nightingale Hospitals

They’ve been sitting there costing the State money – but doing nothing. Not even making sure they are prepared for a potential ‘second wave’.

Poverty in the UK

I can’t remember a time when so many people have been so concerned about ‘the poor’ in Britain. Barely a day goes by without someone – from millionaire footballers to Pantomime Dames – saying that the poor are suffering disproportionately due to the pandemic and they should be given assistance of one kind of another.

But the problem that underlies all of these concerned interventions is the acceptance that ‘the poor will always be with us’, as if it’s a natural phenomenon about which we can do nothing. This acceptance of a social ill is clearly displayed in the language and words used when discussing the poor – always in the third person as if what they want doesn’t really matter. (In fact, the main thing the poor want is not to be poor.)

The buzzword in Britain in the seven (long, long) months of the ineptly managed covid-19 pandemic has been ‘disadvantaged’. This also demonstrates the patronising attitude of those ‘comfortably well off’ when referring to those who work in insecure, low wage jobs, can’ pay their rent and have problems feeding, heating and clothing themselves and their children adequately.

They are not ‘disadvantaged’ as a specific group, they are just members of the working class who have been forced into a condition by the pressures of circumstance, not being able or wanting to organise to improve their condition collectively. Those other members of that same class, who (again by sheer luck in the main) have managed to secure a decent life for themselves have often forgotten about the less well off members of society and turn their back on what they fear might one day be their fate.

But it’s the very fate of the working class that however secure they might think they are, accepting the limitations of capitalism, everything can collapse at any time without warning. The uncertainty that accompanies the anarchy of capitalism means that any crisis can push those who were relatively content into conditions of extreme penury. The periodic crisis that are the corollary of capitalism have proven this time and time again.

But it’s not just the economic crises that can cause this drop from dizzy heights to the gutter. War, natural disasters and, as we see now, medical pandemics can also be the final push.

And this pandemic has opened the flood gates for do-gooders to spout their condescending and patronising claptrap. The most recent insult I have heard (although she is probably too stupid to realise it) is from Dame Louise Casey – with a background in ‘helping’ the poor in various organisations – who said (in an interview on Radio 4’s, World at One programme on the 20th October) she was concerned about ‘families at the bottom of the pile’. She was also concerned about ‘lone households, often women’ (you have to get your concerns for women in these debates to maintain credibility) without understanding that many in ‘lone households, often women’ work hard to provide for their children and manage (just) but don’t deserve to be talked down to.

The solution to poverty is not more stale crumbs from the rich man’s (and woman’s) table it is the poor getting off their knees and turning that pile up-side-down.

We should remember it’s not always the cream that rises to the top – the shit does as well.

There’s definitely nothing like a Dame.

Alternatives to unproven lock downs

It sticks in the craw to agree with a Tory Life Peer (and a Fund manager to boot) but one of that kind was interviewed on Radio 4’s World at One on 20th October (I’m sorry, yet another Dame and on the same day as the patronising one). Helena Morrissey was arguing that an endless cycle of lock downs (or whatever they may be called) hasn’t, isn’t and won’t really get us any closer to dealing with the covid-19 pandemic.

Using the argument of the Barrington Declaration (highlighted in a post a few weeks ago) she said we have to get used to living with the virus and that those, of all ages, who are classified as ‘vulnerable’ should be protected and the rest of us carry on in a slightly modified ‘normal’. Apart from her brown-nosing of the Buffoon there is little with which I disagree.

Now to wash my hands in pure lye after typing that.

Another establishment figure has a critical view of the use of restrictions on freedoms and the feeding of ‘mass hysteria’ by the Government to achieve its aims of control of the population. That can be seen in the growing idiocy about ‘Christmas being stolen’.

What do the statistics say?

‘No sign of second wave’ as ONS data shows normal level of deaths for time of year.

Most of the country’s major university towns are now past the peak of the virus.

Wales is living through a ‘fire break’ (another new term that has little meaning) at the moment but do the statistics of infections and deaths really warrant it?

A potential vaccine

The limits of vaccine trials – if we are after a vaccine to be the miracle about to happen.

‘The sooner we get a vaccine the sooner we can get back to normal’ is the mantra. But it may not be as easy as that.

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

The bad news, antibodies ‘fall rapidly after infection’ – although that sounds more problematic than it might be. A cold is a coronavirus and that keeps coming around all the time. Covid-19 is different as there hasn’t been enough time for society to build up much natural resistance. And even in this study they suggested that any second infection would normally be much milder than the first.

The good news?

New understanding of the neuropilin-1 protein could speed vaccine research. I don’t understand what it means either but I assume that someone involved in vaccine research does.

Zero cases?

Why chase after the impossible? All countries seem to be aiming to eliminate the virus which is considered by virtually all scientists to be an impossibility – at least for many years. That means we will have to learn to live with the virus and adapt to its presence in society worldwide.

Care homes

Care staff ordered to work in one home only. This might be easier said than done. As part of the cuts in funding to care home full time staff were reduced and most homes depend upon part time agency workers to fill busy times. That will not be easy to just switch off like a tap. In a way it could make the situation worse and not better.

Will care homes be ready to face the winter if the country gets hit by a so-called ‘second wave’? Not if early indications are anything to go by. If inspectors can’t get tests what chance anyone else?

If there’s a problem in one sector you can always trust the Tories to make matters worse. Nothing whatsoever has been learnt from mistakes from earlier in the year, with patients being sent from hospital to care homes without being tested negative first. It shows a total disrespect for people in general (as this risks spreading the infection in the community) – but especially the most vulnerable.

Is it corruption?

Somebody has to pay for all those empty trains we have been told not to use. What about the public? If the the State has to pick up the bills then that’s a nationalised industry to me. £50 million in just a weekend.

They might sound cheap but all the adverts from the last seven months haven’t come from a bargain basement. The pounds in their millions were being spent even before the first lock down.

The virus that sticks like glue

Coronavirus can survive on skin for nine hours.

The Nationalists

If there isn’t enough confusion nationwide the Scottish Nationalist are now proposing to introduce a 5 tier system in Scotland – whilst there’s a 3 tier system in England. For no other reason than being different and ‘in control’.

Scots told to prepare for ‘digital Christmas’.

But in Wales the ‘fire break’ was to protect Christmas – or at least the businesses.

The World at One on 23rd October gave a break down on what the Scottish ‘5 tier’ system was all about.

In the last post we looked at the situation of the annual vaccinations against influenza (flu jabs) in England. It’s not much better in Scotland. You and Yours, on Radio 4 on 23rd October, had a look at the issue.

Making money out of a crisis

We knew there would be abuses of the system where the Government was giving out money to companies hand over fist without any oversight – but that much? £2 billion in the hands of gangsters.

The Army gets involved for the first time

Supposedly only in a logistics role but the Army is starting to be deployed.

‘Collateral damage’

It’s been said may times here that the brunt of the effects of the pandemic – but more especially the manner in which it has been approached by the Buffoon and his Government (just as in other parts of the world) – will be felt by the young, those who are just about to start work as well as those who have been working for just a few years (and school children will be effected in ways we won’t understand for some time). However it does no harm to re-iterate the issue by reference to the unemployment figures.

The background to the deaths

There are many reasons for the high numbers of deaths in the UK since the start of the pandemic. Decades of underfunding of the NHS and the general health of the population being just two. To the list can now be added air pollution.

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