Confronting a 21st century pandemic with 14th century tactics

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

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’

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).

‘Collateral damage’

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

Hunger and the welfare state: Food insecurity among benefit claimants during covid-19. The executive summary, the Full Report and the Appendices.

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.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Britain Number 1 in the world – for all the wrong reasons

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Britain Number 1 in the world – for all the wrong reasons

As with many aspects of British society (especially) in the last forty years or so, if you wrote about events as fiction nobody would believe it as such ideas would be considered too fanciful.

Such is the case with the way the covid pandemic has been (mis)managed since the virus became known to the world at the end of 2019.

Even though it is far from an end already there are reports being published detailing the abysmal record of the Buffoon and his government to ‘lead’ the country through one of the most potentially destructive periods since the Second World War.

The innumerable ‘U-turns’; the hesitation; reports of cronyism and the awarding of billions of pounds worth of contracts to those who were no more than shysters and barrow-boys (at best, if not through and through incompetent and corrupt; the failed and ‘eyewateringly’ expensive Test, Track and Trace system (which was fundamental in getting on top of the virus) failing at every level, and still not really functioning as it should now, just before the winter when there could be potential spikes in infections; and now the vaccination programme, which was the one and only ‘success’ that the country can look back on over the last 18 months, is now faltering for some unknown reason. (For the time being we’ll forget the immorality of vaccinating more and more of the British population when there are so many others in the world more deserving. If you are going to be selfish, parochial and insular at least try and be efficient at it.)

So after more than 18 months of not being able to get to grips with the ‘unprecedented’ event Britain looks like it’s performing among the worst in the world when it comes to the future. It seems that lessons haven’t been learnt from either what went right (nor much) or wrong (a lot) in Britain and nothing at all from the best practice (again not much) in the rest of the world.

For the Buffoon and his cohort that’s not really a problem. They’ve been spending public money as if it were going out of fashion and in the process making more of their friends richer than they were already. At the same time there is a growing number of working people in Britain who are about to face an even harsher winter than the one last year. The hypocrisy of the Tories knows no bounds as they promise that the experience of the pandemic would lead to be better and fairer society although no independent analysis of their latest budget moves gives them any credence for the much vaunted ‘levelling out’. If there’s any equalisation it’s at the lowest common denominator.

Why the Buffoon acts in the way he does is not really a mystery. What is a mystery, however, is the compliance by the overwhelming proportion of the British population. The only ones protesting, in the main although not exclusively, are the fascists and the head-bangers.

When is the organised working class going to get involved in a meaningful manner and not just shouting on the side-lines ‘too little too late’ or ‘too much too soon’?

The vaccination programme in Britain ……

It seems that the moral issue of giving valuable vaccines to those who are less likely to suffer serious consequences of the virus rather than to those in the poorest parts of the world has been ‘lost’ in Britain.Consider the misinformation argument being stronger than the moral one

Covid vaccines for teenagers: what UK parents need to know amid a new wave of misinformation.

What we know about covid-19 jabs for kids.

Spurned Valneva covid jab ‘more powerful’ than AstraZeneca.

Covid vaccines are safe during pregnancy – but catching the virus isn’t.

New antibody treatment could offer up to 18 months’ protection against severe disease.

…… and the rest of the world

Covid vaccines: how to speed up rollout in poorer countries.

World Health Organisation (WHO) warns pandemic will drag on deep into 2022.

How developing countries can make mRNA covid vaccines.

India’s covid vaccine exports resume – but others must step up to vaccinate the world.

The global south is trying to produce more vaccines – but Moderna is standing in the way.

FDA panel approves Pfizer jabs for children 5 and up. This is in the USA. It will ony be a matter of time before the same sort of policies start to be implemented in the other rich, ‘western’ countries. So much for sharing! As time goes on the tribal, parochial approach to how to deal with the pandemic becomes even more pronounced. They’ll be vaccinating foetuses next.

Further on from a vaccination

AstraZeneca antibody cocktail study shows success treating covid-19.

In for a ‘twindemic’?

People who catch coronavirus and flu at same time this winter ‘twice as likely to die’.

Covid and flu: how big could the dual threat be this winter?

Covid variants

Delta ‘Plus’ covid variant may be more transmissible.

How worried should we be about the new AY.4.2 lineage of the coronavirus?

The importance of basic hygiene

Yes, we should be keeping the healthier hand-washing habits we developed at the start of the pandemic.

What does the winter hold for Britain?

This is at a time when one of the richest countries in the world, together with it’s access to a seemingly unlimited supply of vaccines, still can’t get its act together. Towards the end of October 2021 the UK held the record as the ‘disease box’ of the world.

Labour calls for Plan B measures in England.

Increased restrictions in the UK look inevitable as winter arrives.

‘Herd immunity’?

Relaxing restrictions hasn’t made covid cases spike – but this doesn’t mean herd immunity has arrived.

Increased protection for babies?

Breast milk can contain covid antibodies – good news for babies.

Emergency Powers Act

How many people still remember that we are living under almost like wartime emergency laws. The Government hasn’t used them yet – and will, no doubt, make a big issue about them being abolished with the ending of this Act. But we should remember that they have introduced some of the stipulations from this act in new laws being brought in at the moment. When States have such draconian laws at their disposal they are very reluctant to let them go – whatever the Party in power. So people shouldn’t put their faith in any potential Labour Government (or a coalition of the present opposition parties) repealing the laws in the future. There will always be ‘more pressing priorities’.

Coronavirus emergency powers: parliament must not waste its third and final chance to review them.

The testing programme starts to grab the headlines – again, and not always for the right reasons

Why are people testing positive on lateral flow tests then negative on PCR?

Lateral flow tests more accurate than first thought.

Travellers now able to use cheaper covid tests. But even with the changes that came into force after 24th October 2021 people will have to use private companies for the tests to be valid. EVERYTHING the Government of the Buffoon does is to the advantage of private business – and most people seem to accept it.

NHS Test and Trace criticised as ‘eyewatering’ waste of taxpayers’ money.

The scientific advice

Not my job to sugar-coat advice.

Poverty in Britain

More information comes out about the effects in the cut of Universal Credit that took place on 6th October 2021.

Universal credit: what the £20 a week cut will mean for hundreds of thousands of households.

‘I don’t feel like a person any more’: the emotional side of claiming universal credit. But that’s always been the idea of ‘benefits’. Make people feel ashamed and they won’t make a claim.

‘Shameful’ Universal Credit cut ‘will push 22,000 children into poverty‘.

Universal credit uplift was a lifeline during the pandemic – our research shows cutting it will leave families with impossible decisions.

As stated many times in the Journal of the Plague Years, what happens in Scotland is almost exactly replicated in the rest of the UK – but on a bigger scale (due to the population difference).

Renters on low incomes face a policy black hole: homes for social rent are the answer. The technical back-up.

Ethnicity, poverty and the data in Scotland.

And who are allowed to benefit at the expense of the poor?

Most of these issues are not ‘covid related’. They are included here to remind people of the sort of society they have allowed to exist in Britain (and many other parts of the world).

Pandora papers: ‘it’s time to pursue lawyers and accountants who enable tax evasion’.

The secret owners of UK property worth billions.

Tax cheat schemes cost governments billions.

‘Collateral damage’

How covid may leave us with fewer friends if we are not careful.

Covid ‘strategies’ throughout the world

Zero covid worked for some countries – but high vaccine coverage is now key.

The secret to South Korea’s covid success? Combining high technology with the human touch.

Covid mortality

The statistics about death rates have gone quietly lately as the debate has moved on to the issue of vaccination.

How covid deaths compare with other deaths in the UK.

How did it all start?

New WHO group may be last chance to find virus origins.

The analysis

UK’s early response worst public health failure ever.

‘Serious errors’ by ministers and scientific advisers ‘cost thousands of lives’ during pandemic.

When it’s all over ….

Covid-19 could nudge minds and societies towards authoritarianism – that is of the extreme right. Interesting that after all the people have suffered, throughout the world, with the incompetence of the capitalist governments in their handling of the pandemic, and all the corruption that has gone with the incompetence, a study comes out suggesting that most people would want more of the same.

….. unless we fall into the next pandemic

Nipah virus: could it cause the next pandemic?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

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?