Britain – a nation in waiting

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Britain – a nation in waiting

There’s a bit of a hiatus in Britain at the moment.

Politicians are no longer on the attack or or the defence over the handling of the pandemic – although Hancock is defending himself this week against the accusations made against him by the vengeful Cummings.

The country is waiting. Waiting;

  • to see if restrictions will be eased on June 21st – which is looking less and less likely as we approach decision day of the 14th June;
  • to find out how badly the pandemic has been managed by the Buffoon – but that won’t happen until this time next year (at the earliest);
  • to see if corruption at the highest levels (with the awarding of contracts to cronies) will be punished – a very unlikely scenario;
  • to see how long Matt Hancock (the Health Minister) will continue to lie through his back teeth over the handling of the pandemic in Britain in the March and April of last year;
  • to see if there will be a ‘third wave’ – predicted by risk averse ‘experts’ who continue to pander to the failed tactics of lock down without taking into account the increasingly serious consequences and ‘collateral damage’ of doing so;
  • to find out if they have a job as uncertainty for the future means that millions just don’t know what will happen, especially after September when the company friendly ‘furlough’ scheme comes to an end;
  • to see if it is worth going to university or college in the new academic year with uncertainty following the grading system that will be used for a second year in a row and the impossibility of the ‘university experience’;
  • to see if another, more virulent variant might develop in the vast majority of the world which has been basically forgotten by the richer countries in their selfish rush to vaccinate their own populations with no consideration for those outside their national borders – a situation which could blow a huge hole into the ‘success’ of the vaccination programme (despite all the promised ‘generous’ donations of vaccines – which are made just for the good publicity (such ‘promises’ have been regularly forgotten in the past) and to be meaningful such donations would have to be in billions not millions).

Vaccination programme in Britain ……

Second dose of AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine: FAQs about blood clots, safety, risks and symptoms.

…… and the rest of the world

Sharing intellectual property for covid-19 vaccines would help more than donations.

Pfizer jab approved for children, but first other people need to be vaccinated.

COVAX is failing to halt the covid-19 pandemic: here’s why, and how to fix it.

‘Collateral damage’

A report on the effects of the loss of education opportunties for children in 60 countries was compiled by Human Rights Watch, entitled ‘Years Don’t Wait for Them’ Increased Inequality in Children’s Right to Education Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. An interactive version or the full report.

How are eviction rules for renters and landlords changing? Evictions from rented accommodation is a time bomb which has the potential of effecting many thousands of people. For those facing eviction needing information and support should contact Acorn in England and Living Rent in Scotland.

What happened to English NHS hospital activity during the covid-19 pandemic?

Covid school recovery: is England’s £1.4 billion catch-up plan a good idea?

School catch-up tsar quits after wanting billions more in funding for pandemic recovery package.

How the pandemic changed abortion access in Europe.

NHS and social care worker burnout reaches emergency level.

Less ‘collateral damage’ more the pandemic being used to mask changes in care to those who need it in their own homes, both in the quality of care and how much being asked for the service. Radio 4’s File on 4 on 8th June looked into what has been happening in recent months in ‘The cost of care’.

Charities warn of a ‘wave of homelessness in coming months’ after eviction ban ends – 400,000 renting households have either been served an eviction notice or have been told they will be evicted. Anyone needed assistance or information should contact Acorn, in Britain, or Living Rent, in Scotland.

The ‘graduate parent’ advantage in teacher assessed grades.

From the great plague to the 1918 flu, history shows that disease outbreaks make inequality worse.

Putting things into perspective

Millions of the poorest people in the world are facing serious pandemics on a daily basis. If covid had stayed where it should have done, i.e., in those parts of the world far from the industrialised ‘west’ then nothing would have been noticed in the last 18 months or so. The speed a number of covid vaccinations were developed showed that advances can be made to deal with serious diseases – as long as there’s a will and the money to pay for it. There have been successes in the fight against dengue fever – but how long has it taken and how many people have suffered in the interim?

‘Miraculous’ mosquito hack cuts dengue by 77%.

‘Managing’ the pandemic

Hancock faces calls to explain covid test failings at care homes.

Why countries best placed to handle the pandemic appear to have fared the worst.

Why politicians should be wary of publicly pursuing the Wuhan lab-leak investigation.

Matt Hancock ‘was warned of Covid care home risk in March 2020’.

Who’s benefiting from the pandemic

There are always ‘winners’ in any war – not the final victors here but those spivs, con-men and opportunists who are always waiting in the wings to take advantage of anything that might earn them a quick and easy buck. Corruption is so institutionalised in Britain that this now takes place at the highest levels of government. That’s because they believe they are untouchable and, unfortunately, as the British people don’t seemed to be interested in holding them to account, it ends up they are. But there’s little likelihood of any repercussions over the latest ‘scandal’.

Covid contract for company run by friends of Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove unlawful, judge says.

Emergency Powers

As has been stated here on a number of occasions once the capitalist state is able to grab more powers for itself (and less freedoms for us) then they are very reluctant to let that advantage go. Scotland is already talking about it – it will be only a matter of time before the Buffoon introduces something similar in England. It will always be sugar-coated by the devil would be in the detail.

Emergency coronavirus legislation set for six-month extension – in Scotland

Confusion

Passengers refused boarding amid testing confusion. Fo me the most salient point here is that everyone who wants proof of being covid free has to take a PRIVATE test. So, not surprisingly, the Government of the Buffoon directing more and more of people’s cash to private companies.

Airline and holiday firms hit out at UK’s ‘utterly confusing’ travel advice.

Thieves fall out

Cummings lambasts Johnson in damning account of covid crisis.

After the pandemic

Capitalism and the caring economy – this addresses the situation in the US but has a lot to say about the situation in Britain.

The next pandemic is already happening – targeted disease surveillance can help prevent it.

Covid-19 has shown that following the same road will lead the world over a precipice – or looking at the world through rose tinted glasses.

Covid-19 recovery: some economies will take longer to rebound – this is bad for everyone.

Poverty in Britain

A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, No longer managing – The rise of working class poverty and fixing Britain’s broken social settlement, argues that the ‘poverty trap’ into which many in Britain are caught is as a result of a systemic failing of British society which goes back decades.

Going with the grain, published by the Fabian Society, looks at increased public support for maintaining the increases in support for those living at the lowest financial level in Britain. I don’t believe we should be looking at support for the poor but the end of poverty full stop. However, the report is presented here as providing more information about the background to poverty in one of the richest countries in the world.

How the pandemic increased food poverty in the UK.

Poverty in the rest of the world

The situation of the poor throughout the world has only gotten worse in the last 18 months or so as a consequence of the pandemic. Covid-19 pandemic fuelling child labour introduces a report, I must work to eat, produced by Human Rights Watch in May 2021. It look at the worsening situation in Ghana, Nepal and Uganda.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

It’s not the virus that’s the problem – it’s the parasites who run society

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

It’s not the virus that’s the problem – it’s the parasites who run society

The Government making decisions without telling anyone. Then changing their mind. Information and data being withheld when it comes to infections in schools or covid related deaths in hospital. Accusations being made about the vacillation in the adoption of the approach to deal with the pandemic as it was taking hold in February/March of last year. Continual revelations about the corruption and sleaze at the top of government – which gets mentioned and then, seemingly (and conveniently) forgotten. Billionaires – throughout the world – sprouting up like poison mushrooms and there seems to be no reaction from those who have nothing.

Food poverty; fuel poverty; water poverty; renters carrying the brunt of the problems in the housing sector; unequal opportunities at school; chaos in the higher education sector; fewer opportunities for young people – with or without qualifications; even greater expansion of the informal employment sector; the list goes on and on.

In Britain the only positive event in the whole of the last 15 months has been the success in the vaccination programme. However, this is just putting more and more billions of pounds into the pockets of the shareholders of the major pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, which promised to keep prices at cost until he pandemic is over, being singled out as being the only vaccine which ‘might’ cause side effects – in numbers that are statistically impossible to measure – which means more for the companies charging the earth for vaccines whose research was funded by public money. Is it just a coincidence that the cheapest supplier is singled out?)

The parasitical Buffoon claims the credit for this programme which is only successful due to the fact that no one from his incompetent Government was involved in the practicalities of its implementation. And that one lie, that one purloining of the only success of the last 15 months, is enough to maintain his ‘popularity’.

From soon after the outbreak of covid-19 last year many have spoken about society not being the same as it was pre-2020. They are probably correct. The rich will be even richer; the poor will be even poorer; insecurity will go through the roof and quality of life will plummet for many.

And the next pandemic is just waiting around the corner to encounter the same lack of strategy and preparedness and we’ll have to go through the same cycle again.

Vaccination programme in Britain ….

UK still looking at covid booster shot options – even though it might be, again, the richer countries grabbing everything for themselves, and it has the added benefit of ‘playing to the gallery’ of the ignorant and selfish amongst the British population.

UK vaccine booster: what will be given and when.

. and in the rest of the world

Covid vaccines: why waiving patents won’t fix global shortage – but it’s not that simple and this article argues what other matters need to be put in place to assist in the greater distribution of the vaccine.

Considering that Pfizer ‘gave’ the vaccines to Israel with the pretence that it was an extensive trial it’s no surprise at these results – two Pfizer covid vaccine doses give over 95% protection, shows Israel study

Vaccinating children before poor morally wrong.

Covid-19 could be the end of ‘global health’ as we know it.

The pandemic in the world

Covid crisis in India: why its public health strategy failed

Picture of two pandemics: covid cases fall in rich west as poorer nations suffer. Does this come as a surprise? The poorest in society will always get the dirty end of the stick – whether in individual countries or the world.

Covid in India: a tragedy with its roots in Narendra Modi’s leadership style.

Acute health crises in India – how the country wasn’t ever going to be able to deal with a pandemic such as that of the covid-19.

Amidst pandemic and economic sufferings, 2020’s global military spending reached highest level in decades.

Covid-19: which countries will be the next to see a big spike in cases?

Covid is surging in the world’s most vaccinated country. Why?

‘Not a lot of trust’: Taiwan wrestles with home working in wake of Covid surge.

Covid: poorest countries should have stopped short of full workplace closures.

Still not learning the lessons

If a new variant was expected, if there was a population amongst which this variant could spread why wasn’t there preparation to deal with any possible ‘spike’? Andy Burnham calls for Greater Manchester over-16s to have vaccine.

No 10 (Downing Street) ‘tried to block’ data on spread of new covid variant in English schools.

‘Unnecessary secrecy’: 42 NHS trusts criticised over covid deaths data.

The Lion will lie down with the Lamb

From chemical and biological weapons establishment to saviour from the next pandemic. Vaccine testing at Porton Down to be expanded under plans to ‘future-proof’ UK against covid. The Government hopes £30 million investment will lead to jabs capable of neutralising new and emerging variants.

Herd Immunity?

Can the UK get there?

Dominic Cummings doubles down on claim government planned ‘herd immunity’ response to covid.

‘Collateral damage’

How covid-19 is likely to slow down a decade of youth development in Africa.

UK government ‘failed to consider gender’ in its response to covid pandemic,

The National Health Service covid legacy – long waits and lives at risk.

‘A slap in the face’: Hundreds of front line Covid doctors told they won’t have jobs from August.

Nurse retention and long-run NHS workforce challenges.

How lock down has affected children’s speech – and what parents can do to help.

Covid-19: how rising inequalities unfolded and why we cannot afford to ignore it.

Top pupils rejected by universities in A-levels fiasco fallout.

Preparedness for any potential pandemic

Covid laid bare existing weaknesses in UK government.

Lessons, so far, from the pandemic

Covid during pregnancy poses a low risk to newborns.

Care homes

More care home residents died of covid in second wave than first in England and Wales.

Poverty in Britain

Renters are at increased risk of losing their homes as a result of covid-related rent arrears and debt, unless they are thrown a lifeline with further targeted support. A briefing, A just recovery for renters, produced by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (based on recent YouGov polling from February 2021) shows renters facing lower incomes and struggling to keep afloat.

Dramatic rise in child poverty in North East England in the last five years shows the scale of the ‘levelling up’ challenge. This was before the pandemic and the last 15 or so months has only made the situation worse.

Millions cannot afford water bills.

Who’s making money out of the pandemic?

Pfizer forecasts $26 billion from annual sales of covid-19 vaccine.

Ministers urged to reveal details of £2 billion Covid deals with private health firms.

This is from the United States – however, there’s no reason to believe the situation isn’t very similar in the UK. How Corporations pumped up CEO pay while their low-wage workers suffered in the pandemic.

Perfectly reasonable for me to forward on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) offer – Hancock.

How Corporate Welfare props up the billionaire class.

‘Saying that central bank asset purchases have increased wealth inequality is another way of saying that the state has intervened directly in order to increase the wealth of those at the very top. In this context, the idea that billionaire wealth simply represents a reward for effort and innovation—the size of which is determined by ‘the market’—is clearly absurd. These billionaires didn’t earn the massive increases in their wealth seen over the last year – they were effectively handed this wealth by the state.’

And a much more United States centred approach to the same issue,

How America went from ‘mom-and-pop’ capitalism to techno-feudalism.

Vaccine ‘passports’

Covid vaccine passports will fail unless government wins public trust.

Vaccine passports: why they are good for society.

NHS vaccine passports are here – but will they be used beyond international travel?

Like the poor, covid will always be with us

Covid is unlikely to be eliminated – here’s how we’ll treat it in the future.

After the pandemic

UK needs £102 billion boost to National Health Service and social care, says major report.

How plant-based diets could help prevent the next covid-19.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

A Tale of Two Countries – Britain and India

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

A Tale of Two Countries – Britain and India

From the proverbial ‘man in the street’ at the bottom to the Buffoon at the top (to what depths has Britain plummeted when those last words can be written as a statement of fact?) there’s a general perception in Britain that we are the end of covid-19 – at least for the time being. However, the flaw in that reasoning is that we are in the middle of a pandemic and not an epidemic. Sorting matters out at home can never be guaranteed to be permanent – as we are seeing with the rising numbers of infections, hospitalisations (or not, if the health system in so many countries is so dire there is, effectively, no functioning health system – as in India) and deaths in various countries.

However, there can be no doubt that (so far) the vaccination programme in Britain has been a success. Although the Buffoon implies it’s due to his government’s activity the real truth is that the success has been achieved solely because none of the Eton boys and girls were involved in the logistical arrangements. The Government might have spent the money – but then its not coming from their pockets in the long term and who and how the ultimate bill gets paid is something we still don’t know about.

What that means in Britain is that instead of the news being dominated by the pandemic we are back to the same old scandals that preceded the outbreak at the end of 2019. Incompetence has been with us throughout the last 18 months (all the late decisions, U-turns, etc., etc.) but to that we now have sleaze and corruption (which, in reality, has always been with us) and now an even greater display of the way those the British people have foolishly chosen to rule themselves think they are entitled to do whatsoever they wish.

Yes, there are many more important issues to contend with than who originally paid for the refurbishment of the Buffoon’s flat but the ‘scandal’ just goes to show that even in ‘normal’ times there’s always money available to splash out on luxuries for the rich – when the rest of us were being told we had to tighten out belts.

Perhaps what the period of the pandemic has done is shine a spotlight on these matters when in the past they would have just been ignored as being insignificant. This has definitely been the case when it comes to the obscene levels of poverty that have become more well known in the last year or so. Whether the people of Britain draw a connection to these two extremes of lifestyles (so many families having to resort to food banks and free school meals and those in ‘power’ agonising on how to spend tens of thousands of pounds from the public purse to decorate a few rooms in a central London town house) and do something about it is questionable. I would like to think so but I’m not holding my breath.

The fact that the Buffoon can get away with saying ‘let the bodies pile high’ and the issue dropping out of the headlines within a matter of a couple of days doesn’t bode well.

But this corruption and incompetence is not just a UK phenomenon. The worsening (and still far from ending) situation in India is yet another example of how the world’s leaders can effectively cause a crisis which leads to even more people dying on the streets than is the norm in the country.

The Indian Hindu Fascist, Modi, should be held personally responsible for the deaths that are raging throughout the country at this time. Agreed he didn’t inherit a truly viable system necessary for a population of 1.4 billion people but what he has done has made a bad system even worse by the policies he has pursed in the last 20 years or so – first at a local level and latterly at the national.

When it comes to the pandemic India is dominating the news now (and, indeed, this post) – people literally dying in the streets or in hospital corridors, often due to lack of simple basics. This is obviously good news for the other government leaders throughout the world who have handled matters as badly. However, the cause for such dramatic and disturbing images is the same throughout the capitalist world. Neo-liberal economic policies, privatisation and mismanagement/corruption have brought so many countries virtually to their knees.

But these fascist leaders are like Teflon – nothing sticks.

The Buffoon in the UK should really be hammered due to his crass mismanagement of the pandemic of the last 15 months – but in the first electoral ‘test’ of his leadership tomorrow (6th May) – since the beginning of the pandemic – in local elections he will probably at least survive if not thrive.

In India Modi’s failure to gain control of West Bengal is being declared as a ‘defeat’ in the western press. Considering that the election there took place as the figures of deaths was rocketing in the country you would have thought the Indian people would have realised that all his claims are mere illusions. However, in the ‘defeat’ in West Bengal Modi’s party gained 40% of the popular vote and increased the number of seats they have in the Parliament by 77 – from just three in 2016.

Not what I would call a ‘defeat’ – and certainly not being punished for gross incompetence. It is to be assumed that some of those who voted for Modi’s Fascist Party are now dead or dying – I wonder if they realised/will realise their error of judgement before they close their eyes forever.

Vaccination programme in Britain …

Only 32 people hospitalised with covid after having vaccination.

Why calculating the risk of the AstraZeneca vaccine is so difficult.

Why some people don’t experience vaccine side-effects, and why it’s not a problem.

… and the rest of the world

Those who we foolishly allow to rule over us never cease to amaze. Instead of addressing the real problem they resort to expensive and complicated legal cases to resolve their own inefficiency. Just like spoilt children they threaten to take their ball away if they don’t get their own way. European Union Commission asks states to back legal action against AstraZeneca.

And they call this ‘leadership’ and wonder why people are confused? EU urges member states to re-embrace AstraZeneca vaccine.

Just what we need in the middle of a pandemic – drawn out court cases and shovelling public money into the pockets of lawyers – AstraZeneca sued by European Union over delivery of covid vaccines.

Vulnerability to the disease

Severe covid in young people can mostly be explained by obesity.

Corruption and covid

It seems the bigger the rewards the better the chances of being awarded lucrative contracts.

Lancashire firm wades into Dyson ventilators row. NorVap says it has been unable to sell devices it created in response to Hancock’s ‘ventilator challenge’.

‘Possible corruption’ in 20% of covid contracts awarded. Study of nearly 1,000 pandemic deals finds ‘systemic bias’ in favour of firms with political connections.

Not surprisingly corruption raises its ugly head in the United States as well – this time with the involvement of the ‘liberal’ and ‘caring’ billionaire, Bill Gates.

‘Utterly disgusting’: ‘Big Pharma’ lobby blitz against vaccine patent waivers denounced.

The pandemic in India

Why variants are most likely to blame for India’s covid surge.

‘We are witnessing a crime against humanity’: Arundhati Roy on India’s Covid catastrophe.

India covid crisis: four reasons it will derail the world economy.

‘We are not special’: how triumphalism led India to covid-19 disaster.

Radio 4’s The Briefing Room looked at the chaotic situation in India (and Modi’s responsibility for it) in a programme entitled ‘India’s Covid Catastrophe’ on 29th April.

Covid in India: the deep-rooted issues behind the current crisis.

How the Modi government prioritised politics over public health.

Covid-19 in India: an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

India covid crisis: four reasons it will derail the world economy.

How India descended into covid-19 chaos.

Coronavirus Emergency Powers Act

‘No meaningful parliamentary debate or scrutiny’ of covid laws, says former government legal chief.

‘Immunity Passports’

People in England could get covid passports for foreign travel by 17 May.

National Health Service (NHS) app to be used as coronavirus passport for international travel, Grant Shapps confirms.

Poverty in Britain

Kent council fined after mother and son left to live in tent in pandemic.

Tens of thousands in UK avoided universal credit during covid over stigma.

Whilst not in any way denigrating the intentions of this article I think it is optimistic, to say the least, to get any government (especially that of the present Buffoon) in capitalist Britain to truly alleviate the problems of poorly paid work and the consequent poverty. At best they will apply a sticking plaster when major surgery is required. The Employment Bill is a chance to improve jobs for low-paid workers.

It’s good that some schools are doing so but is it really their job to become advisors to what people are entitled? Could schools hold the key to helping families claim benefits?

The Resolution Foundation has produced a report looking at how the British Social security system has responded to the covid pandemic entitled In need of support – Lessons from the covid-19 crisis for our social security system. On 29th April there was a webinar on this report which filled in some of the gaps and explained some of the consequences. That can be watched here.

As has been stated here (as well as in innumerable discussions about the effect of the pandemic) covid hasn’t caused the extensive poverty that exists in Britain, it has exposed the hidden truths and in many cases the results of the lock downs and other restrictions have exacerbated the level of poverty. On 26th April there was a slot on the Radio 4 programme You and Yours which looked at the problems many families are experiencing with the provision of school uniforms.

The National Housing Federation published a report in April 2021 entitled Universal Credit in a time of crisis (full report) related to how the pandemic had affected tenants of housing associations and their ability to pay rent. For just a summary click here.

‘Collateral damage’

Sharp rise in mental illness among those whose income fell away during the covid pandemic.

What has been the impact of the covid pandemic on older workers in Britain? On 26th April the Resolution Foundation hosted a discussion on this matter.

Collateral ‘benefit’ from covid?

New malaria vaccine proves highly effective – and covid shows how quickly it could be deployed

Lessons from the pandemic – worldwide

What steps must be taken to secure oxygen – for covid-19 patients and into the future. Just to take a few words from this article to indicate the underlying problem that people throughout the world face – multinational corporations and government corruption;

… a low priority has been given to develop and scale up oxygen relative to new drugs, for which a patent can be taken out and big pharmaceutical companies can make a large profit.

2020 was horrendous for health workers – early 2021 was even worse, as told by two doctors in Liverpool.

Or not. Outrage as No 10 rules out urgent inquiry into covid mistakes.

‘Now is the time’: top experts join call for Buffoon to launch covid inquiry.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?