The end of the pandemic in Britain?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The end of the pandemic in Britain?

There’s definitely a feeling, generally throughout the country (in England if not on the other ‘three nations’ of the ‘United Kingdom’) the the covid pandemic is all but over. Restrictions that had been in place over the change of year will all but disappear by this time next week and the country will be entering February in as close a situation of normality as it has been since march 2020.

And, in general, that has to be welcomed. The levels of ‘collateral damage’ have been constantly rising and many of the consequences will be with us for a long time to come.

It doesn’t mean that infections won’t still spread amongst the population and that some people won’t die attributed to the virus – but then needless deaths every year from flu had become accepted for decades. Whether the country will be able to keep on top of what is now being described as an endemic virus is another matter.

The circumstances which meant the virus was able to take hold in the first place in what boasts to be a civilised country are still in place. The health service is stretched to the utmost and making vaccination obligatory is likely to cause even more staff shortages in the coming months. This is all on top of a service that had been seriously under-funded for decades as successive British governments, of whatever political colour, had assisted in the growing privatisation of health in this country. Whatever the ‘reasons’ given for policy changes the ultimate result was more money going onto private hands.

At the time of writing the Buffoon is ‘on the ropes’ as his pathetic lies and excuses become weaker and more ‘revelations’ appear in the media. The fact that he would tell the vast majority of the population to follow certain rules and all his cronies would do what they wanted has been obvious from the very start. The crass situation of Dominic Cummings and his driving eye test is only one example of where the Buffoon considered that all he had to do was to bluff it out. The fact that Cummings is now going for the jugular shouldn’t surprise anyone, least of all the Buffoon – after all that’s the society in which he has lived all his life.

Using the fact that the British population has the memory span of a may fly the Buffoon and his allies are trying to present the incompetent and blithering idiot (have you ever been forced to listen to him when he has to think on his feet – he can barely string two coherent words together, in this like the fascist Churchill who was very clever when he had time to think but not so good in responding when he knew he was in the wrong) as some ‘pandemic hero’.

Forgotten are the innumerable U-turns; the confusion that has accompanied virtually ever policy change; the failures to react in a coherent and organised manner at the beginning; the corruption that has accompanied the awarding of billions of pounds of contracts to friends and political supporters; the lack of any control and monitoring of any monies given out in an effort to mitigate the effects of all these failings and, still to this day, any real and coherent strategy to deal with this pandemic if it comes back to bite us or any other waiting around the corner.

Being generous with money that doesn’t cost you anything is hardly a difficult thing to do. And the fact that many of the people who still see the Buffoon as some sort of saviour in the last two years will come a cropper in the coming years as the bill demand to be paid – whether it’s a real debt that the country should pay is not something to go into here, but which is worth thinking about – should not be ignored.

And even if the sceptred isle is out of the worse that still doesn’t mean the rest of the world can say the same. Failings in providing protection to the vast majority of the world’s population will not just go away. The variants at the moment aren’t too threatening. It doesn’t mean the next one will be the same. Then complacency will take its toll in countries like the UK.

Vaccination programme in Britain …..

Covid jab offered to five to 11-year-old children in Ireland – and when one part of the sceptr’d isle ‘leads’ the rest will soon follow. They’ll be proposing to vaccinate babies in the womb next.

Vaccines for all every four to six months not needed. A couple of short quotes;

‘It really is not affordable, sustainable or probably even needed to vaccinate everyone on the planet every four to six months’ …. ‘We haven’t even managed to vaccinate everyone in Africa with one dose so we’re certainly not going to get to a point where fourth doses for everyone is manageable.’

Maidstone mother drives to Italy to get daughter jabbed – the child was probably taking a greater risk in being driven all that way than she would have been from the virus unvaccinated.

No need for a fourth covid jab yet.

Why people who refuse to get vaccinated should not have lesser healthcare rights.

Lack of trust in public figures linked to covid vaccine hesitancy.

…. and the rest of the world

As the vaccination programmes cover more and more of the population in the richer countries (reducing the age at which vaccinations are given and having an unlimited number of ‘booster’ vaccinations when a new variant appears) the rest of the world gets pushed further and further down the list of priorities.

Israel Omicron spike could bring herd immunity but with risks – and they are trying out a 4th vaccination whilst at the same time having no concern for the Palestinian population.

The global north’s vaccine charity is a sham.

Why isn’t the world vaccinated as omicron spreads like wildfire? Blame rich countries.

US science teacher arrested for vaccinating 17-year-old student.

Wealthy states and pharma companies catastrophically failed to ensure equal access to vaccines in 2021.

A Texas team comes up with a covid vaccine that could be a global game changer.

Omicron may reach millions before vaccines do – but that doesn’t mean race to vaccinate the world is over.

Profits Over People: Why weren’t the vaccine manufacturers nationalized?

The background to one strand of the covid vaccines

Halting progress and happy accidents: How mRNA vaccines were made.

The omicron variant

Faroe Islands super spreader event: why transmission among the triple-vaxxed shouldn’t alarm you.

Why does omicron appear to cause less severe disease than previous variants?

What are the symptoms of omicron?

Omicron: viral load can be at its highest at day five so cutting isolation period doesn’t make sense.

Where to go to catch covid

Here’s where (and how) you are most likely to catch covid.

The end in sight?

Britain ‘will be among first’ to emerge from covid pandemic.

End of Covid pandemic is ‘in sight’ but ‘difficult months ahead’.

Testing

How rapid tests changed the pandemic.

How to make sense of the UK’s new testing rules – this will likely to be very quickly out of date but it just goes to show how chaotic things are/were getting on for two years into the pandemic.

Other tactics to deal with covid

Covid is caused by a virus – so why are researchers treating it with antibiotics?

T-cells: the superheroes in the battle against omicron.

Mask wearing

Hundreds of maskless London Underground passengers fined.

Mask refusals in some of England’s secondary schools spark parents’ concern.

Poverty in Britain

Yet another report, this time by the abrdn Financial Fairness Trust and University of Bristol, demonstrates that it was the poorest in British society who have paid the biggest price for the pandemic. Although those more ‘well off’ were protected, by such schemes as furlough and support for the self-employed, those who were getting little before the beginning of 2020 have got even less in the two years since. The Summary and the Full Report.

Another report by the abrdn Financial Fairness Trust looks at the issue of young people having to live with their parents. There are some positives but also a lot of negatives – especially for the poorer section of society. Living with parents where there is no Bank of Mum and Dad – the Report.

70% of people in Scotland are worried about unaffordable energy bills in 2022.

New data shows covid will continue to have a negative financial impact on many UK households.

The cost of living crunch.

UK: Temporary accommodation violates children’s rights.

The Joseph Rowntree Trust has just published its latest report, UK Poverty 2022: The essential guide to understanding poverty in the UK – the Findings; the Full Report.

Rising energy bills to ‘devastate’ poorest families.

The rich continue to get richer

Wealth of world’s 10 richest men doubled in pandemic.

Corruption in high places

Government fast track for ‘VIP’ PPE suppliers ruled unlawful by court – but, as with the so-called ‘Pandora’s Box’ revelations last year, little is likely to come of it.

The world gone mad

Texas teacher ‘locked covid-positive son in car boot

Collateral damage

Why this should come as a surprise is a surprise to me. After all the home is the most dangerous place. Thee were probably countless other, minor injuries,n not requiring hospitalisation, that have occurred in the last couple of years but which have not been, and never will be, recorded. Thousands needed hospital treatment after lock down DIY.

Growing numbers of people are seeking advice on mortgage arrears in Scotland – and, as always, that means the problem will be replicated in the other parts of the UK.

Covid fallout hit farmers hard – they need better mental health support.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) – Charity warns of surge in cases of young children’s breathing illness this winter.

Languishing: what to do if you’re feeling restless, apathetic or empty.

The dominance of the covid pandemic over the last couple of years brings with it the danger that we forget that people are dying, in their millions, every year due to diseases and other reasons which are, in a ‘caring’ world, would be avoidable. The silent pandemic: drug-defying superbugs become a leading cause of death.

Antimicrobial resistance now causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS and malaria worldwide.

Insurance CEO says deaths up 40% [in USA] among working age people, and it’s not just covid.

…. or not?

Lock down schooling: research from across the world shows reasons to be hopeful.

‘Life after covid’

Most people don’t want a return to normal – they want a fairer, more sustainable future.

The ‘good’ that has come from the pandemic

How covid-19 transformed genomics and changed the handling of disease outbreaks forever.

An underlying problem

What’s driving the UK’s shortage of medical doctors?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The more we know the less we learn

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The more we know the less we learn

One of the principal paradoxes of present day society is that the more we know the less we learn. The most obvious example of this is that although the fact that capitalism has not, does not and will not benefit the vast majority of the population of the planet that vast majority still allows capitalism to exist. We see it also in the approach, throughout the world, to the climate emergency and it has been demonstrated in countless ways in virtually every country in the world for the last couple of year – since it was recognised that the world was about to face a severe pandemic with the covid virus, news of which was becoming generally known exactly two years ago.

A pandemic such as covid-19 doesn’t respect borders and the very nature of the infection means that once you know of its existence – even if, at first, only in one place, one country (however far away it might be) it has already arrived. If this fact was not accepted two years ago it had been (at least by some of the ‘scientific community’) when the omicron variant appeared in Southern Africa at the beginning of December 2021. Many countries banned travellers from that part of the world but cases of the variant started to appear everywhere and now, in a very short time, the omicron variant is now the dominant one – kicking delta way off the stage.

However, the response to this new variant by the ‘richer’ countries of the world (and their populations) wasn’t that there should be an increased effort to make vaccines available to those in the poor parts of the world where vaccination levels barely reach into double percentage points but that the richer countries should vaccinate even more of their population (in terms of age) and more often. Now some people have received three vaccinations in less than a year and still there is no guarantee that this will suffice. And ‘they’ – the establishment who are bumbling their way through the crisis – wonder why there is an increasing number of people who are sceptical about accepting that they should be vaccinated at all.

So almost two years into the pandemic (that still has no visible end in sight) countries which should have been working in concert are continuing to ‘go it alone’ and do what seems to various government’s to be the most secure thing to do for their political futures – the ending of the pandemic not really coming into it. There’s still no strategy within country let alone on an international level.

Borders are closed to those from countries which are seen as posing a risk because infection rates are high yet that sort of statistic can change in a matter of days. It doesn’t have any real impact upon infection rates in country and is more to do with historic spats between countries than any idea of ‘following the science’. Such is the case of countries in Europe keeping out foreign visitors. Are we expected to believe that the closing of France to British visitors has nothing to do with Britain closing Britain to French visitors earlier in the year and the bitter wrangling that has been going on over Britain’s departure from the European Union for the best part of a year now?

At ‘best’ this is merely tribalism at worse it’s just a group of petulant children taking their ball away as they can’t get their own way. However, in the process more and more people are suffering – either directly from the virus or the increasing damage caused by the disruption to all societies due to poor leadership.

An extreme example of the pettiness of this approach (as well as the redundancy of narrow-minded nationalism) is demonstrated at present in the insignificant group of islands that sit on the Atlantic coast of Europe. There are supposed to be four ‘nations’ in the United Kingdom yet at the end of 2021 they are all following very distinctive and different approaches to the pandemic. Presumably they are all ‘following the science’ but that science is providing hugely disparate answers. Each of the ‘nationalities’ seek to show that they are the ones in control, they are the ones who decide, that they really ‘care’ for their populations. Therefore the message is far from clear and then there is surprise when people ‘break the rules’. (It should also be remembered that these restrictions are coming in at a time when reports of rule breaking by those in government during the course of last year are still fresh in people’s memories.)

The principal method most governments have used to gain compliance with their diktats is by creating a climate of fear – a fear of the ‘other’, the ‘foreign’, something which isn’t us. Mostly from outside of national boundaries but also, at times within countries. The problem isn’t so much that the government has failed to deal with the issue in a proper manner it’s that there are some within society who don’t tow the line and therefore put all of society at risk.

Some of those tactics may (possibly) have reduced infections but as they were not accompanied by a real strategic approach to the problem the possible breathing space they provided was wasted – and will be wasted in the future. Each time these tactics are introduced and fail the consequences for many become worse and the knock on effects will be seen for many years to come. Poverty, inequality on all kinds of levels, advances that have been trumpeted in recent years are all being lost and with the almost certain introduction of some form of ‘austerity’ that will follow the pandemic such ‘advances’ are unlikely to be regained any time soon.

This blog was asking in March of 2020 that, surely, there must be better ways to deal with a pandemic that was more efficient and effective than the tactics used seven hundred years ago when people were ignorant of what was happening and put much of their ills down to the will of whatever god different peoples believed in? But no, there isn’t.

With all the knowledge that has been accumulated over the centuries, with improvements in scientific knowledge and the techniques that exist to prolong life, with all the developments in technology, the world has proven itself to be as stupid and ignorant as we were in the 14th century when the Black Death spread through Asia and Europe.

The vaccination programme in Britain …..

A year of covid vaccines: how the UK pinned its hopes on the jab – and why those hopes are under threat.

Three ways to improve the uptake of Covid vaccines by ethnic minority groups in the UK.

….. and the rest of the world

Cuba’s covid vaccines: the limited data available suggests they’re highly effective.

US panel recommends J&J shots be sidelined after clot deaths.

Cuba defeats covid-19 with learning, science, and unity.

Experts identify 100 plus firms to make covid-19 mRNA vaccines.

The omicron variant

Vaccines should work against micron variant, WHO says.

Omicron study suggests major wave in January.

Omicron might evade antibodies – but that doesn’t mean you don’t have immunity.

Omicron: evidence shows it evades immunity from earlier infection more than other variants.

Omicron and covid boosters: everything you need to know.

The Omicron Shame: Why is the world punishing instead of helping Africa?

How effective are vaccines against omicron? An epidemiologist answers 6 questions.

Omicron is likely to hit deprived areas the hardest.

Omicron may not be the final variant, but it may be the final variant of concern.

South African and UK hospitalisation data: what it tells us about how deadly omicron is.

Mortality rates

Why excess deaths have varied so greatly around the world during the pandemic.

The U.S. experience: racism and covid-19 mortality.

Other ways to deal with covid

Vaccines are necessary, but not sufficient without better healthcare and ventilation.

Testing

Rapid lateral flow home testing kits have run out on government’s website.

Do lateral flow tests detect omicron?

Covid-19 home testing kits: should we be worried about their environmental impact?

‘Collateral damage’

Britain’s drinking deaths rose at record rate in pandemic.

Covid litter: we mapped discarded masks and gloves in 11 countries with the help of citizen science.

Half the world’s people could be at greater risk of malaria if control efforts do not improve.

The impact of covid-19 on the mental health of children and young people in the UK.

The impact of school closures: why reception year is so crucial to a child’s development.

Some schools struggling to stay open as covid cases rise.

Where are all the missing hospital patients?

A year of covid: the evolution of labour market and financial inequalities through the crisis.

England hospital units may close as staff revolt over jab mandate.

How covid is transmitted

How the disease moves through the air.

Covid ‘passports’

Covid passes: they can’t prevent every infection but do make events safer.

Head to Head: the ethics of vaccine passports and covid passes.

Poverty in Britain

Ayrshire charity CHAP reports increased demand for debt advice.

21% and rising: fury grows as credit card rates hit new high.

Hazardous private renting conditions costing NHS £340 million a year.

Why working from home leaves the lowest paid at more risk of infection.

New report uncovers reality of being homeless and working in Britain.

Inflation is pushing people deeper into poverty.

2021 annual report on education spending in England – basically education has been hit with so many cuts over the years it’s not able to carry out the task it was designed to do.

227,000 households across Britain experiencing worst forms of homelessness.

Poverty in the World

The World Inequality Report 1922 has just been published. The Executive Summary, the Full Report.

One rule for us, a different rule for ‘them’

Downing Street Christmas party: political communication expert on four key takeaways from leaked Allegra Stratton video.

No 10 [Downing Street, the Buffoon’s official residence in central London] says garden photo shows PM and staff having work meetings.

Trump Scottish golf resorts claimed over £3 million in furlough.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

‘Groundhog Day’ in the pandemic world

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

‘Groundhog Day’ in the pandemic world

What has characterised the actions of virtually all governments throughout the world since the pandemic broke, really at the beginning of 2020, is the realisation that they don’t know what they are doing and hence we get the feeling that the same tactics are being repeated – even though they might have proven to be ineffective in the past. We are going through the same sort of Hell Bill Murray went though in the 1993 film ‘Groundhog Day’. The only, and significant, difference is that the character in the film learnt from the same situations, the world’s governments aren’t.

A new, not unexpected variant (this time omicron) appears and the reaction of the idiots we have chosen to rule over us act in the same way; xenophobic; racist, tribal, euro-centric (and that includes countries like Australia – who, after all, are in the Eurovision Song Contest) and attempt to keep out what is impossible (even in the 14th century but even less so now) the inevitable.

Once omicron was ‘discovered’ in South Africa many scientists were saying that the variant had almost certainly spread throughout the world. But those same governments that say they are ‘following the science’ follow, instead, the populist approach, playing to the gallery of their own populations and electorate, inevitable to the lowest common denominator.

They are the modern day equivalents of Canute – believing that just by saying something it will happen. But as the tide will come in twice a day whatever we may wish so variants of covid will cross borders invisibly. Once we know it exists it has already been around for a while.

But still, now a couple of weeks since it was announced, there has been no significant change in the attitude of the richest societies to the spread of the virus. Knowledge gained over the centuries has told us that such variants will develop if infection rates are allowed to grow in even the most outlying regions.

Because of failings at the very beginning of the pandemic (no joined up thinking, no international co-ordination, no strategy) the only way to control that spread now is through a world wide vaccination programme.

But what has happened (and this is no surprise whatsoever) since the announcement of a new variant is that the societies in the richest parts of the world have become more xenophobic, more racist, more tribal, more euro-centric.

Countries have been ordering more and more vaccines for ‘their’ populations, stock-piling more doses for the future and even taking the first batches of the newer vaccines that are coming into production.

Still no major move has been made to force (in a war situation you don’t ‘ask’) the major pharmaceutical companies to do what is necessary in the circumstances and that is to waiver their control of patents and allow other countries and other companies to produce vaccines for their own populations. This is not necessarily THE answer but it is certainly part of the solution.

It’s been quite the opposite. The British Government has been acting as if it is ‘business as usual’ and have been making agreements with companies which seek to tighten their control of so-called ‘intellectual property’ rather than reduce it.

This is not only stupid, short-sighted and immoral – it is criminal and in the present circumstances those who perpetuate such a situation should be brought to book at the earliest opportunity.

The vaccination programme in Britain ….

Will the UK vaccinate children under 12?

Trigger of rare blood clots with AstraZeneca jab found by scientists.

An ‘independent’ investigation discovers that the most expensive vaccines are the ‘most effective’. What a surprise! Pfizer and Moderna jabs give best overall boost, UK trial finds.

Omicron: Britain plans to vaccinate 25 million in two months – but can it be done?

…. and the rest of the world (perhaps)

Nothing to report here. The richer countries are still hoarding vaccines (even more so now than in the early days of the appearance of vaccines). And those capitalist governments are still refusing to budge on ‘patent waivers’.

Patent waiver

Rich countries must stop blocking the covid vaccine patent waiver.

The future of vaccines

What will tomorrow’s covid-19 vaccines be like? This is probably a meaningless question to the vast majority of the world. They won’t be getting any of the older, less efficient vaccines so there’s no chance of getting the ‘super vaccines’.

The world works for the profits of ‘Big Pharma’!

The BBC, the so-called ‘impartial’ news service posted this article – which was only on the home page of the site for a couple of hours (which says a lot more than the article). So following the science now means we listen to the prognostications of a the boss of a company which has made billions out of the pandemic – after receiving billions from governments to develop the vaccine in the first place. How long are we going to allow these parasites to even speak let alone establish policy? Pfizer boss: Annual covid jabs for years to come.

In this same article it is reported that the UK has ‘secured’ another 114 million doses of vaccines from these uber-profit making companies – at the same time as the spread of the Omicron ‘variant’ is being put down to the lack of vaccination of the vast majority of the world.

Planet pharma: what the industry got out of covid. This links to a podcast.

Mandatory vaccination

Greece to make covid vaccines mandatory for over-60s, but do vaccine mandates work?

Germany to ban unvaccinated people from shops and bars.

Why the UK shouldn’t introduce mandatory covid vaccination.

The ‘mask wearing’ debate

Reintroducing masks in England may be met with resistance – here’s how the government can overcome it.

The Omicron ‘variant’

It looks like Omicron causes milder illness – is this how covid becomes endemic?

Omg, Omicron! Why it’s too soon to panic about covid vaccines and the new variant.

What the Government ants to hear. Omicron: better to be safe (and quick) than sorry.

Will omicron – the new coronavirus variant of concern – be more contagious than delta? A virus evolution expert explains what researchers know and what they don’t .

Poverty in Britain

Families furthest below Minimum Income Standard (MIS) excluded from social security gains.

‘Cold, Hungry and Stressed’ – Child poverty laid bare this winter.

‘Merely tinkering’: expert analysis of the UK government’s new plan to reform social care in England.

Third of Scots find energy bill unaffordable.

Safety in the workplace

How air filters can make covid wards safer for patients and staff.

Hypocrisy runs rife in neo-liberal Britain

I don’t know why people are surprised that there has been ‘one rule for them and one rule for the rest of us’ during the pandemic. That’s been the ‘rule’ of British society for centuries – why should those who think they have the right to rule do anything different just because there’s a virus doing the rounds? I also think that people could have thought of a different term to record their reaction than being ‘sickened’. Seems not the best term to use in the middle of a pandemic. Covid bereaved families ‘sickened’ over No 10 [Downing Street – the British Prime Ministers’ official ‘residence’] Christmas party.

After the pandemic

When will life return to normal after the pandemic?

Covid not over and next pandemic could be more lethal.

Vaccine ‘passports’

Many vaccine passports have security flaws – here’s how to make them safer.

Making money from a crisis

Advertising in the pandemic: how companies used covid as a marketing tool.

UK government criticised after £5 billion in Bounce Back Loans paid to fraudsters.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?