Nine months and a day since the beginning of the first lock down ….

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Nine months and a day since the beginning of the first lock down ….

…. and how long until the end of the last?

Coincidentally the first deaths attributed to the bubonic plague reported in London, in what came to be known as the Great Plague, were in March 1665, more or less at the time of the first deaths in the UK during the covid-19 pandemic. In the seventeenth century, by the end of February, it was considered safe for ‘the King to return to the capital’. Just under a year.

If we compare the two outbreaks what do we find.

London in 1665; a filthy city with poor sanitation; a population with poor ideas of hygiene; over-crowding in the areas of the poor (i.e., virtually all the working class); huge disparities of wealth; a wastrel as a monarch, constantly demanding (and getting) money from a sycophantic and grovelling parliament; inept Buffoons in government; corruption running rife; charlatans posing as ‘experts’; fear and superstition dominating people’s thoughts; false news; no strategy to deal with the problem; a lock down of most of the workings of society; ignorance of the cause of the disease; hoarding of necessities (though not toilet paper); mountebanks and fraudsters taking advantage of the gullible; unemployment and other consequences of a closed down society; a failure to use known technology to combat the silent killer; and xenophobia, all looking for someone to blame, as long as it wasn’t themselves.

London in 2020; more or less the same.

So 365 years of ‘progress’ has done us no good at all!

In fact it’s worse than that. Life was starting to get back to normal by the spring of 1666. Who is courageous (or stupid) enough to bet that life will be back to normal in any country in the world – let alone Britain – by the spring of 2021?

When I started with these posts I (as did, I believe, the vast majority of the population) thought that a modern, sophisticated, technologically advanced society would have been on top of this pandemic within a mater of a few months, three with luck – at the very outside six. But it was soon clear that that was not to be the case.

Leaders of the capitalist world in 2020 were no more capable of coming up with innovative and imaginative ways to deal with this virus than their predecessors in the latter part of the seventeenth century.

The closer we get to a resolution of the issue something comes up to push the end date further into the future.

These blog posts are collected together in a page entitled ‘Journal of the Plague Year 2020’. By the time the next post appears the title of that page will have been changed to ‘Journal of the Plague Years 2020-202?. And that’s being optimistic, especially if we take into account the huge amount of public debt that’s been incurred by our incompetent ‘leaders’.

But then people get the leaders they deserve!

Vaccines and the vaccination programme

A ‘logistical nightmare’? Perhaps. So how will the UK jab millions of people?

Will a vaccine cocktail be better than a single malt? Trials to test combination of Oxford and Sputnik vaccines.

Pfizer vaccine final results: it’s highly protective – but how long for?

Vaccines are here – but how long will it take to get to everyone? Vaccinating entire UK population could take a year, scientists warn.

UK citizens get less legal protection for covid jabs than other vaccines – and that could undermine confidence.

With overall costs for vaccinating the UK population at £12 billion, the public accounts committee flags ‘highly unusual’ arrangements.

Belgian minister tweets EU’s covid vaccine price list to anger of manufacturers. In all stages of a ‘war’ there will those who will make a fortune. Why isn’t it called what it is – profiteering?

Another example of lack of thinking about the programme before the first needle entered the first arm. And then realising the mistake. NHS scraps order to ‘waste one in six’ vaccine doses.

There needs to be a proper strategy for the vaccination programme yet even at the start there is confusion as doctors and nurses at one of London’s front line hospitals denied coronavirus vaccine.

B Liar weighs into the vaccination debate. I’m sure his suggestion that young people get the vaccine at an early stage (whatever merits the suggestion might have) will go down like a lead balloon. We are in a race against time, he says, we must change our vaccine policy now.

What’s it like working in a hospital during the pandemic?

Two doctors describe working on the front line of Liverpool’s second wave – from this page there’s a link to a podcast where their story is told.

Liverpool ‘pilot’ and non-symptomatic testing

This continues to be badly managed – and ceased to be (if it ever was) a real ‘pilot’ soon after it started at the beginning of November. The number of test sites continue to vary day by day; there’s no longer a running total of the numbers actually tested or found to be positive (figures rising so slowly it would be embarrassing); no lessons learnt (or if so, not published) to enable other cities to be part of the Buffoon’s £100 billion ‘Operation Moonshot’; doubts being cast on the efficacy of the tests anyway; and testing has fallen out of fashion as the vaccination programme starts to spread throughout the country.

However, there’s been a bit of a mad rush in the last few days – but hardly likely to be of any use statistically. People just want to know if they have the virus before visiting family and friends over the coming weekend.

Plans for 30-minute covid testing in England halted amid accuracy fears.

Origin of the virus – and its variants, or, more frighteningly ‘mutations’

Almost a year since the world became aware of a new virus. But are scientists more aware of where it started? What do we know now about where coronavirus came from?

Coronavirus mutation – not as scary as it sounds.

Test-track-trace

This issue is definitely taking a back seat – and the policy seems to be changing on a weekly basis.

Who’s really to blame for England not having a ‘world-beating’ system? Perhaps us. It’s probably a thankless task telling people what they should do when the national strategy is non-existent and confusion reigns but they don’t deserve to be abused. ‘People threaten us and block our calls‘ says a contact tracer.

11,000 coronavirus cases delayed from Wales figures after ‘system maintenance’.

Poverty in Britain

Pre-existing inequality led to record UK covid death rate – according to the Build back fairer – The covid-19 Marmot Review.

Another study, this time in Scotland, found similar results. Poverty linked to higher risk of covid-19 death.

Even the suggestion of this is a disgrace – Unicef to feed hungry children in UK for first time in 70-year history. According to a YouGov poll, 2.4 million children in the UK were living in households facing food insecurity as of May this year. Unicef said a grant of £25,000 would be provided to School Food Matters. The charity will use the money to supply (not that many!) thousands of breakfast boxes to vulnerable children in south London over the Christmas school holidays.

But instead of making sure no child should need to take handouts of food what do the privileged and entitled (in the form of the living anachronism that is Jacob Rees-Mogg) of the sceptred isle say – they attack Unicef for pointing out that policies to alleviate poverty are a sham.

But then – Jacob Rees-Mogg under fire for dismissing Unicef’s UK grants as stunt.

I don’t agree with it but here for information. Feeding Britain’s Children – inside Marcus Rashford’s campaign to tackle child hunger. (Interesting that this article appeared on the Sports pages of the BBC’s website.)

Immunity Passport

Digital covid-19 health passes are coming for travellers.

Britain – the pariah of Europe (and the world?)

Nobody wants to have any contact with the ‘infectious’ British – and do so without thinking and cause huge amounts of chaos that has a greater effect on their own citizens than it does the British – by many nations imposing UK travel bans over new variant. Then they realise the ‘new variant’ is probably all over Europe anyway – and then comes along another ‘new’ variant, this time from South Africa. Every reaction is just a knee jerk (in virtually all countries) – not thought out and not part of any long-term strategy.

UK food producers face ‘black Christmas’ as goods perish amid border gridlock.

Why the decision of the French Government to bar access should have caused such a problem so quickly is a mystery. (Well not, we’ve come to expect that no one considers potential problems in the UK, that would suggest a strategy, suggest planning.) It’s December, it’s winter, many circumstances (weather related) could have closed down the ports. Added to that the British have had to suffer four and a half years of interminable wrangling on the country getting out of the European Union and that would have effected the smooth running of the ports. Why weren’t there contingencies for what they knew was coming up – which would have made the country more able to to deal with the unexpected. Why did covid testing kits have to be brought in? Why was everything last minute? Isn’t there a committee somewhere which tries to foresee the unforeseen?

At least by the late afternoon of 24th December Europe was free of the British. The problem is that the British aren’t.

‘First world’ problems?

Britain might be facing a ‘salad crisis’ – with a shortage of that important food, lettuce. With all the problems in the world (most of which have been around long before anyone heard of covid-19) is this really something we should worry about?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

It starts to get difficult of how to classify these types of news items. Do they go under ‘Ineptitude’ or do they belong under ‘State Corruption’?

Hospital gowns that cost £122 million never been used – and will probably be allowed to go out of date and then get thrown away.

Not only has Britain been paying over the odds for PPE – we’ve been getting defective shipments. One of the most important tasks for James Bond.

And the corruption continues. Government’s PPE ‘tsar’ linked to companies awarded state coronavirus contracts.

How consultants, airlines and China cashed in on PPE scramble – I like the idea of blaming China because they can actually produce PPE, whereas Britain couldn’t at the beginning and I’m not so sure now. Xenophobia lives in (soon to be) post-EU Britain

The Swedish ‘experiment’

All the countries which have been following the same policies of lock down followed by lock down have been hoping for vindication of their actions as opposed to the line followed by the Swedes. It’s taken almost ten months, and it’s only a small concession, but probably the least effective policy adopted worldwide is being taken up in Sweden with face coverings being used on public transport.

A further report tries to shame both Sweden and Japan for not abiding by the World Health Organisation (WHO) norms. However, I would have thought we are still far too close to the pandemic to be able to make any meaningful comparisons of the different tactics. And probably won’t be able to do so with any accuracy for a considerable time to come.

The wearing of masks

I’m not a supporter of face coverings/masks. The information (now conveniently dropped from the media) that was being published at the beginning of the varieties of lock down indicated that they had little use – other than possibly psychological. However, I don’t then stand in front of the press and make high sounding moral statements about their efficacy. Those who do – and then don’t abide by their own recommendations/strictures only deserve our contempt. The latest to demonstrate their ‘exceptionalism’ is the nationalist leader in Scotland

Nightingale Hospitals

I don’t understand why these were set up. Why not use these temporary hospitals to separate the covid from the rest of the other reasons people go to hospital? Then you wouldn’t have a situation where NHS hospitals are running out of beds as Covid cases continue to surge. The use of the temporary hospitals would be creating something similar to ‘fever hospitals’ of the past – something which some virologists have been suggesting since the early part of the year.

It would also give the staff and general organisation established (or let us hope such a structure has been set up) to run these Nightingale Hospitals to work through any teething problems when the numbers were relatively low.

As the number of infections is supposedly going up at the end of the year these new places could be flooded – whilst not fully prepared. There might be even more of a case for opening these locations with the ‘new variant/s’ on their way.

But, it appears, the London Nightingale Hospital (the cost of which must have been astronomical) isn’t even ready for any influx. Staff shortages leave London’s Nightingale hospital without intensive care beds.

Care home visits

The ‘vulnerable’ in care homes still being badly treated – by failed Government promises as commitments of UK care home visits is not being realised.

‘Collateral damage’

The treatment of the elderly in British care homes has been a disgrace for the best part of two decades, the pandemic has only made a bad situation worse. So finds a report produced by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, entitled ‘Covid-19 and disruptions to the health and social care of older people in England’.

UK loses 819,000 paid jobs since start of pandemic.

UN says the pandemic has turned the clock back decades on gender equality.

NHS facing prospect of having to cancel thousands of operations – because Christmas hasn’t been totally cancelled.

Cancer scan backlog raises late detection fears.

Child abuse referrals up nearly 80%, says National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

Homeless people in temporary housing at highest level since 2006.

Covid anxiety: Child ‘asking if he’s going to die’. Seems some lack of communication here between parents and child – but, perhaps, not really a surprise when the only way the Government has been able to get away with many of its policies over the last nine months has been by establishing a climate of fear.

Who will pay for the pandemic?

That’s a silly question, really. Obviously it will be the working people of Britain. But there are other possible alternatives.

Footing the covid-19 bill: economic case for tax hike on wealthy. The argument being that -surprise, surprise – tax cuts over the last 50 years has increased inequality.

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