A new year – but nothing has changed

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

A new year – but nothing has changed

2021 was barely a day old before we were forced to realise that the new year would be no better than the old. Yet another U-turn by the Buffoon’s Government – this time on schools re-opening after the holiday – more confusion and the almost certainty of lock down number 3.

If people were expecting a new start then they were disappointed. The same inept, confused and bewildered politicians are still in ‘control’.

For some 2020 has been a disastrous year (loss of jobs, loss of income, loss of life) and we have been told innumerable times that we were living through ‘unprecedented’ times. That’s not really true, there are epidemics raging throughout the world all the time – it’s just that the latest one has had a severe impact upon the more wealthy countries in the world (and they can’t cope with it).

In many ways Britain (as have so many countries in Europe) has gotten off relatively lightly. Yes, the heaviest burden has fallen on those in the country who are less able to bear the strain (the sick, the elderly, the poor) but they’re the ones who, historically, have always suffered most when the norms of society break down (be it economic crashes or war).

For those the temptation is to forget what has happened in the last nine, going on ten, months. To think of the future – which may not be so bad – rather than remember the past – which we know was.

However that would be a mistake. The pandemic has not caused many of the problems that exist in British society but it has definitely highlighted many of the disparities, inequities and downright criminal situation in which far too many of the population live. But that is capitalism.

In good times the problems can get easily swept under the carpet and forgotten by the majority who are managing, more or less well, but at least able to exist in a reasonable manner. Throwing a few pence in a charity tin, buying a copy of the Big Issue or putting a few groceries in the collecting bins for food banks after a supermarket shop enables people to think they are doing some good and helping those more in need, ‘less fortunate’.

The pandemic, or more importantly, the manner in which it has been mismanaged has shown that there are huge numbers of working people who are on a knife edge when it comes to a crisis. The increased use of food banks is a clear example of that.

So people shouldn’t forget 2020. Quite the opposite. If they wish to have long term security they should remember the lessons of how they have been treated by a system that exists for no other reason than to make profit from the labour of others.

Capitalism’s representatives throughout the world have proven themselves incapable of dealing with extreme circumstances. They have wandered from one inept and poorly thought through action to another and we are no closer to living virus free now than we were just short of a year ago.

Their ineptness in the past has reduced the number of ways forward. They have created such a chaotic situation that it is luck which is going to get us back to some semblance of normality, not any strategic thinking.

At the moment, on the eve of the announcement of a further lock down in England, we should remember who brought us to this state of affairs. If we forget (just to make ourselves feel better) then we will be facing the same situation in the not too distant future.

Like the many natural occurrences that will be catastrophic to humanity (for example, the earthquake that will be caused by the San Andreas Fault in California) it’s not a matter of if, it’s when.

How prepared was Britain for the pandemic?

An update following a report produced years ago (2009) by its author on BBC Radio 4’s the World at One on the 29th December.

What is the risk of infection?

An analysis of this issue was discussed on Radio 4’s World at One on 29th December.

Vaccines and vaccination programme

As virtually all the governments of the world were totally inept and unable to come up with a strategy to defeat the covid virus they all put their faith in a vaccine that would take the responsibility away form themselves. That being the case, and placing all their eggs in one basket, why wasn’t there a ‘task force’ given the job of working out all the potential problems and pit-falls that would accompany a nationwide vaccination programme?

There were months when all these details could have been worked out; who would get the vaccine first and in what order would the rest of the population follow; how would the vaccines be distributed; who would be needed to administer the injections and the establishment of a resister of those who could assist in this process, i.e. retired NHS staff; what sort of campaign would be launched to ensure the greatest possible take up; what sort of documentation could be provided to help people return to a ‘normal’ life when aspects of society start to demand proof of vaccination before people could take part in certain activities (this is being denied now but it will almost certainly creep into all societies worldwide as the year goes on); establishing the policy of vaccinating the greatest number or ensuring those in the highest risk bracket get the highest level of protection first; and understanding and managing the general logistical problems associated with vaccinating a population of 60 million plus people in the shortest time possible.

So there is little reason to be confident that the magic solution to the pandemic will be introduced smoothly.

A couple of other points on the vaccination programme.

When the Buffoon makes wild promises we should remember what happened about those in the past. Have people already forgotten the ‘world beating’ testing system that would be testing tens of thousands way back in May. Those really insignificant figures weren’t met – apart from magically on the date ‘promised’. So his claim of 2 million vaccinations per week have to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

Also, the idea of postponing the second vaccination for those who had already been given the very first vaccines in the country might well have a lot of validity. (Is not a vaccine that ‘needs’ two shots just another scam by the pharmaceutical companies to increase their profits anyway?) However this news is being delivered to people who had already been made frightened of their own shadow by the fear campaign of the Government over the last ten months to obtain compliance of their knee jerk policies. It just demonstrates, yet again, no strategic thinking and a contempt for people in general.

Mistakes sometimes lead to positive outcomes. Oxford vaccine mix up came from scientists misreading the strength of Italian manufacturers’ supply.

If a cure isn’t enough try prevention. Antibody therapy could confer instant immunity to Covid-19 on at-risk groups.

Or use what’s already been around for a long time. Dexamethasone demonstrates power of large-scale, randomised trials in finding effective medicines

But it’s not all good news. Many medics ‘frustrated’ about low priority given to front line staff at high risk of infection.

Will it happen here? Spain to keep register of those who refuse Covid vaccine.

Israel vaccinates half a million in nine days – but how many were Palestinian?

The question most people are asking – when will you be eligible for the covid vaccine?

There was no doubt that it would have been approved, but it was left to virtually the end of 2020 before the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine approved for use in UK.

Race to roll out Oxford covid vaccine to stave off third lock down – although it’s now looking like the English variant is winning that particular race.

Tesco offers to help with roll-out of Oxford vaccine.

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine roll out plan changed following approval. But that’s all right, the approval was only a formality. So the vaccine is approved with the proviso that the second injection is within three weeks. Then the Government decides (‘following the scientific advice’) that it’s Ok to delay the second jab until 12 weeks after the first. So is it approved or not?

12-week vaccine gap defended by UK medical chiefs.

Doctors call for rapid roll out of vaccines – which makes sense but has the infrastructure been put in place?

Medics complain of ‘bureaucracy’ in bid to join covid vaccine effort.

Chris Whitty moves to head off General Practitioners’ (GP’s) rebellion over Pfizer covid vaccine doses

Retired medics trying to help covid vaccination drive say offers being ignored.

The Liverpool ‘pilot’

‘We are now in the Systematic Meaningful Asymptomatic Repeated Testing or ‘Smart’ phase of our testing pilot. This is phase 2 and picks up from the successful mass testing pilot in November 2020 that helped Liverpool City Region secure Tier 2 status.’ (Liverpool City Council website, accessed 31st December 2020)

From about the middle of December the various sites were NOT open weekends and Bank Holidays. We are supposed to be in a war yet the centres take a day off – does the virus? Most centres were busy in the days leading up to the 25th and 31st December – due to people wanting to see if they were infected before meeting up with family, This provides no useful information about the efficacy of testing asymptomatic people. Other than that the centres are all very quiet and their continued value is questionable.

From 31st December, Liverpool is in the higher Tier 3 – so what’s the reason for the testing? It’s considered to be flawed due to false negatives, it’s not really getting the numbers that it should, and it hasn’t kept Liverpool out of the higher Tier. Just seems, now, to be throwing good money after bad.

Not sure where the so-called ‘pilot’ fits into a locked down future as Liverpool’s acting mayor calls for yet another one.

Nightingale Hospitals and systemic failings in the NHS

At some time in the future there should be a review of the whole concept of these ‘Nightingale Hospitals’. Were they just another knee jerk response to show that the Government was doing something – whilst at the same time throwing millions of pounds of public money into the bank accounts of their friends? Could/can they ever have been used to the full? Wasn’t it realised that there might be a problem of staffing given the shortages of experienced staff existing in the National Health Service (NHS) long before anyone thought of a pandemic? As it stands at the moment they seem to be just a herd of white elephants.

In the meantime, London’s NHS Nightingale ‘on standby’ – but not the other seven in England?

Being prepared in London – but not being used. Critically ill patients ‘evacuated’ hundreds of miles as fears grow London could run out of beds – being taken as far as Plymouth and Leeds.

Nightingale hospitals stand empty despite surging covid cases as medics warn of staff shortages.

Key London hospital preparing for covid-only care as cases surge.

London’s Nightingale hospital expected to take patients as NHS struggles with number of severely ill people.

NHS staff fear speaking out over crisis in English hospitals.

A nurse speaks about failings in the NHS and why the Nightingale Hospitals will never realise their ‘potential’ on the BBC Radio 4’s World at One on 29th December.

Lorry drivers at ports

The lack of forethought meant thousands of lorry drivers, most of them from other European countries, were stuck in limbo with poor living conditions due to the closure of the links between Britain and France just before the December holiday. No wonder they were angry.

As a consequence of this lack of understanding the Army was brought in to take over covid testing for hauliers trapped near Dover – being joined by 30 or so French firefighters!

The value of statistics

The country (world?) has been awash with statistics since the beginning of the pandemic but of what use are they – if they don’t paint the full picture? The more infectious ‘variant’ hits London and the South East, the inept Government of the Buffoon wants to keep Cockneys at home so raise the fear level as rational argument may not work – people don’t trust them because they have told so many lies and have carried out so many U-turns in the last nine months or so people don’t know if they are coming or going. Then they panic. Call 999 – perhaps when there was no need – so the numbers shoot up. Such figures have to be unpicked before they are used to justify further draconian restrictions at the beginning of 2021.

London Ambulance Service receives as many 999 calls as first wave – just before the December holiday.

One law for the rich – another for the rest of us. Or on the road to forget?

In May last year the writer Neil Gaiman broke lock down regulations on travel by journeying all the way from New Zealand to the Isle of Skye in Scotland. He boasted about this on social media and he was ‘spoken to’ by the police – as far as I know that’s about as far as it went.

Now we are constantly being told of fines being given to ordinary people who ‘break the rules’, such as those who have been partying over the last few months – and even the case recently of a group being fined for playing dominoes in a restaurant basement.

But for the rich and influential there seems to be no sanction whatsoever – even when it comes down to free publicity provided by the BBC. Gaiman was given a huge chunk of the BBC Radio 4 arts programme, Front Row, on 24th December – no mention there of his ‘rule breaking’.

Now I don’t consider all these rules to be useful in countering the pandemic but what we should expect is that the rules apply to all – but in capitalist societies it’s money that makes all the difference.

To lock down or not to lock down

Risk averse scientists still only have a lock down to offer – this time blaming the ‘mutated variant’.

Collateral damage

It goes on and on.

Covid poses ‘greatest threat to mental health since second world war’.

Parents warned of ‘sharp rise’ in eating disorders.

Hospital admissions for children with eating disorders rise by a fifth in England.

How covid lock downs are wiping out the gains made by ‘disadvantaged’ children.

UK high street lost 177,000 jobs in 2020.

Youth organisations in England face wholesale closure.

The use of fear or ….

Decisions about which patients receive life-saving treatment could be imminent, doctors warn.

Covid rule-breakers ‘have blood on their hands’.

… the use of patronage to get the desired result

Lots and lots of NHS staff in the New Year’s anachronistic Honours List

How many ‘tiers’ to go?

‘Tier 5’: England faces possible new Covid restrictions.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The arrival of the first vaccine – the end or the beginning of the problem?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The arrival of the first vaccine – the end or the beginning of the problem?

Vaccines have become available much sooner than we were led to be the case a few months ago and ‘world-beating’ Britain was the first country in the world to officially authorise it to be used in a mass, nationwide, vaccination programme. We are constantly being assured that it is safe and I suppose we will have to believe that until mortality rates from the vaccine start to outweigh those of the covid virus.

The speed is impressive. It shows what can be done when there’s a will – or perhaps more exactly – the fear that we’re all going to die. Why it takes years for so many life saving drugs to come into production now starts to become a mystery. The delays in the past have benefited no one but the major pharmaceutical companies and just allowed them to hike the prices – arguing the expenses of long drawn out research and development costs. If a worldwide effort – with sharing of intelligence – can provide a vaccine in such a short time it will be interesting to watch the hoops these same companies will jump through to ‘prove’ that it can’t be done in the battle against other diseases.

What is certain is that they won’t admit that the only reason such a process happened with covid was due to the fact that it was having (is having and will have for a number of years in the future) an impact on the so-called ‘developed world’. If the pandemic had had the sense to stick to Africa, Asia and Latin America then it would have been allowed to play itself out. There are already signs that those parts of the world will have to wait until the richer countries have taken the lion’s share of the first batch(es) of vaccines before they start to get put into the arms of the vulnerable in the geographic South.

But there are potential problems, probably coming to a head some time early in 2021, about the priorities of those being vaccinated in the ‘developed countries’ as well as questions about how society treats its ‘vulnerable’ citizens.

In Britain, in the first few weeks of the programme the priorities have been identified as those over 80, primarily those in hospital or what are laughingly called ‘care homes’, as well as those who work in the NHS and other care workers. Then will come the over 80s in the population in general. That’s simple enough and easy to understand and they will more than use up the first batches due to arrive in the UK before the end of December 2020.

In the early stages of the pandemic in Britain more than half of all deaths were of those in care homes. Those deaths took place even after it was well known internationally that the residents of such places were particularly vulnerable due to their location, age and underlying medical conditions. The fact that it took the British Government months to come alive to that fact and supply those homes with the necessary equipment, staffing and, more importantly, funding to be able to mitigate such a situation would, in any civilised society, have had the Buffoon and his cohort charged with manslaughter – if not murder. But we don’t live in a civilised society.

However, once those (who it would be difficult for even the most selfish and egotistical in society to be able to argue should be pushed towards the back of the queue) have been treated as part of the vaccination programme then we are likely to see a vying for position as well as a lobbying of who is more ‘valuable’ to society in what could be called the ‘second tranche’. Even before the first needle punctured the first arm there were noises coming from certain sectors of society. They will become noisier in the future.

Once the over 80s have been ‘protected’ there are valid arguments why it shouldn’t then continue just on a basis of age. Fortunately for them, and British society (but not for the pension companies) there are many in their 60s and 70s who would not be classed as vulnerable under any reasonable definition. In that case it will be necessary for there to be an accepted, and acceptable, programme of those who should be next in line. If not there is a danger of a free for all with those with the greatest amount of fear (or selfishness) together with an element of power, whether that be physical or financial, who will be demanding that they are more ‘worthy’.

What the Government of the Buffoon should be doing between now and the early part of January 2021 is to produce a proposed timetable of who (and when) will be receiving any of the vaccines available. Leaving the vaccination programme to ‘self-develop’ (as they have done with all the testing regimes tried so far) would not only create inequality it could lead to ugly conflicts which (fortunately, though not through the efforts of any government) have been absent in virtually every country so far.

It’s the lifeboat that gets tipped over when people panic.

Resilience of the National Health Service (NHS)

We have been told since March ‘To protect the NHS’ to justify the various restrictions – even though they have shown themselves to be patently useless. But was/is that argument valid? Does the NHS really need protecting?

An interesting item in this article is the fact that the NHS has been paying for – and not using – beds in private hospitals. Private medicine gets its trained staff for free (it’s the State, i.e., us, that pays for all the training of the doctors and nurses) and now we are paying for empty beds – just in case. In a war you don’t ask organisations to do something you tell them. You don’t reward the same parasites who have been sucking the blood from the ther NHS for decades.

When are you most infectious?

When are you most infectious? A report suggests when.

Liverpool ‘pilot’

The Liverpool ‘pilot’ seems to be floundering. Originally a good idea – although there were naysayers from the beginning – it seemed to get everything together, and then just let it fall apart.

I might be naïve but I understand a pilot is out to test certain parameters. That means you need constants which can therefore be checked against expectations. But that hasn’t been the case since the beginning.

The first day opened late (which demonstrated the ‘pilot’ was started too soon) and the number of test centres was only six. That was on 6th November and I don’t think there’s been a day since when the number of test centres has been the same. On the weekend of 30-31st November that number reached a whopping 51 – and has fallen down now (10th December) to twelve-ish.

The idea was that (if not at the beginning) eventually everyone could walk to their nearest test centre – that’s not necessarily the case for the vast majority of the population now. The momentum has been lost and the figures increase very slowly – and it’s almost certain that the people who go to get tested now are repeats. For example, of the final figure I am counted three times.

Still there’s no end date and the only way people will know the ‘pilot’ has finished is when the test sites have locked doors. Whatever the eventual results from this ‘pilot’ they will be useless as there has been no consistency.

Included now is Runcorn and the Wirral. Whilst not necessarily a bad thing it makes a mockery of the idea of a ‘pilot’ that will provide useful information to other areas – although all attention now will be placed upon the vaccination programme. However, as that will take some time to cover a significant proportion of the population testing will still be an important tool in the battle to get on top of the virus.

Neither did it help that a report was published on 3rd December stating that ‘mass coronavirus testing in Liverpool has missed half of positive cases‘. Yet the ‘pilot’ continued and (to date) continues until an unspecified date (although the website suggests al least throughout December into January 2021).

Out of interest the last two (and most recent) reports on the numbers.

Liverpool testing update – 8.30am 2nd December 2020

    • 119,456 Liverpool residents tested using lateral flow
    • 69,390 Liverpool residents tested using PCR
    • In addition, 31,911 people from neighbouring areas have been tested using lateral flow
    • There have been 1,106 positive lateral flow tests – 798 of which have been Liverpool residents

Testing period: 12 midday, 6th November 2020 – 8.30am, 2nd December 2020.

Liverpool testing update – 8.30am 7th December 2020

    • 122,032 Liverpool residents tested using lateral flow
    • 72,894 Liverpool residents tested using PCR
    • In addition, 36,413 people from neighbouring areas have been tested using lateral flow
    • There have been 1,219 positive lateral flow tests – 855 of which have been Liverpool residents

And then the elected Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, gets arrested (then released on bail) on corruption and bribery claims.

How accurate is the new lateral flow test?

This was what was on the Liverpool City Council website, accessed 10th December;

‘How accurate is the new lateral flow test?

The pilot in Liverpool will be used to validate the sensitivity and specificity levels of the lateral flow tests when performed in a large population of asymptomatic people. We are not using LAMP tests as part of the mass-testing pilot.

The type of lateral flow test being used in Liverpool is called Innova. Results of the Innova evaluation published on 11th November 2020 show:

    • the specificity of the test was recorded as 99.68% – the overall false positive rate was 0.32%, although this was lowered to 0.06% in a lab setting
    • the sensitivity is 58% for all PCR-positive people when performed by self-trained individuals and 73% when performed by health care workers but detects over 95% of individuals with high viral loads, and minimal difference between the ability of the test to pick up viral antigens in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals

Sensitivity means the proportion of people with a disease that have a positive test, whereas specificity means the proportion of people without the disease that have a negative test.’

However, after more than a month of the Liverpool ‘pilot’ doubts started to be expressed about whether the test was worthwhile at all. So how accurate are they really?

Test-track-trace

This matter has dropped way down the scale when it comes to the news now. The magical vaccine is here now and the hope of the Buffoon and his gang is that people will forget (and they are probably right – people will forget their ineptitude, ignorance and incompetence) the disaster they have overseen for the best part of a year. It took way too long for any semblance of any testing and tracking to be introduced in England and now we know what the extent of this ‘world beating’ exercise. England has probably paid more than any other country in the world for a system that hasn’t, isn’t and almost certainly won’t do what it should be doing.

England’s test and trace repeatedly failed to hit goals despite £22 billion cost. £22 BILLION! Why, when people see such a figure aren’t there howls of anger from every corner if this looted island? The population definitely gets the leaders it deserves.

Report finds £720 million army of contact tracers working for only one hour out of every 100 they were paid to. But that’s OK, it’s the ever ‘efficient’ private sector.

‘Jobs for the boys’ is corruption

These accusations are starting to come thick and fast – but will anything stick on the ‘Teflon class’?

The doubtful ability of Edenred to manage the free school meals voucher contract was indicated on this blog months ago. Now it emerges they were given the contract despite ‘limited evidence’ of the capability to deliver.

The Guardian newspaper in Britain also produced a podcast entitled ‘The rise of the ‘chumocracy’.

Even the scientists aren’t free of the whiff of scandal as SAGE is now embroiled in a second ‘secrecy row’ after the Government refuses to publish members’ financial interests. If there’s been a lot of money made from ‘dealing’ with the pandemic there’s much more to be made from ‘curing’ it.

Under Boris Johnson corruption is taking hold in Britain. As if it wasn’t always endemic.

But what are people going to do about it?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

As a sop to the people of Britain some are calling for a tax on those companies who have made billions out of procurement for the State – at hugely inflated prices – to give a £500 bonus to so-called ‘front line’ staff. Yet another diversionary tactic to avoid the real issue – that of the voracious appetite of opportunist capitalism to accumulate as much profit as possible.

The wearing – or not – of masks

It’s not the minimal usefulness of wearing face coverings that makes some people refuse (or at least be reluctant) to follow the supposed ‘guidelines’ – it’s all about psychology.

The reasons the North hit worse

Why is covid-19 more severe in the north of England?

Immunity passports

They will be introduced – either officially or unofficially. But are ‘immunity passports’ a good idea?

The issues around vaccines

The Pfizer vaccine is now being administered: here’s what the next few months will look like.

Covid-19 vaccines are coming – how will we know they work and are safe?

Oxford covid-19 vaccine: newly published results show it is safe – but questions remain over its efficacy.

Poor countries left behind as richer nations ‘hoard’ enough vaccine to immunise populations nearly three times over. This is after the fine words earlier in the year that there would be equal distribution of any vaccine.

Even healthcare workers may be hesitant – but new evidence can be reassuring.

The Covid-19 vaccine was developed in ten months when it normally takes ten years. If the world is supposed to be a better place after this pandemic then all this sort of effort should be directed towards diseases that are (and have been for decades) cutting swathes through the populations in the poorest parts of the world.

Covid vaccines focus on the spike protein – but here’s another target.

Can we believe the statistics?

Did the Office for National Statistics really produce ‘false data’ on coronavirus infections?

How States are always looking for opportunities to control us

Some states have used the pandemic to curtail human rights and democracy.

Care homes – the return of visits

One of the many cruel aspects of the odious Buffoon and his Gang of incompetents is the cavalier manner in which they treat ordinary people. After months of creating a climate of fear to ensure compliance to their cack handed policies introduced to deal with the pandemic they don’t seem to have any compassion to some of the people who are suffering the most from the restrictions on meeting others. But these are merely sound bites to play to the gallery as they the changes, or ‘permissions’, don’t come with the finance or the infrastructure to make the visits feasible.

Radio 4’s You and Yours, 2nd December, had a piece on the difficulties associated with visits to Care Homes.

Poverty in the sceptred isle

1.3 million families to rely on food parcels this Christmas.

Covid-driven recession likely to push 2 million UK families into poverty. This comes from a report produced by the Rowntree Foundation called ‘Destitution in the UK – 2020’.

The ‘zombie mink’ still walking

Considering that the covid pandemic was almost certainly caused by the manner in which the human race, throughout the world and its history, has continued to abuse nature and all life in it for short term gains and/or profit it’s good to hear that nature is fighting back – even from the grave (literally).

Mass grave may have contaminated Danish ground water.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The second lock down and the Liverpool ‘pilot’

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The second lock down and the Liverpool ‘pilot’

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

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

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

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

But not the idiots who run Britain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was the country prepared for such a pandemic?

Not according to a former chief medical officer.

The present (and second of how many) lock down

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

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

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

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

Nationalism

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

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

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

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

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

The spread of the virus

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

Nearly 100,000 catching virus every day.

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

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

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

Does coronavirus spread more easily in cold temperatures?

Face masks

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

The poor suffering the most

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

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

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

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

Redundancies at record level as pandemic takes further toll.

Food banks

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

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

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

Increased control by the State

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

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

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

What a bunch of wankers!

The privatisation of the pandemic and corruption runs rife

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

Whitehall scrambles private sector to avoid second wave disaster.

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

Labour demands answers from vaccine head over PR bill.

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

More on ‘collateral damage’

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

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

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

And with such situations comes the recriminations.

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

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

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

One rule for us – another for them

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

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

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

Test-trace-track

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then sometimes it doesn’t work.

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

City wide testing – the Liverpool ‘pilot’

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

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

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

Liverpool to pilot city-wide coronavirus testing.

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

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

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

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

Vaccine and immunity

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

But another look at immunity might be more positive.

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

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

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

The ever expanding effects of covid-19

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

Reactions to Government policy

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

Not much fun being a mink in 2020

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

And the Dutch mink don’t fare any better.

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

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

Finally:

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

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

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?