The ‘unintended consequences’ of speaking too soon
Do people remember the adage ‘Better to keep you mouth shut and people think you’re stupid than to open it and prove them right’? In many respects this might be appropriate now with the appearance of the ‘new’ Omicron variant of covid.
The South African’s, in all good faith, made the announcement that they had found a new variant and that it had many more variants than in previous mutations. That information flew around the world and resulted in the not unexpected knee-jerk reaction from many of the world’s governments who still, now two years into the pandemic, don’t have a proper strategy to deal with it.
Once the genie was out of the bottle the South African’s made the announcement that although, yes, there are a lot of changes in the structure of this mutation but that the effects were ‘unusual and mild’. Now whether that news went out alongside the discovery of Omicron is, to some extent, academic. Panic had set it and there was no way of stopping it any time soon.
In reaction a number of governments, primarily the most, historically, stupid, i.e., those of the United Kingdom and the United States, immediately placed a travel ban on anyone coming from a huge chunk of Southern Africa. (That the South Africans were surprised at this reaction does say something about their understanding of the world.)
Both the US and the UK are those countries most in the world to put the blame on any problem on anyone else but themselves. All that is ‘good’ in the country is home grown, all that is ‘bad’ has come from outside. The fact that both countries are disasters at many levels is just ignored; poverty, inequality, racism, corruption, attempts to change governance to benefit the minority, to name just a few.
Then the World Health Organisation (WHO) weighs in by declaring it ‘a variant of interest’ when there is still little really known of the dangers. They then play the game by choosing the next letter in the Greek alphabet. All this does is justify, to those knee-jerkers, their actions.
Then, too late, the same WHO state that the appearance of this new variant just goes to show the necessity of expanding the vaccine distribution to those parts of the world who have seen the lowest vaccination rates. If they thought that by following the actions they did this would shake the rich world into more compassion they displayed an unbelievable degree of naiveté.
All they did was justify those frightened and selfish populations to extend the proportion of THEIR population who will have an extra, ‘booster’, dose of the valuable vaccines. Instead of making more vaccines available to the poorest in the world all these actions mean there are less now – and it will also cause these rich countries to hoard more and more stocks ‘just in case’ in the future.
The news in Britain now is all about ‘keeping the virus out’ – as it is also in a number of other countries. But if they were ‘following the science’ (as they keep on telling us they are) then they would know the consensus is that it is probably all over the world already, it has just not yet been identified – or perhaps, realising the likely consequences, some countries have not made the news public.
We should remember that the flu pandemic (that was much more virulent than covid) of 1918 was called Spanish Flue because it was Spain that first made it public. At the end of the First World War belligerent countries kept news of their outbreaks quiet in case it gave succour to the enemy. I’ve read one theory that it actually started in the USA and was brought over by troops when America entered the war in 1917 – but no one in that ‘land of the free’ would ever admit that. (That might count as a ‘conspiracy theory’ but I like it nonetheless.) Spain was neutral and so had nothing to lose – other than the pandemic (which almost certainly did NOT start in Spain) being named after their country.
In the present circumstances the issues that many people have been arguing for over the past months, i.e., the rich countries actually living up to their promises and providing vaccines via the Covax scheme (although that smacks too much of charity for this writer) or abolishing the patent laws that make it impossible for the poorer countries of the world (who aren’t totally ignorant of science and DO have the abilities to produce the vaccines themselves) to set up facilities for their own regions. All they lack is the recipe.
Another consequence of this fiasco of the last few days is that countries (especially the poorest) will be more reluctant to announce anything that might look unusual in relation to the pandemic and hence it will go on, and on, and ……
Perhaps some people should think before they speak.
The vaccination programme in Britain ….
All UK adults to be offered booster jab.
Does AstraZeneca’s covid vaccine give longer-lasting protection than mRNA shots?
…. and the rest of the world
It is happening around the world but no thanks to the actions of the rich countries of the world.
Why are covid cases in India decreasing, despite the low double vaccination rate?
The mutating virus – how the story evolved so far
New covid variant: UK urgently brings in travel restrictions to stop spread of ‘the worst one we’ve seen so far’.
The hunt for coronavirus variants: how the new one was found and what we know so far.
South Africa ‘punished’ for detecting new Omicron variant.
Javid defends ‘swift action’ on Omicron variant.
New covid variant: Will new measures against Omicron work?
Omicron is the new covid kid on the block: five steps to avoid, ten to take immediately.
Are new covid variants like Omicron linked to low vaccine coverage?
Travel bans aren’t the answer to stopping new covid variant Omicron.
South African doctor who raised alarm about omicron variant says symptoms are ‘unusual but mild’.
Omicron: WHO warns of ‘high infection risk’ around globe.
Omicron: why the WHO designated it a variant of concern.
Could a chewing gum really reduce the spread of covid-19? Maybe – but here’s what we need to know first.
The unexpected from the pandemic
We expected people with asthma to fare worse during covid. Turns out they’ve had a break.
How have restrictions worked?
Household mixing during covid-19: our research suggests adherence to lockdowns in England declined over time.
Mask wearing wasn’t disputed in previous crises – so why is it so hotly contested today?
Poverty in Britain
Communicating about housing the UK: obstacles, openings, and emerging recommendations – a report produced by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Foodbanks hand out 32 meals every minute – and it’s about to get to worse.
How poorer citizens pay the price of economic change in the UK.
Corruption in Britain
Labour calls for inquiry into Tory peer Michelle Mone over PPE contract.
Covid travel restrictions have created new borders for migrants who want to visit home.
Not really ‘collateral damage’ but the changes in social care being proposed are happening now due to the disastrous performance in this sector due to the Government of the Buffoon failing to understand the situation at the beginning of the pandemic. Social care cap: how the new system will work and why it’s unfair.
This might not be the best place for this article (not least because it addresses the situation in the United States) but the effect of the pandemic on medical staff has been worse due to the way the health services (in all countries of the world) have been increasing developed towards profit rather than care for the sick. If it has been happening across the Atlantic it will be happening, t a greater or lesser extent, elsewhere. Either now or at some time in the not too distant future.Why health-care workers are quitting in droves – in the United States.