Britain Number 1 in the world – for all the wrong reasons

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Britain Number 1 in the world – for all the wrong reasons

As with many aspects of British society (especially) in the last forty years or so, if you wrote about events as fiction nobody would believe it as such ideas would be considered too fanciful.

Such is the case with the way the covid pandemic has been (mis)managed since the virus became known to the world at the end of 2019.

Even though it is far from an end already there are reports being published detailing the abysmal record of the Buffoon and his government to ‘lead’ the country through one of the most potentially destructive periods since the Second World War.

The innumerable ‘U-turns’; the hesitation; reports of cronyism and the awarding of billions of pounds worth of contracts to those who were no more than shysters and barrow-boys (at best, if not through and through incompetent and corrupt; the failed and ‘eyewateringly’ expensive Test, Track and Trace system (which was fundamental in getting on top of the virus) failing at every level, and still not really functioning as it should now, just before the winter when there could be potential spikes in infections; and now the vaccination programme, which was the one and only ‘success’ that the country can look back on over the last 18 months, is now faltering for some unknown reason. (For the time being we’ll forget the immorality of vaccinating more and more of the British population when there are so many others in the world more deserving. If you are going to be selfish, parochial and insular at least try and be efficient at it.)

So after more than 18 months of not being able to get to grips with the ‘unprecedented’ event Britain looks like it’s performing among the worst in the world when it comes to the future. It seems that lessons haven’t been learnt from either what went right (nor much) or wrong (a lot) in Britain and nothing at all from the best practice (again not much) in the rest of the world.

For the Buffoon and his cohort that’s not really a problem. They’ve been spending public money as if it were going out of fashion and in the process making more of their friends richer than they were already. At the same time there is a growing number of working people in Britain who are about to face an even harsher winter than the one last year. The hypocrisy of the Tories knows no bounds as they promise that the experience of the pandemic would lead to be better and fairer society although no independent analysis of their latest budget moves gives them any credence for the much vaunted ‘levelling out’. If there’s any equalisation it’s at the lowest common denominator.

Why the Buffoon acts in the way he does is not really a mystery. What is a mystery, however, is the compliance by the overwhelming proportion of the British population. The only ones protesting, in the main although not exclusively, are the fascists and the head-bangers.

When is the organised working class going to get involved in a meaningful manner and not just shouting on the side-lines ‘too little too late’ or ‘too much too soon’?

The vaccination programme in Britain ……

It seems that the moral issue of giving valuable vaccines to those who are less likely to suffer serious consequences of the virus rather than to those in the poorest parts of the world has been ‘lost’ in Britain.Consider the misinformation argument being stronger than the moral one

Covid vaccines for teenagers: what UK parents need to know amid a new wave of misinformation.

What we know about covid-19 jabs for kids.

Spurned Valneva covid jab ‘more powerful’ than AstraZeneca.

Covid vaccines are safe during pregnancy – but catching the virus isn’t.

New antibody treatment could offer up to 18 months’ protection against severe disease.

…… and the rest of the world

Covid vaccines: how to speed up rollout in poorer countries.

World Health Organisation (WHO) warns pandemic will drag on deep into 2022.

How developing countries can make mRNA covid vaccines.

India’s covid vaccine exports resume – but others must step up to vaccinate the world.

The global south is trying to produce more vaccines – but Moderna is standing in the way.

FDA panel approves Pfizer jabs for children 5 and up. This is in the USA. It will ony be a matter of time before the same sort of policies start to be implemented in the other rich, ‘western’ countries. So much for sharing! As time goes on the tribal, parochial approach to how to deal with the pandemic becomes even more pronounced. They’ll be vaccinating foetuses next.

Further on from a vaccination

AstraZeneca antibody cocktail study shows success treating covid-19.

In for a ‘twindemic’?

People who catch coronavirus and flu at same time this winter ‘twice as likely to die’.

Covid and flu: how big could the dual threat be this winter?

Covid variants

Delta ‘Plus’ covid variant may be more transmissible.

How worried should we be about the new AY.4.2 lineage of the coronavirus?

The importance of basic hygiene

Yes, we should be keeping the healthier hand-washing habits we developed at the start of the pandemic.

What does the winter hold for Britain?

This is at a time when one of the richest countries in the world, together with it’s access to a seemingly unlimited supply of vaccines, still can’t get its act together. Towards the end of October 2021 the UK held the record as the ‘disease box’ of the world.

Labour calls for Plan B measures in England.

Increased restrictions in the UK look inevitable as winter arrives.

‘Herd immunity’?

Relaxing restrictions hasn’t made covid cases spike – but this doesn’t mean herd immunity has arrived.

Increased protection for babies?

Breast milk can contain covid antibodies – good news for babies.

Emergency Powers Act

How many people still remember that we are living under almost like wartime emergency laws. The Government hasn’t used them yet – and will, no doubt, make a big issue about them being abolished with the ending of this Act. But we should remember that they have introduced some of the stipulations from this act in new laws being brought in at the moment. When States have such draconian laws at their disposal they are very reluctant to let them go – whatever the Party in power. So people shouldn’t put their faith in any potential Labour Government (or a coalition of the present opposition parties) repealing the laws in the future. There will always be ‘more pressing priorities’.

Coronavirus emergency powers: parliament must not waste its third and final chance to review them.

The testing programme starts to grab the headlines – again, and not always for the right reasons

Why are people testing positive on lateral flow tests then negative on PCR?

Lateral flow tests more accurate than first thought.

Travellers now able to use cheaper covid tests. But even with the changes that came into force after 24th October 2021 people will have to use private companies for the tests to be valid. EVERYTHING the Government of the Buffoon does is to the advantage of private business – and most people seem to accept it.

NHS Test and Trace criticised as ‘eyewatering’ waste of taxpayers’ money.

The scientific advice

Not my job to sugar-coat advice.

Poverty in Britain

More information comes out about the effects in the cut of Universal Credit that took place on 6th October 2021.

Universal credit: what the £20 a week cut will mean for hundreds of thousands of households.

‘I don’t feel like a person any more’: the emotional side of claiming universal credit. But that’s always been the idea of ‘benefits’. Make people feel ashamed and they won’t make a claim.

‘Shameful’ Universal Credit cut ‘will push 22,000 children into poverty‘.

Universal credit uplift was a lifeline during the pandemic – our research shows cutting it will leave families with impossible decisions.

As stated many times in the Journal of the Plague Years, what happens in Scotland is almost exactly replicated in the rest of the UK – but on a bigger scale (due to the population difference).

Renters on low incomes face a policy black hole: homes for social rent are the answer. The technical back-up.

Ethnicity, poverty and the data in Scotland.

And who are allowed to benefit at the expense of the poor?

Most of these issues are not ‘covid related’. They are included here to remind people of the sort of society they have allowed to exist in Britain (and many other parts of the world).

Pandora papers: ‘it’s time to pursue lawyers and accountants who enable tax evasion’.

The secret owners of UK property worth billions.

Tax cheat schemes cost governments billions.

‘Collateral damage’

How covid may leave us with fewer friends if we are not careful.

Covid ‘strategies’ throughout the world

Zero covid worked for some countries – but high vaccine coverage is now key.

The secret to South Korea’s covid success? Combining high technology with the human touch.

Covid mortality

The statistics about death rates have gone quietly lately as the debate has moved on to the issue of vaccination.

How covid deaths compare with other deaths in the UK.

How did it all start?

New WHO group may be last chance to find virus origins.

The analysis

UK’s early response worst public health failure ever.

‘Serious errors’ by ministers and scientific advisers ‘cost thousands of lives’ during pandemic.

When it’s all over ….

Covid-19 could nudge minds and societies towards authoritarianism – that is of the extreme right. Interesting that after all the people have suffered, throughout the world, with the incompetence of the capitalist governments in their handling of the pandemic, and all the corruption that has gone with the incompetence, a study comes out suggesting that most people would want more of the same.

….. unless we fall into the next pandemic

Nipah virus: could it cause the next pandemic?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Pandemic – what pandemic?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Pandemic – what pandemic?

Surely pandemics of the past were nothing like the one the world is living through now. In previous pandemics news about what was happening on the other side of the world either just didn’t exist or would take some time to filter down to the vast majority of the population. With modern technology what happens in Australia and New Zealand, for example, can be known about almost instantly. However, the speed of communication is nothing if people don’t know how (or don’t want) to use that rapid sharing of knowledge to the advantage of all.

That means each country is following its own road with no concern for the long term, worldwide domination of the virus. The consensus now seems to be accepting that covid will be with us forever and that attempts to achieve and maintain a zero level of infection is unlikely – although China and New Zealand still seem to be sticking with their original ‘strategy’. If different countries are shooting into different goal mouths then it doesn’t bode too well for the future.

When it comes to vaccines the selfish, ‘western’, capitalist world continues to grab as much as possible for it’s own privileged populations – the UK just in the last day or so announcing that they had ordered (and paid for) 100 million doses of the very expensive and difficult to transport Pfizer vaccine. The fine statements made at the G7 meeting in June about sharing the available vaccines with the poorer nations on the planet are conveniently forgotten. In England children are being brought into the programme and third doses are being proposed for an, as yet, indeterminate section of the population.

So the chaotic situation that has dominated the last 18 months or so has morphed into surrealism. Life ‘goes on as normal’, people go on holiday, mass sporting events go ahead and it’s difficult to remember that the virus is still with us and we still lack a real strategy to deal with it.

As has been the case for a while now there’s a great dependence being placed upon chance, that the virus will not be as virulent if it returns in a major way in the autumn. But if things do turn bad later in the year there’s no strategy to deal with another major outbreak – so, basically, nothing’s been learnt since the beginning of 2020.

Many of the world’s ‘leaders’ (and probably a sizeable proportion of the populations in the richer countries) are like ostriches with their heads buried deep in the sand. Pandemic, what pandemic?

Vaccination programme in Britain …..

UK doctors alarmed at ‘shambolic’ roll-out of covid jabs for children.

Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) ‘largely opposed’ to Covid vaccination for children under 16.

Vaccinating teenagers is beneficial, even if their vulnerability to covid-19 is low – if you ignore the moral argument about what is happening (or not) in the rest of the world.

Oxford-jab chief criticises UK’s covid booster plan.

How will covid vaccines work on compromised immune systems?

Teenage jab roll out moving cautiously.

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine: rare blood clot syndrome has high mortality rate.

Should we tell stories of vaccine sceptics who have died of covid?

Is catching covid now better than more vaccine?

….. and the rest of the world

World Health Organisation (WHO) calls for moratorium on booster shots – is it justifiable?

How effective are covid-19 vaccines? Here’s what the stats mean … and what they don’t.

India is preparing for another covid surge but low vaccine coverage leaves it vulnerable

G7 nations will have stockpiled a billion spare covid vaccine doses by end of 2021.

India approves world’s first DNA covid vaccine.

After India’s brutal coronavirus wave, two-thirds of population has been exposed to SARS-CoV2.

Immunocompromised people make up nearly half of covid-19 breakthrough hospitalizations – an extra vaccine dose may help.

Anti-body testing

Antibody tests offered to public for first time. Is there a reason this wasn’t started a long time ago? The more information the better to deal with the pandemic, no?

The ever mutating virus

What happens if a far more lethal coronavirus emerges in pets?

SARS-CoV-2 mutations: why the virus might still have some tricks to pull.

New covid variants ‘would set us back a year’, experts warn UK government.

New wave of covid infections possible when schools and office workers return.

UK covid cases have fallen dramatically – but another wave is likely.

Jabbed adults infected with Delta ‘can match virus levels of unvaccinated’.

Self-isolation

Thousands isolated unnecessarily because of NHS covid app error.

Why are things so different in Africa?

The impact of covid-19 has been lower in Africa. Why?

What does China have to teach us?

From ground zero to zero tolerance – how China learnt from its covid response to quickly stamp out its latest outbreak.

China hits zero covid cases with a month of draconian curbs.

Hundreds quarantined in Shanghai as China nears 2 billion covid-19 vaccine doses.

British Trade Unions get to grips with the pandemic

Urgent call for covid-safe ventilation in schools.

‘Herd immunity’ – or not

Delta variant renders herd immunity from covid ‘mythical’.

Travelling in a time of covid

Ministers accused of destroying trust in England’s covid travel rules.

‘Collateral damage’

Private schools poised to widen lead over state pupils at A-level.

Covid is making a summer break something only the rich can afford.

Could NHS waiting lists really reach 13 million?

England’s pandemic crisis of child abuse, neglect and poverty.

Almost 1.2 million people waiting at least six months for vital NHS services in England.

Working from home has created an ‘overtime epidemic’.

A million jobs in peril as one in 16 UK firms say they are at risk of closure.

How the pandemic exposed the crisis in children’s social care. (Links to a podcast.)

Record number of young people wait for eating disorder treatment in England.

The pandemic transformed how social work was delivered – and these changes could be here to stay.

How decades of Neoliberalism left the NHS on the brink.

Poverty in Britain

The National Housing Federation released a report in July 2021 about the experiences of social housing tenants in claiming Universal Credit during the present covid pandemic entitled ‘Universal Credit: claiming during the coronavirus pandemic – A survey of housing association tenants claiming Universal Credit in 2020/21. In comes in two versions, the Executive Report and the Technical (full) Report.

Cuts to Universal Credit will leave children hungry.

Who’s making it big in Pandemic Britain?

Covid contracts: inquiry to look into use of WhatsApp, says Information Commissioners Office – they knew they were doing something illicit hence trying to do business through less traceable forms of communication.

‘Lost samples and late results’: the Tory donor, his son and their travel-test firms.

Church leader who sold £91 bogus covid remedy appears in court. This was first highlighted here about a year ago – so things aren’t moving particularly fast.

Mask wearing – after the pandemic?

Will mask wearing still be common in Britain after the pandemic is over?

Impossible to get the testing right – or how to make easy money

Anger at overflowing covid test drop boxes.

PCR tests for travel: Competition watchdog to investigate if excessive profits are being made.

Ministers face calls to intervene in ‘scam’ covid travel test system.

UK watchdog (Competition and Markets Authority – CMA) vows to help fight rip-off covid test firms.

Government warns covid test firms over misleading prices.

How are the ‘strategies’ working in other countries?

Has the Delta variant derailed Australia’s zero-covid strategy? (Podcast.)

New Zealand borders to remain closed for rest of the year.

Why I no longer think we can eliminate covid – public health expert.

New Zealand pandemic strategy in doubt amid Delta spread.

What will happen when it’s all over?

Plagues and classical history – what the humanities will tell us about covid in years to come.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

England on the eve of ‘Freedom Day’

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

England on the eve of ‘Freedom Day’

In less than an hour Britain (or at least the English part of it) will enter a watershed moment for 00.00 on Monday 19th July 2021 will see the end of all restrictions under which the country has been living for the last 16 months. Or it won’t. (It also should be the end of this Journal of the Plague Years 2020-202? – but it won’t.)

(There are even nightclubs waiting to open up, with queues forming, as I write, to enter on the stroke of midnight.)

Legal restrictions will be lifted but that doesn’t mean that local restrictions won’t remain in place. For example, masks will not be obligatory on some forms of public transport but will be on others and it varies between different parts of the country (England) and matters won’t be changing on the 19th in the other constituent nations of the so-called ‘United Kingdom’. And worse still some areas seem to be following a ‘wait and see’ approach before making a final decision.

The uncertainty and confusion that has beset the whole approach to dealing with the pandemic is now being carried over into the ‘new normal’. Having had no strategy to deal with the consequences of the covid virus since March 2020 the government of the Buffoon is basically giving up and hoping for the best – more or less what they have been doing since the pandemic hit.

When it comes to the science people can get proof of their approach whatever it might be. Some scientists are predicting the end of civilisation as we know it, others are arguing the ‘if not now, when’ approach. No doubt all will eventually be proved correct, at least in their own eyes.

From the beginning we have been arguing here that there must be a better way of dealing with a pandemic than following the tactics that were adopted 700 years ago during the time of the ‘Black Death’ (bubonic plague) that swept through Europe. But that would require a strategy which has been sorely lacking. At the same time it cannot be denied that the ‘collateral damage’ caused by the lack of a clear and carefully thought out strategy has been, is and will be in the near to long-term future, immense.

Modern societies just can’t close down with the hope the virus will run its course and eventually disappear. If that thought did exist at the beginning of 2020 the hope has all but been dispelled by the general argument now that ‘we will have to live to learn with the virus and that it will be with us (probably) forever’.

However important it might be for British society to get back to normal (with all its problems of inequality, racism and poverty) it would have been useful if lessons of mistakes made in the last 18 months had been learnt so the country was more prepared for what is to come – an uncertain future for sure.

But in England (and it’s not really any better in the rest of the UK) that’s not the case.

On the very eve of ‘Freedom Day’ the Buffoon makes even yet another U-turn (this time one of the quickest ever, timed at less than three hours) over the matter of self isolation of himself and his spendthrift neighbour. But it wasn’t just the changing of approach to self isolation (‘one law for us and one law for them’) it was the way it was explained away.

In the same way that the Buffoon has lied and blustered his way through events of the last year and a bit he turned his lack of strategy on to the population of England. His video speech explaining the change in approach consisted in mainly saying that we all have to be follow a sensible lifestyle in the coming weeks and months and ignoring the chaos that his own actions (and that of the rich and powerful) in the last 18 months has just created confusion in the minds of some, incredulity in those of others, and downright antagonism in the minds of the rest.

We didn’t enter the pandemic all together and we’re not moving out of it (however temporary it might be) as a united force that would be the only hope, if not a guarantee, of success.

From tomorrow the debate will change, accusations will be liberally thrown around and politicians will be seeking to score points for their own short-term ends. ‘I told you so’ will become the most oft quote phrase and chaos will reign.

How well or badly we in Britain will get through this crisis is still in the balance. But the same question that was posed at the beginning of 2020 is still valid so many months later. The ruling class in Britain (and the rest of the world) have shown themselves incapable of dealing with such a crisis – apart from filling the banks accounts of their cronies and allies with public wealth.

Are working people willing and able to do better?

Vaccination programme in Britain

Covid-19 vaccine boosters: is a third dose really needed?

Most covid deaths in England now are in the vaccinated – here’s why that shouldn’t alarm you.

Can ‘viral shedding’ after the covid vaccine infect others? That’s a big ‘no’.

Pressure builds on ministers to reach a decision on covid vaccines for children. This decision will be based upon politics and will have nothing to do with science – or the ‘data’. There is in Britain – as in virtually all the wealthier countries – no real concern for situation in the poorer countries where many millions of the ‘most vulnerable’ are still from being protected. The Buffoon will be playing to the selfish gallery.

Freedom Day … or perhaps not

End to Covid rules for England ‘leaves 3.8 million vulnerable people feeling abandoned’.

UK faces a difficult summer.

Confusion continues to reign

UK government under fire for mixed remote work messaging.

The ever-changing virus

Lambda variant is now in 29 countries, but what evidence do we have that it’s more dangerous?

Consequences of the virus

Younger adults still at risk of serious organ damage.

Long covid has more than 200 symptoms.

The argument over masks

Seven reasons mask wearing in the west was unnecessarily delayed.

Who gains from pandemics (and in any other health care situation)?

UK drug companies fined £260 million for inflating prices for National Health Service.

Test and trace

More than half a million people in England pinged by NHS test and trace app in a week, the highest figure recorded.

Wealth distribution in Britain

The Resolution Foundation produced a report, (Wealth) gap year: The impact of the coronavirus crisis on UK household wealth and there was a discussion around the findings of this report in a webinar on 12th July.

The masters of the U-turn

Buffoon and chancellor to self-isolate in U-turn. This one in less than three hours.

Vaccine ‘passports’

Are covid-19 vaccine passports fair?

Poverty in Britain

More than 1million children from key worker families living in poverty, says Trades Union Congress. So when are the unions going to do something about it?

The Joseph Rowntree Trust has published another report into poverty in Britain entitled A Minimum Income Standard for the United Kingdom in 2021. Also just the findings.

The expiry of the Universal Credit uplift: impacts and policy options, from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?