Chaos remains – even when restrictions are relaxed

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Chaos remains – even when restrictions are relaxed

From yesterday (Thursday 24th February 2022) virtually all the restrictions that had been in place, to a greater or lesser extent since the back end of March 2020, have been removed in England. There are variations in the other three ‘nations’ but they will almost certainly follow suit – it’s just a matter of time.

Such a declaration should have been a cause for celebration but this is Britain in the third decade of the 21st century and the people – in their ‘wisdom’ – had chosen a public school Buffoon to be their Prime Minister.

After stating countless times that the Government was ‘following the science’ much of the detail of the removal of restrictions goes against virtually all scientific advice. (Even in the past the public stating of ‘following the science’ was more to permit the Buffoon to shift the blame on someone else if it all hit the fan.)

For more than a year testing wasn’t done when it should have been and that only started to change with the ‘Liverpool Pilot’, which began at the beginning of November 2020. Although the results of that pilot were never made public (as far as I know) it wasn’t long before testing became more generally available – although tied to the inefficient (and eventually corrupt) tracking and tracing system. If it did nothing else it caused confusion and probably an unnecessary number of people being asked to ‘self-isolate’ for ten days.

Come Omicron the country went crazy. More and more people were being told to test everyday – which was ludicrous even for a variant that was more contagious – and that led to a situation where people were testing unnecessarily, the results being of no use to anyone.

So from a situation of too little testing the country was then testing too much. In the process hiking up the fear level of those who were already thinking that a knock on the door was the Grim Reaper and not the postman/woman.

Now all those free test kits are going to be withdrawn. As well as the payment for certain people who didn’t receive sick pay as a right – an increasing number of people due to the fact that more and more people were on ‘zero hour’ or short term contracts. Tests will still be available – but you will have to pay – and various companies are already planning the new yachts for their CEO’s as ‘Panic Britain’ continues to test, probably when it’s not needed.

So not unsurprisingly it’s the poorest members of society who will suffer the most. For the rich buying the test kits won’t be a problem. For the poor it will be a situation whether they test or pay other bills (specially heating) or food. And if you aren’t able to claim the emergency sick pay, that ends in a month’s time, then more people will be going in to work even if they think they are infected.

This knee jerk reaction to ending restrictions is typical of a ‘government’ which has never had a strategy from the start. If they did then they would have had plans in place to reduce the restrictions without at the same time causing risks of a spurt in infections as well as making the poorest in society suffer.

And that’s not even addressing the issue of vaccines. In Britain younger and younger children are being offered the jab and there are plans in place for a fourth vaccination for ‘the most vulnerable’. But that was the plan at the time the vaccines started to play a major role in the fight against the virus. As each cohort was vaccinated arguments were put up to extend it and extend and extend it and ….

Whether that policy will really be of any use remains to be seen. What is certain is that more and more money will be given to ‘Big Pharma’ and less and less vaccines will be getting to those in the poorer parts of the world who have barely seen one let alone four.

Vaccination programme in Britain ….

How anti-vaccine influencers exploit mothers.

Even though millions in throughout the world, much more ‘vulnerable’ than most children, have still to receive a single dose of any vaccine in the Wales and Scotland (and almost certainly soon in the rest of the UK) vaccines will be offered to children aged five to 11.

And four hours later – England to offer covid jab to five to 11-year-olds. Petty nationalism by petty-minded people. During a pandemic when everyone should be working together they still fight their historic battles.

The arguments here from the scientists who recommended this policy. Not sure if the arguments really stand-up. But here for you to make up your mind. Vaccination of 5 to 11 year-olds, More or Less, BBC Radio 4, 25th February 2022.

Covid and flu jabs could be given at same time in the autumn.

….. and the rest of the world

Africa is bringing vaccine manufacturing home – a major milestone was reached last week when scientists in South Africa reproduced Moderna’s covid-19 vaccine. Covid-19 patents must now be shared.

China is developing its own mRNA vaccine – and it’s showing early promise.

Short AstraZeneca shelf life complicates covid vaccine roll out to world’s poorest.

How developing countries can make mRNA covid vaccines.

but …

Moderna patent application raises fears for Africa covid vaccine hub.

but …

The People’s Vaccine—Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine was largely funded by taxpayer dollars.

‘Taming the virus’?

How new drugs are finally taming the virus.

Remove restrictions – or not?

Lifting the remaining measures is a dangerous and senseless move.

Sajid Javid defends timing of end to covid rules and free tests.

Eight changes the world needs to make to live with covid.

Mass covid testing and sequencing is unsustainable – here’s how future surveillance can be done.

How will people behave when self-isolation isn’t mandatory?

The pandemic in the world

Omicron threat remains high in east Europe – World Health Organisation (WHO).

Have hybrid coronaviruses already been made? We simply don’t know for sure, and that’s a problem.

Those making billions from the pandemic

Moderna condemned for ‘eye-watering’ profits from publicly-funded vaccine.

Covid ‘reinfections’

Covid reinfections: are they milder and do they strengthen immunity?

Previous pandemics

The Black Death was not as widespread or catastrophic as long thought.

Poverty in Britain

The UK’s ‘work-first’ approach to benefits hurts mothers.

Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) report shows increase in rent arrears.

New energy campaign offers Edinburgh residents advice and support with bills.

Many UK homes cut back on essentials to pay for TV, phones and internet.

New measures won’t protect poorest families from new energy price cap.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have produced a report entitles Households below a minimum income standard 2008-09 to 2019-20, Findings and Full Report.

Homelessness set to soar in England amid cost of living crisis.

Evictions rise: ‘I was quite upset, it was panic mode’.

Poverty in other parts of the ‘industrialised’ world

‘Homelessness is lethal’: US deaths among those without housing are surging.

Testing

Why don’t most people with covid need to test for another 30 days, even if they’re re-exposed?

Boots to sell £6 covid tests ahead of rule change.

‘Collateral damage’

The NHS backlog recovery plan and the outlook for waiting lists – the ‘pie in the sky’ dream of the Buffoon.

Covid may have made us less materialistic.

Adult social care was hit hard during the pandemic – it will need help to recover.

Russell Group universities ‘profiting from students’ misery’ after amassing £2.2bn cash surplus

The 24 members of the prestigious group were collectively handed over £115 million from the Government in furlough money.

Seven-week gap advised for elective surgery after Omicron.

Audit Scotland: NHS staffing could threaten post-covid recovery.

Corruption in Britain

Matt Hancock failed to comply with equality duty over Dido Harding appointment.

Taxpayer left to pay billions due to covid fraud.

UK taxpayers lose £15 billion to covid fraud in government schemes.

The Government response (in November 2021);

Our approach to error and fraud in the covid-19 support schemes. But how much will be recovered and how many will be prosecuted?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The pandemic forgotten as the Buffoon scrambles to ensure his political future

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The pandemic forgotten as the Buffoon scrambles to ensure his political future

As each day goes by, in Britain, there’s less and less evidence that there’s still a worldwide pandemic. On public transport and in stores, where the ‘guidance’ is still to wear a mask, fewer people do so as they follow what is the ‘norm’.

That doesn’t mean to say things are getting back to even the ‘new normal’. The number of people travelling on public transport is still way down from what it was two years ago – partly because there are still people afraid to mix and will use their own transport if they have it and many people are still ‘working from home’ – those that can do so.

If you get infected or end up dying with the virus you’re not really even counted now as the figures that used to come out on a daily basis are now only released when someone has a point to make – either in favour of less or more restrictions.

The Buffoon and his Government, who (despite all their protestations to the contrary) have made a pig’s ear of dealing with the pandemic from the start (many of the U-turns and confusions being documented on this blog) are using the various non-pandemic crises that are cropping up to divert attention away from the fact that they were quite happy to carry on in a way that they were saying was too dangerous for the majority of the population to follow – the so-called ‘partygate’.

They are hoping the longer it all drags out the more people will forget their hypocrisy (not an entirely impossible scenario) and that the Tory Members of Parliament who might consider the whole issue an embarrassment will start to think of their own futures and hold back from pressuring the Buffoon to resign. After all a couple more years on the gravy train is better than facing an election where they might all be sent into the wilderness.

The Buffoon makes announcement that are aimed at ‘buying’ votes – a tactic which Thatcher used, with not inconsiderable success in the 1980s – but whether he will be successful in buying votes so cheaply has yet to be seen.

More seriously the Buffoon is following in the wake of the failed and failing Biden administration and banging the drums of war against Russia over the Ukraine accompanied by the embarrassing spectacle of both Johnson and Truss playing at being diplomats – which amuses the Russians if no one else. So after a ‘war’ against a virus we might see a war in the real sense.

Wars have historically been good at diverting attention away from domestic problems, in Britain the most recent example of that was the war against Argentina in Las Malvinas in 1982. And even when millions go on the streets that doesn’t stop the warmongers from carrying out their plans – as could be seen in 2003 prior to the invasion and destruction of Iraq. If all the weapons are just allowed to lie in storage how can the military-industrial complex increase their profits?

But the virus hasn’t gone away. If the vaccination programme was the way out of it there are still only a very small percentage of the world’s poorest people who have yet to receive even one dose. Britain, together with most of the other ‘industrialised’ and wealthiest countries in the world are still holding out against patent waivers and promises of ‘donations’ of vaccines are falling way short of the numbers needed.

But then if there was a patent waiver this would have the effect of reducing the profits of ‘Big Pharma’ – and that will never do.

In all ‘wars’ there are winners and losers. What capitalism has been very successful in achieving is maintaining a grip on society where the losers are the poor and the winners are those who already have many times more than they need. Indeed, that is what capitalism is all about.

It always comes down to how long working people are prepared to accept this. However much they might have suffered in the last two years (with problems over and above those they might have had for years) there still isn’t a groundswell that looks like changing the situation any time soon.

The vaccination programme in the UK ….

Cash incentives for vaccination could be an effective long-term strategy.

The Covid-19 vaccination programme: trials, tribulations and successes, the Summary, the Full Report.

AstraZeneca vaccine: Did nationalism spoil UK’s ‘gift to the world’?

…. and the rest of the world

Scientists argue for the sharing of technology so that vaccines can be produced in other parts o0f the world.

Cuba leads the world in vaccinating children as young as two against covid.

Covid vaccines may be getting worse at stopping new variants emerging – but they’re still lowering the risk.

Novavax under delivers on covid vaccine promises.

Who’s making billions from the pandemic?

Pfizer profits

Pfizer profits

Vaccine mandates

Vaccine mandates for healthcare workers should be scrapped – omicron has changed the game.

Is this the end of the road for vaccine mandates in healthcare?

Treatment other than vaccines

WHO recommends two new treatments – here’s how they work.

Gut bacteria could help protect against covid and even lead to a new drug.

Mask wearing

Have you stopped wearing reusable fabric masks? Here’s how to cut down waste without compromising your health.

Understanding the statistics

The cognitive bias that tripped us up during the pandemic.

‘Collateral damage’

Measles warning for children as jab rate falls in England.

How the pandemic could make poverty levels among ethnic minorities even worse.

The Mental Health Experiences of Older People During the Pandemic. The Full Report.

The pandemic made period poverty worse in the UK – but also led to new ways to combat it.

Plan to tackle England’s NHS backlog delayed.

Energy prices: how covid helped them to surge – and why they won’t go down any time soon.

Testing

Why some people with symptoms don’t get tested.

The omicron variant …

Two thirds of people who catch omicron have already had covid.

Omicron reinfection rate dwarfs last 18 months of covid.

South African scientists on the inside story of discovering omicron – and what their experience offers the world about future variants. A link to a Podcast.

…. and the variant’s variant

BA.2 is like Omicron’s sister. Here’s what we know about it so far.

The nationalists’ record

Covid in Scotland: ‘Lack of planning’ has put NHS in crisis.

Covid mortality

Don’t believe the claim that only 17,371 people have died from covid in England and Wales.

U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 900,000, driven in part by Omicron surge.

The next pandemic

Failure to prevent pandemics at source is ‘greatest folly’. Protecting wildlife to stop viruses jumping to humans would save far more than it costs, analysis shows.

Covid restrictions

England’s plan B restrictions are lifting – but are some measures here to stay?

Covid fraud

Treasury minister quits over covid loan fraud: what we know so far about the unfolding scandal.

Government writes off £8.7 billion of pandemic PPE.

Owen Paterson’s private messages about Randox testing released.

Poverty in Britain ….

Consumption inequality in the digital age.

Government inaction on energy bills ‘will cause an increase in deaths’ in Scotland.

Energy poverty is linked to physical and mental health.

Labour market effects of the increase in the state pension age from 65 to 66. The Full Report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Extra 1.3 million workers on universal credit since pandemic began.

Interest Rate hikes are Class War.

Inequality and the covid crisis in the United Kingdom – and Institute for Fiscal Studies report.

…. and poverty throughout the world

Private sector debt and coronavirus in developing countries. A number of anti-poverty NGOs came together in 2020 to produce a report entitled Under the radar (don’t know why this is the first time I’ve come across it).

Oxfam International have just released a report entitled ‘Inequality Kills: The unparalleled action needed to combat unprecedented inequality in the wake of covid-19’. The Summary and the Full Report.

Effects of covid on the rest of health care

Warwick University have produced a report, entitled Pandemic Pressures and Public Health care – evidence from England, looking at the impact of covid on general health care.

Blaming someone else

How the psychology of blame can explain covid-19 responses.

To shield or not to shield

More than 1.5 million people were wrongly told to shield from covid-19.

Problems in the NHS

The NHS is having its worst winter ever – and the reasons run much deeper than covid.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The end of the pandemic in Britain?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The end of the pandemic in Britain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vaccination programme in Britain …..

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

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

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

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

No need for a fourth covid jab yet.

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

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

…. and the rest of the world

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

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

The global north’s vaccine charity is a sham.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The background to one strand of the covid vaccines

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

The omicron variant

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

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

What are the symptoms of omicron?

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

Where to go to catch covid

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

The end in sight?

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

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

Testing

How rapid tests changed the pandemic.

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

Other tactics to deal with covid

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

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

Mask wearing

Hundreds of maskless London Underground passengers fined.

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

Poverty in Britain

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

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

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

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

The cost of living crunch.

UK: Temporary accommodation violates children’s rights.

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

Rising energy bills to ‘devastate’ poorest families.

The rich continue to get richer

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

Corruption in high places

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

The world gone mad

Texas teacher ‘locked covid-positive son in car boot

Collateral damage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…. or not?

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

‘Life after covid’

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

The ‘good’ that has come from the pandemic

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

An underlying problem

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

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?