The first anniversary – how many more before the end?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The first anniversary – how many more before the end?

It wasn’t the intention to post on the exact first anniversary of the imposition of the first lock down in the UK but as I am it would be impossible to not comment on such an ‘important’ milestone. As with many anniversaries in Britain (and the country seems to be obsessed with finding an opportunity to ‘commemorate’ an event – whatever it might have been) the real issue is often brushed over, minimised or just ignored.

A case in point was the centenary of the start of the 1914-1919 World War. There was little (official) debate of why millions of working men and women were sent to aid in the slaughter of other working men and women for ‘God, King and Country’. There was even less debate about the morality of workers still being sent to kill other workers in various countries. Turn them into martyrs and you can hide the underlying causes in a cloak of sentimentality. ‘A war to end all wars’. Did anyone ever really believe that slogan? Not as long as the oppressive and exploitative system of capitalism is dominant throughout the world.

On March 23rd 2021 there was a lot made about remembering the (to date) 148,125 people who had died in the UK as a result of the pandemic (numbers which will continue to rise and which still miss out on an unknown number of ‘collateral casualties’). However, little was made about why the situation was allowed to get to such a state that the costs – in both human and economic terms – have been so great.

Many in the last year might have put down the chaotic management of the present pandemic by the Buffoon and his rich, entitled and incestuous bunch of cretins to crass ineptitude, ignorance and incompetence. Everything was too little, too late; too much, too soon; following the science, not following the science; concerned more about private business profit rather than public safety and well being; and strategy? What strategy? (There isn’t even one now – everything hanging on the success of the vaccination programme.)

Indeed the aim of this blog (under the banner ‘Journal of the Plague Years 2020-2?’) in the last year has been to present the story as it unfolded so that people could use some of the many articles referenced here to remind themselves of what a total disaster this ‘war’ against the virus has been. But all the negatives above are only part of the story.

Instead of putting all efforts of Government into finding the quickest, most efficient and (yes) cheapest manner of ‘defeating’ (or, at least, effectively managing) the virus outbreak substantial parts of government have been working on the main agenda of the Tories – all the things they wanted to do but which were never mentioned prior to the last General Election at the end of 2019.

Even though the pandemic is still raging throughout the world, although less so in the UK (at least at the moment) and the rebuilding of even a capitalist society in the next few years will be a difficult task, the Buffoon has chosen the days before the first anniversary of lock down to push forward the Tory, neo-fascist, militarist policies that are aimed at maintaining themselves in power and to prevent the development of any movements that might seek to change the moribund and already redundant capitalist system.

Internationally they are stirring up feelings against foreign ‘enemies’ who ‘threaten the British way of life’. Both Russia and China are in the strange position of being the main enemy to so called ‘liberal values’ of capitalist ‘democracies’ when they were countries which openly challenged those capitalist values (when they were dedicated to the construction of socialism) and now as countries who are challenging capitalism by the very fact that capitalism has been restored in both those countries.

For the best part of the last 30 years (the period after the end of the ‘Cold War’) the argument to maintain vast expenditure on ‘defence’ was predicated on the threat from ‘international terrorism’ and ‘rogue states’. Now that that sham argument isn’t working they have returned to the tried and tested rhetoric of the ‘Cold War’ era.

Part of the ‘defence’ review is the proposal to increase the number of nuclear missiles held by the UK armed forces. The issue of the morality of such weapons is too big to go into here but just to state that increasing their number by 40% won’t make life more secure for anyone in the UK (or the rest of the world) and the morality of their possession (in whatever numbers) and use remains obnoxious.

On the domestic front the Buffoon and the odious Patel are pushing for changes in the law to prevent any effective protest against government action or inaction. Those laws introduced in the late 1980s (under the equally odious Thatcher) aren’t enough for these ‘defenders of liberty and western values’. Making a noise will be a criminal offence and there are probably many other restrictive stipulations which are yet to be made public.

And in a two fingers up to the people of Britain the Buffoon’s government introduces such new laws when there is already emergency legislation in place (the Coronavirus Act of 25th March 2020) which has – and will become in a matter of a couple of days – more draconian as it undergoes its second, six-monthly review. Under the emergency act of last year people were prevented from peacefully protesting as this would ‘endanger public health’. As stated in this blog way back in April of last year no government which is able to pass emergency legislation in ‘extreme circumstances’ is easily convinced to rescind such laws.

What the Tories have done is to overcome that obstacle by putting their restrictions into law under a ‘normal’ piece of legislation – which it is illegal to oppose during the time of the pandemic.

And there’s still no real strategy to combat the virus – just the crossing of fingers, the touching of wood, and the occasional prayer to a non-existent supreme entity.

Vaccination programme in the UK …

UK’s ‘colour-blind’ vaccine strategy puts ethnic minorities at risk.

Why the UK’s vaccine roll out should prioritise people according to deprivation as well as age.

People who are homeless to be prioritised for vaccine.

‘The NHS at its best’: making a Covid mass vaccination centre a reality.

Covid vaccines: is it wrong to jump the queue?

The UK variant is likely deadlier, more infectious and becoming dominant but the vaccines still work well against it.

AstraZeneca vaccine: ‘No indication’ of link to blood clots.

Covid-19 vaccines are probably less effective at preventing transmission than symptoms.

… and in the rest of the world

AstraZeneca vaccine: careless talk has dented confidence and uptake in Europe.

The Political Economy of covid-19 vaccines. Within a month of the regulatory approval being granted to the first three vaccines, advanced countries, accounting for only 14% of the world’s population, had placed orders for around 85% of the estimated entire production for 2021.

Why ‘Big Pharma’ shouldn’t control covid-19 vaccines.

Netherlands joins Ireland in vaccine suspension over blood clot concerns. This decision has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the Dutch General Election is taking (this year over three days) this week. It’s not the cynicism of politicians worldwide that bothers me, its the way that most people don’t seem to see through the sham.

Europe’s caution over Oxford vaccine about more than the science.

How misapplication of the precautionary principle may undermine public trust in vaccines.

Rich states ‘block’ vaccine plans for developing nations.

Treatment of those infected with covid-19

Is coronavirus treatment fair? Not in an unequal society.

Pregnant women at increased risk of severe covid.

Summer will see cases of covid drop?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Pollen can raise your risk of getting covid-19, whether you have allergies or not.

Nightingale Hospitals

Nightingale Hospitals to be closed after cost of £500 million. The whole concept of ‘fever hospitals’ and overflow facilities must be looked into at the earliest opportunity in readiness for the next pandemic. And facilities used from companies who have been getting millions in other hand-outs from the government over the last year should be a nil cost to the British population. Resources not being used for anything productive, as we have seen in the lock downs of the last year, should be requisitioned by the state.

Emergency Powers – and the reluctance of the State to give them up

London’s Metropolitan Police criticised over Clapham vigil policing.

One of the ‘solutions’ to a problem (violence against women) that stems from the development of oppressive societies over millennia is the introduction of more surveillance of the population as a whole. Presenting the sham of doing something the Buffoon proposes having a greater undercover police presence in social venues and an increase in the number of Close-circuit Television (CCTV) cameras – in a country that already has more per head of population that any other country in the world. These measures haven’t stopped assaults in the past and won’t in the future. It just legitimises more intrusion into everyone’s lives without providing any benefits.

Test, track and trace

This was, is still now and will be in the future pivotal in dealing with a virus that is now generally considered ‘won’t be going away any time soon’. However, apart from making a small number of people very wealthy this system is still not up to the task and the cavalier manner in which it is being managed will mean that it will not be ready in the face of any resurgence in the future.

NHS Test and Trace ‘no clear impact’ despite £37 billion budget.

The Government’s flagship £22 billion Test and Trace scheme ‘wins the prize for the most wasteful and inept public spending programme of all time.’

Thousands of test and trace staff to be let go with just a week’s notice.

On a slightly different tack. Here’s what happens when we test lots of people as cases are falling.

A look at the situation one year on

Two countries that got it right, and three that got it wrong.

Brazil is in crisis with a second wave – but the UK’s not much better off.

Covid-19: where does the World Health Organization go from here?

MPs’ report scathing on UK’s handling and sharing of covid data.

Ministers frustrated with Buffoon’s ‘mistakes’ ahead of covid second wave.

The inside story of the government’s battle against the virus.

Where the Government has delivered – and where it has failed – during the Covid-19 crisis. A Resolution Foundation report entitled The 12-month Stretch. There was a zoom discussion around this report that took place on 18th March and a video of this event can be watched here.

Delaying England’s winter lock down ’caused up to 27,000 extra covid deaths‘.

Six lessons the UK should have learned, one year on from its first lock down. But has it? Will it ever?

And a ‘covid free’ future?

UK faces ‘covid decade’ due to damage done by pandemic.

Britain continues to see the world as its domain

NHS recruits thousands of overseas nurses to work on understaffed wards.

Care Homes

In Northern Ireland – families ‘denied care home visits’ despite new policy.

After covid: why we need a change in care home culture.

Blanket ‘do not resuscitate’ orders imposed on English care homes.

The winners in the pandemic

Covid test kit supplier joked to Hancock on WhatsApp he had ‘never heard of him’.

An investigation about the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the last year by the BBC Panorama programme, broadcast on 15th March, entitled Cashing in on covid.

UK furlough scheme pays out millions to foreign states and tax exiles.

Poverty in Britain

Food bank use surged during the pandemic – but they can rarely provide all the help people need.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has produced a couple of reports on poverty in Britain. The first, ‘Seeking an anchor in an unstable world – Experiences of low-income families overtime’, looks at the issue of poverty in general. The second, ‘Staying afloat in a crisis – Families on low incomes in the pandemic’, considers the added difficulties during the pandemic.

One in seven adults worried they will become homeless due to pandemic.

New Children’s Commissioner piles pressure on the Buffoon to extend free school meals and also urged him not to “drop” the £20 uplift in Universal Credit.

A new report reveals how the introduction of Universal Credit has contributed to homelessness in Scotland – and if in Scotland there’s no reason to believe it will be different in the rest of the UK.

Nine in 10 councils in England see rise in people using food banks.

‘Collateral damage’

Home-grown cannabis: how covid-19 has fuelled a boom around the world.

How covid-19 became a cover to reduce refugee rights.

Hospital waiting lists in England hit new high after January’s coronavirus peak.

Covid-19 wasn’t just a disaster for humanity – new research shows nature suffered greatly too.

How living life on a screen during covid-19 affects your eyes.

The logic of what is and what is not open defies many. Hospitality bosses threaten government with court.

Services at risk unless NHS England gets £8 billion extra funding within days.

Personal Protective Equipment use in England generated ‘colossal’ amount of carbon.

Who was to blame for the disastrous ‘management’ of the pandemic in the UK

This is a review of a book which I have not yet read but thought that the introduction of some of the ideas in it would be useful to have an idea about. Failures of State by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott review – how Britain became ‘Plague Island’.

Pressure mounts on the Buffoon to launch coronavirus inquiry.

Preparing to return to normal

The idea is now becoming acceptable that no society can really function with so called ‘social distancing’ and there are plans to experiment with various combinations in what used to be mass venues. For this Liverpool has been chosen to test covid crowd safety in ‘roadmap’ pilot.

Politicians in Liverpool seem to be happy about the city being at the forefront of this change in approach however, perhaps they should remember a few things about the recent past.

The Buffoon and his government attempted to seed the virus in the Merseyside area at the very beginning of the pandemic by sending Brits who had arrived from Wuhan way back in April to a quarantine site at Arrowe Park Hospital. All these people arrived in London but they had to be bused hundreds of miles away – as if there were no places closer to Heathrow.

When that didn’t achieve the desired objective it was Liverpool who were to ‘pilot’ mass testing – potentially bringing many infected people in contact with many others when there was a partial lock down and meetings discouraged. That didn’t cause any problems – although it’s not too sure if the city really learnt anything from that pilot as they were constantly changing the parameters.

And now we are to have hundreds – possibly thousands – of people concentrated in small, enclosed areas. Third time lucky for the southerners to get at the Scousers?

Also it is hoped that this ‘pilot’ doesn’t take place in a UK bubble. Other countries have been carying out such ‘pilots’ for more than a month now – the Netherlands being at least one of the countries who have been playing with various combinations and locations. Little seems to have been shared between countries over the last year – will this latest ‘pilot’ be any different?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

UK Budget 2021 – relief for business; suffering for the poor

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

UK Budget 2021 – relief for business; suffering for the poor

The vaccination programme in Britain continues to go well (especially when compared to the experience across the Channel in the European Union – but, then, what can you expect from ‘Johnnie Foreigner’), infections are falling as are deaths. Capitalism in Britain breathes a sigh of relief – as does their present puppet – the Buffoon.

It seems like they have got away with it.

Totally unprepared at the beginning, lacking any semblance of a strategy – even a year after the pandemic hit the sceptred isle – ‘science’ has pulled them out of the mire by being able to produce a vaccine that seems to work. (Let’s not talk about how much the British government, i.e., the British people, paid for that vaccine programme. Pumping gold into peoples’ arms would probably have been cheaper.)

Despite the ineptitude, the incompetence, the lies, the corruption, the arrogance of the rich and powerful, the U-turns, the confusion and fear levels going through the roof the Buffoon is coming out Okish, if not smelling of roses.

Even after showing their contempt for the ‘heroes’ of the National Health Service with the derisory pay increase (not forgetting that all the ‘heroes’ in the other public services will get nothing at all) there doesn’t seem to have been any great condemnation of the present government.

And even if people had gone to the streets – the only real way to show anger in any society – then that would have been turned against the demonstrators as they would be ‘putting other people’s lives in danger and would be undermining all the sacrifices of the past year’. You have to admire them – they place the blame for the crisis on the victim and shrug off any responsibility.

So it’s back to business as usual with the Budget of 3rd March 2021.

Money continues to be given to businesses that probably won’t exist by the end of the year – and shouldn’t all these entrepreneurs and petty minded petite-bourgeoisie refuse such state support as it goes against the grain of neo-liberalism?

Money gets thrown at first time house buyers – trapping them in the iron grip of debt – but offering no relief to those who have no other option than to rent. Companies will have to pay increased corporation tax (but not until 2023 – and perhaps not even then if the memory of the British population in the past is anything to go by) yet at the end of summer this year the poorest in society will be faced with a huge financial break with the withdrawal of the extra £20 per week that has been paid (temporarily) to raise the level of Universal Credit – an already totally inadequate system whose flaws still exist even if not now being highlighted.

And after almost a year where there seemed to be no limit to the amount of money that was available to pull capitalism out of the crisis it itself had created the tap is to be turned off and there will be more ‘belt tightening’ and a virtual return to austerity.

As with the financial crash of 2008 – yet another capitalism created crisis due to greed and arrogance – the cost of the pandemic will again fall upon those who were completely innocent and of its causes.

Perhaps not completely innocent. The crime of omission in allowing the capitalist system to continually play fast and loose with the lives of billions of people is just as pernicious as the crime of commission of the perpetrators.

Vaccination Programme

UK think tank calls for door-to-door covid jabs to tackle vaccine disparities.

Number of UK Covid vaccinations falls by a third as vaccine supply dips. (24th February)

Extra £1.6 billion for UK’s covid vaccination roll out.

How does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine compare to other coronavirus vaccines? Four questions answered.

Covid vaccines: how to make sense of reports on their effectiveness.

The UK’s speedy covid-19 vaccine roll out: surprise success or planned perfection?

Coronavirus vaccine scams – fraud experts give their top tips to help you stay safe.

How well does the AstraZeneca vaccine work? An expert reviews the current evidence.

Privatisation of the pandemic

In the USA but we have seen similar in the UK with the awarding of billions pounds worth of contracts to untested providers

Massachusetts spent 20 years refining its own mass vaccination plan. Then it looked elsewhere.

The ever changing virus

World yet to see ‘full extent of coronavirus evolutions’.

New coronavirus variant: here is what scientists know about B1525.

What problems do coronavirus variants pose?

New covid variant infects 16 people in UK.

Recognition of the ‘heroes’

One of the problems of many workers in the British National Health Service (NHS) – especially the medical staff, the nurses and the junior doctors – is that it has taken them the best part of 75 years to recognise they are actually ‘workers’.

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, even though the NHS was under almost constant attack by various British governments, the idea that such medical workers would go on strike was received with shock and horror. This was to defend their own pay and conditions let alone to support those other workers who were facing the destruction of their jobs as successive governments presided over the the de-industrialisation of the United Kingdom.

At that time there was even a television soap opera called ‘Angels’ (which ran from 1975 to 1983) which perpetuated this myth that workers who took care of others were not the same as those who worked in any other industry. Too many heath workers took in that propaganda and their conditions and workload got worse each year as a result.

With the arrival of the covid pandemic at the beginning of 2020 the NHS was found to be in a sorry state – desperately short of staff, underfunded and led by managers whose main concern was the balance sheet rather than the best care of those in the time of their greatest health need.

No surprise there. Whatever social welfare function the NHS had at the end of the 1940s had been stripped away and was being converted into a money machine for private companies and investors. What capitalism does to every endeavour. No profit = no use.

To make up for the unpreparedness of the government of the Buffoon for the pandemic, the shortage of vital Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as an adequate provision of the equipment necessary (in the early days when the virus was still not fully understood) the Thursday ‘Clap for the NHS’ was turned into a nationwide ritual.

Instead of being considered as skilled workers medical staff were being applauded for being ‘heroes’. But that cost nothing. Neither for the government or the population of Britain. This activity ceased by the end of May 2020 as a growing number of NHS workers started (belatedly) to realise that this was just an empty gesture that took the pressure off the government – and in effect, put all the pressure on those working in the NHS (and other so called ‘essential industries’).

And following the Budget of March 2021 those same workers that were so lauded for their ‘sacrifice and dedication’ only a few short months ago have learnt what their true value is to this government of over-privileged public schoolboys and girls.

The reaction, so far, from the health workers has been one of anger. But what will come of that? Will they act as workers, organise and take action to force the government to act? Will workers in other industries support them (difficult as that is after years of attacks and the weakening of Trade Unions)? Time will tell.

However, workers in Britain should be careful. Already, in their ‘justification’ for awarding health workers a measly handful of crumbs, the Buffoon is seeking to divide the working class by stating that other public service workers won’t even get that. Unless the action is taken in a unified manner, across the whole country and all industries, this struggle will end up being splintered and divided – the only winners being the capitalist system.

‘A 1 per cent pay rise is the worst kind of insult the government could give health workers’

Nurses prepare for strikes over 1% NHS pay rise in England.

Managing the pandemic in hospital

NHS faces questions over covid infections contracted in hospital.

Critical care beds shortage prompts calls for review – but this is all down to government policies over the last three deaceds (at least) on top of which has to be added post-2008 ‘austerity’.

Susceptibility to infection

Do genetic differences make some people more susceptible to covid-19?

Covid deaths high in countries with more overweight people.

Who profits from a pandemic?

Moderna forecasts $18 billion in sales of covid vaccine this year.

AstraZeneca and Moderna’s contrasting rewards for fighting covid hardly seem fair.

From Pfizer to Moderna: who’s making billions from covid-19 vaccines?

The return to ‘normality?

English school leaders despair over new rules on covid tests and masks.

‘Immunity Passports’

Vaccine passports to prove covid immunity could be banned in some circumstances.

Government considering revamp of NHS app for vaccine certification.

Thousands sign petition against ‘vaccine passports’.

Green pass: how are Covid vaccine passports working for Israel?

Austerity will remain after the pandemic

Austerity to continue for many public services as Budget makes further £4 billion of cuts.

Strip away pandemic largesse and UK is banking on recovery with no extra public spending.

Poverty in Britain

Is covid at risk of becoming a disease of the poor?

A-levels: Poorer students ‘three grades behind’.

Universal credit: the whole system needs an overhaul.

One in five UK schools has set up a food bank in covid crisis.

Why has the UK’s covid death toll been so high? Inequality may have played a role.

But it’s not (unsurprisingly) just a problem in Britain

The Millionaire Senators who voted against the Minimum Wage in the USA

All in it together?

The very private life of Sir Chris Hohn – the man paid £1 million a day.

The problems for private renters

Eviction orders being issued despite UK government covid pledge.

Bail out renters, not just landlords, unions urge Rishi Sunak ahead of Budget.

‘Collateral damage’

England’s covid catch-up plan for pupils – summer schools and tutoring.

Covid job losses show structural racism of UK labour market.

Study shows one-in-three children have rarely been leaving the house.

Collapse of social care could force more elderly people out of their own homes.

Thousands of urgent operations building up across London as covid pressures continue.

Young ethnic minorities bear brunt of recessions, and it’s happening again.

The price of global pandemic responses has been to make many other diseases worse.

Special needs pupils in England living in dread of returning to the classroom.

Schools warned to be alert for mental health problems among pupils as they reopen.

What comes after the pandemic?

More of the same if we listen to some so-called scientific ‘experts’. It might have been a positive development that scientists have become the new ‘rock stars’ over the course of the last year but that new found fame (and fortune) should be taken in context. One of the reasons that ‘experts’ started to be distrusted was the way in which they were used in a number of high profile criminal cases where the decision of the jury depended upon who was the most convincing ‘expert’ – and the prosecution could always afford the most high profile and therefore, most ‘credible’.

Now they have the limelight some are trying to keep themselves there for as long as possible. As the UK appears to be coming out of the present lock down there is optimism that ‘normality’ will return in the not too distant future. However, those ‘experts’ who are risk averse are already raising the spectre of a return of non-covid respiratory diseases this coming winter – and in the process attempting to maintain the idea of control over the population. This control will be in the areas such as the (unproven) wearing of face coverings/masks. (It’s perhaps pertinent here to mention that this has become one of the growing cottage industries in recent months and small companies are now dependent on this fad staying around for some time.)

The manner in which many governments throughout the world, and especially in Britain, have managed the pandemic in the last year or so has been totally inadequate for a so-called modern society in the 21st century. To ‘institutionalise’ a minor tactic which doesn’t address the main issues surrounding the incompetence and corruption that has dominated the last 12 months will just be another way the thieves and incompetents get off the hook.

UK must prepare for ‘hard winter’ of flu.

Personal data in private hands

Yet another dodgy contract given under the excuse of dealing with the pandemic – but which will have consequences far beyond the period the virus is dominating British life. NHS faces lawsuit over data deal with “spy-tech” firm Palantir.

Leadership in the pandemic

We get the leadership we deserve.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Does ‘too little, too late’ become ‘too much too soon’?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Does ‘too little, too late’ become ‘too much too soon’?

Seemingly not, surprisingly not, astoundingly not! All initial indications from commentators and even the ‘experts’ is that the plan announced by the Buffoon on 22nd February might be the best way forward for the country. So it looks like he didn’t have any real say in the proposed timetable of raising of restrictions.

Whether the literal island of Britain can exist as a metaphorical island in the rest of the world – when the vast majority of the world’s 8 billion people are nowhere near having any protection against the virus is another matter.

If we maintain the parochial approach the vaccination programme in the UK also still seems to be going well. Figures are showing that around half a million people, more or less, are being vaccinated every day. The ‘promise’ that every adult – those over the age of 18 years – will be vaccinated by the end of July is just another bit of grandstanding and might catch the Buffoon out in the future – but all he is thinking about is short term popularity. Such a promise (bringing that target forward a month) serves no purpose other than being a form of political posturing.

Extending the vaccination programme to those younger than 18 probably won’t happen until much later in the year – not least as the present vaccines haven’t been authorised for children yet – although all the vaccines that are being put into peoples’ arms throughout the (‘developed’) world now were all rushed through the validation process. It looks like that gamble has paid off as there are no reports of serious side effcts, other than those normally associated with vaccines.

The Buffoon’s latest slogan has been ‘data not dates’. Always one for the short, snappy slogan. Although this is the first time he might have really been following the data.

However, one question to ask is; what data are they following. Yes, infections, hospitalisations and deaths are falling. But why? When you have two variables introduced at the same time (a lock down – if only partial – and the introduction of a mass vaccination programme both starting at the end of December and which have been running in tandem ever since) how can you say which one has had the desired effect?

Perhaps the answer to that will come out in the next few months.

Also (and this leaves a bad taste in the mouth) the Buffoon is starting to make reasonable comments about the introduction of a so called ‘immunity passport’ based upon a vaccination history. Yes, initially, it will be discriminatory, for a a number of reasons – mainly age but also there are other variables that might mean someone has not been vaccinated when given the chance.

The idea of carrying proof of who you are (which is what such a ‘passport’ would be) has always been fought in Britain – one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t have an obligatory identity card system.

Most people in the country will accept anything – under the impression that it will be a temporary imposition – in order to return to some form of normality. However, as with the restrictions that were written into law with the Coronavirus Act of last spring once these sort of measures are enacted the State is very reluctant to rescind them – unless there is a lot of pressure for them to do so. A nation ‘tired’ of restrictions on its movement might not be the best ones to take on that fight.

And the words of the Buffoon can never be trusted.

The ‘roadmap’

Initial reactions to the Buffoon’s announcements of 22nd February. Is England’s Covid roadmap the right way out of lock down? The experts’ view

A year too late, the Buffoon produces a reasonable plan.

Is the UK’s exit plan the right one? Three experts give their view.

Although at the end of last week it was reported that Whitty was at odds with the Buffoon over ‘big bang’ reopening of schools in England.

Vaccination programme

The question of enforced vaccination – or at least pressure to get vaccinated. ‘No jab, no job’ policies may be legal for new staff.

When there’s a shortage there’s the potential for gangsters to fill the gap. Something about which all countries should be aware so what we can learn from the great polio vaccine heist of 1959?

Should politicians showcase their own vaccinations to convince the rest of us?

Vaccines on the world stage

UK should send vaccines to poorer nations now – head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

UK hits target for protecting most vulnerable but global roll out lags far behind.

Vaccine diplomacy – how some countries are using COVID to enhance their soft power. This article doesn’t specifically address the announcement by the Buffoon at the G7 meeting last week about the UK ‘donating’ excess vaccines to poorer countries – but all donations will come with their ‘conditions’.

Covid-19 variants

It seems that the Kent variant really is starting to take over the world. Is the Kent variant responsible for the rise in cases among young people in Israel and Italy?

The issue of masks keeps on developing

At first it was just any ‘face covering’ was adequate, now technology (and profit opportunities) are becoming more important. ‘Smart’ face masks promise high-tech protection – but who is going to pay for these, yet another divide due to class and poverty?

The National Health Service

Yet something else we’ve known for many years but to reiterate – management consultants in healthcare do more harm than good, but keep getting rehired.

Health workers appeal to Buffoon for better personal protection. So getting close to the second year and the issue of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) still remains an issue.

Front line National Health Service staff at risk from airborne coronavirus.

Poverty in Britain

England’s poorest areas hit by covid ‘perfect storm’.

One in six new universal credit claimants forced to skip meals.

Universal Credit worth less than in 2013, says Citizens Advice Scotland.

Again, not strictly covid related but a situation which will only get worse as a consequence of the pandemic. ‘Only junkies’– how stigma and discrimination link to rise in drug deaths among Scotland’s poor.

Prison cases ‘almost double’ in a week – in Scotland.

International preparedness for the pandemic

Italy ‘misled WHO on pandemic readiness’ weeks before Covid outbreak. That’s all well and good BUT … what was the situation in Britain at the beginning of 2020? From all that we experienced last year the situation in the UK wasn’t significantly better – nor in many other so called ‘developed countries’. Otherwise why have we seen 120,000 and 500,000 excess deaths in the UK and the USA respectively. What The Guardian should be investigating is not what happened in another European country but what was the situation here, in Britain.

How did the pandemic start?

I was the Australian doctor on the WHO’s covid-19 mission to China. Here’s what we found about the origins of the coronavirus.

The effects of covid – and how to deal with them

A distorted sense of smell is dangerous but treatable.

‘Collateral damage’

UK government blasted over delays to employment reforms.

The Resolution Foundation has produced another report looking at employment prospects for the post-covid future entitled Long Covid in the Labour Market. On the 18th February they also hosted a discussion on this issue and that is available to watch here.

Under-25s hit worst as unemployment rises again.

‘Immunity Passports’

IT experts weigh up the pros and cons of vaccine passports.

Covid vaccine passports could discriminate.

And people should be aware that although they want to get back to a ‘new’ normal as soon as possible the general application of such documentation could well be the slippery slope down the road of the need to carry an identity card. Easier to accept for people used to doing so in many countries – a little bit more difficult in the UK.

We have Cummins – the US has Cruz

Although not covid related exactly but just goes to show those who consider themselves entitled just carry on doing what they want – whatever the situation the majority of people have to endure. Texas Senator Ted Cruz flew to Mexico amid state energy crisis.

Help for home owners, yes, help for renters perhaps (or perhaps not)

Here’s how the Government can release renters from mounting pressure.

Calls for Spanish-style loan scheme to help UK households in arrears.

The ‘recovery’ from the pandemic?

We need a green recovery after covid-19, but banning wildlife trade could do more harm than good.

Corruption in ‘high places’

Matt Hancock acted unlawfully over pandemic contracts. So what’s going to be the consequence of this ruling?

Or this? Covid contract-winning firm owned by Hancock’s neighbour is investigated by health regulator.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?