Nine months and a day since the beginning of the first lock down ….

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Nine months and a day since the beginning of the first lock down ….

…. and how long until the end of the last?

Coincidentally the first deaths attributed to the bubonic plague reported in London, in what came to be known as the Great Plague, were in March 1665, more or less at the time of the first deaths in the UK during the covid-19 pandemic. In the seventeenth century, by the end of February, it was considered safe for ‘the King to return to the capital’. Just under a year.

If we compare the two outbreaks what do we find.

London in 1665; a filthy city with poor sanitation; a population with poor ideas of hygiene; over-crowding in the areas of the poor (i.e., virtually all the working class); huge disparities of wealth; a wastrel as a monarch, constantly demanding (and getting) money from a sycophantic and grovelling parliament; inept Buffoons in government; corruption running rife; charlatans posing as ‘experts’; fear and superstition dominating people’s thoughts; false news; no strategy to deal with the problem; a lock down of most of the workings of society; ignorance of the cause of the disease; hoarding of necessities (though not toilet paper); mountebanks and fraudsters taking advantage of the gullible; unemployment and other consequences of a closed down society; a failure to use known technology to combat the silent killer; and xenophobia, all looking for someone to blame, as long as it wasn’t themselves.

London in 2020; more or less the same.

So 365 years of ‘progress’ has done us no good at all!

In fact it’s worse than that. Life was starting to get back to normal by the spring of 1666. Who is courageous (or stupid) enough to bet that life will be back to normal in any country in the world – let alone Britain – by the spring of 2021?

When I started with these posts I (as did, I believe, the vast majority of the population) thought that a modern, sophisticated, technologically advanced society would have been on top of this pandemic within a mater of a few months, three with luck – at the very outside six. But it was soon clear that that was not to be the case.

Leaders of the capitalist world in 2020 were no more capable of coming up with innovative and imaginative ways to deal with this virus than their predecessors in the latter part of the seventeenth century.

The closer we get to a resolution of the issue something comes up to push the end date further into the future.

These blog posts are collected together in a page entitled ‘Journal of the Plague Year 2020’. By the time the next post appears the title of that page will have been changed to ‘Journal of the Plague Years 2020-202?. And that’s being optimistic, especially if we take into account the huge amount of public debt that’s been incurred by our incompetent ‘leaders’.

But then people get the leaders they deserve!

Vaccines and the vaccination programme

A ‘logistical nightmare’? Perhaps. So how will the UK jab millions of people?

Will a vaccine cocktail be better than a single malt? Trials to test combination of Oxford and Sputnik vaccines.

Pfizer vaccine final results: it’s highly protective – but how long for?

Vaccines are here – but how long will it take to get to everyone? Vaccinating entire UK population could take a year, scientists warn.

UK citizens get less legal protection for covid jabs than other vaccines – and that could undermine confidence.

With overall costs for vaccinating the UK population at £12 billion, the public accounts committee flags ‘highly unusual’ arrangements.

Belgian minister tweets EU’s covid vaccine price list to anger of manufacturers. In all stages of a ‘war’ there will those who will make a fortune. Why isn’t it called what it is – profiteering?

Another example of lack of thinking about the programme before the first needle entered the first arm. And then realising the mistake. NHS scraps order to ‘waste one in six’ vaccine doses.

There needs to be a proper strategy for the vaccination programme yet even at the start there is confusion as doctors and nurses at one of London’s front line hospitals denied coronavirus vaccine.

B Liar weighs into the vaccination debate. I’m sure his suggestion that young people get the vaccine at an early stage (whatever merits the suggestion might have) will go down like a lead balloon. We are in a race against time, he says, we must change our vaccine policy now.

What’s it like working in a hospital during the pandemic?

Two doctors describe working on the front line of Liverpool’s second wave – from this page there’s a link to a podcast where their story is told.

Liverpool ‘pilot’ and non-symptomatic testing

This continues to be badly managed – and ceased to be (if it ever was) a real ‘pilot’ soon after it started at the beginning of November. The number of test sites continue to vary day by day; there’s no longer a running total of the numbers actually tested or found to be positive (figures rising so slowly it would be embarrassing); no lessons learnt (or if so, not published) to enable other cities to be part of the Buffoon’s £100 billion ‘Operation Moonshot’; doubts being cast on the efficacy of the tests anyway; and testing has fallen out of fashion as the vaccination programme starts to spread throughout the country.

However, there’s been a bit of a mad rush in the last few days – but hardly likely to be of any use statistically. People just want to know if they have the virus before visiting family and friends over the coming weekend.

Plans for 30-minute covid testing in England halted amid accuracy fears.

Origin of the virus – and its variants, or, more frighteningly ‘mutations’

Almost a year since the world became aware of a new virus. But are scientists more aware of where it started? What do we know now about where coronavirus came from?

Coronavirus mutation – not as scary as it sounds.

Test-track-trace

This issue is definitely taking a back seat – and the policy seems to be changing on a weekly basis.

Who’s really to blame for England not having a ‘world-beating’ system? Perhaps us. It’s probably a thankless task telling people what they should do when the national strategy is non-existent and confusion reigns but they don’t deserve to be abused. ‘People threaten us and block our calls‘ says a contact tracer.

11,000 coronavirus cases delayed from Wales figures after ‘system maintenance’.

Poverty in Britain

Pre-existing inequality led to record UK covid death rate – according to the Build back fairer – The covid-19 Marmot Review.

Another study, this time in Scotland, found similar results. Poverty linked to higher risk of covid-19 death.

Even the suggestion of this is a disgrace – Unicef to feed hungry children in UK for first time in 70-year history. According to a YouGov poll, 2.4 million children in the UK were living in households facing food insecurity as of May this year. Unicef said a grant of £25,000 would be provided to School Food Matters. The charity will use the money to supply (not that many!) thousands of breakfast boxes to vulnerable children in south London over the Christmas school holidays.

But instead of making sure no child should need to take handouts of food what do the privileged and entitled (in the form of the living anachronism that is Jacob Rees-Mogg) of the sceptred isle say – they attack Unicef for pointing out that policies to alleviate poverty are a sham.

But then – Jacob Rees-Mogg under fire for dismissing Unicef’s UK grants as stunt.

I don’t agree with it but here for information. Feeding Britain’s Children – inside Marcus Rashford’s campaign to tackle child hunger. (Interesting that this article appeared on the Sports pages of the BBC’s website.)

Immunity Passport

Digital covid-19 health passes are coming for travellers.

Britain – the pariah of Europe (and the world?)

Nobody wants to have any contact with the ‘infectious’ British – and do so without thinking and cause huge amounts of chaos that has a greater effect on their own citizens than it does the British – by many nations imposing UK travel bans over new variant. Then they realise the ‘new variant’ is probably all over Europe anyway – and then comes along another ‘new’ variant, this time from South Africa. Every reaction is just a knee jerk (in virtually all countries) – not thought out and not part of any long-term strategy.

UK food producers face ‘black Christmas’ as goods perish amid border gridlock.

Why the decision of the French Government to bar access should have caused such a problem so quickly is a mystery. (Well not, we’ve come to expect that no one considers potential problems in the UK, that would suggest a strategy, suggest planning.) It’s December, it’s winter, many circumstances (weather related) could have closed down the ports. Added to that the British have had to suffer four and a half years of interminable wrangling on the country getting out of the European Union and that would have effected the smooth running of the ports. Why weren’t there contingencies for what they knew was coming up – which would have made the country more able to to deal with the unexpected. Why did covid testing kits have to be brought in? Why was everything last minute? Isn’t there a committee somewhere which tries to foresee the unforeseen?

At least by the late afternoon of 24th December Europe was free of the British. The problem is that the British aren’t.

‘First world’ problems?

Britain might be facing a ‘salad crisis’ – with a shortage of that important food, lettuce. With all the problems in the world (most of which have been around long before anyone heard of covid-19) is this really something we should worry about?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

It starts to get difficult of how to classify these types of news items. Do they go under ‘Ineptitude’ or do they belong under ‘State Corruption’?

Hospital gowns that cost £122 million never been used – and will probably be allowed to go out of date and then get thrown away.

Not only has Britain been paying over the odds for PPE – we’ve been getting defective shipments. One of the most important tasks for James Bond.

And the corruption continues. Government’s PPE ‘tsar’ linked to companies awarded state coronavirus contracts.

How consultants, airlines and China cashed in on PPE scramble – I like the idea of blaming China because they can actually produce PPE, whereas Britain couldn’t at the beginning and I’m not so sure now. Xenophobia lives in (soon to be) post-EU Britain

The Swedish ‘experiment’

All the countries which have been following the same policies of lock down followed by lock down have been hoping for vindication of their actions as opposed to the line followed by the Swedes. It’s taken almost ten months, and it’s only a small concession, but probably the least effective policy adopted worldwide is being taken up in Sweden with face coverings being used on public transport.

A further report tries to shame both Sweden and Japan for not abiding by the World Health Organisation (WHO) norms. However, I would have thought we are still far too close to the pandemic to be able to make any meaningful comparisons of the different tactics. And probably won’t be able to do so with any accuracy for a considerable time to come.

The wearing of masks

I’m not a supporter of face coverings/masks. The information (now conveniently dropped from the media) that was being published at the beginning of the varieties of lock down indicated that they had little use – other than possibly psychological. However, I don’t then stand in front of the press and make high sounding moral statements about their efficacy. Those who do – and then don’t abide by their own recommendations/strictures only deserve our contempt. The latest to demonstrate their ‘exceptionalism’ is the nationalist leader in Scotland

Nightingale Hospitals

I don’t understand why these were set up. Why not use these temporary hospitals to separate the covid from the rest of the other reasons people go to hospital? Then you wouldn’t have a situation where NHS hospitals are running out of beds as Covid cases continue to surge. The use of the temporary hospitals would be creating something similar to ‘fever hospitals’ of the past – something which some virologists have been suggesting since the early part of the year.

It would also give the staff and general organisation established (or let us hope such a structure has been set up) to run these Nightingale Hospitals to work through any teething problems when the numbers were relatively low.

As the number of infections is supposedly going up at the end of the year these new places could be flooded – whilst not fully prepared. There might be even more of a case for opening these locations with the ‘new variant/s’ on their way.

But, it appears, the London Nightingale Hospital (the cost of which must have been astronomical) isn’t even ready for any influx. Staff shortages leave London’s Nightingale hospital without intensive care beds.

Care home visits

The ‘vulnerable’ in care homes still being badly treated – by failed Government promises as commitments of UK care home visits is not being realised.

‘Collateral damage’

The treatment of the elderly in British care homes has been a disgrace for the best part of two decades, the pandemic has only made a bad situation worse. So finds a report produced by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, entitled ‘Covid-19 and disruptions to the health and social care of older people in England’.

UK loses 819,000 paid jobs since start of pandemic.

UN says the pandemic has turned the clock back decades on gender equality.

NHS facing prospect of having to cancel thousands of operations – because Christmas hasn’t been totally cancelled.

Cancer scan backlog raises late detection fears.

Child abuse referrals up nearly 80%, says National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

Homeless people in temporary housing at highest level since 2006.

Covid anxiety: Child ‘asking if he’s going to die’. Seems some lack of communication here between parents and child – but, perhaps, not really a surprise when the only way the Government has been able to get away with many of its policies over the last nine months has been by establishing a climate of fear.

Who will pay for the pandemic?

That’s a silly question, really. Obviously it will be the working people of Britain. But there are other possible alternatives.

Footing the covid-19 bill: economic case for tax hike on wealthy. The argument being that -surprise, surprise – tax cuts over the last 50 years has increased inequality.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

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

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resilience of the National Health Service (NHS)

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

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

When are you most infectious?

When are you most infectious? A report suggests when.

Liverpool ‘pilot’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liverpool testing update – 8.30am 2nd December 2020

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

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

Liverpool testing update – 8.30am 7th December 2020

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

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

How accurate is the new lateral flow test?

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

‘How accurate is the new lateral flow test?

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

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

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

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

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

Test-track-trace

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

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

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

‘Jobs for the boys’ is corruption

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

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

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

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

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

But what are people going to do about it?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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

The wearing – or not – of masks

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

The reasons the North hit worse

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

Immunity passports

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

The issues around vaccines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can we believe the statistics?

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

How States are always looking for opportunities to control us

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

Care homes – the return of visits

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

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

Poverty in the sceptred isle

1.3 million families to rely on food parcels this Christmas.

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

The ‘zombie mink’ still walking

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

Mass grave may have contaminated Danish ground water.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The second lock down and the Liverpool ‘pilot’

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The second lock down and the Liverpool ‘pilot’

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

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

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

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

But not the idiots who run Britain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was the country prepared for such a pandemic?

Not according to a former chief medical officer.

The present (and second of how many) lock down

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

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

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

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

Nationalism

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

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

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

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

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

The spread of the virus

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

Nearly 100,000 catching virus every day.

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

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

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

Does coronavirus spread more easily in cold temperatures?

Face masks

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

The poor suffering the most

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

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

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

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

Redundancies at record level as pandemic takes further toll.

Food banks

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

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

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

Increased control by the State

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

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

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

What a bunch of wankers!

The privatisation of the pandemic and corruption runs rife

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

Whitehall scrambles private sector to avoid second wave disaster.

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

Labour demands answers from vaccine head over PR bill.

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

More on ‘collateral damage’

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

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

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

And with such situations comes the recriminations.

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

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

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

One rule for us – another for them

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

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

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

Test-trace-track

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then sometimes it doesn’t work.

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

City wide testing – the Liverpool ‘pilot’

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

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

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

Liverpool to pilot city-wide coronavirus testing.

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

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

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

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

Vaccine and immunity

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

But another look at immunity might be more positive.

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

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

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

The ever expanding effects of covid-19

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

Reactions to Government policy

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

Not much fun being a mink in 2020

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

And the Dutch mink don’t fare any better.

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

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

Finally:

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

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

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?