The vaccination programme gathers pace – but will it be enough?

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The vaccination programme gathers pace – but will it be enough?

When I published a comment on this site on 23rd March, which was the first post in what was to become The Journal of the Plague Year 2020-2?, I didn’t for one second think that the pandemic would be allowed to take hold in the way it has. Three months, perhaps in a totally disastrous scenario six, but ten and with no real end in sight? No way. Surely modern medicine, science and technology would mean that 21st century societies would come up with something more imaginative and effective than the same tactics used in the 14th (The Black Death) or the 17th (The Great Plague of London) centuries. But I had forgotten that capitalism, even in the 21st century, is no less primitive than the feudalists or transitional capitalists of those past events.

The reason for starting the series was twofold. As an aide mémoire to myself to record what was happening, as it was happening, and also to assist in the refutation of the re-writing of history that I was sure would come however long the pandemic might dominate life. The first reason would also help in reminding the population of Britain (who, in general, have the memory that would embarrass a May fly) of what was said and done on their behalf by the Government of the Buffoon.

That reason has yet to be tested as we are still far from the end when people begin to forget the start.

However, the re-writing has already started.

Towards the end of an interview on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme on 12th January, Jeremy Hunt, at one time Health Secretary (before he stood against the Buffoon for leader of the Party – and hence Prime Minister – and therefore fell out of favour) stated the following;

‘It was in the immediate post-war years that we took that very inspiring decision, in 1948, despite the country being bankrupt, to set up the NHS – with cross party support. And, I hope, when we put this pandemic behind us, we can use it as another 1948 moment to address some of the long term issues in the NHS, like training enough doctors and nurses, which we never seemed to do enough of. This is a moment to really sort out some of these long term issues.’

Now most of that I would agree with – although Hunt’s statement does contain an untruth as the Tories fought tooth and nail against the principle of a National Health Service in Britain and effectively made it much weaker than even the Social Democratic Labour Party wished. But Hunt is not only claiming ownership of the concept of the NHS from the post-war years but also attempts to give the impression that he is one who has been in support of the NHS during his own time in politics.

But before this cretin is allowed to get away with unsubstantiated statements it might be worthwhile looking at his record.

He was Health Secretary from 2012-2018. That’s the longest time the post has been held by one individual in British history. During that time rather than build the NHS into an organisation that was capable of dealing with the increased demand, mainly from an ageing population and advances in medicine which could keep people alive for longer than was the case in the 1940s, he put the NHS through one of its most bitter conflicts since establishment by forcing new, unjust and odious contracts upon junior doctors – leading to one of the very few strikes in the history of the NHS.

The shortages and problems in the NHS were obvious to even the least interested member of the public with reports of lack of beds, patients waiting in corridors and general staff shortages being continually in the news, especially during the winter months. The situation in the care sector was becoming a national disgrace and embarrassment and was a major contributory factor in the high number of deaths in care homes in the early part of last year.

However, whilst Health Secretary Hunt did nothing to alleviate these problems. His tactics achieved (what he wanted) the very reverse, supporting the private health sector which Tory governments have been championing against the NHS since they got back into power in 1951.

So his words above are just for the ignorant masses and an attempt by the Tories to obscure their actions and intentions of the past 70 years.

And Hunt’s character is ‘questionable’, to say the least. He was;

  • found to be in breach of the rules during the 2009 Parliamentary Expenses scandal
  • failed to declare property interests in 2018

both of which were explained away by him having ‘forgot’

  • and he wasn’t averse to using nepotism when it suited him (2010).

If the population of Britain wants to be able to cope with any future pandemic (that is, assuming any of us survive this one) then these are the things (as well as many others) they will have to remember or else they will be spending more of their time in the future attending funerals than birthday parties.

One year since first reports ….

…. what have we learnt and still to learn?

The Buffoon’s achievements of 2020

UK coronavirus deaths pass 100,000 after 1,564 reported in one day.

Lock down Number 3

Can lock down stop the new coronavirus variant?

Are covid patients getting younger?

Vaccinations

The prospect of a vaccine was held out like a carrot to get people to comply with the various restrictions – so much so as it was presented as a ‘magic bullet’ that would solve all our problems. However, when it (they) arrived things weren’t that simple. Below just a few of the issues surrounding vaccines, who should get them when and how effective vaccines will be to allow society to return to a ‘new normal’.

Can we really jab our way out of lock down?

Going from two to one caused (and is still causing) some concern. In Scotland there was concern over change to covid plan.

Few vaccines prevent infection – here’s why that’s not a problem.

The Government has continually resisted concentrating efforts to defeat the virus at a local level, especially when it came to testing. They still don’t seemed to have learnt the lessons of the past and have established seven mass vaccination hubs for England

Delaying the second covid vaccine dose – a medical expert answers key questions.

On 7th January there was a discussion about the pros and cons of the policy of one jab for the many rather than two for half as many on Radio 4’s Inside Science. One important point here was – towards the end – the idea that data has to be collected NOW, from the start of the programme, if not nothing will be learnt for the future.

More companies (this time some of the smaller ones, wanting to get their snout in the trough – or a real desire to help speed up the vaccination programme? Pharmacies’ offer to give covid jabs snubbed by ministers.

We can speed up covid vaccine push, say small chemists.

To be real this vaccination programme has to be completed as soon as possible. This is an ongoing debate and will be with us for the best part of this year – at least. UK vaccine minister vows ‘massive uplift’ in number of jabs this week.

Some think it can happen very quickly. NHS could vaccinate UK against covid in five days, says Oxford professor.

How will vaccines affect the length of England’s lock down?

Covid19 immunity: how long does it last?

With the arrival of ‘variants’ – why resistance is common in antibiotics, but rare in vaccines.

Covid: vaccinating our way out of a crisis.

In any such massive vaccination programme there will be teething problems but these could have been reduced to a minimum if work on the logistics of the matter had been carried out months ago, working through all the possible scenarios to test how the unexpected could have been resolved. But as with all aspects of this pandemic there has been no strategic thinking and it looks very likely the vaccination programme will also be a victim of this fundamental failing.

General Practitioners (GPs) leading the way in covid vaccine roll out are forced to slow down.

Can the UK vaccinate 15 million people by mid-February?

Vaccines alone aren’t enough to eradicate a virus – lessons from history.

Vaccination programmes worldwide

The Israeli vaccination programme is being lauded as the example to follow – but most reports on the Israeli ‘success’ omit to say that the country is an illegal occupying power in most of what it considers to be its territory. And as an occupying force the Israeli Armed Forces have been following the same tactics used by all invaders from the wars in the last century or so – that is, persecuting the local population, denying them freedoms their own citizens consider as normal, breaking international conventions when it suits and, in the period of the present pandemic, considering those living in the occupied territories to be not worthy of decent medical treatment. The Zionist occupiers have been systematically ignoring the needs of the Palestinian people since the pandemic broke at the beginning of last year and now Palestinians will have to wait at the back of the queue when it comes to vaccination, with few of them being even considered before March – that is, until the master race have all been adequately protected.

‘Immunity passports’

Although the concept was rubbished months ago it was obvious that such a scheme needs to be implemented to ensure a freer flow of people in future months. Whether proof of vaccination was only introduced on an ad hoc, private basis or became an international requirement to give people a vaccination and not provide them with evidence of some sort of immunity would be reckless if not downright stupid.

But in Britain, in place of making a decision, vaccine passports are to be trialled by thousands.

Adopt EU-wide vaccine certificate, suggests Greek Prime Minister – which would leave the UK out in the cold.

Could a wristband or certificate allow you out of lock down after a negative coronavirus test?

Testing – and all that goes with it

This has been dropping down the agenda for the last few weeks, however that only suits the Government as the failings in the system persist. However, it should be an integral part of any strategy (what strategy?) to get the country – and indeed the rest of the world – out of the mire of the pandemic.

Why we need to test covid-19 tests.

Rapid tests for asymptomatic people to be rolled out – but at the same time in Liverpool, the location of the ‘asymptomatic testing pilot’ the tests are being restricted to only ‘essential workers’.

A view on future testing from Devi Sridhar, an advisor to the Scottish Parliament on the pandemic, on Radio 4’s, World at One, 11th January.

‘Test before travel’ plan in disarray as start date is postponed.

Regulator refuses to approve mass daily covid testing at English schools. Is it going to be possible to get on top of the whole issue of testing before the arival of the next pandemic? Not in the UK, it seems.

Poverty in Britain

Pandemic Pressures – why families on low income are spending more during covid-19.

The IFS Deaton Review – of Inequalities, a New Year’s Message.

There’s no shortage of data about the severe levels of poverty in Britain and one of the ‘advantages’ of the pandemic is that this is being discussed and publicised in a way it wasn’t this time last year. However, knowing the situation is one thing, doing something about it is another. Is the British working class up to the task?

The Rowntree Trust publishes an annual report with details of the extent of poverty and the Findings and Full Report for 2020-21 has just been produced.

Liverpool ‘pilot’ – update

It’s difficult to work out what’s happening with the Liverpool testing ‘pilot’. It was lauded in November, then questions were asked about the validity of the Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test was brought into question and at that time the opening of the test centres became erratic (and certainly not friendly for an asymptomatic, all city testing programme) and now limited to only so-called ‘essential’ workers. Even this list keeps on getting added to or subtracted from.

On 15th January this was the list of those able to get a test;

Who can get tested?

The centres on the map below are open for front line workers with no Covid-19 symptoms to get tested. These are workers who cannot work from home and also have physical contact with other people as part of their job. They include:

    • NHS and care workers
    • school staff
    • supermarket employees
    • delivery drivers
    • factory workers
    • transport workers

Students who are returning to university and unpaid carers with no Covid-19 symptoms can also get tested. Covid-19 symptoms are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

If you are not a front line worker there should be no reason for you to need a symptom-free test during lock down, however, you will not be turned away. (my emphasis – and this rider has only appeared recently, probably when the Council realised that after having encouraged people to have a regular test last year they would sound ridiculous if people are rufused acces to the test centres.)

This seems strange when the rest of the country is supposed to be introducing asymptomatic testing on a mass scale.

Face masks/coverings

Although not based on any scientific evidence (if so, it hasn’t been made public) Borough Market (London) becomes first outdoor space in UK to legally enforce face masks.

Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist and advisor to the World Health Organisation, on the wearing of masks outside, on Radio 4’s World at One on 12th January

Government U-turns

I’m sure someone is keeping an account of the number of U-turns made by the Buffoon and his Government. I, however, have lost count. Here’s just another.

Government U-turns on school guidance for children of ‘key workers’. It also begs the question ‘when is a key worker not a key worker’?

The Homeless

Despite Government ‘promises’ hundreds of homeless people pushed back on to streets of London during first lock down ‘due to lack of support’.

How prepared was/is the NHS?

‘We are not coping’: Paramedics warn of deaths as hundreds of emergencies wait hours for help

How the covid surge has left the NHS on the brink.

It was referred to in the last blog, with an interview with the author of the report into the 2009 swine flu epidemic. It might be useful to present the whole document, ‘The 2009 Influenza Pandemic’, published in July 2010.

Not the same for everyone

Why Instagram is still full of celebrities ‘on holiday’.

Nothing to do specifically with the pandemic but worth reminding readers of the situation that has existed for decades – and will into the future if people are prepared to accept the status quo. FTSE 100 (Financial Times Stock Exchange top 100 companies) chief executives ‘earn average salary within 3 days’

Surprise, surprise, super-rich skip coronavirus vaccine queue by jetting abroad to get jabs.

The UK’s wealth distribution – and characteristics of high wealth households.

Free school meals

The fact that these are means tested (dependent upon income) benefits in the UK is a disgrace in itself but even after handing out seemingly countless billions of pounds to private industry the Government cuts corners when it comes to providing a small amount of food to some of the poorest families in the country.

Concerns after parcels outcry – after pictures of the supposed £30 packages were shared on social media. The fact that the private company involved, Chartwell’s, had to have this matter brought to their attention before doing anything about this speaks volumes. Also the fact that this company has been creaming off public finance since the forced privatisation of school meal provision from the 1980s onwards should be up for reconsideration. These private companies just take the making of profit from poverty as a given norm.

The disgrace of this situation was highlighted in a couple of interviews on Radio 4’s World at One on 12th January.

The reluctance of the Government to provide the assistance in the form of cash is yet another example of the way successive governments have tried to stigmatise the poorest in society. They can’t be trusted to have money, the argument goes, as they will obviously spend it on cigarettes, booze or gamble it away in the betting shops.

The nutrients children should be getting.

Pie in the sky – by and by

IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies, a left-leaning, so-called Think Tank) calls for a fairer UK after covid brings greater inequality. As if that’s going to happen – if we don’t force it.

Changes in the law

Once they have these laws remember they never want to give them up!

Police chief calls for power of entry into homes of suspected lock down breakers.

And a slight sideways move, but relevant nonetheless. Is your boss spying on you?

Help for renters?

Renters are being failed by governments on both sides of the Atlantic – it can’t be up to celebrities to help.

Clarity – or confusion

Stormont meeting to clarify exam situation.

Calls for clarity for university students in Wales on return.

Before anything happens there’s always far too much speculation – which only causes confusion. As with international travel.

Arrivals in UK could soon need negative test.

Travellers must show negative covid test to enter UK.

All a field day for private suppliers of what will be very expensive tests.

How many ‘variants’?

And how dangerous are they. Yet another tactic to increase the general fear level within the population.

South African variant may evade vaccines and testing, warn scientists.

Now there’s a ‘Spanish’ variant – a return to 1918 – and, in the last few days, the Brazilian version.

‘Collateral damage’

London hospital halts urgent cancer surgery due to ovid cases.

Britain heading for ‘perfect storm’ over fitness in winter lock down.

Life-saving transplants delayed as coronavirus patients fill beds.

Almost 200,000 patients now waiting at least a year for routine NHS operations – and four and a half million on waiting lists.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The eve of yet another change in tactics – doom and gloom in the UK early December 2020

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

The eve of yet another change in tactics – doom and gloom in the UK early December 2020

A new month. New ‘tactics’. More confusion. No co-ordination across the island. No real ‘exit’ strategy. More of the same.

But at least Christmas has been ‘saved’ – perhaps.

The issue of the tiers

The way the country is being divided up into ‘tiers’ from tomorrow (2nd December) is an issue that will be filling the news bulletins until the end of the pandemic. This is good for the Buffoon and his Government. Anger gets diverted to those living in the various levels, increasing divisions amongst the people and not being directed against the Government itself.

And it all becomes a game for Britain’s Parliamentary ‘Democracy’. The so-called ‘Opposition Parties’ will abstain when the matter is taken to a vote thus allowing the Tory ‘rebels’ to vent their indignation and claim the moral high ground – without having to put them really to the test and defeat their own Government in a crucial vote.

Another, scientific, view of the rate of infection and the efficacy of a tier system was discussed on Radio 4’s World at One on 26th November.

Liverpool ‘pilot’ – latest update

The pilot mass-testing scheme continues in Liverpool – but seemingly endlessly, without direction or reason. Lessons learnt aren’t being implemented elsewhere in the United kingdom as each area seems to follow it’s own trajectory, more for local credibility than in an effort to understand how to best deal with the virus.

The official Council website still states the ‘pilot’ will continue till the end of November – even on 1st December – with no indication of a end date or reasons why it might continue. Also the lists of the number of test sites resemble the movements of a yo-yo, reaching a total of 51 on 28th November (when 8 more ‘pop-up’ sites were used) but down to 21 on 1st December. By the look of it the ‘pilot’ will just fizzle out as the number of testing sites gets closer to the original six opened at midday on 6th November.

A good idea – poorly thought out and monitored.

Some recent statistics;

Liverpool testing update – 1pm 23rd November 2020

  • 98,203 Liverpool residents tested using lateral flow
  • 62,258 Liverpool residents tested using PCR
  • In addition, 22,367 people from neighbouring areas have been tested using lateral flow
  • There have been 866 positive lateral flow tests – 629 of which have been Liverpool residents

Testing period: 12 midday, 6th November 2020 – 1pm, 23rd November 2020.

Liverpool testing update – 1pm 27th November 2020

  • 111,028 Liverpool residents tested using lateral flow
  • 66,166 Liverpool residents tested using PCR
  • In addition, 26,476 people from neighbouring areas have been tested using lateral flow
  • There have been 995 positive lateral flow tests – 721 of which have been Liverpool residents

Testing period: 12 midday, 6th November 2020 – 1pm, 27th November 2020.

A break down of daily take up rates, and where, would be useful.

After the ‘we’re all in it together’ phase comes the money grabbers

Many people, in the past, have had ‘good wars’. This battle against the covid pandemic is no different.

As time goes on (and with ‘the vaccine calvary coming over the hills’ – what a cretin is the Buffoon?) more people will seek more openly legal methods to make money out of the build up of lock down frustration.

Expensive, private, tests will enable some people to cut or avoid quarantine on returning to the UK.

Bandits will also take advantage of any given opportunity. Here’s one that most of us have not thought about – or at least I didn’t. That’s the issue of food adulteration. An interview on Radio 4’s You and Yours on 27th November shed some light on this issue – the consequences of which will probably be greater in 2021 than it has so far this year.

Poverty in Britain

The stories of woe continue.

Nearly half of families forced into debt since start of pandemic.

Hungry and out of work; what life is like for young British people under covid-19 restrictions.

Here today, gone tomorrow, the November 2020 ‘Spending review’ in context, by the Resolution Foundation. Which shows how people will be worse off after this crisis than they have in previous financial crashes.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation also produced a briefing, this one entitled; Spending Review 2020; No plan to protect people in poverty.

Various charities consider the Spending Review ‘pitiful’ and ‘a missed opportunity’.

Experience of University students

How some university students, in Manchester, view their situation – and the attitude of their University – to issues surrounding teaching in the present pandemic. An interesting (and intelligent) discussion was broadcast on Radio 4’s You and Yours on 27th November.

Travel restrictions – or not

Business travellers to England could be exempt from quarantine under government plans.

How have the Nationalists fared by ploughing their own furrow?

Sturgeon defends handling of pandemic – although the infection is no closer to being under control north, as it is south, of the border.

Alcohol ban for Welsh pubs and restaurants. A new twist on ‘a pub with no beer’. It appears that Wales now has its own ‘buffoon’ in Mark Drakeford – and that’s the Welsh translation.

Mass vaccination – and potential problems

Due to the lack of strategy and leadership from the Buffoon and his equally clueless homologues in the other governments of the world there has been an increase in scepticism about vaccines which might lead to a lower take up of any programme than would be desired. Force won’t work – so what will to get the numbers up?

Should covid-19 vaccines be mandatory? Two experts discuss.

After the good (‘we have vaccines’) comes the bad – the Oxford vaccine needs ‘additional study’.

‘Vaccine passport’?

No plans for ‘vaccine passport’ – Michael Gove, 1st December. So expect the announcement for one in the not too distant future.

Test, track and trace – or not

Hundreds get wrong results due to covid test error.

Mass testing a ‘distraction’ from vaccine roll out.

Mass testing in communities to begin in Scotland.

Although it should have come out of an analysis of the Liverpool mass testing ‘pilot’ there does now seem to be a change in emphasis when it comes to non-symptomatic testing. Instead of ‘mass testing’ we should have ‘community testing’, that is testing concentrated in those areas which have been identified (through increased knowledge of the virus over the last nine months) as being of higher risk of infection or communities with a reluctance to risk having to self-isolate if testing positive – basically the poorest areas of the country and those areas with the highest population densities.

This idea was presented on Radio 4’s World at One programme on 27th November.

Covid not the only problem we have to deal with …

… and those other problems probably kill many more than covid-19 ever will.

Smog-infested Delhi slum that may prove link between pollution and covid-19 levels.

With all the focus on coronavirus, let’s not forget the other respiratory viruses.

More chores for women set back gains in equality.

Why coronavirus rules should be about more than just stopping transmission.

Scams in the last eight months

First, the good news. Benefit scams worth £1billion foiled during lock down.

Now the bad news. In May it was reported that benefit claims fraud could be £1.5 billion, that is, already lost to the exchequer.

In October it was reported that furlough fraudsters ‘may have stolen more than £3 billion’.

For decades the Department of Work and pensions (under its various guises) had hounded those claiming benefits but when it came to possibly saving an infinitely greater amount of money they just seemed to trust whatever request they received – even though it was stated at the time that fraudsters would love the system the government was putting in place.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Due to the total lack of preparation for anything approximating a pandemic the country has had to pay billions of pounds extra by purchasing PPE when it was at its most expensive.

One of the matters that should be looked at after this pandemic ceases to hold the country in its grip is the very nature of PPE – what sort is needed; how it can be rotated so that it doesn’t go past ‘sell by’ dates; where it is stored, how it is distributed – and to where based upon perceived priorities; when it is actually used (i.e., in the early stages huge amounts of PPE were being just dumped after one use as panic gripped even health professionals in March and April, thereby possibly causing a false and unnecessary shortage)

Zombie mink come back to haunt their murderers

Millions of mink in Denmark (in the Netherlands as well) pay the price for humanity’s idiocy but culled mink rise from the dead to Denmark’s horror.

Has Sweden lost the no-lock down pole position?

Is anti-lock down Switzerland becoming the new Sweden?

Switzerland halves new infections without national lock down as pubs and restaurants stay open.

The world in the dreams of the Buffoon

UK military to get biggest spending boost in 30 years.

If future British campaigns are carried out with the same efficiency as the campaign against the pandemic then the UK is in for the biggest military disaster in the history of capitalism.

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