Confronting a 21st century pandemic with 14th century tactics

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Confronting a 21st century pandemic with 14th century tactics

Depending upon which ‘fact’ you believe the covid pandemic has been with us for just over or just under two years. 21st century societies, especially those in the richer countries, pride themselves on their sophistication and ability to deal with any problem that arises with the technologies that have been (and/or are in the process of being) developed through the increase in scientific knowledge, a process that really took off towards the end of the 20th century. Indeed, such claims have been made ever since the climate emergency became more widely known and accepted by the majority of scientists but not by some world leaders nor many of the companies that have played (and are still playing) a major role in causing the problem in the first place. Technology, those climate deniers say, will always come up with a solution – even if not until the eleventh hour.

However, the first time this bizarre ‘theory’ is put into practice it falls far short of the over-riding solution it is supposed to be.

Most countries put their faith in a vaccine that would protect against the outbreak and it arrived, relatively, quickly. This was due to an unbelievably huge public investment into the work of private companies (who are now reaping the benefit with their huge profits – why wasn’t something written in the agreement that in return for the public investment the vaccines would be supplied at cost?) and the knowledge base that had been established over the last couple of decades. But when the vaccine arrived it wasn’t enough.

First the vaccine was just going to be for the most ‘vulnerable’ in society but it was no surprise that those countries that had the wherewithal to secure vaccines would soon roll out the programme to include the majority of their population. Now children as young as five are being vaccinated and it would be no real surprise if babies and infants are soon to be included as well. First it was thought that two injections would be sufficient but now third ‘booster’ shots are being given to many in the rich countries and there is already talk that a regular ‘top-up’ injection might be the way forward for the next few years, at least.

This selfish grabbing of as many vaccines as possible by a few countries means that even after two years of the pandemic the vast majority of the population of the world (i.e., those in the poor South) haven’t even had a single injection. That’s bad enough but what is worse is that it doesn’t even seem to be an issue at the moment. Government’s keep their populations ‘happy’ – or at least some of them – by pumping the stuff into their arms and the calls to extend the vaccination to those who really are now the world’s ‘vulnerable’ fall on deaf ears. As with compensation due to the consequences of the climate emergency all the promises have come to nought.

The fact that we are in the middle (or even just the start) of a pandemic which, by definition, effects every corner of the globe, seems to have been forgotten as well as the fact that the longer the virus is allowed to grow and mutate in huge parts of the world the more it is likely to come back (to the North) in a form which the vaccines won’t be able to combat.

Not only has the vaccine programme in the richer countries been a display of immorality and hypocrisy it also demonstrates that nationalism and tribalism is triumphant and concern for the really poor people of the world is non-existent.

Worse still it’s not really working. There may be various reasons for this, the unvaccinated are in the firing line at the moment, but the prime reason is that no country in the world has really developed a proper strategy to deal with a disease that will likely be with us forever so has to be managed rather than defeated. The military terminology used from the start has blinded people to the reality that there is no real winner in this case.

As the days pass more countries in Europe are re-introducing various restrictions and lock downs. In Britain the Buffoon has said that’s not going to happen there but there have been so many U-turns in the last 18 months the Government resembles a child’s spinning top – so no real guarantee for the near future.

In the very first posts in this series ‘The Journal of the Plague Years 2020-2?’ the question was asked whether we, as a society in general, had learnt anything since the Black Death of the 14th century or the Great Plague of London in the 17th. Then the response was to hide away and hope for the best and, in reality, that’s all we’re doing now.

No society in the world has really taken a pro-active approach to dealing with the virus in a manner which didn’t create collateral damage which could ultimately be more expensive in the long run.

The problem is that such a strategy (which needs a whole raft of measures which include, but are not restricted to, a functioning, reliable and trustworthy testing arrangement which includes viable and effective support for those with the virus to be able to, and encouraged to, isolate for the general good) is not really viable in a capitalist society which leaves everything to the ‘free market’.

Because of that the merry-go-round of lockdown to lockdown is more than likely to continue for some time yet and the last page of this ‘Journal’ will not be published until some time yet.

 

Vaccination programme (and now a pill) in Britain …..

First pill to treat covid gets approval in UK.

Covid jabs to be compulsory for NHS staff in England from April.

Pfizer says antiviral pill 89% effective in high risk cases.

AstraZeneca to take profits from covid vaccine.

Medication holiday may boost vaccine protection.

Covid-resistant people inspire new vaccine tactic.

It’s bad enough that the richer countries are hoovering up all the available resources of vaccines – leaving the poorer countries to just manage on the crumbs – but now there are threats being made if people don’t take extra vaccinations (when at first we were told that two would be sufficient). When is this going to stop? Get a covid booster jab or risk more restrictions, warns the Buffoon.

Merck v Pfizer: here’s how the two new covid antiviral drugs work and will be used.

Care homes: why mandatory vaccination could make staff shortages worse.

Making vaccination compulsory for NHS frontline workers likely to make patients suffer.

….. and the rest of the world

This is Pfizer. What’s the catch? They’ve earned billions in the last year or so – so why this generous, esoteric approach now? Pfizer to allow developing nations to make its treatment pill.

Novavax covid vaccine is nearing approval – but what impact will it have?

How the pandemic is faring in Britain …..

Covid makes Christmas ‘problematic’, says Jonathan Van-Tam as he warns ‘darkest months’ are ahead of us.

UK bucking trend of rising covid cases in Europe.

Will this mean the return of free dental treatment for all in the UK? I don’t think so. Why having bad oral health could raise the risk of covid.

….. and throughout the world

Some of the richest capitalist countries in the world and they still can’t get it right! Even when they’ve been hoovering up unbelievably high doses of vaccine. WHO warns Europe once again at epicentre of pandemic.

Belarus: how an unpopular government is struggling to manage the covid crisis.

Austria’s lockdown for the unvaccinated: what does human rights law say? [This might now be redundant in the case of Austria but such a situation is sure to arise somewhere in the world before the end of the pandemic.]

How Peru became the country with the highest covid death rate in the world.

WHO says it is very worried about Europe surge.

‘Long covid’

Long covid: my work with sufferers reveals that western medicine has reached a crisis point.

Vulnerability to the virus

Gene commonly found in south Asian people affects covid severity.

The future treatment of the virus

Promising covid treatments could be growing under the sea.

A nation (or, perhaps, even wider afield) of hypochondriacs?

Is the common cold really much worse this year?

More on ‘covid passports/passes’

Why covid passes are not discriminatory (in the way you think they are).

‘Collateral damage’

What happened to furloughed workers after the end of the Job Retention Scheme?

The cost of covid: what happens when children don’t go to school.

Obesity among children soars after lockdown – and yet the country is bemoaning the fact that there is a ‘shortage’ of crisps!

Calling children ‘vectors’ during covid-19 is turning into discrimination.

…. or not?

Young and ethnic minority workers were hardest hit at the start of covid, but not any more.

Poverty in Britain

Hunger and the welfare state: Food insecurity among benefit claimants during covid-19. The executive summary, the Full Report and the Appendices.

England: Landlord possessions increase by 207%.

Cambs Universal Credit claimants ‘struggling to make ends meet’ after £20 cut.

Those continuing to profit from the pandemic – and often after huge public investment in research

This week Pfizer announced profits so far this year of $7.7 billion, 133% more than it made last year. And Moderna has made $7.3 billion in profit, after receiving over $10 billion of public funding for development and manufacture of its vaccine

This is a strange one

How creative industries could boost the economies of small islands crippled by covid.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Britain turns it’s back on the world with its vaccination programme

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Britain turns it’s back on the world with its vaccination programme

If you wanted to be generous, you could probably have said that any government would have had a problem facing the pandemic that hit the world at the end of 2019/beginning of 2020. Indeed, it was unprecedented – a word which has been so overused (as have so many others) in the, now, just under two years. But at the same time we were told (in Britain), over many years, that the government was prepared for such an event. It’s just that when covid arrived it was ‘the wrong type of pandemic’.

From the beginning we were faced with a government which had no idea what it was doing, had no strategy (and still doesn’t) as it bounced around from decision to decision. Supposedly, decisions made ‘following the science’, but in reality they’ve been clutching at straws when it comes to the action they’ve taken.

We’ve been struck by innumerable U-turns, so many it’s impossible for most people to give you an exact number. And after such a long time Buffoon and his government seem to have become accustomed to this way of doing things. Before any decision is made there’s speculation going on for days. There’s uncertainty. There are contradictory statements being made – even at the highest levels of Government. Nobody really knows what’s happening and when there is a decision made, few people in the country really understand what’s been decided.

And this is the case with the change in the vaccination policy which has taken place in the last few days.

12- to 15-year-olds will now be vaccinated as well as something like close to half the population, getting a third, so called ‘booster’, injection.

In a sense, this was bound to happen and should come as a surprise to no one. Not because of the science, not because of how it keeps people healthy. It’s because it’s playing to the audience.

In a country of rabbits people are looking for something, anything, which will assuage their fears.

And children getting vaccinated, older people getting a third ‘booster’ jab just panders to all those fears.

But what it doesn’t do is play any role in social justice with the recognition of the fact that there are still vast parts of the world where you could count the number of those who are fully vaccinated on the fingers of one hand.

Some scientists have been arguing against this extension to the very young and the so-called ‘vulnerable’, not on esoteric grounds (i.e., that it’s the ‘right thing to do’) but that vaccinating as many people as possible in the poorer parts of the world would be, ultimately, beneficial to all, even in Britain.

But even those arguments don’t go down well in a country which has reverted to simple tribalism and narrow-minded parochialism.

Rich countries take advantage of their wealth and their accessibility to vaccines and the rest of the world can just go hang. And that’s the situation we are in in Britain at the moment – a selfish little island nation scrambling for more and more vaccines and finding the weakest ‘reasons’ to justify their approach.

It’s been quite interesting the way the vaccine rollout started with the old and ‘vulnerable’ and the age has gradually gone down to include more and more people – with more and more spurious arguments to justify it. Yes, arguments can be made for vaccinating everyone on the planet but not the least vulnerable when there are still billions of people who won’t see hide nor hair of a covid vaccine needle until well into 2022 – at the earliest.

No doubt once the 12- to 15-year-olds have been given their one jab someone will start looking at extending the programme to even younger children. After all, it’s the really young, primary school children who have been the principal vectors for the annual flu outbreaks in the past.

What is also interesting (and important) is that the extended vaccination programmes will both be using the expensive and difficult to store Pfizer Biontech vaccine.

As time has gone by the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine has not proven itself to be any better than virtually all the other vaccines that are around. Each one seems to ‘shine’ during a different period in the life cycle of the virus and the battle against it. But what makes the Pfizer vaccine stand out is the smear campaign the company carried out (with willing accomplices such as the Zionist Settler State of Israel) to denigrate and create a climate of fear in many so that the cheaper, just as effective and more manageable AstraZeneca vaccine is being effectively shunned in the ‘civilised’ world.

So, in Britain, not only is the extension of the programme fundamentally immoral it also has the effect of, yet again, shovelling even more public money into the bank accounts of ‘Big Pharma’.

Vaccination programme in Britain ……

Take-up of second covid jab in England levelling off – concern as scientists say vaccinating adults is more important than inoculating children or booster shots.

Vaccine passports will make hesitant people ‘even more reluctant to get jabbed‘.

Mandatory jabs for health staff being considered in consultation.

UK scraps covid-19 vaccine deal with French firm Valneva – why would anyone be foolish enough to have any dealings with ‘perfidious Albion’?

….. for children ….

NHS planning covid vaccines for children from age 12.

Ministers could defy Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and go ahead with covid jabs for all 12- to 15-year-olds.

Covid-19: 12 to 15-year-olds to get ‘final say’ over covid jab if disagreement with parent occurs.

UK vaccine advisers ‘acted like medical regulators’ over covid jabs for children.

All children aged 12 to 15 in the UK will be offered one dose of the (surprise, surprise – the hugely expensive and not necessarily more efficient) Pfizer-BioNTech covid jab.

….. and/or boosters ….

Vaccine boosters are likely to increase protection against variants. Presumably, if you keep pumping all the available vaccine into the same arms you’ll eventually produce a super resistant race amongst the dead population from the rest of the world.

Britons with severely weak immune systems to be offered third covid jab.

No urgency on covid booster shots for healthy adults.

AstraZeneca bosses warn against rush for boosters.

Boosters not needed for all, says Oxford jab creator – send to countries in need, instead.

Covid booster vaccine roll out to begin next week – and the winner is ….. (surprise, surprise – again) the hugely expensive and not necessarily more efficient Pfizer formula.

….. and the rest of the world

Russia’s covid-19 response slowed by population reluctant to take domestic vaccine.

Third coronavirus vaccines aren’t ‘luxury boosters’ taken from people without their first, WHO Europe boss says – the ‘rich’ countries will always find a way to justify their greed and denial of a fair share to the rest of the world.

Why it’s time for the UK to start sharing its vaccine doses.

Israel was a leader in the covid vaccination race – so why are cases spiralling there?

Immunity?

Covid infections may give more potent immunity than vaccines – but that doesn’t mean you should try to catch it.

Four factors that increase the risk of vaccinated people getting covid.

How other countries deal with the pandemic

China crushes Delta spike after weeks of strict measures.

Against all odds: how New Zealand is bending the Delta curve – but for how long?

The ever changing virus

Covid variants: we spoke to the experts designing a single vaccine to defeat them all.

Mu: everything you need to know about the new coronavirus variant of interest.

Covid – effects on children

Long-lasting symptoms rarer in children than in adults.

The care home ‘crisis’

Volunteers may be required in staffing shortfall at English care homes.

Who is dying of covid?

Scientists are comparing the profiles of those who are dying with previous waves – here’s what they know.

What will happen in the winter?

Further lock downs unlikely but some winter restrictions are possible.

‘Collateral damage’

Front-line nurses did not receive the mental health support they deserved.

Poverty in Britain

One in three working-age families with children to be hit by cut to Universal Credit. This came from a report carried out by the Joseph Rowntree Trust. Constituency Analysis (this is an Excel file) and the Technical Appendix.

Cuts to housing benefits led to over 75,000 more overcrowded households during the pandemic.

School spending in England: trends over time and future outlook – briefing or full report.

Teachers gaming pupils’ A-level grades highlights need for fundamental change.

The effect of local housing allowance reductions on overcrowding in the private rented sector in England.

Schools in poorest areas of England to be worst hit by pupil premium change.

Ending universal credit boost will hit sickest areas the hardest.

The truth will out! Perhaps not

The Government’s refusal to make messages between ministers public is (perhaps) an indication of how thorough the inquiry into the dealing with the covid pandemic (supposed to take place some time next year, i.e., 2022) will be.

Attempt to force release of Johnson’s messages on covid in care homes fails.

British Medical Association (BMA) to issue damning critique of government over Covid crisis.

Travel tests

Ministers doing bare minimum to stop covid travel test ‘rip-offs’.

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?