A year since Britain first heard of covid-19

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

A year since Britain first heard of covid-19

It was in the final week of January 2020 that people in Britain became aware of a new virus that was starting to get out of control in China. Was that the first time we came across the term covid-19? If not once we learnt that designation it should have started to ring alarm bells. We were hearing about it at the end of the first month of 2020 but it must have been around for a few months before that.

For most people it probably registered as something serious – but not that serious. We had been told for years that science knew that something like this was bound to happen at some time (we had had three or four ‘near misses’ already in the 21st century) and that our governments were aware and prepared for any such eventuality. How wrong we were.

In criticising the Buffoon and his Government for its actions (or more normally its in-actions) throughout 2020 the term ‘too little, too late’ has often been used. That critique might well have been valid since the end of March last year but it’s more important to remember what had happened (or not happened) in the years – even decades – before the dawn of 2020.

The National Health Service (NHS) had been undermined and parts of it privatised ‘secretly’ through the back door. Care of the elderly wasn’t a concern for any government, whatever their political colour, although they recognised there was a problem, said they would fix it – and never did a thing.

There was no preparation for the likes of a pandemic. No rational stock piling system of necessary equipment (which meant that some of it was ‘out of date’ when needed as there had been no rotation of materials). And, most importantly, no strategy of any kind of how to deal with such a crisis, which took into consideration the myriad of potential problems, and no structure that could be set into motion at the flick of a switch to deal with all related matters from the care of the sick to the dissemination of clear and concise information.

‘Too little, too late’ could be used to describe the situation in Britain since the 1980s.

As a consequence what do we have a year down the line?

  • the highest per capita death rate of any country in the world
  • an untold number of fatalities waiting to happen due to the health system being turned over, for months, almost exclusively to dealing with the covid virus
  • an NHS which is on the point of collapse
  • an NHS workforce that is being pushed to its limits, not just during the winter (a perennial problem for years) but throughout the year
  • an educational system that was unfair at the start and becoming even more so
  • young people totally confused about their futures
  • an increasing level of unemployment, the level of which we won’t know about for a good few months yet
  • an economy that wasn’t that healthy before now in free fall
  • an unimaginable debt which will be pushed into the future (on top of the debt created to pull the capitalist system out of the mire caused by its innate greed which led to the 2008 financial crisis which had also been pushed into the future) and which the young will be expected to pay for – whether they know or realise it or not
  • a number of vaccines which might (or might not) protect people, which might (or might not) make them less infectious, which might (or might not) deal with the many variants that are popping up everywhere, which might (or probably won’t) be distributed worldwide to populations who need the protection from a vaccine much more than the majority of people in the richer, capitalist countries

And still we’re no closer to actually placing the pandemic behind us than we were this time last year.

Will the next 12 months be like it was in the film ‘Groundhog Day’? Quite possibly. But there will almost certainly be one important difference. Bill Murray’s character learnt from the mistakes he made – the Buffoon in Britain, and all the rest of the Buffoons in government in the rest of the world, are unlikely to be as receptive.

The next pandemic

It might be strange to look at potential pandemics in the future whilst in the middle of one that has ben raging for over a year now but unless we are constantly aware that pandemics are likely to become the norm (rather than the exception) we will be in danger in forgetting how things had been managed in the past and make the same mistakes in the future.

The new mosquito bringing disease to North America – but no need to worry about malaria, this species brings with it all mosquito carrying diseases except malaria. Will that mean the world’s pharmaceutical companies will increase efforts to look for a way of combatting disease carrying insects. When it was just effecting the poor they didn’t really care. Now it might start to threaten the richer countries in the northern hemisphere it becomes a different matter. But even if they do come up with a prophylactic or cure it won’t be the poor that gets the first option – just see how matters are playing out over the covid vaccine.

Infection and mortality rates

Ten months since the first lock down the same slogans are being revived. If everything that people are expected to do now, so long after the first infections were identified in the country, is merely to achieve the same aim, that is, to avoid the NHS from being overwhelmed, then really we’re no further forward than we were in spring of 2020. It means that we have just being playing a waiting game in the hope that the virus would ‘tire and just go away’, burn itself out. By not being pro-active and basically marching on the spot we are no better off than those in the 17th century who prayed to the Lord for salvation from the Plague. The risk averse approach of most scientists to lock everything down (and the criticism that we haven’t locked down society enough) also shows that progress in science and medicine over the centuries hasn’t been able to come up with strategies which use that increase in knowledge for the overall benefit of society. Crossing our fingers and praying that all would turn out well would have been as effective.

Mixed messages have been emanating from the Buffoon and his Government since the pandemic hit Britain ten months (or so) ago. This has only served to cause confusion and despair – and not least one of the reasons some people are not sticking to the restrictions. One of the tactics the Government has been using from the very beginning to get compliance is by promoting an environment of fear amongst a sizeable proportion of the population – and they seem incapable of not stoking those fears (even if they are not based upon any identifiable factual information).

Such is the situation over the new ‘variants’. New UK covid variant may be 30% more deadly, says Johnson. But the following day; ‘More deadly’ UK variant claim played down by scientists. Following the science – or what?

Number of patients on ventilators passes 4,000 for first time. Going back six months or so it was stated that knowledge gained at the beginning of the pandemic had meant fewer people were being put on ventilators. The numbers are announced but not the reasons for this going back to the original approach.

How is the virus changing

There’s a new variant almost every day now. Will this make it harder to get to ‘herd immunity’? Perhaps – but there is still hope.

After the virus being ‘stable’ for the best part of a year it’s now throwing up potential problems by having to be described by its various ‘variants’. How did they evolve and what do they mean?

Why being more transmissible rather than more deadly isn’t good news.

The Vaccination Programme

I’m sure there’s going to be many strange stories in relation to the vaccination programme/s in Britain and other parts of the world. So this one to start.

Doctors told to throw away leftover covid vaccines rather than giving second doses. But then it does come from The Telegraph.

The British Government is intent on going for the big centres (ten more to open in England – and presumably more to follow) rather than concentrate on a local level. It might be a short term ‘solution’ – we’ll have to see how matters pan out over the next few months – but it might be missing a golden opportunity to develop a structure that can respond to such epidemics in the future.

The jockeying for position in the ‘vaccination queue’ – and also a cynical opportunity to gain some level of popularity. Priti Patel ‘working to get jabs to front-line roles’.

Now there might be justice and validity in many of these preferences but such a discussion shouldn’t be just out for the loudest to get what they want. Once a vaccine was considered the only get out of the pandemic there should have been a ‘task force’ which looked at all the options and could come out with arguments for why the the roll out was focussing on some groups rather than others.

In a rational society that would include not vaccinating some people in the UK until more vulnerable people in other parts of the world had been vaccinated first. But no British government would ever have the nerve to stick to a principled stance. This is even though a pandemic means that if we don’t get to grips with the virus in all parts of the world the chances of a future outbreak can never be ruled out.

UK to look ‘very carefully’ at vaccine dosing after concerns raised over level of protection. But when Israel is involved in the issue it would be useful to remember that the country is basically Pfizer’s poodle and will say anything to keep on the right side of the pharmaceutical giant – as long as it doesn’t involve extending the vaccination programme to Palestinians.

Queue jumping becoming more common – and inevitable as long as there’s no proper and clear strategy about vaccination and as long as the ‘free market’ is allowed to determine matters. Wheelchair firm tells of access to jabs ‘through a back door’.

On 21st January Radio 4’s World at One aired various views on the question of ‘one dose or two’ – and the gap between them.

The North/South divide hasn’t gone away. Claims supplies ‘diverted from the North’ raise concerns.

Why combining the Oxford vaccine with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine could make it more effective.

Why the UK’s ‘lumpy’ roll out shouldn’t be a concern – this article also addresses the matter of the moral obligation of vaccines being sent to poorer countries.

Vaccinations in the rest of the world

Surprise! Surprise! The richer countries are grabbing all the stocks of vaccines and ignoring the (probably) most needy in the world. The World Heath Organisation (WHO) calls this a ‘catastrophic moral failure’.

This issue was discussed on Radio 4’s World at One on 18th January.

So, how and when will lower-income countries get access?

Israel has become the ‘poster boy’ when it comes to the speed in vaccinating it’s population. But always with Israel, what you see is only the tip of a very dirty iceberg. Some of those details came out on Radio 4’s World at One on 18th January.

On 19th January Radio 4’s World at One looked at the Israeli response to its ‘obligations’ to the people who’s land they illegally occupy and proposals for vaccinating Palestinians against covid. In this short piece its interesting how the Israelis cite an agreement of the 1990s but ignore how their actions in the intervening 25 years have made any commitments to the health service in Palestine an almost impossibility. For a deeper look at Israeli attitudes to the Palestinian people the report by B’Tselem makes interesting reading.

This one for EU bashers. EU vaccine woes mount as new delays emerge.

Testing

Even with a number of vaccines the general (scientific) consensus is that testing is also needed to get on top of the pandemic. In the UK it’s almost impossible to know where we stand on this issue. Plans are made, ambitious goals are set, failure is the result. Now to add to the general confusion in the education sector Ministers are now set to halt plans for daily covid tests in English schools.

‘Collateral damage’

The ‘vulnerable’ old are dying, the young are getting the dirty end of the stick from the ‘efforts’ by governments to cope with the pandemic. If a measure of a society is how it deals with its old and young then Britain doesn’t (not surprisingly after so many years of institutionalised selfishness) come out too well. Another report emphasises this by coming to the conclusion that one in four UK young people have felt ‘unable to cope’ in pandemic.

One law for the rich and ‘famous’ – one for the rest of us

This story got worse as the days wore on but initially tennis stars’ arrival angers stranded Australians. Even those so-called ‘celebrities’ that come from humble backgrounds rapidly take on the spoilt brat approach when they have a healthy bank account.

Politicians drank on Senedd (the devolved Welsh Parliament) premises despite booze ban. Probably wanting to avoid waste!

(This eventually led to a few resignations. However the point isn’t what they did it’s the idea that there are those who think that because of their position in society they are not covered by the same restrictions as the vast majority of the population. Here I’m not referring to young people going to raves – they’re doing it because they don’t trust those in government and are prepared to take risks.)

The issue of masks

From arguments way back in March that mask wearing possibly had more negatives that positives we are getting to a situation where some high-tech (and more expensive) mask is the way forward. Wear medical-grade masks if you can’t socially distance, Britons told. Whether this will take supplies from places where it might be more useful or who will actually have to pay for this more expensive equipment is not addressed. We will soon have a situation in Britain as it was in World War Two with people walking around with a gas mask in a box hanging from their shoulders.

Poverty in Britain

Poverty is easy to resolve – you just stop al the wealth being collected into a few hands and create a society which works for the benefit of the majority. I accept easier to say than do – and experienmts in the past have not achieved what they set out to do. But what is certain is that there will never be a solution to poverty under capitalism – it’s very existence depends upon inequality. And even if some ‘go up’ it only means that others will have to ‘go down’.

But that doesn’t stop the likes of the privileged Buffoon coming up with another meaningless and impractical suggestion. His latest is that girls’ education is the key to ending poverty.

At the beginning of January the Resolution Foundation brought out a report of how 2021 will be for the poorest in society, in their report The Living Standards Outlook.

Poorer pupils falling behind during lock down. Again, Surprise! Surprise! But nothing gets done about it, such as general provision of computers and connectivity.

Travel restrictions

This is another of the ‘will they, won’t they’ stories. UK shuts travel corridors and requires negative covid tests to enter. Whether at this stage of the pandemic this will have any real effect must be debatable. What is not debatable is that this provides an ideal opportunity for bandits around the world to make money out of the crisis with the provision of expensive tests to those who ‘need’ to travel.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

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

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

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?