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In a https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55233021 entitled, “Shakespeare gets Covid vaccine: All’s well that ends well,” they demonstrated the political capitol this Tory Government was prepared to extract from the roll out of a UK vaccination program. It was a desperately needed distraction to dull the clamour for definitive information on a Brexit, which is especially important since there is still no credible deal in sight and the PM appears to be stalling for time, deliberately running down the clock towards his prefered crash-out Brexit. The butt of corny jokes on Twitter, William Shakespeare became perfect PR prey while, “receiving his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.” The BBC proudly announced that, “Margaret Keenan has made history by becoming the first person in the world to get a Covid-19 vaccine outside of a clinical trial.” Not true; those sneaky Russians started into a mass vaccination program on Saturday with Sputnik V, but exceptionalist Tories are still trumpeting a world first over a vaccine manufactured in Belgium for a German/US Pharma Company with EU funding!
Margaret Keenan might have preferred a less early awakening, since the BBC remark that, “…if there’s one name you’ll associate with this day, it may not be hers. Enter, pursued by puns, William Shakespeare. Not the writer, poet and playwright, but his 81-year-old namesake. This Mr Shakespeare was the second person to be given a jab and, guess what, he also comes from Warwickshire.” The poor man might have preferred not having the entire country taking the piss out of his name in the same way bullies might have done when he was a school boy. Auntie prattled on with the puns, “’Much ado about nothing?’ It doesn’t matter – ‘all’s well that ends well’. ‘Is this a needle which I see before me?’ the present-day Shakespeare could have asked, but his reaction was a little bit less, well, dramatic: he said he was ‘pleased’ to be given the jab, and staff at University Hospital in Coventry had been ‘wonderful’. So, if Ms Keenan was patient 1A, was Mr Shakespeare ‘Patient 2B or not 2B’?” Was ‘V Day’ just the perfect ‘dead cat?’
Tory triumphalism reached fever pitch as they got as much mileage out of day one of their vaccine roll out as was humanly possible. The BBC reported that, “Theirs were the first of 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that will be dispensed in the coming weeks in the UK. The vaccine is given as two injections, 21 days apart, with the second dose being a booster. Immunity begins to kick in after the first dose but reaches its full effect seven days after the second dose. ‘Two doses, both alike in quantity,’ if we’re allowed another pun – but here are some others on the day ‘the taming of the flu’ began.” Poor chap should have told them to sod off! Today there was an admission that two people had allergic reactions, oops! But, it was not that serious; there is still much we do not know about this vaccine in terms of efficacy. The cold-chain logistics are formidable which is a major concern when there is so much pressure placed on delivery; would private contractors flag-up a lapse in protocol if it rendered a large batch ineffective?
What we do know is that the powerful pharma companies are seeing their stock prices sky-rocket as being first was far more vital than being 100% ready to roll: more profit over public good again. The Skwawkbox Article including heartwarming footage, entitled, “Video: a moving reminder of what life can look like in an island nation that isn’t run by idiots and monsters (with no opposition),” exemplifies the advantages of sound governance. They say that, “New Zealand has seen twenty-five COVID-19 deaths. In total. The Skwawkbox has received a moving video of a simple time when proud parents and grandparents could pack tightly into a school hall to watch their children receive recognition for their hard work in class. The video, taken by a friend of Skwawkbox editor Steve Walker and used with permission, shows his daughter receiving an award at her school – in New Zealand: The proud young girl even receives a hug and kiss from the teachers presenting the award.”
The Skwawkbox report that, “New Zealand has suffered just over 2,000 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began, with 25 deaths – because as an island nation its Prime MInister seized the opportunity to close borders and ensure that the virus never took hold enough to overwhelm attempts to eliminate it, instead of boasting how well prepared her country was and sitting back while disaster arrived. As a result, life in New Zealand today looks much like it did a year ago. But to the UK, which has suffered tens of thousands of needless deaths and one of the worst economic collapses in the developed world, it looks like archive footage of a lost era, with scientists warning that even a vaccine is unlikely to restore normality for a long period yet.” While glossing over repeated failures and a shocking death toll, this Tory Government will wring ever once of publicity out of even the smallest step in the process, like the OTT boasting over rapid UK approval of the vaccine as if the PM had brewed a magic mix in his own kitchen!
The Skwawkbox justifiably claim that, “The people of this country are still being misled enough by politicians and the media that many of them don’t properly realise what a disaster the UK has suffered, let alone how different it could have been with a decent government – or even an ‘opposition’ that actually opposes instead of approving everything the Tories are doing as if there were no better options.” They say that, “The proud dad told the Skwawkbox, ‘We won the leadership lottery’ – but New Zealand is not the only country whose government responded better to the crisis than that of the UK. Islands Japan and Iceland and peninsula South Korea also showed how different things could be when governments exploited their geographic good fortune for the good of their people. When the Tories boast, or the media tell you that the UK pandemic was unavoidable and focus on scenes from hard-hit landlocked countries, they’re lying to you.”
The Wall Street Journal Article entitled, “Russia Begins to Roll Out Its Sputnik V Coronavirus Vaccine,” documents that, No the UK was only first in the minds of swaggering Tory exceptionalists. They report that, “Doctors, teachers and social workers in Moscow are among the first to receive the shot. Moscow: The Russian capital began rolling out the country’s homegrown coronavirus vaccine to doctors, teachers and social workers on Saturday, as the virus in the world’s fourth worst-hit country continues to spread at a record pace. Russian officials are planning to expand the vaccination campaign nationwide next week in what is expected to be a limited-scale rollout after manufacturers encountered challenges in ramping up production. Russia approved the shot, named Sputnik V, in August, despite criticism from Western scientists about the lack of large-scale clinical trial data at the time.”
In a piece containing good news and bad, the Wall Street Journal say that, “Moscow’s inoculation campaign comes days after the U.K. authorized a vaccine by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE that is expected to be rolled out beginning next week. That shot is also being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., where a similar authorization could come later this month and a rollout starting before the end of the year. On Saturday, Russia reported a record 28,782 new cases, with the total tally more than 2.4 million. Russia’s cumulative caseload since the onset of the pandemic is behind only the U.S., India and Brazil. In Moscow, which also registered a record number of new cases, some 70 vaccination centers located in hospitals and clinics opened their doors on Saturday morning. English teacher Oksana Shabarchina, 36 years old, whose mother spent a month in a hospital fighting the virus, got a text message on Friday that she was eligible and immediately registered for a shot on the city’s online system.”
Wall Street Journal note that, “As wealthier countries buy up supplies of Western drugmakers’ Covid-19 vaccines that are still in development, China and Russia are offering their fast-tracked shots to poorer nations. Here’s what they’re hoping to get in return. ‘I want to protect myself, it’s a necessity,’ Ksenia Shaikhutdinova said after getting vaccinated at a clinic in southern Moscow on Saturday, ‘I really hope that it’s going to work because there’s just no other way to defeat this.’ The Kremlin has banked on Sputnik V as it has avoided introducing a second national lockdown, with the economy already pummeled by earlier quarantine measures and low oil prices. The jab is free and voluntary for Russian citizens. Data from clinical trials released last month showed that the two-shot vaccine was 91.4% effective in protecting people from Covid-19. Authorities said last month the results will be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal soon.”
The Wall Street Journal report that, “In Moscow, home to 12 million people, some 5,000 signed up for the shot in the first few hours after registration was opened on Friday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. Officials have allocated nearly $130 million of the city’s budget to the vaccination effort. The procedure takes about an hour, including a checkup by a doctor before the vaccination and a post-shot examination and observation for 30 minutes, officials said. Those vaccinated then get a text message about three weeks later to get their second shot. Choreography teacher Nikolay Frolov, 41, said he was worried about getting infected as he works in close contact with children. ‘I’m thinking about my own safety and that of my relatives,’ he said after getting inoculated. ‘Besides, this is the simplest and most effective way to come back to normal life,’ he said.”
The breakneck speed with which vaccines have competed in a race for rapid approval has spooked people in Russia just as it has done in the UK and the US. The Wall Street Journal say that, “Still, Russian authorities are facing a growing vaccine skepticism. Officials have said that some 70% of the population needs to be inoculated to halt the spread. But an October poll by independent pollster Levada Centre showed that only 36% of those surveyed would get vaccinated. Eduard Matsonashvili, a 30-year-old math teacher, was notified that he is eligible for the early rollout but said he won’t be getting a shot for now. ‘I don’t want to take risks, and it is not clear whether it works or not.’ The rollout has been delayed from earlier expectations it would begin by October. Attempts to scale up the production have proved difficult as scientists struggled with fine-tuning the technical processes and encountered issues with the equipment.”
The Wall Street Journal report that, “On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would soon produce two million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. Russian officials earlier this year predicted that some 30 million doses would be ready this month. “This gives us the opportunity to start if not mass then at least large-scale vaccination,” Mr. Putin said at a government meeting. Across Russia’s 11 time zones, authorities are gearing up for a launch next week. In St. Petersburg, officials are buying freezers that can maintain ultralow temperatures needed to store the jab. In the southern region of Bashkiria, authorities are planning to include in the early rollout police officers who are helping enforce mask-wearing and quarantine regimes. The Russian military, which was involved in testing the vaccine during the summer, is looking to vaccinate some 400,000 servicemen. So far, the military has received 14,500 doses of the vaccine, officials said this week.” Don’t tell the Tories they were not quite world beating, Matt Hancock might start blubbing!
In the Reuters Article entitled, “Cuba leads race for Latin American coronavirus vaccine,” Sarah Marsh outlines the bold Covid 19 vaccination ambitions of this plucky little wrongly demonized Socialist nation. Reporting from Havana (Reuters) she writes, “As Latin American nations test experimental coronavirus vaccines from across the globe and economic heavyweights such as Brazil and Mexico jockey for supply deals with major drugmakers, Communist-run Cuba already has two of its own vaccines in clinical trials. Should its efforts succeed, the Caribbean island could become an important supplier to neighboring countries that might otherwise struggle to access vaccine supply as wealthy Western nations rush to secure doses, regional experts said. ‘Cuba’s contribution with its vaccine could be very important for certain vulnerable groups in our region’ such as the elderly, or remote indigenous communities, Jose Moya, the representative in Cuba for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), told Reuters.”
Marsh notes that, “If a Cuban vaccine proves safe and effective, it would become available for purchase in the region through PAHO, the Americas regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO), Moya said. Cuba’s vaccine progress is being tracked by COVAX – a program co-led by the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) to ensure global distribution of vaccines – he said. Cuba’s two vaccine candidates, known as Sovereign 1 and Sovereign 2, are not among the nine COVAX has chosen for its portfolio to date, a CEPI spokesman said. Vaccines are seen as crucial to ending a pandemic that has claimed more than 1.2 million lives and battered the world’s economy. There were 47 coronavirus vaccines in WHO-approved clinical trials as of Nov. 3, a handful in most advanced testing.”
Marsh reports that, “Cuba has long exported vaccines to the developing world, including shots against meningitis and hepatitis B, although data on recent sales is not public. Late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro backed a home-grown biotech sector in the 1980s, partly so Cuba could become more self-sufficient in the face of a U.S. trade embargo. It has since become a major part of the economy. Cuba’s vaccine program has drawn interest from ally Venezuela, whose president, Nicolas Maduro, said in August that the ALBA bloc of eight leftist Latin American and Caribbean countries backed it. Other Latin American nations are prioritizing deals with major drugmakers and considering vaccines also in advanced testing from China and Russia. Mexico’s foreign ministry told Reuters in August it planned to approach Cuba about its vaccine. As of last month, the ministry said those talks had not advanced.”
According to Marsh, “The Addis Ababa-based Africa CDC said Cuba has a good scientific reputation and signaled potential interest once data on its vaccines become available. Cuba will favor exports to countries with which it has existing healthcare agreements, after ensuring it has enough for its own needs, a health official told the journal MEDICC Review. ‘We are making a big effort to be able to start vaccinating all the Cuban population in the first half of next year,’ said Vicente Vérez, director of the Finlay Institute, Cuba’s foremost vaccine research center, during a visit by President Miguel Diaz-Canel last month. Scientists are hailed as heroes in Cuba, a prestige that helps limit brain drain despite low salaries and difficult conditions, as Cuban researchers contend with U.S. sanctions that hamper international collaboration and the purchase of supplies.” What amazing feats could be achieved with strong collaboration between the US and Cuba if it were to replace the long-standing, futile ideologically driven targeting from the US?
Marsh reports that, “State-run media have run lengthy profiles of researchers working at Finlay, one of 20 research centers and 32 companies employing some 20,000 people that make up the state-run BioCubaFarma corporation. Cuba produces 8 of the 12 vaccines in its national immunization program and has exported hundreds of millions of vaccines to more than 40 countries, according to BioCubaFarma President Eduardo Martinez. Finlay’s Sovereign 1 and Sovereign 2 vaccines are being tested in hundreds and scores of people, respectively. Officials have not said when they expect to start pivotal trials involving thousands of volunteers. Both vaccines target a part of the spike protein of the novel coronavirus called the receptor binding domain, which helps the virus stick to cells. Sovereign 1 has generated antibodies blocking infection in rats and rabbits, and has so far proven safe in midstage human trials.”
Marsh motes that, “Cuba said last week it expects to have two more experimental COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials by year end, including one administered through the nose to immunize mucous membranes, a key entry point for the virus. A diversified portfolio would help Cuba match the best type of vaccine to the appropriate population groups, BioCubaFarma’s Martinez said.” Marsh outlines the political and financial hurdles that Cuba faces saying, Cuba’s ambitions may be challenged when researchers are ready to launch late-stage trials. Vaccines are more easily tested in places with rampant virus spread, but Cuba’s transmission rate is very low, with just about 500 confirmed active cases. Political tensions with neighbors like Brazil may make it harder for Cuban researchers to find trial sites abroad. Foreign ministry officials in Argentina and Mexico, which are hosting late-stage trials for several vaccines, said they were not aware of talks with Cuba.”
Marsh says that, “Cash-strapped Cuba may also struggle to buy raw materials for large-scale vaccine production. It could rely on other countries to handle manufacturing, said Jose Luis Di Fabio, a former PAHO vaccine coordinator and Cuba representative.
‘By using prior expertise,’ said Maria Bottazzi, co-leader of a vaccine development team at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, ‘the Cubans have created two vaccines that sound technologically quite promising’.” The Cuban Medical teams are respected around the globe; their concept of ‘Medical Diplomacy,’ has brought Doctors to poor developing nations all over the world and saved millions of lives. It is a seriously impressive track record that leaves the UK, and even the US with all its wealth, in the dust. If the UK could become as effective as tiny Cuba at improving the standard of global healthcare, I would be extremely proud. Imperial College is not racing to production for profit, but focusing on a vaccine that will bring relief to millions worldwide.
While wealthy nations are buying up vaccine supplies five times that required to vaccinate all of their citizens, big Pharma is reeling in huge profits made from desperation and human misery as they routinely do. However, we cannot allow Covid 19 to continue to thrive and even mutate in abandoned developing countries: the virus must be eradicated globally. If the Labour Government under Jeremy Corbyn had taken charge in 2019 I can imagine there would have been significant positive collaboration with Cuba over a Pandemic strategy. We did not get the progressive Government we voted for, deserved and needed at the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. At some point we must seriously challenge that unfathomable Tory ‘landslide victory’ result and fully Investigate to expose the truth. However there are other aspects of their illegal conduct in the run up to that vote that render it corrupt and totally invalid. We don’t need to suffer Tory oppression any longer, we must fight hard for their criminalization and immediate removal from office. DO NOT MOVE ON!