Corona virus: Government takes the St Augustine approach.


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  • #52618 Reply
    Clark
    #52644 Reply
    michael norton

    Now more than three millions victims.

    #52714 Reply
    michael norton

    The U.K. has now overtaken Germany, both in deaths and numbers.
    Today the U.K. is adding death from covid-19 in care homes and other settings in with our hospital death figures.
    However Germany, perhaps a touch over confident, is possibly coming into a second wave of infections.

    #52717 Reply
    Clark

    Germany imposed lockdown when they had about 58,000 infections, whereas the UK locked down at about 260,000. Those figures are from ICL’s model, and they’re estimates for all actual infections rather than just those tested or otherwise diagnosed. But ICL’s model seems to be very good at predicting death rates in multiple countries.

    ICL CoVID-19 Model UK

    Sweden, and to a lesser extent Belgium are the ones to watch. They haven’t yet got the reproduction number Rt below 1, so their epidemics are still increasing.

    #57513 Reply
    SA

    It now seems that the procrastinations if providing OPI, respirators and test kits where probably partially related to allowing time for the cronies to catch up with the process of providing these on preference of well tried and tested companies. Sleazy incompetence or is it incompetent sleaze?

    #59235 Reply
    SA

    The same procrastination that was the hallmark of dealing with the first phase of the Sars Cov2 pandemic is happening again. Having had to enact a rather shoddy form of lockdown, having used the pandemic as a tool to transfer money to its cronies rather than look after its population, the hapless Johnson regime continues from one blunder to another.
    Let me try this again. The basic way of dealing with a pandemic is to limit travel of possible infected people by introducing measures at major entry points, such as vigilant questioning visitors about symptoms, monitoring temperatures of those proposing to travel and stopping anyone with suspicion of infection, and QUARANTINE not voluntary self isolation. Meanwhile test and trace should not be wound down and sub relegated to Talk Talk rather than Do Do. But maybe Johnson thought that substituting Dido for Do Do will do the job.

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 4 weeks ago by modbot.
    #61655 Reply
    SA

    Interesting how little has happened in terms of firm proactive policy with regards to dealing with the pandemic since my last post. We are also now still talking about a no deal Brexit like a stuck record.

    #66293 Reply
    SA

    The Covid skeptics are not a unified tribe. At one extreme are those who deny the existence of the virus and who also think it is due to 5G and all that Bill gates injecting electronic tags with his evil vaccines. These can be safely ignored as they have little contact with reality. But there is also a lot of the population that genuinely have concerns, because of the conduct of the government and the inefficiency of dealing with this pandemic. At each step the government has messed up and when I started this forum in March, Johnson et al were trying to introduce the concept of herd immunity whilst saying they are prepared for the pandemic which was a blatant lie, as it transpires later with the care home deaths, the lack of PPE and general lack of preparedness. As a result some of the richest countries including US and UK suffered the worst effects of the virus and did not even suffer as badly economically. We are now in a mess and no wonder there are so many skeptic people. Even the role out of the vaccine with delay in the second dose was not handled properly.
    But we must make a distinction between the pandemic and its realities and the scientific findings, and the political mishandling of the crisis and the opportunities the government used not only to increase centralized power but also to enrich their cronies with opaque and shady deals to provide PPE and the blatant privatization of track and trace which has never been run properly. Also having made so much fuss about control of our borders, there was no such control where it mattered most and when travelers entered this country bringing in the virus without any checks.

    #66365 Reply
    SA

    In an article in Counterpunch, “The UK’s Pandemic Gets Worse”, Kenneth Surin summarises what went wrong with how the pandemic was managed in UK. The current variant is not only more efficient at being transmitted but is also more lethal. The NHS capacity, already below par

    “An important consideration here is that the UK entered the pandemic with fewer staffed, funded ICU beds compared with other developed countries. Germany has 29 ICU beds per 100,000 population, the US around 25, the UK 6.6.”. and the shortfall is compensated for by cancelling other NHS activities such as routine surgery and by overworking the existing staff . Covid-19 related admissions are almost 38,000 today and the deaths are hovering over 1000 daily.
    “The prime minister, Boris “BoJo” Johnson, let 17 days elapse between being alerted of the new variant and imposing a tough national lockdown.” That is true to the pattern of behaviour from the outset of this pandemic, delay lockdown despite advice from SAGE. The messaging is also often confused and there is little attempt at enforcement. International travel is not restricted.
    “However, the biggest cause of the continuing transmission is almost certainly the fact that so many workplaces remain open. The government is unwilling to close non-essential workplaces.”

    So some covid sceptics are in a way right, the lockdown is not working but that is mainly because it has not been implemented properly and we have the worst of both worlds.

    #66369 Reply
    ET

    In a similar vein is a piece here. We need an overall goal that we want to achieve and then strategise to achieve it.

    #66389 Reply
    SA

    This is all very well but there seems a very wide interpretation of what social distancing, self isolation, quarantine and curfew mean. Moreover there is a very loose interpretation of these terms. The efficacy of proper isolation and quarantine depends to a high degree not on just on issuing loose instructions that are impractical and unenforceable. In the first lockdown there was less ambiguity about what it means. Shops were closed and streets were empty, but in the current lockdown this is far from the case in my experience. Also self isolation is nonsense. How do you ask someone who lives alone to self isolate when there is no official support system for those self isolating? How do those who have no source of income, self isolate and feed themselves. Then there are families in a flat for example. If someone gets the infection everyone will get it because it is impossible to self isolate in limited environments. The Tories in their mansions with several bathrooms might be able to manage. Then you come to enforcement, there is none and what there has been has been clumsy and rather selective, with politicians and others getting away with breaking their own rules.
    This poor application of quarantine has meant that the measures were only partially effective, have to be done for longer and have caused more economic damage. No wonder the covid sceptics feel that lockdown has not done anything useful but lots of harm.
    Then we come to test and trace. A very simple concept which is the bread and butter of public health and has been practiced for years. Why can we not have a local test and trace system successfully? Why farm it of to cronies who know nothing about public health. To this day there is no successful test and trace in this country.

    But above all there has been a lack of leadership and that is apparent in all of the action of this government. This lack of leadership has cost many lives.

    #66583 Reply
    SA

    For once I completely disagree with the WHO (for what it is worth) about Vaccine Nationalism, urging UK to halt or slow vaccination so that the rest of the world will catch up. As the burden of recorded case in the world is dominated by countries like US, UK Brazil and Mexico and France accounting for 60% of the total world cases, I think that it is a matter of urgency that these countries should go ahead full steam with vaccination to stem the number of cases and deaths and in turn also limit new mutations. Admittedly the problem with the data is that the true situation is probably not known in a lot of Africa, but I see no reason why for example Vietnam or Thailand or New Zealand, where the urgency to vaccinate is much less, should not wait.

    #66601 Reply
    glenn_uk

    SA: “For once I completely disagree with the WHO”

    I disagree with them too. It’s highly counter-productive, putting people’s backs up against their organisation and 100% guaranteed to gain no cooperation whatsoever from our government. Not only has our country tested it, approved it and paid for it, we have actually invented one version of the vaccine and are producing it here. It’s rightfully ours.

    Considering we also have the highest death rate in the world of any large country in the past month, it’s kind of hard to see why we should be shipping it off to the countries usually associated with hard luck – Chad has 118 dead, Liberia 84, the most populous African country Nigeria – less than 1600 fatalities out of over 200 million. Ethiopia – 2100 dead out of 110 million.

    I mean, come on.

    #66615 Reply
    Clark

    Maybe the point is that wealthy countries with highly mobile populations, which refuse to use social methods to control covid – well, maybe they shouldn’t get to hog all the vaccine.

    #66638 Reply
    SA

    But Clark this mobility has led to the multiplying mutations and will mean continuing to infect others. It really is a question of reducing the largest number of new cases.

    #66639 Reply
    SA

    Glenn-uk
    I often wonder about the robustness of statistics coming out of African countries which do not have the same facilities and resources. In this case two mitigating factors. In Lagos Currently, the temperature is 27 degrees at 7 am, and I believe it is supposed to be winter. Secondly the average age in many developing countries is much lower than in Europe and America. But on the other hand Latin America is badly hit with high death figure s in Brazil, Mexico and others although some of these countries are more developed than African countries.

    #66651 Reply
    SA

    Another consideration regarding Africa is the generally low number of tests per million of the population, if you don’t test enough people, you don’t know who has died of Covid-19 and the excess mortality figures in these countries is not easily available. Take for example the three most populous countries in Africa Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt, the ratio of tests per million of population is between 6-17 thousand per million, whereas in countries with the highest mortality rates, the ratio is often above 1 million. So it really is not surprising that the deaths per million of the population in Nigeria is 8, Ethiopia 18 and Egypt 90, compared to figures of over 1000 in UK US and so on. So there is gross underreporting from Africa and the true situation is totally unknown.

    #66652 Reply
    SA

    I seem to be arguing and counterarguing with myself!


    [ Mod: No problem, SA; you’re just thinking in public – and it’s very useful to see it happening! You’re welcome to carry on in the same vein … ]

    #66671 Reply
    Clark

    SA, the “tests per million population” might be misleading. Back in last spring I read of “pool testing” in an African country – this was a blood test, I think. Everyone in a community group gives a blood sample. A portion of each sample is taken, and the portions are then combined to form the “pool”. This pool is then tested. If it’s negative, no one in the community group is infected. If it’s positive, there are still the remainders of each sample that were not combined, for narrowing down who’s infected and who isn’t.

    If the WHO have been coordinating, this technique might be widespread by now. It is particularly well suited to nucleated communities.

    Does the WHO publish assessments of testing coverage?

    #66736 Reply
    SA

    Clark
    Testing in Africa is sort of hit and miss. We are all looking at these figures generated and think that they reflect something. The CDC Africa site has some information about this. Testing is difficult for many reasons but at least initially because there were only 10 laboratories in Africa that could do PCR tests. The WHO and CDC are now pushing the rapid antigen test, which of course can miss many cases, but is better than nothing. However despite the lack of testing I also read somewhere that there are not many reports from African countries of hospitals being overwhelmed. But also interestingly I read somewhere else that from the outset many countries in Africa were very quick and successful in contact tracing because it is still very much alive in African countries and well organised because of the ubiquitousness of infectious diseases.

    #66815 Reply
    SA

    Why some countries have been so badly hit with high numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths and others with either much lower death rates or infection rates is largely unknown but can be the subject of speculation. It easy for example to explain the success of New Zealand in preventing the virus to take hold with a total of 2308 cases and 25 deaths because of the relative isolation due to being a Pacific Island and because borders were shut early and a sensible government got the trust of its people. Some factors that play a part are obviously population density, the number of travelers into the country, the preparedness of government for dealing with a pandemic, population compliance with lockdown, government implementation, facilitation and support of isolation and quarantine of all infected cases and other unknown factors such as possible genetic ethnic factors, poverty and so on. Also accurate recording of data, numbers tested and numbers dying, diagnostic and hospital facilities all play a part. In an article published in Counterpunch. John Feffer attempts to address this question in “What explains COVID’s East-West Divide” he discusses the possible contributing reasons to this discrepancy.

    “The obvious “losers” have been those countries led by right-wing nationalists: Brazil, India, Russia, the United Kingdom, and (until recently) the United States. These five countries are responsible for more than half of the world’s coronavirus infections and nearly half the deaths. “

    Interestingly he assumes that US is no longer led by ‘Right Wing Nationalist Leaders’ as if there has been a radical ‘regime change’ with the departure of Trump.
    However the analysis is interesting and contains some good insights. He states that the discrepancies are not necessarily due to whether the countries are ruled democratically, by a military Junta or by autocrats or communist regimes. He ascribes the difference to three reasons: The first is

    “In 2003, the region was blindsided by the SARS epidemic. The first cases emerged in southern China in late 2002. By March, the new coronavirus was showing up in Hong Kong and Vietnam as well. Eventually it would appear in 29 countries and result in over 700 deaths. By July, after unprecedented international cooperation, the World Health Organization declared the epidemic contained.”

    This has resulted in high awareness of the possibility of pandemics in Asia and preparedness for future pandemics.

    “A second advantage that Asian countries have enjoyed is a coordinated central government response.”

    It was not just coordinated it was detailed and worked out with the infrastructure to support proper lockdown and assist all those affected. Affected areas were isolated from travel early whilst South Korea instituted an excellent track and trace system unlike the Did-track dead in its track system we have here.

    “The third advantage, and this comes the closest to a revival of the “Eastern values” argument, is the issue of compliance. “

    Whereas in Asian countries the use of masks in public has been accepted and used even in the absence of an epidemic, the anti-mask movement here grew as a pretense for fighting for personal liberty. IN fact this attitude smacks more of selfishness than personal liberty. Also whereas there is a high acceptance of vaccines in Asian countries, the antivaccination movement appears to have got a shot in the arm with this pandemic with a large number of the population being vaccine hesitant.
    WE have off course experiences those ‘fighters for personal selfishness’ in these forums. But at present we seem to have a lull.

    #66830 Reply
    Pigeon English

    I am very disappointed putting Russia with 515 per million death and India with 112 in the same basket with countries recording between 1200 and 1600(UK).
    Communist are doing best 😀.
    BTW do Orientals/Asians shake hands, kiss each other on a cheek and give hug to each other? I am guessing not.
    Sometimes I am scared Religious bigots (connecting vaccines to fetus) and Libertarians will be downfall of our civilisation.
    Hopefully they are under 30% of population.

    #66831 Reply
    SA

    Pigeon English
    I have always maintained that there is no capitalist solution to this pandemic, only a socialist one. It has to be a communal effort with everyone participating under the leadership of a government for the people.
    A propos Russia and India, the writer of the above article obviously thinks that things will suddenly get better in the US because of Biden being president but I am not sure this will happen overnight.

    #66836 Reply
    Pigeon English

    Sorry I forgot you were quoting the author.

    #66859 Reply
    Clark

    SA, interesting article. I think it leaps to its unduly clear-cut conclusions, but it’s more right than wrong; very good broad-brushwork, and concise.

    Our US-European society is fractured and corroding, which is unsurprising after decades of this cult of consumerism, and individualism to the point that all personal opinion should supposedly be respected, even when it contradicts facts. The rationalists on these recent threads have been repeatedly accused of bigotry for insisting upon facts. There’s something very wrong there; no one should be insulted for that.

    The article makes the important point that people’s attitude to each other is crucial; even though distrust of government may be high, people don’t conflate scientific and medical expertise with government in the way the contrarians on these threads have done. Maybe these societies are more integrated and less stratified. Maybe a higher proportion of employment is practical, connected with design and manufacture, and less with retail, promotion, advertising, “customer services” and public relations, all of which involve degrees of deception.

    Pigeon English, I think the country you need to examine is Cuba; neither Russia nor India have much communist about them these days.

    #66887 Reply
    Pigeon English

    Clark I was referring to China.

    #66888 Reply
    SA

    Two other things to add to the above analysis. In fact CounterPunch is a good source of articles about Covid-19 and this one
    “The So-Called Moderna Vaccine Is a Publicly Funded Miracle”
    by Alex Lawson is also interesting and the title is self explanatory. In it he shows how the opportunities and potential for scientific cooperation which the pandemic presented, have instead been used for capitalist corporative gain. This publicly funded vaccine should have relinquished patent rights and allowed cross national vaccine development with ramping up of supplies worldwide. The same should have applied to all research concerning Covid-19 and treatments, diagnostic tests and supplies and so on. Instead politicians still continue to operate with the old profit led capitaliust worldview. It is a crime against humanity that seems to be unnoticed that during this horrendous pandemic, the main concern of the USG was to ramp up aggressive and punitive sanctions against Iran, Venezuela and Russia, some of these sanctions., limiting the ability of some of these countries to respond to the pandemic. Israel also took this opportunity to carry out many bombing raids within Syria, and of course the war in Yemen is still ongoing with help from USG and UKG.
    The second point worth reflecting on is that of the initial response to the pandemic in UK. Instead of reflexive long tried and tested Public Health measures being quickly implemented, the government formed a committee SAGE which ignored those at the heart of dealing with the epidemic, instead discussing highly theoretical modelling with high dependency on RIRA principle. In fact Public Health England with its network of expertise and local connections, also involving the councils was marginalized from the outset, and the contempt shown to this essential organization reached its apex when the government announced dissolution of PHE and its incorporation into a newly formed biosecurity centre presumably under the auspices of the MOD. This re-organization passed with minimal comment from the ‘corporate media’ or the opposition or scientists. In fact throughout this essentially public health crisis, there was an inordinate interference by politicians. This is another very glaring difference between the West and the rest of the world.

    #66891 Reply
    Clark

    Pigeon English, I don’t really know much about what it’s like to live in China; doesn’t look much like the Soviet Union from the little I’ve seen. Towards the rest of the world, the state called China clearly behaves as a capitalist participant in the international markets.

    #66892 Reply
    Clark

    SA, I agree, but I will have to read the article later!

    #66893 Reply
    SA

    Clark
    China is not a proper capitalist state. There is still a command centralised economy but with elements of capitalist enterprise for some. Similar to what Lenin tried with the NEP in the early days of the Russian revolution to a much more limited extent.

    #67425 Reply
    SA

    Vaccine nationalism and vaccine diplomacy. Or should it be vaccine capitalism profit seeking corporations vs vaccine cooperation to fight a world pandemic?

    In an article in the Guardian “Vaccine diplomacy: west falling behind in race for influence”, the authors, Michael Safi and Milivoe Pantovic analyse the way that vaccine supplies have been used in different ways in the West where production is by profit seeking big Pharma (with the exception of the Astra Zeneca Vaccine, and by State controlled Pharma in Russia and China.

    “Conspicuously missing so far from the fray of overseas deals and donations have been western governments, which are consumed with vaccinating their own populations first and have preferred to channel vaccine aid into multilateral schemes such as Covax, the sharing mechanism that will start by supplying about 3% of the most vulnerable people in middle- and lower-income countries over the next six months.”

    The article then discusses how China and Russia have managed to pledge 800,000 million doses of vaccines as a gift to many developing countries and in some cases to get the vaccine manufactured under license in other countries, thus increasing manufacturing capacity and speed of vaccination. It has to be said that this is also the basis by which India is manufacturing the Astra Zeneca Vaccine and sharing it with South Asian countries.

    But the article is rather grudging about Russia and China but instead blames them for exploiting this:

    “By then, countries such as the UK, US and Canada expect to be on their way to herd immunity, along with a clutch of other wealthy countries that have bought up most of the supply of western vaccines that will be produced in 2021. The divide is a diplomatic opportunity, and some foreign capitals are taking it.”

    But the punchline here is, even in the face of a global pandemic, the most important motivation is profit as indicated here:

    “Pfizer, Moderna too, they’re here to make a profit,” said Agathe Demarais, global forecasting director at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Companies do not do diplomacy, in theory. They have short-term goals. So it’s very different when a vaccine is marketed by a government over a company.”

    Even though the Moderna Vaccine was heavily subsidised by the US taxpayer.

    Meanwhile, in another article South Africa leads backlash against big pharma over access to Covid vaccines Kaamil Ahmed writes:

    “The domination of global medicine by major pharmaceutical companies needs to be confronted to provide fairer access to vaccines, a leading South African official has said.

    The scramble over Covid vaccines should alert rich countries to the power of profit-driven companies that control production of crucial medicines, said Mustaqeem De Gama, South Africa’s delegate at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on intellectual property rights.

    “While Rome is burning, we are fiddling around [waiting],” said De Gama, who called on nations where many of these pharmaceutical firms are based to stop blocking a patent waiver proposed at the WTO.

    Backed by dozens of developing countries, the proposal, introduced by South Africa and India, argued that bypassing intellectual property rights would allow more of the world’s population to be quickly vaccinated by boosting production.”

    #67426 Reply
    SA

    Meanwhile the other ugly side of the behavior of the US in the fight against Covid 19 is seen in the unilateral sanctions that will hamper the efforts by certain nations , labelled as the enemy. These Include Venezuela, Syria and Iran.

    UN rapporteur says US and allies’ sanctions on Venezuela driving humanitarian ‘calamities’ & hampering its fight against Covid-19

    The sanctions by the US have been increasingly tightened to strangulate Venezuela and has a massive negative effect on ordinary life including electricity supply, water treatment and other essentials. Venezuelan state assets overseas have been frozen by UKG, USG and Portuguese G. This also has a major effect on drug and other essential medical and diagnostic supplies.

    Unilateral sanctions hamper Syria’s fight against coronavirus pandemic: UN envoy

    “Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari says unilateral sanctions imposed by the Western countries are hampering the Damascus government’s efforts to import medicine and other medical supplies to fight the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak in the country.

    “Unilateral coercive economic measures hinder Syria’s ability to meet the basic needs of its people and confront the epidemic of the novel coronavirus,” Jaafari said on Sunday through the video link at a symposium organized by the Sanctions Kill coalition, which comprises a group of activists working to promote anti-sanctions campaigns.”

    U.S. sanctions ‘severely hamper’ Iran coronavirus fight – Rouhani

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