African Union Human Rights Commission COVID19: Widespread Poverty, Political Instability

In an article in the Mail and Guardian, South Africa, Solomon Derrso, head of the African Union Commission on Human Rights expressed his concerns regarding the economic fallout hitting Africa.

“The first worry that I have is that the socioeconomic and humanitarian fallout from the Covid-19 response measures may descend into a human rights catastrophe as millions of peoples lose jobs or have their livelihoods in the informal sectors wiped out, and are pushed into extreme poverty; and as millions of others face hunger and starvation”

As the pandemic drags on, so its economic effect becomes clearer: this week, the International Monetary Fund estimated that sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product will contract by 3.2% this year, putting between 26-million and 39-million Africans at risk of falling into extreme poverty.

“The fear is that we will undo some gains that have been made over the years,” Dersso said, citing trends in maternal mortality rates, child marriage and the enrollment of girls in school as the areas he is particularly worried about.

He also states his concerns that an overwhelmingly young population will increase the issues, leading to potential serious political instability, sinilar to the situation in Mali where there are on-going anti-government protests. He admitted that his own commission is not always popular with African governments when they are challenged on human rights violations. In an opinion piece for the M&G last month, Dersso called out states that resorted to police brutality to enforce Covid-19 restrictions, including Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. In the long term, he is worried about those same restrictions becoming permanent fixtures — much like emergency anti-terrorism legislation has a habit of remaining on the books even once the threat has passed, and is used to censor free speech, media and human rights activists.

“We have been consistent in saying that whatever emergency rules and measures have been put in place in response to Covid-19 have to be temporary, absolutely temporary. There is a danger of these things being institutionalised, thereby putting undue restrictions on rights.”

But it’s not all bad news.

“I am comforted by the ever increasing awareness and consciousness of members of the public about their rights. I am encouraged by the rise in the willingness and ability of young people to demand respect for and protection of their rights. I feel hopeful about the sense of ownership of the human rights agenda on the continent with national institutions, civil society organisations and the media increasingly working on rights issues or approaching the governance and socioeconomic ills afflicting our societies from a human rights perspective,” Dersso said.

Comment: Similar concerns need to be voiced in Europe. In the UK the Corona Virus Bill has already extended limitations on rights and freedoms, ostensibily for two years with regular reviews. We need to ensure that such measures don’t move onto the statute books.

 

Update on COVID19 Care Home Deaths Across the World – study

A study by the International Long Term Care Policy Network, hosted by the Care Policy and Evaluation Network at the London School of Economics updated the number of care home deaths across the world and came to the following conclusions:

  • Official data on the numbers of deaths among care home residents linked to COVID-19 is not available in many countries but an increasing number of countries are publishing data
  • International comparisons are difficult due to differences in testing availabilities and policies, different approaches to recording deaths, and differing definitions of what constitutes a “care home”.
  • There are three main approaches to quantifying deaths in relation to COVID-19: deaths of people who test positive(before or after their death), deaths of people suspected to have COVID-19 (based on symptoms or epidemiologically linked), and excess deaths (comparing total number of deaths with those in the same weeks in previous years).Another important distinction is whether the data covers deaths of care home residents or only deaths in the care home (as there are variations in the share of care home residents who are admitted to hospital and may die there)
  • This updated report contains data from a larger number of countries and this shows that earlier suggestions(when data were available for fewer countries) that the share of all COVID-19 deaths who were care residents increases with the total number of deaths may not be a robust finding, as New Zealand and Slovenia, despite having had relatively small numbers of total COVID deaths, have had a large share of those deaths among care home residents (72 and 81% respectively).
  • The impact of COVID-19 on care home residents has been very different internationally, with some countries reporting no deaths (or infections) in care homes, such as Hong Kong, Jordan and Malta, and two countries reporting that over 80% of COVID-19 deaths were of care home residents. Without including the three countries with zero deaths, and with the caveat that the definitions used vary, on average the share of all COVID-19 deaths that were care home residents is 47% (based on 26 countries).

Comments: This confirms our earlier commentaries on the profoundly disturbing fact that a large number of the total deaths of COVID19 were elderly people in care homes. Many of these people were not being adequately looked after, with evidence that in Spain and Italy, elderly people were left to die as workers didn’t come to work or simply left the country before lockdown. In New York, the UK and other countries, care homes were not protected well enough: elderly people were sent back to the care homes after hospitalization, without being tested for COVID19, care workers were not provided with sufficient information and the resources necessary to prevent the spread of the virus to the residents. In the UK, elders were isolated, pressured to sign Do Not Resuscitate notices and families were banned from visiting,

Elderly people, especially in winter were deficient of Vitamin D, essential for the immune system, and many were on ACE inhibitor drugs (for hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol) that may have made them more susceptible to COVID19. The elderly are also prone to Zinc deficiency, which has been shown to increase the risk of poor outcomes to COVID19.

For otherwise healthy people, the chance of a serious infection is minimal. Walking outdoors carries little chance of infection, mask or not. The reality is that immune compromised people, especially the elderly, living in close quarters are the most vulnerable. It is therefore not surprising that the elderly in care homes have borne the brunt of COVID19. Rather than protect a group already identified as being at particular risk, they were, in the event, badly neglected.

 

Mandating Masks in California. Yes or No?

According to the L.A Times on June 18th, “Gov. Gavin Newsom ……. ordered all Californians to wear face coverings while in public or high-risk settings, including when shopping, taking public transit or seeking medical care, after growing concerns that an increase in coronavirus cases has been caused by residents failing to voluntarily take that precaution.”

Some counties in California were taking an ambivalent attitude toward mandating face covering and, according to the Governor, too many people were not complying. The article continued, “Under state law, residents who violate the new requirement could be charged with a misdemeanor and potentially face a financial penalty, according to a representative for the Newsom administration. However, officials have shied away from enforcing other statewide coronavirus mandates with similar actions, choosing instead to encourage compliance and educate residents about the benefits of safeguards against spread of the virus.” Since the June 18th order, five sheriff departments say they won’t enforce it.

Comments: The evidence regarding the wearing of masks has been contradictory from the beginning, with conflicted evidence of its efficacy. The WHO itself has changed its tune on this issue, as have many governments, and now says that healthy people should wear masks when taking care of corona virus patients. At best it may stop a positive person spreading the virus, but a mask will have minimal impact at best on stopping a negative person becoming infected. Given the small size of the COVID19 virus, the types of masks being worn won’t keep them out. There has been ample evidence of the lack of efficacy of wearing masks but the decision to make mask wearing compulsory in certain locations or activities now has more to do with conformity, however contradictory.

California, with a population of about 33 million people has seen 5,518 deaths (June 22nd), or 140 deaths per million population. Over 3,000 of those deaths have been in L.A. County with a population of over 10 million. This is a higher percentage per capita population than the rest of the state (2,500 deaths in the remaining 23 million people). This may be because the percentage of elderly people in care homes is high in L.A County. Neighbouring Orange County with a population of 3.1 million people has only seen 269 deaths and San Bernadino County, a large county to the North East of L.A, with a population of 2.1 million people has only seen 233 deaths. Therefore, the deaths in LA are proportionately higher than surrounding counties.

Similar to most other analyses, over 50% of the deaths in L.A County have been in care homes, as this report in May reveals. Given all factors, it is likely to be similar or even higher now. Some reports from Canada showed that deaths in care homes could be as high as 80% of the total deaths. Therefore, the extraordinary drama that has unfolded in the USA, including California, a state roughly the size of the UK, Spain and France combined, with partial lockdowns, massive economic turmoil and ongoing social distancing strategies, including mask wearing, has been precipitated by 5,500 deaths, 3,000 of which are in one county. At least 1,500 of these were elderly people in care homes. Should the remainder of the state also have been closed is now the big question. Should masks be compulsory, since the evidence shows them to be largely ineffective? In an average flu season, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that deaths in the USA can vary from between 30,000 to 60,000 in a season. If we use 50,000 as a round number and given that California has a 1/10th of the total population of the country, one would expect 5,000 Californians to die of the flu each year, which is about the same as have died of COVID19 this year. There are some questions now about whether we will see extra flu deaths this year, or what is possibly more likely is that many of the same people who died of COVID19 would have died from complications flowing a bout of flu.

It is also possible that some people already exposed to COVID19 may have some immunity to the season’s flu virus, even if though it will not be another corona virus. There is still much we don’t know, but what we do know is that masks will do very little to stop the virus spreading and should be limited to those who are sick or in close proximity to the vulnerable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO continues to fan the flames of fear in Africa

The African continent continues to have some of the lowest COVID19 figures in the world. In a population of 1.2 billion, there are 7,400 deaths (June 20th). Most of the deaths come from just 10 countries with South Africa accounting for the highest proportion of the deaths. The WHO continues to project huge increases in the number of COVID19 cases and mortalities.

On June 11th, the BBC reported that the corona virus pandemic is accelerating in Africa. “The WHO’s Africa Regional Director Matshidiso Moeti, said it was spreading beyond capital cities and that a lack of tests and other supplies was hampering responses.” But more importantly she said, “ it did not seem as if severe cases and deaths were being missed by authorities.” The article continues “South Africa had more than a quarter of the reported cases and was seeing high numbers of confirmed cases and deaths in Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces, Dr Moeti told a briefing at WHO headquarters in Geneva. She added that Western Cape was looking similar to recent outbreaks in Europe and the US.”

After three months of severe lockdown in South Africa, there have been 1,800 deaths from COVID19 in a population of 60 million, or 29 deaths for every million people. The comparison with Europe and the US does not seem to be supported by the numbers.

The BBC continued, “South Africa’s government has been praised for its early and decisive imposition of a lockdown but the easing of restrictions in June has been accompanied by a rise in infections.”

“Even though these cases in Africa account for less than 3% of the global total, it is clear that the pandemic is accelerating… and cases were likely to continue increasing for the foreseeable future.”

“Until such time as we have access to an effective vaccine, I’m afraid we’ll probably have to live with a steady increase in the region….”

A subsequent article in the UK Guardian on June 19th, was titled African governments drop COVID19 curbs in effort to limit economic harm, despite the rapid rise in the numbers of cases across the continent. The article quotes: “The WHO has previously said the COVID19 pandemic could smoulder in Africa for several years, after killing as many as 190,000 people in the coming 12 months,” but recognized that the extended lockdown was doing massive harm to the socio-economic wellbeing of many countries. “South Africa, one of the most industrialised economies in Africa, will take six years to recover from the lockdown and ongoing restrictions, according to some estimates.. “We should not mask the challenge we still have with testing,” Dr John Nkengasong, the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control, said on Thursday. “We have to scale this up aggressively so we can get ahead of the pandemic.” The article finishes by quoting South Africa’s President Ramaphosa, admitting that the damage and violence due to the lockdown has been terrible.

Comments:

It seems even the WHO is beginning to recognize the damage being done due to lockdown. However, the articles are still focusing on the basic increase in the numbers of cases, which as we have seen doesn’t necessarily connect to the numbers of deaths. It may just reflect an increase in the amount of testing being done, which, as in many countries has been used to justify the need for stringent lockdown measures. All epidemiological and medical data has shown that deaths due to COVID19 are still predominantly in the elderly and the vulnerable. Young and healthy people do not experience the disease as life threatening, many remain asymptomatic. We have reported this in other posts including South Africa using numbers to justify suffering. The BBC article quotes the head of Africa’s Centres for Disease Control on the importance of more testing, and yet the South African government has admitted that wide spread testing, especially of asymptomatic people is not possible. Perhaps the following questions should be asked of the WHO:

  1. Why do they say the pandemic increasing and likely to do so for the “foreseeable future” if all evidence shows that the peak of cases has occurred after two months in most countries? Why is there going to be a continued steady increase in the region, if that hasn’t been seen in other countries? What evidence is there for that prediction?
  2. If there is a lack of testing outside the cities how do we know if the cases are spreading?
  3. Are mortality rates from COVID19 increasing or is the increase in deaths due to other reasons, including the consequences of lockdown?
  4. The WHO’s warnings of ever increasing cases and deaths, reported by the BBC, UK Guardian and other media, seems to be to keep pressure on South Africa, and in turn to use them as an example to pressure other African countries to lockdown, despite the numbers not supporting this view. As South Africa goes, so does much of the continent.
  5. Africa should be very cautious in accepting the prognoses of the WHO, especially when weighing up the profound socio-economic impact of the lockdown measures against comparatively few cases of COVID19. As the vast majority of mortalities in all countries are the elderly and vulnerable, it seems unlikely we will see a huge increase in mortalities in a predominantly young population. The consequences of prolonging lockdown are likely to be much worse.

 

They have killed us more than corona’: Kenyans protest against police brutality

Demonstrators took to the streets of Mathare, one of the largest “slum” areas of Nairobi, to voice their concerns against police violence during the COVID19 situation, amid the enforcement of nightly curfews.

“At least 15 people have been killed by police, and 31 people injured since the curfew was imposed, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) said last week”

However, the figure is likely to be much higher as many extra-judicial killings go unreported. Even before COVID19, the Police Oversight Authority had many cases of police killings on its hands with little cooperation from the government in seeking justice. Killings tlike this ake place not only in Nairobi, but also in Mombasa, Kenya’s 2nd largest city, where police often justify their actions by saying they are routing out Al Shabab terrorists. One strategy of police there has been to offer amnesty to young people supposedly affiliated with Al Shabab and then kill them anyway.

In this demonstration, people were showing solidarity with the global protests against police violence after the Floyd killing in the US.

“The poor people of Mathare stand in solidarity with the poor people of America, the black people of America. We want them to know that this struggle is one,” said Juliet Wanjira, 25, the co-founder of Mathare Social Justice Centre. While the global protests have localised contexts, Wanjira sees a common theme. “This is a poor people’s struggle,” she said. “Poor people are [treated as] criminals and not given dignity.”

So far Kenya has had 88 deaths, in a population of 53 million, due to COVID19, so it is possible that nearly as many have died from police violence as the virus. Another tragedy of the collateral damage from the lockdown strategy, that Kenya continues to impose almost three months later.

UK Track and Trace not ready till September

Despite the promise that the UK’s Track and Trace would be in place by June 1st, it seems it won’t be fully functional until September or October. The app is not working as it should, tens of thousands of contact tracers have spent days logged into zoom training sessions which have never taken place and the initial Isle of Wight trial involved a serious data breach.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have said that in order to prevent a ‘second wave’, easing the lockdown was dependent on track and tracing being in place. The fact that it might not be ready until September has serious implications. Do the government expect the population to continue under Level 4 for another three or four months? Apart from this being disastrous for the economy, jobs, education, mental health and every other measure you care to use for the health of the nation, it makes no sense as far as COVID19 is concerned.

Let’s not forget the significant amount of tax payers money going into the Track and Trace programme, is moving into private pockets.

And the biggest concern, voiced by the companies racing to create and produce a safe and effective COVID19 vaccine, is the evidence that the virus is leaving and will be gone before the vaccine is ready in September. As early as May 14th it was reported that “the Oxford University vaccine trial is heading into hospitals amid fears that Covid-19 is not prevalent enough in wider society.”

Let’s just think about that for a moment.

Coronavirus: Sweden’s Tegnell ‘admits’ too many died

More BBC propaganda?

“Sweden’s controversial decision not to impose a strict lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic led to too many deaths, the man behind the policy, Anders Tegnell, has acknowledged”.

“Sweden has counted 4,542 deaths and 40,803 infections in a population of 10 million, while Denmark, Norway and Finland have imposed lockdowns and seen far lower rates. Denmark has seen 580 deaths. Norway has had 237 deaths and Finland 321. Sweden reported a further 74 deaths on Wednesday.”

Comments: The heading and subheading gives the impression that Dr Anders Tegnell regrets not locking down Sweden, but the remainder of the article states that he regrets mainly not protecting the elderly in care homes better, which is the same problem that the government in the UK had. Also, by only comparing the numbers of deaths in Norway, Denmark and Finland, it mispresents the fact that Sweden has over twice the population of these countries, hence the greater numbers of deaths and also forgets to compare with the UK, which has a greater number of deaths for the ratio of population. Also, Sweden has more people in care homes than Norway et al, which would also skew the comparison and which, as Dr Tegnell stated, is his primary regret. Dr Tegnell is quoted in the article as saying “we basically still think that is the right strategy for Sweden”, In another BBC article on May 19TH, Sweden acknowledged that nearly 50% of all deaths were in care homes. This is about the same as in the UK and many other countries, including Italy and the USA and that is the real tragedy, not the lack of lockdown in Sweden, as the article implies. Of the total number of deaths in Sweden, 4,400 so far, over 2,000 were in care homes, leaving just over 2,000 other deaths. That is really not that high. Even the WHO complemented Sweden on its approach as other analyses were projecting disaster with 96,000 plus deaths in April.

Therefore, it looks like the BBC article is yet another example of a propaganda piece, in this time when believing much of the media is difficult. Perhaps it is trying to defend the UK’s tragic lockdown approach while neglecting their own elderly and not wanting Sweden’s approach to look like a better option. It should be remembered that the Imperial College’s modelling report emanated from the UK and which was a major factor leading to the disastrous global lockdown in the first place.

South Africa given 14 days to change “unconstitutional” lockdown

The South African government has been given 14 days by the Pretoria High Court to justify its lockdown measures. “In a hard-hitting judgment that found the government had failed to fully consider Covid-19 lockdown regulations, the Pretoria High Court found that while declaring the State of Disaster because of the Covid-19 pandemic was rational, the overwhelming number of regulations are ‘unconstitutional and invalid’.”

“… Their [the regulations’] encroachment on and limitation of rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights contained in the Constitution are not justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom…” is how Judge Norman Davis ruled on Tuesday 2 June.

And so the regulations for one of the most draconian COVID19 lockdowns the world over, now in Day 68, fell away because the “overwhelming number” of these rules failed the test of rationality – and failed to show a connection to the objective of slowing or limiting the rate of COVID19 infection. Rest of the world take note.

Moderna’s COVID19 vaccine – Wall Street frenzy sparks investigation

Questions have arisen about Moderna executives making huge profits when the company went public on May 18th. It announced initial results of its vaccine programme in a press release in the early morning and by late afternoon had raised $1.3 billion in a public offering. Within days some of Moderna’s executives cashed in their stock, raising tens of millions and many eyebrows, along with suggestions that the company should be investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It was also reported that Moderna overstated the effects of its Phase 1 vaccine trial: details of only 8 of the 45 participants were released. Phase 1 was meant to measure the safety of the vaccine, not effectiveness, but the press release focused on effectiveness. What was not clearly reported was that 3 out of 15 subjects in the high dose group produced Grade 3 systemic adverse effects (FDA definition: interferes with daily life and requires medical intervention) The company is using a new type of mRNA technology to make the vaccine, which has not, to date, been successfully achieved. To increase efficacy, the company is adding “nanoparticles” to the vaccine, working with the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA), one of the funders for Moderna’s COVID19 vaccine project.

Moderna is one of the front runners in the race to create a COVID19 vaccine. This endeavour is supported by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with a $20 million grant, with further funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI – also funded by Bill Gates), almost half a billion dollars of funding from the US government as well as additional monies from DARPA and more from Bill Gates himself. It is working with the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NAID) under Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s spokesperson for the COVID19 pandemic. Moncef Slaoui resigned from the board of Moderna recently to become head of the White House Director of Operation Warp Speed, with the intention to fast-track a COVI19 vaccine. Before sitting on Moderna’s board, Moncef Slaoui was previously an executive with vaccine maker GlaxoSmithKleine and still sits on the board of the Human Vaccines Project, an AI machine learning project whose goal is to reinvent the human immune system. https://www.humanvaccinesproject.org/

How can it be legal to line up automated sales of shares for a particular day, then be in charge of the timing of a press release that sees that stock go up by 20% in a matter of hours, just in time to take full advantage of the automated sales?

The money involved in the development stage alone is eyewatering, every corner has already been cut, animal studies have been waived and permission for Phase 2 given before any real safety study has been done. How much temptation will there be to win this billion dollar race at any cost, by a company that has, to date, never produced a single successful vaccine?

Govt text tells vulnerable you’re off the National Shielding Service

NHS England wrote to doctors on April 10th asking them to review the accuracy of their list of shielded people. On Friday May 22nd, the most vulnerable people in the country, including transplant patients, those with cancer and other immune compromised patients, were notified by text message that they no longer qualified for the National Shielding Service. For many of the recipients, this was the first they had heard about their removal and needless to say it has induced fear, anxiety and confusion.

The text also reads, “If you are receiving food deliveries via the National Shielding Service these will be stopped. This will not affect your eligibility for a supermarket priority delivery slot or any slots you already have in place.”

After inducing fear and panic in the country, and promising to protect the vulnerable, with the country as a whole still in lockdown, there is a sudden need – started SIX weeks ago – to reduce the number of people in the National Shielding Service? How is this congruent with the message that all measures put in place, and endured by the population for the last three months, have been to protect the vulnerable?

Herd immunity possible with 10%-20% exposure

A recent study has shown the percentage of the population that needs to be exposed to a new virus to create herd immunity, could be as low as 10%. Previously it was believed that 60-70% of people needed to be exposed. This has to be a game changer.

Abstract: “Although estimates vary, it is currently believed that herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2 requires 60-70% of the population to be immune. Here we show that variation in susceptibility or exposure to infection can reduce these estimates. Achieving accurate estimates of heterogeneity for SARS-CoV-2 is therefore of paramount importance in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The herd immunity strategy was widely discussed at the beginning of COVID19 as the most effective and natural way to create a broad social immunity, and in so doing, protect the most vulnerable. The implications of this discovery for future strategies to deal with a similar virus, cannot be overstated. The facts have become increasingly clear, the vast majority of people infected by COVID19 have a mild illness or express no symptoms at all. Herd immunity would have prevented lockdown for all but the most vulnerable. Questions should be asked about the response to COVID19, and herd immunity must surely be seriously considered for any future scenario.

Malawians returning from Sth Africa refuse Covid-19 testing

Malawians returning from South Africa are refusing to be tested as they come back into their country. Some are preferring quarantine rather than testing and some are trying to escape the authorities who insist they should be tested. The fear and stigma of testing positive for COVID19 is reminiscent of how HIV testing stigmatized millions. In the past HIV positive people could be ostracized from families, not welcome in their villages and even killed. This is an example of the fear of COVID19 generated by the global media at a time when it is becoming increasingly clear that PCR testing is unreliable.

Malawi is an interesting example of a country that has not enacted a strict lockdown. A local Human Rights Defender Coalition took the government to the High Court in Malawi twice, claiming that the government had not made enough provision for the poor in the case of a lockdown. The High court voted twice in their favour. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa and could least afford the socio-economic consequences of a lockdown. Population 20 million, 4 deaths, 60 active cases, 1 critical.

The people of Malawi called out the potential disaster of lockdown and the High Court agreed. Lessons for us all.

WHO stop trial on drug with 60 year safety record

The WHO today called a halt to trials on the use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for COVID19, citing issues of safety. This drug has been used for COVID19 across Europe to very good effect. It has been credited with saving many lives. In the US where there is no FDA approval for its use, doctors are using it “off label” because they are seeing it’s usefulness.

As mentioned in our post Pharma Monopoly? Medical Colonialism? Alive and well, most trials of HCQ seem to have been set up to fail. Professor Didier Raoult who first brought it to attention in France, is one more respected scientist to have been censored (See the post …..). Doctors who are practising according to the Hippocratic Oath First Do No Harm are using it in crticial care.

HCQ has been used consistently for the last 60 years to treat malaria, its safety record has not been in question, the contraindications regarding cardiac patients, the dose and length of medication are clear. Suddenly it is being banned from use in the middle of a pandemic, where the WHO state clearly there is NO TREATMENT and the only way out is via a vaccine.

Thinking rationally if we were in the middle of pandemic, and there was a treatment, tested on the medical front line and found to be effective – that had the bonus of also being inexpensive and without a pharma company patent to restrict its manufacture, we would surely be announcing it across the world and making it available to every medical team dealing with critically ill patients. The fact that not only is this not happening but the trials are being stopped, should raise some serious questions.

Dominic Cummings broke rules he pushed for

Dominic Cummings, No. 10’s top advisor, member of the SAGE (Science Advisory Group in Emergencies) committee, (though not a scientist), pushed for lockdown at the March 23rd meeting of SAGE. (See the post UK Govt: “Guided by Science” What Science? for more info.)

The Guardian and The Mirror jointly exposed the story. He drove with his wife and son 250 miles to his elderly parents’ home in Durham, so they “could have support looking after their son”. His wife was already suffering from COVID19 symptoms before they left London and Cummings himself became very sick shortly after they got to Durham. The Durham police confirm he was there and they had reminded him of the rules. His wife wrote an article in The Spectator describing their experience with COVID19,  but suggested that they were in London at the time.

Calls for Cumming’s resignation are being met with stonewalling from the government and his press confernce to ‘explain himself’ only dug him in deeper and went frrom the sublime to the ridiculous. But joking aside this is serious.

So Neil Ferguson, whose predictions triggered the global lockdown breaks the rules to meet his lover, whose husband was already suffering COVID symptoms. Cummings drives 250 miles with an infectious wife and falls ill himself while staying with his elderly parents (albeit apparently in another part of the property). Meanwhile single parents with COVID are struggling to cope at home, parents of dying children are not allowed to visit them, friends of those with terminal illnesses are not allowed to be with them or attend their funerals, parents of disabled children are having to manage without support, even when they are sick, millions will have lost their jobs because they are not allowed to work.

Will Cummins resign? He and No. 10 say “absolutely not.” Piers Morgan has said if Cummings doesn’t resign or get pushed he will assume the lockdown rules have changed and go to visit his own parents who he hasn’t seen for 3 months.

The Daily Kos: Dangerous Clickbait?

The Daily Kos, a political centre-left blog with hundreds of thousands of readers sent out an email on May 20th, urging their supporters to sign a petition to make the COVID19 vaccine, which does not yet exist, free  for all. They are concerned that poor people will miss out if the vaccine has a price tag. In order to push the urgency the Subject line of the email reads:

100,000 signatures needed: Millions have died of COVID-19. Vaccine must be free.

Given that most people (and possibly the Daily Kos) have not taken the time to check the numbers of global deaths  for themselves, but remain whipped into a frenzy of fear by the 24/7 news cycle, this might be described as irresponsible fearmongering.

As of 24th May and SIX months into the pandemic – the GLOBAL death rate is 344,258. Yes every death is a tragedy, but the number is HALF the number of global deaths in a bad flu season, about which there is never a whisper on main stream media. Not a whisper.

Top scientists censored by Social Media platforms

YouTube censors epidemiologist Knut Wittkowski for opposing lockdown

From the New York Post. “Dr. Knut M. Wittkowski, former head of biostatistics, epidemiology and research design at Rockefeller University, says YouTube removed a video of him talking about the virus that had racked up more than 1.3 million views. Wittkowski, 65, is a ferocious critic of the nation’s current steps to fight the coronavirus. He has derided social distancing, saying it only prolongs the virus’ existence, and has attacked the current lockdown as mostly unnecessary. Wittkowski, who holds two doctorates in computer science and medical biometry, believes the coronavirus should be allowed to create “herd immunity,” and that short of a vaccine, the pandemic will only end after it has sufficiently spread through the population.

“Anything that goes against [World Health Organization] recommendations would be a violation of our policy and so removal is another really important part of our policy,” CEO Susan Wojcicki (You Tube) told CNN.

Wittkowski’s argument is a minority opinion among his colleagues, but still well within mainstream thought and currently is the basis for Sweden’s non-lockdown approach to the pandemic.”

As we reported in Pharma Monoploly? Medical Colonialism? Alive and Well, the CEO of the UK NHS enlisted social media platforms to help stop ‘fake news’. Does this mean that discussing anything other than the WHO’s approach is ‘fake news’? Has there been any real scientific discussion about the best approach to COVID19? Thousands of eminent scientists have been speaking out and having their voices silenced on social media or ignored by main stream media.

What pressure has been put on You Tube to remove what is a legitimate opinion by a respected scientist? Has You Tube crossed the Rubicon? Anyone with conspiratorial tendencies might be forgiven for thinking there must be some kind of agenda.

 

Japan calls for joint investigation into WHO

May 16th Japan is going to call for an investigation into the World Health Organization’s initial response to the corona virus pandemic. The Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe stated:  “With the European Union, (Japan) will propose that a fair, independent and comprehensive verification be conducted,” and in an internet program on Friday he said, “There’s a lot of discussion in the international community about precisely where the virus came from and the initial response, there needs to be a thorough investigation, and it’s crucial that this be carried out by an independent body.”

The WHO has been accused by the United States and some of its allies of turning a blind eye while China withheld information that could have helped limit the spread of the virus after it was first reported in the city of Wuhan. President Trump has been particularly strong in his attacks on the organization and on China.

The BBC reported on May 19th:  Coronavirus: What are President Trump’s charges against the WHO?

 1. That the WHO didn’t obtain, vet and share information in a timely manner.

2.  The WHO said that human to human transmission isn’t possible

3.  The WHO is not independent from China

4.  That the WHO opposed travel restrictions

The WHO is now in the political front line. On one side accused of being too influenced by China. On the other accused of being over influenced by the USA and the Gates Foundation and in pushing a damaging global lockdown, including for Africa. Will the WHO be blamed for the inadequate or confused responses of many governments?

It’s possible China obscured some facts of what happened in Wuhan and hesitated to inform the world. On the other hand, the USA, China and others have been collaborating in viral research for decades and all parties knew the potential risks.

In time a question about the necessity of locking down the whole world will need to be asked.

Madagascar accuses WHO of denying herbal medicine

Madagascar’s President Rajoelina has claimed national sovereignty in his right to ensure the population has supplies of a herbal drink containing the artemesia herb as protection and treatment for COVID19. The WHO warned about using the herbal preparation COVID Organics because it has not undergone a clinical trial. (See our blog post Pharma Monopoly? Medical Colonialism? Alive and Well.) Despite pressure from WHO about the dangers of an untested herbal preparation, several other African countries have already shipped the herbal preparation from Madagascar for use in their own countries.

In a pandemic where we are reminded continually that there is no treatment or cure for COVID19 and lockdowns will not be completely lifted until a global vaccine is available, why are potential solutions like this not only being ignored but actively suppressed?
We did some more research on the previous news item about Rajoelina accusing the WHO of a bribe relating to COVID Organics – so far it cannot be substantiated so we have removed it from the feed.

Interview about COVID Organics by the channel France 24 on May 11th.

Mental illness, suicides rise in India during Covid-19 crisis

The French news and current affairs public radio station RFI reported a rapid rise in mental illness and suicides in India.

India’s harsh coronavirus lockdown has seen a spike in cases of mental illness, with experts warning that distress calls and reports of suicidal tendencies had been alarmingly high since the confinement began on 24 March. The Indian Psychiatry Society (IPS) said a recent study showed a 20 percent rise in mental illness cases, affecting at least one in five Indians. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stringent Covid-19 lockdown, which is to begin lifting on 18 May, is one major reason, according to IPS. The survey claims that people have been living in fear of losing their jobs and businesses, due to the lockdown resulting in mental distress.

“The lockdown has had a massive impact on the lifestyle of people. They are staying indoors with limited resources. They are now suffering from anxiety and panic attacks,” says Manu Tiwari, a mental health and behavioural sciences expert.

Furthermore, India has the largest Tuberculosis burden in the world, with over 2 million people with the disease. The WHO and public health experts are very concerned about the impact of the lockdown on TB detection and possible increased cases. This could negatively impact millions of people.

Another critical disease that has been sidelined during the focus on COVID19. As of May 16th, India has had 2,752 deaths due to Covid-19 in a population of 1.3 billion.

NZ: Controversial COVID19 bill enforces Level 2 lockdown

In the New Zealand Herald May 16th, “A bill giving police sweeping powers to potentially enter homes without warrants while enforcing Covid-19 alert level rules has passed. The Covid-19 Public Health Response Bill was rushed through Parliament in time for alert level 2 but came under intense scrutiny from the Opposition. It passed 63 votes in favour with 57 against. The National Party and Act didn’t support the bill, saying it was an overreach of powers, distrusted New Zealanders and didn’t allow for orders to have proper scrutiny. But the Government said it was necessary to ensure the continued fight against Covid-19 and created more accountability, not less.

The Human Rights Commission said it was “deeply concerned” about the lack of scrutiny of the bill and its rushed process “is a great failure of our democratic process” The law sets up the legal framework for future alert levels as there is no longer a State of Emergency. It effectively allows the Health Minister to issue an order that would make alert level rules legally enforceable.

That might include, for example, the ability for police or “enforcement officers” to close certain premises or roads, ban certain types of travel or congregations, or require people to be physically distant or to stay at home in their bubbles if necessary. It also would allow warrantless searches of private property if there was a reasonable belief that the alert level rules were being broken.”

New Zealand enforced a strict lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic and is only now beginning to lift it. According to the government, a total of 23 people have died of Covid-19 related illnesses. The country has remained relatively unscathed and the public have been very compliant in following the lockdown rules. Yet, in step with many other countries, the government is rushing through new laws with increasing powers to encroach upon the privacy of people’s lives. Why is there a need to introduce these laws even as the crisis lessens? This must surely cause concern for anyone who values human rights and civil liberties.