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.

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.

President Trump mobilizing the US military to deliver vaccine

According to a Reuters report, the White House has set a target of procuring 300 million doses of a corona virus vaccine  by the end of 2020. No such vaccine has yet been approved though more than seventy companies are in a race to bring it to market. Distributing a vaccine is seen as a key step to reopening the U.S. economy.

“You know it’s a massive job to give this vaccine,” Trump said in an interview broadcast Thursday on Fox Business Network. “Our military is now being mobilized so at the end of the year, we’re going to be able to give it to a lot of people very, very rapidly.” He said he believes there will be a vaccine by the end of the year and the United States is “mobilizing our military and other forces” on that assumption.

There are many vaccine experts, including Dr Fauci, advisor to the US president, who caution that the vaccine may take eighteen months to develop and that the process is fraught with difficulty, given the previous unsuccessful attempts to develop vaccine for the SARS-1 corona virus. Dr Fauci testified to the US Senate this week, explaining the risk of enhanced immune response that makes the vaccine potentially very dangerous. How can stopping the world to wait for the possibility of a vaccine make sense? Viruses tend to come and go, they mutate, the vaccine may not work now or in the future.

BBC: “Corona virus may never go away, WHO warns.”

At a briefing on Wednesday, WHO emergencies director Dr Mike Ryan warned against trying to predict when the virus would disappear. He added that even if a vaccine is found, controlling the virus will require a “massive effort”.

Almost 300,000 people worldwide are reported to have died from coronavirus, with more than 4.3m confirmed cases.

The UN meanwhile warned the pandemic was causing widespread distress and mental ill health – particularly in countries where there is a lack of investment in mental healthcare. The UN urged governments to make mental health considerations part of their overall response.

Dr Ryan told the virtual press conference from Geneva, “It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away……….HIV has not gone away – but we have come to terms with the virus.”

Dr Ryan says, no-one can predict when this will disappear, and that it may never go away. Historically, corona viruses come and go. They last on and off for a couple of years, then simply disappear or mutate into a new form. COVID19 cannot be compared to HIV. The UN warn about wide-spread mental ill-health and that many countries do not have capacity for this. But surely it is the lockdown and the exaggerated fear that is causing the mental illness? All evidence so far continues to show that for the vast majority of people, the virus is not dangerous.

South Africa’s rigid lockdown is already taking it’s toll

The South African newspaper The Daily Maverick May 8th:

“It’s difficult to quantify the number of people in need during a crisis, but early indications suggest as many as 34% of people in South Africa have gone to bed hungry during the lockdown. There were millions of people living in poverty before Covid-19 and millions more now need food, urgently.”

And on May 12th led with a quote by the well-known infectious disease expert, Professor Shabir Madhi: “Flawed lockdown has served its purpose and should be discontinued.” The Professor said,”Continuing the lockdown will not stop the wave of community transmissions from hitting South Africa, and continuing it will prolong the collateral damage.”

Without a doubt, the country is experiencing severe challenges even as lockdown is gradually reduced. It is exacerbating the existing challenges that millions, struggling to survive, already experience, with a government already gripped by many controversies and scandals. For some, this lockdown has shown a more authoritarian side of the government, and raised serious questions regarding basic civil liberties. Other countries are starting to witness the same issues.

Oxford University: no longer epidemic in UK

The day after Boris Johnson announced a marginal lifting of the lockdown and suggested smaller shops would not be opening until July, and only if the population behaved itself, experts at Oxford university said that COVID19 is no longer at epidemic levels in Britain. New figures show that only a tiny proportion of the population is currently infected. “The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that just 0.24 per cent of adults – approximately 136,000 people – have the virus. Separate surveillance by the Royal College of GPs indicates it may be even less.”

“An epidemic is declared if the surveillance rate exceeds 40 per 10,000, but the new figures suggest it is between 3 and 24 in 10,000….”

The state of the UK lockdown? Confusion

The UK public waited in hopeful anticipation for the Prime Minister to address the nation and explain the government’s plan for lifting lockdown. He said the country would need to take it very carefully and transition gradually into Level 3. He read a list of new rules and asked the public to comply, in the interests of avoiding another wave of cases. Some of the workforce would be allowed to go to work the next morning, but the unions urged workers to stay at home until workplaces were made safe. The public was left with more questions than answers about exactly what was permitted and what was not and members of the police force suggested it was so vague it would be difficult to enforce.

Is there a plan? Is it based on the science they keep alluding to? What is the evidence that keeping the country locked down is the best way to deal with COVID19 now the peak has been over for more than a month? And what about the increasing collateral damage of lockdown on people, on the society, and on the economy?