Category Archives: Coronavirus

Remember the vaccine that was 90 per cent effective, we were told? That was a MISTAKE

It had to be too good to be true. It was an announcement by Boris Johnson.

The finding that a vaccine developed in Oxford was 90 per cent effective was a mistake caused by a dosing error, it has been revealed:

In the spring, scientists were left baffled as to why participants were experiencing much milder side effects than expected.

When they checked, they found participants had received just half the dose given to 500 adults in earlier safety trials.

Instead of restarting the trial, researchers at Oxford University boosted the initial participants with a full dose while everyone who enrolled later received the full amount.

The so-called “correct” vaccine does was just 62 per cent effective.

Fortunately, it seems to have been a lucky mistake as a lower dose appears to be more effective.

But we’re dealing with Tories here. Let’s not take anything at face value until the Covid crisis is very far behind us.

Source: Dosing error in trials led to Oxford vaccine’s 90 per cent efficacy by accident, say scientists

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Should anyone be surprised that Brexit will cost more than Covid – in the long term?

This Writer’s initial reaction to Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey’s claim that a no-deal Brexit will cost more than Covid was:

Is that because most of the cost of Covid was due to short-term profiteering by Tory crony companies?

The cost to the UK of this nonsense is short-term, though; when the pandemic is finally under control, the profiteers won’t have an opportunity to screw any more cash out of the Treasury.

But the loss of the free trade deals the UK enjoyed as a member of the European Union will have long-term effects that may last many years:

LSE modelling estimates a reduction in GDP worth 8% over a decade compared with remaining in the EU.

Asked about the research, Bailey said economic models suggested there would be long-term consequences, as it could take a long time for the UK to adjust to a new trading relationship. “It takes a much longer period of time for the real side of the economy to adjust to the change in openness and change in the profile of trade,” he said.

Bailey was talking about the effects of a “no-deal” Brexit but be warned that even a deal will place the UK at a disadvantage.

Source: No-deal Brexit to cost more than Covid, Bank of England governor says | Politics | The Guardian

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Is this the REAL reason Boris Johnson reckons the UK will be back to normal by Easter?

Money, money, money and none of it is his own: it seems Boris Johnson has chosen a convenient deadline for the Tory Covid contracts profiteering bonanza – to ensure that he can claim significant borrowing cuts in the next financial year.

Boris Johnson and his government are claiming that new vaccines mean the Covid crisis will be mostly over – and life mostly back to normal – by Easter.

Does he think his profiteering Tory friends will have had all the cash they can screw out of the national bank account by then?

It seems awfully convenient that the Easter deadline coincides with the end of the current financial year. Johnson couldn’t ask for a better cut-off point for Covid-related borrowing and “emergency rules” tendering.

Drawing a line under the crisis then will make it possible for him to claim a massive cut in borrowing. starting in the first quarter after the crisis ends (if predictions about the vaccine(s) are accurate).

And in the meantime, the Tory profiteers who got contracts they didn’t deserve and couldn’t honour – in place of professionals who had to lay off employees as a result, will carry on laughing to the bank (or their new country mansions, in some cases).

Source: Boris Johnson plan aims to return life to ‘close to normal’ by Easter

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Conservative Covid-19 contracts cronyism: professionals suffer as cash goes to Tory chums

One more time: we can hope the PPE provided by Platform 14 was better than what we see here – but the fact that this Tory-run company beat firms that may be considered better-qualified remains a scandal.

This is an outrage.

A Merseyside company specialising in medical wear from its establishment half a century ago was ignored and passed over by the Tory government’s “emergency” tendering process for PPE contracts.

Meanwhile a former Tory councillor was given £276 million worth of PPE contracts for a company that was dissolved in April 2019 after making a loss of around half a million pounds.

The Merseyside firm – Florence Roby – is having to lay off staff – while the owner of the revived Platform 14 has apparently skimmed £1.5 million off the top of his contract and used it to buy a 17th-century Cotswolds mansion with 100 acres of land.

This is Tory cronyism – and profiteering – at its worst.

If Florence Roby – which has five decades of experience – had won some of these valuable contracts, it would have produced excellent PPE. Moreover, the investment in this well-established firm would have provided employment and security to experts in their field.

You can draw your own conclusions about Platform 14 (est. 2012) from the fact that it managed to run up huge losses in seven years, and from what its owner has done with your money.

These are the decisions the Tories have been making regularly since they started using the so-called “emergency” system to avoid going through a proper tendering process for Covid-19-related contracts.

As a result, the effort to control the disease has been hampered by substandard products – where they have been supplied at all – and amateur manufacturers.

And Boris Johnson has run up a borrowing bill that is expected to total more than 316 billion more than this year’s national deficit, when the financial year ends in April 2021.

He’ll expect you to pay for Steve Dechan’s £1.5 million mansion. How do you feel about it?

Source: Mersey company forced to lay off staff as PPE contracts go to Tory connected firms buying from abroad – Liverpool Echo

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Families to be allowed to meet in Christmas ‘bubbles’; prepare for another lockdown

No, it isn’t tinsel; it’s still Covid-19.

I have a friend who has been convinced that the whole of the UK will be in lockdown again from around December 27. This announcement suggests to me that he is right.

The UK’s four nations have agreed to allow “limited additional household bubbling” so families can get together for Christmas, the UK government has announced

But any loosening of coronavirus restrictions will only be in place for “a small number of days”.

The Sun reported that festive bubbles could allow up to four households to mix for five days.

Yes indeed. We’ll probably be on lockdown straight away afterwards. Mixing with lots of other family members is bound to spread Covid and you can bet Johnson has been advised that he needs to isolate everybody until they know whether they’ve been infected or not.

Source: Covid: Families Will Be Allowed To Get Together In Christmas ‘Bubbles’ | HuffPost UK

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Sunak gets the collection bowl out – and the cosh. But why should we pay?

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak wants us to cough up the money he, Boris Johnson and their government have wasted on crony companies that have done nothing – and in some cases weren’t even real (we’re told).

According to the Office of Budget (Ir)Responsibility, by the end of the financial year in March 2021, Johnson is likely to have spent £316.4 billion more than was spent in the previous 12 months.

Not all of it was wasted, even This Writer has to admit. But much of it was – and Sunak is now suggesting that the general public should stump up the cost – even though we’re the ones who have felt the brunt of the harm caused by Covid-19.

And remember, Brexit is likely to take between one and two per cent off the UK economy from January:

And the BBC report states that Sunak

old the Sunday Times people would soon see “the scale of the economic shock laid bare” , indicating taxes might have to start rising next year and there could be spending cuts.

Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies agreed:

Why should we pay a single red cent to cover Sunak’s – and Johnson’s – mistakes?

One of the Tories’ selling-points – on which they stake their reputations and their chances at every election – is that they are the party of financial responsibility. They fool people into voting for them on this premise and then immediately betray those people by throwing money away stupidly.

That is what has happened after every election over the last 10 years, in spite of what David Cameron and George Osborne said about the need for austerity, and in spite of what Johnson and Sunak are saying now.

If you want to get a grip on the scale of Tory waste, visit My Little Crony – the app that shows exactly how the Tories have been siphoning off public funds and giving them to their friends – ostensibly for work to tackle Covid-19 but actually with very little result.

We have very little to do with the way governments spend our money.

We vote according to their promises in election manifestos but, once they’re in office, we can’t force them to honour their promises – and when a crisis like Covid-19 comes along, we have to bow to the inevitability that something had to be done and it had to be funded.

(Was Covid-19 unforeseen, though? Johnson knew about it in November last year – before the election. Why didn’t he mention it?)

Worse, we have no leverage to force a government to keep its spending under control – which would then remove the need for extra taxation. We cannot legally withhold the extra money if the government increases taxes – indeed, we face heavy penalties if we try.

But governments do have alternatives.

There is no laissez-faire in economics. Public demand for goods, services and other commodities changes all the time and it is a matter of good government to anticipate the changes and prepare for them.

So, for example, if a government wanted to divest itself of carbon-fuelled energy and invest in the green economy, in response to public demand and environmental pressures, it might launch a long-term strategy that would involve heavy investment immediately, to be paid off over a long period of time in the future – with no extra burden on the taxpayer. The cash borrowed to carry out the work would be paid down over future decades as the benefits made themselves felt.

This does not work for investments in defence, which carry no immediately-apparent economic benefits beyond the obvious one of a nation remaining free from invasion by its opponents. This is one reason Boris Johnson’s determination to increase defence funding by 10 per cent, at a time of economic trauma to the UK, is confusing.

Sunak doesn’t need to raise taxes. The UK’s borrowing level will decrease – hopefully after the anticipated Covid vaccines arrive. He can impose measures to ensure the costs will be paid off.

He can also make an effort to recoup the cash he wasted on crony companies (although it seems doubtful that he will; the whole point of the exercise seems to have been handing out free money to Tory pals). If he doesn’t, then he’ll be hard-pressed to persuade any of us to part with our cash.

Many of us have lost our jobs. We have lost relatives to the disease because the Tories failed – perhaps deliberately – to contain it. We are poorer and we are demoralised by our government’s lack of ability to get to grips with even the simplest tasks that have been put before it.

And now Sunak wants us to pay up because he can’t do his job properly. What do you think of that?

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The Tories have used Covid to abandon children with disabilities and their parents

Money, money, money: Boris Johnson’s government says it is spending billions to help children with special educational needs and disabilities weather the Covid crisis – but they aren’t seeing it. So where is it going?

It may be hard to accept, but Boris Johnson and his cronies have been weaponising Covid-19, using the crisis as an excuse to take support away from vulnerable children.

Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities have been particularly hard-hit, as Metro‘s report shows:

An Ofsted report into the impact of the first lockdown published this week found that some children lost basic skills and learning as a result of school closures and restrictions on movement.

Turning to SEND children, it found the pandemic has presented ‘serious and far-reaching’ challenges for families, with some feeling ‘isolated’ from existing services.

One parent who spoke to Metro branded the situation a ‘national disgrace’ and said her three-year-old son had received no physio or occupational therapy for nine months.

Another told of a ‘pressure cooker’ environment and the ‘terror’ parents face with no end in sight, as they struggle without services they had previously relied upon in their day-to-day lives.

The response from the Tories’ Department for Education spokesperson gives great emphasis to the amounts of money that have been allocated to help parents and children in this situation.

It mentions “£37million this year to help thousands of low-income families raising disabled or seriously ill children with the challenge they face staying at home”, a “£1billion Covid catch-up fund”, and “increasing high needs funding for local authorities by £780 million this year and a further £730 million next year”.

But who actually receives the cash and what does it actually pay for?

This year we have seen the Tories waste no less than £12 billion on a Covid-19 test, track and trace system that not only doesn’t work but is actually a contamination risk.

So quoting amounts of money allocated to particular projects means nothing.

It is clear from the stories here that these parents and children are not receiving the support they need.

And I, for one, would like to know what the Tories are really doing with that cash.

Source: Exhausted parents of disabled children feel ‘abandoned’ in lockdown | Metro News

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If this is how Boris Johnsons’s test and trace system works, no wonder he’s self-isolating

Test: wouldn’t it be nice of the Randox operation – if it can be called that – had been found to have been running in a professional way? It wasn’t.

If you still think the Johnson government is doing a good job fighting Covid-19, you need to watch Channel 4’s Lockdown Chaos now.

The programme by the channels Dispatches team went behind the scenes at Randox, one of the private companies selected by Boris Johnson’s privatisation-crazy cronies.

You’d think this place must be the best testing facility in the world, after Johnson’s insistence that his government would have a “world-beating” test-and-trace system, earlier in the year.

Not a bit of it!

According to Channel 4’s report on the programme, its undercover footage includes:

  • The Dispatches reporter being told that used tests sent to to Randox for analysis are sometimes not unpacked properly and accidentally discarded with cardboard packaging waste. An expert who viewed the footage and has run an NHS pathology lab for 10 year said that not only does this mean people not getting their test results, it would present a contamination risk to waste handlers. He added, “We would be shut down if we performed that way.” Randox responded to Dispatches, saying there has “never been an issue of samples being mistakenly disposed of”. Staff are adequately supervised and instructed on the need to ensure “samples are correctly processed”.

  • Evidence that one particular type of red-lidded test sent to Randox frequently leaks and has to be voided meaning no results are available. Randox is aware the red lidded tubes are “more likely to leak” but say they do not manufacture them.  They say they “raised this concern” with the Test and Trace programme coordinators in August. The DHSC told Dispatches on Saturday that they have “started UK-based tube manufacturing with these tubes designed to minimise leakage.” These “will be in place across all Lighthouse labs and will mitigate against void results.”

  • During the undercover operation, the Dispatches reporter discovers that although leaking samples are often spotted whilst still in their plastic bag, this is not always the case. He finds that leaks from  tests can spill over the gloves of employees and is told by one staff member that his gloves aren’t always thrown away but sprayed down with disinfectant. During his time in the lab, he was told to place leaking samples – whether loose or still inside their bags – into a cardboard box.  Randox says a leaking tube “is not removed” from its bagging “under any circumstances,” so claim there is “no cross contamination.” An expert told Dispatches that this way of dealing with leaking tubes shows a “cavalier approach to safety” and could lead to cross contamination and potentially wrong test results. Randox say the boxes are disposed of as “clinical waste” and there is “no cavalier approach to safety.”

    • Once used tests are received by Randox and unpacked, they are wiped with a cloth which is occasionally sprayed with disinfectant. Undercover footage shows the tubes being freely mixed together with other test tubes in a cardboard tray. Experts who have viewed this footage believe this process risks cross-contamination of test samples. Randox denies this, telling Dispatches there is “no cross contamination.” Samples are “not mixed together” but “immediately placed in an upward position on a rack”
    • The Dispatches reporter is told that Randox’s high-paying “VIP” clients, some of whom are from the rugby and travel sectors, are being given “priority” over some other tests. Randox denies VIP tests are given priority, saying it “does not prioritise private clients” under any circumstances and denies that “VIP” tests delay the processing of other tests.
    • Samples from England may take twelve hours or more to arrive at the Randox laboratory in Northern Ireland.  Unpacking of large shipments may take more than a working day, and sometimes more than 24 hours. Randox, which has no control over travel times to the laboratory, says it consistently “meets the agreed turnaround times,” and processes samples mostly within 24 hours from receipt.
    • The Dispatches reporter is told that samples are colour coded according to a traffic light system based on how long it is since the sample was taken. Randox told us green is up to 38 hours, amber up to 77 and red up to 114 hours – nearly five days.

There’s a lot more information in the C4 News article (link below). The effect on the public who use the social media has been galvanising:

This last tweet leads us to ask why the work was outsourced to cowboys.

Ah yes – that will be the answer.

The backlash has been overwhelming, the condemnation universal.

And what is the Tory government doing about it?

Source: Dispatches uncovers serious failings at one of UK’s largest COVID-Testing Labs | Channel 4

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Piers Morgan nails Matt Hancock on live TV as government ends GMB boycott: ‘Why haven’t you resigned?’

Matt Hancock on GMB: when he wasn’t doing his nodding dog routine, he was avoiding answering questions about his many failures over the 200+ days since any government minister has been interviewed on that programme.

After the mauling he took, Matt Hancock probably wishes the boycott imposed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain by former Tory Comms boss Lee Cain was still in place.

It isn’t; Cain is history – and presenter Piers Morgan was determined to go over all the history he could not discuss with government ministers during the more-than-200-day boycott.

It wasn’t pretty. But it was very entertaining:

Hancock tried to defend himself by raising his record on testing for Covid-19:

“On testing, we’ve hit each of the targets that I set – half a million tests a day capacity now. And I’m here to tell you we’re going to double that over the next few months.

“That means we can use testing in order to find where the virus is and crucially we’ve got those turnaround times down and people can isolate if needed.”

So Morgan examined the government’s pitiful record:

By now, if you’ve watched both clips, you’ll have realised what Hancock was doing:

He was avoiding the questions.

If he thought we wouldn’t notice, he was wrong:

Hancock hadn’t done any better with the BBC, where he had been interviewed on Breakfast News. There, he had been asked to defend a photograph of prime muppet Boris Johnson ignoring social distancing with MP Lee Anderson, who then tested postive for Covid-19.

Johnson is now self-isolating in his Downing Street flat, during a week that is crucial for the UK’s trade negotiations with the EU.

Here’s what Hancock said:

It was just a lot more evasion.

The simple fact is that while we all have the same rules, Boris Johnson simply doesn’t think they apply to him. If Downing Street has Covid-secure rules, they don’t mean anything if Tories don’t follow them.

At one point, Hancock said Johnson followed them, which is a flat-out lie.

Source: Piers Morgan asks Matt Hancock why he hasn’t resigned as Tory admits ‘mistakes’ – Mirror Online

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50,000 dead overall, 33,000 infections IN ONE DAY – and the news is all about Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings: he wouldn’t go for a good reason when this shot was taken in the summer, but if the possibility of him quitting distracts us from the UK’s coronavirus horror show, it suddenly becomes headline news.

It seems there is a national media agenda to pull the wool over our eyes.

Covid-19 reached a new height in the UK yesterday. The country became the first in Europe to record more than 50,000 official (remember that) deaths…

(Oh, and by the way…)

Those official figures also show that 33,470 new cases of the virus were recorded, compared with 22,950 on Wednesday…

And the number of fatalities in a single day has reached 595:

Meanwhile the test-and-trace fiasco continues unabated:

And plans to immunise us all against Covid, using the new vaccine, mean some of us won’t get our shots for another 36 years:

And what’s the headline on the news?

What’s going on? Why are the news media blithering about soap-opera shenanigans in Downing Street rather than telling us what we need to know about the virus that is raging through the UK like wildfire?

(I think he means the pain of the victims. Spellchecker can be a burden.)

The question is, are we all being distracted from the horror of the virus and the failure to cope with it by Boris Johnson and his fellow incompetents?

If so, it isn’t working.

Do they really think we’re so stupid we haven’t realised what is happening on our own streets?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

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