Tag Archives: COVID-19

No vaccination for teachers before schools go back – because it’s too much like hard work

The government has said it will not prioritise teachers (or police officers) in the next phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout because it will involve doing some work.

The government has been under pressure to give priority in phase two to key workers, such as teachers or police officers, irrespective of their age.

But the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has stated it is better to stick to vaccination in order of age groups (oldest to youngest).

The JCVI said targeting occupational groups by going through employee lists would be more complex to deliver than simply running through a list of age groups.

It said this could slow down the vaccine programme, leaving some more vulnerable people, at higher risk unvaccinated for longer.

If schools go back, who will be more vulnerable than teachers? The really high risk groups have already had their jabs.

Bizarrely,

Professor Wei Shen Lim, the Covid chair for the JCVI, said the the goal of vaccinations was to stop people from dying.

We’ll see how that looks a few weeks after schools reopen on March 8, shall we?

It seems incredible, that pupils, parents and teachers will all be put at risk – not to mention all their families, friends and colleagues – because the people behind the vaccination programme can’t be bothered to compile the necessary lists.

Source: Under-50s Will Be Vaccinated Based On Age Not Occupation | HuffPost UK

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Kenneth Branagh to play Boris Johnson in Covid-19 drama. It’s expected to be a bit-part

Branagh as Johnson: the likeness is terrifying.

When I heard that Kenneth Branagh was performing as Boris Johnson in a drama, I thought he had started a new career as a puppeteer.

It turns out I was mistaken and Branagh is himself portraying Johnson – although (one hopes) under heavy make-up.

It’s for a Sky drama, This Sceptred Isle. One images the title is ironic. It covers the early days of the Covid-19 crisis in the UK.

As Johnson was hardly visible at that time, one may safely conclude that the role is a cameo.

This may be a matter of relief to Branagh (less time in the prosthetics) and to his friends and family (less time having to look at him ‘in character’).

I did run into difficulty finding an image of the actor in the role.

Was it this?

No… This?

Maybe not. Ah! Here it is:

Note that I am not alone in believing that the role will be brief.

Some of the other comments on the social media are similarly cutting:

(Emma Thompson was Branagh’s first wife. He left her to have an affair with Helena Bonham-Carter.)

But this makes the best point:

People have lost friends and loved ones to the virus, and Johnson is directly responsible for the vast majority of those deaths.

It is indeed in extremely poor taste that a drama is being made about it – unless that film exposes Johnson and his government to the harshest possible criticism for their miserable failure to cope with the situation. It is a failure that continues to the time of writing.

But I expect it will be another arse-kissing whitewash. Let’s see Ken Loach do a version of this story instead.

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Will Sunak tax you cash you don’t owe, to pay a Covid-19 bill that doesn’t exist?

Rishi Sunak: now his nervous look may be attributed to the possibility that he will lie to us next week, demanding we pay back £300 billion that the Tories used to cover the cost of the Coronavirus when there is absolutely no need to do anything of the kind. The government created the money that was used to pay for the crisis.

Pay special attention to Rishi Sunak’s spring Budget speech next week because he will probably try to steal money from you.

It is likely Sunak will introduce measures that he claims are needed in order to pay back the £300 billion (roughly) cost of everything the Tory government has done to keep the UK running during the Covid-19 crisis.

He will be lying if he does. No such measures are needed.

You see, the money used to pay for Covid-19 was created by the government. It wasn’t borrowed and there is therefore no need to pay it back.

Watch Richard Murphy’s explanation here and you should get the idea:

What strikes This Writer as particularly evil is the implication that Sunak may impose taxes on us, in order to perpetuate a myth that the Tories have spun since 2009: that austerity is necessary.

It isn’t. It never was.

And this means that all the deaths that have been driven by Tory austerity policies were unnecessary; they were deliberately planned by Conservatives from David Cameron’s era onwards and this means that Cameron and those Tories who conspired with him (Iain Duncan Smith springs particularly to mind) should be brought to account for it.

But I doubt they will.

Public opinion is largely led by the mass media, who are currently owned by the Conservatives. They’re hardly likely to do anything that endangers them.

And that means you are unlikely to hear on the BBC any suggestion that we don’t owe anything for Covid-19.

But you don’t. And now you know this, you need to tell everybody around you.

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Schoolkids know the score: reopening all schools in England will infect the nation with Covid-19

“Perfectly safe”: this photo was taken on a school staircase after Boris Johnson ruled that it was “perfectly safe” for children to go back there in September – no social distancing, no PPE… not safe at all. Now he is planning to do it all again, with infection rates nearly seven times higher than when this image was made.

Boris Johnson loves announcing big plans without giving us the facts and figures behind them, and he has done it again with school reopening.

How humiliating for him that it has been up to school pupil Jamal Elaheebocus to explain that when schools were recklessly reopened in June last year, one in 1,100 people were infected with Covid-19. When they were recklessly reopened in September, this had fallen to one in 2,000.

In mid-February, the infection rate was one in 115 people. It is hoped this will have fallen to one in 300 but that is nearly seven times more than in September last year – and look how that turned out!

Jamal reminds us of a few more uncomfortable truths:

the prevalence of the virus in communities remains high. As Johnson himself admitted on January 4, schools are vectors of transmission.

To any of us working or studying in schools, the reasons why schools are hotspots for infection are obvious.

Fitting thirty students and a teacher in a classroom makes social distancing impossible, overcrowded buildings means that several year groups who are separate bubbles then mix together.

Students are then packed on buses and trains to get home, spreading infection not only among themselves but among the wider public as well.

The latest data from Imperial’s React programme showed that 5 to 12 year olds had the second highest infection rate of any age group. Given this, there is no doubt that schools will increase the infection rate again. The difference this time is that infection rates will be much higher.

While the vaccine may help limit the rise in infection to an extent, infection rates will undoubtedly increase. This is a reckless gamble just to get children into schools for three weeks before Easter holidays.

Yes.

So why is Johnson doing it?

This was inevitable, thanks to the pressure from the mainstream media and Keir Starmer.

How low Labour has sunk! Its leader is now counted among those responsible for inflicting an inevitable increase in Covid-19 infections on the UK – yet again. People will die because Starmer did this.

Yes, some of the arguments in favour of re-opening schools have influence – but only because prolonged closures have placed pupils at the mercy of the Tories’ neoliberal system – one that Starmer wholeheartedly supports.

The combined incompetence of the government and the cruelty of the neoliberal system has meant many kids have missed out on free school meals, families are struggling to cope in overcrowded homes and kids have not been able to access online learning because of lack of access to a laptop or good broadband.

Lockdown has been made so difficult for school pupils because of the government’s decision to continue to punish the poorest in society. It is a disgrace that the Tories and the right-wing media are attempting to manipulate the stress and hardship and use it to back up their reckless campaign to open up society and let the virus run rampage.

It is a disgrace.

And the Tories’ adherence to the neoliberal system that demands minimal investment for maximum return (to the very, very rich) means that the reopening will be done on the cheap.

Jamal proposes a series of measures to make schools safe – or at least safer. None of them have been supported – or even mentioned – by Boris Johnson because they cost money.

Teachers should be prioritised for the vaccine since they will be mixing with such a large number of people. This should have been done months ago and as more and more of the clinically vulnerable and elderly are vaccinated, there is no reason not to now prioritise teachers.

There should also be plans to repurpose public buildings as classrooms or put money into new buildings on school sites to facilitate social distancing in classrooms and allow for proper separation of year group bubbles.

Supply teachers and newly-qualified teachers who are not employed can be utilised to allow for smaller class sizes and more social distancing.

The vaccine is not the cure-all that Johnson and his cronies have claimed. It wont protect you as fully as you think, and it won’t protect as many people as you think.

And, of course, it has only been applied to a minority of the population – on a first-dose basis.

How sad that Johnson is so keen to prolong the UK’s Covid-19 agony, just to please his backbenchers, the baying hounds of the mass media… and Keir Starmer.

Source: A school student speaks: 8 March ‘big bang’ reopening just isn’t safe – Counterfire

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People with learning disabilities in England are bumped up the Covid vaccine waiting list

This is because of the recent fuss over ‘do not revive’ orders that are still being applied to people with learning disabilities – for no reason other than to make sure they die if they catch Covid-19.

The idea, it seems, is to make people think the government is ensuring that all such people will be protected from Covid-19 as soon as possible.

But I don’t see any information that people with learning disabilities will no longer have DNR orders applied to them.

And of course while we’re now told the vaccine is 80 per cent effective after the first dose, that still means 50 per cent of people are likely to catch it.

And it is much harder to survive if there’s a doctor’s order hanging over you, saying you shouldn’t be put on a ventilator.

Source: All people on learning disabilities register in England to be invited for Covid vaccine | World news | The Guardian

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Matt Hancock is gaslighting not only nurses, but ALL of us, over PPE

Smug little liar: when Matt Hancock opens his mouth to make a claim,experience shows it will probably be wrong.

Our nurses are right and Matt Hancock is a liar. He would resign if he had an ounce of integrity but of course he doesn’t, so he won’t.

He has said he would not resign after a High Court judge ruled he was responsible for unlawful delays in revealing how billions of pounds were spent on gowns, masks and other protective equipment at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge: “My officials, with my full support, spent every waking hour buying PPE so that, even though we came close, we never actually ran out of PPE in this country.

“People can make up their own view about whether I should have told my team to stop buying PPE or whether I was right to buy the PPE and get it to the front line.

“And they did that even though the paperwork got delayed by, on average, just over a fortnight.”

Nurses don’t have to make up their own minds. They have the facts. They have experienced the deaths of their colleagues, who were exposed to Covid-19 needlessly because Hancock did not supply them with PPE.

In fact, as I stated earlier, not only did the Johnson government give away the PPE it had, it later wasted millions – if not billions – giving contracts to useless Tory cronies who either couldn’t supply the goods or provided equipment that could not be used.

That will be the buying that Hancock mentioned to Ms Ridge, then?

I also mentioned the fact that nurses caught the virus because they didn’t have proper PPE:

“According to Metro,

Three nurses who wore bin bags on their shifts due to a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

Just weeks ago, the nurses had shared a photo of themselves with clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow.

“I wrote: ‘One of them had said they were all “terrified” that this might happen, knowing that colleagues had caught the disease from patients, and having treated those colleagues. They had seen what the illness does… We know what the government that failed them is going to give them: Platitudes.’

“How right I was.”

Now, responding to Hancock’s comments, community nurse Angela Roberts recalled the incident when she asked:

Why were nurses forced to use bloody bin bags? Out-of-date masks?

She continued:

Why was PPE downgraded for NHS staff?

‘Why was there no PPE for care homes and community nurses except for plastic pinnies?

And Anthony Johnson, lead organiser for Nurses United, said:

He thinks that he can try to gaslight millions of health and social care workers who had to re-use PPE.

If so, he thinks wrong.

But what difference will it make if there are no consequences for his actions?

Source: Hancock is gaslighting us over PPE, say nurses | Metro

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Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown ignores the science YET AGAIN and the death toll could be huge

Mess: Johnson’s plan to ease lockdown is as muddled as his hair. Even with 80 per cent vaccine efficacy, half the population will still be vulnerable to infection.

Scientists have warned that Boris Johnson’s plan to end lockdown restrictions will cause a huge increase in Covid-19 hospitalisations – even in the most optimistic scenarios.

So much for “following the science”, eh?

It seems that

The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) [said] tens of thousands more people can be expected to die from Covid because vaccines will not provide complete protection against the disease, and not everyone will have the jabs.

All scenarios led to a resurgence of cases because so many vulnerable people remained unprotected, even with high vaccine coverage.

Johnson’s plan is a bespoke model that does not correspond with any of the SAGE scenarios – but its closest equivalent, scenario three, predicts a resurgence of Covid-19 in the UK around September.

At yesterday’s press briefing on the government’s plans, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, who is said to have shares in a pharmaceutical company that was working on a vaccine, warned that even with 80 per cent efficacy, half the population would still be at risk from the disease.

He said a cautious step-by-step process, with pauses of four or five weeks between each to monitor the impact, was the right way to go.

It seems strange, then, that the Johnson plan will reopen all English schools on March 8.

Scientific modellers predict that this will drive the infection rate up by between 10 and 50 per cent – negating the reductions of the current lockdown and vaccinations.

They said a limited reopening, possibly starting with primary schools, was a far better option and would allow scientists to assess the impact on infections within the community.

Johnson has ignored this good advice and intends to steamroll his easements through – as he did last year.

We all know how that turned out. Why are you letting him do it to you again?

Source: Demand from Tory MPs to scrap Covid rules ‘could bring huge death toll’ | Politics | The Guardian

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Johnson releases advance details of ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. He’ll kill thousands more

Boris Johnson: if he tries to tell you he’s following the science by reopening all English schools at once on March 8, this is the message you need to remember.

Boris Johnson has released details of his four-test “roadmap” out of lockdown – via the media, as has become his usual cowardly method.

It is now clear that Johnson will continue habitually to release details of any plans that may be controversial through his media cronies, to provide him with advance warning if any parts of them prove unpopular.

He is a coward – as bad in his way as Keir ‘focus group’ Starmer.

Here are some details:

The “rule of six” is expected to be reintroduced for outdoor gatherings from March 29. Outdoor sports facilities are expected to be allowed to open that day, and organised outdoor sport will be permitted to return.

In April, it is hoped that domestic self-catering holidays will be allowed and that gyms, hairdressers, and non-essential shops will be able to open.

Mr Johnson’s “roadmap” will include four tests which must all be met before the next step can go ahead. They are:

  • That the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • That evidence shows jabs are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
  • That infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which puts unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  • That the Government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern

The plan will be rolled out across the country at the same time with no return to regional tiers.

But I want to focus on the very first element in Johnson’s ‘re-opening’ plan:

Initially it is understood England’s schools will all be re-opened on March 8.

It seems Johnson is not only ignoring the science in his determination to do this, but also defying nine education organisations: the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), GMB, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT, National Education Union (NEU), National Governance Association (NGA), Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA), Unison, and Unite.

In a joint statement, they said:

The science around the role that schools play in the overall rate of transmission is uncertain. Scientists have expressed different views on this point. What we do know is that the full reopening of schools will bring nearly 10 million pupils and staff into circulation in England – close to one fifth of the population. This is not a small easing of lockdown restrictions. It is a massive step.

These factors necessitate a cautious approach with wider school and college opening phased over a period of time. This is the approach being taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It allows public health experts to assess the impact of the first phase before moving to the next.

We are increasingly concerned that … to order a full return of all pupils on Monday 8 March in England … would seem a reckless course of action.

It could trigger another spike in Covid infections, prolong the disruption of education, and risk throwing away the hard-won progress made in suppressing the virus over the course of the latest lockdown.

We therefore urge the Prime Minister to commit to 8 March only if the scientific evidence is absolutely clear that this is safe, and at that point go no further than a phased return of children and young people with sufficient time to assess the impact before moving to the next phase.

We see in Johnson’s plans no indication that his decision to reopen all English schools on March 8 has any basis in science.

His demand that there will be no phased return but all school pupils will go back at once is a slap in the face for the professionals who wanted a phased return – and sheer ignorance when compared with the policies of other UK countries.

It seems clear that this weakest of UK prime ministers has caved in to pressure from his backbenchers and big business.

He may get away with it, if the vaccination programme has reached enough people by March 8 and proves as effective as some claims state after the first jab.

But I fear that he is provoking yet another spike in infections and will cause thousands more deaths.

And even if it does happen, he’ll get away with it.

He may be the weakest prime minister the UK has ever had, but he’s still above the law that oppresses you and me.

Source: Boris Johnson’s four-test ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown including ‘new rule of six’ – Mirror Online

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Hancock won’t resign over unlawful Covid contracts – and why should he when Starmer supports him?

With friends like these: Matt Hancock has refused to resign for breaking the law – and Tory-in-Labour-clothing Keir Starmer has supported him. So much for democracy. So much for justice.

Matt Hancock has refused to resign after the High Court said he had breached a legal obligation to publish details of Covid-19-related contracts with private firms. He said he had been doing what was needed in order to save lives.

That, of course, has yet to be seen – and we shouldn’t have to wait too long.

The court’s decision means details of Hancock’s hidden contracts must be publicised at last. We will be able to judge whether he spent billions of pounds of public money on measures that have actually saved lives…

… Or simply funnelled cash into the pockets of Tory cronies and chums who then failed to do anything useful with it at all.

Sadly, Hancock is under no political pressure whatsoever to resign after Keir Starmer, a so-called “Blue Labour” turncoat who pretends to lead Her Majesty’s Opposition but instead acts more like a cheerleader for the Conservative government, spoke in support of him instead:

What a betrayal – well, you can tell how This Writer feels about it from my own response:

All Labour – as a party – has done is urge Hancock to publish details of contracts that remain secret at the time of writing, which is no more than the High Court ordered.

And Labour said he should stop using emergency procurement powers in order to put a stop to cronyism. He should have stopped months ago; procurement of Covid-related equipment and services was an emergency matter in February 2020 but by now it should be subject to the proper tendering process – the emergency should be over.

Some Labour MPs have demonstrated that they have more backbone than the party’s fake of a leader, though:

It is hard to tell what is most disappointing about the way this story is developing.

If the UK’s government was functioning properly, then Hancock should have been out of a job within minutes of the High Court’s decision becoming public.

But government hasn’t functioned properly in this way since the 1980s, if I recall correctly.

The news media failed to grip the story properly; it is only because the social media publicised it that they felt pressured into mentioning it at all.

And the inaction of the Labour leader has been nothing short of contemptible.

Source: Matt Hancock refuses to resign over failure to publish details of Covid contracts – Mirror Online

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Is this a real bus stop poster? And will we see it nationally?

If it is, it’s exactly the kick up the backside that the people of the UK need.

Admittedly, it uses an expletive for which I would prefer to see a less offensive word substituted; many people are put off by such language.

But it does confront us with the big failure of Boris Johnson’s tenure at 10 Downing Street: his decision to make it easy for people in the UK to catch Covid-19 (and it was a conscious decision, let’s not forget) has cost at least 120,000 lives.

I don’t know the prognosis for Lorna – the woman in the image – but the mere fact that Covid-19 has been allowed to infect her has clearly caused her huge discomfort (as it does to anybody who has it).

And the long-term effects – known as “long Covid” can be life-altering.

Millions of people are likely to be affected by the disease in the long term, and the blame for this can be attributed entirely to Johnson and his government of imbeciles.

And they would not have been allowed to inflict it on us if they had not been voted back in as the government in December 2019.

So this poster makes a good point, wouldn’t you agree?

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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