Short-term measures could cost us in the long run.

Coronavirus molecules floating in a red medium
Coronavirus molecules floating in a red medium
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Hundreds of thousands of Britons have received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the Oxford/AstraZeneca one has been approved for use in the UK. Great news on both counts. But we don’t have enough of either, and the virus is tearing through the population at an alarming rate. We can’t keep up with the disease, and so the UK government is taking a gamble.

Sometime last week, former PM Tony Blair said that we should forego the second dose and just give the first shot to as many people as possible, because it will offer some immunity to Covid-19 — which is better than nothing in the current crisis. …


March/April is nothing compared to what January has in store.

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I sit here in my self-imposed quarantine, following the same guidance as from the official lockdown of March 2020, and I despair. I’ve mostly hidden away because I really don’t want this nasty disease, and I think it’s nuts that others have been going about their business as normal as possible. And now, with things about to really kick off, are we having another lockdown? No.

March/April wasn’t the big one. This might not be either, but it’s way, way, bigger.

The government is messing around reassigning different counties into different Tiers with different rules, where people can still work and go to school, when what we need is a proper national lockdown. The UK media is finally paying the pandemic the attention it deserves, which is nice. …


We can’t vaccinate quickly enough to protect everyone.

Stopwatches, vaccine ampoules, a syringe and a coronavirus molecule set against a blue background.
Stopwatches, vaccine ampoules, a syringe and a coronavirus molecule set against a blue background.
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According to UK government data, over 600,000 people have received the first of the required two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Those numbers are for 6–20 December, and are expected to be updated weekly. That’s a lot of people to get inoculated in a short space of time, but it’s not enough.

An article in The Lancet, Challenges in creating herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2 infection by mass vaccination, considers the issues related to delivering the coronavirus vaccines, and what we want them to achieve. …


The popular press loves a good witch-hunt

A paper aeroplane made from a sheet of newspaper, on a white background.
A paper aeroplane made from a sheet of newspaper, on a white background.
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Mairead Philpott, a woman convicted of killing six of her children in a house fire, was released to a bail hostel this year after having served half of her 17-year sentence for manslaughter. For those who don’t know, this is how sentencing works in UK courts. If you behave yourself in jail, and follow any conditions imposed on your release, serving half the sentence handed down is standard. You only serve the full sentence if you screw up (badly) inside, or if you breach the terms of your licence upon release and get sent back. …


A non-exhaustive list, as he’s the gift that keeps on giving

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New Year is a time for resolutions and hopes for the coming 12 months. Although most of us break our promises to ourselves at some point, our Prime Minister has made a lot of significant promises to the British people about our new start as a non-EU member state, which begins on 1st January.

Following on from Monday’s press conference, where we unpacked the lies told by our esteemed leader, let’s look at the bold claims he made that are sure to fail. Like everything Johnson touches, these good intentions are gonna backfire, I just know it. Some of these pre-date Monday’s speech (oven-ready deal, anyone?), …


Not according to a fact-check it isn’t.

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Following the news that Britain is on course for a No-Deal Brexit, the South-East of England has become a breeding ground for a new strain of coronavirus, and that France has effectively erected a border wall, the Prime Minister held a press conference Monday afternoon.

Knowing the dire state of, well, everything, I was expecting some bold and potentially painful announcements to get us through to the New Year. And anyway, the PM doesn’t make appearances if he can help it. So it must be serious.

What we got was a lukewarm placation that everything is going to plan, nothing to see here. But what we were told was at odds with what’s actually going on out here. …


Once, we were merely the sick man of Europe.

Virus molecules on a blue background.
Virus molecules on a blue background.
Image: Pixabay

Do you remember at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the leader of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that containing the disease was the priority, and that nations should “do everything they can to stop transmission”?

Well, Britain had its own ideas. The deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, said that Britain stopped testing travellers on arrival at Britain’s airports because “there comes a point in a pandemic where that is not an appropriate intervention” (not sure what that even means), and also implied that the WHO’s advice on testing was meant for other, poorer countries.

It turns out that Britain absolutely should have been doing what other, poorer countries were doing as we now have one of the world’s highest death rates from Covid, and we still haven’t sorted out our testing programme 10 months later. Other places have put the disease behind them and have returned to normal. We’re just getting started.


The sad decline of 21st Century Britain.

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‘Halfpenny Dinners for Poor Children in East London’, Wellcome Collection. 19th Century, or 21st, perhaps.

I once heard there is a Russian proverb that says ‘when a burglar is caught, he blames the police’. I don’t know if it’s true, and I’ve never found any reference to it. But it seems to be the motto the UK government lives by.

On Thursday (17th December), it was revealed that UNICEF are funding a programme to feed British schoolchildren over the Christmas holidays. The Leader of the House of Commons said that UNICEF “should be ashamed of itself” and described their assistance as “a political stunt of the lowest order.”

But did he express concern at the widespread poverty that led an NGO to intervene in British affairs to stop children from starving?


The pandemic showed us what we need to do instead.

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Adapted from ‘Chimney and cooling towers’ via Geograph

Thanks to bue rübner for alerting me to the source material for this post.

All the climate change measures that governments had put in place over the years have done basically nothing to reduce carbon emissions. But lockdowns imposed to curb the pandemic did a lot. A paper in Nature Climate Change, Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement, found significant reductions in worldwide CO₂ emissions for the 3-month period from the beginning of February to the beginning of May.

The dataset has now been extended to demonstrate the effect up to mid-June, and the effect of the lockdown is…


The whole world is watching while he phones it in during PMQs.

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Boris Johnson demonstrated once again in Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions that he hasn’t got a fucking clue, and we might as well have sent Larry, the №10 cat, to do the job.

He turned up looking like he’d just rolled out of bed, didn’t listen to a serious question and then incoherently rambled a non sequitur of an answer. It was so disrespectful. What makes it worse is that Johnson had no idea about an overseas matter that affects many British Indians (particularly Sikhs), confusing it with a general conflict that presumably was all Johnson knows of India.

About

Katy Preen

Journalist, author, feminist. Reading the comments so you don’t have to.

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