by Mara Leverkuhn

A well known medical researcher and biophysicist from Romania answers questions related to efficiency of Vitamin C in the prevention and treatment of Coronavirus as currently employed by the Chinese to successfully control its spread and treat it.

https://www.activenews.ro/stiri-sanatate/Virgiliu-Gheorghe-Vitamina-C-sau-despre-cum-sa-tratam-Corona-virus-Covid-19-160540

This article has been translated from a Romanian site: https://www.activenews.ro/

See the full text below.

In the context of increasing preoccupation with Coronavirus, and a lot of confusing rumors, ActiveNews talks to well known medical researcher & biophysicist Virgiliu Gheorghe, on the topic of vitamin C.

Here’s the dialogue:

Mr Gheorghe, there has been a media controversy regarding vitamin C as prevention and treatment of the new virus that so easily spreads through the population. What do you think is the mechanism behind it and how do you regard the effects of administering it?

coronavirus, covid19, vitaminC, healthcare, natural cure,Dr Virgiliu Gheorghe

First, I don’t think it’s a real controversy, but an unprecedented media attack which is apparently trying to keep people away from one of the strongest means of prevention of infectious disease and more. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant which can defend against many illnesses by strengthening the immune system and other molecular mechanism which have either been elucidated or are in the course of being. Since its discovery in the 50s there have been around 59,000 articles with vitamin C in the title, and it or its effects are mentioned in 3,000,000. I don’t know many other medicines or vitamins that have received similar attention. Aspirin by comparison is mentioned in 1,200,000 studies.

coronavirus, healthcare, covid19, vitaminC, cure, corona,

Then what is the reason behind this attack and why is it currently lacking in treating patients?

Ever since its effects were discovered, mass media has always attacked vitamin C, and the only possible explanation is that it can genuinely help the population and replace many medications. Of course this would drive sales down for the pharma industry. There is an economic reason at stake. For example, Linus Pauling, the father of molecular biology, considered one of the greatest scientists of all time, with inventions and discoveries that changed biology, physics, chemistry and molecular biology — ever since he discovered the importance of vitamin C for human health has had to fight to promote it until he died. Most of the press antagonised him. He was denigrated, ostracised, when before papers were racing to interview him. He had two Nobel prizes, the only double Nobel prizes in history, for himself, not in a team with someone else. Know what Pauling was saying in 1990, at the age of 90? “People who take these vitamins in the optimal amount will live 25 to 35 years longer than the rest. Better yet, they will have less illness”.

Some doctors have made claims in the press that vitamin c have considerable side effects and best to not consume it. What are these side effects and how much do we need to guard against them?

Did you know water has side effects too? If you drink in very large amounts it has a laxative effect, which is what they say about vitamin C. This is a side effect. Salt, a vital necessity for human health, can lead to water retention and other ill effects if consumed in large amounts. There is nothing without side effects in large amounts or not administered correctly. Vitamin C is one of the supplements — because it is not a medicine — with the smallest side effects of all known medication, even in very large doses, dozens of grams injectable every day. There are safe studies regarding administering vitamin C intravenously up to 1.5 grams per body weight kilogram, so upto 100 grams a day.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5311840_Phase_I_clinical_trial_of_iv_ascorbic_acid_in_advanced_malignancy

The aside effects are minor. The only known caution against intravenous administration of very large doses is checking 6 phosphate glucose. It’s an enzyme which in some people, especially men, can be low because of a mutated gene. In case of major deficiency, under 10%, you have to avoid large intravenous doses. No problems with oral administration.

There are no side effects to oral administration for up to 2/3 grams. The dose can be repeated every 4 hours, and this has been demonstrated in a study from 2004.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5311840_Phase_I_clinical_trial_of_iv_ascorbic_acid_in_advanced_malignancy

Despite that some doctors claim it can affect the stomach and other organs. How do you regard this?

Told you, it depends on the quality and amount of the vitamin. If it’s not enteric-coated, so just ascorbic acid, it needs to be combined with sodium bicarbonate and it will lose its acidity, and that’s only a consideration from 2, 3 grams upwards. If you take a tablet, crush, dissolve in a glass of water, add a splash sodium bicarbonate, you shouldn’t have any problems. Or just take it during a meal, with the food. There are no adverse effects for 2 or 3 grams at a time. Only sensitive people have stomach side effects. If there are any, lower the dose and take smaller doses throughout the day. The body adapts. You can even consume 6 to 7 grams at once without side effects. Ill people won’t have adverse effects because the vitamin is assimilated faster, the body needing it.

It was also claimed it can lead to kidney stones.

With administering large amounts on the long term you can have this problem. That means months, and large amounts means dozens of grams intravenously. It’s a very rare phenomenon, and only for those who develop oxalate stones. But these people also develop them if they consume large amounts of meat, spinach or other oxalate high foods. But during a pandemic, the risk vs benefit is pro consumption of large dose vitamin C. Anyway when you take very large doses, especially intravenously, you have to consume more liquid than usual to ensure elimination. Halving time for vitamin C is about 2 hours, and in about 6 there is very little trace left in the blood.

How many grams a day do we have to consume a day to protect against infections, for strong immunity?

People used to consume much more raw foods which brought higher content of vitamin C, thermal processing destroys it. For comparison, gorillas, whose biology is similar to humans, consume 5, 6 grams daily of vitamin C from their food. That’s because like humans they lack an enzyme needed to organically synthesise vitamin C. A goat will synthesise 13 grams daily, and up to 100 grams daily during an infection. So that should give you an idea of the amounts needed for humans.

Linus Pauling, who I mentioned earlier, consumed 18 grams daily until the day he died. He lived 93 years, had prostate cancer for the last 20, and was still scientifically engaged in his last years of life. In a conversation with the president of the Food and Drug Administration, Linus Pauling plainly said it is a crime not to inform the population about the advantages of taking daily doses of vitamin C.

Then, what is the amount we can and should take daily in this season?

A 2013 review informs us that small doses aren’t much use. This review looked at all the studies where less than 200mg per day was administered daily. The effect was from weak to negligible.

Quite the opposite with large doses: from 1 gram up, effects are proportionately better. In a review of studies on military personnel, it shows that vitamin C can prevent ordinary flu from 45% to 91%, in proportion to the amount taken, and rate of pneumonia in the vitamin C group falls to 80% to 100%, according to how much is consumed. A very strong effect:

https://academic.oup.com/milmed/article/169/11/920/4283642

In a study from 1999 on 432 students with ages ranging from 23 and 32 who were given 6 grams a day of vitamin C, a gram every hour, they had an 85% reduction in symptoms of the viruses they suffered with:

https://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754(99)70005-9/fulltext

In average, daily consumption of minimum 6 grams of vitamin C is safe and recommended especially in flu season, but also throughout the year. One gram at a time, but even 2, 3 at a time, up to 6 times a day. A minimum of 3–6 grams a day is sufficient.

How do you see the effects of vitamin C on the Coronavirus?

Corona is still a virus, so the effects should be similar. The surprising thing is that the effects of large doses of vitamin C in the case of Covid-19 are actually higher than other viruses, as evidence shows in China, Korea and Japan. There are three ongoing clinical studies in china on the effects of vitamin C in treating infections with Covid-19, and results are looking very good:

https://www.globalresearch.ca/three-intravenous-vitamin-c-research-studies-approved-treating-covid-19/5705405

The first one was posted on February 11th and it looks at the results of administering 24 daily grams intravenously, two perfusions of 12 grams each, via the infusomat. Results are very clear:

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04264533

Please look at what one of the authors of the study is saying, who is collaborating with the government of China through this pandemic. His channel is here, and offers information on treating this virus with vitamin C:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCASvIerKRpknoJYTSHsitJQ

In fact it looks like it was vitamin C that lead to stopping the epidemic in China. It made the Chinese government declare that vitamin C plays a very important role in combating the pandemic. On March the 1st, the Chinese Journal of Infectious Disease, hosted by the Medical Association of Shanghai, published “The expertise consensus regarding the total treatment of coronavirus in Shanghai 2019” This document is of extraordinary importance, as it concentrates the Chinese experience in combating the virus:

https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/bF2YhJKiOfe1yimBc4XwOA

In it, besides other medication like Hydroxychloroquine, they recommend 100–200mg of vitamin C of per kilo of body mass, intravenously, especially during the cytokine storm that happens in the body as a reaction to the virus. For prevention, dozens of tons of vitamin C have been made available to the population of Wuhan.

In my hospital in Daegu, South Korea, all the patients and staff use oral vitamin C since last week. Some people had light fever, headaches and coughs, and those with symptoms received 30.000mg of vitamin C intravenously. Some were better in about 2 days, but with most, the symptoms disappeared after one perfusion.”(Hyoungjoo Shin, MD)

There is a recording with a supposed doctor at the Matei Bals hospital, who insists on not taking vitamin C at all, as she claims it endangers patients’ lives.

I also received the message, it went viral. First, I cannot believe that is a doctor, because not only doesn’t she sound like it, but exhibits a medical and scientific level below a medical school undergrad. She claims the human body does not recognise this virus. So, influenza or the former Coronavirus were? Or which virus is recognised by the human body before contact? Later, she claims children and teenagers below 18 yeas of age — these categories see the most minor effects from the virus, have non developed immunity, and that’s why they do not get ill. So a low immunity response, she claims. While, she claims, people with strong immunity like adults and old people, have a stronger reaction because the immunity is stronger. So she recommends NOT taking vitamin C because it enhances immunity, thus endangering life. This type of nonsense should be publicly shamed. If it’s true that this person is a doctor, then the College of Medics should take action.

It is self evident children and young people have much stronger immunity than old people, that’s why old people get sicker more, and their life is endangered by any infection. Generally, strong immunity is a necessary condition to fight any infectious disease. So we do need vitamin C to prevent this disease:

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/11/1211

We must spread this message throughout the world: low or large dose vitamin C does not harm people and it one of the few, if not the only agent that can help in prevention and treatment of the infection with Covid-19. When possible, us, doctors and scientists, have to prioritise patients’ life!” (Richard Z. Cheng, MD, PhD China)

But she claims the immune reaction is very strong, hence the strengthening of the immune system with vitamin C is very dangerous.

There is a pro inflammatory immune reaction, hence the confusion but what is needed is regulating immunity as opposed to suppressing it. That’s because, besides pro inflammatory cytokines IL 2 and IL 6 there are also anti inflammatory cytokines:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32026671

There are M 1 pro inflammatory macrophages and M 2 anti inflammatory macrophages or immune cells T reg which inhibit this pro inflammatory immune reaction:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41422-020-0291-z

Vitamin C is according to studies a strong anti inflammatory, and via more mechanisms than one.

First, in a 2018 study it is shown that vitamin C decreases C-reactive protein which is especially high in the case of Covid-19, one of the main proinflammatory markers:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32026671

It also inhibits COX2:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jcp.21391

This cytokine storm which is a result of the viral attack, which endangers human life, acts via free radicals. Well, vitamin C is a strong anti oxidant which neutralises these free radicals thus saving the patient’s life. This was observed by the Chinese, which is why they recommend giving patients large amounts of vitamin C from the start.

On the other hand, the virus’ multiplication doubled by the immune cells’, requires an increase in Glycolysis. But vitamin C is an inhibitor of Glycolysis, hence it inhibits both the proliferation of immune cells — the mechanism behind the pro-inflammatory cytokine storm which destroys the lungs and other organs, but also of the virus itself. See proof ot that here:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042682215000847

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41422-020-0291-z

Which supplements do you recommend for protection against this pandemic?

Firstly vitamin C, between 3 and 6 grams daily. The more, the better. Then, vitamin D minimum 2000 UI per day upto 5000 UI. Most people have a deficit in vitamin D, which exposes you to infections and other illnesses. Also important are the oligo-minerals Selenium 100–200 ug daily and Zinc 20 mg per day. Magnesium 400–1000 mg daily and vitamin E 400 UI daily. For those who want to read more on this, I recommend www.orthomolecular.org

I met a great American professor and doctor, the dean of one of the world’s largest university, who consumed not just daily vitamin C and zinc but also clove, cinnamon and ginger tea every day. These are all very strong immune-stimulants and anti-infectious.

If you come in contact with many people or travel by plane, it is recommended to rinse your mouth with colloidal silver, itself a good antiviral agent. There is another very strong antiviral and anti-inflammatory agent, oleuropein, an extract from olive leaves.

To neutralise free radicals produced by the infection, which endanger human life, polyphenols are recommended, such as resveratrol and curcumin — they’re both strong antioxidants, immune-modulators and anti-inflammatory.

I strongly believe that people who will consume at least a part of these, will spend time in the sun, and fresh air, wont’ have serious problems with Covid-19, and if they do contact it, it will be a lighter form, which might not even be diagnosed since its symptoms not specific enough.

Finally, we’d like to ask, how do you see the dangers of this virus. Do you think it will lead to millions dead, like they anticipated in October in a New York health simulation by three American health experts?

No, I don’t think so. It’s an aggressive virus, but if it meets people with good immunity and is stopped from reaching old people with low immunity, or other risk people, then it won’t have many victims. This, if it’s treated not just with antiviral meds and Hydroxychloroquine, but also large doses of vitamin C and other strong anti oxidants like injectable glutathione which can protect against the cytokine storm.

Lastly, it’s very important, pay as little attention as possible to TV and internet, because they will amplify panic and stress. Even lead to post traumatic stress, if not actually get ill. This stress is associated with a dramatic depression of the immune system and an inflammatory response, which is exactly what the virus needs to develop and bring down the body:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022399901003026

So, those who will find peace amidst the developing insanity will absolutely benefit the most.

by Martin Odoni

Quite startling to realise that V For Vendetta, the movie adaptation of Alan Moore’s popular 1980’s comic strip, has already celebrated its fourteenth anniversary. As a film experience, it is a bit of a mixed bag, with some slightly stagy over-acting by some of the cast as they try desperately to give the production a feeling of Hollywood ‘epic-ness’, while Natalie Portman, playing Evey, clearly concentrates way too hard on sustaining an ‘English rose’ accent, meaning that she periodically forgets that she needs to act as well. (Which is a shame really, because when she is on her game, or at least when she is not in a Star Wars prequel, Portman is usually a very good actress.) Equally, the scripted attempt at portraying a bleak, totalitarian future, done to death by British media since at least the 1930s, at time comes across as eye-rollingly generic. Curfews, political rallies attended by right-wing fanatics dressed in all-black uniforms, the church abusing its re-established authority, violent and corrupt state police enforcers with a ‘kewl‘-sounding vernacular name, obvious and crude propaganda filling the airwaves twenty-four hours per day (in the real world, we call this phenomenon ‘the BBC News Channel‘), a relentlessly angry dictator thundering his commands to the world through a gargantuan television screen etc.

V For Vendetta plagiarises Nineteen Eighty Four

The late, great John Hurt appearing in both movies was probably meant to reinforce the idea of a tribute, but all it did in practice was help draw attention to all the stolen ideas.

All very standard and hackneyed by 2006, and had George Orwell somehow lived into the new millennium, I have no doubt he would have sued. Indeed, some of it would be pretty routine fare just for Dr Who. Overall, quite a lot of overcooked acting trying to compensate for some rather undercooked writing.

Given the film is only of moderate quality, it is perhaps surprising what a sizeable pop-culture footprint it has left, in particular the interest it created in the Gunpowder Plot. Outside of the UK, almost nobody would ever have heard of Guy Fawkes until this movie hit the cinemas. Nowadays, you have to uncover a hidden tribe, who have never encountered the rest of the human race, in the depths of a vast South American rain-forest, in order to meet someone who does not know about the Seventeenth-Century Catholic conspiracy to blow up Parliament. From late-2006, the Fawkes mask of the eponymous lead character suddenly became the world’s favourite ‘anarchist uniform’ (if that is not a contradiction-in-terms), and it remains a frequent sight at political gatherings even now. That Fawkes was in no way at all a democrat, and was fighting for the restoration of the Pope’s authoritarian control over England, not for liberty in any social or class sense, was completely skated-over by the movie, and is still missed even now by many people both in Britain and overseas.

Penny for the V

‘V For Vendetta’ was a rather under-cooked attempt at dystopian film-making, but I must give it its due; the “Penny for the guy” line was rather neat. It’s just a pity that over 99% of its audience wouldn’t have understood it.

One aspect of note is the character of V himself. In the original comic, he was an anarchist. Here, perhaps playing to the US audience, he comes across as a more general freedom-fighter, albeit a ruthless one. One noticeable pattern in V’s general behaviour, especially when talking to Evey, is his habit of offering ‘pearls-of-wisdom’, and one of them has proven particularly popular down the years; –

“People should not be afraid of their Governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

And yes, it is a very appealing soundbite. A good slogan perhaps, very catchy, even a little Yoda-like.

Unfortunately, it is not true. And as Jonathan Cook points out in his latest excellent article, people all around the world are poised to face a lot of very frightened Governments indeed – ones that I daresay will only-too-readily prove V wrong. And yes, that very much includes Governments in Britain and the USA.

The problem with Governments that are afraid of their people is that they start behaving towards them in a very suspicious, intrusive and intolerant manner. Paranoia as to who ‘the-enemy-within’ might be leads Governments to increasing surveillance of their own population, to restrict free movement, to clamp down with excessive force on minor transgressions, and to regard any political opposition with great resentment and hostility.

While it is true that a people who are scared of their Government is not desirable either, it is always healthy that people should be skeptical of their Government, and not too trusting of it. But the pertinent point is that, like the cornered tiger of metaphor, the last thing anybody should want is a Government that is scared of its people.

If we look at the current developments with the Coronavirus CoVid-19, there is much to be both skeptical and scared of about the way the UK Government may choose to behave. Most worrisome are some of the clauses in the Coronavirus Bill.  The powers it gives the sitting Government are quite unprecedented in centuries, and they will last for two years, which seems likely to be roughly double the time the pandemic crisis will last. That is disturbingly excessive, especially as, in the event that the crisis lasts longer than twelve months, a new Bill to renew the powers could simply be tabled then. Why is Boris Johnson in such a hurry to secure an extra year of extraordinary powers?

The current ‘lockdown’, which I must reiterate I do believe is necessary and correct, even if it has been implemented in a very slapdash way, is another device that could easily be abused. Given the under-staffing I mentioned the other day of the police force, and the stress officers must therefore be under to try and restrict the movements of over sixty-six million people, the temptation to take ‘short-cuts’ must be immense.

When will the lockdown be formally lifted? Beyond very vague descriptions of “When the crisis is over” – always left undefined – we do not know.

What we do know is that Johnson is almost completely divorced from the concepts of right and wrong, and in his short time so far as Prime Minister, has already triggered a massive Constitutional crisis in his attempts to get his own way. We must, as I stated a few days ago, be ready for a fresh struggle to make sure that Johnson relinquishes those powers when there is no further need for him to hold them.

It is most important that people around the world are vigilant, because the current crisis has its upside. It has exposed the shallow illusion of capitalism, and particularly neoliberalism. The ideology is largely a naive exercise in dismantling the state in the belief that it ‘un-tethers’ the economy. In truth, the historic pattern has simply been to ‘de-democratise’ the country; as more and more of the country’s structures are sold off, less and less has been answerable to a state that is in turn, at least in principle, answerable to the people.

But more serious than that is that a toxic mixture of Thatcherism, Blairism and ‘Cameronism’ has more or less left the state so self-maimed that it is almost powerless in many situations for which it was once equipped. This is one of them.

The NHS, butchered by years of cynical under-funding and stretched to the limits by under-staffing, is already overwhelmed by the early demands of the pandemic. It is terrifying to speculate what will happen when the virus hits ‘critical mass’ in the UK over the next couple of weeks.

There are nowhere near enough ventilators, nowhere near enough supplies of Personal Protective Equipment for medical workers on the front line, because the Government has spent years restricting NHS budgets, forcing hospitals to choose between different needs, rather than cover all of them. A short-term cut in spending that will now be massively out-sized by the enormous bill for applying treatments after the illness has been allowed to get a lot worse. And more overstretch too, as medical workers are needlessly exposed to the virus and contract it themselves, meaning they are added to the long list of patients receiving treatment, and removed from the list of medics available to administer it.

Boris Johnson has called a nationwide lockdown. There are nowhere near enough police to enforce it. Probably, we need ten times more officers than the puny approximate one hundred and twenty four thousand currently battling just to maintain a typical level of law-and-order.

Large numbers of people are now losing their incomes, due to the lockdown closing their places of work. The only way for many of them to get money just to live on in this modern era of a ‘simplified’ (transl.: ‘reduced’) welfare system is the infernal Universal Credit. But there are nowhere near enough staff at the Department of Work & Pensions to handle the sudden ultra-spike in demand, with phone queues frequently extending into the tens of thousands.

The Government had an office at the Department of Health specially tasked with preparedness for pandemics. The Tories closed it in 2011!

The list of examples is enormous, but the above are key ones, most pertinent to the CoVid-19 crisis. Neoliberalism has taken away every weapon in the Government’s arsenal that might have mitigated the pandemic’s effects on society and the economy. It does not help that we have narcissistic salesmen, with no expertise in anything except self-promotion, heading up Governments in both Britain and the USA. But if the old structures had at least remained in place, a lot of them could have functioned pretty well automatically without needing any substantial direction from Downing Street or the White House at all. The result of these structures being downgraded or removed or out-sourced is that the legislators now have to figure out what needs to be done and order it before anything will happen. It can only ask the private firms that have taken over much of the duties to help, leaving itself at the mercy of such firms, who will likely take advantage by setting harsh terms. And if the top legislators are utter buffoons, like the Beavis ‘n’ Butthead double-act of Trump-‘n’-Boris, they will have no idea what is needed, and will make the sort of breathtaking mistakes that we have seen over the last three weeks on both sides of the Atlantic.

Social democracy is better than neoliberalism

We would have been able to mitigate the pandemic so much more if we had just spent a bit of extra money here and there to maintain our protections.

This leads not only to disaster and needless suffering for countless people, it also leads to a false economy, as the expense of treating those with severe cases of CoVid-19 soon massively outstrips the previous savings brought about by not having adequate containment, staffing numbers or equipment.

In some ways, it is somewhat amusing, and satisfying, to see how completely the Tories have given in to the reality of the situation. What they have done, at least in terms of practice if not in aim, is in effect implement a socialist/social democratic remodelling of the economy, for the duration of the crisis. With vast numbers of people now having to stay at home instead of working, and most employers unable to cover their wages when doing no business, the Government has been forced to do an Edward-Heath-style ‘U-turn’, and intervene directly in the UK economy on a scale not seen since the 1970s. It is paying large numbers of people’s wages, just so that enough of them can carry on buying goods to keep the economy from collapsing entirely. Between this and the UK’s hesitant half-step out of the European Union, our economy is now remarkably similar to the so-called ‘Norwegian Model‘ – leaning well to the left of centre, and the state keeping money circulating when the markets cannot. Ideologically, this is as far-removed from the current Tories as Heath’s mind-boggling ‘Dash-For-Growthprogram of 1973 was from his own Election Manifesto of just three years earlier. The UK is suddenly a near-socialist country, a three-month U-turn in itself, since it is only just over three months since these same ideas were foolishly rejected at the ballot box. After all he has been through, who can begrudge Jeremy Corbyn his satisfied ‘I-told-you-so!’ moment?

The danger in all this is that we need to understand that this is meant to be entirely temporary. Johnson, a man who has called for the privatisation of the NHS itself in his time, will certainly not want to keep a left-leaning system of social democracy in place beyond the pandemic, even though the crisis has demonstrated how much it is needed. And here is the point that makes Johnson a danger; when people see social democracy in action, they will learn that not only does it not bring about ‘stagnation’ and ‘national bankruptcy’, as the anti-1970s urban mythology would have us believe. In fact, it has kept the country alive, re-stabilising the economy when it was heading into free-fall, and will prove beneficial to many people abandoned by the neoliberal set-up. This realisation will terrify the Government, and the elite more widely.

When the metaphorical genie is out of the bottle, the fearful Johnson will fight tooth-nail-knuckle-and-elbow to force it back in. That is when the emergency powers the Coronavirus Bill will grant will become a terrible danger. They give him the ability to outlaw many forms of peaceful and legitimate opposition. He will lie, cheat, and bully, as he has always done, to force the country back into its neoliberal dystopia. This is why we do not want a Government that is scared of its people.

Interestingly, the aforementioned V For Vendetta portrayed the dictatorship of the ‘Norsefire Party’ – an extreme right-wing break-off from the Conservative Party – as coming about because of a pandemic that terrified the population into submission. The plague was blamed on minorities. Given where we are now, the movie may be more prescient than it sometimes gets credit for. Beyond doubt, after the dust has settled, the Tories will exploit the terrible difficulty the NHS has had fighting the pandemic, using it as a pretext for saying, “Look this nationalised system just isn’t working,” and then sell off the last of it with all the cynicism avarice can bring. All mention of how the NHS is almost certainly blameless on every level for this crisis, and how privatisation has, for reasons outlined above, played a substantial role in making the pandemic uncontrollable, will simply be shouted down.

Yes, the CoVid-19 pandemic does have an upside, in that it has demonstrated an economic truth that the political elite have tried to make unthinkable for generations. That will be of little consolation to those who have lost loved ones to the disease, but it has re-opened the door that appeared to have been closed for another generation with Corbyn’s defeat in December. But for this second opportunity to be taken, we cannot allow the Conservatives, or the Blairite/Brownite infestation in the Labour Party, to stifle all discussion of it. If they are afraid enough, they will use force to do so.

We have to be prepared for a potentially-violent pushback from a Government that will have a lot more unaccountable power than any administration should be allowed to wield, and enough fear of its people to use it.

_____

POSTSCRIPT:

News has broken while I was writing this that Boris Johnson has gone down with the virus. In expressing my sincere hopes for his eventual recovery, I would just like to say to the Prime Minister a heartfelt, “Take it on the chin.”

Take it on the chin, Boris

Hey, BoJob, you wanted to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of people by asking the nation to take it on the chin. Now you get an idea of what that entails.

 

by Martin Odoni

Normally, I would bitterly oppose any Government ‘Commandment-from-on-high‘ confining ordinary citizens to their homes, as though the country is just a primitive version of the West Europ Dome City from Blake’s 7.

Not in West Europ City dome - yet

Today’s lockdown has disturbing implications that should not be ignored, but dealing with the Coronavirus does come first. We have centuries to stave off the birth of the Terran Federation.

But these are about the only circumstances where I have to agree with it. The country does have to go into ‘lockdown’, as the threat of the Coronavirus CoVid-19 has not been slowed at all under the previous status quo. So, yes I will say it, Boris Johnson was correct to order the lockdown this evening. Along with the few other correct actions he has taken in this crisis, it was all a bit late in the day, and he only did it after an initial mixture of blunders and dithering. But we got there in the end.

I do have long-term concerns about this, and I hope no one gets me wrong about that. Curfews, whatever name you wish to give them, do give disturbing amounts of power to authorities, and I doubt it will be long before police officers, overstretched by short-staffing, start getting a little too comfortable with the idea of misusing them. The lockdown will rightly be subject to regular Parliamentary review, once every three weeks, and it is the duty of all of us, not just Opposition MPs, to make sure that that review is carried out every time, on time, no exceptions. The big danger with any ‘state-of-emergency’ is that a leader who calls one is often allowed to decide how the emergency is defined, and therefore when it is over. Or more insidiously, when it is not. It can carry on indefinitely, if they wish. I would not for one minute put it past Johnson to take advantage if he thought he could get away with it, simply by subtly changing the definition of the current crisis. His attempt last year to bypass scrutiny came within inches of destroying the constitution, if anyone needed reminding. So we had better all keep an eye on him over the next few months, eh?

In the shorter term though, I only have one problem, and to be fair, it would have been there even if Johnson had ordered the lockdown earlier. A population of 65+ million needs to stay at home. That is not exactly a law, and there are certain limited exceptions e.g. exercise, short journeys to buy essentials etc. But that is what the police are going to be expected to enforce.

The problem?

Er, how exactly does Johnson expect it to be enforced?

Unenforceable instructions

I am not terribly impressed with Johnson’s overdue call for a lockdown. Partly because it should have included an apology for his previous inertia, but primarily because the police do not have the numbers to enforce it.

This is yet another aspect of Austerity coming back to bite the Tories on the backsides. They have made it impossible for either themselves or the country more widely to deal with a crisis because they de-funded the state’s built-in protections against emergencies – in this case, the police force. Remember Theresa May as Home Secretary, with the patronising confidence of any rich, privileged person who has never had to do a real day’s work in her life, demanding the police learn to “do more with less”? A net loss of over twenty-one thousand police since 2010 has made it quite impossible for the forces up and down the country to maintain previous levels of law-and-order. And now, just one hundred and twenty thousand officers are being instructed to make sure the entire population of the United Kingdom stay at home, twenty-four-seven-three-six-five?

I suppose this really is not Johnson’s fault particularly, certainly not as much as it is Theresa May’s and David Cameron’s. Johnson really does have to give the lockdown order now – should have done at least a week earlier in fact – and it takes a long time to train up a dedicated police officer after you have thrown out twenty thousand experienced ‘bobbies’. But it does rather suggest a certain futility to what Johnson is trying to accomplish this evening; a command well-barked, but backed by no particular bite.

Yet again we see what a stupid, pointless, toxic, no-upside program Austerity always was.

_____

MORE HERE.

by Martin Odoni

Foreword

I am still laid up with the CoVid-19 fever, and while I am improving gradually, I still have some way to go until I have properly recovered. Therefore, my apologies if this article is not quite up to my usual standard for coherence or flow, but concentration is not easy when running a high temperature.

_____

If there is one Law of Thermodynamics that Sir Isaac Newton missed, it is the following; –

At the height of Tory-induced social entropy, the chances of a Tory accepting the blame for the detereoration are zero.

Now, no one should suggest that the current CoVid-19 pandemic is an easy crisis to control and resolve. There is no guarantee that any technique deployed against a contagion as easily-spread as this one can stop, or even slow, its proliferation. So long as a Government in any corner of the world is genuinely doing its best, and employing as many sensible measures as it can to combat the virus, it will have my sympathy if it finds its efforts fail.

But really, I am sick to the pit of my stomach of Conservative-supporting sycophants (many of them, I have no doubt, are just bots) on social media insisting that Boris Johnson has been doing a ‘good job’, and trying to emotionally-blackmail his critics into silence.

Zac Goldsmith insults legitimate critics

Zac Goldmsith, a man who used blatant racist scaremongering to win a London seat in a General Election, has a moral issue with conspiracy theories.

Johnson has turned a crisis into a disaster

Give it a rest, bootlickers! Johnson has made an utter pig’s ear of combating the virus. Sure, even if he had taken all the correct decisions since this started up, it is entirely possible that we could still have wound up in much-the-same situation. But equally, we might now have been in a significantly better position, whereas the path of confused, semi-interested, self-contradictory bumbling that Johnson has followed has simply guaranteed that the UK is in about as bad a position moving forward as it could be.

BoJob assed up the CoVid pandemic response

You really thought THIS man would make a better Prime Minister than Jeremy Corbyn? WAKE UP!

I read a lot of simpleton Tories on social media, including the ever-obnoxious Sarah Vine (the only woman on Earth so sightless that she could actually find Michael Gove attractive), now lashing out at the criticism with the teenager-mentality this breed of over-entitled rich people have never grown out of.

Viine insults Government critics

And right wing blowhards like Vine complain about the left being abusive? Also interesting, and disturbing, that Vine seems to think people coming up with solutions to this life-threatening crisis would be LESS desirable than their just staying quiet. Any more evidence needed that, for the right, silencing opponents is more important than saving people?

 

https://twitter.com/WestminsterWAG/status/124107215322891059/

EDIT: The link no longer works. Looks like Vine has taken the Tweet down, in the naive belief that if she deletes it, she will not get into trouble over it.

Ah, so apparently, when the Government gets it wrong, everyone else has to come up with an answer, even though finding such answers is what we elect Governments for in the first place? Is that it, Vine?

Well okay, Vine, let me play your little game of offloaded responsibility.

What Johnson did wrong at the start of the pandemic

Firstly, let us itemise the embarrassing succession of obvious mistakes Johnson and his administration have made, what should have happened instead, and finally what needs to be done now that they did not happen.

Johnson’s first blunder was as far back as 24th January. A report from Chinese doctors and scientists was published in the Lancet, warning of the malignant potency of CoVid-19, especially against the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. The Chinese Government went to some pains to draw attention to the report, especially its warning that it was time for countries all around the world to invest in large amounts of protective equipment and clothing for medical personnel (PPE), who, without it, were certain to become carriers themselves when they tried to treat the virus’ victims.

Johnson did nothing.

For well over a month.

He.

Did.

Nothing.

Imagine how many healthcare workers could at least have been provided with protection if that time had been used correctly. As ever with Tories though, rather than invest money in order to prevent a crisis, they will happily keep taxes down one more month, let the crisis break out, and then be forced to spend a mind-twisting fortune trying to repair the damage afterwards. Such false economies can now be seen annually, with the Tories’ myopic insistence on keeping funding for flood defences threadbare, and then having to pay a fortune repairing the consequent damage every winter when rivers all over the country burst their banks.

What Johnson did wrong after the virus landed

When it was clear that the Coronavirus had arrived in the UK, BoJob decided to pursue a course of, firstly, empty, soothing platitudes to calm people down, and then, frankly, Nazism.

Initially, he made some incredibly stupid and irresponsible remarks, including merrily boasting in a live TV press conference on 5th March that he had happily shaken hands with a number of probable CoVid-19 carriers. This of course immediately implied to people who knew nothing about the virus that it must be fairly harmless and not particular catching, so, no worries if they went out and mixed freely with anyone they happened to meet. Johnson followed this up by announcing the now-notorious and wholly-debunked ‘strategy’ of ‘herd-immunity’ (which I battered to death in a previous post). He apparently got the idea by consulting two epidemiologists. Not a terrible choice in itself, but I for one would have made sure to consult, oh, for argument’s sake let us suggest, maybe a virologist or two as well, so that the properties of the virus itself were also taken into account at some stage? Am I being obtuse to suggest that that might have been an obvious step? William Hanage, another epidemiologist, wrote in the Guardian why herd-immunity is a ludicrous approach without a vaccine, which leads to serious questions about the qualifications of the ‘experts’ Johnson consulted.

Whatever the case on that point, at a time when Johnson should have been pursuing urgent containment measures, he instead wasted more precious days looking for ways to encourage the virus to spread faster among certain groups of the population! (When the number of reported cases began to exceed the NHS’ capacity to process, rather than assigning more resources, Johnson actually stopped automatic testing for the virus of suspected cases, meaning we have no idea of the true number of people who are infected, and cannot track where many of them are, which could cause further problems down the line with allocation of treatment.) With the NHS today already overwhelmed by the numbers of patients with severe symptoms, we may well ask why it has reached that tipping-point so quickly. Well, look no further than that key moment of complete idiocy by a Prime Minister, looking too closely to his ideology manual to include the real world in his calculations. He wanted to pursue a near-eugenicist policy that allowed more and more people to become exposed to the virus, instead of seeking to stop its spread. How many of these extra patients will die because of this buffoonery, I shudder to imagine. But let us not shrink from saying this; –

Boris Johnson is personally responsible for those deaths.

Having finally realised that this approach was not going to work, Johnson u-turned early last week, and started pushing for social distancing. This was dressed up by the ever-too-compliant BBC as happening because, “The Science has changed“. It had done no such thing. The science was saying the same thing it had been saying all along, hence the very different approach taken by literally every other world leader. It was just Johnson had not really been paying enough attention to practice, and paying too much attention to the hypothesis of a couple of individual epidemiologists, to understand the real facts, and had now only just started to grasp what the science had been saying.

But having changed direction so completely, Johnson should have loudly and explicitly withdrawn the tendency of his previous statements. Herd-immunity was a mistake, and he should have said so. He did not. Implying there is no issue with shaking hands with people infected with the virus was a mistake, and he should have said so. He did not.

Puns while people die unable to breathe

Still perhaps unaware of the sheer enormity of the shockwave hitting the country, Boris Johnson put on another display of buffoonish showboating on a conference call with a wide range of business leaders last week. He boasted about a plan to increase the number of medical ventilators at the disposal of the NHS – again why was this plan not implemented at least a month earlier? – and signed off by giving the proposal the incredibly-cheesy and insensitive tag, Operation: Last Gasp. In any circumstances, the bare-minimum criticism must be applied that that is simply a terrible pun. In current circumstances, when tens of thousands of people across Europe literally have drawn their ‘last gasp’ as a result of this pandemic, it seems utterly infantile and cruel, like a young child who knows no better laughing at a man in a wheelchair.

That Johnson has been slow to take the pandemic seriously, perhaps slow to understand it, is underlined by how, as recently as the 9th of March, he was muttering to journalists that he felt the media were over-reacting.

Self-isolation by cajolery

During all this, Johnson was half-heartedly calling for anyone who suspected they had the illness to self-isolate. But he and his Government were much too slow, once again, to put any guarantees in place for those who did so, many of whom were bound to be put in great financial trouble through taking time off work.

Many of the support-guarantees finally included in last week’s Coronavirus Bill tabled by Rishi Sunak are genuinely a welcome step in the right direction (or rather, a left direction, as it is Keynesian social democracy in action), but there are still some gigantic loopholes in it. And as Chancellor of the Exchequer, this is more Sunak’s work than BoJob’s anyway.

Johnson was saying before the weekend that he expected that the country would “turn the tide” against CoVid-19 in twelve weeks. Within twenty-four hours, Government advisers said pretty much the opposite, indicating that Johnson had been making promises off the top of his head, something to be avoided at any time, but especially in a global crisis.

BoJob makes up targets and is contradicted by experts a day later

When Johnson talks off the top of his head like this, he gives people false hope, while also dangerously confusing the general public.

At the time of writing, Johnson has still failed to order a full lockdown, meaning self-isolation is only haphazard and sporadically effective. Now I myself am always unhappy at restrictions on people’s personal liberties, especially free movement, in any circumstances, not least because the power this gives the authorities is very easily abused. But given the nature of this virus and the speed at which it is spreading, the Government really has little alternative. But Johnson keeps blustering about it rather than issuing the order. Why? It is curious that he is prepared to use this Bill to give himself extraordinary and worrisome powers for some two years, over a disease that should be contained in less than one year, but has been reluctant to issue other ‘draconian’ orders that would actually play a role in fighting the virus.

If the virus spreads communally, close the schools!

Mistifying, and again confusing to the public, has been Johnson’s both-extremes-back-to-back attitude to whether to close schools. I understand the rationale against doing so i.e. children tend to be more resistant to this virus than other age groups, and if the children are sent home, their parents will have to stay home too to look after them – including many medical staff, increasing overstretch in the hospitals.

But it was soon clear that it was too late for picking-and-choosing, and so Johnson, within a couple of days of saying it was completely unnecessary to shut schools, gave the order to close the schools, once again sending an entirely mixed message to the public.

Completely overlooking the airlines?

Italy, China and Iran are probably the three most-heavily-affected countries by the Coronavirus. Stopping its spread surely demands that none but the most-carefully-regulated air traffic can be allowed in from these countries. And yet, Johnson has still not ordered a stop to aircraft coming in from any of them.

Please, stop telling me this is part of Johnson doing a ‘good job’. This is just plain stupid. And it was entirely predictable stupidity, because Johnson is a man with a low boredom threshhold, and notoriously poor attention-to-detail. Like all psychopaths, when it comes to manipulating people, he can be very clever. But in any other environment, he is every bit the idiot that he likes people to imagine.

Having adopted so many mutually-exclusive positions, and having given out so many contradictory pieces of advice, Johnson and his Ministers now berate the public for not following instructions. But how can the public follow instructions when the next one contradicts the previous one? I agree, some people have indeed behaved selfishly e.g. hoarding at supermarkets, or going out pubbing when advised against it, and I do not defend them in any way. But really, Johnson’s Government is not helping itself with so many moments of needless stupidity and contradiction.

Cries for socialism from those who destroyed it

The stupidity does not just apply to BoJob of course. It applies to so many on the right wing, and their reactions when they see the upshot of the harm they have done over the last forty years.

Thatcherism, and even more so ‘Cameronism’ in the 2010s, dismantled most of the British state and sold off the remnants to self-interested parts of the private sector, in the belief that the economy would work better without the ‘burdens’ of Goverment regulation and safeguards. There may even be an echo of truth in that (although in my experience, the real difference is that the private sector just has a much easier task covering up its failings than the public sector), but it is to overlook the human condition altogether when putting the smoothness of the economy above every other consideration.

Here is where we as a country face a reckoning we were always going to confront sooner or later; what happens when you finally sell something you were sure to need one day? It is noticeable that some of those who were happy to sacrifice many a human being for the good of the wider economy (so long as they themselves were not the ones being sacrificed) are suddenly outraged and appalled at how ill-equipped the country is to cope with the impact of this pandemic, which can infect rich people as much as it can infect the poor. They bitterly, and with unprecedented dirt and deceit, fought a General Election campaign just before Christmas against a Labour leader offering to restore exactly what the UK needed if it was to fight CoVid-19 effectively. They treated his ideas as ‘mad’ and ‘unaffordable’, and yet now they scream and cry, because, having rejected what Jeremy Corbyn was offering, they realise it is not there now that they need it.

Look do you want socialism or do you not?

A fully-equipped free-to-use healthcare service is an essential feature of socialism, right-wingers. If you want an effective national response to a pandemic, you need to start treating a lot of socialist ideas with a bit more respect.

I suppose one could raise this in Johnson’s defence. Thanks to years of completely needless and toxic Austerity, in which even public healthcare was meanly and cynically starved of funds and staffing, by the time Johnson became Prime Minister last year, he inherited a Health Service already stripped to the bone in the name of making rich people richer. He has not had much time, it is true, to repair the damage.

But then Johnson is himself a Conservative, has offered little in the way of objections to Austerity, has not made any substantive moves to reverse Austerity until the last few days, and, thanks to his support for Brexit, has upped the xenophobia in the UK’s atmosphere, scaring many NHS employees born overseas into leaving the country. So no, that is not much of a defence really.

What next?

Well, I did promise I would offer my own thoughts on what to do from the position BoJob has needlessly allowed us to get jammed in. So here they are; –

  • Abandon Johnson’s brainless and completely needless project for a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland. If it gets built and the virus is still dominant, it will only allow an extra channel to transmit the disease.
  • Order a short-term social lockdown in the towns and cities, subject to monthly oversight by Parliament.
  • Close airports to all but supply-traffic.
  • Ration petrol and food, to prevent hoarding, and to prevent people from taking long car journeys meant to ‘escape’ the virus, but which might lead them to bring the virus to communities in remote parts of the countryside.
  • Fast-track a new Wealth Tax through Parliament, designed in particular to target Off-Shore accounts, and allocate the funding equivalent of the amount accrued to the NHS so it can afford emergency supplies of PPE and other necessary equipment. It cannot possibly arrive in time to prevent some kind of disaster happening by now, of course, but even the few lives it can save will, as far as I am concerned, make it better-late-than-never. Hey, the rich and the right wing claim they are the ‘patriotic’ wing of the country. Now they have a chance to prove it, by making a small financial sacrifice to prop up their fellow countrymen. What are they going to do? Threaten to leave the country? How can they do that with the borders closed?

There, Sarah Vine, just as you demanded, I have done the job of the people in the Government, who are paid to do this, and pointed out better policies to pursue in the struggle against CoVid-19.

Now, Vine et al, it is your turn to shut up. Whether you like it or not, we shall resume condemning Boris Johnson. Spare us your ‘Queensferry Rules’ nonsense about how the whole country has to unite in silent acquiescence at a time of crisis. That idea is obsolete and absurd. At a time of crisis, the need for close cross-examination of the Government is greater than ever, because these are the times when a Government’s mistakes are likeliest to take lives. It is not ‘cheap political point-scoring’ to highlight such deficiencies, especially when they have been so obvious.

On the contrary, it is the whole reason our political system includes an Opposition.

_____

FOLLOW-UP HERE.

by Martin Odoni

I have contracted colds, influenzas and fevers many times in my life, but I can state with certainty that none of them was quite like this. Anyone under the illusion that CoVid-19, the disease caused by the current Coronavirus pandemic, is “just ‘flu” can park their rear-ends on something sharp.

At the time-of-writing, it is the evening of Thursday 19th March, and I have been suffering the illness for five days. The first symptoms began to set in on Sunday morning, a mild shivering coupled with an inexplicable, all-over-body-achey tiredness. Given the initial ‘incubation period’ of three-to-four days, I suspect I was infected last Wednesday, when a customer where I work revealed he had been exposed to the virus earlier that day. (It would have been nice of him not to have waited until fifteen minutes after he arrived to mention it to us, but, hey ho.)

CoVid-19 exposure in work

Well… it may have been 15 minutes.

Now, CoVid-19, to repeat, is not ‘flu, but to be fair, anyone who catches it can be forgiven for mistaking it for ‘flu, as there is a lot of similarity. The high temperature, the bursts of sweating alternating with the bursts of shivering, the grueling tiredness, the aching joints as white blood cells fight a ‘territory-battle’ with the virus for control of your limbs.

Yes, these sensations are all present during a CoVid-19 fever too, and none of them is welcome. But there are differences in symptoms that become more noticeable as time passes.

One is the coughing. With a ‘flu, most of the coughing happens after the main illness clears up, and is usually just the lungs clearing out the last traces of the infection. The coughing tends to be very ‘productive’ i.e. it brings up a lot of mucus and other unpleasant fluids from the chest. But with CoVid-19, you will likely find the coughing starts around the time the fever sets in, and, at least for the first couple of days, it tends to be a drier, throatier, itchier cough that brings little to the surface, and is therefore even more maddening. It is not long before the throat becomes sore, and swallowing becomes uncomfortable. (In my case, it even led to a mild earache, due to the proximity of the tonsils to the ear-drums.)

Another difference is how the fever hits you. With ‘flu, the fever is no-nonsense. It just hits you like a Tyson Fury haymaker, smashing you to the canvas in one heavy blow of violent shivering, followed by a flurry of super-heated punches that soak your bedsheets in ringing hot sweat.

But the fever is subtler when it is CoVid-19., almost as though it is conserving its energy so it can torture you for far longer – which it does. When the fever starts, you shiver, and shiver. The shivering stage goes on for hours, far longer than with the ‘flu, often so gently you feel slightly humiliated for thinking yourself unwell. The sweats most likely happen after you have fallen asleep, and again, they are just gentle enough that they might not even wake you. But again, they go on for longer than they would with a regular dose of ‘flu.

The result is that, should you wake, probably about four hours after the shivering ended, the fever is still at its peak. You will probably feel, not so much fatigue or sleepiness, as something quite the opposite – panic. You want to shout out, may even want to leap to your feet – which is what I did – although it is probably best to resist that impulse as you will find balancing very, very difficult. That is when you notice you are ringing with sweat, especially all over the legs. For myself, I had to sink to my knees at this point and hug myself, as the sensation of being overheated was hurriedly replaced by the realisation that it was about 3am, and my bedroom was freezing.

The fever is still at its peak when you roll back over in bed and resume sleeping, and – this is the really nasty part – it never passes. When you wake up again in the morning, it is still going on. And the Battle Of The White Blood Cells has by now turned into a full-blown war through the length of your every artery. Your every joint, your every muscle, aches like your whole body has a migraine. It makes no difference if you stand up or lie down, and matters not a jot what stance or prone position you adopt, the ache just does not go away. It is everywhere. Externally, your sense of touch becomes distorted, as every physical contact you attempt somehow feels both numb and like your skin has caught fire.

At this stage in a ‘flu – early on day 2 – you are already over the worst of it. Oh yes, you are horribly tired and thirsty, and your temperature probably has not stabilised yet, but from here, you can be confident that the direction is up.

Not with CoVid-19. Early on day 2, the fever has still not really lifted, albeit it is probably abating somewhat. Your skin continues to feel excruciating and numb simultaneously, while the aches across your body broaden out and start to make you feel like you are being stretched by a traction engine. Your stomach starts to feel very sore and tender. Your temperature is still fluctuating, mainly elevated, but still punctuated by intermittent shivers, and there is no sign of it actually stabilising at all. And all the while, you feel so incredibly weak, you struggle any time you need to walk the short distance to the lavatory.

Day 3 starts better, and despite the fever still going on, you are more or less adjusted to it by now. You still feel a complete dearth of energy, but the pain seems to have gone away (or maybe you have simply ceased to notice it). Even if all you can really do is sleep, at least you can do so more comfortably now.

This is when the breathing troubles start. The War Of The Blood-cells has entered your lungs, and your chest tightens as the walls of your bronchi react to the viral invasion, and the coughing becomes more persistent and chestier. The potential damage to the lungs is in fact the most serious threat from CoVid-19, although thankfully it has not hit me too hard there as yet. But the sense of panic returns, which inevitably brings you to tighten up all your muscles on reflex, bringing the excruciating all-over-bodyaches back to the fore.

From this point on, every tiny bit of pain you experience, every twinge, every bit of physical bother, no matter how irrelevant it is to the virus itself, is loudly amplified by your central nervous system, and you want to scream.

And remember, you are, if you behave responsibly, probably going through all this completely alone, because you will have self-isolated as soon as the first symptoms became apparent. The arms-length position adopted by the NHS, while essential, compounds the feeling of being on your own. Atop all the pain and discomfort we can therefore place loneliness and uncertainty. Add to that the agitation of keeping an eye on the Internet and being startled at just how phenomenally badly Boris Johnson is handling the Government’s response to the pandemic, and the general emotional outlook of most quarantine patients will be total despondency.

BoJob - Keynesianism is back, Bozo

Just remember, Great Britain, you wanted the Blond Blimp as Prime Minister. I didn’t.

This is roughly where I am now. I do not feel noticeably better than I did on Sunday/Monday. My temperature continues to fluctuate, the aches all over my body frequently bring me to the edge of tears. my breathing is often impaired, and I am quite willing to admit that the lack of improvement is starting to worry me. I have to keep reminding myself that this expectation of improvement comes from past experiences of the ‘flu.

In terms of how ill I feel, I would not say CoVid-19 is necessarily worse than some of the ‘flus I’ve contracted, or even that it is the most intense. But so far it is more relentless and unending than any ‘flu I have ever suffered. Because this is not ‘flu. Oh dear me no. This really is not the ‘flu. I therefore should not really expect the same of it.

The difficulty is that I am quite unsure what I should expect.

by Martin Odoni

FOREWORD:

Before I begin, a quick apology for the absence of posts since New Year. I am presently on an Open University course, which is using up a lot of my ‘writing energy’, while continuing to work full time. Writing-as-a-hobby is therefore not getting much of a look-in at the moment. I hope to increase output during the summer, but for the time being, articles will only be released sporadically.

However, present events have hit such a point of insanity that I must now speak up.

The current clamour about the Coronavirus CoVid-19 is both overstated and understated. I would argue that there is little reason, in and of the virus itself, for people to get into a froth about it. So long as the sensible precautions being recommended are followed i.e. regularly and thoroughly wash hands, reduce physical contact with others to a minimum etc, the virus should be contained.

But the “Keep-Calm-and-Carry-On-daydreaming”-style complacency of Boris Johnson’s Government goes too far the other way. Remarkably few moves to combat the virus have been made by Central Government, and all the boasts about COBRA security meetings sound more like reassuring public relations gestures than actual effort.

Today, Johnson revealed his ‘strategy’ for defeating the Coronavirus, and not only is it as spectacularly stupid as his Brexit plans for the border in Ireland, it spills over into a defect I had previously not suspected he had. His plan is actually mad. Literally. It indicates a mind completely divorced from the real world.

What Johnson and his Government are proposing is to try to exploit the principle of ‘herd-immunity’ to combat CoVid-19. If you are unfamiliar with the herd-immunity principle, allow me to explain; –

Herd-immunity assumes that no population needs complete inoculation to protect it from a contagious disease. So long as a certain proportion – it is usually between ninety and ninety-five percent depending on the disease – has resistance, their antibodies will ‘repel’ the virus or bacterium sufficiently to protect anyone in the population who lacks the same resistance.

Johnson therefore does not appear to understand what the principle is all about. He thinks it is usable as a ‘wholesale’ remedy, rather than a protection for a small minority. But worse, he takes the difficulty that there is currently no vaccine for CoVid-19, and wishes to carry matters to a crazed extreme. Under the (wrong – see below) assumption that experiencing the illness will give humans a permanent resistance to it, he wants ninety-to-ninety-five per cent of the population of the United Kingdom to contract the virus, confident that the great majority will recover, and that their immune systems will be able to fight it off next time around.

Coronavirus Government theory

Boris Johnson wants to spread the CoVid-19 virus around the population, in a bid to fight it.

This really is insanity. Given that the fatality rate of CoVid-19 is around three per cent, Johnson actually appears to be saying that he is perfectly prepared to sacrifice the lives of around two hundred thousand Britons, in the name of combating a virus. This has chilling overtones of the behaviour of the Nazis towards people with disabilities. Apparently, he thinks this is preferable to just making sure the National Health Service is adequately supplied for once. Two hundred thousand lives is a horrifying price to pay to fight one virus – but who knows how many other viruses might follow? Will we have to deal with them the same way, sacrificing another multitude similar to the death-toll of the English Civil Wars every time the next ‘super-flu’ turns up? (Given Johnson’s chief advisor is Dominic Cummings, maybe we should not be shocked that demographics are being treated so coldly numerically.)

But almost as bad is the implication for those who survive. For ninety per cent of the population to fall ill would basically mean the wheels of society would stop turning altogether. Ten per cent of the population cannot keep everything moving in the meantime. Sure, Johnson wants to ‘manage’ the process of proliferating the disease, staggering its spread by letting only certain numbers contract it at a time, and give them time to recover before infecting the next batch. But is anyone buying such a concept? In a country with a population of sixty-five million people, Johnson thinks he can control a process of ‘staggered-infection’ like that? Oh sure, good luck with that, everyone.

But worst of all is that Johnson’s misunderstanding of herd-immunity is matched by his misunderstanding of natural resistance. It is true that with many diseases e.g. chicken pox, mumps, glandular fever, one experience of it is enough to create an immunity, or at least a very high resistance. (For instance, resistance to chicken pox is a mixed blessing, as it makes it likelier that you will contract shingles. I suffered shingles myself in my late-teens, and it was very painful.) The problem is that Johnson seems to imagine that if resistance follows some illnesses, it must follow Coronaviruses too.

Unfortunately, no, it does not. Doctors have concluded that, while a case of CoVid-19 will give an individual an initial resistance lasting some months, it is likely to wear off afterwards.

A sacrifice of two hundred thousand lives in exchange for a few months’ resistance? That is Johnson’s aim? Is that not the epitome of high-risk-low-reward decision-making?

Hey, I accept none of the blame for this. I told everyone to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, and after today, I struggle more than ever to see any reason why people imagined he would be a worse Prime Minister than the Blond Blimp.

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March 4, 2020

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