Tuesday 26 January 2021

computing sorrow



Boris Johnson says ‘it’s hard to compute the sorrow’ `after UK passes more than 100,000 deaths.

The Guardian reports that, the more accurate Office for National Statistics data show that over 100,000 people in the UK had already died with Covid on their death certificate by 7 January, nearly three weeks ago. This rose to 108,000 by 15 January, and the total now will be nearly 120,000.”

No, Boris Johnson, it’s not hard to compute the sorrow. It’s computed in the £billions handed out to your mates. 


What is hard to compute is why you are still PM.

Monday 18 January 2021

I had the vaccine, but I feel sick




I have written about receiving my first Pfizer coronavirus vaccine here.


Pfizer have stated that the second dose of its Covid-19 vaccine should be delivered to individuals within three weeks of the first. They state that, “there are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days”.

On 30 December the UK chief medical officers announced that the second dose of covid vaccines would be given towards the end of 12 weeks rather than in the recommended 3 weeks. They added that vaccine shortages were a major reason for the shift in approach and that the government’s advisory committee decided that vaccinating as many people as possible with a first dose should be the priority.


Meanwhile The World Health Organization has declared that delaying the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech beyond 21 days should take place only under “exceptional circumstances”, and that any change to this would be considered "off-label use."


The British Medical Association has called the decision “unreasonable and totally unfair” and have commented, “the decision to delay the second Pfizer/BioNTec dose to between 4-12 weeks is not based on data.”


As if that was not enough to worry about, the government are now considering giving people the Oxford-AstraZeneca dose followed by the Pfizer one, or vice-versa.

But there’s no evidence to show these two very different vaccines can work in this way. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that the vaccines are not interchangeable.

Vaccine expert John Moore, at Cornell University, commented that officials in Britain “seem to have abandoned science completely now and are just trying to guess their way out of a mess”.

The Guardian’s Aditya Chakrabortty commented “ Last summer the health secretary, Matt Hancock, boasted  that “we have already secured 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine.” This became,“30 million doses available by September”, which got halved to “aiming to deliver up to 15 million doses in 2020”.

There is a complete absence of long term planning by the government which is resulting in under-investment by Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies in their UK operations.

The Johnson government’s approach seems to be all about cutting corners or just making it up as they go along.

Meanwhile on the day I received my vaccine Cabinet minister Dominic Raab went on Sky News and refused to guarantee that all people who have received a first dose of coronavirus vaccine will get a second jab even within 12 weeks.


I am beginning to feel sick and vaccines won't cure me.


Sunday 17 January 2021

A Shot of Reality



Yesterday I received my first Pfizer Covid vaccine jab at a Primary Care Clinic in North London. There was a long queue in the street of many elderly and disabled people.

There were a number of volunteers there to give us information on what to expect and why we had to wait. While standing outside with my stick, more than one volunteer asked me if they could get me a chair. I told them that although there was a long wait, I was able to stand.

Inside the clinic things moved quickly and efficiently. Before I sat down in the waiting area the chair was scrubbed. The clinic staff were very young and the woman who gave me my vaccine was a pharmacy student. We were then given a stop watch to ensure we stayed on for 15 minutes and had no after-effects.

When I got home I found this on the NHS website: “The response of current NHS staff and those who have come forward to help out – whether the tens of thousands of former staff and students, or the hundreds of thousands of volunteers – has been nothing short of inspirational, and played a major role throughout the pandemic.”

Yes Indeed, and a much bigger role than the billionaire beneficiaries of the Covid pandemic. Yesterday was a shot of reality. The world is divided into those who have used this crisis to buy this house and those who prefer to offer you a chair.



Thursday 14 January 2021

These are the hands



I have been listening to the BBC recording ‘The Covid Ward’, which includes an interview with Michael Rosen and the staff of Whittington Hospital Intensive Care Unit. He was in the ICU there for seven weeks after contracting Covid-19.

This is what he said, “When we created the NHS we created something beautiful. We found a way of caring for each other that is, at the same time, anonymous and incredibly intimate. I don’t know these folks, but they know me. You know my intimate details. You do all those things that we as parents do. You saved me and you didn’t know me. I’ll be forever grateful.”

As someone who has been a patient at the Whittington and with experience of ICU, his words and those of the ICU staff choke me up and leave me more than ever determined to fight for our NHS and defeat the profiteers who wouldn’t understand the concept of care, until perhaps they too find themelves needing it.

Members of the Whittington ICU interviewed included Dr Maria Goddard, Prof Hugh Montgomery, Dr Amanda McCaskill, charge nurse Ali Aladin and Nurse Jo Eardly.


Here is Michael Rosen’s “These are the Hands” composed for the 60th birthday of the NHS.

These are the hands
That touch us first
Feel your head
Find the pulse
And make your bed.

These are the hands
That tap your back
Test the skin
Hold your arm
Wheel the bin
Change the bulb
Fix the drip
Pour the jug
Replace your hip.

These are the hands
That fill the bath
Mop the floor
Flick the switch
Soothe the sore
Burn the swabs
Give us a jab
Throw out sharps
Design the lab.

And these are the hands
That stop the leaks
Empty the pan
Wipe the pipes
Carry the can
Clamp the veins
Make the cast
Log the dose
And touch us last.

Wednesday 13 January 2021

The Nursery Calls


The Little Man does not know that he is little, and he is afraid of knowing it. He covers up his smallness and narrowness with illusions of strength and greatness.” Wilhelm Reich

Donald Trump is that ”Little Man” and perhaps even he has reached the limit of his illusions about his strength and greatness. Even before the recent events on Capital Hill, his niece, Mary Trump, spoke of her uncle as being, “criminal, cruel and traitorous” and that he should be indicted and put on trial.

But what of his red-capped MAGA followers? Mary has said that her uncle’s state of mind is mirrored in society and that the US “is looking down the barrel of an explosion of psychological disorders.”

The Capital Hill insurrectionists stand out with their disorders. They included not only a lieutenant colonel and off-duty policemen, adherents of QAnon who believe the government is run by a cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles and Confederate flag-wavers who refuse to believe the American Civil War is over. There was also a buffalo-horned shaman from Arizona with face paint who, at 32, still lives with his mother.

More ominously they included men with T-shirts reading ‘Camp Auschwitz’ and ‘6MWE’—(6 Million Weren’t Enough)—a reference to the mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust.

Their gun-toting racism, bigotry and warrior-worship is, of course, fascism. Their targets include those perceived to be enemies of their leader, Donald Trump.

One Trumpist I happen to know has, for some years, devoted his Facebook posts to uploading photos of USAF fighter jets – a new jet posted every day.

As the president’s incendiary character became dangerously transparent, and we moved towards the end of his Presidency, this particular Trumpist changed his posts from “patriot” pilots in thundering war jets to pictures of 1940s propeller model airplanes, adorned with Rita Hayworth pin-ups.

As Trump slinks off to his golf links, it would seem his followers are retreating to a childhood they never left. A longing to buy DIY model airplanes with plastic parts and decals. Armchair warriors, equippped with anger and Trumpian mysogyny, buzzbombing their sisters. They are seeking the comfort of the nursery at a time when reality is too tough to be faced.

Sunday 10 January 2021

"State corruption on a grand scale"




“The public and private worlds are inseparably connected ... the tyrannies and servilities of one are the tyrannies and servilities of the other.”
―Virginia Woolf

I find myself today, after operations and stroke, hunkered down at home and surviving, nervously dependent on an embattled health service.

The result is that my blogs for the People’s Campaign for Jeremy Corbyn have been almost entirely concentrated on defense of, and support for, the NHS. They are attacks against political tyranny.

That tyranny is led by a government that is totally corrupt. Our lives are increasingly threatened, not as some would argue by incompetence and laziness, but by deliberate acts of profiteering.

In the health service there are brave whistleblowers. Here is ICU nurse, Ameera Sheikh, who told the Press Association: “Some of my colleagues are so burnt out that they can’t eat … Now we’re seeing a massive surge, being in the second wave, and it’s worse than the first wave … In our ICU usually all our patients have a bed in their own room, so it’s just one bed in one room … But sometimes you’re seeing two beds in one room and you’re seeing a bed in between where two beds are… which then makes it a tighter squeeze … Usually the nursing to patient ratio is one to one, but you’re seeing one to two, one to three, one to four … After all these months some of my colleagues are still wearing expired FFP3 masks … A lot of them still haven’t been given the appropriate PPE-wear.”

The Lancet Editor, Richard Horton, commented in a recent tweet, “The United Kingdom is an embarrassment in its response to COVID-19. Without a plan for renewal, for investment in addressing inequalities, the vaccine roll-out will fail. Inequality is the central issue in COVID-19.”

Meanwhile The Lancet’s sister journal, the BMJ, ran a recent editorial that declared, “The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale that is harmful to public health.”

Like me, you may be sitting at home in anger and frustration, but you are not defenceless. On Sunday, 17 January, you can join me at the launch of the Project for Peace and Justice whose aim is, “To bring people together for social and economic justice, peace, and human rights, in Britain and across the world.”

I leave you with these words from Howard Zinn: “small acts when multiplied by millions can change the world.”

Late news; Barts is where I had my heart operation and post-stroke care, They were and are wonderful. I accuse this government of being accessories to murder....