Michael Rosen is calling for an inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. He has asked people to share this piece widely.
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Feb 3 2020
Boris Johnson – speech in Greenwich
“And in that context, we are starting to hear some bizarre autarkic rhetoric, when barriers are going up, and when there is a risk that new diseases such as coronavirus will trigger a panic and a desire for market segregation that go beyond what is medically rational to the point of doing real and unnecessary economic damage, then at that moment humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange, some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion, of the right of the populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other.”
(Translation of this by me (!): we governments shouldn’t use the powers of the state to intervene against this virus because they will prevent the market from operating freely. So the virus should be allowed to fly free round the population, so that the market can be free. Mass death would be a necessary price to pay for the market to go on doing what it does – part of which is to produce the great inequalities we know of so well. And, irony, guess who would be high risk in the face of the virus? Those who experience the rough end of inequality, the poor. Could things have been stated more clearly and more horrifically than this?
A further angle to take on this is that what Johnson is signalling here is along these lines: other countries will intervene to try to stop the virus but we won’t; this means that we will have a competitive advantage over them.
This is a possible interpretation too.0
March 3 2020 Boris Johnson – press conference
” “I was at a hospital the other night where I think a few there were actually coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody, you’ll be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands.”
March 5 Boris Johnson on TV
Is the delay [ie the attempt to delay the spread of the virus] essentially trying to spread this out so it doesn’t all happen at once and overwhelm the NHS, and that you can actually delay it into perhaps the summer when it’s a little bit quieter and the ordinary flu might have died down a wee bit, is that what you’re doing?
Boris Johnson: Well it’s a very, very important question, and that’s where a lot of the debate has been and one of the theories is, that perhaps you could take it on the chin, take it all in one go and allow the disease, as it were, to move through the population, without taking as many draconian measures. I think we need to strike a balance, I think it is very important, we’ve got a fantastic NHS, we will give them all the support that they need, we will make sure that they have all preparations, all the kit that they need for us to get through it. But I think it would be better if we take all the measures that we can now to stop the peak of the disease being as difficult for the NHS as it might be, I think there are things that we may be able to do.
(Note what Johnson is doing here is first stating the Herd Immunity without vaccinations that scientists and others have told him. He does not as has been stated dismiss this totally. He modifies it – in his terms: ‘I think we need to strike a balance’. He is saying that trying to engineer some Herd Immunity without vaccination is OK but the government will also take ‘measures’ too. It’s clearly a mixed message!)
March 12 Robert Peston had his usual inside story in ‘The Spectator’ with a headline “Herd immunity’ will be vital to stopping Coronavirus’ and wrote of this desirable outcome without mentioning the inevitable huge loss of life involved nor the high chance of it being unachievable.
March 13, three government scientists sang the same tune:
i) Graham Medley told BBC Newsnight, ‘We’re going to have to generate herd immunity…the only way of developing that in the absence of a vaccine is for the majority of the population to become infected…’
ii) Sir Patrick Vallance said that morning on the Today programme, ‘Our aim is to try and reduce the peak, broaden the peak, not suppress it completely; also because the vast majority of people get a mild illness, to build up some kind of herd immunity.’
iii) Same day, John Edmunds said, ‘The only way to stop this epidemic is indeed to achieve herd immunity’.
These people were talking of engineering a situation in which mass death would take place. It’s not as if science is unaware of the Black Death, Myxomatosis, Polio or Dutch Elm Disease – all with mass fatalities and maiming.
The extraordinary fact is that this idea of ‘herd immunity’ without vaccination is lousy biology. No one knew then how long or short nor how strong or weak the body’s immune response would be to this virus. No one knew how often it would mutate nor how different the mutations would be from the original virus. These scientists were gambling with ‘known unknowns’ some of which would result in no ‘herd immunity’.
What’s more, the limited ‘herd immunity’ without vaccination that occurs naturally usually involves the evolutionary process of ‘breeding out’ (through death, before they reproduce) of those individuals who are susceptible to the virus and the ‘breeding in’ of those who are resistant, assuming the resistance is inheritable. This takes generations to effect – if ever. The problem for this scenario is that the section of the population most affected by the virus is above ‘breeding’ age! This negates the process by which evolution favours resistant individuals.
It seems to me horrific that top scientists were able to put forward their proposals to enact mass killing without being challenged, either on ethical or biological grounds. If you want to find out why or how this government has been lax, chaotic, incompetent and cruel in its approach to Covid-19, it starts here. The consequence is that there have been tens of thousands of deaths, and there are tens of thousands of us with long term or lifetime debilitating consequences.
They must never be let off the hook.
This article first apeared in Michael’s blog. He has asked us all to share the piece as widely as possible.