A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 2

18th December 2020

Okay let’s just get it over and done with.

1. Infections are up, way up. Like that Pixar cartoon about going to Venezuela with balloons, and that is the second most weepy film for men (after Shawshank Redemption, for women it’s Titanic or Kittens III, or The Dog Dies At The End or summat). That kind of Up, tear-jerkingly so. Not just here but across Europe, the US, Lat Am and even Japan and SE Asia. Some places that had some of the best results the first time round are now suffering the worst, such as Slovenia, Bosnia, North Macedonia, and Czechia that even held end of Covid celebrations back in summer. Those wretched balloons.

2. It looks like new strains are at work: the UK is suffering due to a homegrown mutation that emerged in Kent, and has dramatically infected London from the east these last two weeks (with Wales going into super-lockdown -Tier 4 -that even limits transport). Places across the world that enjoyed low infection rates due to humidity (whereby it was posited the virus latched onto minute water droplets that fell to the ground and became less airborne), are now seeing it skyrocket on the new wave, such as New Orleans and parts of Peru.

Germany’s previous response was castigated as being far too relaxed, with barely a lockdown. This second visitation, despite much stricter measures, have seen deaths skyrocket for no good reason -it points strongly towards a different strain.

Many countries are reaching or exceeding the dreaded 1 death per 1,000, including now the UK (by comparison for our worst global flu outbreak recently -2018 -it was 0.0086 deaths per 1,000, more than 116x less fatal).

They also think C-19 is deadlier than Spanish Flu as a virus, insofar that in 1918 they had far less PPI, infrastructure, treatment and global lockdowns which is why it had a higher death toll. Yet C-19’s first two months in NYC (from their first death) was still comparable with the worst peak months of 1918, despite our modern day measures and facilities, and the fact the city was in lockdown. The US state of North Dakota has recently joined the ranks of New Jersey and Massachusetts with the world’s highest death rates, though they may be joined by Tennessee, currently with the fastest infections, ballooning as we speak. -Many of the Midwestern and Southern states most averse to mask wearing are now paying the price. Hospital beds have run out in Sweden, and are imminently about to do so in Texas and New York City.

3. The vaccines rolling out, Pfizer, Moderna, Oxford, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Sputnik V etc for a time looked like they would all be bought up multiple times over by the rich countries (Canada grabbed enough for 10 doses for each of its citizens), with the Developing World waiting till as late as 2024 to get theirs. WHO on Wednesday however set aside 2 billion shots for them (about 10% of those available so far, for the majority of humans on the planet), propping up support from China, Russia and the World Bank. And New Zealand has heroically bought up doses enough for the Pacific island nations too (thank you Ardern) -not just magnanimously but in recompense for the decimation in the previous pandemic, when soldiers returning from WWI stopped off en route and spread Spanish Flu.

It’s also been found out that Moderna’s vaccine was engineered as early as January 13th, before even the second death anywhere in the world. Just a few days after China released the genetic sequence for the virus -it really takes this long to test. China’s Clover has just announced promising results in its own labs, a vaccine able to be stored and transported at 2C to 8C, similar to Moderna’s (by comparison Pfizer’s needs -70C to -80C).

4. Meanwhile the African nations appear to still be on their winning streak of low infection. Much to the disbelief of the West who assume it’s all a case of non reportage. However look beyond cultural arrogance and Africa has many winning traits to weather the storm. Notably it’s demographics, where much of the continent is actually made up of children and teenagers far less susceptible to dying from the disease, and the older contingent are a fraction of their Western counterparts. Their age pyramids resemble Chinese roofs.

Nigeria

Ethiopia

Ghana

Egypt

South Africa currently has the continent’s highest death rate, but inline with the fact it’s also the most aged nation of the region:

By comparison, richer nations have far larger proportions and populations of older folk, who are far more at risk -they more resemble demographic meringues of doom, much flattened and bulbous:

UK

Italy

China

Peru

Also this isn’t to detract from the fact the African Council convened a few days after the pandemic was announced and agreed to enact continent-wide measures between nations. As the region most likely to suffer from the disease, with little PPI, ICUs and infrastructure (but no stranger to epidemics) they knew they HAD to rely on preventative measures.

The more pink, the more stringent, as charted by Oxford University. Tanzania was notably scolded by its neighbours for being the outlier, though even its response would put many richer nations to shame:

5. To cap off, world leadership is still playing up. While many are valiantly fighting the good fight (New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, Germany’s Angela Merkel) the usual suspects are still at it, banging the drum and shitting in the sink while everyone else tries to get on with it. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro mentioned taking the vaccine may turn one into an alligator (having set himself on a personal crusade against vaccines in general, in contrast to the rest of the nation), while Trump is still being too consumed AF to stay in the White House to roll out the meds with any speed whatsoever. Mexico’s Manuel Lopez Obrador, mask averse and slamming Europeans for having lockdowns, is conducting only 10,000 tests a day (with a whopping 97% positivity rate) in a nation of 130 million.

Oh and France’s Emanuel Macron just got it. Still would.

6. The frontline workers in Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, California meanwhile are protesting the fact that they were left off the list of 5,000 vaccines that arrived for the facility staff. Only seven medical residents made the cut, while the higher management working from home, and fatcats slumming it in their deep pile Bond lairs got it. -Even cleaners and caterers, yet not the nurses and scrubs directly in the wards. The hospital blamed an algorithm and too much pressure for it to have been reviewed. Yeah soz about that.

7. Despite all this it’s shopping as normal, in London at least. A mate has just reported on the carnival buzz of my local high street too, Northcote Road. This really doesn’t look like a citywide lockdown:

So business as usual then, world. The same cackhandedness, grabbing the pie, assumption and not giving a toss.

Yay. I plan this to be my only political entry for the blog (well until I summon the urge over some tabloidal horror), as it gets me down and I’m becoming a grump. From now on go out and buy a fucking newspaper (just mask up). x

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