Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the…

I take malicious joy in watching people here squirm. I know, of course, that it’s not very kind of me. After years of toxic bile directed towards Blighty, the lot have had to face the reality of their own ineptitude. No, Germans trains do not run on time and save for a very select few lines, they’re not particularly clean or brilliant, either. The famed ICE is really no better than the Bristol to London-Paddington GWR line. The country is hardly efficient. If anything, the albatross that is the state weighs heavily on the necks of the country’s peasants.

After so many years of hearing about how Adolfina Honecker, er, Angela Merkel I mean, is a leader superior to Boris, Toxic Tess (not difficult to be) or David Cameron (again, not exactly a challenge) it’s all come undone. Germany has managed to bungle everything terribly. Take, for example, the vaccination drive. Elderly people were expected to complete a ten-step online appointment registration process with a two-step online ID-verification procedure. The procedure would give me a fit of the vapours and I grew up using this technology. I bloody well can’t imagine my 89-year-old nan who has never used a computer in her life or the 77-year-old neighbour who thinks it’s all bollocks to cope with it. (This isn’t a swipe at the venerable, rather a swipe at the fact that Germany is yonks behind the UK, Australia, Sweden and USA in respect to digitalisation)

The glorious German government is now at the verge of collapse with both major parties heading to historic defeats. The CDU and CSU are caught up in scandal after scandal, reaching as high as the health minister himself. (His husband was profiting from government procurement contracts given the company he works for.) Between general incompetence and corruption, the sense that the CDU/CSU just need to leave and that SPD have betrayed everything they should stand for, Germany’s heading to a frightful coalition.

Then, when things were already going badly, they waged war against the Oxford jab for political reasons. This isn’t my opinion, this is the view of the Italian health authority! As Britain passed the milestone of 50% vaccinated, the German government has finally started to grasp that it might need to simplify its vaccination process. Not that it much matters to me. I’ve given notice of intent to vacate to the landlady, made sure that my papers in the UK are in order and have my aeroplane tickets booked. Oh, and I have made arrangements to get the Johnson & Johnson single-shot jab whilst in California. I might as well get something out of my tax dollars.

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

25 thoughts on “Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the…”

  1. It’s horrifying that elderly Germans were expected to jump through so many on-line hoops to get vaccinated. Here in our “small island” as some euroidiot called the UK we got a phone call from our GP surgery to arrange our first jab and have just had a similar call to organise our second in a fortnight. Uschi seems to be going from bad to worse, but then that’s what she did with every government job she had. Typical! When any EU member state needs to nominate someone for an EU post, they dig up the least competent failed politician. So I wouldn’t be beastly to the Germans, Christopher. I just feel sorry for them and hope they can find some better replacements.

  2. Sheona: I don’t necessarily blame Flintenuschi for this. That she is useless is so obvious that even Blind Freddie can see it. She was, however, tasked with overseeing that policy. Germany, etc. had put in their own orders earlier in 2020. They, however, to make a point agreed to cancel their orders and have the EU manage it. Hungary, the only EU state to go its own way, has outperformed the EU average significantly. Although still trailing the UK, it has managed to get a respectable 26% vaccinated.

    Flintenuschi, likewise, is being set up to take the fall. If you look at the double invocation of Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the ban on vaccine exports, etc. Merkel, Macron, Sanchez, et. al. all have their filthy fingerprints over it. Flintenuschi was pushed to do that and when it blows up, she has to take the fall. It is, of course, her responsibility in the end. The proverbial buck stops with her and if she yields so easily to pressure on contentious issues like that it’s on her. Even Flunker Juncker (One of my flatmates is from Luxembourg. He told me that in the Grand Duchy people call him “Flunker Juncker” or Lying Juncker) would not have gone along with something that daft.

    It really doesn’t look good for Germany. It’s a society on the edge of a nervous breakdown. People are struggling. The country is in drift and even the most basic things are calamitous. For example, parents don’t always know if their children are going to school or not. Even teachers don’t know if they should turn up or not. They’re often only notified late the evening before. Remote learning has proven to be an insurmountable challenge for Germany. When, at work, we had to go fully online last March, there was some confusion and chaos but the basic skeleton was already there and many instructors simply had to transfer course materials from online sections to the online portion of on-campus classes. I had the chance to observe the situation in the UK. It wasn’t always easy, but at least in England people were able to cobble something together and muddle through. The way it looks now, it will be a Greens-SPD-Free Democrats coalition. The Greens will likely emerge in the pole position and aren’t likely to want to play second fiddle to the CDU. The SPD could not survive another “Grand Coalition” with the CDU. Nor did they even really want to enter into one this time. The FDP have emerged as consistent critics of the CDU. In fact, Lindner (the FDP leader) was the one who introduced a motion to call for a vote of no-confidence against Merkel. There’s no going back from that now. A Green-Red-Yellow coalition is the most likely outcome with the FDP serving as an emergency brake on the Green Party’s worst instincts.

  3. Here in Zimbabwe, getting the vaccine is, by all accounts, very straight forward. You simply pitch up at the appropriate clinic with your National ID and wham, bam its done. Quick and free of charge, thanks to our Chinese benefactors.

    You will note that I said ‘by all accounts’. I have chosen not to receive a vaccine and will not do so unless it becomes to impractical to resist, which judging by the noises coming from the UK, may be a reality. Johnson is dying, not literally, unfortunately, to introduce vaccine passports. I am utterly convinced that this whole saga has been blown out of proportion to a criminal extent that parallels war crimes. Yes the virus exists, yes some people have and will continue to die from it. But the numbers are, in the scheme of things, insignificant. It is a virus like myriad of others that mankind has had to deal with over the millions of years during which our species has evolved. I will put my faith in my own immune system and will not kowtow to the oppressive controls being forced on us by the political tribe that has well and truly lost its head. 1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World! How prescient were Orwell and Huxley! The acquiescence of the victims of these utterly wicked edicts is just too alarming. Liberal democracies; my rrrs!

    If I catch it and die, I will look like a prat, but I will be dead, so it wont matter to me. If I catch it and survive my point will have been well made. So, its a win-win situation. As for my ‘loved ones’ (dear God how I loath that term), they will get over my death, just as I will get over theirs, though as things stand, I do not know anyone who has died of Covid, though over the course of the past year I have lost family and friends to other causes. I know from experience that people do get over the death of others unless they are the sort of people who have a wallowing sense of self-pity which is anything but sincere. Humans have been coping with grief for a lot longer than Boris Johnson et al would have us believe. Believe it or not death comes to us all and despite what those lunatics who profess that black lives matter, they could not be more wrong. No lives matter; well not to any significant degree. They never have and they never will.

    The chief problem of the world in which we live stems from the fact that governments believe that they can control all aspects of our lives, including our morals , desires, prejudices, and health. Whereas earlier generations understood that the vast majority of our behaviour should be governed by our own consciences which to a very large extent, though by no means entirely, are/were heavily influenced by the upbringing we received, today people are taught that the government is the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong. The government should keep well away from my conscience. That job was and is for my parents, my priests, my teachers my family and my community.

    Criminalising specific terms of speech and behaviour to the extent that occurs today, does not eliminate the thoughts that would otherwise be expressed, they merely distort them and allow them to be manifested in a different format. The hatred exhibited by the ‘woke brigade’ is every bit as unpleasant and damaging as those who indulge in more obvious forms of prejudice. You cannot legislate against nasty and selfish thoughts. Well not yet.

    As for our health, do these people not understand evolution? Viruses can evolve far faster that mankind develop global vaccines. Our own immune systems are a much better line of defence than some man made medicine. Talk about snake oil. If we have to go through this pavlova every time a new virus emerges, the sanity, let alone the happiness and prosperity of mankind, does not bear thinking about.

    Which in a round about way brings us back to Christopher’s observation that he enjoys the emotion, the name of which he coyly refrained from using, schadenfreude. The woke brigade, which appears to be a large majority of Britons, Europeans, Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and 49.85% of Americans, will, I sincerely hope, soon be squirming when they realise that they have ‘drunk the Kool Aid’ ( though in reality it was Flavor Aid) that is the poison of anti-white, anti-heterosexual, anti-Christians, pro-LGBT, pro-feminist, liberal, multicultural, government authoritarianism. But I will forgive; they just need to get on with it.

  4. Sipu: I’m choosing my battles. Some things I can get away with, but not all things and certainly not everything.
    I could, of course, stand on principle and refuse to get the jab but I’d very likely lose my job and find it almost
    impossible to find anything else resembling a job with that quality. So far it’s not obligatory and probably won’t
    be for the rest of the year, but there’s no guarantee as to what happens next year. Likewise, it will be infinitely more difficult for me to travel without it. I won’t take a Moderna or Pfizer/BionTech, but others, okay. I’ll go along with it.

    I decided to take a look at death statistics. It is true that 2020 and 2021 have had higher death rates than the years immediately preceding them with some monthly fluctuations — some months more, some months less. But when looking at death statistics over 30 years, the totals aren’t outside the norm. If anything, the relatively low death totals make me wonder if the dreaded koof met a larger than historically normal population of extremely vulnerable people. It’s never a good thing when people die, it’s very rarely a happy event but people are mortal. People die. I remember bad ‘flu seasons, ‘flu seasons when people were dying in the corridors of NHS hospitals.

    I spoke with my Italian tutor about the situation in Italy. She’s at the end of her patience as well, Italy as a whole is. What she told me is that All day, everyday, people have fear and panic beaten into them — fear and panic about everything. She went shopping with her nephew. She could buy clothes for her nephew, but not for herself. Her father received a fine from the police. He was talking alone in the woods, he lives near the border of two communes. He didn’t think much of it, he was born and raised in the region and had walked in those woods his entire life. He crossed into the neighbouring commune — no more than maybe half a mile. He was alone, there was nobody with him. But a police officer charged with patrolling the poorly-marked borders caught him and fined him. Travel and tourism is effectively off-limits. However, friends and family were making arrangements to visit each other over Easter. Now? Completely banned and police check IDs whenever trains are about to travel between two communes.

    People in the media, people in “polite society” often take swings at Trump because of his inconsistent relationship with the truth. Of course, this was partially fair. He did tell a lot of porkies and tall tales were part of his arsenal. What isn’t so readily discussed is just how dishonest everyone else is. For example, Anthony Fauci is treated as some sort of sage even though his record is atrocious and he is responsible for mismanaging the AIDS crisis. Birx is like a weathervane changing positions as politics requires. Those who encouraged people to congregate at the onset of the scamdemic condemned people for not going far enough, for being a bit capricious in his style. Likewise, SAGE have been consistently wrong. Professional Witless is nearly as useless as Anthony Fasci. Neil Ferguson has been catastrophically wrong about everything he’s ever touched. Politicians and media figures are just inventing things half the time. Anyone with initials after their name in anything that’s remotely related to medicine is rolled out and treated like an oracle. The appeal to false authority is no longer recognised. Empiricism is dismissed. There is a narrative and all that doesn’t fit the narrative must be excluded rather than letting the narrative evolve with facts as they come in.

  5. For me the biggest question unanswered by those who think that the world should just have ignored this virus and ‘carried on regardless’ is ‘What do you think would have happened had Governments not intervened’?

    Do they really believe that the infection rate would have been the same had Governments let people who contracted the virus casually wander wherever they wanted?

    Even Medieval Europe knew that quarantine (from the Latin for 40) knew that the best way of containing the 1349 and later ‘pestilences’ was to isolate sufferers.

    Unlike those 14th C physicians trying to contain the Black Death, we, in the 21st Century, do have weapons to limit the Death Toll – but we do not have the facilities to treat everyone who would have been infected had Governments not intervened to slow down the rate of infection – and many, many more people would have died when our medical services were overwhelmed.

    Again to those who deplore the measures designed to contain the spread and consequences of this noxious virus, I have to ask: Why are you so arrogant as to think ‘You’re O.K. – and sod the rest of the word?’

  6. Sipu: I was looking at multiple countries as a whole. There are always regional fluctuations and variations. The canard of “German hospitals at the brink”, for example, is just that: a canard. Some hospitals in some parts of German are stressed, but that is not unusual. It doesn’t help that Germany slashed its hospital capacity by 20% last year. Hospitals rarely have all that much spare capacity, anyway. Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Portugal, etc. all have slashed their hospital capacities. Poland has been running its medical system on a shoestring budget for years. I spoke to a woman from Poland who divides her time between Poland and Germany about it. She said that medical care in Poland is relatively expensive and although, in a pinch, it does what it needs to do it is obviously run on the cheap.

    More than anything, I suspect that this viral outbreak has done much to expose the fragility of life. For decades people have been growing complacent and lazy. For decades people have taken far too much for granted. In terms of pandemics, this is a mild one. People are not dying on the street. Death totals are not shockingly beyond historic norms. Governments have been cutting back on public services including medicine at a time when people are both living longer and there are more and more unhealthy people. One of the few who hasn’t tried to shift blame elsewhere, who acknowledged failures on his part and on the part of the government is Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist. Elsewhere, governments are responding to decades of failure, complacency, bad decisions, short-term thinking and a lack of foresight by sticking the jackboot of state thuggery a bit harder into the neck of the collective public. Anything to pass blame onto someone else.

  7. Boadicea: Arrogant? You mean like the Queensland minister of health who can’t manage to vaccinate frontline medical staff and blames Canberra for it? Or Adolfina Honecker who supported cutting Germany’s hospital capacity by 20% during a viral outbreak and then accuses the German public of not doing enough to relieve pressure on hospitals? Or Erna Solberg who tells Norwegians that they have to stay at home and can’t visit friends or family only to have a large birthday party? Or, perhaps, Gavin Newsom who ordered California’s restaurants to close, who put the entire economy on ice only to go to a large catered event at a top-dollar French restaurant? He said that anyone in California eating out should wear a compliance muzzle between bites, but he went to said catered event without one. Or, perhaps, Neil Ferguson, that glorious failure, who is the architect of the UK’s lock-up but he had no issues with running to his mistress at a time when couples who lived apart weren’t allowed to see each other? Perhaps like Nancy Pelosi who said that people should just accept that they can’t get a haircut but went to a hair salon? The same for Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot? I’ll stick with empiricism, thank you very much. Texas, Florida and Georgia aren’t doing worse than California, New York or Massachusetts even though the former have had light-touch restrictions and the latter have been open-air prisons. Sweden with its light-touch restrictions didn’t fare worse than the UK, Italy, Spain or France. So, no. If Anthony Fauci can go to a private baseball game, mingle with people outside his own household and not wear a compliance muzzle, then why can’t I go to a museum?

  8. PS: Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan have the benefit of having easily-controlled borders which they effectively sealed a year ago. In all three cases, the virus was largely contained before it became endemic. Largely because Dan Andrews managed to bungle it something horrific in spite of his brutal lock-up of Victoria. Once a disease is endemic, it’s endemic. It won’t go away. Smallpox is notable as it’s the only disease that has ever been eradicated. It’s a matter of learning how to live with the virus. Even in those three countries, the only way that they can prevent more cases if by keeping their borders sealed forever. There have been worse pandemics within living memory.

  9. Strewth!

    Rarely have I read such unmitigated, nonsensical drivel. You are, gentlemen, daft, ignorant, arrogant and quite unnecessarily rude. In my humble opinion.

    Don’t slam the door behind you.

  10. Bearsy: I critiqued the often self-serving and hypocritical actions of the powers that be. I’ve based my conclusions on the observations I’ve made over various approaches and policies taken by different governments over the last year. Some have done better than others using the same basic approach. The Philippines has not done as well as Taiwan, for example, even though the Philippines has imposed even more Draconian travel restrictions. Sweden hasn’t imposed significantly more restrictions than Brazil, but Brazil’s results were immeasurably worse.

    What am I supposed to think? Germany has had a mask mandate for about a year now. Each wave has been worse than the last. France, Spain and Poland have had among the strictest mask-mandates in the world. The result? No measurable difference. New York and New Jersey have had among the worst results in the developed world yet they had among the strictest measures taken. Florida and Texas took a much more light-touch approach and fared better. There are a lot of variables that influence outcomes and results.

    I did not, to my knowledge, insult anyone on the Chariot. If I did, it was not my intent to do so and I apologise if I spoke more harshly than I meant to. However, I do not care for your response.

  11. Bo and Bearsy, agree with you, without intervention it would have been a damned sight worse.
    Wait till there is a pandemic for which they have no cure! Thankfully one will be dead probably before that incipient arrival! It will surely come, nature has a nasty way of readjusting balance in our world and we have become too dominant a species.

    One of the reasons NY and NJ have had continual upsurge of covid is the non compliant behaviour of the Orthodox Jewish community. Still gathering in their hundreds without masks for weddings and funerals.

  12. CO: That’s all well and good. I’ve decided to refuse to ever see a doctor again, even though I’m having seizures again. I’m more scared of what they would do me than I am of dying.

  13. Christopher:

    First and foremost: no country on earth can afford to fund any service, be it health, defence or otherwise, for a ‘what-if’ situation. So I have no problem with the fact that nowhere on earth had a medical system capable of dealing with the ‘unknown’ of this present crisis. And I don’t expect any country to fund such services in the future. We simply can’t afford it.

    But, I WILL, and suspect a lot of other people will, have a problem with any country that doesn’t have a plan to deal with a similar crisis in the future. This is definitely a wake-up call for Governments everywhere to focus beyond their term of office.

    The biggest problem, as far as I can see is that no-one anywhere had a clue about what to do. And yes, you are right – we in Australia, N.Z. et al, were able (probably instinctively!) to shut our borders PDQ .

    Like you, I’m appalled with those who ‘preach’ and think they are exempt. But it still does not negate the message – all it says is that they are arrogant b*ds and should be removed PDQ.

    For your information, I am pretty p**d off with the slow vaccination rate here in QLD; and the lack of information as to how I will get my first jab. A friend’s surgery is contacting patients; she and hubbie have already had theirs, I’m phoning tomorrow about mine and Bearsy’s. It does seem far too haphazard to me – but then I look at how the UK has organised its vaccination – and wonder why my Gov can’t do the same.

    Can you tell me what pandemics have been ‘worse pandemics within living memory’. Because I can’t think of one.

    Christina:

    Thanks for your support!

  14. Quite amusing getting our shots here, it went thus…
    Had no intention of going anywhere to get one except locally. Our small town pharmacy was very slow in being supplied, then I heard on the grapevine that they had supplies but loads of people from Bellingham (nearly 20 miles away) were invading pinching our jungle juice.
    Marched into pharmacy and tore them a new rear opening about looking after their own customers first! Asked to go on the list to be told they had no slots.
    A couple of days later had a phone call, considering I had not left my name or number somewhat interesting, offering us a shot slot the next week. Next week it was all locals, I think they rather took to heart my message of look after your own first and had become proactive!
    I am the only British person in the locality and speak with a pronounced ‘received English’ accent, they all know me round town. I also make a point of using local suppliers if I can, use it or lose it! had too much of that in rural Wales.
    Second shot administered no problems, all my garden bubble have been done there no problems at all.
    Seems to be the answer, distribute the vaccine more widely, not these monstrous sites, where people actually live.

  15. Boadicea: Of course. Money is finite and resources have to be allocated prudently. That wasn’t necessarily the issue at hand. Rather, it’s that healthcare systems have had their funding cut to the point that they cannot cope with even routine fluctuations. For example, the annual tradition of NHS hospitals being stretched beyond capacity, about more and more people having to be referred to private treatment by the NHS because waiting lists are simply too long. Sweden’s healthcare system has been pared back to the point that it’s barely even functional. Germany’s healthcare system has had its funding cut to the point that it groans and squeaks when dealing with routine visits and procedures. My uncle had to go to hospital in Switzerland. He was impressed by the quality of the medical care there. The hospitals were clean, efficient, not crowded and the doctors and nurses were very attentive and capable. The doctors wanted to perform a surgery on him. However, his insurance provider were having daily tantrums and were ringing up daily to see if he could be moved to a German hospital. They relented. It was a tremendous drop. The hospital was worn-out. The nurses overworked and the doctors either didn’t care or were completely overwhelmed. The decline in the quality of care in Germany has been shocking. I know New Yorkers. They told me that a lot of NYC-area hospitals have been getting by on hopes and prayers since the 1990s. People in France and the Netherlands have been grumbling for some time. The issue isn’t so much preparing for any eventuality, but funding medical systems properly.

    Governments do have pandemic plans. They have detailed, balanced, nuanced and comprehensive pandemic plans. The UK civil service started work on a pandemic plan, including one for a respiratory disease, starting in 2007. The problem isn’t that there weren’t pandemic plans, it’s that they were thrown out the window because governments panicked due to media and social media pressure. For the first months, the original plans were followed. But then Italy decided to follow China’s lead, followed by Denmark, Spain, France and other European countries. At that point, Boris was under so much pressure that he caved. If it looks like governments are floundering and making things up as they go along, it is because they are. It’s because they’re not following balanced, nuanced, well-considered medical advice but following a single strand of opinion, a single group of scientific advisors rather than considering and balancing the advice of multiple groups of scientific advisors. If Sweden is an outlier, it’s because it’s the country with a well-considered, nuanced plan that seeks to inflict the minimal amount of disruption possible. Contrary to popular belief, Sweden did actually impose restrictions. It continues to impose restrictions. But they’re not the destructive restrictions of Italy, Germany, France or the UK.

    The Asian Influence Pandemic of the 1956-’58 killed up to four million people, the 1968 Hong Kong Influenza Pandemic killed nearly as many. The world population was less than half what it is now. The AIDS pandemic has taken over 30 million.

  16. CO: California’s done better. They have vaccination clinics but also have partnerships with pharmacies. They are very strict about ensuring only that people who have a residence in that vicinity are eligible for a jab. For example, a bill, pay stub, photo ID, etc.

  17. Christopher, I’m sorry to see you joining those illiterates who use “critique” as a verb instead of a noun. What’s wrong with the verb “criticise”?

  18. Sheona: My sincerest apologies. My single functioning brain cell gave out long ago. I no longer know what I’m saying or doing half the time. For example, a couple weeks ago I was jotting down some notes and only realised a few lines in that I had been writing English in Cyrillic script.

  19. Christopher: to be honest I have no knowledge of how the various State-funded Health systems work in Europe. I only know that whenever I’ve needed access to them here in Oz, I have no complaints. True, it isn’t all ‘free’, but in a ‘crisis’ it is free and very fast. I have relatives and friends in the U.K. who haven’t complained about the lack of treatment in an emergency or for treatment for their life-long problems.

    We will just have to agree to disagree about the value of lockdowns. Sweden and Brazil did nothing – and where are they now?

    Most of us in Oz are convinced that ‘lock-down’ and ‘lock-in (country-wise)’ has saved us from the horrors of Europe and elsewhere. We are convinced that both have allowed us to return to a fairly normal way of life which has also enabled most businesses to survive – and to revive our economy.

    O.K. so the airlines and tourist industries have suffered – but most have ripped us off for years- and don’t get that much sympathy – especially since most companies are still refusing to return the monies that we paid over a year ago for trips that they cancelled and refuse to refund until December 2022.

    That being so – few in Queensland objected to a three day ‘lock-down’ the week before Good Friday so that the Government could track down some very few ‘socially acquired’ cases.

    You, and others, may call us all ‘sheep’ for acquiescing so easily to a couple of days without a gym, an outing to buy a new dress or cosmetics, etc, and for accepting that we need to wear masks in shops (I hate the b**dy things – they fog up my glasses!) and need to sign in to restaurants and pubs, etc. but if it means that we can do almost everything else apart from travelling overseas – so be it.

  20. Boadicea: Sweden ranks at 22 in the world in per capita deaths. It fell below countries like Czechia, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, France and Spain that imposed Draconian lock-ups. Some Swedish hospitals were, at times, under pressure but Sweden was at no point incapable of coping on a national level. Contrary to popular belief, Sweden did, in fact, impose restrictions. There were and still are limitations on the number of people who can gather at one time. There are limitations on how many people can be in public transport at one time. There are limitations on how many people can be in museums at a single time and the are limitations on the number of people allowed in rooms in museums at once. At my favourite open air museum in Stockholm, Skansen, they limit the number of people allowed on the premises per day. Many museums such as Nordiska, Historiska, Sveriges Nationalmuseet, etc. requires people to make time-limited reservations in advance in order to limit the number of people who can be admitted. The same, I should add, applies to Skansen. This is an improvement on the fact that Sweden had shut its museums for months last year and this year. At the peak of the original crisis last year Sweden also put a stop to travel between regions. Stockholm’s foot traffic at this time last year had fallen even more than London’s. The amount of blatant lies I’ve seen about Sweden are astounding.
    That Sweden fared worse than its Nordic neighbours is true, but Sweden also is in many ways very different. In terms of demography, Sweden more closely resembles the Netherlands. Roughly half of deaths in Sweden were in care homes. Sweden failed to manage them in a spectacular fashion. Other Nordic countries did infinitely better. The Swedish government has fully accepted responsibility for this. But this does not explain the other half of deaths. Norway, Finland and Iceland did much better but they don’t have cities and densely populated as Sweden. Of deaths in Sweden outside care homes, rather a large percentage were in certain suburbs of immigrant background. Many were Somalis, Pakistanis, Kurds, etc. All tend to live as extended families in multi-generational households. When you have 10-15 people living in a household, including elderly people, you have a far higher chance of transmitting a disease. When a disease overwhelmingly targets the elderly, this is a problem.

    My primary point is that there is no single solution to this. There is also no single reason as to why some countries fared better than others. If lock-ups in and of themselves were the solution, then Spain wouldn’t be the basket case that it was, Czechia, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, etc. Germany would not have seen the incredibly growth in deaths that it did over the winter. The lock-up went on for about four months and it did nothing to counter the tide. In Paris, people have had to wear compliance muzzles outside their homes and private vehicles since the summer. It has done nothing to slow anything down. Likewise, Spain, Italy, Poland, Czechia, etc. have been very strict about that and they’ve all done worse than light-touch Sweden. Likewise, in the United States the lock-up states of California, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts have not done better than Georgia, Florida and Texas. That Brazil has done poorly is true. But so have Peru and Bolivia and both have had strict lock-ups. All three countries have poorly-developed healthcare systems. Brazil also has large populations of relatively isolated populations, especially in Manaus, the hardest-hit state. Nota bene, Brazil, per capita, has done better than a number of countries that imposed heavy-handed lock-ups.

    Your caricaturisation of my views is very unfair. I have not called you a sheep and I will not do so. I disagree with you on a certain number of issues, but I have deep respect for you as a person and for your intelligence. There’s a difference between disagreeing with someone on issues and trying to delegitimise them personally. I will not do that. I trust that you have enough respect for me that we can have a frank debate, however testy at times, that doesn’t descend into mud-slinging.

    The strategy that was tried in most of Europe has been a complete failure. We’ve had three months of relative normality since last March. Three months. That’s not a lot. I’m not talking about the occasional short-term stoppage or wearing masks in very limited circumstances for the public good. What I’m talking about is being locked-up for months at a time with no discernable improvements. What I’m talking about is the fact that some of us haven’t had normal social interactions in months. I can count on the number of times I’ve met anyone for a cup of coffee in the last six months on one hand and have fingers left to spare! Australia, like New Zealand, like Taiwan, like Iceland have done well and a large part of it was their ability to isolate their populations and keep their populations isolated. We do not have that luxury in Europe, nor do they have that luxury in the USA. Even if intercontinental flights are limited, the reality of life in both the USA and Europe is that cross-border commercial traffic is necessary. Because both are more densely populated, because both receive intense global and regional traffic, the virus became endemic here from the start. Even if the USA has stopped most international travel (and vice versa), even though Europe has stopped most intercontinental travel, it’s done nothing to help us. We have to find a different way to manage the situation than lock-ups that last for months at a time that ultimately result only in more months-long lock ups that prove just as unsuccessful.

  21. Sipu: Had an interesting chat with Italy today. The Italian medical authorities acknowledged that only about 12% of reported fatalities were actually caused by the virus itself. The other 88% were of people with one or, as was often the case, more than one, serious health problems who would have lived for weeks or months longer had they not caused the virus. Meanwhile, Texas which lifted all restrictions just over a month ago has not had any real issues as a result. Prison-state Michigan, on the other hand, is an absolute mess. Florida, Georgia, South Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, etc. are all doing well with few to no restrictions. I look forward to getting into my good old Amador in June. It’s operating much like Texas. The governor’s diktats are falling on deaf ears and nobody cares.

  22. Christopher: My apologies if I offended you. You have not called me a ‘sheep’ and it was wrong to infer that you had.

    However, you will never convince me that the world should just have let the pandemic to run its course and that lock-outs; lock-ins; lock-downs; masks and social-distancing do not have an effect in reducing the numbers seeking medical treatment and deaths – and I’m very glad that I live in a country that set all those restrictions in place sufficiently early to have a real effect.

    So we must agree, as I said, earlier to disagree.

  23. Boadicea: We’re probably 35% in agreement on this issue. I’m not of the view that it should have just been left to run its course. I do, however, think that responses could have been better calibrated. I also think that some things should be kept permanent. For example, when I was in France last August there were restrictions on how many people were allowed into museums and historical sites at once. Tickets could be booked well in advance and were timed with a half-hour’s grace period. This makes visiting a lot of sites far more pleasant and is also more sustainable. For am I, for example, against wearing a face covering in shops, etc. I do so without argument. I am, however, opposed to being expected to walk around outside with a KN-95. I’m also sceptical of requiring face coverings for flights. When I fly to Stockholm next month, I will need to show a negative test taken within 48 hours of arrival before I even board the aeroplane. I’ve booked a test in Luxembourg to make sure I can comply with that requirement. I will also need to take a PCR test in Stockholm before flying to Istanbul and antigen tests in Istanbul and San Francisco before flying. The PCR tests are a bit problematic because of their hyper-sensitivity, but both the antigen and PCR tests are highly accurate at filtering out people who are infectious. With HEPA filters now de rigueur on aeroplanes (why, for heaven’s sake, weren’t they before?) the risk of transmission is very low. Air Canada and Delta Airlines require people to wear face coverings between bites and sips. When this is the logic, I grow sceptical of the validity of it as the last thing you’re supposed to fiddle around with masks. Constantly touching them, adjusting them, pulling them up and down, defeats their purposes and, in fact, is worse than not wearing them at all. The fact that a lot of sites and aviation companies waited until now to start actually properly cleaning aeroplanes, trains and coaches is beyond me.

    I’ve developed hypoxemia. It will eventually take me. A lot of the more stringent requirements do damage my health. For example, wearing KN-95 masks at best give me severe headaches and chest pain. I have had seizures as a result of having worn them. That I’m unlikely to make it more than a few more years doesn’t bother me. I’ve done enough in my life, but I don’t want to die in a gutter somewhere because some Karen thought I should be wearing one in a park.

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