The European Parliament–unlike the British one–is meeting virtually, and an Irish member, Luke Flanagan (called Ming, after a character out of Flash Gordon) discussed agricultural policy, live and beamed to an unwilling world, while wearing a dark shirt and possibly underwear but nothing more than that.
We know this because he set his iPad to portrait instead of landscape. And I understand that tastes differ, but I’m reasonably sure this isn’t the portrait you want hanging over your mantle.
The EU’s translators could be heard fighting not to laugh as they (heroically) went on translating what he said into all the EU’s many languages.
He now calls himself Ming the Trouserless.
Possibly for fear of an online dress-code rebellion, Boris Johnson backed down and will now allow Britain’s members of parliament to vote remotely if they have medical conditions that would make attending in person dangerous or if they have family members who etc. and so on and so on.
As far as I can tell, that doesn’t include MPs who in spite of the virus have to travel from way to hell and gone to get to Westminster, and it’s anyone guess whether it includes black, Asian, or minority ethnic MPS, who are at higher risk from the virus than whites, for reasons that haven’t been figured out yet.
Since the MPs have come home to roost, chickenlike, in Westminster, the union that represent parliament’s staff is threatening to strike over conditions they consider unsafe. They haven’t been able to keep a safe distance from the MPs, they say. But (they didn’t say) they’re all dressed very nicely–not to mention from top to (and this is very important) bottom.
Starting in mid-June, all hospital visitors and outpatients will have to wear masks, and all staff will have to wear surgical masks, the government announced. To which the National Health Service said, “Gee, it would’ve been nice if you’d talked to us about this beforehand, because it’s going to take a little planning.”
“Planning?” the Department of Impulsive Thinking said. “What’s that?”
The government also announced that a limited number of visitors will be allowed into hospitals, and I haven’t a clue if the hospitals were told about that in advance. Possibly, since they haven’t been heard to scream, “You want what?” in public.
A leaked email from the Department of Grinding Slowly has announced that Britain’s world-beating system of testing people for the coronavirus and tracing their contacts won’t be fully operational until September. Or possibly October.
It hasn’t ruled out the possibility of postponing September and October for up to 90 days so that it can make its target.
But don’t worry, we’ll all be fine. Car showrooms are reopening. In no time at all, we’ll be able to get haircuts. (I’ve cut my partner’s hair twice now and we’re still together. She wanted to cut mine, but after what she did to the dog I thought maybe I’d let it grow.) You can meet people who are over 5’6” on Thursdays as long as you’re out of doors and the wind’s from the west. If they stand on your left. Children with birthmarks have returned to school. Children without birthmarks will have to wait until next month.
That report is from the Department of You’ll Never Keep Track of It Anyway.
Those of us who were born with a sunny disposition, along with any number of scientists, are waiting for a second spike in coronavirus cases. In fact, a group of scientists and medics have called for a public inquiry to prepare for it.
Anyone want to place bets on whether they’ll be listened to?
You might want to sit down before you read this next piece. Not because it’s shocking but because it made me dizzy, and I do have a habit of mixing me up with you, so I just assume you’ll have the same problem.
First we (and by we, of course, I mean I) learned from the Guardian that a small US company, Surgisphere, provided the data behind a couple of articles published in reputable medical journals that claimed Covid-19 patients taking hydroxychloroquine (I hate typing that word) were dying at higher rates than people who weren’t taking it.
That led to tests of the drug ending early. It was too dangerous.
But Surgisphere’s extensive database, from which the data was drawn, looked–
Is shaky a polite enough word? Questionable. Let’s settle for questionable. And possibly imaginary.
And Surgisphere, which had listed six employees before the story broke, suddenly listed only three. Some of them have no visible medical, scientific, or data background. The science editor seems to be a science fiction writer and fantasy artist. The marketing executive is an adult model and events hostess.
An adult model? I’m not sure. It probably just means she’s over eighteen, although maybe she makes a living as a role model for adults. Or appears by video link in front of the European Parliament in her not-quite-altogether.
Next we learned that the respectable medical publications withdrew the articles because the authors were no longer sure of their data. There were plans to resume the canceled trials of that drug whose name I hate to type.
But wait: Before anyone had time to check my spelling, we learned that a randomized trial reported that the stuff is useless against Covid-19 and we can all forget about it.
May I never have to type its name again.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve earned the right to whatever good news I can scrape together, and I did find some. Astra-Zeneca is going into high gear producing a vaccine before its effectiveness has been proven. It’s a gamble. If it works, they’ll have 300 million doses ready to go before the end of the year. If it doesn’t, they’ll have set fire to a significant amount of money.
This involves partnerships with a range of groups that I won’t list, and it also involves a commitment to make 1 billion doses available to low- and middle-income countries.
And finally, a Dutch study raises the hope that vitamin K might protect people against the worst forms of Covid-19. So eat your spinach, kids, along with eggs, blue cheese, and hard cheeses. You can put them together into a very nice omelette, and if you’ve been here for a while you know better than to ask me for a recipe.