Hope raises its reckless head above the Covid parapet

Britain has approved two Covid vaccines and hope is raising its reckless head above the parapet. So what does the government do? It hustles us back to its comfort zone, which is chaos. 


Vaccine dosage and the mathematics of gambling

A few days ago, someone in or near the government realized that if people need two doses of vaccine, that means the country needs (pay attention here, because this is complicated) two doses for every person who gets vaccinated. Not to mention enough people and places to vaccinate them twice. And we need to vaccinate almost everyone, which is, in technical terms, a shitload of people.

But, look! If we divide two by two, we get one. 

Who knew?

So let’s give everyone a single dose and tell them to wait a while for the second. That way we’ll get the vaccine to more people. 

This is very clever. 

Irrelevant photo: Daffodils. I saw the first ones in bloom last week. Not these–these are from last year–but you get the basic idea.

Doctors made loud and unhappy sounds. People who already got one injection were given appointments for the second, they said. Who’s going to unschedule them? We (this is the doctors speaking, remember, in unison) and our staff are already at the breaking point and don’t have time to unschedule. What do you want us to do with these people when they show up?

And by the way, does anyone have access to a study indicating that postponing the second vaccination is safe?

Oh, that, the government said. We’ve done some modeling. Short term, it’ll be fine. This will save more lives than the original plan.

The government didn’t hear that noise about appointments. Appointments are Someone Else’s Problem, and as that great philosopher and scientist Douglas Adams pointed out, that means it falls into an SEP field, where becomes invisible.

So let’s stick with the question of studies showing that this is a good idea. Pfizer, the maker of one of the vaccines, said, “There are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days.” And the US’s Dr. Fauci said something along the lines of, Do what you like over there, be we’re not crazy enough to try it here. 

I’m not putting that in quotes because it’s not a quote. He was considerably more diplomatic.

Scientists–at least in Britain–seem to be split. 

And the public? By now, most of us will take any gamble that’s offered. Remember that business about hope’s reckless head? It’s a beautiful sight. We’re in love.

How much protection will a single shot give us for how long? Who the fuck knows? Some. For a while. That’s better than none for eternity. 

They’re talking about delivering the second dose three months after the first, but I don’t recommend betting anything you’re attached to on it working out that way.


The mix-and-match experiment

But why create chaos in one way when the world offers us so many possibilities? 

As far as I can reconstruct this–and it’s not that far, so don’t put too much weight on the sequence of events here–Public Health England published some advice saying it was reasonable to give people one dose of one vaccine and one of another. If necessary.

Why would it be necessary? If, say, the first vaccine isn’t available when the second dose is due. (Whenever, that is, it does turn out to be due.) Or if the person doesn’t know which vaccine they got for a first does and their paperwork’s disappeared into an SEP field. 

“This option is preferred if the individual is likely to be at immediate high risk or is considered unlikely to attend again,” Public Health England wrote.

Cue criticism from assorted experts. 

The New York Times quoted virologist Prof John Moore, who said, “There are no data on this idea whatsoever,” and added that British officials “seem to have abandoned science completely now and are just trying to guess their way out of a mess.”

Which does sound familiar.

Public Health England shot back that they only meant that it would be okay in a crisis. They weren’t recommending it. 

A study of mixed dosing is underway. It might even be better that way. Who the hell knows?


The great vaccine roll-out

What, then, stands in the way of getting the vaccine to as many people as possible as quickly as possible? Among other things, a shortage of people capable of sticking needles into other people safely. So of course the government as made it as difficult as possible to recruit people.

A working dentist thought he’d pitch in, since he’s experienced at giving injections. 

Explaining the documentation he was asked for, he said, “Some of the things are really quite sensible, like resuscitation, and recognising and managing anaphylaxis, but then you get things like preventing radicalisation, level 1 certificate required, [or] safeguarding children level 2.

“Children aren’t a priority for vaccination, [so] I really don’t think we’re going to be seeing children.

“I must admit, I gave up at the second hurdle, because I’m very busy as a dentist and I do get home quite tired at night. I thought ‘good grief, If I have to go through all this, I’m not [doing it].’ “

Would that they took this much care when they were handing out contracts for Covid testing and tracing.


Are schools open or closed?

Yes. But for a while there we weren’t sure which.

A few days before they were due to open, head teachers–if you’re American, that means principals–weren’t sure which they were preparing for. But as I type this on Sunday the prime minister has finally announced that primary schools will open. Except in London and southeastern England, where they’ll stay closed for two weeks  because of the new Covid variant, which is believed to be more infectious. Even though the variant sneaked out of London and the southeast before the holidays and enjoyed a lovely Christmas and New Year’s break in other parts of the country. 

But why not wait till it gets a good hold elsewhere and react then?

Meanwhile, teachers unions are calling for primary schools to stay closed and head teachers have started legal action, hoping they’ll force the government to cough up the data behind its decision to reopen the schools. It’s a good idea, but the government’s beyond the reach of public embarrassment. 

In the meantime, secondary schools are due to reopen on a staggered basis, which is easy since we’re all staggered by now. Universities will open late and their students–some of them–are on rent strike. And Covid testing of students will be carried out by extras from the Dr. Who New Year’s Day special.

Do we know how to throw a party over here or what?

Covid, kids, and rumors

In spite of rumors to the contrary, the new variant doesn’t seem to be hitting children any harder than the old one. A nurse told the BBC that children’s wards were filling up with Covid cases, and the story spread. Hospitals and pediatricians report that they’re not.

Breathe. We have enough trouble without borrowing any.

58 thoughts on “Hope raises its reckless head above the Covid parapet

  1. ‘We have enough trouble without brewing any’ – this is so true. And that nurse story is such a farce, fancy newspapers taking the story of a singular nurse and spreading it like Chinese whispers without first asking the heads of these paediatric wards or other nurses and doctors first. Trump was onto something when he kept citing the ‘fake news’ – sometimes they are fake and love sensationalism, which we do NOT need during these times. The thing that bugs me the MOST is the selfish greed of universities, who insist on taking full fees, rent, etc while their students are languishing and not getting the full impact of a university life that their predecessors were offered at the same price. They should reduce the price, significantly. The fees is so high as it is and students are going into such debt, and all for what, to sit in a cold flat and isolate? Away from their families? Away from university? It doesn’t make sense. That dentist story…. OOoooooooh. I feel so riled up lol with the news today!!!!! I don’t actually read the news anymore, I think I get it all from you! I haven’t even watched any of BoJo’s announcements either because seeing that face on my screen is warranted to make me smash that screen. Nobody knows what they’re doing, but at least other people are not knowing what they’re doing in a sensible way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The phrase fake news was first an accusation against Trump–entirely justified, since he lives a fact-free political life–and he took it over to describe anything he didn’t like. But yes, I do wonder how the story about kids and Covid got loose without confirmation from a second source. Or a third or fourth.

      I can’t watch Johnson on the TV either, but that’s okay because he doesn’t say anything. Okay, I did see a snippet of a recent news conference. He let the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel metaphor get away from him and ended up saying we were going to shorten the tunnel.


      There are actually people out there who know what they’re doing. It’s just that no one wants to listen to them. They say inconvenient things.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been reading almost all of your updates, but haven’t commented. I do appreciate the time and effort you devote to compiling and analyzing the C-19 news.

    Today I am compelled to ask, how do you manage to maintain your composure, your sense of humour, your sanity throughout all of this? I’d be tearing my hair out – actually, it has started to fall out, so I suppose I should look into that, but still, how do you do it?

    Liked by 3 people

    • In part, I try to keep a bit of an emotional distance from politics, otherwise I’d be chewing the rug up. I can’t always do it, but if I can look at it like a historian, it helps. It helps that my partner and I are retired. We’re not out there nose to nose with the public and trying not to breathe in, which would make it a hell of a lot harder. And oddly enough, I think writing about Covid helps. I watch developments more carefully than I would otherwise and I have something to do with what I learn, which gives me the illusion of being useful.

      Liked by 5 people

    • Those pesky experts. They’re inconvenient, always telling you stuff you don’t want to hear. You know, things like, “If you prioritize the economy, not only will more people die, but the economy will take a harder hit than if you prioritize keeping people alive.”

      Who wants to hear that when you’re trying to run a country?

      All hail the ignorant. They shall inherit the scorched earth.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t know where this will end. Will we all die or just get so confused that we don’t know if we’re alive or not? I’m certainly confused by it all. I don’t want a vaccine until I can see that it’s having some actual, real, useful results on at least part of the population. Two doses so far apart? I don’t think it’ll actually make any difference whether they’re soon after each other or not as none of us even know if the first one will work. The ‘powers that be’ (whoever the fuck they are) don’t know their collective arse from their collective elbow.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The powers that be don’t, but the scientists do seem to. The vaccines have been tested and they do protect people–a larger percentage than anyone expected them to. Whether they’ll be used wisely enough to stamp out Covid is still an unknown. Based on the wisdom we’ve seen, I’d say no, and no one will be completely safe until we all are. Viruses mutate. If a massive percentage of the world’s population doesn’t get access to a vaccine, it will come back and bit the countries that are hogging it. Talk about karma. But the vaccines will, at a minimum, protect the large majority of the people who are vaccinated. And indications are that the smaller group who do get Covid will be protected from the worst of it. That sounds like a no brainer to me.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. From what I’ve read, it gives you protection for several months, maybe a year. Two vaccines? Dunno. The same? My hope is the virus will eventually give in, seeing it has fewer and fewer available bodies it can infect. My fear is by the time everyone gets it, the effect of the vaccine will wear off so we’re back to square one.

    (Daffodils last week? What do you mean last week? It’s January for Christ’s sake.)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Apparently “warp speed roll out of the vaccines” over here across the pond in the Nutcracker Christmas version means oh gosh you mean the same people working in those ICU units in the hospitals won’t have time to do the jabs??!!
    What’s wrong with those essentials – they’ll be twiddling their thumbs in January, right, Agent Orange whose mantra is If I can Fuck this up in any way I will? Oh of course they will.
    I can’t breathe. I am surrounded by dereliction of duty, absence without official leave, Machiavellian evil, total ignorance and/or
    the lack of Senate conviction of an impeached president who deserved to be removed, etc. because I could go on and on.
    So in the midst of nearly 4000 positives yesterday in SC, 28 more dead, and a 33.2% positive rate – let’s just take time out this week for another attempted coup by 12 ignorant Republican Senators and God knows how many ignorant, ignorant Republican Congressmen who are staging an uprising against an election the American people decided by more than 7 million voters when we voted in November. Seems like an eternity ago.
    Maybe your roll out will be better than ours. We can hope.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Daffodils ? Really ? Is it because of the ocean winds or what ? We won’t see them for months ! Talk about Hope’s reckless head…

    The dentist who had to learn to be certified to “prevent radicalisation” – in what sense ? The numbers and chemistry meaning of “radical” or the nutcase Trumanzee radicals armed to the teeth ? Free radicals, Jailed radicals ?

    We call your Grayling and Wiilliamson and raise you with Trump and Pence…and Meadows..McConnell..Johnson.( that’s Ron Johnson,R Wis)not Bojo)..Cruz…would that they COULD be a royal flush…down the loo, as you say in the UK.

    You are probably asleep as I type this but you will soon read of even more looniness over here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Radicalization as in the bogeyman of the moment, radical Islam, not right-wing radicalization, of which we have less than the US but some. The government’s set up some not particularly effective programs that are supposed to counter it, and all sorts of professionals are then assigned the task of channeling people into them.

      Yes, it is chilling.


    • Sorry–forgot the daffodils. It’s warmer here. Than what? I don’t know. Places where daffodils don’t poke their heads up yet, I guess. They do this every year, and survive frosts and the occasional snow. They’ve been daffodils longer than I ever was, so I trust they know what they’re doing.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. TRUMPanzee – my God ! I (my idiot typing !) managed to insult Harry Truman…who would make short work of Dear Leader if he were still alive – even though he’d be well over 100 years old.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have a sneaky feeling that the doctors wont reshedule the appointments as it involves a shed load of work. I am hoping so because this whole thing of making people wait 12 weeks Has upset my elderly mother who has satrted getting panic attacks again (I told her to stop watching the news). I worry that A) this will muck things up beacuse a lot of people wont come back for the second jab and b) it will make the jab ineffective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • At this point, anything’s possible. The single jab may be perfectly effective. People may show up anyway and get vaccinated. They may show up and get turned away. They may show up and be beamed aboard spaceships and transported to some planet where things work better than here. I’m hoping for that last possibility but it’s probably not the most likely. They did say rescheduling would upset a lot of elderly people but I confess I half dismissed that as condescending. Clearly, I was wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. At least the US has dr. Fauci! Why is math education and logic so laxing in Britain and the US? People will still need the second jab for complete protection no matter what. If delaying the second jab gets more people to have the first jab they are still not fully protected thus not saving lives or preventing the spread. This defies logic. In the US they are equally illogical ,(no I’m not Mr. Spock). The US has a goal of 1 million jabs a day. They only have 1/2 million now, lets do the math: It takes two jabs to be protected so the goal is actually 1/2 million protected per day. Divide that by 250 million people in the US that need to be protected to achieve herd immunity and you get………(drum roll) 500 days or around 16 months! That is April 2022! How many will be dead by then? And that is not taking into account recent and future mutations of the virus. Get the far uvc lamps installed in all public places asap. This is the only clear, logical solution.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Interestingly, the Government is leading the debate in Oz on when to roll out whatever vaccine(s) are currently available. They make the point that vaccines currently being rushed out in other countries are being approved under emergency provisions (i.e. without the normal testing over a period of time) and, given our low numbers, we’ll wait to see what happens in the US and UK first. I’m not a knee-jerk anti-vaxxer by any means (I normally lump them in with flat-earthers etc) but as a polio survivor, I offer this sobering tale of what happens when vaccines are rushed. https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/04/14/cutter-polio-vaccine-paralyzed-children-coronavirus/ To put it succinctly, stay the f*** home, wear masks, wash your hands, and don’t hug anyone you don’t know until Armageddon is confirmed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Also, don’t hug anyone you do know. Unless you live with them. And like them.

      The vaccines, from what I’ve read, have been rushed but have gone through all the standard testing processes. The speed comes from two things: 1, at least some of the producers started production before the test were complete, which was a financial gamble; 2, the virus is so widespread that testing could be completed quickly. Declaring a test complete depends on a certain number of people coming down sick. If the disease isn’t cooperatively widespread, this can take a while. Covid just jumped in there and got a lot of people in the test group sick. Fortunately, they’ve mostly been in the control groups. The safety, they swear, is as great as any other new vaccine.

      And with that, I’ll go read your link.

      Liked by 1 person

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