Essential COVID19 Information
COVID19 has been with us in the UK since February 2020. This article
explains the current restrictions then explores how such a large
outbreak occurred in the UK, how the virus was released, and perhaps
created in China, and the hopes for a vaccine.
The current method being used to deal with the pandemic is a three tier
system imposed at a local level. Our National Broadcaster, the
BBC, should be clearly describing the system to prevent confusion and to
some extent any confusion is their responsibility.
The tiers are detailed on the Government's
website. The system is as follows.
Tier 1, Local COVID alert level: medium: This covers the whole
of England. The social
distancing rules permit close groups of no more than six people in
any setting, indoors or outdoors. The groups of six and other people
must stay 2 metres apart. Pubs and restaurants must have a seated
clientele and face masks must be worn in all indoor public places.
Customers may only consume food and drink while seated, and restaurants
etc. must close between 10pm and 5am. Businesses and venues
selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so
after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service,
click-and-collect or drive-through. Schools and
universities remain open, places of worship remain open, subject to the
rule of 6, weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on
numbers of attendees, exercise classes and organised sport can continue
to take place outdoors, or indoors if the rule of 6 is followed
Tier 2, Local COVID alert level: high: As in medium level but
with some more restrictions. Restaurants and bars remain
open. The rule of six no longer applies to indoor settings so that
only households and support bubbles can share space indoors. Exercise
classes must be outdoors except where involving solely one support
Tier 3, Local COVID alert level: very high: As for level "high"
but with more restrictions. Only households and support bubbles can
share space outdoors. Pubs and bars are closed except for serving meals.
There are restrictions on
weddings and funerals.
The number of new cases in the UK is very high, approaching 20,000
daily. The Government produces some useful statistics on the spread of COVID19 on its coronavirus data
site.It also provides maps of the spread across the country on its interactive map site. The
international situation is covered in detail at Worldometer.com which has a
breakdown of cases etc. by country.
The COVID19 epidemic in the UK was particularly severe because there
was free entry into the country from abroad, even after lockdown. The
Government's Chief Scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance, confirmed that
there was large scale importing of cases:
"We saw a big influx of cases, probably from Italy and Spain, looking
at the genomics of the virus in early March, seeded right the way across
the country." (Health and Social Care Committee Oral evidence: Management
of the Coronavirus Outbreak, HC 36 Tuesday 5 May 2020).
People entering the country as late as July were reporting that there
were no restrictions at airports.
A worrying feature of COVID19 is "Long Covid" or "Post Covid
Syndrome". It appears that even those who had mild symptoms of
COVID19 can have long term fatigue and breathlessness. Current estimates
suggest that perhaps 2-10% of those who have had COVID19 may
suffer debilitation for months, years or even the rest of their lives.
The virus originated in China. There has been a lot of talk about
whether it was genetically engineered and either released deliberately
or as an escape from a laboratory. All of the dismissals of this
proposal rely upon a single paper, by Anderson et al (2020), published
in Nature - see "The
proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2, by Kristian Anderson et al".
The paper declares that the SARS-CoV2 virus that causes COVID19 could
not have been man made and fact checkers have interpreted this as
meaning that it could not have come from a laboratory in Wuhan.
However, there are two possibilities for a lab escape: it could have
been a rare natural virus that escaped or a man made virus that
escaped. Chinese virological laboratories have a poor safety
record and allowed the deadly SARS virus to escape four times. The two virological laboratories
in Wuhan maintained collections of bat coronaviruses and a site survey
that was performed in Wuhan concluded that the laboratories had poor
biosafety and found that bats had never been sold in the nearby Hua Nan
fish market (See The possible origins of 2019-nCoV
coronavirus. - a survey that has been incorrectly dismissed for
not being a "scientific paper"). The bat viruses that are closest to
SARS-CoV-2 come from Yunnan, not Wuhan:
It looks very likely that SARS-CoV-2 was a lab escape from one or other
of the Wuhan labs. But was it man made?
The paper by Anderson et al (2020) argues that the virus could not be
made in a laboratory because it is not the ideal solution for infection
and because a sufficiently similar base virus, the main part of the
virus used as a template, has not yet been found. This is a very
thin argument on which to condemn any competing ideas of origin.
The rebuttal is straightforward. Anyone creating the virus would
stop at "good enough" rather than ideal, especially given that a special
(furin) site provides a boost to infectivity. This simple rebuttal
dispenses with the first argument. Two contenders for the base
virus have indeed been found which dispenses with the second argument (a
virus called RaTG13 is very close in structure to SARS-CoV-2).
Given that the paper that is used everywhere to "disprove" the
possibility that the virus is man-made does not do so, who are the
scientists that say that it is man made? Initially several people
noticed that the virus contained HIV proteins and
mused on how these had got there. The most persuasive authority
who believes COVID19 was a man made disease is Professor Luc Montagnier,
the winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine for discovering HIV, who says:
“With my colleague, bio-mathematician Jean-Claude Perez, we carefully
analyzed the description of the genome of this RNA virus,”.."in order to
insert an HIV sequence into this genome, molecular tools are needed, and
that can only be done in a laboratory.". The most complete
analysis of the possibility that the virus is man-made was done by Li-Meng
Yan et al . Li-Meng Yan risked her life to escape from Hong
Kong to bring the story to the West but Twitter and broadcasters have
banned any mention of her work because the factcheckers all condemn it
as being inconsistent with the single paper by Anderson et al
(2020). These are indeed strange times when unqualified fact
checkers can take the conclusions of a single scientific paper and cause
all subsequent scientific work that disagrees with it to be suppressed.
China has been suppressing any mention that COVID19 is a lab escape and
possibly man made. Most broadcasters in the West have now been
persuaded, perhaps as a result of pressure from China, that there was no
possibility of a lab escape of a wild or man made virus in Wuhan. The
pressure from China to stop any mention of a lab escape has been fairly
According to Reuters
the EU produced a report that referred to China's involvement in Covid
disinformation and in response China told the EU that “if the report is
as described and it is released today it will be very bad for
cooperation,” and it would make Beijing “very angry”.
has demanded that EU reports be amended
to purge the mention of
COVID-19 originating in China. The EU acquiesced. A report
by the "Five Eyes" Intelligence group was leaked
to the Australian Sunday Telegraph
. The dossier states that "to
the “endangerment of other countries” the Chinese government
covered-up news of the virus by silencing or “disappearing” doctors
who spoke out, destroying evidence of it in laboratories and refusing
to provide live samples to international scientists who were working
on a vaccine."
At the end of
April the Australian government requested that there should be an
international inquiry into the origins and handling of the Chinese
COVID-19 outbreak. China responded by threatening to boycott
Australian goods. (See Guardian article
now slapped import controls on Australian beef and is threatening to
do the same with barley exports. See China ignores requests for talks
- SBS News
because of, this evidence of suppression of information by China
there is almost no mention in the UK Broadcast Media of the
possibility of the virus being a lab escape or even a bioweapon.
The sad fact is
that the virus is loose and we must now hope for vaccines and
treatments. According to the WHO
are numerous vaccine candidates but only the following have Phase
III trials booked or underway:
Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine - March 2021 - October 2021.
The vaccine is under "rolling review" which could lead to release as
early as March.
Wuhan Institute of Biological Products/Sinopharm - probably August
Sinovac - September 2021
Laboratorio Elea Phoenix S.A. - December 2021
CanSino Biologics Inc. - December 2021
Moderna/NIAIDRNALNP-encapsulated mRNA20 - October 2022
BioNTech SE/Pfizer - June 21 - December 2022
Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. - March 2023
Treatments for COVID19: According
to the Pharmaceutical Journal only Dexamethasone for acute,
severe COVID19 is available as a proven treatment, it reduces death
in ventilated patients by 35% and 20% in patients receiving oxygen
but has little effect on earlier stages of the disease.
Possible other treatments will not be available for a year or more.
Despite early positive results, Remdesivir has not been found to be
efficacious in clinical trials.
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