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New COVID Variants, Various Lockdown Measures, Gradual Vaccine Rollout, Twice-Weekly COVID Testing; But Are We Winning or Losing the Coronavirus Battle?

There’s a lot happening in the UK with regards to the ongoing Coronavirus battle: The question is; Are we winning or losing the battle to this disease?

The good news is that 47.2% of Britons have received at least one dose of (any kind of) COVID-19 vaccine, and fatalities have fallen to 35 persons per (7-day) week, according to the latest JHU CSSE COVID-19 Data presented on April 3, 2021.

People in England who wish to be tested for COVID-19 are able to access twice-per-week testing, which should allow better tracking of potentially infected persons or sooner treatment for already infected persons.

And some people are still abiding by the various Lockdown measures. Thank you for doing your civic duty!


But is the UK Winning or Losing the Battle to this Disease?

Some 4.36 million Britons have contracted COVID-19 and 127,000 have (so far) died from the novel Coronavirus.

Although in the early days before it was well understood, cause of death statistics didn’t include a virus, that back then, hadn’t been identified. I think it’s likely that the official UK COVID death toll will eventually turn out to be approximately double the presently accepted death toll, as many cases were (via forensic analysis) retroactively found in France, Iran and Southeast Asia as far back as August 2019. All the places that Britons and others travel to and from on a regular basis.

And people are continuing to die from this disease at a rate of 35 per week, and worse, new variants of COVID-19 are reported to be more transmissible.

We could be one Coronavirus mutation away from a much more serious pandemic.

Yet some people still AREN’T abiding by the various Lockdown measures. There will be no ‘Thank You’s’ for endangering every unvaccinated person in the country!


It’s Likely to Get Worse Before it Gets Better

More than anything, an improvement in the COVID statistics depends upon how willing Britons are to follow the regional plethora of Lockdown regulations, and much less depends upon the speed of vaccinations up and down the country, as virus retransmission (which boasts an exponential growth rate) can easily outpace the rate of vaccination (which has a geometric growth rate, at best).

And that’s assuming there’s no more delay in obtaining the vast quantities of Coronavirus vaccine required to inoculate the (as yet unvaccinated) 36-million people TWICE (for a total of 72-million individual doses).

It’s a lot to assume that the UK’s COVID pandemic won’t get worse — and perhaps much, much, worse — before it gets better. Because at this point, more could go wrong than right.

The UK is only one COVID variant, or one major vaccine delivery shortfall, (or both), away from utter social, healthcare and economic catastrophe. Respectfully, govern yourselves accordingly and remember ‘Murphy’s Law’ — if something can go wrong, it will.


Image courtesy of STATISTA.COM

Number of coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths in the United Kingdom (UK) 2021

Published by Conor Stewart, Mar 31, 2021 at STATISTA.com

On March 6, 2020, the first death as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) was recorded in the United Kingdom (UK). The number of deaths in the UK has increased significantly since then. As of March 30, 2021, the number of confirmed deaths due to coronavirus in the UK amounted to 126,670. On January 20, 2021, 1,820 deaths were recorded, which is the highest total in single day in the UK since the outbreak began.

Number of deaths highest in Europe

The UK has had the highest number of deaths from coronavirus in Europe. In terms of rate of coronavirus deaths, the UK has the fourth-highest rate compared to the countries in the EEA. As of March 21, the UK has recorded 189 deaths per 100,000, which is only lower than the mortality rates in Belgium, Slovenia, and Czechia.

Cases in the UK

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK was 4,341,736 as of March 30, 2021. London has the highest number of confirmed cases of the virus in the UK with 711,083 cases, while the North West and the South East have 598,512 and 533,519 confirmed cases respectively. As of March 29, the UK has had 55 new cases per 100,000 in the last seven days.

For further information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please visit our dedicated Facts and Figures page.


Finally, check out the COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) here.


Finding the ‘Right Touch’ with Our Heroic NHS Employees!

After one year of the Coronavirus pandemic, the UK public (rightly) felt gutted by the stress imposed upon them — either by suffering unprecedented illness themselves, or from watching loved ones wither and sometimes die alone in Hospital, or by living with the unnatural conditions in a ‘lockdown’ that was implemented to protect large numbers of Britons from becoming exposed to, or spreaders of, the COVID-19 pathogen.

So try to imagine what it was like for the country’s NHS (National Health Service) staff who worked all day within inches of severely ill people suffering from a largely unknown virus, while wearing ill-fitting PPE, and in Hospitals filled beyond capacity with massively ill, congested and coughing people. And the only thing that changed from month to month was ever-larger numbers of COVID-19 patients coming through the door.

Some NHS staff themselves perished from Coronavirus because it wasn’t then known that carers needed to be wearing full PPE and receive a full decontamination at the end of each shift — and later in the pandemic — at the end of each DOUBLE shift!

Other NHS staff lost family members to the disease and couldn’t be with their loved ones during their last moments on planet Earth due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

There’s no overestimating the stress that NHS staff worked under during the Coronavirus pandemic: Only soldiers who fought in the trenches of Nazi-occupied Europe during WWII, who watched their friends getting blown to pieces in front of them or cut to ribbons by IED’s every week, living in the freezing cold 24/7, with little food (and only rarely, hot food) or courageously fighting-on with multiple injuries, or who were ‘shell shocked’ (mentally numbed, as if in a trance-like state on account of all they’d seen) could understand how NHS employees have suffered over the past year.

And for all the professionalism NHS employees have displayed, for all the heroism they showed, for all the determination to keep going in the face of almost insurmountable odds… the UK government offered NHS employees… a 1% pay rise?

Wrong touch, Boris! Wrong touch.

It was interpreted by NHS staff as an insult to their core. IMHO, it was a well-meaning but clumsy attempt by an uncomprehending government to reward the hardworking NHS employees who risked their lives to protect Britons at great cost to themselves and their dependents.

Now, keep in mind that the heroic soldiers who returned home from WWI and WWII didn’t get anything more than a tiny bonus (equal to today’s £500) and then they were suddenly and unceremoniously discharged from the military (meaning; they were suddenly unemployed, with no means to provide for themselves or their families in a time of sudden and huge unemployment typical in the aftermath of war) without any government provided options like unemployment insurance, Universal Credit, or any other government helps that are considered basic human rights in the 21st-century.

Pragmatism is the watchword of governments everywhere as governments must do what’s best for their country as a whole — not what’s best for heroic soldiers, not what’s best for heroic healthcare staff, and not what’s best for unhappy citizens caught in a ‘lockdown’ situation — governments must do what’s best for the entire country.

If a country has a ‘good government’… soldiers receive a generous discharge package when they leave the military at the end of a war, and citizens get much understanding and ongoing explanations from the government as to why a civil rights infringing ‘lockdown’ is important so the public aren’t left wondering why such extreme measures are required to protect citizens.

But in the immediate aftermath of WWI and WWII, there were no generous discharge payments because the government claimed that the war impoverished the country and it was therefore unable to afford to take care of the people in its care. (!)

And in our time, the UK government claims its finances are tight and is unable to reward heroic NHS staff with a meaningful pay rise.

And it’s true that taking on more government debt to properly reward NHS employees (and military combat veterans) could bankrupt the country (but only because successive UK governments have run-up obscene levels of national debt on far less important priorities) but if every NHS employee walked off the job in the middle of a pandemic, suddenly, bankruptcy wouldn’t seem so bad now, would it?

Priorities, Boris! Priorities!


Sometimes it Isn’t About the Money

Sometimes, it’s about showing respect. Sometimes, it’s about giving all NHS staff the summer off with full pay.

(More NHS staff would need to be hired, and existing staff would need to be flexible about which 60 consecutive days off they wanted for vacation time. Fair enough!)

Where to get enough temporary staff so that NHS employees who worked the pandemic could take-off for Ibiza (or wherever) to soak up the Sun and swim in the ocean for all of May/June, or all of June/July, or July/August, or August/September?

Why, the UK military, of course!

Yes, careful scheduling of summer holidays between present NHS employees, in addition to the UK military stepping in to temporarily replace NHS staff could ensure that every position remains covered. And former NHS employees could assist by returning to work for 6-months so that fatigued, COVID-weary and traumatized NHS staff could receive 60-days of uninterrupted vacation time to recharge their spirits.

Of course, military personnel temporarily working within the NHS would need to be vaccinated prior to ‘subbing in’ for NHS staff. But that’s no dealbreaker.

My polite suggestion to the UK government is to forget about the stillborn 1% pay rise.

Cancel it and show the NHS some respect, because it isn’t about the money. It’s about showing NHS employees the proper respect and carefully working with the media to showcase the astonishingly dedicated NHS people, and about getting them the summer off with full pay so they can recharge their batteries, and then get them back to work doing what they do best: Which is… saving our lives every day of the year!

Time for a reset, Boris!

I politely urge the Prime Minister to make it Parliament’s mission to show NHS carers that not only the public, but that the government and the media too, deeply appreciate the commitment and sacrifice that each NHS employee demonstrates as they walk their patients to restored health — no matter what illness befalls us.

Written by John Brian Shannon

Image courtesy of: TopDoctors.co.uk

Will ‘Working from Home’ become ‘The New Normal’ in Britain?

The head of Goldman Sachs, CEO David Solomon, told a conference today that working from home won’t be an option for Goldman Sachs employees and suggested it’s “an aberration” instead of the new normal.

Mr. Solomon says that GS needs its employees at the office and that the new crop of interns expected this summer won’t be able to buy-in to the company’s corporate culture without the ‘mentoring’ of new employees.

“In particular Mr Solomon was worried about an incoming “class” of about 3,000 new recruits, who wouldn’t get the “direct mentorship” they need. “I am very focused on the fact that I don’t want another class of young people arriving at Goldman Sachs in the summer remotely,” he said.” — BBC

While some might be skeptical, I believe there are some organizations that don’t work were employees to work from home.

One example might be the military. Obviously, wars need to be fought where the war is actually occurring.

Another might be airline pilots — but hey, the future is happening every day! — and one day soon airline pilots might be flying their passengers from one end of the country to the other via their home computer, “Honey, don’t spill your Pepsi on Daddy’s keyboard, he’s busy flying his plane,” Hehehe.

In fact, the entire tourism sector would be impossible to manage using work from home employees, although certain positions might be able to be moved off-site, such as check-in staff, accounting department, and other jobs that don’t require a human to be present.


Legitimate Exceptions Aside, There’s a Huge Societal Upside to Working from Home

Let’s pretend that fully half of all UK jobs could be accomplished via work from home. That isn’t out of the realm of possibility, IMHO.

That means half as many people driving or taking the train to and from the workplace — which would cut traffic congestion in UK cities, and the trains might run on time and not be packed with (potentially) COVID-breathing human beings — all the way to the workplace and all the way home.

Office towers might become lightly populated during the week, although they might open 7-days-a-week, as opposed to Monday-Friday only.

All of which would save Britain’s NHS billions annually on account of far fewer patients catching respiratory illnesses such as, but not limited to COVID-19 and its subsequent variants, and the UK would be on track to meet its Paris Agreement CO2 reduction obligations. Both benefits are very good things for the UK.

Instead of people spending a small fortune on petrol, car insurance, train tickets, bus and/or taxi fares, not to mention all the money they usually spend on work-related clothing and fashion accessories, they’d be spending it on home improvements — like creating a decent office space in the home, or a workshop, and better internet, computer, and mobile phone connectivity.

If they spend the same amount fixing-up their home office or workshop as they used to spend to get back and forth to work — it’s likely to be a good investment as improvements to the property would be reflected in the value of the home and its final selling price should they ever decide to sell.

Time to invest in big box home improvement stores!

 

Written by John Brian Shannon


Digital roles top the list of jobs on the rise in 2021 (World Economic Forum)

Work from Home technologies likely to be adopted by 2025. WEF