The COVID-19 pandemic has spread rapidly across the globe infecting nearly 4million and killing more 271,000 worldwide so far. UK’s fatalities are larger than those in Europe but Ministers claim international comparisons are not possible yet.
The government have succeeded in protecting the NHS and preparing capacity for an anticipated second peak, however according to international opprobrium UK has failed in several respects:
To protect the elderly, many who were shipped from hospital wards to care homes to make room for imminent Coronavirus cases, and to protect carers with adequate PPE. Care homes which also fall under the Ministry of Health felt neglected, lack of PPE has been an issue for hospitals and care homes. PPE has been a well-documented fiasco with 400,000 Turkish PPE gowns still impounded for not passing UK quality standards.
A muddled and inadequate testing programme and how figures have been obfuscatedly reported. Who knew last week’s figure of 122,347 tests included 40,000 postal tests and a good % of the remaining 80,000 were repeat PCR testings. Presently postal tests are decreasing and PCR tests are increasing. PCR tests are more useful when results can be combined with antibody testing and produce worthwhile data. But earlier in April The Telegraph revealed that Public Health England were reluctant to involve the private sector, Sarah Newey wrote they “were hampering development of accurate antibody test by refusing to share vital blood samples from Covid-19 patients, private laboratories have claimed”.
A delayed lockdown and lack of airport screening (a thermal imaging facial recognition trial is only just beginning at Heathrow in terminal 2), and the apparent disregard for the Italian experience has led left-wing and global media in an effort to criticise the government, the media have weaponised the crisis as if they want the government to fail and the government have been impotent to reclaim the message.
A bungled self-reporting Covid NHS-App development, the DHSC originally opted for a centralised database of theoretically anonymised contacts of infected persons, this raised a number of privacy, data-protection and hacking potential issues. The App is not compatible with overseas Apps that use a decentralised system, which is compatible with Apple and Google. There are issues around the coding and Bluetooth framework that are being picked apart by experts, who query why the NHS chose to develop an in-house product when software is not their primary expertise.
The SAGE advice which the government have taken in toto, has been scrutinised, contradicted and chastised. The Government have always said they are/have been guided by the Science; but not a scientific consensus.
It does not help that both the Scottish Chief Medical Officer and SAGE’s most vociferous Scientist have both broken Lockdown rules and have had to quit their positions.
Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union and founder of Lockdown Sceptics, published an incognito code review of Neil Ferguson’s model, a derivative of which was newly released by Imperial. The review claims “their (Imperial’s) code is so deeply riddled with similar bugs and they struggled so much to fix them that they got into the habit of simply averaging the results of multiple runs to cover it up… and eventually this behaviour became normalised within the team”, the author suggests all the predictions and modelling have been wrong.
UK is divided, Boris Johnson is walking the tightrope between the virus and the advice that keeps people at home and the economy that wants people to get out, industry and business are pleading to get back to work. Rishi Sunak has announced there is a limit to the furlough scheme. Johnson will announce a small measure of Lockdown easing on Sunday, it is hoped that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland abide by his rules.
As Tory MPs up the anti towards China, China retaliates with Liu Xiaoming, China’s Ambassador to UK warning that the increased Conservative discrimination risks poisoning the future UK-China relationship. The China Research Group’s leader Tom Tugendhat MP writes in The Telegraph about the risks Chinese 5G poses to UK’s relationship with US and Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance, and CRG reports Republican senators have moved to block US fighter jets being deployed to UK over Huawei concerns. Neil O’Brien MP writes for ConservativeHome about China’s “economic strategy based on domination, not fair competition” and the CCP’s plan to dominate all the industries of the future.
Australian PM Scott Morrison invited Boris Johnson’s and G20 leaders support for international inquiry into the origin of the Covid-19 virus at World Health Assembly on 18 May, the EU will not participate in the inquiry. A China Daily joint OpEd with Nicholas Chapuis, EU Ambassador to China, had references to the origin and spread of the virus removed by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the EU were aware of the edit and proceeded reluctantly, the full and unedited OpEd has since been published and distributed to Chinese media outlets. Johnson is staying out of the fray, he has memorably said “it’s humanity against the virus”.
Security agencies in the UK and US have exposed malicious cyber campaigns targeting organisations involved in the coronavirus response, an advisory has been issued to protect targeted national and international healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies, research organisations, and local government against ‘Password spraying’, which is the attempt to access a large number of accounts using commonly known passwords. The National Cyber Security Centre published a list of regularly used passwords breached to access sensitive information, names, football teams, superheros and fictional characters which attackers are known to use to gain access to personal and corporate accounts and networks.
Researchers at Utrecht University, Erasmus Medical Centre and Harbour BioMed (HBM) reported that they have identified a fully human monoclonal antibody that prevents and also neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus from infecting cultured cells. The discovery, published online in Nature Communications, is an initial step towards developing a fully human antibody to treat or prevent the respiratory disease COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Professor Frank Grosveld, co-lead author of the study, said “The antibody used in this work is ‘fully human,’ allowing development to proceed more rapidly and reducing the potential for immune-related side effects.” Conventional therapeutic antibodies are first developed in other species and then must undergo additional work to ‘humanize’ them. The antibody was generated using Harbour BioMed’s H2L2 transgenic mouse technology.