A new network has been launched calling on the Australian Government to support a UN Convention on the Human Rights of Older Persons.
The tickets had been cancelled twice in the last 2 years, but finally it was going ahead. In the weeks leading up to the performance, I was many times on the brink of cancelling, as I had to weigh up the possibility of catching Covid 19 and, at best, recovering but being in isolation for a week as a result.
In the end, inertia took over, and I went with the flow, out to dinner, and then to the show.
It's been a long time since I have seen my friends and family, who live interstate in Australia. There have been unprecedented border closures and, even when we could travel, it's been too risky, because we could pay dearly for our trip with two weeks isolation on our return. No doubt, due to the current COVID-19 situation, there will be those we will not see again. Some grandparents may never see their interstate grandchildren. Many special occasions will be missed.
This is pretty serious stuff. In fact, it is next in seriousness to the possibility of becoming very ill or dying from COVID-19.
Most of the Australian population has been very cooperative in trying to contain the virus, through self discipline and adaptability, and this has worked. Victoria brought a fairly torrid situation under control in 2020 through a severe lockdown, over many weeks. They are now, perhaps rather belatedly, trying to do this in NSW. These lockdowns cost us dearly in terms of people's incomes, loss of social outlets, loss of classroom education for schoolchildren, increased workload for teachers and parents. The arts have had to mark time for about eighteen months. There are delayed medical and surgical appointments, and then there are the mental health costs.
The financial costs will have been partially covered with "job keeper" and similar payments but the emphasis is on "partially." Rentals and mortgages have actually climbed during the pandemic, due to the protected status of the property development industry. The unreasonable price of keeping a roof over one's head means that no government payment can match the real cost of living in Australia. And, ultimately, who pays for this government protection of the incomes the industry deems its due, whilst renters and home-buyers cannot even go to work?
We hear much anxious talk about the future cost of COVID-19 tailored welfare payments, but will maintaining the property development industry, in the style it is accustomed to, mean reduced spending on other official hardship programs, like unemployment benefits and pensions?
One way or another, we are in a precarious situation.
Yet our Federal Government seems willing to increase the risks still more for all of us, by repatriating people currently overseas, in countries where new variants of COVID-19 are literally running rampant. Inevitably, many of those we repatriate now, will bring these infections with them. Inevitably, the virus leaks out of our makeshift quarantine arrangements and half a million Australian children suddenly cannot go to school again! Is this reasonable?
Much public sympathy is canvassed on the corporate and public media for these returning Australians, who went to see their relatives in another country, yet the same media never seem to express comparable sympathy for Australians who would like to see their relatives in another state again one day!
It is incomprehensible to me that the Federal Government apparently holds the Australian population in such low regard. Many of our woes were entirely avoidable. We knew the behaviour of the virus early last year, eighteen months ago. We knew it could be transmitted for up to fourteen days in asymptomatic people. That's a fundamental problem and requires either closed borders or purpose-built quarantine, not a stack of excuses. Our governments have failed to protect us and, in addition to treating our health and welfare in cavalier fashion, they have trashed our local economy and cost individuals and taxpayers $multi-billions.
I remain aghast at our political elite's repeated wilful reinfection of Australia's population, because they are also risking their own lives, and those of their wives, mistresses, friends and families. Similarly, I am completely bamboozled by the way they are also prepared apparently to trash the economy, normally their greatest priority and obsession, as it stalls with every outbreak.
The situation raises questions, which must have answers. Obviously there are benefits for some elites by letting overseas people return, even at the risk of being infected themselves. These benefits must be significant. One can only speculate as to what they actually are.
In the meantime, why have they not built proper quarantine facilities? How hard is it? True, they would need multiple well-trained personnel prepared to work in remote locations, and regularly quarantine prior to taking any leave. What would be wrong with using the army for this? It has doctors and nurses, prepared for every kind of event, and disciplined to remain on location until leave is deemed appropriate. At least, such a project would represent a planned inconvenience, rather than the series of botched quarantines by which we have been jolted.
Another possibility is that our political elites and their economic advisors operate with a kind of nincompoop optimism, and just hope that there will not be another outbreak, each time there is one. And so, they just put off organising better quarantine facilities. Along the same lines, the incomprehensible economic approach might be due to the fact that the usual economic theorists do not have a paradigm to deal with our current reality - or any reality, really. Usually they deal in trends, as if those trends were crystal balls to the future, although they are just extrapolations with a few variables. The pandemic has interfered with most trends, especially the population-growth trends beloved of corporate and government economic planners. This is like smashing the fortune-teller's crystal ball, while the wild wind of nature snatches away her tent, exposing the overdressed tart beneath.
Then again, the big boys, like the banks, the multinational internet companies, and many traditional corporations, are making billions hand over fist, and this is reflected in bloated but buoyant sharemarkets, so how could our financial and political elite really be sincerely concerned? Sure, there are going to be a lot of mortgage defaults and evictions not too far down the pandemic track, but the banks can always resell those foreclosed properties, so, why would they care about the fate of their ex-owners?
There is obviously money to be made by prolonging the pandemic.
I will leave you with that thought.
Will governments buy back vital resources and essential services from the embattled private sector, or will they allow the wealthy to pick up resources and monopolies cheaply, pressing the unemployed and endebted into slave-like conditions? Can we adapt to or avoid a future that appears to hold more and worse pandemics? If COVID-19 is a pandemic designed for elite purposes to cull the aged and weak, why have some governments tried to protect their vulnerable populations? We have obviously become too economically dependent on the model of continuous accelerated growth in human numbers and human activities globally to be able to protect ourselves from the pandemics that come with this economic model. At the same time the long-predicted oil-resources breakdown in supply is looming. Can any good come of this? Is this an opportunity?
There are many reasons why a return to normality after COVID-19 is unlikely.
The underlying reason is the world-trend to a rapidly increasing incidence of serious new cross-species viral diseases (zoonoses). The most likely to produce epidemics and pandemics are those coming from large populations of domestic animals raised in intensive farming. Where once a zoonose would probably kill a novel host before the virus got a chance to jump to another individual, our new tendency to put livestock together in vast dense populations, along with our increasing tendency to live in vast dense populations ourselves, means that viruses can find multiple hosts to replicate in before their first host dies. Because we have no specific immune defenses against new zoonose viruses, they are much more likely to infect and kill us than longstanding human diseases.
The embedded video below, Flu Factories, gives a graph between 1951 and 2006, showing that international progression of avian flus (among the most dangerous sources of zoonoses shared between pigs and birds), began building up with the institution of ever larger factory farms around the 1980s, and skyrocketed from the beginning of the 21st century.
It quotes a summary of the components of risk:
"- Increased demand for poultry products.-
- Increase in commercial peri-urban production.
- Increase in size of susceptible bird population in interface between extensive and intensive production.
- Increase in pathogenic virulence.
- Enhanced exposure in human population.
- Emergence of human pathogen.
- Human-to-human transmission pattern."
Dangerous divide between veterinary and human health sectors
Writing of the east in 2014, the World Health Organisation notes
"[The lack of] collaboration between the animal and human health sectors under the concept of “One Health” approach, which links the human with the animal health sector integrating the animal and human disease surveillance and response system that could, otherwise have helped controlling the zoonotic infections in animal reservoirs, enable early outbreak detection, and prevent deadly epidemics and pandemics." [Source: World Health Organisation: http://www.emro.who.int/fr/about-who/rc61/zoonotic-diseases.html 
This collaborative failure was and is also a major problem in the west, which, in the problem of COVID-19 control, amounts to a failure of communication in the context of dissimilar paradigms between the economic sector and the health sector. So, we have health professionals urging quarantine and business urging abandon of quarantine. We have obviously become too economically dependent on the model of continuous accelerated growth in human numbers and human activities globally to be able to protect ourselves from the pandemics that come with this economic model.
We could mitigate some of the risk within the current system
The above-cited World Health Organisation article http://www.emro.who.int/fr/about-who/rc61/zoonotic-diseases.html, which has a number of useful recommendations, correctly suggests that practising barrier nursing for all hospital patients would probably avoid almost all epidemics. Unfortunately, after antibiotics became widely available in the second half of the 20th century, hospitals all over the world became increasingly casual about infection control.
And we could return to reusable and locally produced hospital equipment: Post 1970s, with growing reliance on plastics and paper disposables, hospitals reduced their independent options by abandoning much in-house sterilisation of reusable instruments along with the laundering of reusable gowns, masks, and other protective equipment. As we know, the reliance on cheap imported sources for disposable equipment and tools has defined 21st century inadequacy in the management of COVID-19.
If we return to business as usual, however, with factory farming, clearing of wilderness, dense human populations, mass people movement internationally, and international trade, especially in animals and plants and their products, we will continue to experience pandemics. Some will have much higher fatality than COVID-19.
Politics of the current pandemic
The current pandemic is like a test of our social and political resilience, as well as our immune resilience, and its management presents something of an economic and moral puzzle, because of COVID-19's tendency to cull the weak and elderly - those people we have been taught by popular economic rationalism to blame all our woes on. (See /taxonomy/term/265 and /taxonomy/term/393.)
Whilst COVID-19 might look like a pandemic specially engineered on order from economic growth lobbyists who scapegoat the elderly and infirm, whilst encouraging mass migration of younger, haler, more fertile, cohorts, deemed economically more productive, this may only be coincidence.
Britain, Sweden and the United States have behaved more in tune with such economic ideologies, throwing their populations to the wolves, with cries of 'herd immunity'. Some governments, however, actually seem keen to avoid this opportunity of culling the elderly and infirm, when they have previously been so disparaging and cruel towards them. Australia and New Zealand are examples of such countries. What could explain this apparent humanity among an elite composed of economic rationalists, who generally only value their populace on condition of high productivity? Did politicians' wives, mothers, and fathers, get to them? Or is it because most at the top of government, political parties and corporations, and armies, are old themselves? Is it about the look of it, the desire to avoid mass graves and piles of cardboard coffins, US and Brazil-style? Is it about avoiding a glut of cheap housing and plunging property prices? Is it about avoiding total collapse of the hospital system, when surely they could have sequestered parts for themselves? Is it about avoiding economic collapse of old-age care businesses? Is it about currying favour with the elderly voter cohort? Is it about an exercise in preparing for the next worse epidemic? Is it about fear that the public will revolt at the prospect of their elders drowning in putrefacted lungs? Is it about shock at the prospect of shiny economic principles besmirched by medieval suffering and dirt?
It is certainly hard to figure out. Maybe what happened was that the pandemic took the mainstream press by surprise, and what we got, for a change, was a spontaneous response by the usually pre-programmed journalists. The elites, who are normally spoon-fed by the mainstream press, and protected from realising how angry some voters are, were panicked at the idea of popular rage. Usually they are protected from our perrenial rage at housing prices, homelessness, and rotten wars, because it is rarely reported and we have no independent public talking stick and means of assembly, so are unable to organise beyond indignation and that indignation is largely impotent because invisible to the political class. I take the near collapse of the anti-war movement as my model in this, since it appears to have been related to the mainstream press having simply stopped reporting on anti-war protests after the last big world protest against the Iraq war. Whilst I would like to believe that the alternative press can take care of reporting, it does seem that the mainstream still dictates the propaganda, hence what the elite politicians react to.
So, did politicians in Australia and New Zealand react to protect their vulnerable populations simply because they were afraid of public indignation? (All the while preaching against the use of protective face-masks.)
Or did the mainstream press jump at the opportunity to sow economic panic, so that media moguls and their friends could buy up assets and businesses cheap? And the politicians fell in with this plan under pressure to avoid public indignation about plague.
An engineered virus commissioned by elites?
There is little evidence to suggest that this virus was engineered, but a not insignificant number of people believe that elites would do so. After all, elites maintain massive military machines that design biological warfare, and constantly engineer the most brutal wars-for-profit in what has become the biggest game in town. But why would they or anyone need to commission a zoonose flu, when we have so many new zoonoses coming on board at faster and faster rates, from massive factory farms, and from the bush, as human population expands into what remains of forests and wildernesses, displacing exotic animals, and sucking the last endogamous and sedentary tribes into the vast human homogeneity hopper?
"During the past decades, many previously unknown human infectious diseases have emerged from animal reservoirs, from agents such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Ebola virus, West Nile virus, Nipah virus and Hanta virus. In fact, more than three quarters of the human diseases that are new, emerging or re-emerging at the beginning of the 21st century are caused by pathogens originating from animals or from products of animal origin. A wide variety of animal species, domesticated, peridomesticated and wild, can act as reservoirs for these pathogens, which may be viruses, bacteria, parasites or prions. Considering the wide variety of animal species involved and the often complex natural history of the pathogens concerned, effective surveillance, prevention and control of zoonotic diseases pose a real
challenge to public health." [Source: "Report of the WHO/FAO/OIE joint consultation on emerging zoonotic diseases," (May 2005) p.5. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/68899/WHO_CDS_CPE_ZFK_2004.9.pdf]
Why would elites encourage something that, anyway, threatens to put the kybosh on economic activity and mass people movement? Have they seen the writing on the wall, the collision of overpopulation with undersupply? Is this a way for them to lock populations down so they can control revolts against mass immigration? But the lock-downs stop mass immigration.
You could argue that big fish that survive will be able to buy up multiple businesses and assets dirt cheap, in the way that Mr Soros picks up currencies and coal mines cheaply in the wake of wars and climate activism. In the short-term, it would be hard to counter this one.
In the longer run, however, inevitably, more virulent viruses will have the effect of sparsening populations, ultimately making them less infective. Substantially sparser populations world-wide will really wreck the connective fibre of the international capitalist system, and will probably wreck national systems, sparing all but local systems. Depending on how much populations and global trade and travel are reduced, humans will spontaneously reorganise into small viscous populations, developing their own local immunities.
The elites, however, may well benefit from this too, on the way down. This would be because, if we spiral into depression, people will work for tiny wages, even for their keep, or as slaves, everywhere, creating local alternatives to both imported and outsourced cheap overseas labour.
At the same time as the pandemic, the long-predicted oil-resources shortage is looming, although it is initially presenting as an oil-glut. Reduction in economic activity through mass quarantines has led to collapse in demand for petroleum. Since the 1970s, oil discovery and production have become increasingly difficult and costly. Easily drilled and pumped sources of crude have long given way to hard-to-access mixed liquids and gases, including fracked and vegetable ones. Oil exploration and production decline and stop in the absence of sufficient investment. Overleveraged companies fail under economic stress, especially with the kinds of costs involved in oil-exploration and exploitation. Countries dependent on oil-revenue descend into economic depression. Supply chains are disrupted by business failures. Machinery falls into disuse. Skills are lost or poached. Predators and competitors destroy oil-fields in order to privilege their own production recovery. Ultimately governments and conglomerates, including banks, will be able to buy up oil exploration and production cheap. Western governments have tended to enable corporations, to the detriment of economic and equitable supply, and have gone in with their war machines to destroy or wrest oil production from public companies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, etc. The stop and start mode is inherently costly and disruptive. Probably the only reliable mode of oil and gas production is by governments, which do not have to make a profit. As Colin Campbell wrote in the 1990s,
"The Soviets were very efficient explorers, as they were able to approach their task in a scientificmanner, being able to drill holes to gather critical information, whereas their Western counterparts had to pretend that every borehole had a good chance offinding oil." [Source: Colin Campbell, "The Caspian Chimera," Chapter 5, in Sheila Newman, Ed. The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Ed., 2008]
Some possible solutions and adaptations
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed fundamental weaknesses in global supply system.The need for governments to take over outsourced services and resources in order to provide for vital needs reveals the fallacy of privatisation for profit, and exposes the notion of privatisation for 'efficiency' as laughable.
The failure of private businesses and corporations provides a serendipitous opportunity for governments to cheaply buy back vital resources, such as land, power and water, and essential services, like airlines, roads, hospitals, land-production and housing etc.
Deglobalisation of the economy means ending mass migration and foreign ownership of resources and essential services.
Without Australia's massive population growth, which relies on mass immigration, the land and housing sector would no longer support our huge and immensely costly private property and infrastructure development industry. Until Primeminister Menzies in the 1960s, who also encouraged mass immigration, government was the main land and housing production source.
Governments now have the opportunity to re-regulate land and other vital resource prices in order to reduce the cost of living and production, to get us through the coming economic depression, and beyond. Lower land-prices would mean more local ownership and the opportunity for more local food production, proportionately reducing the need for the cash economy. These changes would make it possible to reduce the hours of work that people need to earn a living and the need for consumerism to support more workers.
Governments should also be able to organise the share of essential work more equitably.
Populations in lock-down have had the opportunity to investigate the notion of leisure, the meaning of life, and even to smell the roses. Released from the treadmill, but at risk of their lives, more may have started to question the authority of the elites and be more willing to participate in political self-determination. Nonsensical advice about not wearing masks, which must have had fatal consequences, was given by the highest authorities in the land. Will this lead to wider public loss of blind faith in media-created and promoted figureheads, resulting in ordinary people doing their own research and testing and trusting their own judgement, finding leaders locally, rather than accepting the leadership choices and policy dictates of a distant political caste?
 This paper is undated but appears under the "Comité régional » Sixty-first session," which made its annual report in December 2014.
Covid-19 is a warning. We can take it as such or ignore it if we get through it and come out the other side.
High density, high population, high throughput, globalised manufacturing, global high mobility, are not working for us now. When we first learned in January of the outbreak of Covid -19 in Wuhan my first thought was that "This will be in Melbourne soon." Thirty years ago, I would not have had such a thought because China was so distant and separate. I was right, within a few days it was in Melbourne. On January 25th Australia had its first four cases, the first in Melbourne and another three in Sydney. At this time the city of Wuhan in China was in "lockdown".
I was most alarmed to learn that the disease could be spread by people with no symptoms, and that many did not have symptoms. For me that was the key piece of information that should have dictated government protocol to manage contagion.
By March 2nd, the first two cases of community transmission of Covid -19 were reported in Sydney. One was a woman who caught if from her brother recently returned from Iran and the second was a health care worker, working in close proximity with patients. On March 13th, the Victorian health department announced nine new cases of coronavirus in Victoria, including the state’s first community transmission, and it is now being transmitted at an alarming rate. As at 6.30 p.m. March 28th, Victoria's total case numbers were 685.
Now Victoria is in partial lockdown. We are being asked to stay home as much as possible. Businesses have been closed down, sporting facilities are closed, even beaches are closed in Melbourne. How did our governments let it come to this? If I could see it coming, they should have seen it coming. Why were governments apparently powerless to stop it?
Finally, the Tasmanian Government is now not letting people arrive from the mainland without quarantine. I heard a commentator say that this takes advantage of its geographical status as an island. That’s great, but the rest of Australia is also an island! We have blown our chance to stay clear of this scourge. If we had not blown our chances, people would not have had to die or lose their jobs. To me it is a debacle.
So, people will be spending a lot more time at home. The trouble is that "home" is not what it was thirty years ago. Home is now more likely to be an apartment, rather than a house with a garden. For those with a garden, it is far easier to endure days on end without going outside one's home, than it is for someone in a one-bedroom flat.
Lockdown arrangements have been introduced incrementally, which strikes me as policy on the run, and smacks of "shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted." We hear that schools must remain open and then they are closed. We heard the Prime Minister saying that he is going to a rugby match when most of the people I know had been avoiding crowds for at least a couple of weeks.
Why was a protocol not in place for protecting Australia's population? Now people have died, more will get sick and die, people out of work could lose their houses. The fallout is immense. The only thing I can think of giving the Australian government credit for is being ahead of the even more sluggish World Health Organisation, in declaring Covid-19 a pandemic.
The neo-liberal economy, globalisation, and the pandemic.
The very arrangement that makes money for the few is a bad arrangement for the many. Goods and labour move around the world as though geographical distance were meaningless. The movement of ships spreads environmental pests. The movement of people spreads disease. With the increased population density in Melbourne and other cities, due to rapid population growth, mostly from overseas migration, we in Australia are more likely to have close encounters with strangers than we would have had before Australia’s population numbers were ramped up. On a day like today - sunny and warm in autumn - we crave a walk outside. We think of the beach, but hesitate because others will be thinking the same, and it will be hard to walk on the now defined pathway without encountering people at close quarters, even briefly.
Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson was heard on the ABC a few days ago, saying that she had been a strong proponent of upgrades to the Great Ocean Road but now she urges people not to come to coastal towns even if they own "holiday houses" there. The recent obsession with increased mobility in this state is now something that will only serve Covid -19. Small towns have welcomed the commerce that tourism brings, but now it is unimportant compared with the need to stay isolated.
Australia's ailing economy: Economic stimulation means increasing human transactions and disease transmission
Stimulus packages surely are meant to stimulate the very behaviour that spreads the disease. They contradict moves to save the health of the nation. That is, they aim to increase economic activity, to wit transactions, whilst locking down decreases transactions. The responsibility of the government now is to support the population directly affected by the measures taken to save the health of the population. Those people directly affected are paying a big price.
This plague was forecast
Scientists have warned us for decades that a pandemic was overdue. We even knew it was likely to come from China in the form of a zoonose. We got a real-time warning when we first knew of the deadly virus in Wuhan. Despite all these warnings, we did not act quickly enough and we are now dealing with an exponentially rising number of Covid-19 cases. Our lives have been de-railed. Next time, we need to be ready to pull up the drawbridge sooner. We also need to be prepared in terms of manufactured goods. Supermarkets need to have warehouse supplies. Deliveries "just in time" are inadequate. We need more medical and nursing staff. We cannot just wear our health workers into the ground. Hospital cleaners and hospital management need to be prepared and knowledgeable in disinfection protocols and practices. Government needs to have more of a role in the economic structure of the country, taking health into account as an absolute priority, even if it's not economically rational!
When this crisis has passed will we go back to "Business as Usual," and again flounder just as badly when Covid -21 or 23 arrives?
With everything that’s happening about the Coronavirus, it might be very hard to make a decision of what to do today. Should you wait for more information? Do something today? What?
Here’s what I’m going to cover in this article, with lots of charts, data and models with plenty of sources:
How many cases of coronavirus will there be in your area?
What will happen when these cases materialize?
What should you do?
When you’re done reading the article, this is what you’ll take away:
The coronavirus is coming to you.
It’s coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly.
It’s a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.
When it does, your healthcare system will be overwhelmed.
Your fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways.
Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die.
They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies.
The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today.
That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now.
As a politician, community leader or business leader, you have the power and the responsibility to prevent this.
@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca">Read more & see graphs here
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the mechanisms it uses to monitor the performance of various countries in relation to their handling of the coronavirus epidemic do not show any cover-up by the Iranian government with regard to Iran’s virus crisis.
Speaking in a televised interview with the CNBC news channel on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the organization, said the WHO’s fact-checking mechanisms have not found any concrete proof that Iran had been covering up the severity of the epidemic.
Asked about the media hype revolving around Iran and accusing the country of covering up the severity of the new coronavirus epidemic, the WHO chief said, “I wouldn’t frame any country without any reason or without having any fact.”
“There are reports that come from the media… but this is the WHO, you know, this is a technical organization and should check the facts. We cannot say what journalists say,” he added.
“I say if we followed journalists’ reports, whether it’s well done or not, then where we end.”
He concluded by saying, “That’s why we have our own mechanism and from our own mechanism we haven’t seen that, but if we see, then of course we should address it.”
The virus that emerged in the central city of Wuhan in China's Hubei Province late last year has so far claimed more than 3,000 lives worldwide.
In Iran, it has claimed 66 lives and infected 1,501 others, 291 of whom have recovered.
Iranian medical officials have assured that the country will contain the outbreak, noting that the condition of most of the patients diagnosed with the virus has improved.
The country has mobilized all its resources to confront the disease, with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Iran’s Army being the latest to join the campaign Sunday.
Iran has, meanwhile, announced the closure of schools and universities throughout the upcoming days, and health centers have been tasked with distributing protective items, such as facemasks, among the public.
The coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is an illness characterized by fever and coughing and in serious cases causes shortness of breath or pneumonia.
See also: United States Militarizing Response to Ebola Crisis While Cuba Pledges Medical Assistance (23/9/14) on Global Research. Update, 25 Sep: The Syrian Girl's Is #Ebola a biological weapon? (11/8/14) video added as an appendix.
Nothing highlights the bankruptcy of the deregulation, corporatisation, privatisation and globalisation revolution that has swept the world over the past three decades than the human and economic devastation caused by the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa. Over a decade ago all the pure research that was needed to embark on a vaccination trial had been carried out, all that was needed was a billion dollars to carry out that trial.
The researchers involved could not convince the private sector of the return to investors as Ebola, a decade ago, was an interesting virus that had only affected a few hundred people. Governments in Africa didn't have the resources or finances to tackle the problem. The United Nations chronic underfunding limited its ability to tackle the issue, although it had been warning the world about the devastating consequences of the virus.
The economically developed world gripped by the profit, irrespective of the human, social and environmental consequences, bug, turned its head the other way as it realised there were no profits to be made from the misery of a few hundred people. Hopefully the current epidemic in Western Africa and its potential spread to the rest of the world will be the impetus needed to create an international organisation under the auspices of the United Nations, funded by its members that can be used to monitor potential infection threats and create vaccines and treatment options before the horse bolts from the stable.
Dr. Joseph TOSCANO / Spokesperson / Anarchist Media Institute
Level 1/21 Smith Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Editor's comment: On September 18th 2014 Dr Margaret Chan, Director of the World Health Organisation, gave a speech in which she concluded,
"Distinguished members of the Security Council,
Reports show that more than 5500 people have been infected. Well over 2500 have died. And these shocking figures are vast underestimates. Health, medical, and clinical issues must remain the heart and soul and the spirit of this response.
It will take some time, but the Ebola outbreak can be contained. Look at the stable situation in Nigeria and Senegal. When the first imported cases in these two countries occurred, we knew very well what we were dealing with. Government ownership and leadership supported by CDC, Doctors without Borders, and WHO responded immediately with the right emergency actions.We face a situation of unprecedented population movements criss-crossing west Africa’s porous borders. Other countries will have to deal, in the same aggressive way, with imported cases, especially in this era of unprecedented international air travel."
#ebolaApp1" id="ebolaApp1">Appendix: Syrian Girl: Is #Ebola a biological weapon?
Video originally posted 11 Aug 2014 to the Syrian Girl Partisan's YouTube Channel
Chart of alert levels from World Health Organisation (WHO) http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/phase/en/index.html This page also contains details of what the chart symbolises and is useful to understanding the situation.
Full Statement by WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, 29 April 2009, Swine influenza
Ladies and gentlemen,
"Based on assessment of all available information, and following several expert consultations, I have decided to raise the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5. Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world."
Swine influenza - full coverage
Current WHO phase of pandemic alert
International Health Regulations (IHR)
On the positive side, the world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history.
Preparedness measures undertaken because of the threat from H5N1 avian influenza were an investment, and we are now benefitting from this investment.
For the first time in history, we can track the evolution of a pandemic in real-time.
I thank countries who are making the results of their investigations publicly available. This helps us understand the disease.
I am impressed by the work being done by affected countries as they deal with the current outbreaks.
I also want to thank the governments of the USA and Canada for their support to WHO, and to Mexico.
Let me remind you. New diseases are, by definition, poorly understood. Influenza viruses are notorious for their rapid mutation and unpredictable behaviour.
WHO and health authorities in affected countries will not have all the answers immediately, but we will get them.
WHO will be tracking the pandemic at the epidemiological, clinical, and virological levels.
The results of these ongoing assessments will be issued as public health advice, and made publicly available.
All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans.
All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.
At this stage, effective and essential measures include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases, and infection control in all health facilities.
This change to a higher phase of alert is a signal to governments, to ministries of health and other ministries, to the pharmaceutical industry and the business community that certain actions should now be undertaken with increased urgency, and at an accelerated pace.
I have reached out to donor countries, to UNITAID, to the GAVI Alliance, the World Bank and others to mobilize resources.
I have reached out to companies manufacturing antiviral drugs to assess capacity and all options for ramping up production.
I have also reached out to influenza vaccine manufacturers that can contribute to the production of a pandemic vaccine.
The biggest question, right now, is this: how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start?
It is possible that the full clinical spectrum of this disease goes from mild illness to severe disease. We need to continue to monitor the evolution of the situation to get the specific information and data we need to answer this question.
From past experience, we also know that influenza may cause mild disease in affluent countries, but more severe disease, with higher mortality, in developing countries.
No matter what the situation is, the international community should treat this as a window of opportunity to ramp up preparedness and response.
Above all, this is an opportunity for global solidarity as we look for responses and solutions that benefit all countries, all of humanity. After all, it really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.
As I have said, we do not have all the answers right now, but we will get them.
Notes on the 1918 Flu Pandemic and relationship to Swine Flu
Influenza A virus was first isolated by RE Shope* in 1931 from swine and by W. Smith, et al.**, in 1933 from humans, approximately 15 years after the 1918 “Spanish” flu world pandemic. Recently, RNA sequences of the 1918 virus have been studied by researchers at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) in Maryland, which had stored specimens of 70 human autopsy cases of the 1918 flu pandemic.* In addition, influenza RNA was extracted from a preserved bird from the 1915-1918 era stored at the Smithsonian Institution. The work done confirms that the 1918 virus was an H1N1 virus and was closely related to swine and human H1N1 viruses that Swope isolated in the 1930s. However, both 1930 human and swine viruses were genetically distinct from the 1918-era archived wild bird virus from the Smithsonian. Hence, the researchers hypothesize that the virus causing the 1918 pandemic was unlikely transmitted directly from birds to humans or pigs. Rather, they think that the H1N1 pandemic virus likely circulated among swine and/or humans for some period, undergoing drift, before leading to widespread illness in 1918. Source:http://www.semp.us/publications/biot_reader.php?BiotID=162
Photo Source: http://www.vaccineinformation.org/photos/flu_afp001a.jpg
In response to cases of swine influenza A(H1N1), reported in Mexico and the United States of America, the Director-General convened a meeting of the Emergency Committee to assess the situation and advise her on appropriate responses.
The establishment of the Committee, which is composed of international experts in a variety of disciplines, is in compliance with the International Health Regulations (2005).
The first meeting of the Emergency Committee was held on Saturday 25 April 2009.
After reviewing available data on the current situation, Committee members identified a number of gaps in knowledge about the clinical features, epidemiology, and virology of reported cases and the appropriate responses.
The Committee advised that answers to several specific questions were needed to facilitate its work.
The Committee nevertheless agreed that the current situation constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
Based on this advice, the Director-General has determined that the current events constitute a public health emergency of international concern, under the Regulations.
Concerning public health measures, in line with the Regulations the Director-General is recommending, on the advice of the Committee, that all countries intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.
The Committee further agreed that more information is needed before a decision could be made concerning the appropriateness of the current phase 3.
Candobetter Editor's comment: The above quote from the committee about more information being needed means that the Stage 3 alert is current until further information either upgrades or downgrades it.
Current WHO phase of pandemic alert
Current WHO phase of pandemic alert and current phase of alert in the WHO global influenza preparedness plan
Experts at WHO and elsewhere believe that the world is now closer to another influenza pandemic than at any time since 1968, when the last of the previous century's three pandemics occurred. WHO uses a series of six phases of pandemic alert as a system for informing the world of the seriousness of the threat and of the need to launch progressively more intense preparedness activities.
The designation of phases, including decisions on when to move from one phase to another, is made by the Director-General of WHO.
Each phase of alert coincides with a series of recommended activities to be undertaken by WHO, the international community, governments, and industry. Changes from one phase to another are triggered by several factors, which include the epidemiological behaviour of the disease and the characteristics of circulating viruses.
The world is presently in phase 3: a new influenza virus subtype is causing disease in humans, but is not yet spreading efficiently and sustainably among humans.