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article imageOp-Ed: Is COVID really out of control globally? Probably.

By Paul Wallis     Oct 10, 2020 in World
Sydney - The short answer to the question is that global infection rates keep going up exponentially. That’s despite the selective testing and reporting and the political spin on every number. If it is out of control, what happens next?
Despite the fact that some countries do have their pandemics pretty well contained, the usual daily infection rate is 250,000 – 350,000 per day. That’s a million more people every 3 or 4 days. In April, allowing for the fact that less testing was available, it was under 100,000. So the real number of daily infections is now 3-4 times what it was. That means the pandemic is spreading, fast.
The bottom line here is that the pandemic isn’t even slowing down in global terms. Infection rates keep rising. That’s also despite the desperate efforts of governments to make their numbers look good. These efforts, notably “less testing”, have no relation to actual infection rates. Less testing just meant lower numbers. It had nothing to do with the real rate or numbers of infections.
Currently, the US, India, Brazil, Russia and Colombia are the top 5 infected countries. Some countries did much better than others right from the start. New Zealand is a case in point. New Zealand shut down its pandemic very quickly and effectively. The country has had 1870 cases and 25 deaths.
(For those saying it’s “a small country” – The country has around 5 million people, 600 islands and a lot of remote areas. They also got 3.8 million tourists from around the world in 2019, adding an additional 76% of the population of New Zealand. Many of those people were in New Zealand when the pandemic started. That’s no minor feat of control and management. The infection rate is miniscule, compared to most other countries.)
What if COVID becomes endemic?
If the infection rate continues to climb at the same rate, it will be around 1.2 million people per day sometime in 2021. That level of infection could be impossible to contain. Effectively, the disease will become endemic, an ongoing burden on global public health. Countries which have failed to contain the pandemic will obviously be worst affected by an ongoing endemic scenario.
This also means the virus will continue to be “available” in the wider environment, able to infect some percentage of the population. That, in turn, means that the risk of future waves of the pandemic is certain.
The latest on the virus shows a tricky, efficient disease
Studies of COVID have taken a while, and included some brand new exploratory techniques. The New York Times has a particularly interesting, and worrying, analysis of the virus and how it works.
The virus is highly adapted to dodging immune systems. (If it wasn’t, it couldn’t have spread worldwide so fast. That’s also what’s wrong with “herd immunity”.) Viruses mutate all the time, and it’s those which successfully infect which persist.
The secondary effects of COVID aren’t at all encouraging. This disease can cause blood clots, strokes, vision loss, respiratory problems, and, of course, a battered immune system.
Democracy DOES work – It’s politics that never works
If the pandemic has proven anything, it’s that politics and crises don’t mix. One of the reasons for COVID being out of control is that political interests have interfered so much with the response.
Consider - Have politics sabotaged basic management of the pandemic? Have politics spread rumours about it in direct contradiction of expert advice? Has the bafflingly inept United States response to the pandemic been a major catalyst for making it worse globally?
Politics is about politics. It's never been about anything else. You can squeak all the ideologies you like, and for those in the sector, it’s all about them. You can spend 5 seconds claiming to believe in something, and 50 years making money out of it.
Expecting the totally mercenary political machine to have the slightest idea how to manage a crisis is absurd. The political machine “interprets” information in terms of any value or risk to itself. Can you make money out of a pandemic? If yes, they’ll take action. If no, they’ll simply talk politics.
This hijacking of the democratic process is hardly new, or exciting. It’s also invariably disastrous. The only total certainty is that whatever is done will be done to protect political interests, not people. Government reactions around the world tell different versions of the same very stale old story. “It’s all about us.”
The various obscenities about the pandemic are all political:
• “It’s a hoax.” It never was, and it isn’t.
• “It’s the flu.” It isn’t. This virus has killed many more people than influenza in half the time.
• “It’s the Deep State plandemic.” Check out the virus. That’s not something you can just put together.
• “Liberate us from the lockdowns.” Instant, inevitable spikes in infection rates ensued, followed by more severe lockdowns.
• “Most people had pre-existing conditions.” It’s not an accurate statement, to start with. Many people, notably younger people, didn’t have pre-existing conditions. It’s also like saying a person run over by a car had heart problems, so it wasn’t the car’s fault. Without the virus, many of those people could have lived for decades.
• We’ll leave out the bit about politicians encouraging their supporters to go out and get infected.
Does this sound like a democratic process? Government by propaganda? Government by misinformation, paid for by the public? If you bitch about taxes, this is what your tax money is buying. Dangerous disinformation by the gigaton. It’s paying to kill people or give them serious ongoing medical conditions.
In the UK, the political self-interest also happens to be anti-public health systems. This is the country which mindlessly privatized everything, allowed the NHS to run on its tyre rims, and has lost 42,000 people in the pandemic. The UK is doing worst of all Western nations in managing the pandemic, and it’s all about politics. It’s now a matter of opinion – mainly Scottish opinion – whether the country will even continue to exist as the United Kingdom.
That’s how destructive and counterproductive politics can become. “Never mind a million dead people, where are our privileges and payoffs?” It’s pretty similar to privatization, giving away high value public assets to private individuals, literally at the expense of the public and at the risk of their lives and health.
Will anything at all ever get done about anything?
Given the record on every major issue in the world, the answer is a resounding and unequivocal No. Everything important is routed through politics. Nothing much gets done in practical terms except paying various political hangers-on.
Politics shouldn’t be an issue in public health crises. This pandemic has not been “contained”, let alone cured. Every new infected person can spread this disease. The pandemic is effectively out of control. Vaccines may or may not help, or simply have to keep up with the virus, like flu shots.
Immunology and other neglected sciences like virology and epidemiology haven’t been part of the management process. They’ve been tacked on to A-B responses, not the all-embracing A-Z management strategies they need to work on to fix the problems.
It’s time to take back control of all essential services, and reinvest in good science and practical controls. Politics must get out of crisis management and stay out of it. If not, we’re looking at huge numbers of infected people within a few years.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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