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article imageOp-Ed: Pandemic second wave worse — How’ll they screw this one up?

By Paul Wallis     Oct 14, 2020 in World
Sydney - In less than 12 months, the pandemic has basically crashed the global economy, and killed a million people. The second wave is now here, forming a rather grim pattern. The people who dropped the ball on the first wave are still in charge.
Around the world, headlines are saying the same thing - The second wave is bigger and doing more damage than the first. Europe is spiking with record numbers of cases. The United States looks like it’s in a third wave. That’s mainly because of the irresponsible “liberate from lockdowns” idiocy, which has kept numbers higher than just about anywhere else on Earth.
Reporting and testing
Reporting of the first wave had to play catchup with the numbers. Testing had to be set up, a reliable test developed, and systemically applied. The global second wave is better monitored, but reporting is somewhat hampered by time factors.
The current daily numbers include cumulative numbers, like reports from remote areas or areas which can’t process stats fast enough. (This is a natural issue with real-time reporting. You can only publish what’s available. You’ll see some countries where numbers spike every second day, with reporting playing catchup for that reason.)
Covid-19: world toll
Covid-19: world toll
Lockdown policies
Most lockdowns were carried out in the face of significant opposition. The push was to lift restrictions ASAP, rather than when numbers of new cases were at lower levels. That’s backfired badly, exposing more people to infection while there were still many people infected from the first wave.
The United States and UK were the major offenders among Western nations, with slack lockdowns and laissez-faire policies. In the US, the response can only be described as beyond incompetent, and conducted with undue political interference. Politicians have no right to put public health at risk for any reason, let alone their own political goals.
In the UK, a mix of bizarre policy decisions, apparently driven by political insiders, failed miserably to manage the first wave. Premature lifting of restrictions and strange caveats on reporting did the damage. The official numbers were kept low, giving a false picture of the state of the pandemic and risks. The government isn’t sending any clear signals about current lockdowns or forward-looking strategies.
In Europe, tough restrictions did seem to manage the first wave. Now, Europe is seeing record numbers of cases, notably in France, Germany and Spain, where severe increases in numbers are now looking very ominous. European leaders have expressed extreme concern about the new rising infection rates.
China – Who knows? The official figures show a very low level of infection, but new reports of lockdowns and citywide testing tell a less demure story. China is also importing a lot of food, which may or may not relate to disruption of the agricultural sector by the pandemic, floods, or a combination of both. The pity of it is that even if China has successfully contained the pandemic, relations with other countries have soured drastically.
The general pattern of spikes is consistent
Patterns of case spikes are slightly skewed by lousy reporting practices in some countries, but the overall pattern in Western countries is a large wave circa March 2020, followed by an increasing spike in mid-late September.
A few countries have different patterns:
The US has an early spike in April, which diminishes slightly till June, drastically increases in mid-July, tapers off in mid-September, and then starts rising again. The mid-September decline was pretty much the same as the early peak in April. This means that the infection rate baseline from the first wave didn’t shift much at all, at around 20,000 people per day.
Political input has also made numbers and basic statistics harder to manage, for no obvious reason. Stats were sent “direct to the White House” back in July. No use whatsoever has been made of this information. The stats don’t even get a mention in public statements. This move also derailed coordinated management very effectively. Since then, the situation in the US has got significantly worse.
India’s atypical pattern of cases is of a steady exponential increase from mid-March, rising very steeply to nearly 100,000 cases per day in early September. There are reporting factors to be considered, with remote testing and reporting having to catch up, but the overall trend has been to a steep increase in cases over that time.
Brazil has a patchy range of data, partly caused by remote reporting and managing stats across a very diverse range of environments and population access to testing. The first wave was a series of spikes, diminishing in a generally downward trend, but still showing large spikes of new cases pretty regularly.
Russia’s statistics are similar to the US in that the first wave peaked, diminished a bit and then started to climb rapidly again in mid-September. A new vaccine is currently in trial, with another said to be released soon. (Vaccines haven’t had time to have an impact on infection numbers.)
More “pandemic management by idiots”? No, thanks.
There can be no doubt at all that the very lax response to the first wave has a lot to do with the increasing cases in the second wave. This is what happens when ignoramuses and political shills influence basic healthcare. They’re not doctors, epidemiologists, or virologists. These people wilfully spread actual, dangerous, disinformation regarding risks.
Media attempts to counter the sheer amount of total garbage spewed out by these political morons were unable to penetrate the “fake news” mantras of the last few years. Based on this political pablum, people literally lined up demonstrating against lockdowns to get infected.
We’ll leave out the more than questionable sanity of the promoters of this decaying babble for now. The bottom line was that clueless skank-brained idiots called the shots during the first wave. The sheer level of dementia and denial in public office was more than enough to ensure failure of pandemic countermeasures in the US.
The US has failed to show any leadership at all during this time. The mix of denial and disinformation which has killed 215,000 Americans is obvious enough. This is what happens when you put public health in the hands of people who have no comprehension of basic issues.
So – What now?
The first and most obvious thing to do is to clear out all political input from pandemic management, particularly the propaganda. This utter drivel has no place in public health policy, let alone practice. Next, lose the morons. People who know less than nothing about serious public health risks shouldn’t be allowed any input into health management. The situation is quite serious enough without more whimsical mega-mistakes at government level.
The US is the benchmark for pandemic management. American credibility is on the line as much as American lives. The abysmal failure to manage the first wave has done real damage to America’s reputation. America had the most advanced tech and institutional research capacity, and the most authoritative voice in the world for medical innovations and best practices. The world used to take its cue from the US; now, it can’t even do that, unless someone gets the act together.
Now, the question is whether America can save itself. The current level of infection in the US is now around 150% of the first wave. The current rates of infection could mean that American infection rates can double in 12 months.
This means compound increases in infection, lockdowns, and serious snowballing economic consequences. If this pattern isn’t stopped, it’ll be a social and economic disaster unlike any other in US history. That will be an economic catastrophe on top of a global disaster.
Just one more thing
Would somebody kindly get it through their heads that this is a major incoming nuke they’re dealing with? If this pandemic continues on trends, the world is facing an ongoing global pandemic, possibly for years. Lockdowns will be the unavoidable norm.
Economic activity will crash unless proper adaptive measures are put in place, ASAP. (What’s so tough to understand about remote work for god’s sake?) Losses for businesses and individuals will be horrendous.
Failure to manage social needs, like the US failure to approve a new stimulus relief package, will make it much worse, very fast. Prices can and will go ballistic if people run out of money. Investment will collapse. There’ll be nothing much in which to invest.
The point is – This isn’t an unbeatable problem. Proper management can make it a lot easier, cheaper and quicker. Why isn’t that happening? If performance and results are how you judge people, start judging. Your life may depend on it.
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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