Tag: Covid

Don’t blame the government for its handling of Covid. It’s our fault, apparently

At the weekend I went to Broadway Market in east London for the first time in seven months, because – and you don’t need to know this, but I’m telling you anyway – I became semi-obsessed with some walnut saucisson I saw tagged there on Instagram, and emerged blinking and pale from my hole just to find some. I’m glad I did, because the entire venture felt like a normal-world autumnal thing to be doing: shuffling round a food market in a long coat, holding a slightly overpriced latte someone made with an imported Japanese machine, marvelling at small, aesthetically bred pedigree dogs, looking at a vintage trinket stall and considering if I want to have a copper diving helmet in my house (no): revelling in that gorgeous early Saturday afternoon ritual of slowly deciding that you want a pint.



a person holding a sign: Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock

For a moment I felt normal, and then I gazed out over the crowd and the intrusive thought came back into my head: “Guh, they should all be at home! Covidiots!”

That phrase, GTSABAH! C!, has been in my brain more or less on a loop since April, when the first clench of lockdown loosened just an inch, and people went tentatively to the park, and other people – let’s be honest, snitches – took photos of them there, and tweeted those photos and sent them to the newspapers, which then presented small clusters of people quietly eating a 99 on a park bench in the same way you or I might regard a war crime. Ever since then I’ve been careful not to find myself in too big a crowd out in public, because it only takes one person with a wide-angle lens and there I am, trapped in the same nonchalant, angular pose as Bigfoot in that photo, a super-spreader criminal with a rapidly melting Feast halfway up to his nose, damned online for ever. So mostly, I’ve stayed indoors.

This would be fine if the public didn’t still blame me for, well, coronavirus. As YouGov found this week, the wider public – ie the victims of, and necessarily the spreaders of, coronavirus – predominantly blame each other for the crisis and not – random example – the government that has overseen a succession of calamitous cronyism and policy failures on a thrice-weekly basis since March. Of 1,972 adults surveyed, 53% hold the public (that is: themselves) responsible for the rise in coronavirus cases over the past month, with only 28% pointing their (freshly washed, for 20 seconds or more) finger at the government. Split that data by voting intention, and 78% of Conservative voters blame the public, with only 7% mad at the government. Labour voters went 29% public, 55% government. As for leave voters, 71% said public, 14% government, while remain went for the most balanced split: 42% public, 43% government.



a person holding a sign: ‘YouGov found that the wider public predominantly blame each other for the crisis and not, random example, the government that has overseen a succession of policy failures.’


© Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock
‘YouGov found that the wider public predominantly blame each other for the

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Biden Son-In-Law Advises Campaign on Pandemic Response while Investing in COVID Startups

Joe Biden’s son-in-law Howard Krein is an informal adviser to the Democratic presidential candidate on the response to the coronavirus pandemic, while simultaneously investing in health-care startups to address the pandemic, Politico reported on Tuesday.

Krein’s venture capital business, StartUp Health, announced in April that it would invest in ten medical startup companies that craft solutions to issues posed by the pandemic. At the same time, Krein was among several individuals speaking with the Biden campaign regarding its health policy.

The initiative by StartUp Health was dubbed the “Pandemic Response Health Moonshot,” language that echoes Biden’s own “Cancer Moonshot” project from his last year in the Obama administration.

Krein’s position raises questions about a possible conflict of interest for the Biden campaign. A campaign official confirmed to Politico that Krein was an informal adviser who has participated in calls with the candidate on pandemic response.

“I have little doubt that the relationship to Joe Biden, particularly if he becomes president, would attract the interest of some investors,” Avik Roy, founder of investment firm Roy Healthcare Research, told Politico. Roy is a former adviser to Senators Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Mitt Romney (R., Utah).

The news follows a series of disclosures detailing that Biden’s son Hunter pursued while his father was serving as vice president. According to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released in September, “Hunter Biden received millions of dollars from foreign sources as a result of business relationships that he built during the period when his father was vice president of the United States and after.”

In particular, Hunter Biden and his business partner Devon Archer engaged in monetary transactions with Ye Jianming, a Chinese businessman with connections in the Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army. Archer was convicted of defrauding a Native American tribe in 2018, and has a sentencing hearing scheduled for this coming January.

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U.K. Arts Groups Welcome Government’s COVID Cash Injection

Recipients of the government funding include major organizations such as the London Symphony Orchestra, which received 846,000 pounds, and tiny venues such as London’s 50-seat Finborough Theatre, which got just under 60,000 pounds. Liverpool’s Cavern Club, where The Beatles shot to fame, received a grant of 525,000 pounds.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a statement that the money was “a vital boost for the theaters, music venues, museums and cultural organizations that form the soul of our nation.”

Julian Bird, chief executive of umbrella body U.K. Theatre, said the news was “warmly welcomed, and will help create work and retain jobs.”

Britain’s museums, galleries, theaters and music venues all closed when the country went into lockdown in March. Some have managed to reopen, with reduced capacity and at a financial loss, but coronavirus restrictions make most live performances impossible.

Thousands of arts workers also have not been supported by government job-retention programs because they are freelancers.

Many felt slighted when Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said the government would protect jobs that were “viable,” though Sunak denied he was suggesting jobs in the arts were unviable.

Some in the arts world expressed further outrage on Monday about a government-backed ad showing a young dancer lacing up her ballet pumps alongside the words “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber. (She just doesn’t know it yet).”

The government said the ad was part of a long-running campaign encouraging young people from a variety of backgrounds to consider careers in cybersecurity. But Dowden acknowledged it appeared “crass.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, said “this particular piece of content was not appropriate and has been removed from the campaign.”

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Two-thirds of Britons say government ‘has no clear COVID plan’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leave 10 Downing Street London, ahead of a Cabinet meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The majority of Britons believe prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak have no clear coronavirus strategy. (PA)

Almost two-thirds of Britons believe the government doesn’t have a clear plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, a poll has revealed.

A YouGov survey of nearly 3,000 people found that only one in five (20%) think prime minister Boris Johnson and his ministers have a clear plan to halt the spread of COVID-19.

However, 64% said the government does not have a coherent strategy for fighting the virus.

A further 16% said they don’t know if the government has a clear plan or not.

Most Britons believe the government has no clear coronavirus plan. (YouGov)
Most Britons believe the government has no clear coronavirus plan. (YouGov)

Among Labour voters, the lack of confidence in Johnson was more striking – 81% of the party’s supporters believe the government has no clear plan.

Meanwhile, only 37% of Conservatives think the government has a clear strategy for tackling coronavirus, while 45% of Tories thought it didn’t.

The poll was published just as Johnson was announcing a new three-tier lockdown system for England, which, if passed by MPs in the House of Commons on Tuesday, will come into force on Wednesday.

Watch: Boris Johnson announces three-tier lockdown

The new lockdown will see areas of England labelled as medium, high or very high risk.

The government has been accused of ignoring the advice of its scientists, after it emerged that its Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned that 10pm pub curfews would only have a “marginal impact” on transmission rates.

Sage scientists also said NHS Test and Trace was only having a “marginal impact” and would “likely decline further” unless the system was expanded and people were given support to self-isolate.

It also emerged, through a Sage document dated 21 September, that scientists advised the government to introduce a small “circuit breaker” lockdown in England to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The government now needs to urgently explain why it ignored its own scientists and what it will be doing to get control of the virus.”

The YouGov survey found that 40% of respondents said the new three-tier measures do not go far enough, while 15% said they went too far.

Almost one in five (19%) said the new measures “get the balance about right”.

More than half of those surveyed (57%) said the rules should be different from one area to another, depending on the coronavirus rate.

Three in 10 (31%) said the rules should be the same across the whole of each country in the UK.

Watch: What is long COVID?

Coronavirus: what happened today
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U.K. Arts Groups Welcome Government’s COVID Cash Injection

The British government on Monday announced grants of 257 million pounds ($335 million) to help almost 1,400 arts and cultural organizations survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The money — the first chunk to be spent from a 1.57-billion-pound Culture Recovery Fund — was welcomed by arts organizations that have accused the government of neglecting them while supporting other businesses.

But just after the announcement, the government was forced to withdraw an advertisement that appeared to suggest ballet dancers should retrain for jobs in cybersecurity.

Recipients of the government funding include major organizations such as the London Symphony Orchestra, which received 846,000 pounds, and tiny venues such as London’s 50-seat Finborough Theatre, which got just under 60,000 pounds. Liverpool’s Cavern Club, where The Beatles shot to fame, received a grant of 525,000 pounds.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a statement that the money was “a vital boost for the theaters, music venues, museums and cultural organizations that form the soul of our nation.”

Julian Bird, chief executive of umbrella body U.K. Theatre, said the news was “warmly welcomed, and will help create work and retain jobs.”

Britain’s museums, galleries, theaters and music venues all closed when the country went into lockdown in March. Some have managed to reopen, with reduced capacity and at a financial loss, but coronavirus restrictions make most live performances impossible.

Thousands of arts workers also have not been supported by government job-retention programs because they are freelancers.

Many felt slighted when Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said the government would protect jobs that were “viable,” though Sunak denied he was suggesting jobs in the arts were unviable.

Some in the arts world expressed further outrage on Monday about a government-backed ad showing a young dancer lacing up her ballet pumps alongside the words “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber. (She just doesn’t know it yet).”

The government said the ad was part of a long-running campaign encouraging young people from a variety of backgrounds to consider careers in cybersecurity. But Dowden acknowledged it appeared “crass.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, said “this particular piece of content was not appropriate and has been removed from the campaign.”

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Madrid regional chief hits out at Spanish government Covid measures

The woman at the heart of the dispute over one of Europe’s coronavirus hotspots says Spain’s government is exacerbating the crisis and depicts herself as a bulwark against socialist revolutionaries in its ranks. 

To her supporters, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, head of Madrid’s regional government and perhaps the second most powerful elected official in the country, is the voice of resistance against a dangerous leftwing government running roughshod over democratic institutions and devastating the motor of the Spanish economy. 

To her detractors, the leader of the region of 6.6m people is a rightwing ideologue who has been far too slow in responding to some of the highest infection rates in Europe.

Ms Díaz Ayuso, a 41-year-old who took office last year after a career largely spent in communications for her centre-right People’s party, portrays the regional administration as one of the most important checks on what she says is an “authoritarian” central government. 

In an interview with the Financial Times, she accused Socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez and his coalition allies in the radical left Podemos grouping of shattering “the consensus of the two Spains [of left and right]” and trying to transform the country into a place where only “one form of thinking is allowed”.

The clash comes just three weeks after Mr Sánchez and Ms Díaz Ayuso held a summit-style meeting and promised to work with each other. It highlights how polarised politics have overwhelmed public health messaging; the different weights that Spain’s left and right give to resuming economic activity; and how the country’s complicated decentralised system of government has struggled to contend with the crisis.

“It is more of a political problem, not a health one, because Madrid was doing things well,” Ms Diaz Ayuso said of the tensions over coronavirus curbs in her region, half of whose inhabitants live in the capital city. 

“Just when we had applied sensible and fair measures that were showing results, the Spanish government rapidly decided to change its discourse and impose a very different model of lockdown that is very bad for the economy, does not solve the problem and has been rejected by the courts.”

Mr Sánchez’s government contends that it had no alternative but to use emergency powers to impose a ban on people entering and leaving the capital city and nine nearby municipalities — because of what it depicts as the inadequacies of Ms Díaz Ayuso’s measures in a region that for weeks was the most infected in Europe.

While the infection rate has fallen significantly in Madrid since the end of last month, it remains twice the average in Spain, itself one of the worst affected countries in Europe.

Mr Sánchez’s officials add that they had to act quickly after a court had struck down its previous controls just ahead of a holiday weekend. 

“The business of a vital region like Madrid, with 6.6m citizens, which is also

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A declaration of our Covid lockdown rights for society as a whole

Gupta and her co-authors boast decades at the pinnacle of global science. Imposing lockdown measures across all age groups is having terrible health implications, they say – not least as the NHS has significantly restricted non-Covid treatments. We’re seeing “worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come”, the GDB says. And the impact on school children and students is “a grave injustice”.

Overall, it is the “the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden”, thunders the declaration, pointing to both the economic and health implications of society-wide lockdown. “Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage,” the GBD says, “with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.”

The declaration’s concept of “focused protection” suggests looking after the vulnerable by using care home staff who are already immune, delivering groceries to the elderly so they needn’t go shopping and families meeting older relatives outdoors instead of inside. “People who are more at risk may participate if they wish,” says the GBD, “while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.”

So while the elderly and others shield if they want to, helped by their families, friends and the rest of society, the rest of us carry on. “Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal,” says the declaration. “Schools and universities should open for in-person tuition… and young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home.” Restaurants and other businesses should open, the GBD argues, with the arts, music, sport and other cultural activities resuming too.

All this, of course, is anathema to a political and medical establishment that has backed non-discriminate lockdown – and is now tightening restrictions even more. While Downing Street counters the scientific basis of the GBD, others go for straight character assassination.

The GBD is “a libertarian agenda packaged as science… a manifesto for selfishness,” says Gupta’s Oxford colleague Professor Trisha Greenhalgh. NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens says, disgracefully, that focusing on voluntary shielding among the over-65s amounts to “age-based apartheid” – comparing the motives of distinguished scientists with an immoral, repressive regime of racial subjugation.

As the insults fly, more and more scientists, examining the actual data on Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths, are backing the GBD or similar strategies. Public opinion is also turning.

“I’m not a natural Telegraph reader, but I’ve been surprised by many of the people I’ve agreed with during this covid crisis”, writes Dan, emailing us on [email protected] “Sunetra Gupta’s calm, measured manner has been admirable as she’s been vilified by fellow academics and media.”

Join us on our metaphorical capsule of common sense, by listening to the latest Planet Normal podcast, which comes out every Thursday. It’s free – at www.telegraph.co.uk/planetnormal or via iTunes, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.

 

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POLITICO Playbook PM: A Covid relief deal looks likelier than ever. A law, not so much

THE HUMAN YO-YO HAS BOUNCED BACK UP: President DONALD TRUMP now desperately wants a Covid relief deal, and his White House seems to be trying to make it happen for him.

BUT Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL said today in Kentucky he thinks it is very unlikely something will get done in the next three weeks — and that explains the tension here.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS and Hill sources tell us that they plan to work through this weekend, all next week and possibly next weekend to get a deal.

WHO KNOWS WHY TRUMP WANTS THIS. He may want noise to fill the silence. Maybe he wants a bump in the stock market. We’re not mood readers or psychiatrists or psychics. This deal could’ve been cut 90 times between May and now.

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS WE PICKED UP ON this morning, which are likely to be represented in an offer we’re told the administration will transmit to Speaker NANCY PELOSI today:

— THE WHITE HOUSE’S top-line number is $1.8 trillion. The line the GOP can’t cross is $2 trillion. All depends on the details, but this is now significantly higher than the GOP’s previous top line, which was $1.5 trillion.

— THE ADMINISTRATION is aiming for $300 billion in state and local funding. Too low for Democrats, but in the right direction. The GOP will have to come up here. Also, there’s unspent money that could be counted.

— THEY WANT TO TRY TO REPLACE the Earned Income Tax Credit with a boost in stimulus payments. We’re not clear here on the details, but it shows that the GOP is looking to close up an unresolved element of the negotiations.

BUT HERE ARE THE PROBLEMS: Lots of details are still not worked out. And Republicans on Capitol Hill are going to hate this. It’s going to be hard to get through the House with many Republican votes, and it could land in the Senate as late as the end of this month or on the doorstep of early November. What do they do with a bill at that point? Probably ignore it.

CASE IN POINT — MCCONNELL today in BULLEIT COUNTY, KY.: “The situation is kind of murky, and I think the murkiness is a result of the proximity to the election and everybody kind of trying to elbow for political advantage. I’d like to see us rise above that like we did back in March and April, but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks.” More from Marianne LeVine

TAKEAWAY: DEAL, more likely than ever. A deal means MNUCHIN and PELOSI say they have reached a deal. AN ACTUAL LAW: Not terribly likely pre-election.

THERE IS A SPLIT MINDSHARE IN D.C.: Will MCCONNELL accede to the White House no matter the deal? Or will he hold his

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Important research delayed by COVID, says Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Davis

Fallout from COVID-19 hasn’t only stopped charities and other important causes from stagin their usual fundraising and public awarness event this year, it’s also having an impact on research.

“This year, because of COVID, everything has changed. Light the Night is the signature fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is the largest blood cancer serving organization in North America. So, it’s a large organization throughout North America, its important to the blood cancer community, and it also significantly supports blood cancer research, which would never happen on its own if it wasn’t for organizations such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada,” said survivor, former premier, and LLSC Board member Paul Davis, adding that about 60 percent of the boards revenue comes in between September and November.

He said that the virtual event a 90- minute live, national broadcast which will air in Newfoundland at 8:30 pm, will, like other years, be a time to hear the stories of survivors, honour heroes, remember loved ones who have been lost, and raise lanterns just like any other year.

“This national broadcast will bring all provinces, all Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies, together, and we’re all going to celebrate together, so that’s a first for that,” said Davis.

He said that much of the Society’s work is supporting and coordinating blood cancer research, which has unfortunately ground to half due to the pandemic.

“There have been more than 600 cancer research trials that have ben suspended or cancelled in Canada because of COVID, and researchers haven’t yet returned to their labs to being to fully resume work. So, that’s an impact that we’re concerned about,” said Davis, who himself knows firsthand the importance of ongoing research.

“I was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2011, and my doctor tells me now, that if I were to relapse today, my treatment today would be different than if I relapsed three years ago, because of research. So, research is very, very important. People quite often don’t fully understand the benefit of research, and how things change,” he said.

Those who do have a form of blood cancer may take extra precautions during the pandemic, as the cancer may compromise a person’s immune system.

“Blood cancer impacts people’s immune system, be it through leukemia or lymphoma, the two major types of blood cancer. They impact your immune system directly, weakening your immune system, making it more difficult from things such as colds or flus,” said Davis.

“If you have a compromised immune system, thigs such as colds or flus can be ore difficult to overcome, and the same could hold true for COVID.”

Last years event, held in Paradise Park, raised about $160,000.

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Madrid court annuls central government’s COVID curbs on city

MADRID (Reuters) – A Madrid court on Thursday struck down a government order imposing a partial lockdown on the city and nine satellite towns, ruling in favour of the Madrid region in a standoff with national authorities.

Under the health ministry’s order, Madrid regional authorities on Friday barred residents from leaving the area without a valid reason, and imposed other restrictive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 contagion in one of Europe’s worst virus hotspots.

But regional government chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso had opposed the order, saying it would ravage the region’s economy, also arguing the ministry had no power to impose such curbs on a region.

The Madrid regional court sided with her in its ruling, calling the restrictions “interference by public authorities in citizens’ fundamental rights without the legal mandate to support it.”

In an initial reaction from the government – which can appeal the ruling – Health Minister Salvador Illa said he had not yet had time to study it.

“We will take the legal decisions that best protect health. We are sure that the Community of Madrid will agree with this approach. We do not care much about anything but citizens’ health,” he told a parliamentary committee without specifying further.

The restrictions imposed in Madrid had not yet been fully enforced as no fines could be levied on people violating the restrictions until the court had issued its decision.

The Madrid region had 741 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to Oct. 7, according to the World Health Organization, making it Europe’s second densest COVID-19 cluster after Andorra.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Emma Pinedo, editing by Andrei Khalip and John Stonestreet)

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