Blog Archive

Monday, February 1, 2021

Pandemic Part 2, Lockdown 3.0, Surge in Covid Deaths, Screen Time, Life after Brexit

Pandemic Part 2

2020 was Part 1 and it was grim and depressing. Part 2 has started and is is full of hope and optimism whilst acknowledging that this winter will be really tough.

On January 4th, an historic day:

Dialysis patient Brian Pinker, 82, has become the first person to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

The retired maintenance manager got the jab at 7:30 GMT from nurse Sam Foster at Oxford's Churchill Hospital.

A more optimistic type of graphic reporting started in 2021. In 2020 they were all new cases and deaths

Lockdown 3.0

On the fourth day of the New Year, the Prime Minister announced the third nationwide lockdown. But it doesn't feel anything like the first lockdown which started on March 24th 2020 and lasted for over 100 days with restrictions lifted from July 4th.

Why does this lockdown feel so different? Because we have become used to it, we have significantly altered our way of lives and our expectations. Because the first lockdown and the restrictions to our free movements were a huge shock - we had never before been told we couldn't travel, we couldn't go out except for emergencies and we couldn't meet with people. That was a seismic shock to anyone who has lived their lives in an open and free democracy.

Since then I have spent 14 days in quarantine, lived through the second lockdown and got used to this new restricted way of life where social contact is mainly reliant on using the internet in all its different forms. So Lockdown 3.0 changes very little for me. We will get through it, especially with the vaccine just around the corner. My parents who are in their mid eighties have had their first vaccine and have just had their second one cancelled as the government has, against the advice of Pfizer, decided to extend the interval between the two jabs in order to vaccinate more people earlier with just one dose. They still await an appointment for their second dose.

Surge in Covid Deaths

As was largely expected and predicted, the lack of preventative measures prescribed by the government during December has led to a massive surge in deaths relating to Covid-19. We were running at over 1,000 deaths a day in the second week of January, worse than at the worst point of the April 2020 first wave lockdown. By the third week in Jan, we were up to 1,800 deaths per day. To give this a bit of perspective, there has been another air crash in Indonesia with 62 people feared dead. This tragedy that would normally grab world headlines looks tiny compared to the daily deaths from Covid. Thank goodness we have a vaccine around the corner. By the last week in January, the UK death toll exceeded 100,000. A very poor and tragic performance. Pretty much the worst in the world measured by size of population. GRIM.

Screen Time

I spend hours working standing in front of my computer (I have been working standing for about 10 years now). When I am not working I am often looking at my phone. I used to use it mainly to talk to people but now it's mainly to write to people (e.g WhatsApp, SMS, email). Then to relax, I often sit in front of the TV and watch something on Netflix, Amazon or iPlayer.

I don't use a tablet or a watch so it could be worse. My eyes are definitely feeling it and not in a good way. One of the consequences of the lockdowns will be related to all the additional screentime that most people are doing.

Cooking, reading and walking are my non screen activities. All my exercise including my live yoga classes, daily cross training and cycling are undertaken in front of a screen.

Life after Brexit - Month 1

Dismissed by some as 'teething problems' there have only been negative news stories following the UK's exit from the EU, which combined with the on-going pandemic, is terminal for some businesses. As usual the fisherman shout loudest, blocking Parliament Square in Westminster to show their dis-satisfaction with accusations of delays, extra costs and paperwork resulting in spoiled loads and reduced exports to the EU.

Small businesses are being advised by the government trade advisors to open offices in the EU to reduce the expense and burden of cross border shipments. This will lead to job losses in the UK. Some businesses have stopped shipping between UK-EU as it's no longer profitable and some customers are complaining about the large bills they have had to pay to transport companies on arrival to cover the extra costs.

And right at the end of January, barely one month into the new UK-EU trading agreement, a massive row has blown up regrading the distribution of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine. Following an announcement from Astrazeneca that supply to the EU in Q1 this year will fall about 60% short of expectations an almighty argument kicked off between the two parties with the EU threatening to limit supply to the UK out of the EU and also threatening to create a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland to prevent supply into the UK. Very nasty although all parties are now working to de-escalate.

The vaccine row has become so poisonous that various high ranking people, including President Emmanuel Macron are suggesting that the Oxford Astrazeneca vax is ineffective in people over 60 or 65. In fact, the science suggests that it is just as effective in older people. 

What did they all expect?

I look forward to hearing some of the success tories promised by the Brexiteers. We are there now and need to make it work.

Lorries outside the Houses of Parliament on Jan 18th

Quote for the Month

There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilised as a source of strength.' No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster.

Dalai Lama

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