Pick of the Political Pops: Larry Sparks “The Testing Time”

Err… well. This is some bollocks happening right here, right now huh? We truly hope you and yours are ok, that you’re managing OK, hopefully making sense of stuff and staying as safe as you can.

Like many of you we here at Americana-UK Towers have had some time on our hands (probably no more than a week or so but it seems longer somehow) and in that time we have been pondering on ‘stuff’. So we thought we’d share some of that… idle thoughts of idle fellows as it were. Now we are not scientists so don’t take anything here as gospel truth. We aren’t even politicians despite this being ‘the political slot’. Hell, when it comes down to it, we’re just music fans with an inflated sense of our own self-worth and an urge to tell people so. Here, then, are some random thoughts which have popped into our heads of late:

Coronavirus? There are, apparently, lots of viruses in the ‘coronavirus’ family. The common cold is one. SARS was another as was MERS. Some of them, like SARS and MERS, have crossed over from animals to humans. COVID-19, our present adversary, seems to have done likewise. Our reading of it was that SARS came from civet cats and MERS from dromedaries via bats (or something). We don’t know about COVID 19 but best guess is that it came from unsanitary conditions relating to some or other species sold in Asian markets. Do we know that for sure? Not really. Maybe best to hold fire on the finger-pointing and let the investigations take place in future days.

How bad is this shit? Well we know that this is a pandemic. An epidemic is where lots of cases occur in a localised area but a pandemic is where cases occur outside of that localised area into a much wider one (like worldwide). Furthermore a pandemic is classified by how contagious it is or ‘how many people are actually going to get this’? The theory is that COVID 19 has an infection rate of 2.5 – that means that anyone infected with it will pass it on to another 2.5 people. Pretty serious. But, to put that into context, measles (assuming an unvaccinated populous) has an infection rate of 15. Nasty.

What can we do? Not much it seems. Staying away from other infectious folk would seem to be the key. There is no vaccine or immunisation programme because it takes time, possibly a year to a year and a half, to make a working vaccine a la influenza. So the best course of action is to just ditch the social contact and stay at home out of the way. Here’s where that gets tricky. Twelve to eighteen months of lockdown? Seriously? Now (here in the UK) the government was heavily criticised for suggesting a ‘herd immunity’ approach i.e. let people get it and build up sufficient antibodies, communally, in order to protect ourselves. Don’t be hasty to ditch that. If we aren’t going to get a working vaccine for a year then how are we going to keep economies going? How are we going to get out of lockdown? How are we all going to provide for ourselves? Obviously the soundbite of ‘we lose a few pensioners’ was crass but we really need to look at doing something, short term, to save our jobs and livelihoods. We really need antibodies. Which brings us onto:

What can we do right now? This is where we sort of show our true colours as unqualified commentators and start pointing fingers, political stylee. The bloke with the unpronounceable name, Head of the World Health Organisation, said that the key to this thing was to “ Test. Test. Test”. Are we testing anything like? Are we fuck. The Germans were on the case and have been testing thousands and thousands of folk in order to ascertain who has the thing and who has had the thing. Exponentially their ‘figures’ look much better than the rest of Europe. They are actually on top of the thing. We are not. We have woefully inadequate testing and the slimy reptiles in the (Tory) government have actually been telling lies in order to try and cover this up. Michael Gove suggested that there was a shortage of ‘reagents’ – the stuff that makes the tests works essentially – when in fact the guy from the Chemical Industries Association said that there was no such shortage and that the problem was that the government has simply neglected to ask them for more. Similarly there are at least two extant companies in the UK who specialise in making ventilators. They offered help to the government but nobody got back to them. Instead they appear to have gone to Dyson, that true blue Brit firm who outsourced all of their manufacturing to Malaysia, to ask them to step up to the plate. We have no idea of the minutiae of what went on there but at the very least it looks pretty bad.

Are we, in fact, fucked? No – this is not the zombie apocalypse. Granted people are dying and that is of course tragic. Unbelievably tragic. But how many are dying? If you look at the raw figures presented nightly on the news then it looks bad. Seriously bad. But hang on there. If we are only testing those who have already presented at hospital then of course there is going to be a high instance of positives. What we really need to do is to test suspected cases (as above) but also those working on front line health care (apparently one in four doctors are absent due to self-isolating and one in five nurses are doing similar) and then, well, pretty much everybody. Like the Germans. Nobody has a handle on this thing thus far: there are people who contract the virus and die, there are people who get this thing and are seriously ill, there are people who get this thing and feel a bit rough for a time and there are people who get this thing and don’t even know that they’ve got it. At the time of writing nobody knows the pathology of it. But that will come when we have our inquest some time down the line. Right now we just have to get those tests available, do the tests and find out what is what and who is who, work upon that data to target help those most at risk and, frankly, get a grip on it.

Testing times… If only.

Author: Paul Villers

I am a professional curmudgeon. I don't care and neither should you. Buy me gin and we can possibly be friends.

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