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November 5th 2020
Published: November 5th 2020
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Putin putting his spin on the Sputnik vaccine.
“The tragedy of life is not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.” – Benjamin E. Mays

The last Covid-19 blog was posted on 9th October which is almost a month ago. What does this signal? Boredom, loss of interest or a sense that this little pesky virus is no longer newsworthy? I suspect a bit of “writer’s fatigue” but here’s the thing; this virus has now mutated into a monster which is causing havoc and panic across the World. There is also no doubt that complacency set in after the first wave was tamed but the pandemic is now reshaping into a “twindemic” as the second wave unleashes itself on a scale not seen in the first wave. Scary times indeed and humanity urgently needs to reset and apply all the recognised safety protocols many had tossed aside in recent months.

There is no better way to illustrate that Covid-19 is on the rampage than reviewing the score roughly a month ago with where the world is today. As
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Are we starting to see the likelihood of fat cat, thieving politicians finally donning orange overalls?
at 1st October the situation based on the WHO dashboard was as follows (SA numbers in brackets): World 33.8million confirmed cases (674,339), World 1.01million deaths (16,734). As at 4th November the numbers are: World 47.3million confirmed cases (728,836), World 1.21million deaths (19,539). So, we have a world confirmed cases up by 40 percent and deaths by 20 percent. In one, single month! Our death tally in South Africa is up by 17 percent. This is no time to be complacent.

Europe took nine months to record its first 5 million cases and the next five million were tallied in just one month. France, Germany and the UK have announced lockdowns for the next month which are almost as strict as those imposed in March/April this year. Of course, the carrot that is dangling is Christmas and these efforts are geared to trying to ensure it is saved. These impositions by lawmakers and politicians are proving to be very unpopular and it will be interesting to observe the push back from citizens. Russia announced the release of its Sputnik 5 vaccine a few months back which has made no impact as their infections number has rocketed to 1.6 million
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The moment of truth. Borrow from the IMF and accept their conditions or else....no loan!
and reports indicate that hospitals across the country are at 90 percent Covid-19 related occupancy. Putin has announced to the nation that the Sputnik vaccine has “crashed” and is having little impact. A rare admission of failure in a country recognised for manipulating information. There are pockets of excellence; Taiwan for example, not recording a single infection for 200 consecutive days. Singapore is lifting travel restrictions with China which is remarkable given the potentially huge numbers of people who could opt to travel. The discipline of Asian people is without peer.

America continues to punch the lights out with the virus spiking across virtually all regions of the country. As at 4th November they have 9.2m confirmed cases (19.5 percent of global total) and 229,948 deaths (19.2 percent of global total). The question has to be posed; how did the Worlds most advanced nation spin out of control to this extent in mismanaging the pandemic? The two key factors undoubtedly are Trumps deliberate downplaying of the virus and the fact that many states chose their own battle plans, many of which fell short of what was needed.

This global view would be incomplete without the inclusion of comment
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How many CEO's, new plans, huge bail out loans and still the SAA mess lingers on. Insanity prevails!
on China. Consider the following; according to the WHO dashboard they have only recorded 92,077 confirmed cases and 4,747 deaths as at 5th November. This is mindboggling considering that they have a population of 1.39 billion making up 18 percent of the global total of 7.8 billion. Accepted that the Chinese Communist Party are world champions when it comes to disclosure of true facts or numbers but the lingering question remains; how is it possible that their infection and death rate is so ridiculously low given that they gifted this virus on the World from a “wet food” market in Wuhan? The reality is that we will never know and there are many, many conspiracy stories. The one that is intriguing is that the Chinese are quietly leading the frantic race to develop a vaccine. Create a virus, create a vaccine.

A quick anecdotal story. On the way to the PE Airport a week back, we passed the China Mall in Heugh Road and we pointed out this building as one to avoid. My five-year-old grand son, Benjamin, latched onto this and asked: “Is this where the China virus comes from?”

Of course, there are some bizarre cameos emerging from this crisis. Consider what has just been announced in Denmark. They have discovered that there is a serious problem brewing as it has been discovered that minks are being infected by the virus and could pass this on to humans. Solution? They plan to exterminate their estimated 17 million mink population. This is the same nation that still slaughters thousands of dolphins each year that move into a particular bay on their coast line.

Here in sunny South Africa there is no doubt that infections are starting to accelerate and our provincial Premiers are demonstrating behaviour akin to that of State Governors in America. By way of example; the Premier of KZN has recently announced that he and his political buddies are considering a strict lock down in that province. This is normally reserved for Cyril Ramapromisa who occasionally seems to think it is worth telling the nation what the score card looks like. He has not said a word for the past month at least and there are rumours swirling that he may well reach for the microphone soon to inform us that the nation may need to be put back into a strict lockdown. If that were to happen, it would catapult our economy into oblivion. We had the Minister of Finance recently table his budget amendment to Parliament and there were two standouts; firstly, Covid-19 is the reason why our economy is in a desperate situation (wrong, it is a contributory factor as the real damage had been inflicted in prior years with Zuma at the helm) and secondly, a further R10 billion is to be steered towards SAA to “save it”. This is R10 billion we simply don’t have and will need to be borrowed notwithstanding that roughly 22 percent of our annual budget goes to paying interest on debt. On top of all of this, our maniacally corrupt ANC Govt has announced a R1 trillion infrastructure spend program to “get the economy back on track.” Noble indeed, except this plan is a copy and paste of previous plans with a lick and touch up here and there. The glaring problem is their inability and lack of capacity to actually implement any of the multitude of “plans” that keep getting announced. There are few monitoring mechanisms in place and Ramapromisa has never quite understood the concept of report backs and accountability. Of great concern is that this lavish spend program creates space and opportunity for the rapacious thieves in all tiers of Government to line up yet again at the feeding trough. The other conundrum is that our engineering and construction industry has been decimated leaving the question; do we have the capacity to implement this plan should it ever develop wings?

America is a deeply divided country and the fault lines just seem to get deeper and deeper. It is remarkable how this country, which has been viewed for a long time as the most advanced in many aspects, can unravel to the extent that it has. The land of the “brave and the free” has become the land of hatred and racial division accentuated by the Presidential election currently in progress. The historians will have a field day recording the story of America’s descent into chaos but for a quick take there are a few key contributory factors to this mess; Donald Trump has in four years trashed the values that one associates with a US President, BLM has an agenda of destruction led by self-professed Marxists, the gap between the rich and the poor has become a gaping chasm fuelling massive anger for the “have nots”, many Americans will never live the “American dream” and socialism will erode the capitalist bed rock which had built this formidable country. At the time of writing, the Presidential election is on a knife edge with Biden looking like the likely winner. Trump, in typical bombastic fashion, will do his utmost to further hasten the descent into chaos by contesting vote counts in a last desperate bid to remain in office. Hence his Supreme Court appeals. There are parallels with Covid-19; this election and the potential chaos is far from over.

Another fire side topic five years hence for me will be the impact of Covid-19 on people’s behaviour during the pandemic and obsession with “trying to fix things that are not broken.” Living on one of South Africa’s very best golf estates measured on just about every possible metric should be idyllic. Sadly, this is not the case. Throw in social media, lock down frustrations and it is inevitable that people will find something to engender an atmosphere of conflict and distrust. As the fire dies and the flame flickers, the question left hanging will be; “Would the underlying issues have emerged had Covid-19 not happened?”

“You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to live is to press play and dance.” - marcandangel

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