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November 18th 2020
Published: November 18th 2020
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Vaccine riddles unearthed...
“There is no worse mistake in public leadership than to hold out false hope soon to be swept away.”- Winston Churchill

There is much in the media presently about the imminent availability of a vaccine for Covid-19 based on relatively successful outcomes of the Pfizer (90 percent effective) and Moderna(94.5 percent effective) trials. Never mind that these vaccines have been rolled out in record time and have leapfrogged many of the accepted processes which normally result in years of ongoing trials and reprocessing before being approved. Both shots rely on a technology called messenger RNA that has never been used before to develop an approved vaccine. Basically, they deliver a piece of genetic coding that instructs human cells to produce components of a targeted virus, and these stimulate the patient’s immune system. No doubt that the “Operation Warp Speed” tag attached to the Covid-19 vaccine development turbocharged the entire process. The conversation has now shifted to how soon hundreds of millions of vaccines will be available for distribution around the World. Well, maybe we should “calm the farm” and not get swept away by what could turn out to be false hope. Both bio-pharma companies mentioned plan to seek approval from
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Can he count?
the US Food and Drug Administration before the end of the year. Both vaccines require ultra-cold storage and there is uncertainty as to how long protection from the virus would last and whether people could be re-infected. No clinical results yet in terms of how effectively it works in the population that needs it the most, the elderly. And then of course, how many people will roll up their sleeves to be immunised? In South Africa we need a reality check dosage as it is unlikely that the country will get access to any meaningful quantities of the vaccine before mid-2021. It is estimated that roughly 1.3 billion doses could be produced next year, and each recipient will need two shots. Do the maths!

Work from Home (WFM) has been one of the major Covid-19 influenced “game changers.” So, for many white-collar workers, remote work has become the new normal. Time is saved by not getting caught up in the commute to work, people at home are less likely to become infected. But, increasingly certain aspects are being questioned; what is the impact of not being able to meet colleagues in person at the office, are people more or
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This sums it up. There is a helluva lot at stake in America and Trump has still not accepted the inevitable.
less productive, are the lines between work and being at home getting blurred as it is being reported that productivity is up largely because people are working longer hours. With school closures or reduced weekday attendance, parents are having to juggle their time between work and family helping children with distance learning. One little gem is that “boredom can spark genius” which does not make sense for employees of large businesses. Maybe for the odd lone writer or mathematician! The chief economist at the Bank of England has mentioned that working from home can have a profound negative impact on creativity and developing social connections. There are increasing doubts as to whether it can be a permanent solution for employers. For the time being, as Covid-19 intensifies globally, the WFM phenomenon is not going to change.

Adults can deal with many of Covid-19’s challenges but spare a thought for children. Childhood shapes so many of our emotions which at times can be scary and bewildering. But we get through those early years and mostly, grow and develop. But 2020 has been a seriously bad year to be a child! The so-called National Coronavirus Command Council reportedly paid little attention
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This is the guy who "wanted his day in court!" What did his Presidency and all that went down in State Capture cost this country?
to the child advocates who tried to offer advice. Dreams have been shattered, families separated, schooling disrupted, and many locked out of care facilities. Some have lost loved ones and who really knows how the fear of death has impacted on young minds? What impact will these adverse experiences have on future mental and physical health? Hunger is a sad reality as school feeding programs shut down and parents lost jobs and income. The SA Depression and Anxiety Group has reported that the number of incoming calls appealing for help has doubled to 1600 per day since the lockdown was imposed. Anxiety is ratcheting upwards and one wonders if their plight is ever discussed by the “Councils” or whatever they call themselves deciding on restrictions and economic recovery. Ironic that on 20th November 2020 the world marks “World Children’s Day” and one is left wondering what foundations will be put in place to address children’s suffering. Don’t look to the ANC led Government to lead this process when one considers that only three provinces have child psychiatrists in the public sector. Bottom line: it is once again up to civil society to step forward and figure out how to alleviate our children’s distress. Our kids deserve to be led on a path to that carefree, joyful life that is their right.

There is a natural disaster unfolding at present which is getting very little airtime or media attention. It involves China and that partially answers why there is not much being reported on the catastrophic flooding in that country and the Three Gorge’s Dam (the World’s largest) is in danger of collapsing. It sits on the Yangtze River and is five times larger than the Hoover Dam in Nevada, USA. It has a wall height of 600 feet and holds 42 billion tons of water! When the dam is full, it's so much water that its concentrated weight slows the Earth's rotation by 0.06 microseconds. When it was built in 2006, the state-run media outlets boasted it could withstand the worst flood in 10,000 years. Heavy rains have caused the water level to rise 28.5 metres above the dam’s warning level. Experts outside of China have used satellites to keep an eye on things and they have noted that the dam wall had bent slightly. Bullshit retorted the Chinese, claiming it was the satellite images distorting the picture. Views have been expressed that inferior steel and concrete was used in construction. The impact of this dam collapsing would be catastrophic on an unimaginable scale. There are millions of people living downstream of the dam including two large cities, Shanghai, and Wuhan (how ironic!). Bizarrely the Communist regime has now begrudgingly admitted there is evidence of the wall bending ever so slightly and they have revised their prediction that the dam can now only withstand the worst flood in 100 years! I kid you not.

A hop and a skip gets one across the oceans to Australia. I have been fortunate to visit this superb country a few times and one of the things I admire about the Aussies is their deep dislike and disdain for politicians. Melbourne has lived through a four month lock down and appears to be getting the virus under control but the state of Victoria to date accounts for 819 of the 907 deaths in the country. It all started with politicians seriously screwing up a hotel quarantine plan. The upshot: The Health Minister and one of his acolytes got the chop on the basis that, in that country if you screw up, you are out! But we live in a world full of unintended consequences and Western Australia shut their borders earlier this year. This move has been very effective with that state recording only 9 deaths to date. Record grain crops have been produced and need to be harvested but the seasonal workers have been barred from entry. This needed an urgent plan so airline pilots, largely grounded, have been trained to drive and operate the heavy-duty machines needed to harvest and move the crop to storage facilities. The same conundrum applies for the sheep farming community where there is a need to shear the sheep. The farmers are scratching their heads as the shearers cannot move across certain state borders. Few Aussies in their home states have shown much interest in rolling up their sleeves to assist with these farming chores as many have been on the receiving end of welfare grants from the government.

And what of sunny South Africa? Well, the virus is on a steep upward curve with large daily infections being detected especially in the Eastern Cape province. This is not surprising as the state of public health care in this province is a mess and there are daily reports of over filled hospitals with scant signs of those in authority having a plan of action to fix the multiple problems. Cyril Ramapromisa, as predicted, reached for the microphone last week and the nation braced for bad news in the shape of harsher lock down regulations. It was a non-event as he announced liquor sales could revert to normal and airline travel from other countries would be phased in. I suspect on any given day it is simply a question of who squeezes the nether regions hardest, wins through, and this time probably the Trade Unions warned of dire consequences if Government chose to close down again. The Zondo Commission circus rolls on with the current chief clown, Jacob Zuma, doing everything he and his legal team can in their bid to keep him out of an orange jump suit. What is lost in translation is that this is now already a two-year circus which will end up costing the taxpayer almost R1 billion. To date roughly 100 alleged thieves have been charged and arrested but, conveniently, all are out on bail and, if this virus is still around two years hence, I can almost guarantee that the court cases will still be grinding on at huge cost to the taxpayer.

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”- George Orwell.



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