Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Tue Jun 23, 2020 11:37 am

Flu-like illness surveillance reveals spike in undetected US COVID-19 cases in March
Xinhua | Updated: 2020-06-23 07:13

A nurse wearing personal protective equipment watches an ambulance driving away outside of Elmhurst Hospital during the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Queens borough of New York, US, April 20, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON — A surge in flu-like infections in the United States in March this year suggests that the likely number of COVID-19 cases was far larger than official estimates, according to a new study of existing surveillance networks for influenza-like infections (ILIs) published on Monday.

The findings support a scenario where more than 8.7 million new SARS-CoV-2 infections appeared in the United States during March and estimate that more than 80 percent of these cases remained unidentified as the outbreak rapidly spread, according to the study published in Science Translational Medicine.

The results suggest that surveillance networks for influenza-like disease offer an important tool to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19, which has been hard to pin down.

Many scientists suspect that the true rate of SARS-CoV-2 infections is higher than the number of confirmed cases due to the low availability of testing, and because some infected individuals show no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms.

Researchers led by Justin Silverman at Penn State University used an outpatient surveillance system for diseases with symptoms that resemble influenza, and determined the prevalence of non-influenza ILIs in the country annually using surveillance data starting from 2010.

In March, they observed a huge spike in ILIs exceeding normal seasonal numbers in various states. They also found that the dynamics of non-influenza ILIs closely matched patterns of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

They found that at least 8.7 million SARS-CoV-2 infections occurred between March 8 and March 28 in the United States, with new deaths doubling approximately every three days.

The team concludes that the initial spread of COVID-19 included a large undiagnosed outpatient population who potentially showed milder symptoms compared with those who were hospitalized. ... 54b91.html


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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Fri Jun 26, 2020 1:23 pm

"The Great Restart": Davos drives the global post-pandemic economic model
Mission Truth
Jun 24 · 7 min read

By Franco Vielma

The Davos Forum brings together the greatest economic powers in the West. Photo: World Economic Forum

Unquestionably, one of the areas in which the Covid-19 pandemic is reshaping the world is the economic one. This is perhaps the greatest critical knot left by the health crisis and its forms of "normality" as a factor that will accompany subsequent governance crises around the world.
The short-term scenario remains uncertain. Last April, and before the crisis escalated to current levels with more than 9 million confirmed infections worldwide, the World Trade Organization (WTO) set the forecast for world trade to decline by between 13 and 32% in 2020 .
For the moment, the organization said that the crisis would be higher than in 2008 and 2009, but that it would recover its rhythm in 2021.
However, the new global economic “normality” imposed by the pandemic has the concomitant that the forecasts are increasingly lagging according to the development of events. The forecast of an economic recovery similar to pre-pandemic levels has already been left behind and in 2021 the global economy will continue to deal with the spasms of this situation.
A report by the International Trade Center (ITC) entitled "Prospects for Competitiveness" has presented an assessment of the impact of the pandemic on world trade in 2020, including small and medium-sized enterprises. According to the study, the world economy lost at least some 126 billion dollars in 2020 due to the global interruption of supply chains in the US, the EU and China due to the virus.
This has taken place after partial and temporary interruptions in the value chains in these countries due to quarantine restrictions. The ITC highlights that "taken together, these countries represent 63% of world imports and 64% of exports in the production and sales chains."
Problems with the production and supply of goods also negatively affected developing countries, especially raw material exporters in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. It is known the impact that the crisis has had on the energy sector, which, although it is in a stable stage at the moment, is not exempt from the contradictions of the current economic turmoil.
Additionally, the impact of the crisis according to ITC is affecting the smallest of the world economic spectrum. They point out that in the first months, more than 55% of all small and medium-sized enterprises were severely affected by the pandemic. Two thirds of micro and small companies acknowledge that the crisis strongly affected their business operations, while only 40% of the largest companies have reported being affected.
Thus, persistent asymmetries in the economic system are exposed.

"The Great Restart" and the new strategy for rearranging big capital

The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, plans to organize its summit in 2021 according to a premise that they have called "The Great Reset" or "The Great Reset" , where they will develop the new guidelines that are due to the pandemic and the state of the world economy .

The Great Restart is a vision of the post-pandemic economy since Davos. Photo: World Economic Forum
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive president of the World Economic Forum, has made clear the lines that will characterize this reformed economic system, based on "jointly and urgently building the foundations of our economic and social system for a more just future, sustainable and resistant ”.
Davos' “progressive” orientation in 2021 is not a novelty, if it is weighed from the gear of “green capitalism” and the paradigms of sustainability and equity that have characterized social democratic political forms, especially in Europe, in the last decades. Forms of economic organization that, we must understand, have been reformulations of the "human face" of capitalism and its mechanisms to monetize it politically and economically.
Obviously, from Davos, the underlying approach will be to establish a road map against a wear and tear of globalization and economic liberalism as we have known it, in the face of the great economic shocks that have been exposed with the pandemic and that will continue to increase.
It is worth mentioning, among them, the high dependence on centralized outsourcing in China, trade relations on raw materials located in developing countries, the undisputed carbon footprint or environmental impact initialed by the economic system and the great social upheavals due to an increasingly unequal world.
Or as the Forum's spokespersons have said: "The global health crisis has exposed long-term ruptures in our economies and societies, and has created a social crisis that urgently requires decent and meaningful jobs."
The central lines of the "new" economic and financial architecture that they envision will go through transforming the current structure in the value chains, which is nothing more than dispensing with the inertias in force in the large-scale industrial model, to refocus it in the countries traditional hegemonics.
The now-intended dismemberment of globalization, as we have known it, stems from the multi-sectoral strategy of halting China's advance and dispensing with its increasingly relevant economic presence.
Hence, it is essential to understand the "new" Davos as an institutional intention to break the current commercial gravitations, in a "progressive" manner, but which are aimed at the same strategy proposed by the Trump Administration to contain the imminent Chinese leadership. in the world.
The new world "social contract"
Another essential point sought by the World Economic Forum is made clear by its spokesperson.
"A major restart is necessary to build a new social contract that honors the dignity of every human being," added Schwab. "The global health crisis has exposed the unsustainability of our old system in terms of social cohesion, the lack of equal opportunities and inclusiveness," he added.
Stripping this phrase of all proto-left jargon in Schwab's vision of “new contract”, it is worth saying that this phrase was also recently referred to by one of the greatest articulators of capitalism and world political relations as we know them: Henry Kissinger , who brilliantly explained in an article how the traditional hegemonic ordering should be sustained by formulating a new "contract".
Faced with a budding economic and socio-environmental debacle, and in the face of a growing crisis in world governance marked by exceptionalism, Kissinger explained the world that is emerging with the pandemic.
“The pandemic has caused an anachronism, a rebirth of the walled city at a time when prosperity depends on world trade and the movement of people. A global reversal of the balance between power and legitimacy will cause the social contract to disintegrate both domestically and internationally, "writes the US diplomat.

Henry Kissinger. Photo: World Economic Forum

Kissinger turned to original liberalism to suggest verbatim that "post-coronavirus" in the New World Order "should take into account the" liberal principles of the Enlightenment "in a new social contract that restores the balance between power and legitimacy.
It seems that Kissinger, far from being in any gap due to his advanced age, continues to modulate and think about the continuity of the centripetal economic model that placed the current world in its inertias and asymmetries. The old traditional powers resist to stop being it and for this reason they have decreed the end of globalization as we know it to go to a “new” scheme of sustainability of the old capital relations.
A complete ideological trick to cover up the clearest geopolitical pragmatism.
The intended management of the debacle
Faced with the continuity of the waves of the pandemic, there will be an imminent economic crash now in the making, the weakening of the chains of goods and services and the fall in the net value of real production in western countries, according to data from the WTO.
What lies ahead at the end of 2020 and during 2021 is the governance crisis and the return to the "walled" countries, as Kissinger calls them.
Hence, traditional elites will bear the cost of the post-pandemic economy by reformulating it to the detriment of the emerging ones, especially those of BRICS and particularly China, which will suffer the spasms of a new economic context in which they will try to relegate it.
Although that dispute today seems only a trade war with the Americans, the new neoliberal “social contract” with progressive overtones that will emerge from Davos will translate, in fact, into the construction of more self-absorbed economies with endogenous value chains, destroying with the vaunted "competitiveness" and "global connectivity" that prevailed in the dominant discourse.
The post-pandemic economic world will summarize all the contradictions between politics and the economy, or what would be a new shock space for the world's tectonic plates, in a framework of open turbulence. The word "crisis" will be its denominator and it has detonated escalating to a struggle to rethink and revitalize the model. ... 682d6771a0

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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:15 pm

Neoliberalism provides no answers
Serious questions about the neoliberal response to the current pandemic are raised by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez and Jorge Núñez Jover, dean of the University of Havana’s Science, Technology and Society department, in an article recently published by the Cuban Academy of Sciences

Author: Oscar Sánchez Serra |

Author: Enrique Moreno Gimeranez |

june 24, 2020 09:06:28

A temporary parking lot shelter for the homeless in the U.S. city of Las Vegas, Nevada, with spaces marked for social distancing. Photo: Steve Marcus /Reuters

Serious questions about neoliberalism during the current pandemic are raised by Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Republic of Cuba, and Jorge Núñez Jover, dean of the University of Havana’s Science, Technology and Society department, in an article recently published in the Cuban Academy of Sciences magazine, Anales, entitled, Gestión gubernamental y ciencia cubana en el enfrentamiento a la COVID-19 (Government management and Cuban science in confronting COVID-19).

In fact, while the new coronavirus has raised many questions in the scientific world, it has also challenged the dogmas of neoliberal policy implement in many countries, based on premises that include "minimum state, the market as a panacea, deregulation, denationalization, privatization, reduction of the public sector, destruction of public property, and weak social policies," among other aspects that have led to significant debate.

Neoliberalism brings with it dire social consequences for humanity, which have been aggravated significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Cuba has clearly denounced the fact that the pandemic worsens the pressing problems of a planet plagued by deep inequalities, with 600 million people living in extreme poverty and almost half of the population has no access to basic health services, in which the market is imposed as determinant, as opposed to the noble purpose of saving lives," the article states.

If one aspect is evident in this section of the text, it is the unmasking of neoliberal ideology in the context of the pandemic, with solid arguments, denouncing its costly mistakes in reducing the state’s role and capacity, carrying out extensive privatizations, and ignoring the needs of the majority. In essence, an irrefutable truth has been it corroborated. Before the peoples of the world, neoliberalism was left with no answers.

THE TRIPLE HELIX MODEL: Regarding existing cooperative relations between universities, business, and government, the neoliberal approach is to make institutions of higher learning creators of knowledge, which plays a key role in the relationship between business and government, and how they are developed to create innovation in organizations as a source of knowledge creation.

ETHOS OF SCIENCE: An ethos is the set of traits and behaviors that shape the character or identity of a person or community. It is a Greek word, the origin of terms like ethics. Therefore, the "ethos of Science" is that complex of values and norms, with affective impact, that is considered obligatory for scientists, according to Robert Merton.

REFLECTION: The question is whether or not this is a problem and whether the solutions to the great economic, social, environmental, health and other challenges can be addressed with imported science and technology, delivered on a turnkey basis.

NEOLIBERAL PREMISE: The thesis of the minimum state - or the less state, the better - is one of the main dogmas of neoliberalism. Apologists speak of a dynamic, innovative and competitive "revolutionary" private sector and an indolent, bureaucratic and inertial "meddling" public sector.

IN CONTRAST: Unless we challenge the many myths about economic development and abandon conventional views of the role of the state, we cannot aspire to meet the structural challenges of the 21st century or bring about the technological and organizational change we need to ensure sustainable and equitable growth in the long term. Can we do without states that can mobilize actors, resources, and capacities to meet these challenges in an organized manner?

NEOLIBERAL STRATEGY: Social policies, in particular health policies, have been increasingly subordinated to the logic of profit and competition, and have seen their response capacity reduced, especially in extreme situations.

IN CONTRAST: Should health be a universal human right, or just another piece of merchandise that can be traded on the market?

NEOLIBERAL PREMISE: Neoliberalism promotes what has been called "cognitive capitalism," which is nothing other than privatization and commodification of knowledge, with the aim of generating profits for the capitalist class.

IN CONTRAST: Should socially shared knowledge facilitate cooperation between scientists and serve human needs?

NEOLIBERAL PREMISE: Cognitive capitalism generated new modes of knowledge production. The Triple Helix model incorporates concepts such as "knowledge capitalization" and the "entrepreneurial scientist," clearly indicating that these models are related to the Silicon Valley experience and others of a similar nature. New objectives for science are added, and scientists move away from values included in the Ethos of Science, formulated by Robert Merton in the 1940s. A very important value is disinterest, according to which the scientist does not pursue anything beyond the truth. Another is “communitarianism,” which projects the sharing of results since science is a collective effort. It is obvious that, in times of a knowledge-based "gold rush," this ethos has been badly eroded.

IN CONTRAST: Are the values of scientists important in the difficult task of confronting crises like the new coronavirus?

NEOLIBERAL STRATEGY: The global medical-pharmaceutical industry, largely in the hands of a small group of transnational corporations, defines its research-development agendas on the basis of profitability and earnings objectives. Considerations related to the welfare of the majority, especially in countries of the South, are not the focus of their policies. They are primarily interested in the epidemiological profiles of countries of the North and social groups of the South that can pay for the products they sell, Thus new diseases and traditional tropical diseases are ignored. This also explains why the medical-pharmaceutical industry has neglected the development of new anti-virals and antibiotics, while prioritizing more profitable drugs.

IN CONTRAST: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to questioning of these basic neoliberal premises and strategies. Does the monopoly of knowledge held by these large corporations effectively contribute to making health a universal human right? Should states and the public sector build capacity to successfully meet current and future challenges? ... no-answers

Socialists should dismiss the use of 'neoliberalism' entirely. It's use leave open the possibility that another sort of liberalism might not be so bad.As liberalism is the philosophical bedrock of capitalism there will be no good coming from that direction. Perhaps it sounds old-fashioned to rail against 'capitalism' , I dunno.
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:00 pm

Boris Johnson's Government Hides Covid-19 Data That Is Needed To Control New Local Outbreaks

Britain has had quite a problem with the Covid-19 epidemic. The coronavirus travails of Boris Johnson did not help. The countrywide lockdown came too late and had therefore stay on longer than elsewhere. In April 2020 monthly gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 20.4%. So far England and Wales have had some 50,000 death from the coronavirus. Scotland registered some 2,500 death and North Ireland some 550.

After the long lockdown the number of death per day has normalized. The data from the Office for National Statistics shows that no more excess death occur.


That is good news but there are still very bad surprises.

The British government is still hiding information on Covid-19 testing results. It is not even sure how large the current reproduction rate of the epidemic is. This at a time when people, businesses and local administrations need such data as guidance on how much they have to limit their contacts to keep the epidemic under control.

Yesterday the British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the city and metro area of Leicester with some 840,000 inhabitants had to go back under lockdown.

The people in Leicester had no idea that such an order was coming. They had anticipated to go back to the pubs which were supposed to reopen on July 4. The announcement came as a surprise for even the city's mayor:

The mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, has told a press conference he was "a little surprised" when the local lockdown was suggested by government because officials hadn't been given any data to suggest there were any "particular issues" in the city at that point.
He said he had a virtual meeting with the secretary of state the following day, when he pushed for the figures that showed coronavirus cases had spiked in the city.

Sir Peter said it took "quite some time to get any decent data through to us" and it didn't arrive until a week later.

The mayor said his colleagues are still working through the "mountain" of data they have now received to map it and see where in the community the virus is still active and might be spreading.

The mayor and the people of Leicester had looked at the government's coronavirus page and the publicly available data of daily new cases in their region. That data showed sinking numbers.


But as the Financial Times' John Burn-Murdoch just pointed out that data is very incomplete. It includes only those cases which were tested in hospitals.

At the onset of the epidemic testing was rather rare and only done in hospitals when new patients came in. At that time that data was all that was available. But now there is public testing available and the greatest number of new cases are coming from there.

A different British government website explains that the total count consists of categories:

Breakdown of testing by testing strategy ‘pillars’
Pillar 1: swab testing in Public Health England (PHE) labs and NHS hospitals for those with a clinical need, and health and care workers
Pillar 2: swab testing for the wider population, as set out in government guidance
Pillar 3: serology testing to show if people have antibodies from having had COVID-19
The data on the official coronavirus website the British government promoted only show the new daily cases number of Pillar 1, the hospital testing. That fact is not even mentioned on the overview page that most people look at.

The Financial Times data group has now constructed the real picture (paywalled) from data they have received from a different source. This is the real data from Leicester for all new cases.


Almost all of them are from Pillar 2, the public testing outside of hospitals. Nobody in Leicester knew that the numbers of new cases in their city had spiked over the last two weeks. Now nothing and nobody is prepared for a new local lockdown. The police do not know how to manage it.

Why isn't that data publicized?

Not only is the data flow completely insufficient but the testing situation in Britain is also still bad:

The mayor of Leicester has said officials struggled to persuade testing staff to stick around despite a major coronavirus outbreak in the city.
Sir Peter Soulsby said testing had been "pretty patchy" and "not sufficiently systematic" to allow local public health experts to get a proper picture of the outbreak, which has prompted the first localised lockdown in England.

Sir Peter, a former Labour MP, claimed officials had spent time trying to persuade testing staff to stay in Leicester rather than "decamp to go and measure elsewhere".
Sir Peter said testing was finally ramping up in Leicester but expressed concern that local leaders had been slow to receive information from government.

That Boris Johnson's government is unwilling to hand local new cases data to the local governments is only one of its dozens of major screw-ups during the pandemic.

Informing the public as detailed as possible is the very first and most important point in any epidemic preparation plan. The people can not help to fight the epidemic if they have no information about its current extend.

Looking from the outside its hard to understand how the people and the media in the United Kingdom let their government get away with these and the many other willful mistakes it has made during the last months.

Posted by b on June 30, 2020 at 16:35 UTC | Permalink ... .html#more

We can no doubt expect similar machinations and monkey business as November approaches and the news goes from bad to worse. Proly more ham-handed too.
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Wed Jul 08, 2020 1:16 pm

US consultants behind São Paulo’s dance with death

Reopening of commerce in the United States has caused a spike in new coronavirus cases, with local governments already reversing the decision. Unabated, Brazil’s major cities are following its example.

Investor interest is being prioritised over the health of the population. This Brazilian echo of the US Covid-19 response reflects the loss of Brazilian political decision making to foreign companies such as Boston Consulting Group, which is advising the São Paulo state government on the pandemic, despite having no known expertise.

After New York, São Paulo has the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world. With a population of 44.04 million, the state currently has 302,000 confirmed cases, and 15,351 deaths. Estimated totals are far higher, and this undercount reflects not just lack of testing, but intentional hiding of data.

With 1.5 million confirmed cases and 62,045 deaths, Brazil has still to overcome the peak of its pandemic, and easing of lockdown measures look dangerously premature.

The city and state of São Paulo were the early Brazilian epicentres of Covid-19. They were also amongst the earliest to implement isolation and quarantine measures, under Governor João Doria and his former deputy, city mayor Bruno Covas. Both Doria and Covas belong to the neoliberal, traditionally US-favoured PSDB, which has controlled São Paulo state government for twenty years.

São Paulo’s pandemic response was initially seen as rational and well organised compared to that of the Bolsonaro regime in Brasilia. That wasn’t hard.

Yet something changed. On May 27, Covas announced that the Coronavirus R (reproduction) rate in the municipality was down to 1, and in turn Governor Doria and his secretary of economic development, Patrícia Ellen da Silva, announced the beginning of a plan to reopen the economy across the entire state, beginning on June 15, which saw shopping malls reopen, followed by the return of bars and restaurants, called “Plano São Paulo”.

Experts responded with dismay and warned it would bring a wave of new infections.

Our American friends

The decision was seen as a victory for two US firms which have been advising São Paulo on its pandemic strategy; Oliver Wyman; and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) – a member of Wall Street lobby and think-tank Council of the Americas (AS/COA). BCG’s president, Rich Lesser, is within Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

The reasoning behind the decision had obvious problems for those familiar with São Paulo’s pandemic: Control indicators depend on at least an honest statistical estimate of the number of confirmed cases, and the lack of mass testing in Brazil means there is no way to calculate the R rate reliably.

Writing in Exame, Sergio Praça cited an unnamed state government official concerned about the plans to reopen commerce, who complained the situation may worsen in the city of São Paulo if socioeconomic and neighbourhood differences are not considered: “Reproduction of the virus started with the upper class and is rapidly spreading among the poorest. By not considering transmission between classes, using a general R for the entire city, there is a danger of an explosion of cases” they warned.

In early May, Guilherme Benchimol, president and founder of the influential fund XP Investimentos, another Council of the Americas corporate member, claimed that Brazil was handling the pandemic well, and boasted that the peak among its upper classes had already passed.

“Following our numbers a little, I would say that Brazil is doing well. Our curves are not exponential yet, we have been able to flatten them. We will have a clearer picture in the next two to three weeks. The peak of the disease has passed when we analyze the middle class, upper middle class. The challenge is that Brazil is a country with a lot of communities a lot of favelas, which makes the whole process difficult”, Benchimol told newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo.

Benchimol’s remarks reflected a view that protecting Brazil’s poor from the disease was not a priority of business.

One month since it began, the reopening strategy implemented by the Doria government has hit setbacks as was feared, with many regions having to implement stricter isolation measures again. At the beginning, three regions were under maximum restriction. And even though the pandemic is still far from being controlled in São Paulo, the government decided to change their initial plan, and brought forward the reopening of gyms, theaters, cinemas and concert halls for municipalities that are in the “yellow phase”. In the first version of the so-called “Plano São Paulo”, these activities could only return in the final phase of flexibility, the blue phase.

On June 30, Journalist Kennedy Alencar wrote of the parallels with mistakes made in the United States being repeated in Brazil.

“What happens in the United States serves as a warning to Brazil, a country that had its quarantine openly boycotted by President Jair Bolsonaro and a good part of society, especially by sectors of the business community. Governed by Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, two presidents who deny science and downplay the use of the mask in public, the U.S. and Brazil have the highest number of covid-19 cases and deaths worldwide. This is no coincidence, but the result of incompetent responses to the biggest health crisis in 100 years”

“Bolsonaro and irresponsible governors grotesquely copy the worst of the United States. They commit crimes against public health and deserve to be held criminally and politically responsible for it.” Alencar concluded.

Founded in 1963, The Boston Consulting Group Inc. is a global management-consulting firm which employs 21,000 people in over 50 countries, with yearly revenue of $8.5 billion dollars. It’s strategic think tank, the BCG Henderson Institute, has been focussed on economic impact since the early stages of the pandemic.

BCG’s São Paulo office opened in 1997.*

“Three sources consulted, from different departments, regarding BCG’s work claim that the consultancy had access to very detailed data about the state of São Paulo – known as “microdata”, to which no one outside the government has access.” wrote Sergio Praça in Exame.

The involvement of BCG in São Paulo’s planning mirrors a story emerging from India, of BCG’s mystery role in steering Health Ministry policy, despite having no visible expertise in disease control strategy.

Use of such consultants is seen as unprecedented in a pandemic.

Sujata Rao, former Union Health Secretary, told NDTV: “We have never ever allowed any foreign, or even Indian management consultancy firms to be there. We have always worked with the WHO (World Health Organisation). We have always requested organisations like the CDC (the US government’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) to come and help us. But neither in HIV-AIDS nor in any of the viral epidemics we have faced like H1N1, H5N1, or for that matter, the polio programme did we ever have any such arrangements where… consultancy firms like this would be working within the ministry’s control room,” she said.

A former executive director of the Indian government’s National Health Systems Resource Centre, T Sundararaman, voiced concern about using such consultancy groups and their client-driven research for public policy: “There are so many assumptions (in such models). So you know your business model wants more orders from the client, then you tend to look at those assumptions that are favourable,”

Chairman of BCG India, Janmejaya Sinha confirmed that there is a BCG team working in the Health Ministry: “We don’t claim we are epidemiologists. But we certainly know what crisis reforms should be. We work with companies, governments doing that. And some of these are things that require discipline, and actually good consulting skills,”

Boston Consulting Group has been advising US states on their reopening strategies. On 13th May it was announced that Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont had contracted BCG for $2 million for 8 weeks strategic guidance. 5 days later it was announced that the state would begin reopening immediately, similarly against the advice of public health experts at Yale. Fearing a second wave, the state has now finally paused its plans for the reopening of restaurants, bars and other commerce, and delayed school reopenings until the autumn.

In New York, it was McKinsey whom Governor Cuomo enlisted to draw up a so called “Trump proof” strategy, with echoes of the confrontation between Doria and Bolsonaro.

“New Politics”

The São Paulo State Government’s Coronavirus crisis office is headed by Patricia Ellen da Silva, a former McKinsey consultant for 18 years. Da Silva was previously president of Optum Brazil, a pharmacy benefit manager and private healthcare services subsidiary of the United Health group. Although not employed by BCG, Da Silva is considered close to the company.

With daily televised briefings placing her in the spotlight, Da Silva was asked in a Marie Claire interview about opposition to reopening of economic activity from doctors on her team: “There was consensus, although there is never 100% agreement. There is no decision of this dimension that leaves us in a comfortable position. What I am learning about public management, especially at the moment we are living, is that it is necessary to seek consensus, yes, but to understand that there will never be a comfort zone.”

Harvard graduate Da Silva is already positioned as a possible candidate for the São Paulo Governorship in 2022 if João Doria decides to run for the Presidency. She, along with television personality Luciano Huck, co-founded Agora! – a movement for political renewal which, “proposes public policy guidelines for the principal and urgent challenges to improvement of Brazilians quality of life. We do this by consolidating diagnoses of the problems, dialoguing with experts and suggesting alternatives, always based on evidence, for priority areas.”

Agora! represents a shift toward the consultantization of Brazilian politics. Both it and Huck’s RenovaBR, which is bankrolled by billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann, are components in an ongoing, internationally promoted effort to shape a future post-Bolsonaro political scenario, and prevent the return of Brazil’s left to government, by repackaging neoliberal policy as progressive, neutral, rational and evidence-based.

Such presentation is however at odds with São Paulo’s moves to end quarantine early, especially when contrasted with the case of neighbouring Argentina, which with a 44.49 million population similar to that of São Paulo, has so far suffered less than 70,000 cases, and 1400 total deaths, under strict quarantine measures implemented by the government of Alberto Fernandez – less than 10% of São Paulo’s current toll.

Chair of São Paulo state economic committee is Ana Carla Abrão, an Oliver Wyman consultant and long term advisor to Governor Doria. Emphasising how closely associated the corporate forces shaping Brazil’s pandemic response are, Abrão is married to Pérsio Arida, president of investment bank BTG Pactual, which was founded by Bolsonaro’s Finance Minister, Paulo Guedes.

Wall Street darling Guedes’ initial response to the pandemic was to claim that his ultraliberal economic reforms were the answer to the crisis, which Bolsonaro himself claimed was pure hysteria, as he came into confrontation with Governors such as Doria who contradicted his position.

It is notable that this open conflict between federal and state strategy appears to be all but over in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, with a push towards a loosening of already weak isolation measures winning the day.

Brazil is not without dissenting voices against this prioritising of investor interest over public health. North Eastern states continue to adopt strategies independent of federal government thinking, or lack thereof, led by the C4 group of scientists and Dr. Miguel Nicolelis and are resisting premature moves to end lockdowns.

For some time, the US business community was expressing frustration with quarantine measures in Brazil through its media. WSJ’s notorious pro-Bolsonaro editor Mary Anastasia O’Grady complained that lockdowns in the South American giant would cost lives through the contraction of economic activity, rather than help control the disease. Bloomberg has since referred to Brazil becoming a “laboratory” for what happens when the disease is allowed to spread effectively unhindered.

This comes as initially hopeful news of a vaccine being tested on the São Paulo population came with the caveat of no guarantee that Brazilians will recieve life-saving access to it.

As the economic centre and transport hub of Brazil’s south-east, the premature reopening of São Paulo could have grave consequences for the region, whilst US consulting firms behind the strategy are unlikely to ever be held accountable.

Boston Consulting Group were contacted by Brasil Wire for comment on this story, with a request for information about their workforce and role in pandemic planning in São Paulo and elsewhere in Brazil.

Update: Boston Consulting Group eventually responded on Monday 6 July:

“The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) clarifies that it carries out pro bono work for the Government of São Paulo. Due to internal confidentiality policies, BCG does not comment on the work carried out with its clients.”

Additional reporting by Nathália Urban. ... ith-death/

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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Thu Jul 09, 2020 1:24 pm

We have been hearing a lot about "essential workers". Who are these people?
Who are essential workers?
A comprehensive look at their wages, demographics, and unionization rates

While the coronavirus pandemic has shut down much of the U.S. economy, with over 33 million workers applying for unemployment insurance since March 15, millions of workers are still on the job providing essential services. Nearly every state governor has issued executive orders that outline industries deemed “essential” during the pandemic, which typically include health care, food service, and public transportation, among others. However, despite being categorized as essential, many workers in these industries are not receiving the most basic health and safety measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Essential workers are dying as a result. While the Trump administration has failed to provide essential workers basic protections, working people are taking action. Some are walking off the job in protest over unsafe conditions and demanding personal protective equipment (PPE), and unions are fighting to ensure workers are receiving adequate workplace protections.

What is essential work?
The coronavirus pandemic has revealed much about the nature of work in the U.S. As state executive orders defined “essential services,” attention was focused on the workers performing those services and the conditions under which they work. Using executive orders from California and Maryland as models, we identify below 12 “essential” industries that employ more than 55 million workers, and we detail the demographics, median wages, and union coverage rates for these workers. In doing this, we build on the excellent work by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in their report A Basic Demographic Profile of Workers in Frontline Industries. Key differences are that we use a different data set—the Current Population Survey (CPS) instead of the American Community Survey (ACS), so we could get union breakdowns—and we expand the definition of essential to include occupations found in California and Maryland’s executive orders.

As shown in Table 1, a majority of essential workers by these definitions are employed in health care (30%), food and agriculture (20%), and the industrial, commercial, residential facilities and services industry (12%).

Essential workers by industry, 2019
Total Percent of industry
All essential workers 55,217,845 100%
Food and agriculture 11,398,233 20.6%
Emergency services 1,849,630 3.3%
Transportation, warehouse, and delivery 3,972,089 7.2%
Industrial, commercial, residential facilities and services 6,806,407 12.3%
Health care 16,679,875 30.2%
Government and community-based services 4,590,070 8.3%
Communications and IT 3,189,140 5.8%
Financial sector 3,070,404 5.6%
Energy sector 1,327,760 2.4%
Water and wastewater management 107,846 0.2%
Chemical sector 271,160 0.5%
Critical manufacturing 1,955,233 3.5%

Note: Code for the definition of essential services used here is available upon request.

Source: Economic Policy Institute (EPI) analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata, EPI Current Population Survey Extracts, Version 1.0.2 (2020),

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Table 2 shows the demographics of essential workers by industry, including gender, education level, and race and ethnicity.

Women make up the majority of essential workers in health care (76%) and government and community-based services (73%).
Men make up the vast majority of essential workers in the energy sector (96%), water and wastewater management (91%), and critical manufacturing (88%).
People of color make up the majority of essential workers in food and agriculture (50%) and in industrial, commercial, residential facilities and services (53%).
Nearly 70% of essential workers do not have a college degree. Three in 10 essential workers have some college (30%) or a high school diploma (29%). One in 10 have less than a high school diploma.

Essential workers by gender, education, and race/ethnicity, 2019
All essential workers Food and agriculture Emergency services Transportation, warehouse, and delivery Industrial, commercial, residential facilities and services Health care Government and community-based services Communications and IT Financial sector Energy sector Water and wastewater management Chemical sector Critical manufacturing
All workers (ages 16+) 55,217,845 11,398,233 1,849,630 3,972,089 6,806,407 16,679,875 4,590,070 3,189,140 3,070,404 1,327,760 107,846 271,160 1,955,233
Female 49% 46% 19% 24% 14% 76% 73% 55% 53% 4% 9% 18% 12%
Male 51% 54% 81% 76% 86% 24% 27% 45% 47% 96% 91% 82% 88%
Less than high school 10% 20% 1% 9% 25% 3% 4% 6% NA 4% 2% 2% 12%
High school 29% 38% 18% 46% 45% 18% 16% 30% 12% 33% 36% 22% 51%
Some college 30% 28% 43% 33% 22% 32% 25% 38% 22% 37% 44% 29% 32%
College degree 20% 11% 31% 11% 7% 27% 24% 22% 46% 18% 16% 36% 5%
Advanced degree 11% 3% 7% 2% 1% 19% 31% 5% 20% 8% NA 11% 0%
White 55% 50% 68% 52% 47% 60% 61% 57% 70% NA 72% 72% 63%
Black 15% 13% 16% 22% 9% 18% 16% 17% 9% 7% 10% 11% 10%
Hispanic 21% 28% 12% 19% 40% 13% 16% 19% 11% 18% 12% 9% 20%
AAPI 6% 7% 2% 6% 2% 8% 6% 6% 9% 6% NA 8% 5%
Other 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% NA NA 2%
Note: Code for the definition of essential services used here is available upon request.

Source: Economic Policy Institute (EPI) analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata, EPI Current Population Survey Extracts, Version 1.0.2 (2020),

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Table 3 shows the median wages for nonessential and essential workers by gender, education, and race and ethnicity. Half of the essential industries have a median hourly wage that is less than the nonessential workforce’s median hourly wage. Essential workers in the food and agriculture industry have the lowest median hourly wage, at $13.12, while essential workers in the financial industry have the highest, at $29.55.

Nonessential and essential workers’ median hourly wages, by gender, education, and race/ethnicity, 2019
Nonessential workers Food and agriculture Emergency services Transportation, warehouse, and delivery Industrial, commercial, residential facilities and services Health care Government and community-based services Communications and IT Financial sector Energy sector Water and wastewater management Chemical sector Critical manufacturing
All workers (ages 16+) $20.04 $13.12 $22.98 $18.34 $17.97 $21.05 $19.69 $16.05 $29.55 $26.91 $22.40 $27.95 $18.32
Female $18.15 $12.45 $19.20 $16.91 $13.16 $20.00 $17.88 $15.11 $23.98 $27.60 $22.91 $24.44 $14.81
Male $22.45 $14.05 $24.09 $19.22 $18.88 $25.12 $30.89 $17.47 $38.30 $26.89 $22.09 $28.78 $19.03
Less than high school $12.07 $11.23 $14.19 $15.11 $15.03 $11.67 $11.12 $11.33 $16.26 $14.70 $20.69 $14.17 $15.77
High school $15.93 $13.07 $17.05 $17.95 $18.10 $14.91 $13.15 $15.02 $18.56 $22.09 $20.98 $21.21 $18.89
Some college $17.10 $13.50 $21.74 $19.01 $19.97 $17.93 $15.10 $15.61 $19.96 $27.89 $21.97 $21.97 $19.19
College degree $27.39 $19.12 $27.89 $22.88 $20.91 $28.50 $20.88 $20.07 $34.43 $34.96 $26.02 $34.67 $20.08
Advanced degree $34.57 $33.52 $34.16 $22.16 $21.91 $37.88 $37.56 $24.67 $44.49 $42.29 $33.57 $45.52 $16.68
White $21.97 $13.46 $24.76 $19.88 $20.04 $23.97 $21.87 $16.88 $31.22 $27.96 $22.48 $29.62 $19.33
Black $16.80 $12.59 $17.94 $17.16 $16.37 $16.01 $16.77 $15.05 $22.45 $25.09 $19.48 $19.63 $15.56
Hispanic $15.99 $13.05 $22.44 $17.06 $16.12 $17.02 $16.85 $15.09 $22.13 $22.24 $22.17 $19.68 $17.58
AAPI $25.07 $14.10 $24.61 $19.32 $18.86 $29.58 $21.98 $17.12 $34.55 $35.36 $21.92 $42.80 $18.02
Other $16.78 $12.93 $19.25 $17.05 $17.39 $15.21 $14.55 $14.40 $22.34 $30.27 NA $18.60 $18.73
Note: Code for the definition of essential services used here is available upon request.

Source: Economic Policy Institute (EPI) analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata, EPI Current Population Survey Extracts, Version 1.0.2 (2020),

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Table 4 shows the union coverage rates of essential and nonessential workers by industry. One in eight (12%) essential workers are covered by a union contract, with the biggest share working in emergency services (51%). Strikingly, some of the most high-risk industries have the lowest unionization rates, such as health care (10%) and food and agriculture (8%).

Union coverage rates of essential and nonessential workers, 2019
Nonunion Covered by a union contract Total Union coverage rate
Nonessential workers 77,001,277 9,547,325 86,548,602 11%
Essential workers 48,390,250 6,827,595 55,217,845 12%
Food and agriculture 10,525,787 872,445 11,398,233 8%
Emergency services 897,396 952,233 1,849,630 51%
Transportation, warehouse, and delivery 3,018,808 953,281 3,972,089 24%
Industrial, commercial, residential facilities and services 5,888,684 917,723 6,806,407 13%
Health care 14,999,008 1,680,867 16,679,875 10%
Government and community-based services 4,206,269 383,801 4,590,070 8%
Communications and IT 2,956,703 232,437 3,189,140 7%
Financial sector 2,980,258 90,146 3,070,404 3%
Energy sector 959,575 368,185 1,327,760 28%
Water and wastewater management 79,712 28,134 107,846 26%
Chemical sector 238,419 32,741 271,160 12%
Critical manufacturing 1,639,631 315,602 1,955,233 16%
Note: Code for the definition of essential services used here is available upon request.

Source: Economic Policy Institute (EPI) analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata, EPI Current Population Survey Extracts, Version 1.0.2 (2020),

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How unions help working people
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, essential workers provided critical services that often went unnoticed. Now, more than two months into the pandemic, many essential workers are still risking their lives without basic health and safety protections, paid leave, or premium pay. Before the coronavirus pandemic, unions played a critical role in ensuring workers receive fair pay and working conditions. The following are examples of how unions help working people.

Union workers earn more. On average, a worker covered by a union contract earns 13.2% more in wages than a peer with similar education, occupation, and experience in a nonunionized workplace in the same sector.
Union workers have greater access to paid sick days. Ninety-one percent of workers covered by a union contract have access to paid sick days, compared with 73% of nonunion workers. Almost all union workers in state and local government (97%) have paid sick days compared with 86% of their nonunion peers. In the private sector, 86% of union workers have paid sick days compared with 72% of their nonunion peers.
Union workers are more likely to be covered by employer-provided health insurance. Ninety-four percent of workers covered by a union contract have access to employer-sponsored health benefits compared with just 68% of nonunion workers.
Unions improve the health and safety practices of workplaces. Unions create safer workplaces through their collective bargaining agreements by providing health insurance and requiring safety equipment. Unions also empower and allow workers to freely report unsafe working conditions without retaliation, which can lead to a reduction in work hazards. Furthermore, states with so-called “right-to-work” laws, which weaken unions, are more likely to have workplace injuries. Researchers have found that so-called “right-to-work” legislation has been associated with about a 14% increase in the rate of occupational fatalities.
The Trump administration’s failure to provide essential workers basic protections during the coronavirus pandemic sheds light on the importance of unions. The following are examples of how unions are fighting for protections for essential workers.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) has won premium pay, paid sick leave, and PPE for thousands of workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The AFL-CIO has called on the Department of Labor to enact and enforce policies that would protect essential workers from COVID-19.
The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has secured additional paid sick leave, extended paid leave for dependent care, and expanded teleworking policies for postal workers.
The Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) are working together to put pressure on transit agencies to secure safety protections for over 300,000 transit workers across America.
The coronavirus pandemic has revealed the lack of power far too many U.S. workers experience in the workplace. There are roughly 55 million workers in industries deemed “essential” at this time. Many of these workers are required to work without protective equipment. They have no effective right to refuse dangerous assignments and are not even being granted premium pay, despite working in difficult and dangerous conditions. Policymakers must address the needs of working people in relief and recovery legislation, and that should include ensuring workers have a meaningful right to a union. ... ion-rates/
The working class are the essential workers. True, many of us do non-essential work due to the nature of capitalist society but all of the essential work is done by the working class. The capitalists ought to be made to feel that essential truth, by whatever means necessary.
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Fri Jul 10, 2020 1:13 pm

The Pandemic Reveals The Real Disease Of Our Societies
This morning I saw this map on the Washington Post homepage.

Reported cases per 100,000 residents by county since last week


I immediately remembered that I had earlier seen a map with a similar pattern.

It was in my April 2 Moon of Alabama post. Here is the section as posted three months ago:


Charles M. Blow @CharlesMBlow - 11:51 UTC · Apr 2, 2020
My god, I see a disaster brewing
#COVID19Pandemic #RacialTimeBomb


It is quite obvious from the maps that areas where more people of color live are hit much harder by Covid-19 than other areas.

A British study published in Nature which used health care data of 17 million people pseudonymously linked to some 11,000 Covid-19 deaths found that people of color in Britain are much more likely to die of Covid-19:

Compared with people with white ethnicity, Black and South Asian people were at higher risk even after adjustment for other factors (HR 1.48, 1.30–1.69 and 1.44, 1.32–1.58, respectively).
A 'Hazard Ratio' (HR) of 1.48 means that these people were 48% more likely to die of the disease than the average person.

A similar observation has been made in U.S. meat processing plants:

More than 16,200 U.S. meat plant workers had tested positive for Covid-19 by the end of May and 86 had died, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report Tuesday. [..] Of the cases that disclosed race and ethnicity, 87% involved minority workers -- with employees identified as Hispanic accounting for 56% of infections despite making up less than a third of the overall workforce.
There is no biological difference between various ethnicities with regards to Covid-19. There is no scientific theory that attributes this to any other causes than social issues - i.e. low income, bad housing and lack of access to care.

This is an issue of class, not of identity. Black and Hispanic people happen to in the lowest one. Unfortunately neither the British nor the CDC study have parameters that cover income or other social indicators. I am sure that they would otherwise show that deprived white people have the same chance to die of Covid-19 as deprived non-white people living in similar circumstances.

Yes, there is a racial wage gap in the United States. But the real gap is between productivity growth and wage growth. Throughout the last decades neither black nor white workers have seen substantial wage raises. This is a class issue.


This gap between increased productivity and wage gain at the bottom did not exist until the late 1970s when neo-liberal ideologues under Reagan and Thatcher introduced economic policies that favored the top 1%:

From 1979 to 2018, net productivity rose 69.6 percent, while the hourly pay of typical workers essentially stagnated—increasing only 11.6 percent over 39 years (after adjusting for inflation). This means that although Americans are working more productively than ever, the fruits of their labors have primarily accrued to those at the top and to corporate profits, especially in recent years.


Identity policies around ethnicity, gender or sexual preference are instrumental in hiding the real disease of our societies. Class differences have become extreme. The rich have become much richer while those at the bottom have gained nothing.

The pandemic exposes the deadly consequences of these policies.


It is likely that Trump started his campaign to urgently end the lockdown after he noticed that the outbreak in New York mostly hit the black underclass. Those weren't his people. But that thinking is wrong. An epidemic, once let off to run its cause, will not differentiate. The poor will be hit first. But the virus will not stop with them. One wonders how long it will take him to get that.

Posted by b on July 9, 2020 at 17:32 UTC | Permalink ... .html#more
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:57 pm

American Passports Are Worthless Now (Map)
Oh the places you can’t go
Indi Samarajiva

Jul 9 · 5 min read


Map based on this article. I excluded the places that require a 14 day quarantine (Ecuador, Ukraine, Ireland)
America is not united anymore and it’s barely a state. They have crashed right through failed state into a plague state, unwelcome across the world. This has been predicted, including here. Now it has come to pass. Just look at the map.
Americans have gone from having access to most of the world to being banned from most of it. Today, Americans are only allowed in a few Caribbean islands and the Balkans. An American passport is now worthless. Worse than worthless, it’s a plague.
In the absence of a humane government, America is now ruled by COVID-19. Welcome to the Plague States of America.

It’s too late

Only America has self-inflicted a second wave

I think it is difficult for Americans to understand that they are, to use an epidemiological term, completely fucked. COVID-19 could have been managed in January, or February, or even now, but not a full year later, in January 2021. Given than you need a functioning government to manage this pandemic, that’s the soonest Americans can get one.
It’s far too late.
The most reliable projections are saying 200,000 dead and 50 million infected by election day in November. Even these projections struggle to account for completely irrational federal actions like denigrating masks, pushing to reopen early, and pushing students back into schools. This is not the absence of public health, this is its opposite.
It is, in effect, governance by COVID-19. Not a failed state. A plague state.
Even after election day, Donald Trump will still be in power for nearly 3 months, until January 20th. Besides impeaching a dead-duck President, there’s nothing America can do but wait, while COVID-19 grows ever stronger. Grows completely out of control. In a pandemic, days matter, hours matter. A year is entirely too late.
America will be lucky to exit this pandemic with less than a million dead and 100 million infected. The living will be lucky to exit their country within the next five years.

The worthless passport

Ohio protestor photo by Joshua A. Bickel, Photoshopped into a US passport

Welcome to the club. Post-colonial bullshit and racism have made my Sri Lankan passport worthless for years. Now the American passport is worse. America has crashed straight through the third world into the fourth.

Here is a list, in total, of all the places Americans can go. Most of them are small Caribbean islands.
1. Albania | 15. Lebanon
2. Antigua and Barbuda | 16. Maldives
3. Aruba | 17. Mexico
4. The Bahamas | 18. North Macedonia
5. Barbados | 19. St. Lucia
6. Belize | 20. St. Maarten
7. Bermuda | 21. St. Vincent &
8. Croatia | 22. Serbia
9. Dominican Republic | 23. Tanzania
10. Ecuador* | 24. Turkey
11. French Polynesia | 25. Turks &
12. Ireland* | 26. Ukraine
13. Jamaica | 27. UAE*
14. Kosovo | 28. UK*
29. South Korea*
*14 day quarantine required, not included in map. Korea is apparently accepting Americans with a quarantine, but that's not in the source article. I have (now) included it here.
American now have access to exactly two dozen states, five more (*) if they want to endure a 14-day quarantine on the end. Americans have gone from world power to getting the side-eye from Ecuador in a matter of months. Right now Americans are only really welcome on remote islands or at corralled resorts in Mexico, where they can be isolated from everyone else.
It’s not that other nations don’t want to welcome Americans, they just can’t. The point of a passport is that a sovereign power vouches for its bearer, but America can’t vouch for the health of their citizens at all. America’s public health regime is far less trustworthy than Liberia’s (which is actually quite good). Its sovereign is mad.
At the same time, you can’t trust Americans. Americans have poor hygiene (low masking rate) and at least 40% of the population can’t be trusted to even believe that COVID-19 exists, let alone to take it seriously. They’re likely to refuse testing, not report symptoms, break quarantine, and generally NOT follow rules. Americans have a toxic combination of ignorance and arrogance that makes them unwelcome travelers.
They have a lot of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. Some of them, I assume, are good people, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a plague passport. Return to sender.

The Plague States


That’s the near future of the United States. An epidemic that spreads largely unchecked until next year. A population too unprotected and ignorant to be allowed anywhere else. A world that largely suppresses the virus — from Mongolia to Ghana to Trinidad & Tobago — but which has to keep America in isolation.
In the end, Trump did what he said. He built a wall around America and made the world pay for it. He just never told Americans that they’d be stuck inside. ... b20678a80e

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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:05 pm

From the Department of 'Just sayin'...

Cuba Strengthens Prevention by Increasing COVID-19 Testing

Cuban doctors met before going to the Marti airport, Havana, Cuba, April 25, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 14 July 2020 (17 hours 15 minutes ago)

More medical discharges have been awarded than diagnosed cases for the second consecutive day.

Cuba's Health Ministry Epidemiology Director Francisco Duran Tuesday reported that 3,329 new samples were studied on the Caribbean island to detect COVID-19 possible cases.

He also stressed the importance of increasing the number of tests applied to the population, which is a policy fostered by the country's authorities.

So far, Cuba has analyzed 211,427 samples, of which 2,432 were positive for COVID-19.

Over the last 24 hours, four new cases of Covid-19 have been registered, one of which corresponds to a woman.

Duran also said that seven hospital discharges were granted on Monday, which means that more patients have recovered from the disease over the last two days.

To date, 2,275 patients have recovered from COVID-19. This figure represents 93.5 percent of people diagnosed with the disease.

Duran highlighted that the incidence rate on the Caribbean island for the last day was 0.77 per 100,000 inhabitants. This figure is lower compared to the last report delivered during the health emergency. ... -0012.html


Cuban protocols to treat COVID-19 key to patients’ recovery
During President Díaz-Canel’s last regular meeting with scientists directly involved in the COVID-19 battle, results of work underway evaluating Cuban protocols followed in treatment of the disease were examined

Author: Yaima Puig Meneses |

july 14, 2020 10:07:23

President Díaz-Canel highlighted the effort made in caring for the pediatric population, with the principal success of this work being that no child or adolescent has died, given the differentiated attention they received. Photo: Estudio Revolución

In his latest dialogue with experts and scientists directly involved in the country’s battle against Covid-19, President of the Republic Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez again noted the usefulness of these weekly meetings, during which results of work underway are examined demonstrating the strengths of Cuban protocols followed in treatment of the disease.

In particular, Díaz-Canel highlighted the effort made in caring for the pediatric population, with the principal success of this work being that no child or adolescent has died, as a result of the new coronavirus, given the differentiated attention they received from the first moment of the epidemic.

In commenting on the evolution of the disease in Cuba, the President pointed out that the number of patients who reach critical or serious condition continues to decrease, and most remain in these conditions for a short period of time. "This also shows the soundness of the protocols that have been used," he said.

Diaz-Canel also expressed his certainty that, as the days pass and experience acquired by medical brigades combating the epidemic in other nations is evaluated, better treatment protocols will be available for all possible scenarios, especially in the functioning of intensive care units.

It was precisely the evolution of some of these protocols that was the focus of the day’s agenda, with Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz also on hand.

The first report was presented by Dr. Lissette López González, head of the Ministry of Public Health’s national pediatric group, who outlined how children and adolescents have been impacted by COVID-19.

She explained that thus far, 274 pediatric patients have been confirmed positive for the new coronavirus, representing 11.3% of the total number of cases diagnosed in the country. Ninety-two percent have been discharged from the hospital and are receiving follow-up at home. Dr. López noted that 55% of these patients are male and that the incidence rate is highest for adolescents between 15 and 18 years of age.

Taking into account the clinical evolution of each of these patients, the relevant modifications have been made to different treatment protocols, she noted.

Over the course of these months, she stated, the importance of work at the primary care level has become evident, noting that active monitoring has been a key strength in the detection of infected children and adolescents, and that preventative measures have been essential to containing the epidemic.

Dr. López also reported that, since April, when the global alert on Multisystemic Inflammatory Syndrome was issued, immediate attention was paid to the issue in the country, conducting thorough epidemiological surveillance efforts.

To date, she said, only two patients have been diagnosed with this illness linked to COVID-19 in Cuba and, although both developed severe complications, their response to treatment was positive. They have recovered, and are receiving regular attention to prevent possible long term effects.

The Cuban protocol designed for these cases, as well as the constant supervision of multidisciplinary work teams, made it possible to satisfactorily overcome the numerous complications that arose in these cases, she said.

Another of the issues discussed was related to experience gained in the treatment of Covid-19 patients requiring intensive care. These findings were explained by Dr. Ileana Morales Suárez, the Ministry of Public Health’s director of Science and Technological Innovation, in an interactive presentation developed to share these experiences, which also allowed for evaluation of elements that can be included in medical school curricula for related specialties.

Of 2,399 COVID-19 patients, confirmed at the time of the study, only 172 had been admitted to intensive care units, representing 7.1%. Unfortunately, 86 died, while 67 were reported to have reached critical condition, and 105 serious condition.

The establishment of a single protocol at the national level for the treatment of these patients, she stated, allowed for a decrease in mortality across the country in relation to other countries in the Americas and the rest of the world. At present," she said, "the mortality rate has progressively decreased to 3.58, which has been possible thanks to the learning we have acquired over these months, along with the incorporation of innovative therapies and products in treatment plans.”

There have been many lessons learned during these difficult months confronting COVID-19, among which Dr. Morales emphasized the collective discussion of cases in real time; expediting of clinical and therapeutic decision-making; early incorporation of innovative products and reorganization of services.

She also highlighted the way in which multi-professional teams in intensive care units work, and as an essential element she considered the experiences provided by the Henry Reeve brigades, which have made it possible to expand our protocols and adjust them to the characteristics of the disease and achieve better results.

In this regard, President Díaz-Canel recalled several ideas shared by collaborators who recently concluded their mission in Lombardy, which could be applied in our country in different circumstances, noting that this experience could be useful not only in perfecting our treatment protocols, but also in updating study plans for training programs.

An update was also presented on the status of several projects regarding pulmonary ventilators being built in Cuba, to be available for intensive care units. As detailed, the prototypes have been subjected to tests required in accordance with international standards and work is already underway to incorporate recommended improvements.

In this regard, the President emphasized the way in which the development of these electro-medical devices has been conducted, practically designed in record time. In addition to strengthening intensive care services, having domestically produced equipment of this kind will contribute to replacing imports and could even become exportable lines for the country.

As is frequent in this type of exchange, Raúl Guinovart Díaz, dean of the University of Havana’s department of Mathematics and Computing, presented an updated graph representing the evolution of active cases.

He commented that, although the epidemic is controlled within the country, the situation that has arisen recently in the Havana municipalities of Centro Habana and Cerro has led to the increase noted on the active cases curve.

Havana, he said, had the highest peak of infections later than the rest of the country. Just as there are vulnerable segments of the population, due to age or health condition, he noted, there are vulnerable geographical areas that are associated not only with epidemiological factors, but also socioeconomic, cultural, demographic and other factors.

The first local transmission events in the capital emerged within institutions with large workforces, leading to a significant number of cases, he recalled. Recent events, however, have developed in communities, which are more difficult to address since the support of the Ministry of Public Health and provincial government authorities is not enough. The population’s cooperation is essential.

If residents do not cooperate in complying of basic measures that have been proposed from the beginning, such as the use of facemasks, physical distancing and frequent hand washing, an increase in cases is more likely to occur. "If we want to achieve effective control of the epidemic in a few days, then we must all cooperate," he reiterated.

Taking into account precisely these precepts, the COVID-19 prevention and control task force, led by President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, Vice President Salvador Valdés Mesa and Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz, met in the late afternoon, with authorities from Matanzas, the Isle of Youth special municipality and Havana, via tele-conference.

The first two territories are currently in the second phase of the recovery period, maintaining stability and implementing measures established for the gradual re-opening underway there.

In Havana, Public Health Minister José Angel Portal Miranda recalled that the capital is where the highest numbers of patients hospitalized and active cases are concentrated.

According to Havana Lieutenant Governor Yanet Hernández Pérez, to stop the spread of the disease, which has increased in recent weeks, action is being taken in vulnerable areas and specific groups in the municipalities, facing the greatest epidemiological risk.

In all quarantined areas, she reported, rapid and PCR tests are being administered to the entire population, while residents’ movement has been restricted. Hernández added that all basic services are guaranteed in these areas.

"The cooperation of all Havana residents is essential to finally contain the epidemic," she concluded. ... s-recovery

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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Fri Jul 17, 2020 11:18 am

How the international race for the vaccine against Covid-19 is going
Mission Truth

Jul 16 · 5 min read

Photo: Reuters

On August 3, the second phase of clinical trials of the vaccine against the new Covid-19 coronavirus that is being promoted by the Russian Federation, through the Moscow Gamaleya Institute of Epidemiology in close cooperation with the Ministry of Defense, will end.
Once the second phase is complete, it is expected to move on to a third of international clinical trials, said Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). At a telematic press conference, Dmitriev said they are waiting to "receive regulations to start using the Russian vaccine in August-September" this year.
In statements collected by RT , the head of the RDIF is optimistic with the successful evolution of the second phase of tests and hopes that Russia will begin to produce a first batch of 30 million doses of the vaccine, with a potential of 170 million doses. additional production abroad.
Negotiations have been started with Saudi Arabia for this. Kirill Dmitriev has called the efforts "possibly the first vaccine approved in the world."
Yesterday, supplementing these statements, "the Russian Defense Ministry announced that, after 28 days of study, no vaccine volunteer had experienced serious adverse side effects, health problems, complications or adverse reactions," said RT.
The third phase that will begin in the coming weeks will be held in countries in the Middle East and other nations of the world to test its effectiveness. In parallel, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce has already launched cooperation protocols and industrial agreements to mass-produce the vaccine when the tests have been completed.

Russian military experts visit hospital facilities aimed at fighting Covid-19, in Bergamo, Italy. Photo: Sputnik

In total, the Russian government has stated that the money invested in the fight against the coronavirus exceeds “116 billion rubles (about 1.67 billion dollars). While 76 billion rubles were spent to equip beds for Covid-19 patients across the country, 40 billion rubles were allocated for free deliveries of test systems to the government, municipal medical institutions, and treatment of people infected with coronavirus ”, refers a report from the Anadolu Agency.
Along with these investments to control the pandemic, the Russian Federation has spent significant resources to streamline the vaccine push.
The vaccine promoted by Russia is the initiative that right now has the best chance of achieving a positive result from the different alternatives that are being worked around the world.
A vaccine is also being advanced from the United States . The National Institute of Health and the company Moderna Inc. of the USA are about to start a decisive stage of clinical trials of a vaccine this July 27, after 40 volunteers on whom it was tested showed positive results in strengthening their system immunological.
A report published in the global scientific publication New England Journal of Medicine, and reviewed by the Euronews agency , "the volunteers, who received the vaccine in March, developed neutralizing antibodies in their bloodstream, at levels comparable to those that survived Covid- 19 ”.
The pretest phases have been positive, but US government institutions dedicated to monitoring the vaccine's efforts hope to have solid conclusions about its effectiveness later this year. In this sense, it is expected that, from everything going well, the vaccine promoted by the US will enter the market at the beginning of next year.
From the People's Republic of China they have been advancing for months in the testing phase of various vaccines, with promising results. In recent days, it was reported that the Beijing-based company Sinovac Life Science Co. has signed a cooperation agreement with the Brazilian Butantan Institute to carry out crucial tests for phase 3 of the Covid-19 vaccine. in Brazilian territory.
China's interest in boosting cooperation with Brazil in this area corresponds to its plan for the vaccine to be for global use and to guarantee access for the countries most affected by the pandemic.
The WHO currently manages 17 candidate vaccines against Covid-19. More than half of the initiatives come from China.

A volunteer receives a candidate vaccine for Covid-19 in Wuhan. Photo: China Daily

Last month, the Asian power approved a vaccine against Covid-19 for the exclusive use of its military troops. The company CanSino Biologics in charge of developing it after several phases of testing with positive results, cannot guarantee that the vaccine will finally be marketed, "said the Bangkok Post .
Meanwhile, an industrial mega complex has been installed in Wuhan and Beijing to produce more than 200 million doses of the vaccine at the required time.
In the same way, news also comes from India. July will be a key month for clinical trials of the “Cavaxin” vaccine , developed between the National Institute of Virology of India, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the company Bharat Biotech.
Already in the first tests a positive response of the immune system has been developed. India, being a global powerhouse in drug production, hopes to supply much of the global demand for vaccines once clinical trials have ended.
The world race for the vaccine does not escape the geopolitical tensions that mark an era characterized by trade confrontation, proxy wars and ignorance of international law in force since the Second World War.
In this sense, the countries that are more advanced in this race look to the vaccine not only for a health response but also a projection of their ideas and models on the new international order, and for this reason the main unknown is in its final price and distribution mechanisms.
The vaccine is inserted in the dispute for the current international influence and in the transition to the multipolar world. Consequently, China and Russia have advanced on the idea of ​​prioritizing access over profitability in access to the vaccine, an intention that conflicts with the commercial interest of the United States.
Faced with these advances, close geopolitical and economic cooperation with Russia and China places Venezuela in a good position in this race, as it will be a direct beneficiary when vaccines go to market without it implying a sacrifice in financial terms, which is precisely what pursuing the American blockade. ... a43cGoogle Translator
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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