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SNP and Welsh BLP call for ‘four-nations’ approach to Omicron November 29, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

From today’s The National. Thanks to JH as always.

NICOLA Sturgeon has asked Scots “to significantly step up” their compliance with Covid rules in an effort to prevent the Omicron variant spreading rapidly.

The First Minister was speaking at an emergency Covid briefing called after the Omicron variant was found in Scotland.

Sturgeon also said she had written to Boris Johnson, in conjunction with Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, to propose a “tougher four-nations approach to travel restrictions”.

Just on Omicron, and doesn’t that have a dystopian resonance, I was way from home at the weekend and following the arrival of the news of the variant from various media and it struck me there’s genuine concern on this. Particularly in the UK. But then the UK, or rather England, seems amazingly ill-prepared for this, having shrugged off so many control measures that are absolutely vital to slowing the spread of this and any other variants. Having bet the house on vaccines suddenly they seem hugely exposed in the absence of information as to how Omicron functions. And also being in the company of people from England it seemed to me that broader narratives about the pandemic had been internalised in ways that  might well prove problematic with regard to what is necessary in order to combat this and any future turns and twists.

It’s not that Ireland, or indeed Scotland, or anywhere else one might think of, aren’t vulnerable, but the sense of this all being over hasn’t taken hold – however, understandably, people are fatigued by the pandemic. But I had the strong impression that many of the people I was talking to – again understandably given those previously mentioned narratives, did think it was functionally in the rear view mirror.

Small wonder this has galvanised the Tories like almost nothing else to impose and reimpose various restrictions.


1. EWI - November 29, 2021

Cab we safely assume that the way the CTA actually works is that the UK calls the shots? I see reports of the ROI govt looking for PCR tests on inbound passengers the same weekend that the UK made noises about same. Really not a great situation to be in, given Boris.

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EWI - November 29, 2021


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WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2021

I wondered that. That in other words due to the CTA the ROI must folllow along with whatever policy prescription the UK determines is the one to impose.


banjoagbeanjoe - November 29, 2021

I guess the CTA matters more to us than it does to them. So our govt doesn’t want to do anything drastic that might make the British look again at the CTA, in case they decide to change or scrap it.
That may not be a great situation to be in. But it’s a reality we have to work with.
Doesn’t mean we have to bend over and take it as they say… just we have to manage it as best we can. Weigh up the overall plusses and minuses of the whole thing, and decide what’s best from our point of view.

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terrymdunne - November 29, 2021

As I understand it the Irish state had pre-Covid border identity checks for people traveling from the U.K. – so the Irish state can control its borders separately from the U.K. – the problem is its land border with the U.K. is a tad uncontrollable – and nobody south of it wants to make it look controllable – the Garda used to check for asylum seekers, migrants etc… on buses from Belfast to Dublin i.e. stop the black people. There is mutual recognition across the UK/ROI for visas from a very limited number of states – that is a recent thing.

Under Covid conditions you are asked for a passenger locator form & supposedly proof of vaccination (or negative PCR test) upon arrival in Rosslare. I don’t think this was being very rigorously enforced but I was certainly asked for some Covid paperwork last time I was there.


EWI - November 29, 2021

Doesn’t mean we have to bend over and take it as they say… just we have to manage it as best we can. Weigh up the overall plusses and minuses of the whole thing, and decide what’s best from our point of view.

When the ‘plusses and minuses’ mean that we’re dragged along for really bad decisions that get people sick or dead, then we need to review what we’re doing here.


2. Phil - November 29, 2021

As well as being a laissez-faire libertarian and a Social Darwinian who believes that certain people “naturally” rise to the top – and, by extension, certain others naturally fall by the wayside – Johnson is a con-artist. His consistent MO, established years before he entered politics, is to court popularity by telling people whatever they want to hear, on the basis that he can always do something different if he has to (and lie about it if he’s caught out). Any of those character traits would be undesirable in a PM, but having all three is disastrous – and I think you could see all three in the announcement of an arbitrary date back in July as “Freedom Day”, and the public commitment never to reimpose the restrictions that had been lifted. It made public health a matter of individual choice, and it was only the weakest who were going to suffer anyway; most importantly, it was what people wanted to hear.

It was also wildly, idiotically irresponsible, an application of the “Fake News” mentality – create your own consensus reality, and if it doesn’t work find somebody to punish – to the most serious of situations. The virus doesn’t respond to political will; the only thing you can do with a pandemic is watch the evidence and act accordingly when it changes. The tragedy is that a lot of people believed it and still do – or rather, a lot of the marks bought it, and they haven’t yet been cooled out. Hopefully the restrictions that are being reintroduced will be observed, and won’t be too little and too late. (Or maybe Omicron won’t be that bad; maybe there was a super-spreader event in Gauteng that threw the measurements out. But that would be a lot to hope for.)

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WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2021

“the public commitment never to reimpose the restrictions that had been lifted. It made public health a matter of individual choice, and it was only the weakest who were going to suffer anyway; most importantly, it was what people wanted to hear.”


And re your second paragraph, and agree completely but isn’t it appalling we are depending upon lucky breaks now. The other thning that I find utterly reprehensible is the sub-contracting out of misery as it were to the health services – ie this new normal of living with Covid (sic) is dependent upon already stressed health workers having to put up with even worse conditions and very real dangers in order to have a patina of ‘normality’ beyond health institutions. It’s disgusting really, a sort of exemplification of market libertarianism and what it really means.

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3. terrymdunne - November 29, 2021

I think it is the one spectrum a lot of states are on – with the priority of the minimum intervention so as to not establish a precedence in how to deal with problems. A successful Covid response would actually create a political difficulty because it would open up the possibility of addressing other issues through public policy – and hence more demands on the state.


4. terrymdunne - November 29, 2021

In other Covid related news someone who was pushing possible lab-leak is now veering over to wet-market spillover . . .


But the part of particular interest regarding Covid responses is this –

“as soon as Huanan was implicated in early covid-19 cases, vendors selling live mammals, most likely illegally, would run away to avoid facing imprisonment, while law enforcement agencies are unlikely to admit such activities ever existed in the first place.”
(which is a contrast with SARS 1 & why – the article claims it is harder to investigate SARS 2)

– it is just funny how at odds the reality is with the stereotypical trope of obedience to authority, an ultra-regulated society etc…


WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2021

It’s always fascinating to me too how in totalitarian/authoritarian societies basic human attitudes/behaviours persist. Sometimes negative ones sometimes positive but without recourse to ‘the human spirit’ kind of rhetoric it is kind of weirdly heartening. Even the most totalising impulse (and granted tech may change this equation on certain levels) cannot permeate anything. But then any prison demonstrates that 24/7.


terrymdunne - November 30, 2021

Yeah well while the PRC obviously doesn’t allow open political dissent, and is highly repressive in some parts of its territories, there still seems to be tons of corruption, openly illegal economic activity, and, at least in the early-to-mid 2010s when they were still openly publishing their surveys, plenty of popular opposition over specific issues manifestating itself in protests, strikes and riots. Also the political system (as of necessity) allows a lot of local control from regional apparatchiks. So far from total control.

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WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2021

Even Xi Jinping’s supposed neo-Maoism seems a little threadbare. Like rhetorically sure, he’s on point, but… it really is just a sort of highly centralised statist nationalism with Marxist rhetoric around it. It always reminds me of PJ O’Rourke, who can on occasion turn a phrase, saying he was never that keen on centralised states that big up business. Now he was kind of implying there was a fascist aspect to it. That’s a stretch, but while I’d not be a fan of O’Rourke’s world view not sure I’m completely out of sync with him on the centralised/business line.


Klassenkampf Treehugger - November 30, 2021

The wider point is that the habitual and frequent eating of animals and the production of animal food predisposes us hugely to further pandemics. Every major recent pandemic threat has been from animal-human cross-over.

That and the massively greater carbon footprint of meat-based protein is a good reason to stop eating that way.

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WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2021

+1 Or at a minimum stringent controls on same.


5. Klassenkampf Treehugger - November 30, 2021

The general wider point with Omicron is that it was a foreseen development. Allowing widespread reproduction of a new virus will lead to it maxing out it’s evolutionary fitness, through sheer frequency of mutation and trial and error.

The only way out of this roundabout (which currently includes massive profit-making by Pfizer and Moderna for the foreseeable) is a planetary Zero-Covid policy.

This means vaccinating everyone on earth who can be vaccinated as many times over as is necessary, until the disease disappears like smallpox did. No one is safe until everyone is safe.

This in turn means socialising the know-how enclosed by Pfizer, Moderna & Biontech and rolling out a planetary wide production network that can serve the global South as well as the North. This implies the end of patents and ‘intellectual property’ when human well-being is threatened by patents.

This is technically doable, there’s no great magic about mRNA production; just careful, well-funded and well-managed production and delivery processes. The obvious party to run this is the WHO or a UN-mandated pandemic control authority.

Just as with countering the climate emergency, the blocker is the politics, not the science and technology.

Even from a capitalist POV this makes sense. $50-100 billion spent on universal vaccination would save trillions in lost capital circulation.

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