UK government buried 2016 report exposing catastrophic NHS failings during flu pandemic

28 March 2020 — WSWS

By Steve James

Late in 2016, the British government and health authorities held “Exercise Cygnus,” a three-day training exercise intended to determine readiness for a novel respiratory influenza pandemic.

Cygnus aimed to test coordination between hospitals, health authorities, those tasked with tracking the disease and central government. The results of the report have never been made public. At the time, however, the British government’s then chief medical officer, Professor Sally Davies, told a health conference, World Innovation in Health, that the exercise “killed a lot of people.”

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Coronavirus Has Destroyed the NHS Internal Market Overnight, Proving That It Never Worked

27 March 2020 — Novara Media

by Jo Sutton-Klein

Covid-19 has forced the government to make drastic changes to the fundamental structure of the NHS, as the service struggles to cope. 

Since the 1990s the UK’s healthcare provision has been subjected to increasing marketisation, in particular through the so-called internal market. Introduced by Margaret Thatcher, this system splits the NHS into purchasers and providers who must trade with one another.

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Burned or buried, garbage spreads antibiotic resistance

25 March 2020 — Climate & Capitalism

Superbugs in the air

New research shows that breathing near a site where trash is burned or buried may be dangerous to your health.

Breathing can be dangerous when bacteria and Antibiotic Resistance Genes travel through the air from municipal waste to humans. (Diagram from Environmental Science & Technology)

by Ian Angus

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UK Government officially (and quietly) downgrades COVID-19

26 March 2020 — True Publica

By TruePublica: In the UK, the government response to the Covid-19 outbreak was initially to allow the population to be infected as a means of defence by creating what they termed ‘herd immunity.’ This strategy was met with clear opposition by almost all scientists, health professionals and experts very quickly. Public reaction was muted early on but rapidly turned to anger as the realisation set in that ‘herd immunity’ was a programme that, in the end, encouraged the ‘culling’ of those most vulnerable, such as those with underlying health conditions. For modern societies, this is completely unacceptable. It is immoral on every level no matter what the science or logic points to. For instance, logic tells retired (high risk) medics to stay away, but the human spirit is such that thousands have stepped forward to help complete strangers get through this deadly pandemic.

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How Austerity and Anti-immigrant Politics Left Italy Exposed

25 March 2020 — Dispatches from the Edge

The Corona Virus & Immigration

As the viral blitzkrieg rolls across one European border after another, it seems to have a particular enmity for Italy. The country’s death toll has passed China’s, and scenes from its hospitals look like something out of Dante’s imagination.


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Covid-19 as symptom: Notes on the production of a virus

24 March 2020 — MROnline


Understandably, these days we hear a lot about the symptoms of Covid-19 (dry cough, high fever, etc.). Conversely, there is much less discussion of the virus as a symptom. Let’s say then that to intervene on the symptoms of the virus it is necessary not only to have specific scientific knowledge, but also to put in place a serious reflection on the structural causes of its global spread and, with them, the possibilities of change that the emergency opens up for us, at least theoretically. If mainstream information focuses on the management of the epidemic, reflecting on its causes could lead to a series of far from irrelevant considerations.

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Is Capitalism a Disease?

25 March 2020 — Monthly Review Press

(Sep 01, 2000)

Readers will note that this article is nearly twice the length of the normal MR piece, but because of the importance of the subject we are publishing it in its entirety. The text is based on a talk given by the author at the Brecht Forum in New York. —Eds.

Richard Levins (1930–2016) was a professor of biology at Harvard University. He achieved international recognition for decades of work over in the field of epidemiology.

The scientific tradition of the “West,” of Europe and North America, has had its greatest success when it has dealt with what we have come to think of as the central questions of scientific inquiry: “What is this made of?” and “How does this work?” Over the centuries, we have developed more and more sophisticated ways of answering these questions. We can cut things open, slice them thin, stain them, and answer what they are made of. We have made great achievements in these relatively simple areas but have had dramatic failures in attempts to deal with more complex systems. We see this especially when we ask questions about health. When we look at the changing patterns of health over the last century or so, we have both cause for celebration and for dismay. Human life expectancy has increased by perhaps thirty years since the beginning of the twentieth century and the incidence of some of the classical deadly diseases has declined and almost disappeared. Smallpox presumably has been eradicated; leprosy is very rare; and polio has nearly vanished from most regions of the world. Scientific technologies have advanced to the point where we can give very sophisticated diagnoses, distinguishing between kinds of germs that are very similar to each other.

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Lancet chief skewers Johnson government for its disastrous Covid-19 failure

24 March 2020 — True Publica

Lancet chief skewers Johnson government for its disastrous Covid-19 failure

An editorial piece in The Lancet – the world’s most prestigious, and best known general medical journal warned two months ago of the oncoming conflict between an ill-prepared, under-funded national health service and an indiscriminate invisible killer in the form of the 2019 coronavirus. More recently The Lancet warned again of the problems that health workers would be facing and yet the government took no notice – until it was too late:

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