What if a vaccine or "effective treatment" never comes?

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Aristotleded24

NDPP wrote:
#WearAMask (and vid)

https://twitter.com/Schadi_CRS/status/1317845726257401856

"Wear a mask. Is it really too much to ask?"

What does mask wearing have to do with the viability of a vaccine?

NDPP

Either with or without a vaccine mask-wearing is essential to staying safe.

Aristotleded24

But they sold us on the idea that a vaccine, and only a vaccine, would get us "back to normal." If it's the case that we still need masks in either scenario, then why are we even bothering with a vaccine?

Ken Burch

At a bare minimum, it would have to be compulsory masking and social distancing.  We might simply never be able to have large gatherings again.

It goes without saying that, without a vaccine, herd immunity would not happen- or at least not without so many casualties that it would be morally and ethically unacceptable to try for it- so the Swedish model cannot ever be an option.

Unfortunately, it is a moment where some aspects of the bourgeois version of "individual rights" matter less than simply keeping people alive.

 

Pondering

"They" don't seem to have sold you on that idea Aristotled. I am against mandatory vaccination as a general rule although I think it is fair to demand that children have the usual set of vaccines in order to attend school. 

If there is never any vaccination we could be stuck with perpetual openings and closings depending on where the hot spots are. It should get easier over time as eventually we will have enough PPEs. Treatments will definitely improve as they have already with more knowledge of how the virus attacks various organs. 

In such a situation, however unlikely, we will probably have more drastic temporary shutdowns followed by a more complete openings, like in Atlantic Canada. 

Improved testing and contact tracing will help. Tracking it in sewers will alert us to which communities it is spreading in. 

There will be no massive international events. Vaccine or not I expect all international events to be canceled for next summer. If we get a vaccine I think the earliest we can expect large events, even with a vaccine, is 2022.

 

Aristotleded24

The thing is Ken, viral pandemics generally burn out on their own over a given amount of time, and one of the reasons is that people become immune to the virus. Even the 1918 pandemic, which killed far more people than what the coronavirus is doing, ended, although the specific virus became another endemic disease we have to deal with. And large gatherings still went on after the pandemic ended. Flattening the curve does not change this reality, it only spreads things out over a long period of time. It might be necessary at some stages as a last resort in order to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, and if you've tried everything else you can to avoid that scenario. I'm not convinced that we tried everything else, and in any case, if you try too hard to flatten the curve, you just end up extending the pandemic.

Obviously Sweden failed to protect their elders. I'm curious as to why else you think the Swedish model failed. They have a hard cap on gatherings that is not going to be lifted anytime soon. Most people in Sweden are actually choosing to follow public health gudiance. Check out this resource to compare curves in different countries, and you will see that Sweden is the only major European country to avoid a second wave. Most importantly, in my view, you aren't seeing people in Sweden taking to the streets protesting their government's response to the pandemic (with this one exception asking for tighter restrictions, which took place at the end of May during the height of the pandemic in Sweden) the same way you have seen much more recent protests in Europe, New Zealand, and Australia.

I'm very sorry for what you have experienced in the United States with your government's response. There are trade-offs and costs to keeping things open versus closing them down. It seems like the United States got the costs associated with both decisions and the benefit of neither. But even in a pandemic, public health is a complex thing, and you can't look at any one metric. Sure, the death toll from the pandemic is horrible, and steps should be taken to prevent that. At the same time, I can list any number of impacts from attempts to stop the spread which I belive can also kill people in the short, medium, and long term, possibly in even greater numbers. It's far too complicated for me to expand on in this post, but public health is always about the bigger picture. I also suspect that one big reason the United States has done so poorly is because it has done a poor job keeping its people healthy in the first place.

Aristotleded24

Pondering wrote:
"They" don't seem to have sold you on that idea Aristotled. I am against mandatory vaccination as a general rule although I think it is fair to demand that children have the usual set of vaccines in order to attend school.

The "usual set of vaccines" for sending children to school does not include an influenza vaccine, and influenza kills children in far greater numbers than covid.

Pondering wrote:
If there is never any vaccination we could be stuck with perpetual openings and closings depending on where the hot spots are. It should get easier over time as eventually we will have enough PPEs. Treatments will definitely improve as they have already with more knowledge of how the virus attacks various organs.

We don't have a vaccine, and that shut-down-open-up cycle has not happened in Sweden. Their measures and restrictions on gatherings have, in large, remained far more constant and stable than what was seen in other parts of the world.

Pondering wrote:
There will be no massive international events. Vaccine or not I expect all international events to be canceled for next summer. If we get a vaccine I think the earliest we can expect large events, even with a vaccine, is 2022.

We will see how that goes. Right now in Western Canada and the northwestern United States, hockey leagues are coming back in modified formats. In some cases, even spectators are allowed. This will certainly be used to learn lessons as to how these things go and how to have more such events. Even Japan's Prime Minister supports the idea of the Olympics going ahead. Of course, the reason they were cancelled this year is because athletes from other countries began to pull out, so that is not something he has complete control over. It remains to be seen how it plays out.

Aristotleded24

Do you trust a vaccine?

Quote:

The study, titled Social Contours and COVID-19, surveyed nearly 5,500 people from across Saskatchewan between May 4 — the launch of the province’s Re-Open Saskatchewan plan — and Sept. 30. The survey was also administered by researchers in Switzerland at the same time, so the two data sets could be compared.

Wading through the data, Muhajarine saw that as people began to take more precautions, trust in the government fell.

In mid-May, 81.6 per cent said the government was handling the pandemic well. That number fell sharply to a low of 37.1 in early August, before climbing back up to 61.7 per cent by the end of September.

Muhajarine links the drop in trust to two events: the outbreaks in Hutterite colonies and the release of the province’s back-to-school plan. Once the initial panic around those events had settled down, trust began to build again, he said.

Over the same time period, more people reported wearing masks, growing from 41.1 per cent to 59.6 per cent; however, more people also said others around them were not taking the proper precautions.

Optimism around a new vaccine also fell.

In mid-May, 84.9 per cent of people surveyed in Saskatchewan said they would get the vaccine when it was available. By the end of September, that number had fallen to just 56.5 per cent of respondents.

Aristotleded24

Will vaccines even do what we want them to?

Quote:
In all the ongoing phase III trials for which details have been released, laboratory confirmed infections even with only mild symptoms qualify as meeting the primary endpoint definition.9101112 In Pfizer and Moderna’s trials, for example, people with only a cough and positive laboratory test would bring those trials one event closer to their completion. (If AstraZeneca’s ongoing UK trial is designed similarly to its “paused” US trial for which the company has released details, a cough and fever with positive PCR test would suffice.)

Part of the reason may be numbers. Severe illness requiring hospital admission, which happens in only a small fraction of symptomatic covid-19 cases, would be unlikely to occur in significant numbers in trials. Data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in late April reported a symptomatic case hospitalisation ratio of 3.4% overall, varying from 1.7% in 0-49 year olds and 4.5% in 50-64 year olds to 7.4% in those 65 and over.13 Because most people with symptomatic covid-19 experience only mild symptoms,14 even trials involving 30 000 or more patients would turn up relatively few cases of severe disease.

In the trials, final efficacy analyses are planned after just 150 to 160 “events,”—that is, a positive indication of symptomatic covid-19, regardless of severity of the illness.

Yet until vaccine manufacturers began to release their study protocols in mid-September, trial registries and other publicly released information did little to dispel the notion that it was severe covid-19 that the trials were assessing. Moderna, for example, called hospital admissions a “key secondary endpoint” in statements to the media.15 And a press release from the US National Institutes of Health reinforced this impression, stating that Moderna’s trial “aims to study whether the vaccine can prevent severe covid-19” and “seeks to answer if the vaccine can prevent death caused by covid-19.”16

But Tal Zaks, chief medical officer at Moderna, told The BMJ that the company’s trial lacks adequate statistical power to assess those outcomes. “The trial is precluded from judging [hospital admissions], based on what is a reasonable size and duration to serve the public good here,” he said.

Hospital admissions and deaths from covid-19 are simply too uncommon in the population being studied for an effective vaccine to demonstrate statistically significant differences in a trial of 30 000 people. The same is true of its ability to save lives or prevent transmission: the trials are not designed to find out.

Zaks said, “Would I like to know that this prevents mortality? Sure, because I believe it does. I just don’t think it’s feasible within the timeframe [of the trial]—too many would die waiting for the results before we ever knew that.”

Stopping transmission

What about Hotez’s second criterion, interrupting virus transmission, which some experts have argued17 should be the most important test in phase III studies?

“Our trial will not demonstrate prevention of transmission,” Zaks said, “because in order to do that you have to swab people twice a week for very long periods, and that becomes operationally untenable.”

He repeatedly emphasised these “operational realities” of running a vaccine trial. “Every trial design, especially phase III, is always a balancing act between different needs,” he said. “If you wanted to have an answer on an endpoint that happens at a frequency of one 10th or one fifth the frequency of the primary endpoint, you would need a trial that is either 5 or 10 times larger or you’d need a trial that is 5 or 10 times longer to collect those events. Neither of these, I think, are acceptable in the current public need for knowing expeditiously that a vaccine works.”

Zaks added, “A 30 000 [participant] trial is already a fairly large trial. If you’re asking for a 300 000 trial then you need to talk to the people who are paying for it, because now you’re talking about not a $500m to $1bn trial, you’re talking about something 10 times the size. And I think the public purse and operational capabilities and capacities we have are rightly spent not betting the farm on one vaccine but, as Operation Warp Speed [the US government’s covid-19 vaccine plan] is trying to do, making sure that we’re funding several vaccines in parallel.”

kropotkin1951

Aristotleded24 wrote:

But they sold us on the idea that a vaccine, and only a vaccine, would get us "back to normal." If it's the case that we still need masks in either scenario, then why are we even bothering with a vaccine?

Who is the "they" and the "us" in your statement. You are obviously not part of either group since you don't appear to be sold. I know I don't believe a vaccine will be the end of public health measures to deal with COVID so I am also neither a "they" or "us" but I sure as hell don't agree with your perspective.

Us real people don't fit into your little thought boxes

Pondering

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:

But they sold us on the idea that a vaccine, and only a vaccine, would get us "back to normal." If it's the case that we still need masks in either scenario, then why are we even bothering with a vaccine?

Who is the "they" and the "us" in your statement. You are obviously not part of either group since you don't appear to be sold. I know I don't believe a vaccine will be the end of public health measures to deal with COVID so I am also neither a "they" or "us" but I sure as hell don't agree with your perspective.

Us real people don't fit into your little thought boxes

In addition, no single measure is 100% on its own. A mask is not a replacement for distancing. Assuming there is a vaccine mask wearing would decrease but as it also protects against the common cold and flus etc. I think it will become more popular as it is in other countries. 

Aristotleded24

Of course drug company claims of effectiveness should be taken at face value:

Quote:

Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19, indicating the company is on track later this month to file an emergency use application with U.S. regulators. The vaccine is among seven that Canada has pre-ordered.

Monday's announcement doesn't mean a vaccine is imminent: This interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries.

Pfizer Inc. did not provide any more details about those cases, and cautioned the initial protection rate might change by the time the study ends. Even revealing such early data is highly unusual.

"We're in a position potentially to be able to offer some hope," Dr. Bill Gruber, Pfizer's senior vice-president of clinical development, told The Associated Press. "We're very encouraged."

Authorities have stressed it's unlikely any vaccine will arrive much before the end of the year, and limited initial supplies will be rationed.

...

No participant so far has become severely ill, Gruber said. He could not provide a breakdown of how many of the infections had occurred in older people, who are at highest risk from COVID-19.

Aristotleded24
Pondering

No it doesn't.  Even if they said there wuuld never be a vaccine we would still have lockdowns because our health care system would soon be overwhelmed which would lead to a real lockdown.

Aristotleded24

Again with the sensationalist fearmongering about overhwelmed hospitals based more on sensationalized media reporting than actual verifiable data, context, and facts.

Aristotleded24

This is interesting:

Quote:

Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Officer AlbertBourla cashed out 62 per cent of his stock in the company on the same day it announced the success of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, a regulatory filing showed.

Bourla on Monday sold 132,508 of his shares at an average price of US$41.94 — a total of US$5.6 million — not far off the 52-week high of US$41.99 Pfizer at which the stock traded.

Pfizer’s shares increased in value almost 15% on the day of the vaccine announcement, Business Insider reported.

The sale was part of a routine, pre-determined trade, admissible under a specific rule in the Securities and Exchange Act. Rule 10b5-1 allows major holders in a corporation to prearrange the sale of a fixed amount of shares at a fixed time.

On August 19, 2020, Bourla filed to sell his shares.

“The sale of these shares is part of Dr. Bourla’s personal financial planning and a pre-established (10b5-1) plan, which allows, under SEC rules, major shareholders and insiders of exchange-listed corporations to trade a predetermined number of shares at a predetermined time,” Pfizer said.

Presumably if this vaccine works then these shares would be going up in value soon. So why would he sell now rather than waiting to cash in?

Pondering

Maybe he wants a yaught or owes alimaony, or has gambling debts or is starting a new company of his own. It was planned in August so there is no connection to the announcement. 

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Aristotleded24 wrote:

With questions about how long immunity against covid lasts, that has major implications for the viability of a vaccine. If our own immune systems, which were designed to provide long-lasting protection against pathogens (think chicken pox, for instance) can't provide permanent protection against covid, any vaccine we try to develop in the coming months and years will not be effective over the long term. Suppose you need booster shots after a year. You then have a situation where there is massive demand, plus the time, energy and resources that need to go into producing, distributing, and administering these boosters. Is all of this really wise, or should it be directed at providing care for people with other medical conditions, rather than constantly vaccinating otherwise healthy people against this disease?

People get flu shots every year. How is getting an annual COVID vaccine any different?

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Quote:
Again with the sensationalist fearmongering about overhwelmed hospitals based more on sensationalized media reporting than actual verifiable data, context, and facts.

Hospitals would absolutely be overwhelmed in short order if everybody was not wearing masks and not physical distancing. Public health restrictions are an aboslutely necessary part of ensuring that does not happen.

Aristotleded24

Left Turn wrote:
Quote:
Again with the sensationalist fearmongering about overhwelmed hospitals based more on sensationalized media reporting than actual verifiable data, context, and facts.

Hospitals would absolutely be overwhelmed in short order if everybody was not wearing masks and not physical distancing. Public health restrictions are an aboslutely necessary part of ensuring that does not happen.

Let's take a look at some actual data. If you look at the hospitalization rates for Ontario, you will see that the rates of hospitalization for covid, while rising, are nowhere near where they were in the spring. I know BC just set a record for the number of hospitalizations. These are the only 2 provinces for which I can find comparative data throughout the duration of the pandemic. Furthermore, hospitals and ICUs are always under strained capacity at this time of year. There is even the occaisional news story, but most of us respond by shrugging and going about our day. The question in regards to the current rise in hospitalizations is how does this compare to what we usually see at this time of year? There are some indications out of the United Kingdom that the number of hospitalizations and people in ICUs is not out of line with what they would expect in any other year.

As for the public health measures? It is time to ask how effective they actually are, because they are becoming tighter amid a rise in cases. The place where I buy groceries didn't start mandating masks until September 1. They became required in indoor spaces in Winnipeg on September 28. The number of gathering sizes has been continually reduced. Winnipeg moved to the highest alert level November 2, with the entire province going into complete lockdown on November 12. So all of these public health measures have not stemmed the rise in cases. So if the public health measures we have been told to put into place work so well, why are cases rising? If they did work, I would have expected the case count in Winnipeg to start dropping in mid-October, but it did not.

Aristotleded24

Left Turn wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:

With questions about how long immunity against covid lasts, that has major implications for the viability of a vaccine. If our own immune systems, which were designed to provide long-lasting protection against pathogens (think chicken pox, for instance) can't provide permanent protection against covid, any vaccine we try to develop in the coming months and years will not be effective over the long term. Suppose you need booster shots after a year. You then have a situation where there is massive demand, plus the time, energy and resources that need to go into producing, distributing, and administering these boosters. Is all of this really wise, or should it be directed at providing care for people with other medical conditions, rather than constantly vaccinating otherwise healthy people against this disease?

People get flu shots every year. How is getting an annual COVID vaccine any different?

Oxford professor and Great Barrington Declaration co-author Sunetra Gupta argues that vaccines can play an important role in protecting vulnerable populations, and I suppose they should be available to anyone who wants them. (I don't trust that the current batch of vaccines about to be released onto the public are safe or effective, but that's another discussion.) What's frightening is the possibility of certain places being closed off to people who can't produce proof of vaccination. Qantas Airlines has already announced plans to require vaccination in order to travel. I also posted an article in National Geographic upthread suggesting that going to an arena, restaurant, or any other public venue may require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry. Even Pondering thinks that's needlessly intrusive.

Back to the flu shot. Courts have in the past upheld the rights of health care workers to refuse those for themselves. Health care workers are in daily contact with people for whom the risk of death from influenza is very high. If there is a case where you can argue that mandatory vaccines are ethical on the grounds of protecting public health, that is it. Yet their right to refuse vaccination is respected. If it's okay for health care workers to refuse vaccination in that context, why require people to be vaccinated against something that most people will recover from on their own as a condition of entry for places?

Would you even need to enforce that mandate anyways? Most people can't wait for the vaccine to come out and are going to grab it at the first available opportunity. Some scientists have estimated the herd immunity threshold for covid to be quite low, much lower than the percentage of the population that will choose the vaccine for themselves when it becomes available. If they are correct in that assessment, then enough people will be protected by vaccines anyways to prevent the virus from spreading out of control, thus negating the need for any venue to require it as a condition of entry.

Bacchus

One is a government run place (hospitals) and one is a private business which can put whatever requirements it wants as long as not actively discrminating on the bases or sex or race

Aristotleded24

Bacchus wrote:
One is a government run place (hospitals) and one is a private business which can put whatever requirements it wants as long as not actively discrminating on the bases or sex or race

Perhaps we need to amend legislation to forbid discrimination based on vaccination status.

eastnoireast

Linda McQuaig

 

The Star

Canada Is Now Paying the Price for Privatizing Its Vaccine Research and Production Lab

Unfortunately, we’ve ventured a long way from the days when we had a publicly owned and medically innovative enterprise that dazzled on the world stage and kept Canadians at the front of the line for vaccines.

 

The sale of the remarkable Connaught Labs to foreign interests made no sense back then, and it makes even less sense today.

 

Indeed, it’s ironic — and infuriating — that we find ourselves in a disadvantaged position regarding the coronavirus vaccine since Connaught was a world leader in vaccine development and production.

If Connaught Labs still existed today, its scientists would almost certainly be involved in the quest to come up with a coronavirus vaccine, working collaboratively with other researchers — just as they played a key role in helping U.S. virologist Jonas Salk develop the polio vaccine in the 1950s.

From the early part of the 20th century, Connaught created and produced high-quality medical treatments and vaccines for Canadians, including vaccines for smallpox, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, as Canadian medical historian Christopher Rutty has documented.

Connaught had so distinguished itself as a vaccine producer that when the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a global campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1960s, it turned to Connaught for help, according to Rutty.

 

 

Connaught Labs always put Canadian needs first. Its main customers were provincial governments, to which it provided its products at cost. Even so, Connaught managed to be financially self-sufficient, earning profits by selling its vaccines in the global market, where it outperformed U.S. and European commercial vaccine producers.

“While other vaccine producers were waning in their export and research and development activities during the early 1970s, Connaught stood out in both areas,” Rutty notes.

But, sadly, Connaught got swept up in the privatization frenzy that gripped Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government in the 1980s as it sought to please the business world by selling off some of Canada’s best publicly owned enterprises.

Today, what remains of Connaught has been absorbed into the vaccine division of foreign-owned pharmaceutical giant Sanofi.

What makes our predicament today particularly galling is that Ottawa invests roughly $1 billion a year to fund medical research by scientists at Canadian universities — without any control over the results, according to Dr. Joel Lexchin, professor emeritus at York University’s School of Health Policy and Management.

 

NDPP

WATCH: "The U of Ottawa's Prof Amir Attaran has written extensively about Canada's COVID-19 vaccine procurement efforts. So what does he think of the PM's assertion that Canada has no vaccine production capacity?"

https://rabble.ca/comment/5684687#comment-5684687

Aristotleded24

This is a red flag we should pay attention to:

Quote:

On December 1, 2020, the ex-Pfizer head of respiratory research Dr. Michael Yeadon and the lung specialist and former head of the public health department Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg filed an application with the EMA, the European Medicine Agency responsible for EU-wide drug approval, for the immediate suspension of all SARS CoV 2 vaccine studies, in particular the BioNtech/Pfizer study on BNT162b (EudraCT number 2020-002641-42).

Dr. Wodarg and Dr. Yeadon demand that the studies – for the protection of the life and health of the volunteers – should not be continued until a study design is available that is suitable to address the significant safety concerns expressed by an increasing number of renowned scientists against the vaccine and the study design.

...

Furthermore, they demand that it must be excluded, e.g. by means of animal experiments, that risks already known from previous studies, which partly originate from the nature of the corona viruses, can be realized. The concerns are directed in particular to the following points:

  • The formation of so-called “non-neutralizing antibodies” can lead to an exaggerated immune reaction, especially when the test person is confronted with the real, “wild” virus after vaccination. This so-called antibody-dependent amplification, ADE, has long been known from experiments with corona vaccines in cats, for example. In the course of these studies all cats that initially tolerated the vaccination well died after catching the wild virus.
  • The vaccinations are expected to produce antibodies against spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2. However, spike proteins also contain syncytin-homologous proteins, which are essential for the formation of the placenta in mammals such as humans. It must be absolutely ruled out that a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 could trigger an immune reaction against syncytin-1, as otherwise infertility of indefinite duration could result in vaccinated women.
  • The mRNA vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer contain polyethylene glycol (PEG). 70% of people develop antibodies against this substance – this means that many people can develop allergic, potentially fatal reactions to the vaccination.
  • The much too short duration of the study does not allow a realistic estimation of the late effects. As in the narcolepsy cases after the swine flu vaccination, millions of healthy people would be exposed to an unacceptable risk if an emergency approval were to be granted and the possibility of observing the late effects of the vaccination were to follow. Nevertheless, BioNTech/Pfizer apparently submitted an application for emergency approval on December 1, 2020.

Aristotleded24
Ken Burch

If a vaccine or effective treatment never comes, we have to stay with masking and social distancing.  The massive infection spikes in Sweden have totally discredited the "live like it isn't happening" approach- and actually make a strong argument for reviving a more radical socialist project, since ignoring the virus and "market values", as the U.S. proves, doesn't work.

It will mean creating an economy in which the old idea of everyone gathering in the same physical workplace, becomes a rarity, a rarity in which the sectors of the economy that have to use that model of the workplace have to be much more regulated and offer their employees higher wages, stronger benefits-including pensions that kick in at a much earlier earlier age so as to encourage earlier retirement and greater availability of the jobs that will exist, and give those workers a much greater degree of control of the workplace itself.

Aristotleded24

Ken Burch wrote:
If a vaccine or effective treatment never comes, we have to stay with masking and social distancing.  The massive infection spikes in Sweden have totally discredited the "live like it isn't happening" approach- and actually make a strong argument for reviving a more radical socialist project, since ignoring the virus and "market values", as the U.S. proves, doesn't work.

It will mean creating an economy in which the old idea of everyone gathering in the same physical workplace, becomes a rarity, a rarity in which the sectors of the economy that have to use that model of the workplace have to be much more regulated and offer their employees higher wages, stronger benefits-including pensions that kick in at a much earlier earlier age so as to encourage earlier retirement and greater availability of the jobs that will exist, and give those workers a much greater degree of control of the workplace itself.

That is needless fearmongering bullshit over a virus that has overall a good survival rate, is particularly lethal to the elderly, less lethal to young children, and that many people who catch don't even present with symptoms. The Spanish Flu was estimated to have killed at least 17 million people over the course of its run. The current covid virus has killed less than 2 million people, hardly the global plague it is made out to be in a population of just shy of 8 billion people. It's also slightly above the annual global death toll from diarrheal disease and tuberculosis, however I don't remember any global panic over that.

Which massive spikes in Sweden are you talking about? Sure Sweden saw a rise in covid cases. It, along with nearly every other major country in the northern hemisphere, usually sees an uptick in cases of respiratory illnesses this time of year. It's called the flu season, although strangely enough influenza seems to have disappeared since covid came on the scene. Speaking of spikes, all the other Eurpoean countries which did lock down expereinced their second waves long before Sweden did. Belarus is another country that did not lock down, and even though there currently is a record number of cases, only once during the pandemic did the country record more than 10 deaths a day.

As for your idea of how the workplace should look, I cannot get behind that utopian thinking. Where I work, it's to the point where we all have to sit in the same place, and if we sit somewhere else that spot has to be cleaned thoroughly. There is also a tremendous human cost to the vision you advocate. My workplace feels lonelier than it was before, and there are so many co-workers I used to run into at work who I miss running into and speaking to. In addition, you ask many people what they like about their work, and many will tell you "the people." I think that companionship is especially important in jobs that the working class does because it helps break up the dull routine. Imagine going to work for the first time, you're a bit nervous, but you meet people in your training class you really like, and you decide to go for lunch afterwards. Those are the very human things we are being asked to give up that make life worth living. So I utterly reject this "new normal" that, in the name of surviving covid, strips people of the very reasons they have for being alive.

As for the idea as to how the workplace should change to give more power to workers? I think that is simply wishful thinking, which cannot happen without an actual struggle (struggles that cannot take place as long as people respect the rules against gathering in groups in the name of stopping covid).

Most of the places that were hit hard with the second wave are places that either tried to supress the virus in the first wave or were lucky enough to not experience a first wave. I truly believe that, for most of the world, the next waves of covid won't be nearly as severe as the first and second waves were. Most likely it evolves into some sort of seasonal respiratory infection, alongside the many infections we are already dealing with. There is no need to have a "new normal" or destroy everything else about society in the name of stopping this virus.

Ken Burch

Most of the spikes we've had, including the second wave, were down to the large incidence of people arrogantly disregarding the medical consensus, insisting on gathering together in large groups without distancing or masking.  THAT is what caused the spikes.  And the reason for the curfews is that people have been shown consistently to let down their guard and ignored anti-infection guidelines.

It can only be right-wing to fight for the "no distancing, no masking, pretend it isn't happening" approach.  

Look- I think we all get it that you don't like the situation.  None of the rest of us do, either.  But it isn't a workable option to go back to the way lived before Covid without a vaccine. 

And quite frankly, it feels as if you've decided that you won't stop starting and perpetuating these "Covid is no big deal threads" until you everyone else here agrees with you, and that's not going to happen, so what is the point? 

Why can't you accept that people on this board have the right to hold differing views on this than you, and that it's as legitimate for people to disagree with you as to agree?

Ken Burch

Also, why would you mock the idea of changing the workplace?  That's supposed to be one of the things the Left is all about- creating a workplace, unlike the ones most of us have now, where we are valued, treated with respect and dignity, and given the chance of making our work an expression of our trues selves.

It's not as though there's anything in the "do it my way or it's your butt!" workplace we have now that achieves results we couldn't get in a humanized, democratized, creativity-based workplace.  There isn't a worker alive anywhere who will only due their job to the best of their abilities if they are forced to live at the mercy of petty tyrants who treat that worker as if they are nothing.

MegB

Thanks for all your comments, but as vaccines are imminent this thread, at its outset, can't possibly reflect current reality. Closing. Please feel free to create another thread. I'll try to keep an eye out for it and put a link to it from here. Also, if anyone has the time I'd very much appreciate a message with the link to any potential new thread. Thanks!

Edited to add: new link is here.

Ken Burch

Thanks, MegB.

Aristotleded24

Ken Burch wrote:
Most of the spikes we've had, including the second wave, were down to the large incidence of people arrogantly disregarding the medical consensus, insisting on gathering together in large groups without distancing or masking.  THAT is what caused the spikes.  And the reason for the curfews is that people have been shown consistently to let down their guard and ignored anti-infection guidelines.

That is exactly the problem with the public health messaging. Any time cases increase, the message is either, "it's your fault you got sick," or "it's your fault that other people are getting sick." How is that supposed to be an empowering and inspiring message? We are, in large part, staying home, wearing masks, doing the social distancing and such, and cases are still going up. At some point, we have to ask, "what more do you want us to do?"

The social distancing rules were essentially designed by computer modellers in an office, trying to measure things about human activity that cannot be so neatly quantified on a computer model. The problem with the social distancing rules is that nobody can actually follow them, and they are deliberately designed that way. It also stems from asking the wrong question. The question we are asking is, "how do we stop the spread of covid?" The question we should be asking is, "how should we be managing public health in the context of covid, which is new-to-us and spreading throughout the population?" There's a fundamental difference between those 2 things.

Ken Burch wrote:
It can only be right-wing to fight for the "no distancing, no masking, pretend it isn't happening" approach.

After watching how the left behaved in response to coronavirus, I don't really care that much about "right wing" or "left wing" labels. I'm starting to think that the "left wing" and the "right wing" are just using different segments of the population for power games. If you feel better labelling me "righth wing" because of my views on the covid, more power to you. I won't object, but I won't wear a label anyone else tries to pin on me.

By the way, I know covid is happening. Every day on the news there are multitudes of stories about covid. You would have to be living under a rock to not know that covid is happening. The problem is, many other things are happening that we aren't paying attention to.

Ken Burch wrote:
Look- I think we all get it that you don't like the situation.  None of the rest of us do, either.  But it isn't a workable option to go back to the way lived before Covid without a vaccine.

That is false. Many experts have questioned that idea, and I am losing track of the number of experts in the relevant fields I can name who question these methods. Some of these experts come from highly respected universities, and some of them have experience being in charge of public health, for example, Joel Kettner in Manitoba. The idea that there is a consensus around that idea is a media manufactured phenomenon. And it is true that we can't go "back to normal" without a vaccine, then why was Wuhan able to hold a large festival earlier this year, with people crammed together in the water, and nothing bad happened afterwards?

Ken Burch wrote:
And quite frankly, it feels as if you've decided that you won't stop starting and perpetuating these "Covid is no big deal threads" until you everyone else here agrees with you, and that's not going to happen, so what is the point?

Here's the thing. When there are discussions on other topics on the board, I still find myself in agreement with the general consensus of opinion. Even on many covid related issues, for example that it has a larger impact on poor communities of colour, the idea that nursing homes, jails and meatpacking plants need more protection, and all sorts of things. I get all of that. My issue is that I see a great deal of emotion in these posts, and the facts with which I respond don't seem to have any impact. It's very easy to sit in front of a computer screen all day and talk about what you think should happen, but when you are out in the real world and interact with people in real time your perspective changes. I think that perspective is missing from this discussion.

Ken Burch wrote:
Why can't you accept that people on this board have the right to hold differing views on this than you, and that it's as legitimate for people to disagree with you as to agree?

I can't accept it because it is effectively against the law right now in Manitoba for me to visit people in their houses, or have people visit me, and I'm being told to (my paraphrase) "suck it up, it's no big deal." I am utterly shocked that this attitude would be prevalent on babble of all places. It's even more shocking since the Premier of Manitoba sat alongside Stephen Harper as a Conservative MP, yet somehow despite the times we called Harper a "fascist" and a "dictator," these same people seem to feel fine with such a leader behaving in an actual dictatorial fashion.

Ken Burch wrote:
Also, why would you mock the idea of changing the workplace?  That's supposed to be one of the things the Left is all about- creating a workplace, unlike the ones most of us have now, where we are valued, treated with respect and dignity, and given the chance of making our work an expression of our trues selves.

It's not as though there's anything in the "do it my way or it's your butt!" workplace we have now that achieves results we couldn't get in a humanized, democratized, creativity-based workplace.  There isn't a worker alive anywhere who will only due their job to the best of their abilities if they are forced to live at the mercy of petty tyrants who treat that worker as if they are nothing.

First of all, I think the idea of the "creative economy" is a bit of a myth. It was essentially dreamed up by members of the professional class who are fortunate enough to be able to do work that they love doing. Unfortunately, there is actual work that somebody has to do.

Furthermore, I think having people work at home disempowers workers in the long run. How are you supposed to come together and achieve collective action to improve your workplace if you don't even know who your co-workers are or have any chances to interact with them? That's the current reality at my workplace, is that other than a name, I actually don't know who these people are. Never mind the problems of people who don't have access to a computer and can't work from home. You also have situations where companies like Uber classify their drivers as "independent contractors," thus preventing unionization, and that is effectively the model we are heading to. It's not a coincidence that the big tech companies, which are really pushing the idea of everybody working remotely, are also vehemently anti-union.

Ken Burch

What I'm talking about regarding the workplace has nothing to do with the stuff the "creative economy/creative class" types have been spreading since the Nineties- and their vision of the workplace is hypocritical, because they envision a non-repressive, sponteneity/and creativity infused workplace solely for a technocratic elite within the workplace- everybody else, in their vision, is STILL expected to work a conventional 8-5 shift, live under old-school conventional managerial tyranny and a million different petty rules on the most trivial aspects of work life, and be fine with the prospect at summary dismissal at any moment for the most insignificant failings or, in the case of mass layoff, even after having done nothing wrong at all.

I'm talking about the visions of what work could be, even the most mundane jobs, that existed in the writing of people like William Morris.

And there are, in fact, ways to use those visions of how work could be to make a major practical difference in the lives of ordinary working people:

If you had a rule, after four years on a job, each worker would be subsidized- by the state if need be-  at at or near their wage rate- to spend the next one or two years going back to school or taking up creative projects, or on work helping their communities on a full-time basis, the unemployment rate would be much lower, far fewer of us would have the mental and physical wellness issues associated with having to spend twenty or thirty or forty years spending most of their energy doing drudgery for which they are treated with no respect and as if they have no value.

Worker management and worker-owned cooperatives have a long-history of producing goods or services at comparable or even lower prices and with a far happier, healthier workforce.  And most worker cooperatives-especially when organized into networks of cooperatives to make economies of scale manageable- are able to work at much lower costs because they aren's subsidizing the bloated salaries and benefits of the CEO/senior executive class- few of whom really provide any service to their companies that comes remotely close to justifying the financial rewards they are given.

We all need work, and should be able to get to work.  But structural change only comes in times of crisis such as the present, so why not let this crisis be the chance to creatively re-imagine work?  If work is where we spend most of our lives, why shouldn't we reshape work to make it not only bearable but meaningful and rewarding on all levels?

Aristotleded24

Ken Burch wrote:
We all need work, and should be able to get to work.  But structural change only comes in times of crisis such as the present, so why not let this crisis be the chance to creatively re-imagine work?  If work is where we spend most of our lives, why shouldn't we reshape work to make it not only bearable but meaningful and rewarding on all levels?

On that point, I agree. I think that should be driven by conversations and organizing among workers from the ground up. I feel too much of the discussion around work in the post-covid era is based on utopian visions handed down from above, backed by interests that are hostile to those of the common person.

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