C’est la guerre…. Or possibly not

I’m in France at the moment, where there’s a curfew that means you can’t leave your home from 6 pm to 6 am. The government is apparently considering expanding upon this by leaving the curfew in place on weekdays but bringing back a complete lockdown at weekends, so you can leave home on Saturday or Sunday only for essential shopping, medical visits or limited exercise. In other words, you can work/go to school, but that’s it.

In view of that, I have… let’s say, certain opinions about France’s vaccination policy. But perhaps I’m just over-reacting. And in any case, there’s absolutely no way I can express how I feel about this without making every sentence extremely sweary and with every other word in italics for roll-eyed, multiple-exclamation-mark levels of emphasis.

So for those of you who don’t already know how France are going about this, here’s a summary.

  1. Vaccinations are currently being given only in hospitals, and (almost) exclusively on weekdays. You can pick out weekends on a graph of French vaccine figures, because they’re horizontal lines.
  2. Pharmacies still aren’t being permitted to give vaccinations.
  3. However, as from 25 February, GPs will be able to give COVID (Astra-Zeneca) vaccinations to some patients. This will work as follows.
  4. The GP can order one bottle of vaccine (ten doses) from their medical supplier.
  5. Patients wanting a vaccination can, in theory, make an appointment with their doctor using the online Doctolib system, if the doctor has an account. In fact, given the few doses available, doctors probably won’t make these appointments accessible online, so they’ll actually just contact the relevant 10 patients directly.
  6. The patient has an initial appointment during which the doctor explains the vaccine and asks the patient whether or not they want it.
    a) It can be administered during this appointment, or
    b) The patient can ask for another appointment at a later date.
  7. The patient gets another appointment four or five weeks later for the second dose of the vaccine, although Astra-Zeneca now say this isn’t the best way to give it.

So. What’s your reaction to this procedure? Am I the only person who wants to run through the French parliament swinging an axe, screaming “If it’s a fucking war, let’s fight it, for fuck’s sake!”?

The only thing about this post that makes me happy is IDLES

Be angry. Be very, very angry

That discomfort you’re feelingisn’t grief…. it’s anger.

I’ve been getting increasingly angry throughout this panic, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Maybe you feel guilty about that. Because this is all for the good of society, right? So many people being scared and exhausted is the price we pay for doing the right thing. It’s for the greater good.

Well, no. The justification for us doing this is far from clear. I’ll get onto that in a later post, but to begin with here are a few of the reasons why I’m so furious at the moment – you can probably think of more – and why I think it’s perfectly justifiable to be angry in this situation.

If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written, you know I’m left wing. I’m probably as left wing as it’s possible to get. I’ve never forgiven the Tories for what they did to UK society in the 1980s, and I never will. I’m proud to call myself a socialist.

Now, socialism has always said that we should use tax revenues to fund a national health system and other services that are best and easiest provided at state level and by non-profit oriented structures. It’s always said we should protect people when they lose their jobs or their homes, because everyone can be a valuable member of society, and society as a whole benefits when the most vulnerable also benefit.

And as a result of the emergence of COVID-19, everyone else seems to have suddenly become aware of the truth of the above. Which is all fine and dandy. I’m delighted that you now see the value of a national health service that can, you know, look after the nation’s health. But the really big thing about this is… yeah, now you know this truth. Fucking well remember it. Don’t go back on it as soon as this is all over. Never, ever, ever, vote Tory – or whatever your country’s equivalent is – ever again. Never forget.

Also, “as soon as this is all over”… you do realise that it’s never going to be over? I’ve read many articles saying “when we’ve developed a vaccine…”, which is reckoned will take about 18 months.

There are two problems with this.

Firstly – and this is my quibble with the whole “lockdown” idea – can we really stand being stuck like this for 18 months? Well, I can, because this is my normal life, but I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people out there who can’t:

Also, there are huge risks to people who wouldn’t normally be vulnerable:

And many others.

The second problem with the “as soon as this is all over, when we have a vaccine” idea is that “a vaccine” probably isn’t going to fix this. After all, we have a flu vaccine. And yet people still get the flu.

Speaking of which, did you know that 10-30,000 people die of the flu in England every year?

I’ll just say that again.

TEN TO THIRTY THOUSAND PEOPLE DIE OF THE FLU, EVERY YEAR, IN ENGLAND ALONE

(Source)

Just like the coronavirus deaths, the vast majority of these are old people. Just like the coronavirus, it’s extremely contagious. And clearly, just like the coronavirus, it’s potentially deadly. But we don’t shut down the whole of society every year for the seasonal flu. Why not? Simply because we never have. We’ve always, all of us who are alive today, and all of our ancestors for about the last 500 years, lived in a post-flu world. We just accept it.

And we’re going to have to accept the fact that we now live in a post-corona world. It’s here. It’s not going away. We can mitigate it, we’ll ultimately be able to vaccinate the most high risk groups, but it’s not going to stop just because we all cower in our homes for a few weeks.

Finally, if all that wasn’t enough to make you angry, consider this.

How much of an impact could world governments have had on the real issues the whole of humanity faces today if they’d acted as forcefully on those problems as they have on COVID-19?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/28/coronavirus-tackle-climate-crisis-and-poverty-with-zeal-of-covid-19-fight-scientists-urge