So what should we expect from the sanctions? Western pundits and commentators have little doubt: the sanctions will hamstring the Russian economy, sow discontent among the Russian people and elites alike, and possibly even cause the downfall of the Putin regime. At the very least, we’re told, they will hinder Russia’s war efforts. But history suggests otherwise: see Iraq, or more recently Iran. Far more likely is that this turns out to be the latest Western strategic miscalculation in a long list of strategic blunders, of which the United States’ inglorious withdrawal from Afghanistan is just the most recent example.
After all, Russia has been preparing for this moment for quite some time. Following the first wave of Western sanctions, in 2014, and partly in retaliation against them, Putin embarked on what analysts have dubbed a “Fortress Russia” strategy, building up the country’s international reserves and diversifying them away from US dollars and British pounds, reducing its foreign exposure, boosting its economic cooperation with China, and pursuing import substitution strategies in several industries, including food, medicine and technology, in an effort to insulate Russia as much as possible from external shocks.
A new study has found that moderate levels of physical activity in adults can protect against severe outcomes from COVID-19, such as hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and death.
The ‘small steps, strong shield’ study found that adults with high or moderate physical activity levels had better health outcomes after contracting the virus than those with little to no physical activity.
The research was an international collaboration led by the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, with researchers at Western University. It looked at the health outcomes of over 65,000 patients from March 2020 to June 2021.
“What we found is that even if you’re active for only 60 minutes per week, that’s still enough to infer a protective benefit against severe outcomes of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jane Thornton, one of the study’s researchers at Western.
The South African GP who first raised the alarm about Omicron says she was pressured by governments “not to publicly state that it was a mild illness”.
Dr Angelique Coetzee told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper this week that European governments asked her to portray the new strain as just as serious as previous Covid-19 variants, including Delta.
“I was told not to publicly state that it was a mild illness,” she said. “I have been asked to refrain from making such statements and to say that it is a serious illness. I declined.”
Asked what she meant, Coetzee said “based on the clinical picture there are no indications that we are dealing with a very serious disease”.
South Africans contracting Covid-19 in the current fourth wave of infections are 80% less likely to be hospitalized if they catch the omicron variant, compared with other strains, according to a study released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
Once admitted to the hospital, the risk of severe disease doesn’t differ from other variants, the authors led by scientists Nicole Walter and Cheryl Cohen said.
Compared to delta infections in South Africa between April and November, omicron infections are associated with a 70% lower risk of severe disease, they said. The omicron data was collected for the two months through November.
The Prime Minister has talked of giving Whitty a knighthood — but after that reckless and irresponsible performance, the Chief Medical Officer deserves the boot.
At a stroke, he inflicted spectacular damage on our economy, particularly the hospitality sector which makes over a quarter of its profits in this period, and which has already taken a termendous battering during the pandemic.
…The irony is that if the most lurid forecasts of the lockdown addicts are realised, with the pandemic reaching every household, then all those oppressive measures they cherish most — such as social distancing, bans on large gatherings, venue closures and vaccine passports — will be largely useless.
…And in fact it would be worse than meaningless: it would be counter-productive. Lockdown directly undermines the fight against the virus by preventing the spread of naturally acquired Covid immunity in the population.
Britain’s omicron wave may be no worse than a flu pandemic, an expert has said, as the first major study into the new variant suggests it is less severe than delta.
The first real-world study looking at 78,000 omicron cases in South Africa found the risk of hospitalisation is 29 per cent lower compared with the Wuhan strain, and 23 per cent lower than delta, with vaccines holding up well.
Far fewer people have also needed intensive care from omicron, with just five per cent of cases admitted to ICU compared to 22 per cent of delta patients, the study shows.
The UK Government’s handling of what Boris Johnson warned will be a ‘tidal wave’ of Omicron infections verges on hysteria.
With predictions of one million cases by the end of the month and concerns about the NHS being overwhelmed with up to 10,000 hospitalisations per day, I gather there is talk of Christmas again being cancelled and a possible New Year lockdown.
Yet you only have to look at the picture in South Africa, where the world’s first known cases of Omicron were spotted, to realise this reaction is out of all proportion to the risks posed by this variant.
And I should know — because I am the doctor who first raised the alarm about Omicron back in November.
The omicron epidemic is being driven by young, vaccinated people, according to mounting data from countries as diverse as the UK, Denmark and South Africa.
The new variant has now been detected in more than 60 countries, including 24 in Europe, with a similar pattern of infection and characteristics being reported across the globe.
…Data from Denmark – a world leader in genetic sequencing – shows that, of 3,437 omicron cases detected, just over 70 per cent have been among those younger than 40, according to the breakdown from the Statens Serum Institut published on Monday.
Some 75 per cent of these cases were in fully vaccinated individuals, the institute added, confirming that even the double jabbed can carry the virus.
Data on confirmed Covid cases in England show how the Omicron variant is already taking hold in the country
Proportion of confirmed positive tests that didn’t detect the spike protein increased from 0.1% to 0.3%
One scientist said it equates around 60 more cases with hallmark than usual, suggesting Omicron infections
Comes as R rate spirals from less than one to 3.5 in South Africa’s Omicron epicentre Gauteng province
Lead UK epidemiologist says Omicron infections likely appear mild because of immunity from past infections
WHO officials suggested on Thursday that Covid cases were milder in those who caught the Omicron strain
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who Omicron variant, says the symptoms are extremely mild.
The South African doctor who discovered the Omicron variant has suggested the UK may be panicking unnecessarily about the new Covid strain.
Dr Angelique Coetzee said that patients had been presenting with ‘extremely mild’ symptoms in her country, though the population there is significantly younger than in the UK.
The chair of the South African Medical Association suspects the variant is already widely in the UK but added she had not seen any confirmed cases admitted to hospital – adding that other colleagues had seen the ‘same picture’.
…She listed symptoms of Omicron as extreme tiredness, headaches and a scratchy cough – but not a loss of smell or taste.
So, it seems that Long Covid is not as widespread as we were told it was. More importantly – and, yes, this is the more difficult thing to discuss – maybe Long Covid is not as real as we were told it was, either. Maybe the fairly typical problems that a minority of people experience after a virus were, in this case, unjustifiably blown up into a whole new sickness. Alongside examining the measurable, physical prevalence of long-lasting symptoms in people who have been infected with Covid – something it is very important for society to do – we must also analyse the cultural components to Long Covid. How much did the culture of fear around Long Covid help to convince people that they had it? And did a broader culture of victimhood likewise help to coax people to self-identify as suffering from this new, seemingly fascinating ailment, and even to embrace Long Covid as a kind of identity?
IFFIm’s financial base consists of grants from 10 sovereign sponsors. By signing the grant agreements, countries agree to pay these obligations in a specified schedule of payments.
|Country||US$ equivalent||Currency of pledge|
|United Kingdom||US$ 3,652 million over 23 years||GBP 2,130 million|
|France||US$ 1,884 million over 20 years||EUR 1,390 million|
|Italy||US$ 821 million over 25 years||EUR 654 million* *Includes a pledge to support the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) through Gavi for the development of COVID-19 vaccine candidates.|
|Norway||US$ 647 million over 25 years||US$ 27 million & NOK 5,100 million* *Includes additional pledges to support the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) through Gavi for the development of COVID-19 vaccine candidates|
|The Netherlands||US$ 487 million over 20 years||EUR 330 million & US$ 67 million|
|Australia||US$ 284 million over 20 years||AUD 288 million|
|Spain||US$ 240 million over 20 years||EUR 190 million|
|Sweden||US$ 38 million over 15 years||SEK 276 million|
|South Africa||US$ 20 million over 20 years||US$ 20 million|
|Brazil||US$ 20 million over 20 years||US$ 20 million|
|TOTAL||US$ 8 billion (approximately)|
Amid the dire Covid warnings, one crucial fact has been largely ignored: Cases are down 77% over the past six weeks. If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we’d call it a miracle pill. Why is the number of cases plummeting much faster than experts predicted?
In large part because natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing. Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.
…explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.
Randomised control trial study showing safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine has clear conflicts of interest.