Brexit Britain’s victory over the EU on Covid vaccination is not what it seems
Jean Quatremer
The bloc’s joint vaccines strategy – far from being a fiasco – is delivering a better outcome than the UK’s

The argument is that by being slow, late and silly they’ve done better.

59 thoughts on “Interesting”

  1. It’s not even true: the “united” EU contains multiple countries that went behind it’s back to get various vaccines from the same companies. Oh well, file the story under “Remoaners cognitive dissonance” 🙂

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    True, Britain got a month’s head start on the EU by approving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the start of December, and then AstraZeneca’s at the end of that month. It had to accept the terms offered by the pharmaceutical companies, however, both in paying a higher price per dose, and by waiving their civil liability in the event of adverse effects.

    What’s a few 1000 deaths and a wrecked economy when you can get a good deal out of big pharma? Especially that big pharma that is doing this on a cost basis?

    But, and there’s a very big but, the UK’s “success” is a really an illusion: because to be fully effective, the vaccine requires two doses. And only 0.80% of the UK population has received both shots, less than that of France (0.92%), and a long way behind Denmark, which has 2.87% of its population fully vaccinated.

    I thought they venerated organisations like the WHO? They’ve looked at the data and come to the same conclusion as the JCVI.

    When this got raised last week I looked at the data and if we’d gone for the 3 week strategy we’d be at around 8.6% “fully vaccinated”, which is still greater than any EU country is on a 1 dose strategy.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    I read that article with a sense of disbelief. Is he serious? I guess so.

    The case seems to be that everyone co-operated marvelously and a jolly good time was had by all. Except those that died. But on the other hand, if each country had managed it they would have fought over the small supply of vaccines and the manufacturers would have had them over a barrel.

    So it is economically illiterate as well. Given that there is not a fixed supply of vaccine. The smaller states can have all they like if they are willing to pay for it – and say so early enough.

    It reminded me of Rick in the Young Ones telling Vivian he missed both his legs

  4. The author is the Brussels correspondent for Liberation. He appears to have been captured by the EU groupthink. How anybody can value EU solidarity over the availability of vaccines is beyond belief. Equally getting a few cents off the price does not compensate for extra months in lockdown and higher deaths from the delays.

  5. Well it makes a change for continental European lives to be sacrificed for European solidarity rather than British ones

  6. Jean Quatremer is Brussels correspondent of Libération and the author of “Why The Maginot Line ACTUALLY Worked Perfectly” and “Waterloo: Napoleon’s Greatest Victory”.

  7. The fiction persists that this virus is a threat to the majority, if not indeed everyone. Vaccination against it will NOT save lives.

    There is no evidence that vaccination will reduce or has reduced hospital admissions – most people, 90%, infected even if they develop disease do not require hospitalisation – nor will it reduce or has it reduced deaths because 95% of those who have succumbed are average age 80 with one or more comorbidity, vaccinating all of those left in the high risk cohort and the entire population will not save lives, the ‘vulnerable’ will die anyway within the next few months. Many have very poor quality of life, extending it is no kindness. Everyone over 80 dies, sooner with comorbidity.

    Furthermore a single dose, according to the manufacturers, is not guaranteed to provide immunity, prevent transmission, or stop the disease, although it is more likely to be in milder form.

    Looking at the data, ‘cases’ (the fictitious PCR test ones) and real cases and deaths started to decline well before anyone was vaccinated.

    It is a seasonal virus like every other coronavirus, so its activity will fall during this month and continue to decline as Summer approaches.

    Attributing this to vaccination can just be added to the litany of lies along with the effectiveness of masks, lockdowns, curfews, tiers.

  8. The money the EU spent three months chiselling out of the Pharma companies is about two hours worth of the damage lockdown is doing to their economies. Of all the times to actually start caring about costs, this was definitely not it.

    “Ooh, they approved before us”. So? Why wait for you? Your agency too two weeks off at Christmas. Is there anything to be said for saying another Mass?
    “Waved civil liability”. A public good supplied at cost, only fair the liability is public too. He seriously thinks the private companies should shoulder all the risk and THEN supply at cost. Guess what? You didn’t get enough vaccines. This is the elite?

    Ignoring the data from Israel, of course. Why would you pay attention to a real-life study with over a million participants? Shhh…

    If I was a Remainer I’d be embarrassed by this article. Does this guy really think it’s good enough?

  9. I am sorry I didn’t bookmark it, but I saw official statistics from NZ showing a decline in average mortality over the winter when NZ hermetically sealed itself against the current epidemic respiratory virus, only for it to record excess deaths as the summer began ie their actions only postponed the inevitable for the vulnerable while destroying connection with the wider world.The vaccines were approved for emergency use ie in the absence of alternative treatments during a health crisis, the longterm effects they may exert on the vaccinated are unknown while the effectiveness of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine have now been proven . What would have happened if project fear had persuaded people to lose weight and supplement vitD3, if society had continued uninterrupted? The rush to vaccinate is unjustifiable.

  10. India, which binned its lockdown at the end of May, now has fewer new cases than the UK and daily deaths are under 100. The consensus there seems to be that its huge, dense population and general chaos means herd immunity has been achieved already. And with a tiny COVID death rate.

  11. Beggars belief.

    @MC another point might be that there isn’t really any old people in the category of most deaths (older than 80, and male) in India to be killed anyway, given the low life expectancy. And the probably poor reporting on top of that.

  12. I think the sculpture in the picture illustrating the Guardian article must be a physical representation of the logical contortions the author went through to reach his conclusion.

  13. A bit off topic & maybe even related to the Mussie post a little earlier, but I found this on pretty good going for having completely missed the point. No, the leaders of London’s Haredi community have not failed their members. Against almost overwhelming obstacles, they’ve succeeded. They’ve preserved religious observance & thus their culture. They’ve managed something that the wider British culture around them has completely failed in. To accept that there’s things that are more important than a few early deaths. S’pose that comes from their history, no?

  14. There is no evidence that vaccination will reduce or has reduced hospital admissions . . .

    Indeed, if lockdowns and vaccinations are as effective as claimed, you cannot distinguish between them if you hold them concurrently.

    Vaccination against it will NOT save lives.

    Not directly perhaps, but vaccination is the route out of this political mess (see how the messaging is changing already) and being out of this political mess will save lives.

  15. There’s some weak evidence of a vaccination effect in the hospital admissions
    There are fewer admissions of course, but the numbers over 75 are going down (veery slowly admittedly) as a proportion of the total.
    ARIs in care homes are also down in absolute numbers but also as a proportion of the total.

  16. Ljh

    “…the effectiveness of…hydroxychloroquine [has] now been proven.”

    Wrong. Every clinical trial has shown it to be ineffective against covid and to have dangerous side-effects for covid patients.

  17. MC

    “India…now has fewer new cases than the UK.”

    Not quite. February 14th, new cases of Covid:
    India: 11,649
    UK: 10,972.

  18. Do you mean the one with faked data which had to be withdrawn, or the one which used four times the recommended dose and no zinc?

  19. “Vaccination against it will NOT save lives”

    Its entirely possible it could kill more. The CV vaccines are non-sterilising, that is to say you can still get and pass on the disease, the vaccine just reduces its effects on you. Thus the natural course of viruses evolving into more contagious but less virulent strains could well be reversed. Should a more virulent strain evolve it will no longer die out, being outcompeted by the milder versions, because (say) 80% of the population is vaccinated and largely immune to its effects it could survive and thrive. A more virulent version of CV could well become the dominant strain within the UK. And thus anyone who is not vaccinated, or cannot be will be a risk of catching it and dying. Which could well be 10% of the population.

  20. @Rob a public good is not something that is good for the public. It’s something that is non-excludable (you can’t stop people using it) and non-rivalrous (there’s no point having two). Classic examples: a lighthouse, fresh air. Classic example of something wrongly described as a public good, the NHS (even it were good for the public.)

  21. “the author of “Why The Maginot Line ACTUALLY Worked Perfectly””

    Well the bit they built worked just fine. It was the bit they didn’t build that was the problem………..

    I’ve never quite understood how the French can have thought that a foe that was so dastardly as to be capable of making a surprise attack would also be sporting enough to respect the neutrality of Belgium. Its like putting a massive fence between your house and the street to keep burglars out, but leaving the boundary with your next door neighbour unprotected.

  22. there isn’t really any old people in the category of most deaths (older than 80, and male) in India to be killed anyway, given the low life expectancy. And the probably poor reporting on top of that

    The proportion of the Indian population which is over 80 is tiny, but it is still 13m+ people. You say ‘poor reporting’, presumably meaning under-reporting. I would say the UK’s staggering overstating of COVID cases and deaths is far poorer than India’s performance.

    @Theo – India’s 7 day moving average for new cases as at Feb 14 is 11,047, compared with 13,200 for UK in the same period.

  23. @ Jim
    Because the UK had guaranteed the neutrality of Belgium and Kaiser Bill was Victoria’s grandson (hence the third cousin of the King of Belgium).
    Unfortunately Von Moltke inherited the Schlieffen Plan and tried to win a quick victory in the west before tackling the Bear in the East on a single front.

  24. “Because the UK had guaranteed the neutrality of Belgium and Kaiser Bill was Victoria’s grandson (hence the third cousin of the King of Belgium).
    Unfortunately Von Moltke inherited the Schlieffen Plan and tried to win a quick victory in the west before tackling the Bear in the East on a single front.”

    The Maginot Line was created precisely because Germany had invaded France via Belgium in 1914, so what made them think that Germany would respect Belgian neutrality in any repeat performance? They’d already seen the German plan once, and we know they were (before Manstein stuck his oar in) planning to do exactly the same again in 1940. So why did they leave such a gap between Sedan and the coast?

  25. Jim: I’d always understood that Belgium had an alliance with France after WW1, so it was assumed that they’d stand together against another German attack. But when appeasement was tried, the Belgians got nervous and declared their neutrality.

    So when Britain and France declared war on Germany after the invasion of Poland, their troops couldn’t occupy and garrison Belgium as the planners of the Maginot Line had intended. Thus when the German attack finally took place, the Brits and the Frogs were all concerned with occupying as much of Belgium as they could.

    Manstein expected this, so his thrust into Belgium was a feint, with the real attack coming through the Ardennes.

  26. The EU is beating the UK because vaccinating 3.5% of 300million people is more than 15% of 65million people. Yah boo sucks, with bells on, you smelly kerniggits!

  27. “Classic examples: a lighthouse”

    And yet before the age of “free” lighthouses the things were built and paid for by users.

    It is left as an exercise to readers to discover how the charging was done.

  28. The pill boxes & block houses were supposed to defend the French border with Belgium are still there. The one on the coast at Bray Dunes shows the shell damage the German Army inflicted on its northern side in ’40.

  29. Ljh
    And the BMJ, the Lancet, LSHTM, US NIH, Cochrane etc, etc. have looked at those studies,found them unconvincing and have all concluded that HCQ does not prevent death in covid patients, even if administered early. Some studies are underway into whether a 7-day course of HCQ has a prophylactic effect on covid.

    Yes, 7-day rolling average is higher in the UK, though you simply claimed “new cases”. The Indian data are almost certainly understated, given bureaucratic incompetence and Modi’s ego. International comparisons involving the third world are dubious.

  30. And to further change the WW11 narrative, the first air raid of the war on Berlin was conducted by a French aircraft, before the disastrous attempt by the RAF. And by a strange twist the pilot was killed in an attack by British fighters on a French aircraft over Africa.

  31. The Indian data are almost certainly understated

    And the UK data are absolutely certainly overstated. Score one for the 3rd world.

  32. MC
    OK. But if UK cases are overstated and India’s cases are understated,then your original claim — “India…now has fewer new cases than the UK” — is false. So your earlier conclusion that India has done better than the UK because it encouraged herd immunity becomes less plausible.

  33. Theophrastus: debunked.
    The study in the Lancet used data that collapsed on closer examination. The NEJM ditto. Neither papers should have been published without huge pressure on the editors from persons/organisations unknown. Once Biden was inaugurated the WHO quietly came out and declared HCQ safe for early Covid use. Both HCQ and Ivermectin have decades of safety data. They are both also extremely cheap and have been used in mass campaigns by public health authorities in the past. Their shameful suppression and demonisation suggests motives other than human welfare.

  34. Bloke in North Dorset


    You might want to give this a listen or look up the paper:

    The assiduous Vincent Geloso returns to the podcast to discuss his work with Rosolino Candela on lightships and their importance in economics. The abstract of their paper reads as follows:

    What role does government play in the provision of public goods? Economists have used the lighthouse as an empirical example to illustrate the extent to which the private provision of public goods is possible. This inquiry, however, has neglected the private provision of lightships. We investigate the private operation of the world’s first modern lightship, established in 1731 on the banks of the Thames estuary going in and out of London. First, we show that the Nore lightship was able to operate profitably and without government enforcement in the collection of payment for lighting services. Second, we show how private efforts to build lightships were crowded out by Trinity House, the public authority responsible for the maintaining and establishing lighthouses in England and Wales. By including lightships into the broader lighthouse market, we argue that the provision of lighting services exemplifies not a market failure, but a government failure.

  35. Theophrastus: the Lancet study used HCQ at twelve times the recommended dose on critically ill patients, the NEJM study used the invented data. HCQ inhibits viral replication by raising the level of intracellular Zn++. Any study that does not use supplementary Zn should be ignored and was designed to fail.

  36. BIS: A glance at Wiki shows the Belgians signed a military accord with France in 1920. This was cancelled in 1936 and Belgium returned to a neutral policy. Evidently the German reoccupation of the Rhineland convinced them that the British and French wouldn’t support them against a German attack.

    However Wiki also states that light fortifications to cover the border with Belgium were constructed by the French after 1934. Presumably these are the pill boxes and block houses you’ve seen.

  37. If you ask me the failure of the Maginot line is an early example of our host’s affliction – free trade-itis, or globalisation fever. The French fell into the trap of contracting out the defence of northern France to the Belgians, via a Treaty, and didn’t construct the same level of defences on their own border with Belgium as they did on the Franco-German border. And then were stiffed when the Belgians reneged on the deal. Thus proving my point yet again – when something is important for the survival of the nation you better make damn sure you control the process yourself, and aren’t relying on other countries to provide it for you, regardless of what treaties or contracts you have in place. I think it was Bismarck who said ‘Treaties are but bits of paper’ – they have no power whatsoever to make things happen if the co-party decides it doesn’t want to comply any more.

  38. BiND: R H Coase, The Lighthouse in Economics. Jnl of Law & Economics 17.2 357-376 Oct 1974

    dearieme. Public Good (non-excludable and non-rivalrous); being ‘free’ is not part of the definition.

  39. Not seen anything about WHO changing its advice on HCQ and some googling around the subject didn’t throw up anything.

  40. Right now the entire vaccine thing just seems like a mental placebo to allow a switch from Project Fear and to give the politicians an excuse for changing their present course of lockdowns.
    It’s a way out for the politicians not the public

  41. Guys, my apologies. I was talking about WWI instead of WWII.
    My only excuse is that I was thinking about something else at the time.

  42. From:
    Review published 12th February 2021:

    Bhagteshwar Singh, Lead author of this review and Clinical Research Fellow at the Institute of Infection, Veterinary & Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool explains,

    “Early in the pandemic, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine had been put forward as potential drugs for treatment and prevention of COVID-19. Evidence from initial studies was inadequate, but more recent reports from larger trials meant we could conclude in our review that hydroxychloroquine is not beneficial for patients with COVID-19 who require care in hospital. The evidence is less clear for prevention of COVID-19 and for people being treated as outpatients. However, with no benefit when used for treatment of severe COVID-19, a benefit in these situations is unlikely.”

    Senior author Dr Tom Fletcher added: “This review certainly should put a line under using this drug to treat COVID-19, but some countries and health providers are still caught up in the earlier hype and prescribing the drug. We hope this review will help these practices end soon.”

    What was studied in the review?
    The team searched for studies that looked at giving chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to people with COVID-19; people at risk of being exposed to the virus; and people who have been exposed to the virus.

    They found 14 relevant studies: 12 studies of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine used to treat COVID-19 in 8569 adults; two studies of hydroxychloroquine to stop COVID-19 in 3346 adults who had been exposed to the virus but had no symptoms of infection. The authors did not find any completed studies of these medicines to stop COVID-19 in people who were at risk of exposure to the virus; studies are still under way.

    The studies took place in China, Brazil, Egypt, Iran, Taiwan, North America, and Europe; one study was worldwide. Some studies were partly funded by pharmaceutical companies that manufacture hydroxychloroquine.

  43. Jim, the French ran out of money and geology. The Maginot Line was colossally expensive: you bore miles of tunnels and chambers through a hillside and build gun turrets out of escarpments. As an idea it works in NE France, where you are following river valleys. Between Sedan and Dunkirk, the geology does not work like that. They would have to construct massive concrete structures in places without vantage points. A change of concept was required. But I haven’t done the research. Maybe dragon tooth tank traps might have worked?

  44. Diogenes is correct there. The border between France & Belgium in Flanders is indiscernible if you don’t notice the signs. If you wanted to erect a static defence you’d need to do it utilising a geographical feature. In the case of NW France, a substantial river. But that would mean either actually in Belgium. Or back from the border in France & accept losing substantial French territory in case of an attack. That’d be France’s third largest city, Lille & the coal mining area around Bethune. Just not politically acceptable.
    And of course there’s hindesight, isn’t there? Looked at from a prewar perspective, France was quite adequately militarily capable of confronting a German offensive. In ’40 it probably had the best fighter aircraft available to both sides. It had a substantial, well equipped army. It fell because of the total failure of its high command to utilise the resources it had available. Worth remembering it was the French Army holding the perimeter enabled the Dunkerque evacuation

  45. Theo is a mug who pays the Tory Party to piss on his supposed values because they are a “bulwark against Marxism”.

    Ad Hominem but an indication that he is not the clever fellow he perceives himself to be.

    The Lancet had to withdraw its attempt to claim HcQ was deadly–as decades of its regular clinical use in treating malaria and other conditions gave the lie to that cockrot. So next came “tests” using HcQ alone when the protocol also involved zinc and azithromycin in various proportions. In short another attempted debunk. That failed.

    HcQ is most certainly worth a shot in the –very few–seemingly hopeless cases and during the early stages.

  46. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain February 15, 2021 at 11:38 pm – “It fell because of the total failure of its high command to utilise the resources it had available.”

    In fairness to the French, the British and French Armies were bigger than the Germans, but not by much. Their problem was that they were not aggressive. They were happy to sit on the border and wait. They would have needed a massive over-match to have a defensive strategy work.

    Wherever the Germans chose to attack, they would over-power the Allies. As they did. They could then move faster behind those armies to prevent any sort of coherent counter-stroke. There was no real defensive to this. The same would have happened if the Allies had massed their tanks and struck at Germany first. They would have attacked somewhere the German Armour was not, and won.

    The problem is that liberal democracies do not plan to invade other countries much. Just as the BOAR was not planning on marching to Warsaw. Israel does of course. Israel has been just as successful.

    The real embarrassment was the German attack on Russia. The French and British had slightly more tanks and planes than the Germans. The Soviets had something like 24,000 tanks to Germany’s 3,500 or so. More tanks than the entire rest-of-world put together. They may have had more of their best tanks – T-34s and KVs – than the Germans had in total. They certainly had more of them than the Germans had of their best tanks – and their best tanks were by then obsolete.

    But again, if you mass your armour and attack first there is not a lot anyone can do about it.

  47. Bloke in North Dorset

    Germany also developed the military doctrine of total war and blitzkrieg. Whilst some elements for this were known unless you’re commanders are developing similar doctrine its hard to develop defensive capabilities and convince politicians to spend the money to prepare for it, even if you have time.

  48. Ecksy

    The Lancet did not “attempt to claim HcQ was deadly”. It published a flawed paper that claimed that HcQ didn’t prevent death in covid patients and caused severe side-effects in some. That HcQ is a safe treatment for some conditions doesn’t mean it’s a safe treatment for covid. Duh!

    The Lancet has also reviewed other studies of HcQ and come to the same conclusion that the study published by Cochrane – from which I quoted above – reached.

    Various studies are under way to test clinically the use of HcQ,zinc and azithromycin in various combinations. The WHO has readmitted HcQ to the Solidarity trials. To date, the evidence is at best inconclusive and at worst shows HcQ with/out supplements is useless. Note, also, that some of studies showing positive results were partly funded by pharmaceutical companies that manufacture hydroxychloroquine…

  49. Watts up with that had a good article on the coordinated campaign against cheap generics such as HCQ:

    The extremely effective Invermectin is covered at length here “The previously discussed, WHO-sponsored meta-analysis of ivermectin against covid-19 has now been published as a preprint. It found a highly significant 75% reduction in covid mortality, based on randomized controlled trials only”:

    Finally an even easier asthma inhaler has been found to be over 90% effective “QUT associate professor Dan Nicolau, one of the lead researchers on the trial at the University of Oxford, said the results showed the method was extremely effective at preventing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

    “When we first began the trial back in March [2020], we were hoping for 50 per cent reduction [in risk of developing serious symptoms], which itself would have been very high,” he said.

    “We got 90 per cent, which even with only a few hundred people is off the charts.

    “And it’s not just the overall result – their temperatures are less, they get less fever, and they recover faster.”

    Professor Nicolau said they realised in the early stages of the pandemic that people with asthma were under-represented in severe and fatal cases of COVID-19.
    The randomised trial ended up looking at 146 patients, who were given regular doses of either corticosteroid budesonide via an inhaler, or a placebo”

    As always follow the money or who has got a pecuniary interest in suppressing incredibly cheap and effective generics when there are billions to be made and corporate empires to maintain. Poorer countries not having the cash, fall back on innovation experimentation and the market place of ideas we all love.

  50. I’d say you’re ignoring logistics there, SMfS. Any armoured expeditionary force will be pulling a long vulnerable logistics tail behind it reaches back to Germany. The allies could have cut the tail at Sedan & the Meuse. They had enough bloody opportunity. The Germans sat there on their thumbs for long enough waiting for their logistics to catch up. But Gamelin was ensconced in a villa a hundred klicks from the action without even decent telephone communication with the forces under his command, let alone radio. The French airforce was sent south & sat out the Battle of France on its airfields. Communications with the BEF were just as hopeless. What should have been an easy win was turned into a rout.

  51. So Much For Subtlety

    Did they have enough opportunity? This is the theory. But has anyone actually ever done it? Once someone attacks their tanks are driving around somewhere – destroying your logistics. Your soldiers are in front of their tanks which are in front of the guns which are in front of the ammunition dumps – except they are all facing the wrong way because the Germans are behind them. So you need to work out where the Germans are, turn everything around, get it back in some sort of order. All before the Germans cut your supply lines.

    In history I don’t think anyone has managed to do this. The Germans were very good at cutting off Soviet attacks and bleeding them white. Even as late as the fighting in Romania they are making the Soviets pay. But they were fighting the Soviets and I don’t think anyone else has managed to do it.

    Maybe the massive American bombing stopped the first North Vietnamese invasion of the South post-America’s withdrawal. But that is all I can think of off hand.

  52. I never did quite get the liability thing. There’s always a little low level stuff, but if there is serious levels of liability due to some fault, AZN would go bust paying it off, and there’s no liability against a dead company.

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