Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Covid -19 vaccination doses administered per 100 people in Israel


The slope of the curve is increasing. It was 1.12 percent between Dec 26-27, 1.33 percent between Dec 27-28 and has reached 1.76 percent between Dec 28-29

COVID-19 vaccination doses administered per 100 people ( 

Update January 7.  Because of Israel they had to introduce the logarithmic scale

Moscow confused


Maria Vladimirovna Zakharova

George F. Kennan

Letters to the Editor, Jerusalem Post, Dec 30, 2020  

In “Moscow ‘confused’ by Israeli anger at envoy’s remarks to ‘Post’” (December 27), Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, “All statements by the Russian ambassador quoted in the publication are in line with Russia’s well-known position on the Middle East.”


But that does not necessarily mean that these well-known positions (such as there is “no proof Hezbollah created the tunnels” crossing into Israel) have any connection to the truth. After all, the motto of Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984 was “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.”


It helps to have read Arthur Koestler, Artur London, Milan Kundera and Orwell, but what comes to mind when I read what Zakharova said is what George F. Kennan, then counselor of the US Embassy in Moscow, said in a September 1944 memorandum:


“It would be useful to the Western world to realize that… the men in the Kremlin have never abandoned their faith in that program of territorial and political expansion… which underlay the German-Russian non-aggression pact of 1939.”




It is unfortunate that the Jerusalem Post edited out part of George F. Kennan’s quote which shows that this Russia’s policy of territorial and political expansion had always been there and predated the USSR! 


“It would be useful to the western world to realize that despite all the vicissitudes by which Russia has been afflicted since August 1939, the men in the Kremlin have never abandoned their faith in that program of territorial and political expansion which had once commended itself so strongly to Tsarist diplomatists, and which underlay the German-Russian non-aggression pact of 1939.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Government must stop household mixing this Christmas: a joint call by The BMJ and HSJ

Health Service Journal 

By Alastair McLellan15 December, 2020


Since the UK’s first lockdown in March, the government has had one (perhaps only one) consistent message — protect the NHS, write Alastair McLellan of HSJ and Fiona Godlee of The BMJ.


Now, with the number of hospital patients with covid-19 again on the rise, and a third wave almost inevitable, the new year is likely to see NHS trusts facing a stark choice: be overwhelmed or stop most elective and non-urgent work. Rather than lifting restrictions over Christmas as currently planned, the UK should follow the more cautious examples of Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.


By and large the NHS has coped well with the additional caseload of covid-19 patients during the autumn. The second wave began to hit hospitals at the start of September. Government figures report 451 inpatients with covid-19 in England on 2 September. Over the ensuing 10 weeks, the numbers rose steadily and then rapidly, peaking at a reported 14,712 inpatients with covid-19 in England on 23 November.


If the third wave turns out to be of the same order of magnitude as the second wave, the health service should manage. But this will be the case only if that wave starts with a broadly similar extra caseload of covid-19 inpatients as at the beginning of the second wave: around 450.


With current restrictions failing to control the virus, extrapolation suggests that the actual figure is likely to be more than 40 times higher (see explanation in paragraph below). The planned relaxation of restrictions over Christmas will boost the numbers further as the NHS also struggles with the additional demands of winter.


England went into lockdown on 5 November and the number of inpatients with covid-19 began to fall, down to 12,968 on 5 December. If this rate of decline had continued, the English NHS would have been on course for just under 11,000 covid-19 inpatients on 31 December. However, in the past two weeks, despite most of the country being in tiers 2 or 3, numbers of inpatients have started to rise again. By 14 December (the latest data available) covid bed occupancy had climbed back to 15,053.


Unless something happens to change this trajectory, hospitals in England will have just short of 19,000 covid patients on new year’s eve. This figure, derived by extrapolating a straight line from December 5 to December 14 through to December 31, would be almost exactly the same as the 18,974 peak of the first wave on April 12.


The NHS currently has around 95,000 general acute beds. It is operating with around 10 per cent fewer beds than a year ago as a result of infection prevention and control measures introduced to try to stop the spread of covid in hospitals.


The cost of inaction


The main impact of a further surge in covid-19 inpatients is likely to be felt most by those with other conditions. The NHS has learnt from the first and second waves and has robust plans to rapidly increase intensive care capacity, including through the Nightingale hospitals. However, a large influx of covid patients similar or greater than that seen in the autumn can only be managed if staff and other resources are diverted from treating non-covid patients.


Having recovered much of their capacity for elective and non-urgent care during the autumn, NHS trusts in the most pressured regional health systems are already now having to cancel almost all such activity because of the resurgent virus. A significant third wave could wipe out almost all the reductions in waiting times for elective procedures achieved in the past 20 years. Performance against the standard which requires the NHS to treat 92 per cent of elective patents within 18 weeks will have slipped to 12 months by March next year. The number of patients waiting over a year for treatment has risen from a hew hundreds to 160,000. This will take years to recover from, at the cost of much suffering and loss of life.


The coming months are also likely to see the NHS under intense winter pressures due to seasonal outbreaks of norovirus, increased admissions of frail older people and the peak of staff absence. The NHS will also be in the middle of delivering the largest vaccination programme in its 72-year history, via already overstretched general practices and hospitals.


Even if NHS England succeeds in vaccinating all those ‘at risk’ by Easter, this will not be in time to prevent hospitalisation and death for many during the next few months. “NHS Track and Trace,” which has almost nothing to do with the NHS, continues to squander money on failure. So too does the mass testing of asymptomatic people using lateral flow tests that are not fit for purpose.


Of particular concern is the impact on staff, many of whom have already worked through the hardest nine months of their professional lives. Levels of burnout and sickness absence are likely to exceed those already experienced.


What should be done


London and many neighbouring counties will enter tier 3 on Wednesday 16 December. However, other areas such as Kent which has been in tier 3 since 2 December are still seeing strong increases in hospital admissions. These measures are clearly inadequate.


Ministers are meeting tomorrow (16 December) to review current restrictions for England. When government devised the current plans to allow household mixing over Christmas it had assumed the covid-19 demand on the NHS would be decreasing. But it is not, it is rising, and the emergence of a new strain of the virus has introduced further potential jeopardy.


Members of the public can and should mitigate the impact of the third wave by being as careful as possible over the next few months. But many will see the lifting of restrictions over Christmas as permission to drop their guard.


The government was too slow to introduce restrictions in the spring and again in the autumn. It should now reverse its rash decision to allow household mixing and instead extend the tiers over the five-day Christmas period in order to bring numbers down in the advance of a likely third wave. It should also review and strengthen the tier structure, which has failed to suppress rates of infection and hospitalisation.


This joint editorial is only the second in the more than 100 year histories of The BMJ and HSJ. We are publishing it because we believe the government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives. If our political leaders fail to take swift and decisive action, they can no longer claim to be ‘protecting the NHS.’


Alastair McLellan, editor, HSJ


Fiona Godlee, editor in chief, The BMJ




My comment: 


Our civilization is apparently completely screwed up!

 It defies belief that this can happen in a serious country! The UK government had recently decided to relax the social distancing rules for Christmas but now it seems that it will have horrible consequences on the spread of the virus. Instead of strongly coming out and reversing the previous decision they are being indecisive.  More people are going to die but they just can’t make a resolute decision.

  But this is a world-wide phenomenon!  All around the world people have been behaving completely irrationally, and what is more, hardly anybody has the bluntness to point that out! Less than half of Israelis plan to get vaccinated for COVID-19 – survey.  How come people who see this absurdity are not screaming on the top pf their voices?  What is going on? This is a global failure of common sense across the world.


Update, December 16, 2020  

I cannot understand politicians. Boris Johnson in the Commons doubles down and refuses to reverse the 5 day Christmas relaxation of social distancing   despite the plea in the medical journals.     Keir Starmer’s criticism was spot on.

Update, December 17, 2020

Boris Johnson should of all people have remembered Churchill’s blood, toil, tears and sweat May 13, 1940  speech instead of giving such a confusing message.

Update , December 19, 2020

Boris succumbed to reason, finally!

PM announces 'tier 4' Covid curbs and curtails Christmas mixing in England  


Monday, December 14, 2020

Novelist Robert Harris pays tribute to British espionage writer John le Carré


The Times    January 15, 2003

Replies to novelist John le Carre and "U.S. has gone mad!"


From Mr Mladen Andrijasevic


Sir, What utter nonsense coming from the best spy novelist of all



George Smiley must be turning in his grave. So probably is Karla.




Meir Grossman 19/10,

Be'er Sheva, Israel.

January 15. 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

How to explain this disregard for the danger of covid-19 around the world?


US, Nov 25, Thanksgiving travel

There is no other way to put it – this pandemic has exposed the shocking fact that a huge proportion of humankind is dumb.  For there is no other way to explain what is happening around the world:

Israel and the US

“In scenes recalling Black Friday mobs in the US, thousands crowded together in entrances, hallways and in stores as they attempted to quench their consumer hunger after being deprived for close to two months.”


“Americans couldn’t resist the urge to gather for Thanksgiving, driving only slightly less than a year ago and largely ignoring the pleas of public health experts, who begged them to forgo holiday travel to help contain the coronavirus pandemic, data from roadways and airports shows.


“Despite the calls that came from some doctors to ban the open-casket funeral, many mourners who were not wearing masks or maintaining social distance approached his remains, with some customarily kissing the cleric's hands or forehead. "


“The statement refers to a private party in Brussels on November 27. Police stormed the party in a building housing a gay bar. It has been widely described in Belgian news reports as a lockdown sex party that allegedly involved men only and included diplomats and a member of the European Parliament".

New York City

“Videos have emerged of thousands of Satmar Hassidim two weeks ago celebrating the wedding of the grandson of the community’s grand rabbi in Brooklyn, in what amounts to a massive violation of state COVID-19 regulations.

 As epidemiologist Michael Osterholm put it: “I do not know what the disconnect is here.”

It is true that scientists and politicians have not done enough to educate the population.  But what is truly shocking is the behavior of so many regular people who seem to be completely incapable to understand elementary scientific concepts and to use their own faculties to comprehend the predicament we are all in and act accordingly. Psychologists will have a hard task ahead.   

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Two tone deaf US presidents



Nuclear fission


Letters to the Editor, Jerusalem Post, Dec 2, 2020


In “Trying to avoid war” (November 29) Yonah Jeremy Bob writes, ”Paradoxically, the assassination of Iran nuclear program “father” Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was probably undertaken to avoid war with Iran.”

 Since according to Bernard Lewis, “For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement,” I fail to understand how anything can deter Iran from its ultimate goal – all the more so when just three months ago Eric Mandel wrote in The Jerusalem Post: “There is only so much that clandestine espionage and advanced computer attacks can do, even with Israel’s impressive intelligence capabilities. Sooner or later Israel will have to make a monumental choice regarding preemptive strikes on targets in Iran if it concludes that Iran is getting too close to possessing nuclear weapons.”

 Isn’t the present “three-to-four months breakout time" close enough? It is unfortunate that US President Donald Trump lost his presidency due to being tone deaf to the seriousness of COVID-19, only to be replaced by Joe Biden who is tone deaf to the magnitude of the nuclear threat from Iran – not only to Israel, to the US as well.

 What is most incredible is that the whole discussion on Iran is proceeding without any mention of what Bernard Lewis had said about Iran and MAD, and Bernard Lewis was the one who first warned about Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1970s after having read his “Islamic Government” both in Persian and Arabic.