In Orwell’s 1984, Oceania is always at war with someone. It matters not who, but the citizens of Oceania are frequently informed by the Ministry of Truth that the war is going well. Our own Ministry of Truth—still referred to by some as ‘the BBC’—continues to report on the false war against COVID-19. Having long since abandoned their independence and neutrality they report the bits the UK government agrees to let them broadcast. They alternately raise and then dash the hopes of the population that the war is going well, or not. It is all designed to maintain people in a state of high anxiety about the likelihood of getting infected with the ‘deadly virus’ and cowed into submission over draconian restrictions to human rights including freedoms of movement, association and speech.
The blatancy of the doublespeak, another Orwellian concept, is staggering. Simultaneously, the vaccine rollout is a huge success, but it was not responsible for lowering the number of people infected with COVID-19. The pandemic is over, but continued restrictions to our freedoms are required. It is frequently reported that people are compromising on some aspects of the restrictions and some people are ignoring them completely. Of course, they are, we are human, and we need to socialise. But I have long been convinced that in this great experiment in social control that the UK government is just having too much fun and they simply do not want to stop. And the coronavirus is the great gift that just keeps on giving. One day it is a mutant strain, then it is a handful of cases blown up out of proportion. If they have none of these tenuous facts at hand, they simply make something up such as working in a pub is dangerous, flying in a plane is dangerous and sporting events are dangerous. For not one of these is there any evidence. The number of bar staff who caught COVID-19 is but a handful and it is impossible to know where they became infected. All the air on a plane is not ‘circulated’ as commonly misapprehended, 50% of it is laminar, it comes in from the engines where it is purified and is vented out to the atmosphere thus posing no risk to anyone on the plane. The remaining 50% is filtered through high-grade filters and is, reportedly, as pure as the air in an operating theatre and continually being ‘diluted’ by the purified air coming in. Nothing could be safer microbiologically. Also, there is no evidence of COVID-19 outbreaks linked to being a passenger on a plane. There was only one case of COVID-19 linked to the much criticised 2020 Cheltenham Festival. The government was running out of ways to scare us…and then, just in time, along came India.
We are now deluged by the mainstream media, the Ministry of Truth leading the charge, with daily updates on the COVID-19 figures from India: infections; hospitalisations; and deaths. It is even better that many Indians are cremated and not buried. Thus, we are treated to lines of shrouded bodies awaiting their turn on the bonfire. A sight that would frighten even the most resilient. It is hard to escape the conclusion that this is being done to prepare us for continued or reintroduced lockdowns. We are provided with daily estimates of the death rates. If they are accurate then the figures are staggering but a reality check will tell anyone that the size of the population of India is also staggering: 1.366 billion compared with 66.65 million in the UK. If the number of deaths in India is contextualised, they are getting off lightly compared with the UK. Our peak daily deaths allegedly due to COVID-19 were just under 2000. A comparable number in India would be over 50,000 yet we are seeing fewer than 3000 deaths daily. But the mainstream media report this as if it were Armageddon.
Every possible angle is used to magnify the nature of the pandemic in India: overwhelmed hospitals, funeral pyres and rows of coffins. Of course the hospitals are overwhelmed, they are most of the time in India but when the pressure is on, a system with only 0.5 hospital beds per 1000 people compared with 2.5 per 1000 in the UK is going to struggle. I can find no way of knowing how many bodies are usually cremated or burned daily in the crematoriums and graveyards shown. I was always under the impression that both had a brisk trade in India. An Indian gravedigger interviewed on the BBC World Service on 28 April said that the number of deaths being reported due to COVID-19 was 50% of the real figure. I must have missed the part of the interview where we were told from which university he graduated in medicine and epidemiology. Rows of coffins are always a good reminder that death stalks a land but this is not new and the news last year related to the mass graves at Hart Island off New York City was an excellent example of fake news. The number of burials on the island did increase during the pandemic but it was being portrayed as a new phenomenon when the island has been in continuous use as a burial site for the daily toll of the homeless, the dispossessed and the unclaimed who die on the streets of New York City and are buried unceremoniously in mass graves.
Something is happening in India; I do not doubt it, and it is likely to get much worse. Despite the fact that they choose to have a space programme costing over $500 million annually rather than investing in more hospital beds I think we should do what we can to help. Poverty, malnutrition and overcrowding are the order of the day in the major cities providing a fertile soil for viral infection and spread. But for God’s sake, do not send them Professors Ferguson, Whitty, Vallance or any members of SAGE. India already has enough problems.
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