Friday, 5th February, 2021

[Day 326]

The end of another week is fast approaching and Meg and I reassure ourselves that as each day goes by our immune systems should be getting just a little more primed in the fight against the COVID-19 virus. The press, in particular, is sensing the end of the lockdown and there is a lot of optimistic talk today about possibly getting most of the 50+ segments of the population vaccinated by May. I suspect that the public at large would welcome a fairly cautious and gradualist approach to any lockdown but some of the press and many Conservative MP’s seem to think that any end to the lockdown is just around the corner. Today we went to occupy our newly found position in the park and whilst I left Meg to contemplate, I made a rapid journey into town and back, complete with newspapers. In the park we met with friends of friends and chatted for a few minutes, seeing even more of our church friends en route. We knew that we could not stay too long in the park today because we needed to get home and make a fairly rapid lunch as Mike had a physiotherapy appointment in the early afternoon. I walked down into town and had my physiotherapy appointment, all duly face-masked up of course. Afterwards, as I was in town I grabbed the opportunity to visit a local hardware store and availed myself of getting a few bits and bobs that we needed.

There seems to be more ‘good’ data emerging around the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Recent analysis seems to indicate that the vaccine is just as effective against the ‘Kent’ version of the virus which caused cases to balloon last September. This variant of the virus also appears to be responsible for much of the very rapid growth of the pandemic particularly in the United States so it is particularly good news that so far the AstraZeneca vaccine seems to be equally effective. Also, the emerging data is seeming to indicate that this vaccine is effective against the transmittability of the virus as well. The other vaccine manufacturers are rapidly examining the data as soon as it emerges so again, there are grounds for cautious optimism. The whole point is, of course, that when the virus is rampant, there are many more possibilities for new variants to appear and to gain ground and vice versa. What is going to be of most interest, of course, is to see whether in practice the AstraZeneca vaccine is equally effective for the 60+ segments of the population. I suppose that we shall just have to wait for a week or so until there are sufficient numbers of the population who have been received both doses of the vaccine before more definitive conclusions may be drawn – several European societies are restricting distribution of the vaccine to the younger age-groups until more data is forthcoming.

I decided to follow some of the American political news, and in particular what was going to happen to the Congresswoman who was a supporter of the bizarre QAnon sect. The US House of Representatives has voted to expel a Republican congresswoman from two committees over incendiary remarks she made before being elected last November. Marjorie Taylor Greene had promoted baseless QAnon conspiracy theories and endorsed violence against Democrats. Before the vote, she said she regretted her views, which included claims that school shootings and 9/11 were staged. Eleven Republicans joined the Democrats to pass the motion by 230-199. This is quite an extraordinary move, even by US standards because I do not think that such an event has ever happened before. The Democrats had ‘invited’ the Republicans to disown their recalcitrant member but when they refused, the Democrats having a majority in the Lower House, promptly voted to disbar her from membership of two committees to which she had been nominated by the Republicans. Given that at one stage Marjorie Greene thought that all Democrats (and particularly Nanci Pelosi, the Speaker) should be shot, then such a fate should hardly be of any surprise to her. Here is a reminder of how mad this woman is! Addressing her colleagues, Greene tried to dissociate herself from her “words of the past.” Contradicting past social media posts, she said she believes the 9-11 attacks and mass school shootings were real and no longer believes QAnon conspiracy theories, which include lies about Democratic-run paedophile rings. But she didn’t explicitly apologize for supportive online remarks she’s made on other subjects, as when she mulled about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi being assassinated or the possibility of Jewish-controlled space rays causing wildfires. And she portrayed herself as the victim of unscrupulous “big media companies.” She said in her search for more information about “things in the news that didn’t make sense to me,” she found QAnon conspiracies online and that she was “allowed to believe things that weren’t true.” You just have to analyse the nonsense of that last remark to really wonder what tortuous knots the American right are getting themselves tied up in.