Dan O'Heirity

Trump Finally Accepts That He Must Transition Power to Biden

As reported by both The Guardian and BBC News, Trump has agreed to transition the presidency after the General Services Administration (GSA) declared Biden the “apparent winner” of the election. Emily Murphy, who heads the GSA, was at pains to point out to the Biden team that she had made her decision based on “evidence” and “facts” and that she was not coerced in any way in terms of the timing of the GSA announcement. Murphy mentioned in particular that she was not pressured by the Whitehouse. Trump announced on Twitter that he had directed his team to cooperate with the transition. At the same time his tweet referred to continuing with the fight. Anyone who has followed Trump’s antics since Biden won the election will know that this is something of a volte face for Trump. In my opinion he has decided that he has done enough damage and cemented popular support to a degree that will enable him to press ahead with whatever plans he might have after the presidency. In other words, Trump has not suddenly decided to play nicely. He’s achieved what he set out to achieve and now he will move on with whatever nefarious plans he has in mind. For those of you who prefer to watch, there is an excellent analysis of the transition from Sky News.

Covid-19 Outbreaks in China Lead to Arrogance and Posturing

According to The Guardian, there have been outbreaks of Covid-19 in three cities in China, Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli. This has led to wide spread testing, lockdowns and the closure of schools. It has also led to typical Chinese arrogance. Zeng Guang, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has said, “In the entire world, only China has the ability to get to zero. Other countries don’t have this ability“. I am surely not the only person utterly flabbergasted by this statement. China covered up the virus in its early stages, spread the virus around the world by allowing international travel, pillaged countries for health care equipment and products and spent months blocking calls for an independent inquiry into the origins and spread of the virus. According to my preferred live data source, as of today China has been responsible for 59,515,380 Covid-19 cases worldwide along with 1,402,032 murders because that is what the deaths are when they result from China deliberately infecting the world with Covid-19. Rather than being contrite and humble, what does China do? It gloats and tells the world that the Chinese way is a superior way and no other country can come close to managing the virus as China has managed the virus.

We Were Told to Put Our Faith in Science but Science is Not an Absolute

Anyone who has read my blog over time will know that I have been sceptical about whether or not Covid-19 is really a pandemic. I have also been sceptical of lockdown measures and I have question mask wearing, social distancing and whether contact tracing is really effective. In the eyes of some of the Australian press this would make me a conspiracy theorist. It was, therefore, very interesting today to read a story in The Conversation that suggests that whilst mask wearing has been shown to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in laboratory conditions it appears that the wearing of masks is a lot less effective in the community. You can read the story for yourself. My point is that the effectiveness of mask wearing has been questioned throughout the pandemic and the most recent research would seem to suggest that this questioning was warranted. In a piece of common sense The Conversation article suggests that we might be better focussing on mask wearing in crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces. Brilliant. In other words, wearing a mask when in wide open spaces is ridiculous. And yet people the world over are having to adhere to that law.

Now on to the matter of contact tracing. South Australia went into a severe lockdown amidst fears that there had been a Covid-19 outbreak related to a pizza bar. A man who had Covid-19 initially told authorities that he had just picked up a pizza from the bar and so authorities believed that the man had contracted the virus from a pizza box and that the virus was potentially being spread widely to the community. However, it turned out that the man had lied and he actually worked at the pizza bar.

This meant that he had contracted the virus from another individual who worked at the pizza bar and who has tested positive for Covid-19. Both individuals also worked as security guards at quarantine hotels which has caused questioning about work conditions that mean that security guards are forced to work two or three jobs. Personally, I can’t quite follow the logic here. Does it matter whether there were one or two Covid-19 infected workers at the pizza bar. Surely the risk of community transmission would be high even if just one worker was Covid-19 positive because the virus could still be spread by the handling of pizza boxes. I don’t have a clear answer but I’m going to say that there is just something not quite right about this story. Either way, the draconian lockdown measures were lifted once it was discovered that the man had lied about just picking up a pizza. So, to my point. Consider all the contract tracing that has occurred in Australia. Would it be going too far to conjecture that an awful lot of lying went on during this process? I think not.

Let’s Indulge in the Surreal Thought That There is a Covid-19 Vaccine

There have numerous stories over the last few weeks about the development of a Covid-19 vaccine. This story from The Guardian is as good as any of the reports. A Covid vaccine has developed in the UK by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The UK government has pre-ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine and 4 million doses have so far been supplied. However, the vaccine cannot be used until it has been licensed. News of the development of a vaccine is nothing short of incredible but matters are slightly more complicated than just producing a vaccine. On a more detailed reading of the story, 3,000 people were given a small dose of the vaccine followed by a larger does and 90% were protected against Covid. A larger test group was given two large doses of the vaccine four weeks apart with an efficacy rate of 62%. More research is needed in order to determine why this was the case. There is also some evidence that the vaccine may be effective in asymptomatic cases but again more research is needed in order to determine if this really is the case. However, we need to add a caveat at this point with respect to efficacy and effectiveness. Efficacy refers to the extent to which the vaccine achieves its objective under clinical conditions. Effectiveness refers to the extent that it achieves its objectives in the real world. These are very different scenarios. Laboratory tests exclude those in society who are the most vulnerable, the sick, the elderly those with pre-existing medical conditions. This means that the laboratory test is not an absolute indicator of what will happen in the real world. In conclusion, the UK has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, enough for the UK population, the government has also ordered 40m doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine and 5 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine. Australia, the country where I live has ordered 33.8 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, more than enough for the population.

Australia is Asserting Its Independence and the Core Values of a Free Society

As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has recently been at pains to point out that Australia has a “mind of its own” and he has said that, “Australia’s pursuit of its national interests on the world stage has been wrongly interpreted as siding with the United States over China, declaring his government will not make a “binary choice” between the superpowers”. Morrison also said that, “Equally we are absolutely committed to our enduring alliance with the United States, anchored in our shared world view, liberal democratic values and market-based economic model“. It seems to me that Morrison is trying to occupy a difficult middle ground and that he is offering an olive branch to China. On the one hand he is sending a message to China that Australia is not unquestioningly aligned with the United States. At the same time he is sending a message to America that Australia and America have shared values that ensure an alliance between the two countries. It will be interesting to see how Australia’s relationship with America fares under Biden. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Biden will maintain a strong stance against Beijing. However, Tony Blinken who will likely be the Secretary of State, has said that there is a need for communication and cooperation between the United States and China.

First Published November 24th, 2020

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