MERS Coronavirus warning

Ok, all from ONE newspaper...
22 Aug 2021 — A City of Joburg health worker was arrested on Saturday night for allegedly selling fake Covid-19 negative test certificates to travellers ...
Pharmacy staff nabbed over fake vaccine cards - Sowetan
04 Apr 2021 — The suspects, aged 32 to 42, were arrested in Windsor East, Randburg. Hawks spokesperson Capt Ndivhuwo Mulamu said the suspects allegedly ...
03 Mar 2021 — International policing authority Interpol on Wednesday said South African authorities had seized hundreds of fake Covid-19 vaccines.
15 Sept 2021 — Four pharmacy workers have been arrested for issuing fraudulent Covid-19 vaccine cards while the debate about mandatory jabs at places o
I've posted these stories before on this thread, but here's some examples.

Between January and March of 2021, Canadian border officials caught 30 people who tried to enter the country with fake test results. This was at a time when non-essential travel was banned. 10 were at airports, and 20 were at the land border (so from the US). The penalty is potentially 6 months in jail and a fine of $750,000.
Border officials have nabbed 30 people trying to enter Canada with fake COVID-19 test results

This one mentions that fake vaccination certificates were being used by Ukrainian truck drivers to haul freight all over Europe. They cost the equivalent of $300.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday

As for travel from South Africa to Canada, Canadian citizens or residents returning to Canada from South Africa (South Africans can't travel to Canada currently) must get a test done in a third country before proceeding on to Canada.
 
Interesting. Kind of tallies with what the doc doing my flight medical said. If it runs along similar lines to the 1918 pandemic, there should be a fourth wave of much milder infections and things will go back to normal after that.

All it takes now is for the authorities to clock what this variant is doing, the level of immunity gained as opposed to fatalities it causes, take the whole lot in context instead of a big standalone number used by govts to frighten the populace into compliance, and make an informed and rational decision based on that data.

The trick is to not be swayed by the screaming hysteria from the media who are spurred on by social media fuckwittery.
I wouldn't try to draw too many conclusions from Botswana. So far as I am aware they have (as of a couple of days ago) only reported 4 cases, all of them in foreigners who had travelled to Botswana on a diplomatic mission on the 7th of November and were returning on the 11th and had taken pre-departure tests.

I don't know how reliable the "Voice" is, but here's their the full statement by the Botswana ministry of health issued 2 days ago.
Statement on new COVID-19 Variant in Botswana

The Ministry of Health and Wellness wishes to inform members of the public that it is currently investigating certain mutations of the SARS COV-2 virus that was widely reported on social media, including international media, in the last two days.

Four cases of the new variant were reported by our local scientists as part of the country‘s routine genomic surveillance of SARS-COV-2. This variant is called B.1.1.529.

This new virus was detected on four foreign nationals who had entered Botswana on the 7th November 2021, on a diplomatic mission. The quartet tested positive for COVID-19 on the 11th November 2021 as they were preparing to return.

Further genomic sequencing that was conducted on the samples confirmed the virus as B. 1. 1. 529 on 24 November 2021.

Immediate results of the ongoing investigations show that the new virus has many mutations, some of which have previously been characterised.

The ministry is conducting further investigations and sample analysis to gain more knowledge and understanding about the properties and behaviour of this virus.
Contrary to speculations and in some cases insinuations by some that the variant was only detected in Botswana, the truth is that the variant has so far been detected in other countries in Africa and beyond.

Although all the four cases have since left the country, contact tracing is ongoing. All contacts who have so far been identified in the country, have no COVID-19 symptoms and have tested negative for COVID-19.

As already indicated, more intimate and complex analysis of new COVID-19 positive cases are being conducted to search any trace of this new virus. Since this is a new development, information on the virus is still evolving and no major conclusions can be drawn as yet.

Therefore, the ministry calls upon members of the public not to panic, but remain vigilant and continue adhering to all COVID-19 protocols.

Any further developments regarding this issue will be shared with the public.

Thank you.

Mmegi has another report with more details. Again I don't know much about them, but here's the story:

Four cases of the new COVID-19 variant recorded in Botswana

I'll just quote part of that report. It repeats that the omicron variant (as we know it now) was found in 4 travellers during routine pre-travel testing. All 4 were fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Their contacts in Botswana were being traced.
According to a statement from the Presidential COVID-19 Task Force coordinator, Dr Kereng Masupu, the cases are said to have been detected among travellers who tested SARS-COV-2 positive on routine pre travel testing.

“The preliminary report revealed that all the four had been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. As part of the continuing investigations into the virus to establish and contain its local transmissions, contact tracing has revealed close contacts who are currently awaiting their results and the public will be informed regarding the outcome of the exercise,” further read a statement from Masupu.


The story goes on to say that while there is speculation in the British media that the variant arose in a person with AIDS, none of the people in question had AIDS.
While reports from some British media publications indicate that the variant likely emerged in a lingering infection in an immune compromised patient, possibly someone with undiagnosed AIDS, Masupu blatantly dismissed the assertions.

“Contrary to these reports, in which one newspaper claims that one case was from an HIV+ participant is totally false as no HIV status of the clients was associated with these results. These media reports are unfortunate and factually flawed and should be viewed as such. The variant is still being studied and investigated and therefore, it would be premature to conclusively make these types of assertions at this time,” he further highlighted.


I will add that unless a significant number of new cases have come up in Botswana, then it appears that the known cases were people who quite possibly were infected before they travelled to Botswana and were detected on their way back a few days later. Their symptoms were mild, but that is exactly as you would expect in people who were fully vaccinated.

If there are any other cases in Botswana I'm not aware of them, although I expect the variant is already spreading locally in the population. They apparently weren't doing a lot of genetic sequencing in Botswana which would separate variants from the established strains.

So far as I am aware, nearly all the known cases of the omicron variant are in South Africa, mainly in the Johannesburg - Pretoria area. Only a handful of cases have so far turned up elsewhere and most of them seem to be associated with travel. They apparently do a fair bit of genetic sequencing in South Africa, and so they may have turned up a new variant just as it is getting established.

The beta variant from South Africa was supposed to be a big deal, but it fizzled out in the face of delta. I don't think that anyone is panicking yet, but the press are playing it for all it's worth because it's a novelty. Governments are playing it safe with respect to travel bans because they all came in for a lot of criticism with respect to not doing enough to slow down the spread of alpha or delta and don't want to leave themselves open to criticism of doing it again. We'll have to see what things look like at the end of the coming week before coming to too many conclusions.

If I had to guess based on what little I know now, my guess would be that omicron will be a little bit worse than delta, but not a game changer. It may make governments who were sitting on the fence with respect to boosters to lean towards a wider roll out of them, but no real changes otherwise. It may create a demand for a new variant specific booster, but that is probably overdue anyway.
 
I find it amusing that an anagram of Omircon is moronic. That aside, Sir Patrick Vallance said:

"......Those are the sort of three scenarios, clearly the one which is the one to really go for now is boost, because it is the case that as you keep boosting the vaccine, you get slightly broader coverage because the immune system knows it needs to get broader.

"Because the antibody levels are so high, it actually causes enough coverage of other variants to be effective."

A very odd statement. I would like him to explain that in much more detail as to what they do know about this.
 
I find it amusing that an anagram of Omircon is moronic. That aside, Sir Patrick Vallance said:

"......Those are the sort of three scenarios, clearly the one which is the one to really go for now is boost, because it is the case that as you keep boosting the vaccine, you get slightly broader coverage because the immune system knows it needs to get broader.

"Because the antibody levels are so high, it actually causes enough coverage of other variants to be effective."

A very odd statement. I would like him to explain that in much more detail as to what they do know about this.
I suspect that what he's trying to say is that the mutations don't make existing immunity ineffective, they just make it a bit less effective. By boosting you counter that.

However, there's a limit to how much you can boost to an older pattern, and what is going to eventually be needed is a booster which takes a variety of new variants into account. These are already in development. A beta (also from South Africa) specific booster was developed, but beta sort of fizzled out in the face of delta so there was no demand for it. The existing vaccine formulas work fine against delta when given as a booster, so there's not much demand for a delta specific booster at this stage.

If omicron turns out to be have the immunity bypass that beta was suspected of having combined with the infectiousness of delta, then there may be a demand for a special booster to handle it.

This is probably what is causing health authorities to shift uncomfortably in their chairs. Omicron has come at just the wrong time - at the start of winter, just as booster campaigns are about to kick off in some countries. Do we go ahead with existing boosters, or do we put them off and update the boosters for omicron? Decisions, decisions.
 
I read an article back in the summer, where Dr Sarah Gilbert was asked about mutations, and her view was that any variant that mutates enough to get past the vaccines would end up with spikes that can’t actually bind with the virus’s target cells (so wouldn’t actually cause covid).

I’m hoping she’s right. (And let’s face it, she knows her stuff!)
 
Interesting. Kind of tallies with what the doc doing my flight medical said. If it runs along similar lines to the 1918 pandemic, there should be a fourth wave of much milder infections and things will go back to normal after that.

All it takes now is for the authorities to clock what this variant is doing, the level of immunity gained as opposed to fatalities it causes, take the whole lot in context instead of a big standalone number used by govts to frighten the populace into compliance, and make an informed and rational decision based on that data.

The trick is to not be swayed by the screaming hysteria from the media who are spurred on by social media fuckwittery.

So...we're relying on the intelligence, common sense and moral courage of our politicians?

tenor (65).gif
 
The SA doctor that raised the alarm on the new variant told Andrew Marr this morning that the symptoms are a lot milder than other variants. When he asked if she thought the UK were wrong to go into panic mode, she replied yes at the moment, but she couldn't comment for what might be the case in 2 weeks time.
 
The SA doctor that raised the alarm on the new variant told Andrew Marr this morning that the symptoms are a lot milder than other variants. When he asked if she thought the UK were wrong to go into panic mode, she replied yes at the moment, but she couldn't comment for what might be the case in 2 weeks time.

She may be right. She may be wrong. But you don't necessarily treat as gospel something put out by the representative of a country that stands to lose out from the precautionary measures (including travel restrictions) taken by other countries. They have an interest in downplaying things. If it transpires that things were not as feared, these measures are easily relaxed.

What is inexcusable is delaying any such simple measures until such time as it becomes all too clear that the problem has become hopelessly established, widespread and completely uncontrollable. At that stage, there is nothing left but full lockdown. Hitherto that has been the UK government's MO.

I'm pleased to see that for the first time in the pandemic, they have taken some timely preliminary measures. I think someone has had a word in their ear and said, 'FFS, pull your finger this time!'
 
Last edited:
She may be right. She may be wrong. But you don't necessarily treat as gospel something put out by the representative of a country that stands to lose out from the precautionery measures (including travel restrictions) taken by other countries. They have an interest in downplaying things. If it transpires that things were not as feared, these measures are easily relaxed.

What is inexcusable is delaying any such simple measures until such time as it becomes all too clear that the problem has become hopelessly established, widespread and completely uncontrollable. At that stage, there is nothing left but full lockdown. Hitherto that has been the UK government's MO.

I'm pleased to see that for the first time in the pandemic, they have taken some timely preliminary measures. I think someone has had a word in their ear and said, 'FFS, pull your finger this time!'
Yet the Saffer government has done, since Friday, Sweet FA about it.
Except blame 'the world' for being knee-jerkers.

 

Hairy-boab

Old-Salt
She may be right. She may be wrong. But you don't necessarily treat as gospel something put out by the representative of a country that stands to lose out from the precautionery measures (including travel restrictions) taken by other countries. They have an interest in downplaying things. If it transpires that things were not as feared, these measures are easily relaxed.

What is inexcusable is delaying any such simple measures until such time as it becomes all too clear that the problem has become hopelessly established, widespread and completely uncontrollable. At that stage, there is nothing left but full lockdown. Hitherto that has been the UK government's MO.

I'm pleased to see that for the first time in the pandemic, they have taken some timely preliminary measures. I think someone has had a word in their ear and said, 'FFS, pull your finger this time!'

There are also strong complaints from those who: a) have a vested interest in calling everything racist; and/or b) don’t want to see border controls working under any circumstances.

Like you, I am amazed at the speed of decision making this time around. Seems they have actually done the electoral calculations this time.
 
Breaking.

Cardiff and Munster rugby teams are in Saffrica where they were supposed to play this weekend, but were postponed. They will be stuck there for a while as each squad has got players who have caught the new variant.
 
but she couldn't comment for what might be the case in 2 weeks time.

I see one tiny flaw in her plan.

If we wait two weeks we'll be knee deep in cases. At least this way there's a very slim chance we can stop it.

Granted that chance is so wafer thin it will cut air molecules in two in a strong breeze, but its there.
 
A short, sharp version of Dr John Campbell's Omicron opinion from a Breakfast TV interview.

Omicron
He's quite good, as we get little in the way of detail from the official sources. But his stuff should be considered in conjunction with other sources. He's very accessible to the layman but... and it is quite a big but... I've noticed that his presentations can be a bit sloppy at times.

Although John Campbell has a medical background (he's a nursing trainer), he is by no means an expert in the field he is covering. Quite often he misinterprets data and can even make a bit of a mess of data that is staring at him from the page in front of him. He has mentioned that he suffers from mild dyslexia. Something of a liability when you're analysing or delivering data that requires an appreciable degree of accuracy, I would have thought.

Good as a broad brush picture but I have learned not to rely on him as the last word.

As an additional source, the ZOE COVID presentations are well worth watching as they have more of an authoritative feel to them. Tim Spector is a professor in genetic epidemiology, so clearly knows what he is talking about (although, perhaps, his delivery can be a little stiff and hesitant).
 
Dutch are now saying that, of the 61 positive cases on the two flights from S Africa, only 13 are the Omicron strain. Also that all had antigen tests before flying.

If that's true, either the antigen tests aren't very good at picking up any strain or there were a load of fake certificates and tests among the 600 on both flights.
 
Latest WHO Omicron update.

 
I read an article back in the summer, where Dr Sarah Gilbert was asked about mutations, and her view was that any variant that mutates enough to get past the vaccines would end up with spikes that can’t actually bind with the virus’s target cells (so wouldn’t actually cause covid).

I’m hoping she’s right. (And let’s face it, she knows her stuff!)
I recall reading a number of times that this idea that mutations in the spike would be limited by it needing to remain functional in order to enter the cell was one of the major reasons for why it was selected as the target for vaccines.
 
She may be right. She may be wrong. But you don't necessarily treat as gospel something put out by the representative of a country that stands to lose out from the precautionary measures (including travel restrictions) taken by other countries. They have an interest in downplaying things. If it transpires that things were not as feared, these measures are easily relaxed.

What is inexcusable is delaying any such simple measures until such time as it becomes all too clear that the problem has become hopelessly established, widespread and completely uncontrollable. At that stage, there is nothing left but full lockdown. Hitherto that has been the UK government's MO.

I'm pleased to see that for the first time in the pandemic, they have taken some timely preliminary measures. I think someone has had a word in their ear and said, 'FFS, pull your finger this time!'
I may be remembering this wrong, but I seem to recall there being travel bans applied to the UK by other countries when the alpha variant was first announced. There's nothing unusual or "panicky" about treating South Africa the same way.
 

Latest Threads

Top