Like Sars, bird flu, swine flu, Ebola and Aids, coronavirus is a disease that originated in animals.
Today, three in four of the world’s new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals – mainly from trading in wildlife and from factory farming. Taken together, 56 zoonotic diseases are responsible for an estimated 2.5 billion cases of human illness and 2.7 million deaths a year.
Across the globe, animals are kept in horrific conditions in factory farms and wildlife markets. These settings provide a fertile environment for the transmission of viruses between different species and humans.
In the wake of coronavirus, there are calls for tighter controls at airports, banning the unregulated movement of wild animals and limiting human-animal contact. But the obvious, simplest, most economical and effective solutions are to end the global trade in wild animals and to stop eating meat and dairy.
Campaigning charity Viva! believes ending the exploitation of animals is one of the single biggest actions humankind can take to protect itself against future pandemics. We agree. That’s why today we’re calling on people all over the world to go vegan now.
Professor Andrew Knight, director of Centre for Animal Welfare, Juliet Gellatley, founder of Viva!, Elisa Allen, director of PETA, Bella Lack, ambassador at the Born Free Foundation, Michael Mansfield QC, defence barrister, Dr Josh Cullimore, general practitioner, Dominic Dyer, wildlife and animal welfare campaigner and author, Vicky Bond, managing director at The Humane League UK, Paul Foulkes-Arellano, founder of Sustainable Design Alliance
Joe Gammie reports the Chinese study showing that contact tracing and isolation can be effective at controlling Covid-19. There is another key finding in this study, which is that most of the secondary infections occurred amongst household contacts.
Here in the UK, households have been left unsupported, with no testing in the community and no personal protective equipment, despite the fact that some include more than one vulnerable individual. Both the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the European Centre for Disease Control recommend that contact between cases and other household members should be minimised and, as some contact is necessary and unavoidable, they recommend that anybody with symptoms should wear face masks in the presence of household members. This should take place as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms.
Many countries, including Scotland, recommend the use of washable reusable cloth masks in crowded spaces in the community. If we were to follow this approach, everybody would have cloth masks that could be used (if necessary) to reduce household transmission.
Giuseppe Enrico Bignardi
If I were running a company — small, medium, or large — would I consider it fiscally prudent to pay out a large dividend after posting a huge loss? Probably not, but just maybe in normal times, to retain goodwill, from reserves, and only if it did not impinge on current or near future trading.
However, it looks to me that Bernard Looney, new CEO of BP, thinks it is good business practice to actually borrow money to pay a $2.1 billion quarterly dividend during a medical pandemic with oil prices at rock bottom.
Also just think about it: a quarterly dividend; that means that another one is due to be announced in three months! Does he seriously think that coronavirus will be in the distant past and does he think oil prices will be healthy again?
If he does continue in this vein, the shareholders who voted him in will soon start to realise that he just might be aptly named!
German success story
I would like to respond to Pete Milory’s letter in today’s Independent. In his first paragraph he asserts that “Germany has more coronavirus cases than us, but a little over a quarter of the deaths” and asks why.
This is not quite correct: Germany has more detected cases. The Imperial College analysis suggests that the UK infection rate is 4.1 per cent (2.8 million), while the German infection rate is only 0.84 per cent (700,000). Assuming an equal fatality rate, that would account for the fourfold difference in deaths.
The reason for the difference in outcomes is that Germany imposed lockdown on 22nd March, two days earlier than UK (the evening of 23 March). At that time Germany had 24,873 confirmed cases and 94 deaths as compared to the UK’s 5,683 detected cases and 281 deaths. It’s important to recognise that the UK’s figures were from tests administered only to those coming to hospital with symptoms, while Germany’s figures were from a wider testing regime. The historical data indicates that the progress of the infection in the UK was about four days ahead of Germany, yet lockdown was imposed two days later. The difference in deaths between the two countries can be ascribed to this lag of almost a week in imposing lockdown.
While future testing will be key to easing the lockdown, the wider availability of testing in the early stages might have better informed the government and led to earlier action to reduce deaths.
Trump speaks truth
Trump at the Monday briefing: “We’re doing a job the likes of which no one has ever seen before.” Well, that’s certainly true, isn’t it?
Let’s renationalise the NHS
So our prime minister, Boris Johnson, comes out of hospital after having suffered terribly with the coronavirus, stating that the National Health Service definitely saved his life!
I’m sure the people of this great country who are also extremely dependent on our health service at this time are jubilant at Johnson’s recovery and wonder exactly what he and the country could do for our NHS.
On this note, I have set up a petition calling on the prime minister to end all privatisation and to revoke the Health and Social Care Act 2012 which opened up many parts of our NHS to private companies.
Please circulate this widely to your friends, trade union branches, community groups and church bodies and ask them to do the same!
Brighton Le Sands