Author: Giuseppe Bignardi

Giuseppe Bignardi is a retired Microbiology/Infection NHS Consultant

Review

Open: Kimberley Clausing

Giuseppe Bignardi

The starting point in the author’s analysis is that Donald Trump’s election was the consequence of dissatisfaction with economic stagnation and was based on a rhetoric that appealed to both the right and the left wing of the political spectrum.

A pandemic, a limited vaccine supply and secret vaccine contracts

Giuseppe Bignardi

On 17 March, the EU announced the intention of changing its export policy, particularly in relation to countries which are also vaccine producers. The EU argues that there needs to be reciprocity and proportionality to make sure there is an equitable distribution of vaccines. I do not know the details of the EU vaccine export plan, but I do know that Boris Johnson has failed on reciprocity and global solidarity.

Rishi Sunak’s budget ignores the NHS and social care

Giuseppe Bignardi

The government has failed to put together a plan to rescue the social care sector, despite Boris Johnson’s claim in 2019 that he would fix the crisis in social care “with a clear plan we have prepared”. The NHS also needs extra funding to deal with the huge backlog of non-Covid health needs. Rishi Sunak made no mention of either social care or improved NHS funding in his budget statement.

Beware of the freedom-loving rhetoric

Giuseppe Bignardi

It is good to have a roadmap, but is it wise to have dates if we are really going be guided by “data not dates”? Now that dates have been announced, there will be a formidable resistance to change them, regardless of the data.

Hares and tortoises in the Covid-19 vaccine race

Giuseppe Bignardi

Countries acting individually will not deliver the number of vaccines the world needs (Zosia Kmietowicz in the British Medical Journal on 6 February). Joint vaccine procurement schemes, as used by the EU and the African Union, are slower to set up but ensure equitable vaccine distribution at lower prices.

Vaccine nationalism or solidarity?

Giuseppe Bignardi

Do vaccines produced in a country ‘belong’ to that country, until all needs of that country have been satisfied? This is the policy of the US administration and appears to be at the centre of the recent dispute between Astra Zeneca (AZ) and the EU.

Boris Johnson’s family

Giuseppe Bignardi

When Stanley Johnson, Boris’ father, stood in front of the cameras to explain why he had applied for French passport, he said: “It’s not a question of becoming French. If I understand correctly, I am French! My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandfather”.

Covid-19 vaccines: efficacy and safety

Giuseppe Bignardi

It is too early to say what is the most effective vaccine. None of the vaccine studies have yet been completed and we do not know what the efficacy is in the long-term or in relation to virus variants or in specific sub-groups such as immunocompromised patients.

The democratic deficit behind Boris Johnson’s policies

Giuseppe Bignardi

The 2016 referendum on our EU membership was intended as an exercise in democracy, but it failed in many respects. The reality of our EU membership was compared with a nebulous Brexit project: many UK voters thought they were voting to retain a close relationship with the EU as Norway has. After a 51.9% majority in the referendum vote, an ideological minority has taken control of the Conservative Party and is imposing a hard Brexit.

Boris Johnson’s blame game

Giuseppe Bignardi

Fishing is a sticking point in the Brexit negotiations. The UK has rejected an offer to reduce the EU states fishing quota by 15-18%. Fishing is of relatively little importance to the UK (0.1% of our GDP) but it has become a symbolic issue. Our government wants an exclusive right to set fishing policies as a demonstration of UK sovereignty.

Covid-19 spending lacks scrutiny and is often misdirected

Giuseppe Bignardi

The lateral flow test that the government intends for mass testing is potentially less sensitive than RT-PCR, especially when used by self-trained members of the public. Is there a point in using tests that miss half or more of the infection cases? The introduction of population screening, with awareness of the test results, is likely to inform behaviour, but misplaced ‘reassurance from missed cases could potentially increase [infection] transmission’.

SMART Lockdown 2.0?

Giuseppe Bignardi

Education is important and must continue. But extending the half term holiday from one to two weeks would have been timely, achievable and provided a useful firebreak, possibly followed by specific, more realistic policies to suppress infection in educational settings when they reopened. For example, some countries have mandatory face coverings in classrooms and have adopted school rotas for pupils above the age of thirteen, as advocated by our National Education Union.

World War 1 ended 102 years ago: we won the war but not the peace

Giuseppe Bignardi

The reality of the subsequent peace treaty turned out to be different and the German perception of betrayal contributed to the rise of Nazism in Germany and to WW2. What really destabilised the new democratic German Republic was the imposition of exorbitant war reparations onto a country with a devastated economy and a starving population.

Can we expect a return to normality by March?

Giuseppe Bignardi

Speed of vaccination in Western countries may depend on whether access to an initially limited supply of vaccine is restricted to a few countries or whether there would be a wider and more equitable distribution of the vaccine from the outset. An initial high price for the vaccines would also be a barrier for lower income countries.

Has the reopening of schools been planned well?

Giuseppe Bignardi

Schools in the UK have been totally or partially closed since 20th March. This time has not been utilised well to make realistic and sustainable plans for reopening. Boris Johnson has argued that reopening schools in September with full attendance is necessary to restart the economy. He has subsequently put more emphasis on the concept […]

How safe are vaccines?

Giuseppe Bignardi

During this challenging time, discovering and producing a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine in a short period of time is a formidable challenge, but not the only one. Despite the evident benefits of vaccines (10 million deaths were saved by vaccines just in 2010-2015), the influence of anti-vaccination movements is increasing. However, history shows us […]

Mandatory face masks in Scotland

Giuseppe Bignardi
Nicola Sturgeon wore this face mask by Slanj Scotland that supports the Homelessness Charity Shelter Scotland.

Divergence from Boris Johnson appears to have reduced the number of infections in Scotland As from the 10 July 2020 the wearing of face covering inside shops is mandatory in Scotland. The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has not refrained from being seen wearing a face mask, unlike the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson […]

A troubled birthday for the NHS

Giuseppe Bignardi
The trade bill still includes the NHS in it. Our NHS is not for sale.

The NHS came to life on 5th July 1948. This year’s birthday celebration occurred at a difficult time, just after the first wave of coronavirus. Things are not going to get easier: there is already a huge backlog of elective and cancer care, as well as the risk of a second wave of coronavirus in […]

It is not a choice between saving lives and saving the economy

Giuseppe Bignardi
Doctor wearing a mask

The Westminster government has announced the reopening of more venues, the end of shielding for vulnerable individuals and the reduction of the safe distance from two metres to ‘one metre plus’. Are these the right measures and is this the right time? A recently published study (The Lancet, 1st June 2020) has shown that reducing the […]