Connect with us

Culture

Myth vs. Reality in COVID Russia

Voice Of EU

Published

on

“Sputnik V is safe!”; “Putin is just ‘playing along’ with the COVID narrative until the petrodollar collapses!”; “Russia is the last bastion of freedom!”…

Alternative media has created an alternative reality about Russia. The Kremlin has embraced all the same soul-raping “public health measures” currently terrorizing the Western world—and people are either in denial or making excuses:

All 85 federal subjects of the Russian Federation now have vaccine mandates, as well as rules requiring digital “health” certificates for entry to certain businesses, venues, and public institutions. Many regions are denying routine medical care to those without QR codes.

At the federal level, the Kremlin has voiced support for “any measures” that “encourage” Russians to get jabbed—while insisting vaccination remains completely voluntary.

A sample of regional flavors of “voluntary” vaccination in Russia:

  • In the Novgorod region, children whose parents have not been vaccinated are banned from afterschool clubs and other extracurricular activities.

  • Digital vaccine passports will be required to use public transport in Tatarstan. The new regulation applies to all residents over the age of 18 without a medical exemption.

  • In St. Petersburg, a negative PCR test cannot be used to obtain a QR code. This means theaters, museums and restaurants in Russia’s second-largest city are reserved exclusively for the vaccinated and those with proof of prior infection.

  • Muscovites over the age of 60 have been ordered to self-isolate until the end of February. Those who have been vaccinated or have proof of prior infection are exempt from the rule.

Probably you read somewhere that Vladimir Putin outlawed compulsory vaccination as part of his master plan to destroy the fractional reserve banking system and bring peace and harmony to the world. Someone lied to you. Sorry about that.

Does the Kremlin have access to a time-bending wormhole? Because we keep reading boastful claims about the non-existent results of Sputnik V’s “long-term” (ha-ha) safety and efficacy trials—which are scheduled to end on December 31, 2022.

Like other COVID vaccines, Sputnik V has zoomed through clinical trials, with an “interim” report consisting of six months’ worth of data used as proof of its unassailable long-term safety and efficacy. It didn’t help that this already limited dataset was plagued by controversy (as well as an alarming lack of transparency).

Phase III vaccine trials typically require at least five years of careful observation. For example, the long-term safety study for J&J’s Ebola vaccine—which uses the same Ad26 viral vector platform as Sputnik V—began in 2016 and won’t end until 2023.

Sputnik V: zooming past all the unnecessary red tape

Alexander Redko, chairman of the St. Petersburg Professional Association of Medical Workers, noted in July that declaring Sputnik V “safe” without even waiting for ludicrous-speed clinical trials to end is about as scientific as reading tarot cards. Is he wrong? The Russian government clearly thinks so.

In December 2020, Russia’s healthy ministry announced it was prematurely ending enrollment for Sputnik V trials, arguing that it would be unethical to administer placebo shots when a proven, life-saving vaccine was already available to the public.

“Everything has now been proven, while the pandemic is ongoing,” Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya Center—which developed Sputnik V—explained, just four months after Phase III trials had begun.

The Science was settled in four months?

Science-deniers claim it’s irresponsible to coerce tens of millions of people to get injected with an untested drug, but what these conspiracy theorists don’t understand is that any long-term issues would have become apparent within four months.

Furthermore, Russia has a robust and transparent system in place for flagging side effects.

The Russian government does not have a VAERS-like database for reporting and monitoring suspected adverse reactions, and doctors who question the vaccine’s safety or efficacy are being threatened with exorbitant fines and prison time.

“The fact is that nothing is registered in Russia at all. Therefore, it is very difficult to understand how many serious complications there are. There are many cases, and we can say that they are related to the vaccine. There is a lot to say. Or you can stick your head in the sand and say that there is nothing at all,” Pavel Vorobyov, Chairman of the Moscow Scientific Society of Physicians, said in a recent interview, making him an anti-science hate speech criminal in the eyes of the Russian government.

Argentina’s health ministry is similarly guilty of High Crimes Against Sputnik V. In October, the South American state revealed that Russia’s flagship vaccine was the nation’s leader when it came to causing adverse reactions, beating Sinopharm and AstraZeneca by significant margins (the full report can be read here):

Why does Argentina hate science?

There are even thought crimes being carried out by Russia’s elected representatives. Duma Deputy Mikhail Delyagin argued in an August op-ed that the government’s own data suggested that mass compulsory vaccination had no clear neutralizing effect and was making things worse.

For months, the Russian government maintained it was basically impossible to be hospitalized with COVID if you were fully vaccinated. When it became obvious that this was a slight exaggeration, Gamaleya’s director claimed 80% of jabbed Russians falling ill with the virus had purchased fake certificates and were lying about their vaccination status. Gintsburg’s tall tale inspired some colorful commentary in Russian media. As one outlet opined:

At first they said that it was enough to get vaccinated once every two years so as not to get sick at all, then once a year, then once every six months. Now it turns out that vaccination does not even really protect against getting into intensive care or death.

And what is the solution? True, the Minister of Health, Mr. Murashko, still claims that there are no deaths among citizens who have received the vaccine. But people do not live on Mars, they, alas, face these deaths of the vaccinated in life … And then the PR naturally stops working.

It’s doubtful if the PR ever worked. Last month, Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Pyotr Tolstoy conceded that the government had completely failed to convince the public that Sputnik V was safe and effective.

“There are few answers to the questions why those who are vaccinated are ill, why those who are vaccinated die, why there are problems and complications after the vaccinations themselves,” the high-ranking lawmaker said.

The total lack of transparency has spurred the creation of informal databases and Telegram channels where adverse events can be tracked. Instead of stepping up efforts to address safety concerns, the Russian government has compared concerned citizens to terrorists.

The Kremlin and its credulous cheerleaders maintain that there’s no need to worry about long-term safety because Sputnik V is based on the Gamaleya Center’s proven, time-tested viral vector-based delivery platform. For example, Kirill Dmitriev, the Harvard-educated ex-Goldman Sachs banker who heads the Russian Direct Investment Fund (which provides financing for Sputnik V), claimed in an op-ed published by RT:

Russia has benefitted from modifying for COVID-19 an existing two-vector vaccine platform developed in 2015 for Ebola fever, which went through all phases of clinical trials and was used to help defeat the Ebola epidemic in Africa in 2017. 

But on Sputnik V’s website, we learn:

About 2,000 people in Guinea received injections of Ebola vaccine in 2017-18 as part of Phase 3 clinical trial.

Is Dmitriev really suggesting that a Phase III trial held in 2017-18 helped Guinea defeat Ebola? That’s quite a brave claim, considering Guinea was declared Ebola-free in June 2016 following an outbreak two years earlier. By the time Gamaleya’s magic Ebola slurry arrived in Guinea (as part of a clinical trial), there was no Ebola left to fight. In February of this year, Guinea reported its first Ebola death since 2016. Can Dmitriev or RT offer some clarification here? Send your questions to RT’s famously fearless and objective Russia Desk.

By the way: why would Dmitriev (and Sputnik V’s own website) brag about injecting 2,000 Africans as part of a clinical trial held a year after Guinea was declared Ebola-free? Well, because that’s basically Gamaleya’s greatest triumph—before inventing Sputnik V in record-time.

Alexander Gintsburg, widely credited with ending Guinea’s horrific 2017 Ebola epidemic

Sputnik V is the Gamaleya Center’s first “viral vector-based” vaccine to receive emergency use authorization outside of Russia. Gintsburg—who has been the director of Gamaleya since 1997—has yet to bring a fully approved vaccine to market, despite multiple attempts.

In fact, Gintsburg’s first vector adenovirus vaccine, AdeVac-Flu, resulted in a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scandal.

“[Gamaleya’s] scientists have ‘copy-pasted’ [Sputnik V] from their previous, not accepted by the scientific community, research. In their genetic memory—a criminal case, WHO skepticism and zero drugs introduced into the market,” read the teaser of an investigation published by fontanka.ru in July 2020.

With such an impressive track record, it’s hardly surprising that the Gamaleya Center refers to itself as “the world’s leading research institution.” The Center also has world-leading facilities. Seriously, feast your eyes upon these cutting-edge facilities:

Gamaleya’s world-famous viral vector-based roof shrub (L); a Gamaleya hallway where people are regularly murdered (R)

A lot of Russians are also very impressed by the fact that Sputnik V’s #1 fan (and one of the drug’s original investors) is a friendly banker who is trying to introduce a QR code-based payment system in Russia, and is also developing a digital currency in partnership with JP Morgan.

When your favorite WordPress geopolitical analyst exclaims “Sputnik V is safe!” the appropriate response is: how could you possibly know, and why does the Russian government not want to know?

In June, the emergence of a highly deadly “Moscow strain”—later deemed a “hypothetical phenomenon”—forced authorities to introduce Russia’s first vaccine mandate in the capital. Other regions followed suit. Yes, the people grumbled—but COVID “cases” immediately began to plummet! COVID “deaths” plateaued! It was a true miracle.

Duma election was a super-spreader event or something?

Then something really strange happened: the amazingly effective (but highly unpopular) coercive COVID policies suddenly stopped working immediately after Duma elections in late September.

What a weird coincidence. Obviously, the ruling United Russia party—which had just secured parliament for another five years after an unexpectedly decisive electoral victory—was forced to impose even more coercive COVID policies. If Russians don’t like it, they can express their dissatisfaction at the polls, in 2026.

Russia’s descent into compulsory vaccination is a case study in industrial-scale lying and government duplicity. It’s a very interesting story.

In January, Russia’s president presented a keynote address at the World Economic Forum—his first speech before the esteemed international body since 2009.

Beginning his address with a very friendly and intimate “dear Klaus,” Putin recalled how he first met Mr. Schwab in 1992 and since then had regularly attended events organized by the Fourth Industrial Revolution visionary.

Old friends

Putin used this very important speech to call for “expanding the scale of testing and vaccinations” around the world, describing COVID as an existential threat that required close international cooperation. The entire global economy will need to be rebuilt from the ground up by central banks, because the virus is just so deadly and destructive:

[T]he key question today is how to build a program of actions in order to not only quickly restore the global and national economies affected by the pandemic, but to ensure that this recovery is sustainable in the long run, relies on a high-quality structure and helps overcome the burden of social imbalances. Clearly, with the above restrictions and macroeconomic policy in mind, economic growth will largely rely on fiscal incentives with state budgets and central banks playing the key role.

Is that how you say “Build Back Better” in Russian?

We’re all trapped in the same oligarch-controlled panpoopticon. Maybe it’s time to accept that, instead of pretending that some jailers are more “based” than others?

Crazy times. Good luck to all,

Riley

Riley Waggaman, aka Edward Slavsquat, is your humble Moscow correspondent. He worked for RT, Press TV, Russia Insider, yadda yadda. In his youth, he attended a White House lawn party where he asked Barack Obama if imprisoned whistleblower Bradley Manning (Chelsea was still a boy back then) “had a good Easter.” Good times good times.



Source link

Culture

Senior figures in Washington stand behind Belfast Agreement and protocol, McDonald says

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Senior figures in United States politics have made it clear that the government of Boris Johnson in the UK will face negative consequences internationally if it attempts to rupture or dispense with the Northern Ireland protocol, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said.

In a presentation at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Thursday she said the protocol was “necessary, operable and going nowhere, despite what Boris Johnson might wish to believe”.

She said she had met with “people of considerable influence” in the US Congress and in the Biden administration on her visit to the US this week and they all stood four square behind the Belfast Agreement and the protocol.

“I heard yesterday on the Hill the clearest possible articulation across the board that any notion of walking away from the protocol would not be acceptable to the United States.”

Asked about a report in the Financial Timed that Washington had delayed lifting tariffs on UK steel and aluminium products amid concerns about threats by the UK to invoke article 16 of the protocol, Ms McDonald said this was a matter for the Biden administration.

However, she said: “There is no doubt where the US stands. If Johnson believes he can walk away from the protocol, he is wrong and there will be consequences for Britain if he chooses that course of action.”

Tariffs

Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie, who was also in Washington DC on Thursday, said if the lifting of tariffs was being delayed due to concerns about the protocol, he would argue at a meeting with the US state department that it had “got it wrong” in its view on what article 16 was about.

“If people say we have to adhere to the protocol and article 16 is part of the protocol then it becomes a legitimate thing you can use.”

“It is not about whether you should or should not use it. It is about how you should use it.

“You should use it in a narrow sense of a particular issue that is causing economic or societal harm in Northern Ireland, for example, medicines .”

“If the medicine issue has not been fixed and is starting to affect the people of Northern Ireland, it would be right to instigate article 16 to focus minds on that issue.”

Ms McDonald also told the press club event that she expected the United States would “be on the right side” on the controversy over British plans for an amnesty in relation to killings during the Troubles.

She said the British government was going to the ultimate point to keep the truth from the people about its war in Ireland.

She said the Johnson government’s plans would mean “in effect no possibility of criminal action, civil actions or even inquests into killings in the past”.

Ms McDonald also forecast that a point was coming over the coming five or 10 years where referenda would be held on the reunification of Ireland. She urged the Irish government to establish a citizen’s assembly to consider preparation for unity.

She also said “there will be need for international support and international intervention to support Ireland as we move to transition from partition to reunification”.

Separately, asked about a recent Sinn Féin golf fundraising event that was held in New York, Ms McDonald said the money that was raised would be spent on campaigning and lobbying in the US.

She described it as a patriotic expression by people in the US who had a deep interest in Ireland and the peace process.

Source link

Continue Reading

Culture

Drop in cancer diagnoses as high as 14 per cent during pandemic, early data shows

Voice Of EU

Published

on

The drop in the number of cancers detected during the Covid-19 pandemic could be as high as 14 per cent, preliminary data has suggested.

A report from the National Cancer Registry said it was still too early to provide “definitive answers” on whether pandemic hospital restrictions last year led to a reduction in the number of cancers diagnosed.

The registry’s annual report said an estimated decrease of 14 per cent in detections pointed to the “potential scale” of Covid-19’s impact on other healthcare.

A separate analysis of data on microscopically verified cancers diagnosed last year showed a reduction of between 10 and 13 per cent, the report said.

The drop in confirmed cancer cases, when compared with previous years, could be partly accounted for by “incomplete registration of cases already diagnosed”, it said.

Prof Deirdre Murray, director of the National Cancer Registry, said there were “clear signals that, as expected in Ireland, the number of cancer diagnoses in 2020 will be lower than in previous years”.

‘Very worried’

Averil Power, chief executive of the Irish Cancer Society, said the organisation was “very worried” over the significant drop in cancers diagnosed last year.

The shortfall in cancers being diagnosed would present a “major challenge” in the coming years, with lengthy waiting lists and disruptions to screening services “all too commonplace” already, she said.

Ms Power said it was frightening to think of the people who were living with cancer but did not know it yet. She added that existing cancer patients were “terrified” of having treatments delayed due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases.

The registry’s report said there were about 44,000 tumours identified each year between 2017 and 2019.

Not counting non-melanoma skin cancer, the most common cancer diagnoses were for breast and prostate cancer, which made up almost a third of invasive cancers found in women and men respectively.

For men this was followed by bowel and lung cancer, and melanoma of the skin. Lung cancer was the second most common cancer for women, followed by colorectal cancer and melanoma of skin.

Nearly a third of deaths in 2018 were attributed to cancer, with lung cancer the leading cause of death from cancer, the report said.

The second, third and fourth most common cancers to die from in men were bowel, prostate and oesophagus cancer. For women breast, bowel and ovarian cancers were the most common fatal cancers.

The report said there were almost 200,000 cancer survivors in Ireland at the end of 2019, with breast cancer patients making up more than a fifth of the total.

Mortality rates

The research found cancer rates among men had dropped between 2010 and 2019, with mortality rates decreasing or remaining the same across nearly every type of cancer. Rates of cancer detected among women had increased between 2008 and 2019, with mortality rates for most cancers decreasing.

The report said the five-year survival rate from cancer had increased to 65 per cent for the period 2014 to 2018, compared with 42 per cent two decades previous.

There had been “major improvement” in survival rates for most major cancers, however, the research noted the chances of survival varied significantly depending on the type of cancer.

Prostate, melanoma of the skin and testis cancer had survival rates of more than 90 per cent, followed closely by breast and thyroid cancer, and Hodgkin lymphoma. Pancreas, liver, oesophagus and lung cancers had much lower five-year survival rates on average, the report said.

Source link

Continue Reading

Culture

How Germany has made it easier to cancel broadband and phone contracts

Voice Of EU

Published

on

What’s going on?

On December 1st, new amendments to the Telecommunications Act came into force in Germany. The updates bring with them wide-ranging changes to consumer rights laws for people who’ve signed – or will sign – new mobile, landline and internet contracts.

The headline change relates to the amount of time contracts are allowed to run for after they renew. If a customer signs up to a 24-month mobile contract and doesn’t cancel before it renews, telecommunications companies will no longer be allowed to sign that customer up for another one or two years without their permission.

Instead, people who don’t cancel in time will be put onto a one-month rolling contract that essentially allows them to terminate at any point with just one month’s notice.

It’s an end to a tax on the disorganised that has seen people stuck paying for contracts they no longer want or need for up to 24 months longer – often at higher prices than they agreed when they first signed the contract.

Does that mean all contracts will be rolling contracts?

Not exactly. As before, most new contracts will run for a minimum 24-month term – so expect to be locked in for at least this long, unless you specifically look for a more flexible contract. 

The change affects what happens after this initial term is up, meaning if you do sign up for a yearly contract, one year won’t automatically turn into two if you don’t remember to cancel it in time. 

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Germany in December 2021

What else is new?

Alongside the key changes to contract durations, there are also changes to the way in which contracts are agreed and tougher standards for internet providers.

In future, if you agree a contract over the phone, you have to receive a summary of the terms of the contract and confirm it in writing before the agreement is legally valid. 

This summary must include the service provider’s contact details, a description of agreed services, details of any activation fees, the duration of the contract and any conditions for renewal and termination. Without written approval, the contract has no legal standing and the provider has no claims against the customer – even if they switched to the new services immediately after the telephone call.

A young man on the phone in Hannover
A young man takes a phone call on a tram in Hannover. Under the new changes, contracts agreed over the phone will not be valid until they are confirmed in writing. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hauke-Christian Dittrich

If a provider makes a change to a contract after it’s up and running, customers now have the right to terminate without notice.

In future, providers must inform customers if there are more favourable offers available and a change to a new contract would be possible.  This must happen once a year, and once again, providers aren’t allowed to do this solely over the phone. 

For broadband customers, there’s more good news: internet providers will in future face issues if they don’t provide the bandwidth stated in the contract. 

That means that if your internet is slower than promised, you should have the right to pay a reduced price or terminate the contract. 

READ ALSO: Moving house in Germany: 7 things you need to know about setting up utility contracts

I signed a new contract a while ago. Do the new rules still apply? 

Yes, they do. Regardless of when you signed your new contract, the amendments to the Telecommunications Act will apply. 

That means that once your initial contract period is up, you should be able to cancel freely and only pay for the month’s notice. You should also be informed of any changes to your contract or better offers and be eligible for compensation if your internet goes below the promised bandwidth. 

If you’ve already been locked in to a 12- or 24-month contract through an auto-renewal, the situation is a bit less clear – but it may be worth contacting your provider and asking them if the terms of your contract have changed in light of the new law. 

READ ALSO: Has it just got easier to end credit agreements in Germany?

What are people saying?

The Telecommunications and Value-Added Services Association, which represents the industry, said it was important than the initial 24-month contracts were allowed to continue. The subsequent new notice periods are a good compromise, VATM Managing Director Jürgen Grützner told Tagesschau

“On the one hand, this means better financial forecasting for expanding providers’ networks and, on the other hand, the best of both worlds for consumers,” he added. 

Campaign for faster internet
“We need fast internet!” is scrawled in huge letters across a street in Weetzen, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Ole Spata

However, Grützner believes the new rules on bandwidth could cause difficulties for providers who struggle to offer the same quality of internet across all regions. 

Meanwhile, consumer rights advocates have welcomed the improvements to contract law. 

In particular, the Federal Consumer Advice Centre “expects competition to improve as a result of the new regulation, including the price-performance ratio,” Susanne Blohm from the organisation’s Digital and Media Division told Tagesschau.

In an initial sign of the regulation’s positive impact, the provider Telefonica has announced that it will abolish surcharges for contracts that don’t have a minimum cancellation period. 

Vocabulary

amendments – (die) Novelle

bandwidth – (die) Bandbreite 

minimum contract term – (die) Mindestlaufzeit 

provider – (der) Anbieter

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!