Covid Management and Treatment in Iran

The Unruffled City

Press TV (2020)

Film Review

This video is clearly a feel good propaganda film about Iran’s response to it’s first wave Covid outbreak in February 2020. The brutal sanctions regime by the US and its allies has made it difficult for their doctors their to obtain respirators, lab and personal protective equipment and some drugs.

I found it remarkable how resilient and self-sufficient the country has become after more than a decade of sanctions. Both their hospitals and mosques are staffed by paid and volunteer sewing brigades to make reusable protective masks and coveralls for doctors and nurses.

In addition, Iran’s Covid’s specialists seemed less inclined to put their critically ill Covid patients on respirators (perhaps because they don’t have as many?). This may explain their good recovery rate (60-70%) of hospitalized Covid patients – compared to US Covid patients.*

The film strongly emphasizes the role mosques played in scrupulously fumigating (pwith toxic chemicals?) both hospitals and homes of Covid victims. This was a year before the WHO and CDC advised Covid isn’t transmitted by contact with objects or surfaces (see https://nypost.com/2021/04/05/low-risk-of-catching-covid-from-surfaces-new-cdc-guidelines/).

According to the Western media, in 2020 Iran had the worst overall Covid infection and fatality of any Middle East country.

Hopefully this may change now that they have authorized the use of Ivermectin to treat Covid (see https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/ivermectin-being-approved-as-drug-treat-covid-19-in-more-countries-including-mexico,-brazil,-iran,-india-while-south-africa-reverses-its-ban).

This followed a randomized controlled multicentr Ivermection trial they completed in November:

Owing to their difficulty they experience importing Covid vaccine under sanction, they have also developed their own Covid vaccine: see https://english.alarabiya.net/coronavirus/2021/06/14/Iran-gives-emergency-approval-for-locally-made-COVID-19-blessing-vaccine


*See https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200422/most-covid-19-patients-placed-on-ventilators-died-new-york-study-shows#1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

China Under Covid Documentary

CoroNation

Directed by Ai WeiWei

Film Review

This documentary was secretly filmed in Wuhan province during the world’s first Covid lockdown between January 23 and April 8 2020. Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who directed the film from Cambridge (UK), relied on amateur filmmakers who clandestinely forwarded their footage to Weiwei via the Internet. The scarcity of Western footage of the ICU treatment makes the film all the more remarkable.

Owing to the absence of narration, the film is sometimes a little hard to follow. Nevertheless viewers get a good picture of the heavy police presence on the streets, the construction of emergency hospitals to increase treatment capacity, the busloads of doctors sent to Wuhan to staff ICUs and isolation wards and elaborate (sometimes comical) personal protective gear procedures.

Unlike the PPE I’ve seen in New Zealand (limited to full length gowns), Chinese doctors wear two full body coveralls.* Although the inside coverall excludes the feet and head, the outer garment covers their shoes, hair, forehead and cheeks to overlap their mask. They then cover their mask with a plastic face shield. Doctors are video monitored to ensure they wash their hands and don and remove their coveralls and gloves in the correct order.

The film follows a construction worker who tries to return to his home province once the emergency hospital is completed. Unsuccessful in obtaining a travel pass, he’s forced to stay in an emergency shelter.

Below is a link to a DW interview with Ai Weiwei describing the filming process:

https://www.dw.com/en/ai-weiweis-new-film-goes-behind-the-scenes-of-the-wuhan-lockdown/a-54707798


*It’s my understanding that when the Sars-CoV-2 virus first appeared in December 2019, both Chinese and western scientists greatly overestimated its lethality. It was only in August-September 2020 epidemiologists studying the mortality data a realized the death rate was only 0.1% in people under 70 (comparable to influenza mortality).

The film can be viewed free on Kanopy.

Why Are Early Outpatient Covid Treatments Being Suppressed?

Great short video by Idaho pathologist about the importance of early treatment in Covid 19. He makes five main points:

  • According to multiple controlled studies around the world, maintaining adequate Vitamin D levels will reduce the risk of severe Covid illness by 90%. At present 80% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient because they fail to produce adequate Vitamin D from sunshine. Eighty percent of Americans are also deficient in magnesium and zinc, which are essential to Vitamin D’s immune regulating effects.
  • Effective early outpatient treatments for Covid are being suppressed owing to government collusion with big Pharma to promote Covid vaccines. It’s only legal for the FDA to approve vaccines in the absence of effective treatment.
  • Other countries are opting to treat Covid patients early, mainly with Ivermectin, owing to dozens of controlled trials showing it reduces death rates by 90%.
  • The so-called mRNA vaccines aren’t really vaccines, but experimental gene therapy. They don’t protect you from becoming infected or transmitting Covid 19 and they put you at risk for a fatal “antibody dependent reaction” when exposed to the wild virus.
  • Statistical data reveals that mask mandates and business restrictions didn’t reduce the level of Covid illness.

 

How the Covid Lockdown Saved the Brithdir Mawr Cawd Ecovillage

Saving Our Ecovillage
 
Journeyman Pictures (2020)
 
Film Review
 
This documentary tells the fascinating story of a 25-year-old ecovillage in West Wales that was inadvertently saved from privatization by the UK Covid lockdown in March.
Working together over decades, the 17 residents of Brithdir Mawr Cawd have built a totally self sufficient of grid system through which they provide their own electricity, water and sewage disposal (based on composting toilets). Then in late 2019, when their 25-year lease* expired, the  the owner opted to sell the property instead of renewing it.
 
Faced with the challenge of raising $1 million to buy their own homes, they hired a business advisor to help them create a fundraising plan. Luck was with them. The UK-wide lockdown Boris Johnson ordered in March 2020 (which wreaked havoc on the British real estate market) granted them an automatic six months extension.
 
The business plan they created includes a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme, through which they produce fruits and vegetables for the wider community, in  addition to a massive apple orchard that will produce apple juice, cider and vinegar and a U-pick strawberry and raspberry patch for local residents and tourists.
 
Faced with the continuing lockdown, the landowner has now agreed to give them six years to raise $1 million to buy the property.
 
In the film several Brithdir Mawr Cawd’s members speak candidly about their easons for joining and the advantages and disadvantages of living in a small close-knit community. Prior to Covid, the Welsh ecovillage hosted volunteers who traded their labor for training in off-grid living skills. Brithdir Mawr Cawd was also responsible for pressuring the Welsh Assembly to pass the One Planet Planning Law. The latter allows residents to build carbon neutral structures in designated green spaces.

*At present, Brithdir Mawr Cawd hold “leasehold” title to their land. Although uncommon in the US, with leasehold titl, the homeowner only owns his house and leases the property from a separate landowner. This contrasts with freehold title, where the homeowner owns both the house and land.
 

 

 

Swedish Covid 19 Management: A Documentary

Covid, Tango and the Lagom Way

Directed by Claudia Nye (2020)

Film

This documentary was made by an Argentinian expatriate (and tango aficionado) who lives in the UK and is tired of being branded a right wing fanatic for questioning the benefit of social lockdowns. It She decided to visit Sweden, one of several countries (including Taiwan and Japan) that decided not to lock down their population.

She conducts a fairly long interview with Dr Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s head epidemiologist, as well as interviewing Swedes she meets on the street.

In the absence of lockdown legislation, most Swedes over 65 chose to remain at home. Those with “comorbidities” that make them more vulnerable to severe COVID complications (eg obesity, diabetes, kidney/heart/lung disease, pregnancy) also voluntarily self-isolate. Although many Swedes now work from home and several universities have shut down, most schools and businesses have remain open and practice social distancing.

According to Tegnell, the Swedish government has no statutory powers over the Swedish Public Health Agency. The latter holds sole responsibility for enforcing public health measures.* As a general rule, the agency places responsibility on individual citizens to make good choices about protecting their own and others’ health. This contrasts with the US and other Europeans countries, whose governments (according to Nye) treat their constituents like children.

Tegnell indicates that Sweden’s COVID policy is consistent with the Swedish “Lagom” (translated “not too little, not too much”) way, which values balance above all else.

Nye goes over the COVID statistics with Tegnell At the time of filming (late 2020), 872 Swedes had died as a direct result of COVID 19 infection, and 5,813 and died “with Covid.” According to Tegnell this means they tested positive for COVID before dying from other causes.

In tracing total Swedish mortality over the last three decades, Nye finds the Sweden follows roughly the same curve as other European Countries. In fact, both Swedish and British epidemiologists agree that COVID mortality outside the 65+ age group is extremely low.

Nye also compares Swedish mortality data with that of nearby Finland and Norway. Overall mortality for 2019 and 2020 is roughly the same, with Finland and Norway experiencing a spike in mortality in 2019 (due to a a really severe influenza season) and Sweden (which experienced negligible influenza deaths in 2019) experiencing its mortality spike in 2020.


*This changed in January 2021, when the Swedish parliament gave itself statutory powers to impose lockdowns.

COVID-19: Gobbling Up Funding for Fatal Epidemics Such as Malaria, TB and AIDS

Coronavirus or Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV?

Al Jazeera (2020)

Film Review

Why is a Low Mortality Illness Like COVID-19 Crowding out Treatment for the World’s Most Dangerous Illnesses?

This documentary reports on urgent concerns that COVID 19 “pandemic” management is crowding out prevention, diagnosis and treatment for far more serious illnesses, such as malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.

Epidemiologists assert that low cost interventions such as bednets and “residual spraying” (presumably with insecticides?) are extremely effective in preventing malaria in African and Asian countries that experience malaria epidemics during the rainy season. Where the disease is diagnosed early, artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) has an extremely high response rate. Unfortunately due to diversion of Red Cross and other international funding to COVID management,  Africa’s anti-malaria programs have suffered significantly. India, however, is still making good progress in reducing disease prevalence.

Diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis has been similarly affected in the developing world, where, at present approximately 25% of patients diagnosed with HIV are unable to access life-saving anti-retroviral treatment.

 

What Next After Capitalism?

Nowtopia: A Documentary About Economic Alternatives

Masaryk University (2020)

Film Review

Filmed in the Czech Republic and featuring Nowtopia author Chris Carlsson, this documentary looks at the new economic model (which he calls Nowtopia) that is replacing capitalism. The full title of Carlsson’s book is Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today. The filmmakers also interview Nadia Johanisova, a Czech expert in heterodox economics and eco-social enterprise. Dismayed at the cutthroat capitalism that replaced capitalism in the Eastern Bloc following the fall of the Soviet Union, Johanisova spent years in England seeking possible alternative economic models to capitalism and communism. What she ultimately eventually discovered was that Czechoslovakia had enjoyed a a vibrant independent cooperative movement even under Soviet communism.

Carlsson breaks down Nowtopia into three main components: de-commodified* activities (both old and new), self-provisioning and mutual aid.

He says it’s easier than people think to opt out of a corporate lifestyle and rely on one another (as opposed to money) to meet our needs. Over the last 50 years, the growing exploitation and oppression of paid work has broken up stable communities throughout the industrialized North. This loss of community has led individuals to live atomized and disconnected lives. This, in turn, makes it hard to imagine relying on one another to meet our needs – as humankind has done for hundreds of thousands of years.

Because the COVID economic crisis has hastened the disintegration of many capitalist structures, the entire industrialized world suddenly has an unexpected opportunity to explore alternatives to capitalism.

In Brno (Czech Republic), this takes the form of community gardens and kitchens, cooperative wineries, a bike kitchen*, and a community makerspace,** where volunteers produce free masks, plastic shields and antibacterial gel.


*Decommodification as a concept comes from the idea that in a market economy, individual persons (and their labor) are exchanged for money or “commodified.” Given that labor is the individual’s primary commodity in the market, decommodification generally refers to activities and efforts that reduce individuals’ reliance on the market (and money) for their well-being.

*Bike kitchens help people repair old bikes with secondhand parts instead of discarding them and buying new ones.

***A makerspace is a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that makes a variety of high and low tech tools available to kids, adults and entrepreneurs. Examples of high tech tools include 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines (heavy machines used for cutting wood or other hard material), soldering irons and even sewing machines